A previous INN report provided live updates during the successful anchoring of a forward-staging Imperium Keepstar in the Cloud Ring system of 6RCQ-V, the first strategic objective in the coalition’s recently-announced war against northern belligerents who united against The Imperium (formerly called the Clusterfuck Coalition) during the Casino War of 2016. This update describes the battle in defense of the Keepstar and provides background information on the Imperium’s defensive strategy.
Following three days of capital and supercap move operations from the Goonswarm staging system 1DQ1-A in Delve to temporary staging in J5A-IX on the border of Fountain and Cloud Ring, Imperium forces massed in numbers unknown even to alliance fleet commanders approximately two hours prior to the vulnerability window for an Imperium Keepstar anchoring in 6RCQ-V beginning at 03:30 on July 11. Imperium sub-capital pilots were advised to return to 1DQ1-A and watch for a series of pings signaling fleet operations to support the capital and supercap fleets defending the new Citadel.
An hour and a half before the end of the timer, the alliance pinged four fleets. Two primary support fleets included Megathron and Bhaalgorn DPS supported by Command Ships and Confessors, while a third Jackdaw fleet provided a versatile and mobile defense option, and, finally, a bomber fleet mobilized to harass hostile capitals. As Imperium supers moved across the ten gates from forward staging to 6RCQ-V, the four support fleets converged on the system as well, bringing local numbers to 2,200 with 15 minutes remaining until the Keepstar became vulnerable. Hostile forces initially seemed to match the defenders numerically, but as the timer ticked down and Imperium forces continued to pile into system it became clear that the attackers faced an uphill battle.
As the Keepstar anchor timer expired, subcap fleets composed mainly of Northern Coalition, Pandemic Horde, Darkness, Circle of Two, and their predictable vassal alliances closed to within a few hundred kilometers and began to apply damage, halting the Citadels repairs almost immediately. The attackers fielded a Gila fleet, an Ishtar fleet, and a Rokh fleet for primary DPS, while approximately 20 Dreadnoughts clustered in groups of two or three at various distances to the Keepstar. Friendly, hostile, and third-party bombers took potshots at targets of convenience throughout the engagement. Notably, Bombers Bar made an appearance and seemed to focus attention on the hostile Dreadnoughts. The Gallente Militia force holding local sovereignty, Federation Uprising, also fielded a small fleet or two, seemingly in support of the Imperium.
Time dilation reached maximum levels, causing significant difficulty for both attackers and defenders. Disconnects stranded individual attackers in the no-man’s land between hostile lines and the supercap blob defending the Keepstar. Catch bubbles were deployed liberally around the Keepstar to inconvenience attacking forces as much as possible.
The Imperium’s supercaps targeted hostile forces with both fighters and Doomsday attacks. At one point, it was reported that the hostile Ishtar fleet aligned directly toward the Keepstar, allowing one well-placed Doomsday event to vaporize the entire fleet. It was also reported during the battle that a hostile bomber fleet was commandeered by a wing commander friendly to the Imperium who suicide-warped them directly on top of an Imperium supercap to be promptly annihilated by yet another Doomsday. Imperium support fleets circulated around the Keepstar, slowly mopping up sub-cap and capital attackers.
Within 45 minutes of the beginning of the Keepstar repair cycle, it seemed that hostile forces would struggle to apply enough damage to destroy the Citadel before they could be expected to be destroyed themselves by defenders who outnumbered them and had mobilized superior fleets. Indeed, an hour and a half in, the Keepstar remained at approximately 80% structure while attackers continued to be pushed off the field. Imperium forces gained momentum with both the declining numbers of attackers and the improvement of game performance over time as attackers were podded out of system or retreated.
At just after 05:00, the Keepstar onlined and remaining attackers began to withdraw. The Imperium pinged several clean-up fleets to harass stragglers well into the early-morning hours of July 12.
A preliminary battle report listing all third-party forces (e.g., any entity whose alignment was not clear due to alliance obligations) separately from the clear attackers and defenders reveals several factors. First, it is surprising that the northern alliances fielded relatively modest resources to contest a crucial objective for the Imperium’s nascent war against them. Second, the losses are highly disproportional even considering that the primary objective for attackers was the Keepstar rather than Imperium ships – it is interesting that the attackers did not bring allied fleets to attack defending sub-caps or even to defend their own Dreadnoughts, which died without contest.
As the war in the north continues to develop, the northern alliances face a difficult choice of which resources to commit to Pandemic Legion’s campaign against Legacy Coalition and which to utilize in defense of their homes.
Editor’s Note: A more up to date battle report has been provided.