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This post was syndicated from /u/Schenck-the-Prophet’s post on /r/eve.


Background:

The leadup to the summer for northern alliances was relatively quiet – a brief Triumvirate deployment from mid-March to early May was the primary content generator in the North, aside from the PanFam eviction of LUMPY, FUM8, and WOMBO from Tenal. The North seemed to be settling into enough of a holding pattern that GOTG deployed most alliances to Korasen, ostensibly to engage in lowsec skirmishes with the local residents, including Snuffed Out, Project Mayhem, and others. This deployment ended in the later stage of June, and GOTG returned to the north.

kurosen1 > We were all just excited for content during what was a very quiet time in New Eden. We wanted to poke at the beehive and I was happy to undock for something other than rats.

Southwards, TEST and its allies in the Legacy Coalition were frequently clashing with neighbors in Delve and Querious, and skirmishing with Triumvirate and others. Goonswarm’s Space Violence was in the local area, providing a healthy dose of content to the line members of TEST. In mid to late July however, TEST begin preparing for a large deployment to an unknown destination. It wasn’t until a long and difficult move-op that it was revealed that TEST had deployed to MTO2-2. For a few weeks, they skirmished with GOTG forces, who frequently called upon their Pandemic Legion and Pandemic Horde allies to tip the scales even further in their favor. TEST began preparations to leave in early August, signaling a potential end to the northern conflict just as the State of the Goonion declared that Imperium forces would be moving north in order to stage next to PanFam assets in Tribute and Vale of the Silent, near where Imperium allies the Initiative had been staged for weeks. The purpose was largely stated to be for both revenge against PanFam for their actions in WWB, and partially for goodfights and for content.

kurosen1 > We expected the batphone to come out, and we were fine with it. We had doctrines and strategies that seemed to work out very well, and with each fight that went on, we were feeling pretty good.

In preparation for this move, the Imperium moved a capital force of monumental size northwards – well over a thousand capitals, predominantly dreads and carriers – in a long convoy from Imperial shipyards in Delve to the new staging of Hakonen, situated between both Tribute and Vale of the Silent. TEST’s move operation, as it turned out, would be found next door at Obe. A massive coalition of some 35,000 players, as well as large, eight thousand man alliance, were now perched on the doorstep of the north. The stage was set for a massive conflict to brew.

As NCdot moved from their southern deployment in the southwest of Eve, they found themselves ambushed by a combined Snuff, Project Mayhem, and Initiative fleet on their move-op. Half a dozen supercarriers and three Avatars were destroyed in the convoy heading north. At the same time, Mercenary Coalition, which had been deployed to Syndicate over the past several months, started moving their own assets northwards, unanchoring their Keepstar and preparing to move it as well. GOTG announced that they would be shifting to a new forward deployment system “soon”, away from their previous staging in WLF. An early point of conflict was a NCdot Sotiyo in the system of MJI – despite massive numbers on both sides, the timer ended in a tepid stalemate. United Northern forces (UN Coalition) refused to jump out of their perches around the gate leading into system, and Imperium/TEST fleets refused to jump into the potential meatgrinder at the entrance of MJI, leading to both sides heading home in frustration.

August 8th would be very different however. Multiple UN coalition fleets, made up primarily of Machs, and many Typhoon fleets formed by Imperium members, backed by Jackdaws and a Claw fleet and supported by TEST Nightmares and Maelstroms, clashed heavily with UN Coalition forces over an onlining GSF Fortizar, ‘The Beacon of Amon Din’. More is written here on the battle and the aftermath of it, with additional commentary by Gobbins of Pandemic Horde, and a post-mortem written by INN.

Within a day, however, GSF started the anchoring process of another Fortizar in Hakonen, following a pledge by the Mittani to anchor a Fortizar every night until either UN coalition forces failed to stop them, or they broke completely. As such, the stage was set on the evening of August 9th and 10th for a major fleet battle.

THE EYE OF THE STORM

The evening of August 9th and 10th were much the same as the previous one in Hakonen. An Imperial Fortizar was set to come out of its anchor cycle by 02:10, leading to several full Mach fleets from Pandemic Horde, Northern Coalition., and GOTG to form, as well as an Abaddon fleet from Pandemic Legion. GOTG dreads and supers were ordered on standby in A-DDGY, while NC supers and Apostles were set up in a perch around the Fortizar. Local count climbed to 2500, though the server seemed mostly stable.

