Anti-Xeno Conflict Zones
The following is a guide into the tactics that can ensure your survival, and eventual success, in the hectic and brutal warzones known as AX Conflict Zones (AXCZs). It is expected that you are familiar with the AX Flight Manual, as that guide covers many important aspects of fighting Thargoids. AXCZs can be quite difficult, so it’s not generally not advised to try them solo unless you are comfortable with soloing at least a Basilisk.
In general, you will tend to find a mix of Interceptors (up to and including Hydras) supported by a large force of scouts. Anti-Xeno NPCs will also be present to assist during the fight, but do not expect them to be able to carry you to victory.
When it comes to looking for AXCZs, you will be able to find them in systems in the “Incursion” state. For an up to date list of these systems (including priorities), check the #defense-targets channel in the AXI Discord Server.
Whilst standard AX builds may seem like a good idea, there are a few modifications you will need to make in order to better stand a chance in an AXCZ.
Read more about general Anti-Xeno ships in our Ship Builds Section.
Firstly, decontamination limpets (or use of an alternative such as overheating) are highly recommended. Unlike solo Interceptor fights, you are very likely to have the caustic DoT effect applied to you (and not just once either). As with repair limpets, higher class controllers are recommended due to the greater repair rate. Along with a decontamination limpet controller, you will obviously want a cargo rack. You will need a lot of limpets, so a C4 or larger is recommended.
Having a Shutdown Field Neutraliser can be very helpful, since Shutdown Pulses happen very often within an AXCZ. Still, it’s advisable that only large ships, FDLs and Mambas be using this, since they have the utility slots to spare.
These Conflict Zones can take a while to complete so it’s wise to stock up on synthesis materials beforehand to ensure you’ll have enough heatsinks and flak to last the entire fight. Bringing gauss synths is recommended as well in case you run out of ammo and cannot go back to the station to resupply (being solo or need to keep the instance going for your wing).
Bringing a fighter bay can be beneficial, since the Lance and Trident fighters can make short work of scouts. Whilst fragile and very easily overwhelmed in AXCZs, the additional firepower they provide can be of great use against all targets present.
Long-range thermal vent beam lasers can be of great use. They allow you to:
Damage the Interceptor’s shields without spending ammo.
Manage your heat without heatsinks.
Determine if an Interceptor’s shields are still up without a scanner.
Tag an Interceptor from a great distance so you can receive the bond if you are far away.
Once you enter the AXCZ, a number of AX NPCs and Thargoid Scouts will appear. Move towards the center of the zone, and you will receive a message inviting you to join the fight. Upon accepting, a progress bar will appear in the top-left corner of your screen which will outline your progress.
The first wave of the AX Conflict Zone consists of 10-20 Scouts. Most of these are Marauders, but several will be special variants - the Regenerator, Berserker and Inciter. It is important that these special scouts are prioritized over the regular Marauders because their special abilities can turn the otherwise insignificant threat of the Scouts into a very real danger.
Read more about scouts here.
Without a Xeno Scanner, the special Scouts can be spotted by the pulses they emanate and the lingering effects of their pulse. In the moments after a pulse, the Regenerator can be seen to have a misty green hue around it and is usually the only one that doesn’t have a regenerative bubble-shield around it, Berserkers have a red mist and faint lightning effect and the Inciter has a white-pink colored faint lightning effect around it, helping you to determine your targets without scanning.
After destroying the first wave (the bar should be about 1/3 full), you will receive a 100,000CR bond, and the arrival of the Interceptors will be announced.
The second wave of the AX Conflict Zone consists of multiple Interceptors accompanied by large numbers of scouts. At the start of the wave, two Interceptors will appear and use their Shutdown Fields, so be prepared to use the Shutdown Field Neutraliser if equipped.
The types of Interceptors vary between Cyclops, Basilisk and Medusa, Cyclops being most common, and Medusa being the rarest. That said, it is not very uncommon for two Medusas to appear in the instance, so it is very important to identify the variants as soon as possible, and apply an appropriate strategy to deal with them effectively. As soon as the first Interceptor is destroyed, more can join the battle unannounced, so remain vigilant.
