With the first ten days of the deployment done, it’s time to analyze what’s happening in this campaign so far.
Warning: strategic autism follows.
The Chessboard – Day One:
Before we deployed, our enemies were dispersed across multiple fronts, too far to support each other with capitals due to spaceaids and geography. This rarely happens, and is one of the reasons we seized the opportunity to deploy.
TEST vs Darkness, GOTG, PL and Horde: In the far north, TEST had deployed to the Venal border, staged out of MTO in Perrigen Falls. Darkness deployed a Keepstar in WLF in Venal and restaged their coalition there, and Pandemic Legion and Horde were regularly supporting this fight against TEST.
The Initiative, Snuff and Project Mayhem vs Mercenary Coalition and NorthernCoalitionPeriod: Our Imperium allies, The Initiative, have been deployed to Syndicate to fight for R64s against Mercenary Coalition. Syndicate is a surprisingly rich region with 37 R64 moons, the majority of which were held by Northern Coalitionperiod and the rest by MC. Progress in Syndicate was stymied by Mercenary Coalition batphoning for help from NCdot for major timers. NCdot had withdrawn from their Gehi deployment and were staged in Vey.
Where during the Casino War this group of our enemies were able to put all of their forces in one spot on the map, right across from our staging, the above configuation was vulnerable: Tribute, the home of NCdot, MC, and some PL sov was completely empty. If Tribute was put under pressure by the Imperium, our enemies would have to choose to save Syndicate, Tribute, or the North; something would have to be abandoned.
We planned to head north to Hakonen and directly attack NCdot and MC with capitals and subcapitals, defend Delve with supercapitals and altfleet. Hakonen was selected due to its proximity to Jita and the geographic opportunity of much of NCdot’s Tribute space being within direct Titan drop range.
Before the SOTG, we muddied the waters of our deployment by spewing staging Astrahus in lowsec systems on the borders of many of our foes so there wouldn’t be an obvious target. This worked better than we could have imagined; we have never in our history had a ‘secret’ deployment, especially with the scale of our coalition, and this made for an interesting SOTG situation where we were announcing a war but not stating who we would be attacking or where.
We came to this war with one strategic objective and a gaggle of tactical objectives.
Strategically: Our goal was to force the enemy to redeploy and lose a region, either to TEST or to The Initiative. Of these options, Syndicate is far superior for us, as NCdot and PL are much greater strategic threats to us than Darkness/GOTG, and Syndicate’s R64 wealth directly supports NCdot. Syndicate is closer to our powerbase in Delve, and hostile control of Syndicate ties the strategic interests of NCdot and MC closer with The Culture in northern Fountain.
However, if TEST swept Darkness out of Deklein, it would be very useful to us as well in terms of recovering any lost assets + the sheer humiliation factor of it, and doing so would likely smooth over lingering ill-will between the line members of TEST and the Imperium.
We speak of this in the past tense because Syndicate fell to Imperium forces inside of three days of the campaign’s launch. Note that none of our objectives include us holding hostile sov, which is a novel challenge; this is our first modern ‘fuck fozziesov’ deployment.
Tactically: Our tactical goals are a grab bag of random shit and wacky experiments intended for NCdot and MC.
- We brought more than 100 citadel hulls to the north to experiment with the roach motel concept, something we wanted to try in the Saranen era of the Casino War but we were too broke to splurge on the idea to see if it had any merit.
- We want to try a Typhoon doctrine and see if it can counter mass Machs in a cost-effective way.
- We want to train our new coordinators in a properly high-stakes strategic scenario where they must manage multiple simultaneous fleets
- We want to train new fleet commanders on the chaos of heavy-tidi fighting and multi-fleet engagements
- We want to create opportunities for new skirmish commanders (the ‘fleet-curious’?) to step up and run gatecamps and small fleets that have purpose
- We want to use our carriers and dreads in combat and blow up as much NCdot hardware as possible
- We want to force NCdot and their allies to choke on Fozziesov and enjoy the same kind of gameplay we enjoyed during the Casino War
- We want to experiment with anti-fighter tactics, not only with subcaps but training our carrier pilots to win the ‘air war’ of fighter-vs-fighter contests
- We want to see if we can defend Delve with supercapitals and alts while deploying offensively
- We wanted to see if we could move everyone and keep our destination hidden, opsec-wise (answer: ahahah yes)
- We want to blow up as many NCdot and MC citadels as we can
- We want to use our citadels to make NCdot and MC suffer wherever possible.