As the Fortizar came out of its anchoring cycle, GSF carriers warped onto the grid with the Fortizar. While a few stray carriers became lockable and were quickly shot down, the majority of carriers deployed fighters, warped back to their perch on a staging Astrahus. This was a clear effort to avoid mistakes from the first night, where damaged squadrons had to be pulled back from the Fortizar grid over a thousand kilometers to be rearmed, allowing UN supers to free-fire on the Imperium Typhoon fleets then. Within a few minutes of executing this strategy, multiple Imperium Typhoon fleets, backed by a Jackdaw fleet, a stealth bomber group, and with a TEST Nightmare/Maelstrom fleet present came onto the battlefield and engaged the UN forces.

Unlike the previous fight, where Imperium Typhoons had tried to stay at range and seen much of their alpha volley fail to make a dent in the UN fleets, they made the bold decision to go in at point blank range on the UN Mach fleets, engaging them at knife point. This allowed Imperium forces to mitigate flight time for their missiles, lessening the loss of alpha damage, and allowing them to use an improved fit that worked to suppress the Machs on field through webbing, tracking disrupting, and neuting. The Machs, many of them active fit, found themselves drained of cap, unable to use their hardeners, opening them up to easy volleys from Imperium Typhoons and their circling bomber fleet. Fighting was intense, with a much more even trade for Machs and Typhoons on either side ongoing at that time, and the node seizing up yet again due to mass amounts of players.

Close to an hour after the fight began, Imperium dreads were dropped at moderate range from the UN coalition forces – many report that they blackscreened or had client issues upon dropping in, making them easy prey for hostile forces on field. Despite this, they engaged UN dreads, carriers, and Apostles on field, as GOTG dropped their own capitals and supers on field. The tempo of the battle at this time was fairly even, and seemed almost to be swinging to the side of CSA forces. A DARKNESS Nyx that disconnected was probed down and attacked at a safe spot, scoring the first super kill in combat during the war so far.

However, as time went on, UN supers used their fighters to great effect, volleying Typhoons in rapid succession despite the heavy TiDi. After suffering heavy losses, the Imperium and TEST forces retracted from the battlefield and ceded the second Fortizar to the UN forces surrounding it. After its destruction, UN forces began to pull out of Hakonen and return to their staging systems. An attempt to snag a departing UN titan was met with quick retaliation by other UN supercapitals, which devastated Imperium forces in pursuit before continuing their retreat to M-OEE8. A staggering butcher’s bill in Hakonen alone counts 419 billion isk killed over the second Fortizar. An Imperium News Network writeup can be found here.

SEVEN DAYS, SIX FORTS

Ever since the attempted anchoring of ‘The Beacon of Amon Din’, Hakonen has seen intense fighting at the crux of Imperium staging grounds, with two massive battles claiming half a trillion isk in losses so far. An additional two Fortizars, which attempted to online the 14th and the 15th, were destroyed with little fire exchanged between both sides, as it seems that Imperium forces have taken a more conservative approach. The heavy fighter screen, with excellent subcap killing capabilities, is a difficult hurdle to surmount, and poses a risky future for Imperium efforts to online additional Fortizars. How can Imperium forces hope to anchor one when they lack the supercap umbrella that UN forces have brought consistently?

Imperium forces may begin to use Fortizars in Hakonen as diversionary tactics for other goals that they have. A Fortizar prepped to come out of its anchoring cycle on the 15th was destroyed by UN forces, while multiple Imperium fleets destroyed two online and fitted Fortizars in Placid against Northern Coalition., scoring 30 billion isk in dead structures and cutting a supply line to Syndicate. It remains to be seen whether or not UN forces will divert their efforts away from any anchoring Fortizars in Hakonen, or if they will continue to press Imperium forces in that system, hoping to deny them a large capital staging point.

DELVE WHALING SEASON IN FULL SWING

Since the deployment of Imperium forces northwards, Delve has been (to external observers) a funeral pyre for many ships. In just two weeks, since the State of the Goonion address, 62 Rorquals to the tune of over half a trillion isk have been destroyed by the efforts of UN whalers, and others such as Shadow Cartel, VOLTA, Inner Hell, and Pandemic Horde. Additionally claimed are 12 supercarriers, to the tune of almost 330 billion isk, as well as a GSF Avatar worth 73 billion. Barely halfway through August, Delve has seen its deadliest and most expensive month for losses since April.

