On Thursday, February 28, months of fighting in Venal resulted in the collapse of Darkness. <DARK.>, the central alliance of Dead Coalition. Pandemic Horde <REKTD>, Northern Coalition. <NC>, TEST Alliance Please Ignore <TEST>, Fraternity <FRT>, and others formed the main strength of the assault, beginning last Fall. Multiple reports, including a reddit post by Darkness leader Sort Dragon, seem to confirm the victory of PanFam and its allies.
DeadCo’s defeat comes despite the introduction of Imperium forces to the fight four weeks ago when Goonswarm leader The Mittani dispatched an expeditionary force to Venal. Made up of voluntary PvP pilots and newly minted fleet commanders, the Goon Expeditionary Force’s (GEF) deployed to engage PanFam and its allies. Imperium fleet commander Jay Amazingness said the deployment didn’t involve the entire Imperium’s military might, but rather a medium-sized effort “to assist in the Northern War, while also allowing us to disrupt Horde.”
The war against Darkness began six months ago to give PanFam more space for their allies Fraternity, according to Arrendis, GSF’s Fitting Director. “As I understand it, PanFam needed better space,” Arrendis explained, “so they went after DeadCo to get a hold of Branch.”
Despite PanFam’s determination, “progress was pretty slow, and it took them calling in Pandemic Legion, WinterCo and Horde to really get the pace going,” said Amazingness. “On top of that you had TEST, who opened up another front of the war in Deklein.”
For their part, the GEF pilots deployed under new, untested doctrines, which centered around the Sacrilege and the Typhoon. The deployment was a new thing “to challenge our guys to live under the enemy,” Senior Imperium FC Asher Elias said, “to dig deep and come up with new methods of winning.” Asher went on to point out that “it’s a lot harder when you can’t say ‘I’ll just pull out my super fleet if I’m losing’. Some of our enemies have been doing that for a decade and it’s part of why their FCs never grow. I feel like some newer Goons have only experienced the fertile years, they’ve never been made hard by rough times.”
The beginning of the deployment saw mixed success for the GEF. Suffering from losses and a bare market, the GEF had to be particular about the fights it took. By the second week, the Imperium had established a supply chain to the GEF and flooded the local contract market with ships and modules to sustain fights. It also began an aggressive all-time-zone push. Asher said that “logistics are extremely important to a deployment like this. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The ISK War
PanFam began its fight with a lot of money, and pilots willing to fight at the subcap level. Their passion was further enhanced by a series of early wins against the relatively inexperienced fleet commanders of the GEF. But while many of the GEF pilots lost ships often in the early stages, they kept reshipping and getting back into the fight. That constant ‘reship and rejoin’ at all hours was a major advantage and source of grief that over time tore down PanFam’s resolve to meet the GEF on the field.
After the second week, and with the familiarity of the GEF doctrines, the FC’s of GEF began winning more regularly even with bad odds. After week three, the GEF would almost always hold the field after every major engagement of subcap size, and on a couple occasions dealt bigger blows—destroying capital and super capital ships. These losses stretched PanFam’s cash reserve. Meanwhile, no matter the ISK lost by GEF, they would be reimbursed, reshipped, and be back on the field.
With subcap fleets being routed, citadels blown up, jump gates reinforced and pilots increasingly not wanting to take the field, PanFam resorted to using their super cap umbrella for fights with the GEF. With supers on the field, subcap fights ground to a near halt, leading Arrendis to observe, “Hopefully, their FCs will recognize that subcap versus subcap fights are better for their guys.” Maybe then, he added, “We can all go back to enjoying EVE.”
All in All
Amazingness said that the Venal effort allowed the Imperium to “test out new doctrines (by) having daily fights against Horde, which gave both side’s FCs a ton of experience, and we are getting some of our spodbrains back into fighting shape.”
Arrendis echoed this view, saying, “Nothing short of moving the supercapital fleet was really going to swing the balance of power, given PanFam’s supers. We tested out a few new fleet ideas, experimented with what our options were and how well we could make even crazy ideas perform well. So, on that score, I think it was both a side bit to the major war, and effective at what it set out to do.”
After the end of the war up north, Darkness disbanding, and their ally Hanzo joining Legacy, the question remains, what will become of the GEF? That remains to be seen. As for Sort Dragon himself, Jay Amazingness thinks “every few years [Sort Dragon’s] alliance dies and his corp joins an existing alliance for a time then gets the urge to go back to running an alliance. I don’t think this is the last time we will see Sort Dragon lead an alliance, at least I hope not.”