This campaign has presented some unique challenges which we planned for; this is stuff that we think is hard but not a dealbreaker, or stuff that we think we have to learn no matter what.
Supers and Altfleet in Delve: The mechanics of Fozziesov require you to live in your space or lose it. We have a tremendous amount of heavy assets and infrastructure in Delve, and we knew that if we took our supercapitals out of Delve, the enemy would simply deploy one of their alliances and sweep the board (much like Initiative did in Syndicate) before we could get back. If we are to have any kind of offensive deployments away from Delve, ever, we must learn to defend Delve with supercapitals and combat alts while we are away from home. The alternative is eternal peace (kill me) or taking adjacent sov we don’t need, overextending, then collapsing (see: the Casino War). Finding a method to go to war while still keeping the homeland secure is critical for us, as peace is hell. We knew going into this that we’d be fighting uphill out of Hakonen into the NCdot supercapital fleet, with only capitals (lots and lots of capitals) and subcapitals to counter.
New Doctrine Testing: We’ve changed doctrines and are using Typhoons for the first time, and the jury is still out. We’re also experimenting with new anti-fighter methods, tactics with our Dreads, and weird shit with citadels both on deployment and on defense. This is an opportunity for us to learn a whole bunch of stuff, but the flipside of learning is failure: one only learns through making mistakes, and we’re gonna do that and keep doing that as we try new shit to get it right.
Sov as a tactic, not an objective: Unlike past deployments where taking and holding sov was the point of the game, we’re explictly not here to take and hold Tribute. At the same time, if the enemy doesn’t defend their sov against us, every lost Hub is weeks of index recovery, paused supercapital builds, and a month of no jumpbridges allowed in that system. So we’re actively encouraging our guys to hack hostile sov with the Fremen system and now our sov bounties, yet this is not going to be as satisfying for our players as in a traditional campaign – we hack to force the enemy to respond and burnout, but we do not always confirm the kill or follow up. That’s worthwhile, but can be frustrating.
New Coord Team System: We have a new coord team system, modelled off Corps Diplomatique, which has recently brought on board a pile of fresh-faced new recruits. We’re training our new coordinators while also finding ways to do this better in the first place, so this adds a layer of either efficiency (when it works well) or confusion (when it doesn’t).
The Chessboard – Now:
Immediately after we began our move North, our enemies were thrown into a state of chaos – much to our surprise, no one knew where we were going – even after an entire day of move ops. The enormity of this is difficult to overstate: this has never happened before. Our organization is massive and all entities have spies in them, so for us to move 2000 capitals over 48 hours and the enemy not knowing who we would be going after until our last jump resulted in what I can only describe as strategic panic from the foe. Darkness redeployed GotG back to Deklein from WLF, then had to re-redeploy days later when it was apparent we were not, in fact, invading Deklein. NCdot moved from Vey to Tribute, Init, Project Mayhem and Snuff killed a pile of NCdot Titans and supercarriers, and shortly thereafter MC left Syndicate, began unanchoring their Syndicate Keepstar, and ceded the region to the Imperium.
Notably, TEST redeployed out of the North entirely, coming to sit beside our Hakonen deployment in Obe. We do not control or speak with TEST regularly, we’re sort of generally shooting the same assholes, so we have no influence over what they do. On the one hand, they have begun doing sov harassment to the PL systems in Vale of the Silent, the region that NC and PL had evicted them from. On the other hand, now there is nothing keeping PL and GotG in the north, so they have redeployed to the classic configuration we saw in the Casino War: all of the bad guys in or near one staging system and all of the good guys in the same place.
Meanwhile, Shadow Cartel jumped in on the NC/PL side and C02 decided to invade FCON.
So let’s go through what’s been good, what’s been weird, and what’s been bad thus far in this campaign.
- We won the strategic objective instantly, taking winning too fast to a new and somewhat unsatisfying level. The Imperium has Syndicate, 37+ R64s from that region and surrounding randoms, and MC has unanchored their FD- Keepstar and fled to Tribute. Init are goddamned heroes for grinding so many towers so rapidly, we pretty much blinked and this whole theatre was swept. This presents a propaganda challenge for us, because our big reason for deploying was sorted out and done while we were still hanging posters on the walls in Hakonen.
