On April 24, Gobbins, the leader of Pandemic Horde (PH), delivered the April Townhall to his alliance. For more than an hour he and various PH FCs spoke on a number of topics, including PH’s war strategy, the industry changes, how the M2 breakout was planned, and a review of PH’s accomplishments since M2. Gobbins also took questions throughout. The first and most prominent topic was the final phase of PAPI’s War, in particular the attackers’ strategy for the assault on the last Imperium holdings in Delve: the O-EIMK constellation and the 1DQ1-A system.
The Last Phase of the War
The Townhall began with Gobbins providing a detailed breakdown of Pandemic Horde’s strategy for taking O-EIMK and 1DQ1-A. That strategy has two parts:
- How PAPI will attack the O-EIMK systems other than 1DQ
- How PAPI will attack 1DQ itself
Gobbins emphasized that this distinction is necessary because PAPI will not attack 1DQ proper until the rest of O-EIMK is slowly and methodically pacified. “There’s a lot of expectation about a big frontal assault on 1DQ coming up with some kind of big fight at the gate and that is unlikely to happen until those other systems have been [gotten] rid of” (1:53).
The main message, then, boils down to this: there’s still a lot of slow war left: “If somebody is expecting that this is going to be a quick . . . sort of activity with large numbers and massive fights, I believe you will be disappointed in your expectation” (2:29).
Strategy for the O-EIMK Constellation: Slowly Wear the Imperium Down
For the O-EIMK systems other than 1DQ, PAPI will follow the same strategy that it has used throughout the rest of the war: continually poke and prod at cyno jammers and IHubs over time until they wear the Imperium down and get the break they need. Once they break and take the IHub in a system, they will hold it for 35 days, then drop a cyno jammer, then purge the system.
In laying out the rationale for this methodical, slow approach towards taking the last systems outside 1DQ, Gobbins introduced a guiding idea behind PAPI’s war plan that he returned to several times during the towhall: it places a lopsided burden of defensive perfection on the Imperium: “Ultimately, one of the reasons why the attacker can eventually win (as long as enough pressure is maintained) is that the attacker only has to win once” (3:08).
PAPI only needs to win one time to eventually break one of these systems. The Imperium has to successfully defend every single time: “You kill the IHub once, and then the cyno jammer is broken, and if you already had enough momentum and strength to break the IHub you’ll probably be able to keep the IHub, and as you can see from the rest of Delve, once you can cyno jam the system, you can do whatever you want in that system” (3:09).
The question, then, becomes how long the Imperium can hold out on an objective before they break. In addressing this aspect, Gobbins introduced the other main idea behind PAPI’s war plan: the inability of the Imperium to maintain sufficient pilot engagement to hold objectives forever in the face of PAPI’s superior numbers.
“As far as how long this will take, I think the answer depends on when the . . . . resistance from Goons starts to wane, like elsewhere in Delve, when finally . . . there’s this one op where they’re overwhelmed, and then the IHub breaks” (3:43). And the key to wearing down the Imperium is simply persistent pressure day after day. “Generally speaking, it’s made of a lot of cyno jammer harassment, a lot of harassment of the fleets running the ADMs, a lot of daily sort of grind until eventually you get that IHub. This, I would say in a nutshell, is what the war is going to look like as far as the systems around 1DQ goes” (3:43).
Strategy for 1DQ: More of the Same
After discussing the slow-grind approach to the rest of O-EIMK, Gobbins turned to the plan for 1DQ itself (4:45). He began by emphasizing how long it will be before PAPI is prepared to attack 1DQ: “I think by then there will probably be another Townhall” (4:50).) He then broke down the two unique challenges PAPI will face in attacking 1DQ proper:
- There is a faction Fortizar in range of the IHUB which can nuke any capitals trying to entosis the 1DQ IHub (5:07),
- 1DQ is the Imperium staging system and contains a large number of Imperium assets and pilots ready in the system – which would make cyno jammers irrelevant to PAPI’s efforts to pacify it (5:22).
PAPI’s method for countering these challenges will as methodical and slow-paced as the strategy for the rest of O-EIMK, but instead of trying to take the IHub first, they will focus on manually killing Imperium cyno jammers (presumably with subcaps), putting down citadels to enable their own forces to tether, and then making a play for the IHub to enable their strategic forces to cyno in at will. “When we get to that stage, I would assume that the initial approach would be similar, with . . . the harassment until the cyno jammers start to be reliably down, and then you start to get some Azbels up and running (some friendly Citadels that you can tether at) and then you start to make some plays for the IHub, and in this case maybe play for the faction Fort [that protects the IHub] first” (5:49).
