D-W7F0 system, Delve region. On the 5th of December at 21:06 EVE Standard Time, Goonswarm Federation [CONDI] super capitals were ambushed in the system by a combined Pandemic Legion [-10.0], Hard Knocks Citizens [HKRAB] and Pandemic Horde [REKTD] force.
The battle was the result of months of preparation and hard work from members of Bat Country. The corporation, formerly a member of Goonswarm Federation, left the alliance in favour of Pandemic Legion after a rift opened between one of its leadership members, Endie, and the leadership of Goonswarm Federation. The feud quickly became public, with members of the then Imperium coalition condemning the once cherished director and architect of many Goonswarm Federation victories and calling him, among other things, “mentally unstable”.
This behavior, coming from those they once regarded as friends and comrades, understandably angered the members of Bat Country, leading some of them to plot their own revenge. However following the break in hostilities between the Imperium and the emerging Money Badger Coalition (MBC), which resulted in one of the greatest wars in the cluster’s history, many thought revenge had been achieved by Bat Country. The result of the war, after all, was the dissolution of the Imperium, including the loss of all its territories in the north of New Eden and the trapping of most of its assets in systems now in the hands of the victorious allies.
Following the conclusion of the war known as “World War Bee” (WWB), Goonswarm Federation was a shadow of its former self, relegated to the position of a secondary power and taking refuge in the Delve region, rebuilding its strength and once again insulating itself from the rest of the universe. Yet, it was not enough for some members of Bat Country. They wanted to show Goonswarm Federation that even its new fortress in Delve was not safe. Thus, a small group of former and current Bat Country pilots banded together and began plotting.
Using their knowledge of the way Goonswarm Federation operated, specifically the way its Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and individuals reacted, the plotters came to the idea of using a “Dread bomb”. For those unaware, a “Dread bomb”, or dreadnought bombing, is literally a suicide attack directed at super capitals. Using the overwhelming firepower of a dreadnought squadron or more, the attacker is often able to overwhelm the target ship, often at the cost of all the participating dreadnoughts. Since a fully fitted and insured dreadnought represents only an estimated 1.5 billion ISK net loss, the trade off is deemed favorable, especially as super capitals are incapable of being insured and are often fitted extravagantly.
Once the idea of the “Dread bomb” came up, the next step was to identify a target. The Theta SIG was chosen, being one of the most active home defense groups of the Imperium, with a propensity for using super capitals, often in an overwhelming fashion. With the target chosen, data had to be gathered and analyzed. The group started checking what super capitals the active members of the SIG flew, as well as the time and numbers the SIG usually fielded.
After collecting the data came the theorycrafting. It was not enough to take down one or two super capitals, the members wanted to inflict as much damage as possible. Countless simulations were run, both on paper and on the test server, to find the most effective damage types, most probable vulnerabilities, the critical mass needed to overwhelm the group and so forth. No aspect of the engagement was left to chance or idle speculation. With the results of the simulations distilled and conclusions drawn, the operation moved ahead towards its implementation.
The next two steps were crucial. The group had to choose a system to bait the SIG in, and prepare a weapons, or more accurately dreadnought, cache for D-day. The system chosen was D-WF70. It serves as Goonswarm Federation’s staging, meaning that the SIG would have to warp in help, rather than be able to jump it in via cynosural beacon. This allowed the group to possibly control the grid, depriving the SIG from receiving reinforcements for several minutes. In an operation where every second counts, two minutes could prove the difference between 1-2 dead super capitals and 10.
Once the target system had been chosen, a staging system had to be selected as well. In this, the group once again displayed its brilliance. As CCP Games announced an increase in jump drive ranges for capitals and super capitals in the upcoming expansion, the group used this future detail in its plans. The system selected as a base of operations was within the future jump range changes, but too far before the changes came into effect. This allowed the group to move capitals and equipment without raising too much suspicion.
With most of the preliminary work done, the next part required acquiring the ships and equipment for the operation. In this the group, backed by Pandemic Legion, managed to procure enough dreadnoughts and carriers for the operation. The carriers themselves were needed mainly in order to drain the capacitor of the super capitals, thus turning off their hardeners and making them far more vulnerable to the dreadnoughts. They were also equipped with anti support fighters, useful in de-fanging super carrier fighter bombers. Once the hulls had been purchased and delivered, the organizers started ferrying their fittings and ammunition. After a few jump freighter runs, all done in secret, the ships were finally fitted and awaited their pilots.