Depending on what types of Interceptors you’re dealing with, the following strategies are advised:
Their damage to the NPCs is negligible, you can alternate between both of them and take out a heart each. Saving ammo by letting NPCs exert them is a viable tactic, as they can easily exert a full strength Cyclops, and even kill it once its final heart is destroyed.
In a full wing, after taking out 2 hearts on a Cyclops, it should be relatively easy to kill it without destroying the final 2 hearts by concentrating fire on it. Failing this, taking out its second to last heart and maintaining fire should see the Cyclops dead before it has time to activate the Shutdown Field.
Solo Cyclops and a more powerful interceptor
Medusa can make short work of the NPCs, so you can either take out the Cyclops as fast as possible and then work on the Medusa (better in a wing), or, try to separate the Medusa from the CZ and fight it as you would solo. A Basilisk is not as big a threat to the NPCs, so you can let them tank it while you take out the Cyclops, and then move to the Basilisk.
Generally, after taking out the last heart on an interceptor a wing should maintain fire and kill the interceptor before it has time to raise its final shield. Always call out when you take out the 2nd last heart as this will trigger a Shutdown Field.
Two Basilisks or more powerful interceptors
These will very quickly reduce the NPCs to scrap, and it takes tremendous skill to engage and defeat both of them at once if you are alone. Separating one of them from the fight and fighting it solo is pretty much your only option (other than retreating of course).
In a wing however, it is possible to engage both targets simultaneously, alternating between the two and taking out a heart at a time on each.
Taking down all the Interceptors and Scouts will reward you with a 5,000,000CR bond, and trigger the final phase of the AXCZ.
The Hydra will appear at the center of the AXCZ and activate its Shutdown Field. After this, if not engaged, it will patrol around the area. If there are NPCs left alive at this point, they will quickly be destroyed, leaving you (and your wing) alone against this enemy.
Before engaging the Hydra you have plenty of time to repair and rearm, since the enrage timer does not count down unless the interceptor is in combat. Keep in mind that jumping out and back into the instance will cause more scouts and NPCs to appear. One way to avoid dealing with scouts is to drag the Hydra 10km or further from the center of the zone, and then drop on your wingmates’ signals instead of the AXCZ itself if you need to re-enter the instance.
If one person manages to get a scan on the Hydra, it will allow much easier coordination. The scan can be shared across wings by any member who has scan data (it doesn’t have to be the person who originally scanned it)
Upon destroying the Hydra you will be presented with a 15,000,000 CR bond, as usual with Hydrae, and another 10,000,000 CR bond for completing the entirety of the Conflict Zone.
When fighting in an AXCZ, many different bugs can appear. It’s important to be able to identify them and know how to deal with them in order to complete the zone.
Infinite Scouts: Sometimes the Interceptors won’t jump in and you’ll be stuck with endless waves of scouts. They will keep coming even after the progress bar is full, and the battle won’t end. One solution is to just jump out and reset the instance, or kill enough scouts to fill the bar and then fly out far from the AXCZ POI (around 30-50km should be enough) which should complete the zone.
Multiple progress bars, progress bars not appearing: This can be resolved by resetting the instance (sometimes leaving the zone is enough, but sometimes everyone will need to log out to the main menu)
NPCs becoming hostile: Accidentally hitting an NPC (even with flak) will get you a bounty, and if the NPC dies, you’ll get a murder bounty as well as notoriety.
NPC point defence will shoot down your flak: Self-explanatory, not much you can do about it
Be ready for wing/networking bugs, such as invincible hearts, rubberbanding, multiple swarms and shields, caustic missile spam and EMPs
Whenever someone jumps into the instance, this will cause a new wave of NPCs and scouts to appear. Be careful, as multiple CMDRs joining late can lead to massive amounts of scouts in the AXCZ.