What About a Big Super Fight?
After Gobbins laid out the basic strategies, he addressed questions regarding whether a big supercapital fight can be expected as part of the 1DQ assault. His response:
“The answer is ‘no,’ if you ask me. But it’s important to remember that Super fights often happen not because somebody planned them. Because I think at the strategic level, if it were up to, say, the people like me and the people like me on the side of Goons, if both agree that a Super fight should happen, you almost never have both sides, sort of, coming to the conclusion, that, ‘Yeah, we should definitely take a Super fight here.’ What has happened in this war is that most of the fights in which a bunch of Supers died and a bunch of Supers fought, they’re either the case of M2 where we were supposed to go in with cyno jammers (and it wasn’t the most important Keepstar as you know), but then the cyno jammer was forced early on (ultimately because of our sloppiness), and then we decided to go in anyways. And then Goons started jumping some Supers, but in tether you know (kind of like testing the waters). And then we followed up with our own Supers. And so what I’m saying here is that if you had asked me, ‘Do you expect a Super fight in M2?’ I would also have said ‘no,’ but then a Super fight happened. So the answer is that those kind of things are very unpredictable and really depend on the FCs at the moment and what’s happening; and often also how bored people are. If there’s a lot of pent up . . . appetite for using Supers – they haven’t been used in a while – it looks like the enemy’s weak or whatever; and then it’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s drop Supers here.’ . . . Specifically, if you were to think about the final assault on 1DQ Keepstar type thing, I would doubt that there would be Supers being dropped on, especially since we know that the server conditions are not reliable, and that if something goes wrong you get basically nothing – no compensation or any kind of CCP trying to fix things (there’s only so much they can do). So, yeah, that would be my short answer. Strategically speaking, I don’t see it, but the reality of the war is that a Super fight can happen – spark out of anywhere – unpredictably.”
What if the Imperium Pack 1DQ with Thousands of Pilots?
Following Gobbins’ comments about the role of server limitations in limiting the likelihood of a Super fight in 1DQ, he spent several minutes discussing server issues in general, which was followed by specific questions about what PAPI’s answer would be if the Imperium simply crams many thousands of pilots into 1DQ every time PAPI tries to engage, essentially blocking any type of offensive action by overwhelming the server. His reply:
“The answer is we only have to win once. . . . Every step of the way in this war, when we went through some kind of choke point, whether it was breaking the first system in Fountain, or whether it was getting the first Keepstar anchored in NPC Delve, or breaking the first systems in Delve, or breaking M2, the first attempts were always met with overwhelming Goon response, because they kind of have this pattern of getting everybody really amped up . . . and then they will form massively the first time. Absolutely massively. And then again they will have a ton of dudes the second time. Maybe the third time. But then, every single time we did this, their numbers started to taper off, and eventually like I said, you only need to break that IHub once. You only need to get that Keepstar anchored once. And so progress comes afterwards. So that’s the simple answer. If they have 6000 people, and the node is unplayable, I doubt that leads to a fight. . . . If they can keep the 6000 up forever, then they’ll be able to protect the system forever. And if they don’t, then, you know, either the IHub will fall, the cyno jammers first will fall, and then an Azbel pops up, and eventually the system will be done with” (19:40).
He followed up immediately with comments on what the Imperium’s current participation numbers look like and their ability to form.
“As far as Goon numbers, . . . I do expect that any time there is a massive timer . . . that a ton of Goons will come that otherwise would never be around for fleets. I think for the everyday fleets I expect what we’ve seen so far, which is first day there’s a ton of them, and then a little less of them, and then eventually you get only the hardcore guys, and that’s when it seems that our numbers really overwhelm them” (21:50).
In addition to previewing war strategy for the final phase of PAPI’s War, Gobbins and several FCs covered a number of additional topics:
- Doctrine changes for 1DQ (Rokhs maybe) (15:20)
- Would he accept the Mittani’s surrender? (He won’t surrender) (23:20)
- An update on whether the Imperium is burning Legacy’s home space (not really, since they haven’t killed any Keepstars) (24:30)
- The Industry Changes (Provided summary of impacts for those unaware and some general advice. PH needs to do what the Imperium did the last time the economy changed and capitalize on it to grow stronger. The changes will hurt the Imperium while pinned in one constellation.) (36:06)
- How the M2 Breakout was planned (3D grid mapping and lots of opsec (author’s note: this section was very cool) (55:45)
- How PH pulled itself from the brink after M2 (1:00:00)