Early on the morning of April 6, a surprise attack on Snuffed Out’s staging Keepstar in the Amamake system turned into the biggest fight since M2 as Snuffed Out (Snuff) and friends met the attackers (Rekkingcrew (RC) and friends) in force, destroying seven Titans at the cost of one of their own. When the smoke cleared, the attackers’ lossmails totaled 846.5 billion ISK compared to the defenders’ 212.5 billion. The brawl is the latest episode in more than a month of ferocious lowsec drama in Amarr space that has seen Reddit screeds, awoxing, and multiple costly fights.
Snuff’s Lantorn Deployment
The drama began a month ago following Snuff’s failed war declaration against the TTT. They deployed to their staging Fortizar in the Lantorn system in Heimatar, a mixed highsec/low sec region in Amarr space. The target of their deployment was Siege Green (SGGRN), a Korean alliance based in the Siseide system (one jump from Lantorn), along with their various allies, the Rekkingcrew coalition being the most prominent. Snuff has a history of periodically fighting these groups, and this deployment is part of that rhythm. “It’s more a content deployment for us then a war,” said Sushe, Snuff’s Head of Strategic Operations. RoCkEt X, leader of RC, affirmed the history of conflict. “Snuff and ourselves have a long history basically of hating each other,” he said.
Matters escalated very quickly after Snuff’s deployment. In less than three weeks, from March 8 to March 24, Snuff torched more than 80 SGGRN Athanors across Heimatar and neighboring regions. On March 17, Snuff reported that one of their spies had awoxed hundreds of billions in RC assets. And on March 22, they dropped a Fortizar on the Siege Green Keepstar grid in Siseide.
The opposition responded with force. RC, expecting trouble, had previously dropped a staging Keepstar in Lamaa (a lowsec system in the Bleak Lands four jumps from Lantorn), and took the lead in countering Snuff. On March 22, they killed Snuff’s Fortizar on the SGGRN Keepstar grid. After a replacement was dropped, they killed it on March 30 as well as Snuff’s staging Fortizar in Lantorn on the same night. And when a third Fort was dropped on the Siseide grid, they killed that one too. But winning these strategic objectives has been a costly experience for RC and friends, with Snuff consistently winning the ISK war by a huge margin. (INN estimates based on various battle reports at least a 300 billion ISK advantage for Snuff over the course of the various fights). Moreover, the strategic value of those costly Fortizar kills is questionable because of the nature of lowsec. “They ended up losing hundreds of Battleships in order to complete a fairly pointless objective,” said Sushe, “it being lowsec and Fortizars having relative low value due to existence of NPC stations [NPC stations are scattered throughout lowsec, are open to all, and have the same docking restrictions as Fortizars] and a freeported Keepstar next door.”
The Amamake Keepstar Attack
The freeported Keepstar next door is in the Amamake system, one jump from SGGRN’s home in Siseide, two jumps from Snuff’s staging in Lantorn, and three jumps from RC’s staging in Lamaa. It is a bit of a storied place, owned by long-time Pandemic Legion member Bluemelon, and reportedly the home of the 18 Alliance Tournament ships he stole when he left PL. As a freeport, the Keepstar is configured to be open to all, and Snuff redeployed to it after their staging Fortizar in Lantorn was destroyed on March 30. “They reached out to the owner of the Amamake Keep and asked to move in,” said RoCkEt X. “They knew we wouldn’t shoot it because penifSMASH [CEO of one of Snuff’s largest corps], Bluemelon [the Keepstar’s owner], and myself all used to be in PL and RC together.”
Except after Snuff moved in, RC and friends did decide to attack the Keepstar, regardless of old friendships. “Friend or not, Snuff is staging there,” said RoCkEt X, “because they can’t keep Forts alive within our range (even if it costs us). We planned to [reinforce] it as a warning shot.” The attack (an initial shield timer) was planned for USTZ, typically not the best time for EUTZ Snuff. Unfortunately for RC and friends, the plan was leaked.
“Thanks to their allies giving us intel on their plan we were able to know when this was supposed to take place,” said Sushe. “After we acquired this intel we setup [an] ambush working with [NullSechnaya Sholupen (NSH)] who happened to have a bone to pick.” NSH (who according to RoCkEt X had previously assured RC that they would not be backing Snuff) staged Dreads ahead of time outside of Amamake, and Snuff Titan pilots and the rest of their fleet were ready to login inside the Keepstar as soon as the attack began.
