There has been almost two months of continuous fighting in the Tribute Region which has seen the invading forces of Northern Coalition and Pandemic Horde square off against Circle Of Two with their allies Test Alliance Please Ignore in what has been called the TESTCO or Circle of Test coalition.

The Tribute Region as if the 5th of November with all Circle of Two (Yellow) systems still held after 6 weeks of fighting

The invaders, for many weeks, faced frustration after frustration as days passed with little to no progress into the region, bar the UMI-KK ihub. After the collapse of the Imperium at the end of World War Bee, neither Northern Coalition or Pandemic Horde had faced a determined sovereignty holding alliance of the likes of Circle of Two. For almost a year and a half, Circle of Two had practiced a defensive war in the region, particularly during World War Bee. Using their faster and more mobile doctrines to avoid a direct confrontation, defensive forces simply ran circles around the slower but heavy hitting Northern Coalition supercapital fleets, rendering them ineffective. With Circle of Two and TEST riding high on a wave of positive propaganda it seemed as if the walls of Tribute would stand indefinitely.

But the invading forces were relentless in their persistence, with incursions into the region occurring daily. Just when it appeared that there was no possible way the invading forces could make any headway, an alliance that resides in one of the constellations in Tribute was brought into the conflict; Mercenary Coalition.

Mercenary Coalition claimed the constellation of E3-NLE in Tribute from Tactical Narcotics Team during World War Bee in April and have resided there ever since. They have maintained a good relationship with Circle of Two as their new neighbours. However, once the news that Northern Coalition. (another group the Mercenary Coalition has long had good standing ties with) was going to be invading Tribute, the alliance leadership decided not to involve themselves in the conflict. In a post on reddit Seleene commented;

Anyone with half a brain could Nostradamus that NCDOT was going to move somewhere to hit someone. When we found out it was Tribute (in the middle of us deploying elsewhere) we o7’d both sides, went full neutral and grabbed the popcorn. Even when we started getting information that CO2 was planning to hit our space after they successfully repelled NCDOT, we sat around thinking about what we wanted to do.

Despite remaining neutral in the conflict, it appears some Circle of Two members decided that Mercenary Coalition’s inaction was as inexcusable as those of the invaders. So they took matters into their own hands, attacking their space by entosing some of their sovereignty structures and attacking a number of towers. Seleene’s post continued;

Then the killmails and sov wand notices started coming in, our line members howled like starved wolves and our course was set for us. Our little postage stamp of sov is not our home but we will not have it’s fate decided for us. Next time, how about talking to us first before touching our stuff?

This, combined with a switch in tactics from the invading forces who forward deployed from their original staging system KQK 1-2 in Pure Blind to F-7490 deeper into Tribute at the end of October, signaled a change in the dynamics of the war as the pressure began to mount.

The first blow to Circle of Two came in the form of a reported alliance-wide theft supposedly to to value of 35bn ISK from the alliances logistics corporation. In a reddit postSubliminally_Famous (reportedly to be a member of Ciggy Butt Brains.) wrote;

I logged into Eve Online the other day to find that we (the Ciggy Butt Brains. corporation) had been insta-kicked from Alliance (Circle-of-Two). Bummer.

No reason was given, but we were out. After a few hours of incredibly vague answers as to why, we finally got a solid response. Our corp CEO agreed to provide Alliance-level intelligence to the enemy.

No, he didn’t. A few days ago another Director in the corp received a confusing eve-mail from an NC. pilot. Point 1. To sum it up in one line it said “…your CEO has agreed to spy for us, let me know if you’re in too but if not we’ll rat you out to your Alliance” – pretty confusing if you’ve never had contact with this guy, right? Point 2. It was shrugged off and ignored as you would with any kind of junk mail coming through your letterbox. The evidence to show our CEO was corresponding with the enemy was a pastebin conversation between “xxx” and our CEO. To sum it up “xxx” offered 1 Billion ISK per month for intel on Alliance Fleets. Our CEO is worth a Trillion ISK. 1 Billion per month is nothing to him. Point 3. In this conversation “our CEO” uses emoji’s and words he doesn’t ever use in real life. Point 4. Oh, and he’s not logged in for a couple of months. Point 5. As well as this, the “xxx” to cover up the name of the NC. pilot were also placed over one of the first lines where our CEO’s name should have been put instead. Point 6. If you’re going to forge a pastebin, do it a bit better please.

