TMC Archives 2013-07-28

(Editor’s Note: This battle report is the personal account of Vily, a Goonswarm Federation Fleet Commander and the leader of one of the CFC Megathron fleets in the battle of 6VDT.)

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we saw the largest engagement in the history of video games.

I say that because a battle involving over 4000 pilots is now over, with the embers of our enemies’ wrecks still smoldering (even though they technically can’t) in the cold, dark space of 6VDT-H in Fountain.

This battle is the culmination of what will likely be called the Fountain War, a war that has raged for two months and represents one of the most dynamic conflicts of EVE Online in the last two years.

When we (the CFC, or ClusterFuck Coalition) decided to reinforce the 6VDT-H station, we did so merely on a whim. TEST Alliance had shown an unacceptable level of resistance to one of our daily European timezone siege groups; the farther they let us push, the farther we shall push. In a surprising turn of events, TEST Alliance decided to time the station timer for European prime (afternoon US timezone) instead of the usual Australian timezone strategy, which has, while providing little success in the past, at least allowed them to resist at a moderate level.

We didn’t think particularly much of the timer; 6VDT-H is not anywhere near the level of strategic importance it once held. Its use as a transit hub is mostly deprecated, and it no longer represents an active military base for more than a fraction of TEST’s forces. However, the morning after the initial attack, we awoke to a surprise: All TEST operations for the following two days had been canceled. All forces were to prepare for a defence of 6VDT on Sunday, the 28th of July. This was where they would hold the line. This was where they would end our advance.

So: we in the CFC prepared, as we do for all operations. We analyzed the locations and timers and organized our allies and membership. We were told that TEST Alliance, along with their returning allies N3/Nulli (altogether known as N3ST), would make a stand. This would be their Alamo. We found weaknesses. N3ST’s moon control was lacking, allowing us, with moderate effort the day before, to gain complete moon supremacy, thereby ensuring that there would be no “high ground” (a moon-based tower) for N3ST to fall back to. This would limit their options if they chose to deploy super-capital class assets into the fight. Preparation and organization is a hallmark of CFC strategy, and for a battle as important as this, no opportunity for advantage would be passed up.

The morning of the fight we had some chats, but the FC group in charge of the CFC war machine are old dogs for this type of fight. We know the mechanics of herding our people, moving them at best speed, and getting there to the destination in best order. Before a single broadcast had gone out, 2300 people sat ready in 4-EP (the CFC staging base). More would log-in over the course of the day. The N3ST staging systems amassed just under two thousand pilots, leaving them slightly outnumbered, but not by a margin anywhere near what we had expected.

The CFC war machine drummed, and seven fleets of 256 (the max allowable) Megathron-class battleships were formed under our willing FCs: Vily, Mister Vee, Lazarus Telraven, Reagalan, Cor Six, Intergalaktor, and Ironwulf. Two fleets of bombers under Kcolor and Dabigredboat were also formed, as well as an electronic warfare fleet under David Cedarbridge. Also, a mobile armor heavy assault cruiser (AHAC) group under Imperian was deployed to go after smaller groups in a shark hunter role. Finally, a large number of capital ships (carriers and dreadnoughts) were formed under TheAdj and held in reserve. When all was said and done, within an hour of sounding the horn, over 2200 pilots had moved into fleets and began the process of preparing for the fight.

The forces of N3ST were not sitting idly by. While I am not privy to all their formation information, I do know they formed two fleets of Prophecy-class battlecruisers, a pair of AHAC fleets, an electronic warfare fleet, a Dominix-class battleship fleet, and other fleets of bombers and assorted cruiser and frigate class ships. Notably, a “Gokufleet” of stealth bombers went to 4-EP instead of the main battle to intercept our reinforcements.

Moving such a mass of forces is an extremely unique aspect of EVE Online; moving a single 256 man fleet can be a challenge at times, and moving eight of them at once is even more so. Time dilation usually kicks in any time you see 300 or more pilots moving as a group, so moving 1000+ makes it a certainty. As such, the CFC formed almost two hours in advance of the reinforced timer exiting invulnerable mode. It is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary if you plan to achieve system control first, giving you a significant tactical advantage. As such, almost 1 hour before the timer approached, we had entered system and moved in around the station, evenly orbiting with several fleets, providing ourselves a position almost entirely immune to hostile bomber fleets.

Most of our pilots took advantage of this time to get lunch, say goodbye to their families, and prepare for the worst while expecting the best. At the same time, N3ST forces slowly went through the process of moving their forces into a position to engage. This can be arduous, and it was obvious that they were playing against the clock to organize themselves properly to arrive in time to contest the system.

At approximately 5 minutes left of the station timer, hostile cynosural fields were spotted in system and the enemy (N3ST) forces took titan bridges into system. It’s hard to describe the sense of anticipation one feels when preparing for something of this grand scale, and certainly the pulse of myself and many other of the fleet commanders rose. The fight was coming; it was happening.

Our position on that station was the best equivalent to a proper formation in EVE I can describe. With each member of each fleet orbiting a single point (the station), we created a spherical wall with a roughly 80km edge from side to side. Spread out this much, we were almost entirely invulnerable to bombers, while at the same time within range from both sides for our Megathron guns to target any ship that came at us. This was the stance we chose, and doing so surrounding the enemy station. The ball was in their court. Come to us, we said; they had to, so they did.