The ambush was a success. “Unfortunately enough intel leaked for Snuff to alarm clock,” said RoCkEt X. “We got blindsided by their numbers.” Others in RC agreed. “They’re an EUTZ alliance that formed like 300 dudes in USTZ,” said Dreadbomb director Absolute Truth (Dreadbomb is an RC member alliance). “That’s not a flash form.” Snuff attributes the ambush intel to senior members of an RC ally. “We were contacted by higher ups belonging to one of their allies for setting up the Keepstar ambush,” said Sushe. “In return for this information we promised to leave them alone during the ambush so they could get their stuff out.”
According to descriptions of the fight, RC and friends set up their Titans about 250k off the Keepstar and started to reinforce it. At 3:06 AM, the first killmail came in, a mobile cyno inhibitor killed by the Keepstar and a couple of the attackers’ own Machariels. (In lowsec, inhibs are the only way to protect a grid because system-wide cyno jammers cannot be deployed.) Five minutes later, the Keepstar killed a second inhib, and at about that time Heavy Interdictors and approximately 40 NSH Dreads jumped onto the field. “There was a gap with their inhib coverage that allowed us to . . . bring in the Hics and a couple Dreads to stop further inhibs from anchoring.” Within two minutes, at 3:13 AM, the first attacker Titan was dead. “It was all executed very clean, all things considered, given the restrictions lowsec provides of having to use Hictors for any ambush,” said Sushe. She went so far as to suggest that treachery might have been a factor in creating the initial inhib window as well. “There might have been some tampering involved,” she said.
As the NSH dreadbomb hit the field, Snuff forces in the Keepstar sprung the rest of their trap. “Our people were told to login all their stuff,” said Sushe. They undocked, “warped to instant undock, and then proceeded to warp to the tackled Titans. As NSH jumped in Dreads, RC responded in kind with their own dreadfleet. Our Titans warped at range to stay safe from the hostile Dreads and be in position to kill enemy capitals.” Faced with an unexpected ambush and with Titans tackled on the field, RC and friends chose not to escalate further but extracted as much as they could. The final tally was seven attacker Titans lost against one from Snuff. The Keepstar was not reinforced.
Getting caught in an 800+ billion ISK ambush after a month of expensive feeds initially caused feelings to run high among many in RC and friends. “On behalf of RC, FUCK SNUFF,” said RoCkEt X when first contacted by INN. But by a day or two after the battle, the good attitude and memeing that have frequently characterized RC and friends’ response to their ISK losses to Snuff was back on display. “In Rekkingcrew, . . . we provide other alliances with the content necessary to facilitate their continued growth,” said Absolute Truth in a relaxed exchange of banter between several members of his corp (5Teak) and INN. “All of our cannon fodder is 100% organic and grass fed. . . . We are proud to say that nowhere else in lowsec can you truly get as close to a source of such a wide array of content as you can with Rekkingcrew. ‘Rekkingcrew – we’re not content unless our members are.'” RoCkEt X attributed the improvement in feelings in part to the actions of Snuff themselves. “After our Titan whelp, one of our guys went on [Talking in Stations (a popular EVE-related Twitch stream)] pretty upset, and it was snuff who DM’d [TiS host Dave] Matterall to take the VoD down and reached out to our guy to make sure he was okay,” he said. “It completely reset the whole mentality my guys had when it came to Snuff.”
What happens next between Snuff and RC and friends is an open question. RC sees itself as holding the line against an overpowered lowsec bully. “We’re basically holding up the rest of the lowsec alliances against Snuff,” said RoCkEt X. “RC is the only one capable of taking the losses inevitably incurred when you try to fight amuleted dreads supported by a supercap fleet.” (Amulets are implants the increase armor tank.) On their side, Snuff sees themselves as the only ones standing against the lowsec blue donut. “The reason we are fighting RC is because their coalition is huge,” said Snuff leader Hy Wanto Destroyer. “[It is] effectively most of all other lowsec inhabitants, and they all have agreements. So if any alliance that’s small shoots one of them, they get zerg blobbed. So we decided to actually give them a challenge and see how their blobbing goes against [us], and clearly they can’t do well.”
Both sides acknowledge a history of fighting between them that is unlikely to stop. Whether that continuing conflict is just “content” or part of something that will have larger strategic implications for lowsec as a whole remains to be seen.