Header Art by Redline XIII
Since late May, the Goonswarm Expeditionary Force (GEF) has been deployed to the Galactic West, particularly in forward bases in Cloud Ring against targets of opportunity in Black Rise, Pure Blind, and Fade. As of this week, the Imperium announced that they’ll be spinning down offensive operations and consolidating forces ahead of Legacy Coalition’s planned withdrawal from their Non-Invasion Pact (NIP) set for July 5. As the galaxy prepares for World War Bee, the GEF deployment is worth reviewing.
Not So Snuffed Out
The origins of the most recent GEF deployment date back to the resurgence of Snuffed Out in low sec. The once-dead alliance came crawling back from last Octobers’s announcement that it was being disbanded to win the ‘Champions of Low Sec’ title by the end of March. Perhaps with bolstered morale, they turned to harassing old adversaries in The Initiative, and generally making themselves a nuisance in low sec and nearby NPC null sec. As 2020 has already been quite turbulent in the North-West, what with the collapse of Dead Coalition and Darkness(dot) in particular, the Imperium leadership likely perceived a need to bring stability to their Northern flank, especially given how active PanFam, NC., Legacy, and Fraternity had been in that conflict.
Even before the official re-deployment to Cloud Ring, action in the region was hot and heavy, as INN previously reported. The fight in X-7OMU in Pure Blind escalated over a Player-Owned Starbase (POS) being reinforced in NPC space. The unanticipated battle saw nearly 1 trillion ISK lost and close to 2,000 pilots in local at the peak of the fight, one of the largest battles in 2020 so far. Goons deployed dreadnoughts from strategic caches nearby and INIT dropped super caps to quickly turn the tide.
The GEF Deploys
As pings went out across the Imperium, logistics operations went into full swing, in particular the removal of Keepstars from two strategic systems. Goonswarm Offensive Logistics (GSOL) began unanchoring two citadels in Pure Blind: KQK1-2 and 7RM-N0. Both systems are under the control of members of the Pure Blind NIP group, one under United Federation of Conifers and the other under French ConneXion, each of them tolerating both Imperium and PanFam stations in system. It is worth noting that French ConneXion is blue to The Initiative while UFC brutally struck out at former allies Darkness when Dead Coalition fell apart and their evacuation move-op passed through their territory. Because of this, PanFam affiliates have often accused FXR of being an Imperium proxy state, despite not being blue to nearly all other Imperium members.
As the aforementioned citadels hit the end of their timers, PanFam fleets sat on their Athanors in system and attempted to scoop or destroy the citadels nearly for free. One battle reports showed that a Horde pilot scooped the citadel in KQK1-2 and was summarily executed by his compatriots. PanFam members denounced that pilot as a rogue spy possibly under the control of noted Imperium FC Jay Amazingness. The 7RM-N0 Keepstar, however, was ably defended and the citadel withdrawn without further incident after a convincing Imperium victory.
Efficacy of the GEF
As the initial gadflies who attempted to tweak the Imperium, Snuffed Out clearly bore the brunt of GEF fights. While ISK ratios for battles are occasionally used as quick barometers for who won a fight, deployments like this are possibly best judged by the displacement of fixed assets. If the stations necessary to wage war and earn ISK aren’t online, the attackers must therefore be accomplishing many of their goals.
Of the nearly 120 stations destroyed or removed due to the GEF, over 90 were Snuffed Out assets, and 77 were in Snuffed Out’s home territories in Black Rise. The rest of the stations targeted belonged to PanFam, Pen is Out, Dumb Crippled Alliance, and NCdot. GEF missions affected enemy operations in no less than eight regions of the map, as far south as The Citadel and as far east as Vale of the Silent. Unsurprisingly, GEF ops targeted Athanors, as the Imperium took a sledgehammer to enemy mining and ISK generation. No doubt many of those stations have already been replaced, but the time and ISK lost will put a kink into hostile offensive operations for some time.
Despite several fights on the deployment reaching well over a quarter trillion ISK in total losses, including several offensive missions into Black Rise, Nennamaila’s pyrrhic victory for the Imperium will likely be one of the front’s most remembered battles. Snuffed Out attempted to anchor an offensive Astrahus in the Imperium’s forward staging system in Black Rise, only to have it destroyed by subcaps and carriers.
As Weasle350 (the Imperium subcap FC in that fight) said, “Once the timer went down, (capital FC) Ultra Cow had the carriers warp to another blue fort in the system” while their fighters destroyed the station. The Snuffed Out Machariel fleet warped in to another station on grid, setting up a tense stand off. “Ultra called for the carriers to warp their fighters back but at that point the machs had landed on the carriers and began tackling them as they weren’t tethered [since] fighters were still in space,” Weasel explained. “At that point Snuff dropped dreads and Ultra made the call to escalate by dropping only our Nags that were next door.” More capitals began arriving on grid, including a force of Snuffed Out dreadnoughts fit for long range sniping, and the battle quickly turned into a dread brawl. The two sides traded body blows and, finally, the GEF fleets held the field despite the great cost.
The End of the Beginning
Despite likely losing the overall ISK balance in this deployment, the Imperium expeditionary force accomplished many important objectives, not the least of which was providing line members with a good time. As World War Bee looms, there are a number of critical questions outstanding about the political situation in the North-West: will Snuffed Out become more of a proxy for PanFam? Can the Pure Blind NIP withstand UFC taking to the field against FXR?
No doubt that these answers will come in time. Watch this space.