Art by Cryo Huren
Monday night forces from the Imperium and PAPI clashed for control of vital systems within the SPNZ-Z constellation with the fight seeing over 2,600 pilots converge. The constellation contains some vital Keepstar systems that are critical to both attacker and defender in the ongoing war and a bloody tidi battle saw the Imperium hold onto the vital D-W7F0 iHub and PAPI hold the JP4-AA timer with PAPI winning the ISK war 137bn to 90bn.
The battle commenced as Goonswarm entosis groups in D-W were ambushed by a PAPI Muninn fleet, losing a number of Force Auxiliary vessels with support. A cagey fight commenced through multiple systems with Eagle fleets from Goonswarm and The Initiative fighting at range against a combination of Muninns, Eagles and Jackdaws from PAPI. With PAPI forces reluctant to engage in FM- the remaining entosis boats were well defended by the Imperium and the strategic iHub was held.
Carnage at the Gates
As PAPI forces withdrew towards the 4X0 gate a Goonswarm Eagle fleet followed. Landing at zero they were met with a very precise bombing run conducted by TEST that destroyed around 50 HACs plus a dozen smaller ships. The resulting order to jump through into 4X0 saw a large brawl erupt right on the gate with multiple fleets trudging through heavy tidi landing un-anchored at close range to each other. Heavy casualties were inflicted as capsuleers pushed out to establish a more favorable engagement. Attempted bombing runs by The Initiative, Pandemic Horde and TEST were unsuccessful as a high volume of Jackdaws with defender missiles shot down incoming bombs and destroyed the small stealth craft.
With the D-W iHub saved Imperium forces looked to capitalise on their victory and attempt to flip the neighbouring system of JP4-AA. As both sides established a foothold in system there was a brief lull in the battle as Imperium entosis groups got to work within 4X0 with Eagle fleets covering. The two sides skirted at engagement range until PAPI committed 2 x Muninn fleets and an Eagle fleet into the fray against opposing HACs. The resulting brawl was again fought in heavy, but manageable time dilation and saw very high casualties on both sides.
Although outnumbered, Imperium forces held on grid due to the high number of Jackdaws and Harpys deployed by PAPI; the lower DPS struggling to break logistics in TiDi. The end result saw PAPI forces maintain their hold on the JP4-AA iHub and winning the ISK war. Both sides have claimed victory in what was a very balanced and tactical battle with The Imperium’s strategic objective at D-W held and PAPI successful defending a system and inflicting higher loses.
A Tactical Overview
An interesting change to fleet doctrines that night (possibly steered through intelligence gathering efforts) saw all fleets deploy with a squadron of Jackdaws fitted with defender missiles. Previously one of the ‘go-to’ fleets in early stages of the war, the Jackdaw proved effective amongst the Eagle/Muninn HAC fleets. This change shows the high regard placed upon bomber wings and highlights the success they’ve had throughout the war.
With fleets now consisting of Heavy Assault Cruisers, Logistics, Tackle, Anti-Tackle, Scouts and Anti-Bomber a real balance must be achieved by sub-capital fleet commanders EVE-wide to ensure they can achieve maximum damage whilst remaining protected from a plethora of threats.
“It was a fight full of adrenaline and organised chaos, over a timer both sides wanted to win,” said one of The Initiative’s fleet commanders, La Loca Fappuccino. “It seemed to flow back and forth, and ultimately, we got the timer we wanted and hostiles won the ISK war, a result both sides have come away happy with. It was one of those fights where everyone involved got to experience a little bit of why we love Eve”.
Overall, the fight on the iHubs in SZNZ-Z may be dwarfed by the super capital brawls and the ongoing hellcamp in M2, yet the strategic position of both sides remains finely poised as the war pushes on towards the 30-week mark.