FCs Speak about Defense of Imperium Keepstar in Cloud Ring

Savvy Kneel 2018-07-14

Art by Empanada

Wednesday night saw one of the most significant sorties in New Eden’s recent days, as the Imperium established its first major beachhead in the new war in the North. INN reported from the scene as the Imperium’s newest Keepstar was successfully anchored in Cloud Ring, but we wanted to provide additional details about how the engagement went down. INN spoke with Goonswarm Fleet Commanders Jay Amazingness, Redline XIII, and DaBigRedBoat, as well as TEST Military Director Vily, who commanded the Legacy forces fighting with the Imperium under their newly-minted alliance.

War has been brewing for quite some time. INN reported on the vulnerabilities in this region, including the void left by the completion of MOA’s “failscade,” back in May. At the same time, Pandemic Legion has suffered some recent setbacks in its adventurism to the East, and Imperium leadership judged that the time was right to strike.

They did so this week, anchoring a staging Keepstar in Cloud Ring’s 6RCQ-V, and placing much of Fade and Pureblind under threat.

The question on everyone’s mind was, given their troubles in the East, would the Northern powers be able to mount an effective resistance to the Imperium’s nascent offensive?

The answer turned out to be, “no.”

Over the course of the engagement, the Keepstar’s protectors – led by Goonswarm Federation with sizable contingents from TEST, Bastion, The Initiative, BRAVE, and other Legacy and Imperium allies – lost approximately 120 ships out of around 1,600 committed to the fight. Losses included three GSF Megathrons, two TEST Muninns, a handful of Jackdaws that fell to friendly fire, and assorted smaller vessels, for a total of around 7 billion ISK lost.

Those attacking the Keepstar – led by Pandemic Horde and Northern Coalition with significant support from CO2, DARKNESS, SLYCE, and other GOTG and PanFam allies – lost nearly 670 ships out of around 725 on the field. These included 15 of NC’s Rokhs, nearly an entire fleet of more than 70 Ishtars led by DARKNESS, around 100 Pandemic Horde Gilas, and all 20 dreadnoughts committed to the fight. For the forces of the North, the butcher’s bill came to over 120 billion ISK.

Of note, the Imperium and its allies turned out in force to defend their beachhead, committing nearly 200 titans and another 220+ supercarriers to the fight. In response, alongside its downed dreadnoughts, the North fielded a grand total of . . . no supercaps at all.

As usual for a fight this big, the kill report doesn’t tell the whole story. “We had to do a little bit of a flash form because our enemies had already positioned themselves for the intercept in two locations on the route to where the battle would take place,” wrote Imperium subcap Fleet Commander Redline XIII in his After Action Report. His Jackdaw fleet took on the task of protecting the gates en route to the objective, “we split up into groups to guard each gate, and that resulted in about 50 of us on each gate, covering the movements of the other fleets to ensure safe arrival,”

“We expected them not to commit and to bring long range dreads to try and cheese the timer,” said Imperium capital FC Jay Amazingness. “For the first 45 minutes of the timer, NC wasn’t on grid in their Rokhs. It was just Horde in Gilas, eating our fighters and long range guns.”

“We sent light fighters from our supercarriers out to the Gilas,” Jay said. “These hit them very well and that’s where a lot of the Gila losses came from. Titans with long range guns also did some damage to the Gilas. Normally they wouldn’t track subcaps, being a capital weapon system, but at extremely long range if you have paints then they start to hit subs for a lot of damage.”

Aside from Gilas, the bulk of the Northern fleet consisted of Ishtars. “[Goon subcaps and TEST] were also putting pressure on the Gilas and the Darkness Ishtars.” Jay shared. Reportedly, almost the entire Ishtar fleet was subsequently wiped out in a single, well-timed doomsday attack.

Redline picked up the thread from the subcap perspective: “The fight started with Pandemic Horde Gilas unloading drones onto the Keepstar to pause the timer.” Redline told INN, “That worked really well until our Baltec fleet with TEST’s Muninns and myself got on top of them and started unleashing hell.”

[NC’s Rokhs] came in behind the Gilas to snipe our and TEST’s subcaps.” Jay said. “I’m not sure how effective they were, to be honest. I know they ended up warping off after DaBigRedBoat bombed them.”

“Boat was there to do bombing runs on enemy fleets.” Redline said. “That’s kind of his thing.”

“I used my Leviathan to nuke a bomber fleet of about 30 when they got fleet warped to a spot I set up,” DaBigRedBoat said. “Then I bombed some people.”

