Who are the Drifters? CCPs newest storyline is one that new players get thrown into right when they enter the game, as the tutorial takes them through the steps needed to destroy a Drifter hive. However, many players will never see Drifters again – except for those who have made it their mission in EVE Online to hunt and destroy hives, with much more advanced ship than a Rookie corvette. One such player is INN writer Alizabeth Vea, who is roleplaying the commander of the Special Empire Response for the Assault and Penetration of Hives (SERAPH), and this is her story. If you’re interested in the lore behind the Drifters, and what speculations the community has come up with, have a look at this great introduction.
What’s your background and how did you get started killing drifters?
I was in GSF. I did a short stint on Skyteam, flew caps, did a lot of logistics anchoring, fountain, Halloween war, et cetera. After Empress Jamyl was killed, I wound up being asked to join one of the Sarum Succession Trial teams, and flew in the trials, got past the first round, won a silver magnate, whole bit. And, I figured since the Drifters had killed Empress Jamyl that retribution was necessary. I did a few Drifter incursions with the Arataka Research Consortium and then did a significant number of them at the end with Dogma Project. There’s not a lot known about the Drifter incursions, but that is mostly because we were making such good ISK, so we kept it all secret. They could not be farmed to the extent Sansha incursions could.
I wound up doing Hive Operations with ARC again. Hives are special wormhole systems with Drifter complexes. They were difficult to get through before it was changed, with multiple hacks and locked gates and two wings of the fleet going up each side. I worked my way up to be one of the primary fleet commanders for ARC. A couple of months ago, I left ARC to do my own thing, mostly because I wanted to be my own boss. ARC had a certain philosophy. Tactically and doctrinally they wanted to be open to as many pilots as possible. With regards to their involvement in New Eden, they were more focused on science and research. I am and always have been more of a genocide type girl.
My last contribution to ARC was the development of a doctrine that could complete a drifter hive with no loss of ships. Before it had been Tech-1 cruisers with an ‘acceptable loss’ policy. While there are sub-capital ships that can tank the Drifter Doomsday, they are quite expensive. We’re talking Navy Scorpions with X- and A- type hardeners. I managed to do it with t2 cruisers. An evolution of that doctrine (which was also designed by me) is still in use.
Anyways, I left to make my own group: Special Empire Response for the Assault and Penetration of Hives, or SERAPH as it is known. SERAPH is more selective on which pilots can fly with us.
Generally, we fly with fewer ships, but ones that are more suited to the task at hand: Recons, HACS, Logi, T3Ds.
Thanks for the thorough answer. Can you tell us what drifter incursions are and whether they are still a thing? I imagine quite a few people have not heard of them.
Firstly, they are not around anymore, they were actually beaten by capsuleers. Essentially it was similar to a Sansha incursion, but not quite as complicated. You go to an incursion system, warp to a site, go through the gate and there would be 6 or 10 or 13 drifters on the other side. You’d kill them, and rinse and repeat. They were always in Amarr space since it was an actual invasion of the Holy Amarr Empire.
So drifter killing today is done in those hives, special wormhole systems, right?
Yes, all in the hives. Though Drifters are still found in k-space. In fact, SERAPH did an op to kill drifters in k-space that was picked up by The Scope.
So killing drifters in K-space means .. killing the circadian seekers? Or are there hives in K-space as well?
Essentially what happens is that a wormhole will spawn in Jove observatory systems. Drifters will patrol the k-space side and it’s possible to kill them there. If you do it right, you can actually cause them to chain. But most of the ops go into the hive complex. Recently, we killed 15 Drifters. 4 outside on the way in and out and 11 inside. Frankly, the only reason we didn’t kill more outside is we had an op to do
Can you walk me through what goes into running a hive? Fleet size, what you need, what you face?
That depends on the ships, we did it with a minimum of seven. Certain hives also have certain effects; the pulsar one: Conflux is obviously worse for our armor doctrine.
But, I’ll start from the beginning. Before an op, we need to scout out a wormhole, that will always be in one of the Jove Observatory systems. We got a list of them and check them regularly. That usually starts a couple of hours before the operation. Once we have the wormhole set we form a fleet. For that, we need command bursts, logistics and then DPS. As for ship types, we like Curses, since tracking disruptors work great on drifters. Tech-3 destroyers also work well – for us, that means Confessors. We then go to the WH and head into the hive. We used to use maps, but now we have the damn things memorized.
There are 3 Drifters that patrol random rooms in the hive and also a number of seekers; it’s Lancers now, that also patrol around, but those are pretty much nothing. So, we make our way to the hive room, killing trash as we go, and sleepers. The antechamber has 2 Sleeper battleships, 6 cruisers, 4 frigates and can also have 1-3 Drifters, but that doesn’t give us much trouble. The hive room has the Hikanta that does about twice the damage of a regular drifter, and a stronger web. The Hikanta drops an index that can be redeemed at a different hive for drifter elements. The idea is to kill the Hikanta enough time to get everyone in the fleet at least one element. One Hikanta index gives 10 elements. So, twenty people in the fleet means we kill the Hikanta twice, it’s on a 30 minute respawn timer.
What’s the payout and how does it work? Is it like sleeper sites in wormholes, in that you sell the blue loot?
Payout is pretty bad. They do drop blue loot, but we mainly do it for the elements, which are useless as of right now, but we hope that in the future, they will be useful. We spent about two hours in the hive recently, made about 200 million ISK in loot and salvage, divided up to seven people. Most of the people that kill Drifters do it for something other than the money. It’s challenging and some of the hardest PVE in the game. CCP has this kind of silly idea to make PVE like PVP (which, if someone wanted to PVP, they would just go PVP.) But Drifter hives are closer to what you might find as a raid or dungeon in other more conventional MMOs, like WoW.
If new people want to run those hives.. are there any groups out that recruit?
ARC’s fleets are public, SERAPH is not really doing open recruitment.
Is that something an Alpha player could potentially get into?
Yes, ARC have alpha ships but an Alpha clone would almost need to be fully skilled into the alpha skillset. A week old player would probably not be suitable for a hive op, but that’s not my call.
Thank you for the interview!