In addition to whaling crews making their rounds throughout the region, Pandemic Horde has begun an “Infestor” initiative, aimed at wreaking havoc in the region through the usage of alt alpha clones to run wild through Delve. The cheapness of their ships may lead to heavy losses, but they too are inflicting damage on the residents of the region. Fernie Bars, a new player in Pandemic Horde, gives an overview of the Infestor efforts:

Fernie Bars > Infestors are staging out of a citadel in PR-8CA we continue to online citadels in goons space as they find and rf them. We roam in groups of atrons, mauluses and thoraxs. Most fleets don’t break the smallgang level. We generally head out with about 10 peeps. Sometimes we get as many as 30 alpha clones in fleet and we can even crack ill conceived gatecamps. Surprisingly goons krabs will dock up in the face of as few as 7 atrons. We will freely kill anything we think we can take, due to the low cost of our ships we will often attempt to go after things that we really shouldn, PL have whaling fleets staging nearby and we will happily pass any intel on ratting supers over to them.

A travel advisory that was issued last week urged caution and due diligence in protecting assets in the region. That travel advisory is likely to remain in effect until the end of the Imperium’s deployment.

NEW GUARDS AT THE WALL

UN forces continue to shuffle around and reposition in order to best combat Imperium and TEST forces on their doorstep. GOTG forces, which had previously deployed to 0-YMBJ on the Pure Bline-Tribute border area have now moved to join NCDOT and PL allies in M-OEE8, barely two jumps out from Hakonen. This move, including movement of the GOTG cap and supercap fleet, now puts them in even easier striking range of Imperium forces situated there. With this move, all UN forces except for Pandemic Horde, who remain staged in 7RM, share a staging system. Outside observers are noting that this may exert greater pressure on Imperium forces due to greater cohesion on the UN side.

NEW IMPERIUM OFFENSIVE BEGINS IN EARNEST

Imperium forces have launched a bold new offensive into Tribute, anchoring a host of Astrahus-class citadels in a concerted effort to generate content and create potential forward staging points for their fleets spread all across the region. Dubbed the Roach Motel strategy in official Imperium cables, the strategy seeks to probe for openings in the UN Coalition lines, and exploit failures to remove these Astrahus citadels to the Imperium’s advantage. So far, UN forces have been working hard to remove these Roach Motels, but with Imperium claims to have well over a hundred of them, ready to deploy, this could spell trouble for the UN forces in their defense of Tribute.

I LOVE THE VALE-LY, OH!

It is in the Vale of the Silent where Imperium and TEST forces have begun their sov campaign grind and where it is producing the most results. As of the time of this writing, TVN-FM station has fallen, and a host of systems are under attack across the region. IPAY-2, a system near the mouth of the Vale and a mere two jumps from Obe, has seesawed between Imperium and UN control. Multiple constellations are currently reinforced across the region, and it may seem that UN forces are on the backfoot in the Vale. Many eyes will be looking towards this region to see if TEST and Imperium forces are able to establish a heavy beachhead into the region in order to position themselves better to lay siege to Tribute.

PERSPECTIVES FROM THE FRONTLINES: TEST ALLIANCE

As in any war, opposing sides have different views on how the conflicts are playing out, the motivations behind them, and the rate of progress. While many may talk to the leaders and fleet commanders on either side, getting perspectives from the line members are always important.

kurosen1 is a member of Dreddit inside of Test Alliance Please Ignore. He first started playing Eve when WWB was brewing and joined in late March, 2016. Seeing the massive changes going on, he stayed subbed to the game, and enjoys participating in large fleet fights and hunting.

“I was at M-OEE8 [the battle in December, 2016]. That was definitely one of the more intense of times. we knew what we were facing, but it still signalled what was to come. After the Keepstar went down, we knew the invasion into vale was coming, from my perspective, we were ready to fight tooth and nail, but we knew after co2 fell that we weren’t likely to keep hold of our space there. I guess the higher ups had good foresight in moving us when they did.”