- Dead NCdot Fortizars in Frarie and Oulley
- Dead NCdot Titans
- We’ve onlined Roach Motel Astrahus through Tribute and continue to do so each day during the Fortizar ops in Hakonen, though we’ve yet to get a chance to test the value of this tactic so we’re not sure if this is a Good Thing ™ or a ‘well, whatever’ thing
- We’ve had great success with our Fremen attacking hostile sov and creating initial timers + snapping ihubs, despite the frustration of a ‘non-conquest’ sov war. We’ve implemented a new bounty program to reward these heroes, too.
- We seem to be perhaps slightly burying the hatchet, maybe, with TEST?
- Winning too fast is weird. The killboards do not lie; you cannot argue that losing 37+ R64s isn’t a huge blow to NCdot unless you have your head up your ass. The enemy redeployed, Syndicate was left undefended, Initiative gobbled it up, +1 region. I stated as our goal in the SOTG that if we fought hard for a month we’d hope to win, as the big victory, either the Venal/Deklein front collapsing or the Syndicate front collapsing, and here we are.
- TEST moved to Obe. That’s a thing. As mentioned above, it’s good that they’re hitting PL and Vale sov, but it’s a challenge in that it allows the enemy to blob up entirely against both us and TEST in Tribute.
- The hidden deployment itself was strange; because we didn’t have leaks, I stripped all references to who we were attacking (NCdot, MC) from the SOTG. This has meant that even though NCdot is sustaining the brunt of the losses and sov assaults of our campaign, there seems to be a competition between Panfam and Darkness to claim that this war is really about them and that they are, of course, winning fantastically, while NCdot and MC are rather sensibly keeping extremely quiet about their losses.
- One of the really weird things about sort-of-not-really working with TEST is that for once we’re seeing the r/Eve hivemind somewhat at odds with itself as to if we’re the good guys or the bad guys.
- The entire enemy coalition is able to form in one place and outblob us with supers because they’re not spread out across multiple fronts. There’s no sugarcoating this, the collapse of those other fronts greatly simplifies what had been a beautifully confusing and messy war.
- We came here to use our dreads and carriers both, yet while we’ve been able to use carriers in almost every major engagement due to citadel mechanics, the enemy moving all their super fleets to one location has limited our intended dread abuse to disconnects and dread bombs. We used long-range and dreadbomb dreads in the Thumper fight last Wednesday in US TZ, but our intended ‘weapons free dread everything woo’ plan doesn’t work given the new geography. We don’t want to schlep these things back to Delve so we’ll keep looking for ways to intelligently use and lose our dreads.
- We can’t tell yet if our Typhoons are good or bad. This is partially related to the front-collapse above; the doctrine is doing ‘better’ but we’re still losing fights – is that because we’re being outnumbered by 400+ in each fight, because we haven’t figured out how to win the anti-fighter air war, or because the Typhoons themselves suck? We don’t know. We do know that the AU TZ crew shitstomped a Horde Machfleet that outnumbered them earlier today, but that could be an outlier.
- Jackdaw supply for the entire galaxy cannot meet our demand for them. We’re working on finding new sources and alternatives, but these things only come from w-space PvE and we cannot directly produce them as we can other assets.
- Confusion: The sheer rapidity of the changes in the war at the outset + a failure on my part to articulate our goals outside of the SOTG/Firesides has left people wondering what’s going on and why we’re doing what we do; I think I’ve been relying too much on Elysium, the Firesides, and chatting during fleets to get the big picture out, instead of writing a gigantic info-briefing like this post – hopefully this helps.
We’re going to continue fighting in Hakonen and making NCdot and MC’s lives as miserable as possible while we try out new tactics and doctrines. We’ve declared war on Horde and the AU TZ crew is blowing up their Perimeter Fortizar, we popped two NCdot Fortizars (real, gunned ones, not naked Thumpers) today, we continue to online roach motels in NCdot space and arm them, and while the galactic Jackdaw supply is still fucked sideways, our supply in Hakonen is at last being sorted out – and we’ve got more tricks up our sleeves.
We’re seeing hostile numbers degrade day after day as our style of attrition warfare takes its toll on them, and we hope folks are having fun on this deployment – cabin fever was really getting to a lot of us in Delve, and we’re only getting started~