The fight, like most fights, didn’t happen as the N3ST forces would have wished. A bomber group under Dabigredboat started the fight by initiating a bomb run against one of the hostile fleets, forcing them to stay in position or warp to their only aligned point – the station. Rather than accept their instant destruction under a hail of bombs, they took the next worst choice: engage warp and prepare to fight. Rather than let their comrades die alone, several of the other TEST fleets entered warp as well. There was no going back.

The first fleet to land was a segment of the electronic warfare group avoiding the bomb run, but it would be followed in such close succession by Prophecy and AHAC groups that it could have hardly been more than a minute between warp-ins. Now we were truly engaged. Fire was exchanged, and the massive groups of railguns carried by the Megathron fleets spun into action. At the same time, the Prophecy groups began dropping and assisting their sentry drones and focusing their huge salvos of damage.

As the CFC often does in these type of fights – as any leader of unscrupulous morals would do, given the chance – we “decapitated” the enemy fleets by targeting their commanders. Damnation command ships and heavy interdiction cruisers (hictors) were the focus of our attack, and there is no force in EVE that can withstand the guns of a thousand Megathrons. Armored to the nines to ensure survival and allow a functional chain of command among the N3ST fleets, they died all the same. All the leaders of the N3ST forces that we could identify were targeted and summarily executed. While this is only a stopgap measure in EVE – you cannot truly kill their characters – it does move those leaders off the field and back to their staging systems, and makes controlling their fleets near impossible. Leaderless, one of the AHAC groups proceeded to do almost no damage for the next two hours. Some of the other, more prepared, fleets were ready for our engagement tactics and were not as hindered.

The N3ST forces chose to employ the same tactic, attempting to kill Cor Six and Mister Vee, leaders of their respective Megathron fleets. Neither would fall; the enemy’s focus was not equal to our own, and they wasted precious salvos on plated armor that would not break.

The large number of stealth bombers in system took their toll upon the N3ST forces as well. Dabigredboat and Kcolor both landed successful bombing runs upon enemy fleets – DBRB on the core of the primary Prophecy fleet, and Kcolor upon the electronic warfare group. Both were destroyed or heavily damaged.

The CFC mobile AHAC fleet under Imperian started collecting its skulls as well by controlling TEST’s exit gate from the system. All those that attempted to flee from the carnage met their fate even sooner than those that chose to stay and fight.

The Dominix fleet of N3 began bridging into system a bit late at a safespot away from the fight. It was plagued by disconnects and losses of critical personnel for quite a while.

The Nulli (a component of N3) stealth bomber fleet that had set up camp to interdict stragglers from our staging system of 4-EP was almost entirely destroyed by the infamous multi-client hero Kun’mi and his Purifiers. 80 pilots were defeated by one, as, in a bitter turn of fate, 8 stealth bombers can just as easily dispatch 80 if piloted right.

The fight continued on the station. Hostiles attempted to inflict damage upon our Megathrons, and we in turn focused on the expensive and heavily armored Legion-class strategic cruisers. We made progress, but it was slow and time-consuming; the time dilation means it can take almost five minutes to down a single cruiser. Several caught remote repairs and were saved even amidst the overwhelming fire.

The Legion group was weakened and burnt, so four of the seven Megathron fleets turned their fire upon the Prophecy groups. Damage from earlier bombs, along with their larger and thus easier to track ships, allowed us to greatly increase the speed at which we dispatched the Prophecies.

The much large N3 Dominix fleet then began asserting control over the exit gate, forcing Imperian’s smaller, more mobile AHAC group off.

At this point we made the call to “drop the hammer”. Our capital class vessels, waiting in the wings for the first 2 hours of the fight, came into play with bright lights and whooshing sounds. 200 capitals represent equal firepower, if not more, to the entire force of Megathrons we already had on the field.

Immediately upon seeing our capitals come into play, N3ST forces began to evacuate. Single fleets started to warp away, leaving others to their fate. With control of the exit gate provided by the Dominix group, they also had a long, but somewhat safe, path to freedom. However, any time you retreat in EVE Online, there is a price to pay: 10-20% of your fleet being caught and left behind is typical. 10-20% of 2000 is around 200 pilots, and they were trapped in interdiction gravity spheres preventing any chance of getting away alive.

So: we collected our butcher’s bill, slaughtering all those who could not run or failed to retreat quickly enough.

As we continued to clear the battlefield, killing everything but the most difficult to track frigates, word came in of something odd. It seemed that TEST Alliance planned to make a charge – a last stand – to come back in against overwhelming force and make a statement. In EVE, this is never done; you do not fight when there is no hope. You retreat and save your ships for another day, another chance. But in they came, and while I can safely say I was surprised, I was also a little sad that so much bravery would have to be killed so quickly.

Their suicide run killed a single Naglfar-class dreadnaught. Over two hundred pilots paid the price for it. On a good day, 10 capitals might be worth that price – but that was not the day.

With the field finally cleared after eight hours of combat, hostile fleets finally retreating or disbanded (save for a small harassment bomber group), we bridged our fleets back to 4-EP and called it a day.

That was the fight of 6VDT from my perspective. It was long, it was grueling, and it was bloody.

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Submissions.

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