Our 24 hour grace period of having blue standings to evac was extended to 48 hours to ensure we could get all of our members out with as little loss as possible but because neither GigX or ourselves could prove the other wrong without doubt the decision stands that we will leave Co2. Thanks for believing the enemy over a loyal Corp GigX…

We’ve found a new home and it has given us a new enthusiasm to play. It’ll probably take a week or so to get settled in, but the Ascension update is due in a couple of days, so that should prove fairly interesting for all.

Oh, and another corp in Co2 was kicked the day before us for camping a gate with a bubble… Yeah…

Meanwhile on Reddit:

“…So I would expect them to go after Co2 on a personal level shortly, attempt to stir up malcontent and drama within Co2 to try and pry those cracks apart…”

Little did they know this had already started to happen. Circle of Two were so very quick to remove us from the Alliance, leaving assets stranded and an active PVP corporation without a home. Granted, the past couple of weeks were slow for us, but we were keeping well ahead of fleet participation requirements (within the top third of corps in the Alliance for October).

A fatal mistake was made. They didn’t remove our characters from the Bluehogs Alliance logistics corporation.

Bluehogs runs as follows: – You create a courier contract to bluehogs for your assets to be moved so you don’t have to do it. – You must not put a collateral on the contract and it must have an evepraisal link in the info to show what the contents of the contract contains. – The reward is based on m3 and the value must not exceed 1bn ISK. – Raw Ore may not be transported from Null to High Sec, it must be sold within the Alliance and ships/containers must be repackaged.

If you follow these rules your contract is insured so if it is lost the Alliance will pay you the value. If you do not follow the rules it is not insured. Many people don’t follow the rules.

Starting at about 3am on Saturday 13th we started accepting all contracts headed from Jita to Null. Later in the day we started to take those leaving citadels in Null destined for Jita. At 8pm we took the rest and failed every single one of them. Co2 were out in one of the Kinakka Wafflehaus fleets at this time.

*49 contracts totalling over 35 Billion ISK. * here, here and here

Will Co2 pay out for the many incorrectly made contracts, or allow even more members to be alienated from them until the inevitable happens? From the first news of this war breaking out we, as a corporation, always said we would stand by Co2 until the bitter end. I guess it was a bitter end.

So long Co2, and thanks for all the ISK.

While not the greatest heist in Alliance history, the theft of line members personal assets can have a negative effect on the morale of the wider alliance. However one CO2 member appears to possibly have dodged a bullet. The dubiously named TrollingTortoise posted on the same thread:

Okay so funny story. I had just come back from a loooong hiatus of EVE. I get in and see these Blood Raider Cerebral Accelerators for sale. Did some quick math and realized the isk/sp gained was much better for current sp level than to buy skill injectors.

So I bought 4bill worth of them.

I get on the phone talking to my friend, telling him how smart I am and he drops the you do realize they expire on 12/1 right?

I panic. My shipments of 4bil in accelerators were already accepted and I needed to turn them around ASAP and sell them for a loss if I needed. I try to contact the guy who accepted to contract but he doesn’t respond. I’m freaking out.

Find out the next day, contracts were failed. Now I’m really freaking out. Skip ahead, my accelerators were a part of these contracts (you can find them in the link above. I’m being fully reimbursed with no loss!

Good guy douchewaffle saved my dumb ass.

But this tale was one small consolation to the events that followed only a few days after. Northern Coalition and Horde, along with Mercenary Coalition, Pandemic Legion, Darkness, and a number of other alliances had all started participating in the conflict, adding extra pressure on TESTCO. On the 16th of November, these combined forces managed to destroy all the infrastructure hubs in the constellation of X-VN63, further securing their control over that area of the map and putting them even closer to the capital of Circle of Two space, M-OEE8.

And so we come to the past weekend of the 19th and 20th of November which marked a full on assault on the M-OEE8 system to take down its crucial Infrastructure Hub. This key structure allows the anchoring of a system wide cynosural field jammer which, while active, meant it was more difficult for Northern Coalition. and Pandemic Legion to bring in their capital fleets. Having to fight in this system with the jammer intact, the PL/NC. forces would be diminished in their ability to bring the crushing firepower necessary to dominate the field of battle. With the infrastructure hub and the jammer out of commission, however, the capital system of Circle of Two in Tribute and their crown jewel, the Keepstar, would be vulnerable to attack. And thus the stage was set. 

