Art by Major Sniper
As World War Bee wrapped up its sixth week of conflict August 16, PandaFam and its allies had reinforced a critical Imperium Keepstar into armor and the next round was well under way. During INN’s live stream coverage, Mifune SwordGod had called out TEST and Legacy for reinforcing iHubs across Period Basis and Querious instead of showing up to the Keepstar fight.
As the tidi-induced smoke cleared and the Keepstar repaired to full health, the Goonswarm Federation Offensive Entosis (GSFOE) sig had a busy Monday ahead of them. Its founder, Diclorian Pilot, intended to defend 25 iHubs that he had identified out of the 30-some reinforced. With that objective in mind he went to bed Sunday night, the last sleep he would get for almost two days.
iHubs Are Us
As Monday rolled around, Diclorian briefed his fleet commanders and settled in for a nine-hour stint as GSFOE coordinator as it sent three fleets out to defend iHubs across Imperium space. The first timer at 14:07 EVE time popped and GSFOE was already on the scene, with two fleets covering Querious and one fleet covering Period Basis. For the next seven hours or so, capsuleers waged entosis war across nearly every constellation of both regions as Imperium pilots raced to complete their hacks before any competing enemies. Toward the EUTZ/USTZ changeover, some TEST/Legacy fleets formed to challenge timers in key constellations in Querious, compounding the work Diclorian had to do to keep his fleet commanders and Imperium coordinators apprised of everything on the field.
As the last Querious iHub was saved in L3-I3K at almost 21:00 EVE, Diclorian recalled his fleets to 1DQ1-A, and got ready to relax.
Niarja, A Plan is Hatched
But that’s when the fun started. “The Mittani came into my (Mumble) channel,” recalled Diclorian. “He said that he had become aware of some intelligence (see below) and asked me what I knew about Triglavian Invasions.” The Imperium leader knew that Diclorian was an FC with the Incursion Squad as well as GSFOE’s founder.
The Incursion Squad has always been important to him because it’s new player friendly and provides excellent fleet training. “I focus on bringing regular line members into Incursions,” Diclorian explained. For more experienced pilots, it’s a new set of mechanics to learn and a great way to gain ISK with friends. “I told The Mittani I didn’t know anything about Triglavian Invasions but that I could ask around.”
Diclorian called Galaxier, Spike Mcfire, and Golakka, members of the Incursion Squad leadership team, and they put their heads together. They knew their objective: make Niarja low sec. “I didn’t even know that was a thing,” Diclorian admitted.
The group quickly formulated a plan of attack. As it turned out, Galaxier had some knowledge of Triglavian invasions, which the team leaned on heavily. “[We] discussed fleet compositions and my input was based around the practicality of the fleet versus how the sites are run in different stages of Liminality,” said Galaxier. After about 30 minutes, they elected to send out a ping to the Incursion Squad.
“When starting a new org, it’s good to think, but you need to know when it’s time to stop,” said Diclorian. “You can’t only have one plan. You need to get out and try, and re-plan, and refine as you go.” As Incursion squad pilots piled into the fleet, they were confused – there was no Incursion near Imperium space and Feroxes weren’t part of the standard doctrines for PvE raids. The fleet broadcast had only read “moveop, stuff and things to do.”
“We decided on Feroxes because they were expendable and it’s a mainline doctrine, so everyone flies them,” Diclorian explained. It was mostly a test, he said, so using common ships was important. Feroxes had enough DPS, enough tank, and enough speed to run the EDENCOM sites efficiently, plus they were PvP fit already, just in case. It gave them options, and Incursion Squad’s mentality is all about experimentation, trying different ideas to be as efficient as possible. “We needed to do science. Put things on the field and see what happens,” he added.
The Mittani joined their fleet comms to give the pilots a send off and revealed their objective. The plan was relatively simple. One group of DPS ships running sites under Spike Mcfire, one group of logistics ships healing Triglavian NPCs under Galaxier, another group to fight the roaming fleets in the system to be led later by Pithos Miromme, with Golakka probing down hostile fleets and Galaxier offering expert advice. Triglavian Invasions are a type of “tug of war” gameplay where each side moves a progress bar closer to victory by killing enemy NPCs faster than the other side. With the pilots briefed, the fleet undocked and made the 30-something jumps from 1DQ1-A to Niarja under strict orders not to reveal their presence or goals.
Early Attempts at Success
When the Imperium initially showed up, progress was in favor of the Triglavians with 20% or so to go until the system hit First Liminality, a key milestone in flipping the system to Final Liminality for the Triglavians. The fleet started running sites while its FCs attempted to gauge how effective the Ferox fleet composition really was against the EDENCOM NPCs. Their first attempts were rocky, as kybernaut fleets (what capsuleers fighting for the Triglavians call themselves) overlapped one another, effectively wasting DPS as fleets landed on grid together and slowed overall progress. Diclorian began fielding coordination requests from various Triglavian-aligned player groups and directing fleet actions across Triglavian-aligned forces.
After a dozen or so sites, the Imperium stripped out its logistics pilots from the DPS fleet, confident that no PvP would break out in high sec and that EDENCOM ships weren’t going to affect the Feroxes too badly. “I took a wing of offensive logi consisting of 28 Augorors to go to the sites that Brave and the other fleets were running,” FC Galaxier said. “We were doing our best to keep the Triglavians alive by repping them from the other fleets’ damage.” He added that on occasion, “we kept Triglavian ships alive either until [EDENCOM] brought 60-plus people to alpha or they got bored and warped to another site to run.”