“Both NC and GOTG had fleets out that warped off almost as soon as they started taking losses,” he continued “meaning that the bubbled Gilas were easy pickings for everyone else on grid.”

“They left Horde to take most of the subcap losses, as usual, and tried to bring in sniper dreads a few at a time to keep damage on the structure.” Jay said. “Shortly after they warped off [NC commander] Killah Bee put up a ‘GF’ in local.”

“The most notable thing was how seemingly unprepared our enemies were for the engagement.” Redline mused. “It really seemed like they were not prepared or willing to commit themselves fully to the fight.”

“I think they had the numbers docked up somewhere waiting to come in. But they didn’t bring out their capital force,” he said. “They dropped maybe one cluster of Dreadnoughts that got annihilated by our own dread waves. One small Dread cache wasn’t going to take down that Keepstar. Not in a million years. They would have needed to bring out their own supercapitals and they weren’t willing to do that.”

“At that point,” Jay said, “we were in cleanup mode, just killing the subs we had tackled and the last few dreads they had.”

We managed to lock down some fleeing Gilas and Rokhs as well as prey on those unfortunate enough to log back in after the fight was nearly over.” Redline wrote in his AAR. “We headed over to a gate where folks were trying very hard to leave and made sure that they were able to leave the system and go home (the quick way). Once the grid had been cleared of hostility and the hordes of Nereus, Nocti, and salvage Catalysts showed up, we headed our way home to good ol’ 1DQ.”

“I want to give a shout out to everyone who did scout, recon, and Goon Swarm Offensive Logistics (GSOL) work over the last few days.” Jay said. He noted that the ones who perform tower drops, keep citadels fueled, and perform other seemingly menial tasks are the ones who make this kind of content possible. “They are the real heros,” he said.

As is typical of a huge battle like this one, CCP’s Time Dilation (TiDi) mechanic was in full effect. In his AAR, Redline wrote, “In 10% TiDi – probably worse given the server’s responsiveness to commands – it took us nearly 10 minutes to get bridged through to 6RCQ and onto the Keepstar grid.”

As the fight progressed, he noted, “people were crashing, disconnected, relaunching their games trying to get themselves back into the fight.” TEST Military Director and FC Vily agreed. “It was a lot of shooting and disconnecting,” he said.

“If the server had held up more, which is the same problem we had in 9-4, they might have made the keepstar get a ton further,” DaBigRedBoat shared.

The TiDi notwithstanding, “Overall, this is the kind of operation I love.” Redline said. “It helped to keep the fleet engaged and logged in despite horrendous TiDi. I don’t mind TiDi as long as there isn’t something that makes it absolutely unbearable . . . and being a part of something that is extremely important for the alliance? Well, that’s just icing.”

So where do things go from here? Imperium and Legacy leaders are, of course, reluctant to speculate on anything that might provide a window into future strategic plans. However we have a hint of what’s in store for the future, as CO2’s staging Keepstar in DW-T2I was reinforced by Imperium forces in a surprise attack early Friday morning, without any attempt to form a defensive fleet. This gives the defenders in the north a difficult choice: Pursue the war with Legacy in Immensea, or form to protect CO2’s Keepstar in Fade to forestall the Imperium offensive? With Keepstar timers counting down on both fronts simultaneously, the North finds itself fighting a classic two-front war.

“I literally filled my zkillboard with TEST rupture killmails less than a week ago,” Redline observed. “Now I’m officially fighting along side them.”

“Even before we were blue to TEST,” he said, “if our interests aligned we worked together to beat a common enemy. I’m fairly accustomed to TEST bringing fleets to do work alongside us. But them bringing a fleet from so much further away than we were was something to see.”

“I expect we’ll see more interaction with them moving forward,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the upcoming few weeks,” Jay agreed. “It should be a good time. There will be wins and losses, we know that, but we have the industrial capability to outbuild anyone here.”

“That’s not to say we’re going to welp our Titan fleet,” he quipped.

For Redline, there is a bit of irony in the war. “The first group I joined was Pandemic Horde.” he said. “Every time I asked about becoming an FC, I was told to be patient and wait. I got tired of waiting.”

“I decided to join Goons and was FCing within a month.” he continued. “Now, here I am, fielding fleets against these same people. I loved watching their ships explode into bits of spacedust, and I look forward to seeing many, many more.”

As for the North, he said, “GOTG should be looking into joining the Holy Rental Empire.”

That much remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that as developments on both fronts of this war progress, INN will no doubt be there on the front lines to share the details with you.

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