Fighting in the constellation began at approximately 1600 EVE Time and raged for around 6 hours. The chaos of sovereignty warfare means there were multiple skirmishes and battles which by best estimates involved over 3,100 individuals with some 181 billion ISK destroyed. You can find a fairly solid battle report here, and it is clear from this that both sides lost heavily in the ISK war. But it is also clear that TESTCO ultimately lost out overall in terms of the numbers, as they were both outnumbered and outgunned.

The battle was captured in this cinematic video by Pandemic Legion member Joachim Weiss below.

Early in the battle, and despite heavy losses, TESTCO were making good progress in defending the infrastructure hub and for a while it appeared they were about to mount a successful defence of the critical structure. However, halfway through the evening, the attackers began to gain the upper hand and by the end of the evening the ihub had been destroyed and claimed by Northern Coalition.

The door to M-OEE8 and the Circle of Two Keepstar was now open.

Since the battle for the M-OEE8 infrastructure hub, the various invading alliances have begun setting up for the siege of the Keepstar by placing Astrahus citadels within the system. These started coming online on the evening of the 23rd of November.

The CO2 Keepstar with three ‘siege’ citadels on-lining in the background

The invading forces fully expected to contest the on-lining of the structures and observed 30 Circle of Two titans undock. The Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion super capital fleet was prepped and ready to pounce on any opportunity that presented itself to engage them. But the entire fleet, along with a few supporting super capitals and freighters, jumped to the New Eden Trading Company Keepstar in Aunenen. It was also quickly seen that a number of titan’s had been put up on contract in Aunenen by a number of Circle of Two members over the last couple of days here, here, and here. Is this an indication of Circle of Two’s intentions to move their heavier assets out to safety, showing they will not be fielding them in the defence of the citadel? Or are they simply moving them to allow for better mobility should they be needed?

The Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion supercapital fleets stood down realising they wouldn’t get an opportunity to engage, which allowed their remaining forces to return to overseeing the anchoring of the siege citadels in the system.

As the citadels entered their final stages of anchoring, a small Circle of Two Navy Omen fleet undocked and engaged a Pandemic Horde Svipul fleet that was guarding the Pandemic Legion Astrahus ‘The High Ground’. Not long after the engagement began Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion bridged in a tech 3 strategic cruiser fleet from their staging system which saw off the Navy Omens who, after taking almost 9bn ISK in losses, withdrew back to the safety of the Keepstar. You can find the battle report here.

The citadel ‘The High Ground’ deployed by Pandemic Legion overlooking the Circle of Two KeepStar

A Mexican stand off then ensued where Circle of Two fleet Commander gigX undocked a large Machariel Battleship fleet which for some 15min kept within the safety of the Keepstar before warping to the Taisy gate. Sensing an opportunity, the invading forces followed to find the Circle of Two fleet on the gate and jumping to the Taisy system. All forces made the jump into Taisy and the fight ensued on the gate with a defiant gigX taunting ‘Wanna fight pussy’ in local.

The resulting skirmish however was entirely one-sided, with Circle Of Two vastly outnumbered and outgunned. They lost some 93 of the approximately 160 ships in the fleet to the value of over 23bn ISK VS Northern Coaltion, Pandemic Legion, Mercenary Coaltion and Pandemic Horde losing just 9 ships worth 2.6bn ISK. You can find the battle report here and a short video of the two engagements by Circle of Two youtuber Toffi below.

Many people are now asserting that the Tribute war may soon reach its final stages, whereas other pundits claim that, should the M-OEE8 Keepstar fall, it would merely signal the end of the first phase of what could be a much longer conflict. Whichever way you look at it, the upcoming Keepstar battle will for certain be the bloodiest of the war. For the first time in the history of New Eden, the might of a fully armed and operational Keepstar will be tested.

The Tribute region as of the 24/11 with a number of systems now in NC., PL and Pandemic Horde control.

Credit – Feature image from Razorlen EVE flickr album M-OEE8