At this point, the organizers started the call for volunteers. With Pandemic Legion being notorious for its internal security and secrecy, the heads of the operation felt comfortable revealing the basic plan and asking for pilots to sign up. Dozens heeded the call, and contrary to the organizers’ expectations, they ran out of ships long before they ran out of volunteers. The pilots were told to make jump clones in the staging system and to be prepared for the signal to jump in, gather their dreadnought or carrier, and prepare for a fight.
At the same time, more pilots were smuggled to the D-W7F0 system in interdictors. Using scouts, the pilots were brought in at odd hours when the population of the system and its surroundings were at their lowest. The interdictors flew to safe spots where they logged off, possibly waiting for weeks at a time for the order to log in. The interdictors were necessary, both to tackle the initial super capitals and establish a perimeter, disallowing Goonswarm Federation to bring reinforcements directly to the field and thus delaying rescue efforts.
The process of seeding and securing pilots took weeks, as the organizers took every precaution not to tip off their would-be victims. With everything in place, all that was needed was bait.
Bait is of course, the hardest part in setting the trap. While logistics and planning are important, they mean very little without the right sort of bait to pull it off. The process of creating or procuring a pilot and giving it history is a very time consuming and meticulous thing. Luckily for the organizers, the right kind of bait was offered to them free of charge in the form of Atnac.
Atnac, a former DURA LEXX [DURA] pilot, had recently changed his line of work. Actively hunting anchored cynosural jump beacons, the pilot has destroyed several jump freighters in suicide attacks using dreadnoughts. This new profession led him to the Delve region, where he scouted the cynosural beacon array in D-W7F0. After a couple of attempts, he soon fell prey to Theta squad. While the failures may have hurt his pride, the worst part was the gloating of Theta members who took the opportunity to mock and insult the pilot in local. Resolved to make them pay for the insults, the pilot decided to use his misfortune and contacted Pandemic Legion.
For the organizers it was a godsend, nothing short of fate. With their new ally in place, all that the organizers needed was a time. The date chosen was the 5th of December, 21:00 EVE Standard Time.
On the day of the attack, a couple of hours before the trap was to be set, all the pilots involved jump cloned to the staging system and were handed their ships. After making sure they were combat ready, interdictors were called to wait on log in screens and a fleet template prepared. With everything in place, Atnac was given the go ahead to “Fish” once more in D-W7F0. Theta members were up and about and easily recognized Atnac’s character in system. Guessing he was fishing once more for a jump freighter to use the beacon, their super capital squadron prepared to jump to the beacon while a bait ship was secured.
Once the Theta fleet was ready, a Rhea jump freighter jumped to the beacon. It was quickly tackled by one of Atnac’s characters and a cynosural beacon lit. Within seconds, Atnac’s dreadnought loaded grid and opened fire on the seemingly defenseless jump freighter. A few moments later, Theta squadron landed on the grid, having jumped to the same beacon as the Rhea. Landing near the dreadnought, they prepared to dispatch the foolish pilot once again.
Suddenly, the system spiked as interdictors logged in and warped to the cynosural beacon. As the ships landed, they started launching countless warp disruption probes, trapping the Theta super capital force on grid. Several of the interdictors started burning towards citadels and gates in the system, gaining sufficient distance and launching more warp disruption probes intersecting the celestial beacons and the Theta fleet. These were the so-called “Stop bubbles”. By placing a warp disruption probe between an object and a celestial beacon, anything that attempts to warp to the object from the direction of the beacon will land at the edge of the warp disruption probe, rather than at the object.
As the interdictors set up the perimeter, another cynosural beacon lit up and ushered in the Pandemic Legion dreadnought force. 35 pilots in dreadnoughts and carriers entered the system on top of the Theta fleet. As the new arrivals materialized on grid, they wasted no time in entering siege cycles and launching anti support fighters. Capital energy neutralizers were spread out while capital turrets slowly rotated to focus on their first primary: the Revenant-class super carrier. The super carrier belonged to one of Goonswarm Federation’s main fleet commanders, and its destruction would serve not only as a measure of vengeance, but also to remove an important commander from the field.
