Author’s Note: While all opinions in this article are intended to be neutral and describe things as they are, as a member of Iron Armada, my opinion is biased, and may come out during my writing.
Aegis Sovereignty, more commonly known as Fozzie Sov, has come under constant fire and criticism since CCP made the change from the old sovereignty mechanics of Dominion to the Aegis system. At first, it appeared Aegis Sovereignty was doing as it was intended, and allowing smaller entities to successfully take, and hold space in Null-Sec. However, the proliferation of Citadels and other Upwell structures as they were released had an inverse effect. The larger entities around these smaller groups were able to drop citadels anywhere they wanted, as their greater numbers would ensure the structures came online. Having an active structure in an enemy’s staging allows you to deploy capitals and other doctrine ships into your enemies’ space. Eventually, most small entities were farmed for content, until they either left their space, were forced into vassal-state status, or directly absorbed by their larger and more powerful neighbours.
In the current era of EVE Online, there are very few independent small to medium sized entities that can claim they own sovereignty without the help of a larger entity. Iron Armada, currently based out of Fountain, and my own Alliance, is one group which I feel represents the true intention of Aegis Sovereignty.
In order to understand Iron Armada, you have to look at its history. Fountain is the fourth region Iron Armada has lived in under Aegis Sovereignty, and we have learned—and developed our tactics—in every region where we have lived.
HISTORY OF IRON ARMADA
Iron Armada is actually just a corporate entity that holds an alliance name due to sov mechanics: an alliance is required in order to hold sovereignty. IronGuard began in Pimebeka as Iron.Guard and was founded with a specific cultural ideal. That ideal was to be a group that actively focuses on improvement, without the toxicity of other notable ‘elite’ groups. After a couple of months in highsec, the true depth of how broken wardec mechanics are became apparent, and IronGuard sought a lowsec location for safer place to grow.
Iron relocated to Nalvula and began their life as lowsec pirates, confronting CFC entities nearby, local lowsec pirates, and running level 5 missions as best as they could. Iron quickly picked up speed in terms of recruitment and got to the point where everyone in the immediate location was either too small to want to fight, or to large to take the fight to. IronGuard then moved over to Passari to join the losing side of the local factional warfare, intending to get stuck into lots of local roaming content. Despite picking up some great pilots, getting the first two titans for the corp, and winning some insane battles, this ended up being one of the worst moves Iron has made and activity plummeted drastically over the course of a couple of months.
A change was needed, so IronGuard was invited to head over to the Syndicate region to work with an alliance named Ineluctable. However, shortly after Iron moved in Ineluctable picked up their roots and left leaving Iron alone again, in A-ZLHX. After multiple months of conflicts over moons, fighting equal sized entities and doing guerilla ops against larger entities, CCP announced a new sov system was going to come in an expansion soon. In order to adapt to this change, Iron Armada as an alliance was founded.
Under the Aegis
Iron Armada secured the entirety of the Tinnimerci constellation in Cloud Ring through diplomacy. This was done through Space Monkeys Alliance right before the flip to Aegis Sov. While our numbers were low, and our max nerds CTA was around ten people, we relied on Augoror Navy doctrines, and were able to hold our space for just over two months. Our alliance grew in numbers, not just because we were a small entity, fighting to hold and keep space against bigger foes, but we also pushed our media exposure. Tridgit, our CEO, and I, as a starry eyed young Skirmish Commander, frequently appeared on EN24 podcasts with Matterall. This exposure helped our group—and our brand—to grow, and two months later after rebuffing Waffles, we received intelligence that Pandemic Horde was going to assist in the invasion against us.
We packed our bags and evacuated overnight. Our group had grown drastically, and our pilots left Cloud Ring with a vast amount of experience in Aegis Sov. While we knew we would eventually return to Null Sec, we also knew we needed to grow our alliance. We decided to move to Molden Heath, an area of low-sec very close to high-sec, and grow our numbers.