In parallel, FC Spike Mcfire’s DPS fleet attempted to chase down roaming EDENCOM fleets, which were warping around the system from place to place, even landing on citadels. “It was a great experience for many of the FCs, learning to probe things down. They were constantly probing down fleets, trying to see where everyone was,” Diclorian recalled. “When we pinged for the next wave [at 00:34], we called for Jackdaws to fight the roaming fleets since they’re much faster and have good DPS, but EDENCOM’s alpha strike was too strong. The Jackdaws couldn’t get enough transversal. They would land on grid and they’d destroy the EDENCOM fleet, but we’d lose one Jackdaw.” There were also some shortcomings with the logistics group, he explained. “When doing offensive logistics – repairing Triglavian ships – enemy fleets could alpha through the Triglavians’ shields.”
It was time to change things up.
Refining the Process
The next ping went out at about 3:20 EVE time after the ‘brain trust’ had developed some new ideas. They called on Caracals to fight the roaming fleets, and Augorors to repair Triglavian armor. The Mittani also pinged, “JOKER MODE ENGAGE – THE REAPING OF NIARJA CONTINUES – WE NEED CARACALS AND THOSE WILLING TO STAY UP AND GRIND, IF WE GET NIARJA TO 0% EDENCOM INFLUENCE, LEGACY HAS TO TAKE 30+ MORE JUMPS TO GET THEIR SUPPLIES FROM JITA! Work hard at this and we may get some more apple-polishing rage hurfs from Vily also madprops to Miniluv for repeatedly assassinating any EDENCOM FCs dumb enough to fight for the wrong side. COFFEE AND RITALIN OP BOYS AND GIRLS WE’RE GONNA BREAK THEIR WILL AND WIN THIS IN THE LATE NIGHT~ ”
Meanwhile, the Brave Newbies alliance had deployed a fleet which was making as much progress as the early Imperium fleets. Each tick on the progress bar would shift maybe 1% this way, then nearly immediately 1% or 2% back the other way. While EDENCOM forces weren’t quite so efficient as the Imperium, they were still just as effective in the long run. “Enemies were using battleships which were slower to warp, align, all that stuff, but they killed faster,” said Diclorian.
“As the success of the offensive logistics fleet grew,” explained Galaxier, “they started warping off when we landed in a site and didn’t even come to the sites where we sat; they knew they couldn’t break the logi.” Then, The Mittani came back into comms and asked how it was going. “I said it was going well and the only thing that would make it better was Miniluv ganking their fleets. I suspect he already had that in mind, but once they came in, [EDENCOM] gave up.”
The legendary Ministry of Love, the Imperium’s high sec ganking SIG, deployed to Niarja under FC Joe Painter, and they were determined to break the deadlock. No strangers to high sec criminal status, Miniluv worked with Diclorian to identify EDENCOM-aligned FCs on the field and began suicide head-shotting fleets, disrupting EDENCOM’s progress. No longer content with the progress bar toward Liminality, Miniluv made it impossible for enemy FCs to be effective. Very quickly, the Triglavians started making more and more progress.
Every two to three hours, a new Imperium fleet formed in 1DQ1-A, sending more ships to fight for the Triglavians, but also fresh FCs. “Every new fleet meant more FCs on grid, probing every fleet in system,” said Diclorian. As the system rolled into First Liminality and effectively became low sec, Diclorian readied the Imperium forces for PvP. Now that the gloves were off and Miniluv had shown EDENCOM how effective strategic PvP could be, it would only be fair.
The Final Throes
“For low sec, we pulled logi back because they were vulnerable,” said Diclorian. “We ganked EDENCOM in low sec and did a lot of PvP.” At one point, Legacy was believed to have pinged for Muninns to combat the PvP in Niarja, but as Diclorian explained, “it was about showing up and blapping enemy fleets.” At one point, Fraternity showed up in Jackdaws for the PvP fights with the Imperium and Triglavian forces. They’d warp in, launch some missiles and try to warp out. “We killed a bunch but it wasted time, so we had to get our fleets safe so they could continue.”
As Triglavian forces continued to build their momentum, and the EDENCOM forces relented, the progress bar accelerated more and more in favor of the Triglavians. By the end, the system was nearly totally devoid of EDENCOM fleets, and the Legacy fleets that showed up to fight the Triglavians mostly ended up doing ganking of their own.
At 14:48 on Tuesday, The Mittani broadcast the last ping from Niarja: “VICTORY – We just split high sec in half, it took us 17 hours, and fuck i’m going to sleep ASAP, great fucking work everyone.”
A full day after the first iHub in Querious, Diclorian and the other fleet commanders were ready to get some rest. “I formed up the fleet and basically it was like ‘free burn home’,” Diclorian recalled, “I was too tired to deal with everything. I told my fleet ‘when I get to 1DQ, I’m going to consider this fleet over. If you’re running behind, that’s too bad.'”
Imperium forces were invited to some fireworks with their Triglavian allies and to come to a nearby system for a party, “but I was too tired,” Diclorian admitted. Many thought that the speed with which the system had gone from Stellar Reconnaissance, to First Liminality, to Final Liminality may have set a record. More importantly, it meant that the system is now considered null sec by CONCORD, which would no longer police the area. The no-security zone meant that trade runs from Jita to Amarr would now need to be redirected dozens of systems over.