With 35 dreadnoughts firing at it, its capacitor under the pressure of the energy neutralizers and pinned to the grid, the Revenant could do very little to resist. It went down fast, exploding in a bright flash of light. The fleet changed targets, going after the titans in the Theta force. One by one the behemoths fell, first a Leviathan titan, then a Ragnarok titan before the dreadnoughts switched to the super carriers. One Hel was almost instantly overwhelmed, its sister ship joining it a minute later.
The Demise of the Revenant and One of the Leviathan Titans in D-W7F0
All the while, Goonswarm Federation reinforcements poured into the grid, but most, if not all, were stopped by the warp interdiction probes. Dozens of force auxiliaries and super capitals exited warp only to land nearly 200 kilometers from their distressed brethren. The many interdictors piloted by members of Pandemic Legion, Hard Knocks Citizens and Pandemic Horde did their job well, often sacrificing their own ships to buy a few more precious minutes for their dreadnoughts.
However, as more and more interdictors were cleared from the field, the perimeter established by Pandemic Legion collapsed. As the warp disruption probes expired, Goonswarm Federation reinforcements managed to land near their brethren. With force auxiliaries on the field the dreadnoughts would have a harder time taking down the other super capitals. Regardless, the dreadnoughts had already bought a one way ticket, and were going to take it as far as they could go. After the two Hels went down, the dreadnoughts targeted another Leviathan, which also went down fast. After its destruction, the Pandemic Legion force went after a Wyvern super carrier, but as its shields were stripped away, it managed to swap to an armor tank. With the force auxiliaries on the field, it easily began to soak up the damage. Realizing the Wyvern would not budge, the dreadnoughts targeted its sister ship, which could not withstand their firepower.
However, as the battle progressed, Pandemic Legion started losing capitals. As more and more Goonswarm Federation capitals and super capitals flooded the field, especially after the removal of most of the screening interdictors, the dreadnought losses mounted. In rapid succession dreadnoughts, carriers and force auxiliaries were destroyed, doomsday devices, squadrons of fighter bombers and other dreadnoughts tearing them apart in a desperate race to save as much of the tackled Theta fleet as possible. With their firepower dwindling, the remaining dreadnoughts destroyed the wrecks of the fallen super capitals, a final insult to the defenders before turning their guns on the Goonswarm Federation carriers which had joined the fray.
The retribution was terrible: of the Pandemic Legion capitals, only two managed to escape the wrath of Goonswarm Federation. Within minutes, most of the fleet was destroyed, reduced to twisted wrecks as more and more Goonswarm Federation ships descended on the field, joining their friends in a feeding frenzy. Soon, all that was left on the field was a single Rorqual capital industrial ship, tanking the incoming damage thanks to its Pulse Activated Nexus Invulnerability Core module, commonly referred to as the “Panic Button”. However, as the module cycled, overheating and finally breaking down, the Rorqual found itself vulnerable. Finally, it too was taken down, no less than 300 ships participating in its demise.
The Battle from the Perspective of Multiple Capitals in the Pandemic Legion Fleet, with Comms
With the last hostile capital gone, Goonswarm Federation was left to count its losses and recover whatever it could from the wrecks of the fallen. The bloody toll saw it lose 28 ships, including 3 titans, 4 super carriers, 2 carriers and 1 force auxiliary for 597.69 billion ISK of damage. Pandemic Legion and its allies lost 76 ships in comparison, including 36 dreadnoughts, 9 force auxiliary, 8 carriers and 3 capital industrial ships for 165.76 billion ISK damage.
Battle report for the D-W7F0 system can be found here.
Whether this is the final revenge of Bat Country or just a prelude for what is yet to come remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: a blow was struck against Goonswarm Federation’s confidence, as Pandemic Legion managed to hit it in the heart of its sovereignty. Atnac himself had been vindicated thanks to his part in the raid, and even received the loot taken from the Revenant. In an interview, he promised to put the ISK from the sale of the modules to good use “It will fund many dreadnoughts” were his words.
Salivan Harddin is a member of V0LTA, WE FORM V0LTA, and covers battles across New Eden