How did you feel about the PL/NC campaign in Tribute up until M-O? Did it feel like it was just for goodfights, or did you feel that it was more like a eviction?

“To me, it was very obvious that gudfights was just a BS guise, even though PL was more nomadic back then, it was obvious once the wands came out in force just what they were doing. Don’t get me wrong, the first few days seemed like there were just skirmishes, but as supers and titans started to come in for a large amount of the fights, it became more apparent.”

What are your personal feelings and the personal feelings of TEST line members from both of the large battles in Hakonen? Are they great content? Is morale holding high? Are people disappointed that TEST is fighting strategically alongside GSF and its allies during these types of battles?

“Here’s the thing – the enemy of my enemy isn’t always my friend, but the wounds are fresher from the eviction from Vale. I don’t like goons, and from my perspective, we aren’t trying to help them so much as we are trying to hurt PL and friends… As for the battles, the tidi has been horrible, so not TOO much fun (disable crime watch!). But it’s a blast either way. If we could have goons keep deploying citadels purely for the content we get, I’d be very happy. I don’t care that they get blown up, just that we get to blow up ships in the process.”

“I think many people get attached to sov, their hulls, and their dank ticks. This game is about more than that – you are here not to sit quietly while spinning in station. Undock, get blown up, and grab another ship. After all, it’s just space pixels.”

PERSPECTIVES FROM THE FRONT LINES: PANDEMIC HORDE

Fernie Bars is a member of Pandemic Horde. After a short trial run in 2009, he returned to Eve Online this past July and joined Pandemic Horde, and has been involved in several of the Hakonen skirmishes, as well as contributing to the Infestor program that Pandemic Horde is running against Imperium citizens in Delve.

What were your opinions on Goons/TEST prior to this conflict that’s going on right now? Did you interact with them at all back in 2009?

“I knew of goons from their years of playing the game and WWB, more recently. I didn’t have a particularly strong opinion of them at all before joining horde. No interaction with them back in 2009. I knew about The Mittani and a basic understanding of their history. We’re all just playing the game so as people, as players I hold no ill will towards them but a great man once said “grr goons, hat goons.” It started with excitement when I first heard they were deploying, I was looking forward to playing a small part in the war.”

How do you feel about the way the war is going in the north? There have been a lot of victories recently, but there have also been losses here and there (NC Forts in Placid, some stuff around hisec). How does Horde feel about the war as a whole?

“We feel we are winning. Both the isk war and the strategic one. Not only are we winning major engagements we are almost constantly harassing delve. As for the forts in placid, as a newer member of the alliance and the game as a whole so my understanding of the significance of their loss is limited. Nobody on the NCPL side is freaking out about it so I’m guessing it’s not a big deal. Horde is more concerned with the potential loss of our trade hubs in Perimeter.”

Have you participated in the whaling efforts in Delve so far?

“Whaling fleets are heading out daily. I’ve not been on one of them yet but we have an infestor program in which we create alpha clones, hand out atrons and roam delve and querious. I’ve been spending a lot of time in delve on that account.”

Have you been at the battles in Hakonen recently?

“I was in 3 of the 4 so far. As I’m a low sp pilot I have been flying ewar. They first battle was my first ever TIDI fight, we never got good positioning on the goon fleet and as such didn’t have much of an impact. We did manage to probe down a TNT director’s d/c’d carrier and pop that. 2nd battle I joined a cane fleet that worked alongside MC to pop some goon “roach motels” between us we got 9 of 10 astras and still had time to whore on the fort. 3 battle wasn’t really a fight, we headshot asher and the Typhoons left to be boson’d.

If this is all the goons have to offer the north right now I for one am dissapointed.”

TRAVEL ADVISORIES:

  • The previous Delve travel advisory has been extended to cover Querious as well, and remains in effect until further notice.
  • Travel advisory issues for the Tribute region. UN forces, particularly Mercenary Coalition, are operating to remove Imperium assets deployed under a host of alt-corps, and entities neutral to either side are advised to steer clear of the region.
  • Travel advisory for the lower dronelands have been lifted with the departure of Vanguard from the area.
  • Travel advisory issued for the Feythabolis-Tenerifis border area. Vanguard and Circle of Two have begun working together, and frequent fleet clashes are to be expected in the coming weeks.

Fly safe out there!


image credit: Razorien