There in Molden Heath, Iron Armada began its next step of growth as an alliance. We fought against the locals (IED and Space Marines.) alone for a while. A group named Rabble Alliance moved in and befriended Iron, and together we started to really push hard against IED. During this period Iron made plays for towers held by the previous ‘owners’ of Molden Heath, Feign Disorder. After a massive betrayal from Rabble, Iron went to war with them. Another group began to move in, Dropbear Sanctuary an Australian alliance, who helped Iron secure a victory over Rabble. They also had the numbers in the AU TZ to directly fight the local Russian entities in their primetime, which lead those russians to finally give up their guerilla attempts on Iron assets. After dominating the region the content had begun to dry up and Dropbear Sanctuary Widotted into NCdot. Since Iron had fought Feign Disorder over towers in the region, the leadership of the two entities were friends. Since Molden Heath was dead, Iron moved to Scalding Pass, and create a coalition with Feign Disorder, known as The Heathens.
While at the time, Feign Disorder controlled most of Scalding Pass, an amazing feat considering the size of their alliance, as a coalition, we resumed the work Feign Disorder has been doing solo. Harassing Triumvirate.’s border regions in Wicked Creek, and their allied entities who still held space in Scalding Pass while Triumvirate. were deployed on the other side of their borders, engaged against other entities. While this went on unpunished for a period of time, Triumvirate.’s deployment eventually ended, and their eyes turned East, to the entities that had been raiding their eastern border.
In a month long campaign against The Heathens, Triumvirate., and their now dead coalition, Vanguard Coalition, tried to push our alliances out of Scalding Pass, and in August 2016, they managed to push us as far back as our staging constellation, unfortunately, they could never completely remove us, and fighting against an overwhelming force, once again strengthened our resolve, and improved everybody’s understanding and ability to fight under the Aegis Sovereignty mechanics, it was here, against entosis Marauders’ , we found out how effective artillery claws could be.
In September 2016, Short Bus Syndicate, after being removed from Guardians of the Galaxy coalition began to take space in Wicked Creek. Seeing an opportunity to move into better space, Iron Armada and Feign Disorder decided to begin an offensive campaign into Wicked Creek, to take the space that Short Bus had just conquered. In total, the campaign against Short Bus Syndicate lasted little over two weeks. After suffering from an excruciating move to Wicked Creek from the north of New Eden, Short Bus Syndicate had little resilience left, and after various whelps against The Heathens, Short Bus capitulated, abandoning their space, as we took it. Although this campaign didn’t do much for our experience at fighting in Aegis Sovereignty, it did however move us into a region where we were able to improve our skills as pilots to another level.
Wicked Creek provided more room for Iron Armada to grow. However, with wars against Manifesto. and subsequently Stella Nova and their allies, Iron Armada realised our position in Wicked Creek was untenable, and redeployed back to low-sec. Although we had proliferated Upwell Structures within our space, being numerically overwhelmed, holding our structures, and our space, was not possible. This time also saw the dissolution of Heathens Coalition. With much larger numbers than we had had previously, we moved to Okagaiken, right next to our first ever sovereignty holding in the Tinnemerci constellation. While taking a spring break in Okagaiken/Cloud Ring, we managed to get some great fights, and produced this video.
Moving forward, to May 2017, Iron Armada had spotted an opportunity in Fountain, we’d had our eyes on the region for a while, but our experience with Aegis Sovereignty made our target constellation in Fountain and extremely wise choice for a medium sized entity seeking to take space in Null-Sec to conquer:
- Fountain was, at the time, the last front in EVE’s Null Sec sphere of influence. Although entities in the region are allied with major power bloc’s, no major power bloc exerted direct influence over the region.
- Although the major power in the region, The-Culture. is allied to NC., they were a force that would not batphone allies to fight us, providing us with a good source of localised, but competent, content.
- The constellation we chose as our target to conquer, Griffin, is located next to an NPC region. In comparison to our previous sov holding, Cloud Ring was located right next to Low-Sec, meaning our space was a viable source of content for Low-Sec Faction Warfare gangs, and Wicked Creek / Scalding Pass was deep into Null-Sec, meaning eviction in either of those two regions led to multiple capital jumps to reach safety of an NPC station. In Fountain, with an NPC station nearby, the option of withdrawal, and harassment, was on the cards.
- Fountain is a geographically rich area, with lots of R64’s in the region, along with it being home to Serpentis rats, and other resources, meant that the option for taking towers, and making large alliance income was also a possibility, however, The-Culture also had a grasp on the wealth of the region.
