Header art by Major Sniper
Last night the battle for Big’s Disco Palace took another turn as PAPI forces successfully extracted over 170 titans from the M2 hellcamp. In a dramatic battle involving over 3000 capsuleers, the PAPI coalition suffered losses of over 2 trillion ISK as they broke through the bubbles to rescue their beleaguered comrades. Imperium casualties are estimated at around 500bn, including 6 destroyed titans.
The fight for the Keepstar in M2- has seen the bloodiest battles of World War Bee and this latest instalment will be remembered not only for the extraction of half of PAPI’s trapped titan armada but also the 411 dreadnaughts that were sacrificed in order to make this operation a strategic success. Over the past few weeks, the PAPI coalition had been probing for weaknesses to design suitable tactics to breakdown the Imperium’s bubbles and mitigate their defensive advantage and last night saw them enact this battle plan.
A Stealthy Nightmare
At around 05:00 UTC, TEST Nightmares landed on a recently anchored Fortizar and commenced clearing sub capitals around the bubble camp below the Keepstar. This action was combined with a 150 man “Goku” stealth bomber fleet firing bombs at the anchored bubbles while inflicting heavy casualties on the Imperium’s interdictor squads. As gaps started to appear the first of many Titans logged in, with a few Ragnaroks quickly falling prey to the campers.
As the battle escalated, PAPI carriers, with some supers, landed on the nearby Fortizar, sending their fighters to assist in clearing bubbles. The Imperium’s response was to bolster the camp with additional titans, carriers and a Rohk fleet. This move was met with an immediate response from PAPI, that cyno’d over 400 dreads at 0km on the Imperium titans. A large number of HACs were also deployed, and although marginalized by the vast numbers of titans, supers and dreads on the field, the sub capital fleets provided vital cover for the extraction by destroying a huge number of interdictors and bubbles.
The story of this stage of the battle will be remembered for the heroic sacrifice of the PAPI dreadnaught fleet as it brawled at point blank range with the Imperium’s titans. Of the 435 dreads that landed on the doorstep of Big’s Disco Palace only 26 would return home; yet without these losses it is unlikely that PAPI would have been able to extract so many titans safely. After months of fighting, it is clear the PAPI leadership understood that they would not escape M2 without substantial losses.
The Disco Continues…
As the dust settled on another awe-inspiring fight in M2- both sides have once again claimed a victory. The rhetoric before this battle was that the camp would never be broken, yet through a combination of trial by error, quick learning, and hard graft from thousands of pilots, PAPI has completed a remarkable extraction. This will undoubtedly renew hope of continuing their invasion of Delve and regaining lost momentum. Yet, after months of hard fighting, the loss of 411 dreadnaughts will further stretch already pressured wallets, and more pressingly, use up vital stashes of ore reserves.
Yet, despite the recent PAPI success, the Imperium maintains the advantage in M2; with less than a week until a cyno jammer can be put online, plus the bonus of a jump bridge to 1DQ, they are aiming to further stall the invasion of Delve. The Mittani released this message shortly after the battle:
“M2 NUMBERS UPDATE: Not gonna try to spin this one, they spent 411 dreads to do it but they got a pile of titans out tonight. 137 titans remain trapped. 181 extracted or died (five of these died, I believe). They executed competently; we executed our reply competently: they sacced their dread fleet to get a solid pile of titans out. 137 titans trapped in M2 is still a huge oof, perhaps they’ll feed us more dreads to get those out, too?”.
Aftermath & Analysis
Although fighting has been costly for both sides, it is important to note that the M2- Keepstar is the first attempt by attacking forces to destroy a heavily defended Keepstar in Delve. Although the extraction will go down as a success for the PAPI coalition, it was caused by a series of operational mistakes that caused their titan armada to be trapped in the first place. Both sides are learning quickly how to win these battles when the odds are against them, the Imperium having suffered severe losses assaulting Keepstars in NPC Delve at the start of the war.
With the fight for M2- still ongoing and other Keepstars such as Helm’s Deep and more auspiciously, The Imperial Palace in 1DQ remaining, the question of how to defeat fortress Delve still remains. One thing is clear; the war will continue to be a bloody affair for both the defender and the invader.