Recently after our move to Fountain was decided upon, Feign Disorder also decided to move to the region, and Heathens V2 was formed.
How do small/medium entities hold sovereignty space?
Being a medium sized entity in New Eden, holding your space comes down to being able to stop your enemy from reinforcing you space in the first place, or being certain you can prevent the enemy from capturing your space. There are two keys to this, particularly with the current meta revolving around using Claws to aid your capture of nodes by killing the enemy entosisers, Iron Armada found that holding our space came down to two important things:
- Being able to effectively counter enemy fleet doctrines. When our enemies, particularly The-Culture, tried to reinforce our space, it was important to know we could counter whichever doctrine they chose to use to attempt to do this. This is a huge thing, as preventing reinforcement of your space means you don’t have to worry about the subsequent node battles.
- Winning the node fights before your enemy can arrive. Iron Armada also effectively did this, and a great example of this can be seen when The-Culture began to use Loki fleets. Seeing the expense of this doctrine, and the ISK loss, along with the Skill Point loss, for one of the node fights, we decided to set up a drop on their Lokis with Megathrons, holding their fleet long enough to win the timer, while inflicting ISK and SP losses to our enemies.
Enemy Citadels In Your Space
As I have learned, while fighting The-Culture in Fountain, the sad truth about Upwell Structures is that they have countered the intention of Aegis Sov. While Aegis Sov was intended to allow smaller entities to make their mark in Null-Sec, with the proliferation of Upwell Structures, if you did not own the space you inhabit before the introduction of the structures, any large entity has the ability to proliferate the space on their borders with Upwell Structures. If you are unable to stop the anchoring of these structures, with the current stats of void bombs, and Upwell Structures in general, it is hard to kill them if your enemy has the possibility to outform you in their vulnerability period, and actually chooses to defend the structure.
With fighting The-Culture, a competent enemy in the EU timezone, which is their prime time, trying to destroy an enemies Upwell Structures, and combat any sort of response, while having a minimum amount of players is simply not possible. Passive ship fits in a smaller group, cannot PVP and kill a structure. The mechanics of Upwell Structures simply make it truly unfavorably for any smaller entity trying to hold space, and clear out enemy structures from conquered territory.
The Fall Of The Culture
After months of fighting The-Culture. over towers, and their citadels, we eventually started to take a toll on the content-starved US timezone of The-Culture by defeating their fleets in multiple encounters, and not allowing them to claim any victories. While this usually would not have been enough to crush any corporation’s morale, after months of having no local content, and all the time to PVE, The-Culture’s US timezone had obviously lost any edge it had previously had. Within a matter of weeks, after being unable to defeat The Heathens over any US timezone strategic objectives, US timezones began to leave The-Culture. This culminated in the complete collapse of their US timezone last week, as Black Serpent Technologies [MAMBA] left to join Northern Coalition. Although TC will claim this has nothing to do with The Heathens’ offensive campaign in the USTZ, we certainly feel it does.
This loss of members isn’t all down to The Heathens though. As CCP is planning to change moon mining from a passive mechanic, to an active one, The-Culture decided that it was time to abandon their sov holdings, and move on to “more challenging things”. Once The Imperium saw the blood in the water that was The Culture’s impending demise, they also began to target The-Culture’s assets, and at the time of writing this article, almost half of their Fountain holdings are reinforced, along with their rental space.
Realistically, the best solution, in my opinion, to the proliferation of Upwell Structures is that the time an upwell citadel must be vulnerable falls in the same time as the Sovereignty Structures in that system become vulnerable, which would be the owner of the space’s prime time. The truth is that Upwell Citadels do need to be fixed somehow, however, whether CCP choose to continue to balance them or not remains to be seen.
Despite all of the hate Aegis Sovereignty gets, it is possible for small entities to take space, and thrive in the environment. It just takes smart leadership, reasonably skilled pilots, and the right circumstances to allow this. With Triumvirate. struggling in the south, I see Scalding Pass and Wicked Creek being open to small entities being able to take space. Space is out there, waiting. The question is, are you brave enough to take it?