Week six of World War Bee saw lots of critical action as PandaFam kicked over more sandcastles in Fountain and began knocking on the Northern door to Delve. Action raged across both major theaters as the ISK split in the primary conflict zone remained basically the same as week five’s, a 63% to 34% divide in favor of the attacking forces. So far, the Imperium and the PandaFam and TEST/Legacy coalition have lost 12.2 trillion ISK and 110,000 ships in 350 hostile engagements.
From the wider view, in action across New Eden since July 1, battle reports continued to show a nearly 50-50% split as the roughly 55k pilots of the Imperium faced off with the nearly 145k pilots arrayed in opposition. The parties involved in the war have lost a total of 16.7 trillion ISK and 156k ships. The average cost of ships lost in the war is roughly 107 million ISK.
Week six’s action included eight fights with losses in excess of 20 billion ISK, with the Imperium losing three strategic objectives, winning four fights, and one fight (the shield timer fight on the Y-2ANO Keepstar) being inconclusive. PandaFam also destroyed two Keepstars in Fountain, although they were largely uncontested.
The two major theaters are the North (Fountain and its border with Aridia and Cloud Ring) and the South (Delve, Paragon Soul, Querious, Stain, Period Basis, and Esoteria).
The Northern Theater
This past week’s action in the North was far more interesting than last week’s largely unchallenged structure bashes, with the second half of the week hosting one of the war’s most exciting series of Keepstar fights. The week kicked off in the Northern theater with PandaFam finally killing the IGE-RI Keepstar in central Fountain with the Imperium mounting a largely token defense of Cormorants and Ares interceptors. Other action on Sunday, August 9, included the Initiative losing two Fortizars and Goons losing a Tatara. Last Monday had an early fight as Goons mounted a defense of their Fortizar in C-N4OD ahead of the final Keepstar timer later that day. The Imperium elected to concede that timer again, allowing the Keepstar to fall with a token bomber squad and a Keepstar gunner taking a few subcaps with them. PandaFam also took two Goon Fortizars and an Infensus Azbel in Fountain as their structure bash campaign continued. Tuesday was relatively quiet as The Initiative (INIT) lost a Tatara and a Fortizar, but there was a preview of the rest of the week as PandaFam reinforced a faction Fortizar in I-CUVX while taking losses from the station gunner.
Wednesday was much busier as the heavy work of the week began, setting up fights for the weekend. PandaFam probed defenses at the O-PNSN Keepstar. Imperium defenders (above) showed up to fight the capital ships and chased the carriers off with the shield at 25%. The Initiative took out a Ferox fleet to fight a PandaFam Muninn fleet, but found themselves massively outnumbered, nearly 4 to 1. Setting up for a fight later in the week, PandaFam took a fleet to Y-2ANO to reinforce a faction Fortizar, losing two dreads. Goons lost a small Jackdaw gang flying cover for an entosis hacker slightly further up the pipe in Fountain’s Basilisk constellation. Structure bash action on Wednesday included Goons losing a Tatara and Infensus losing a Fortizar. Thursday’s action itself was notable as two faction Fortizars defenses broke out, with the TEG-SD Fortizar chasing off a Horde Ferox gang and an Imperium Ferox fleet rescued the previously reinforced I-CUVX Fortizar in armor timer. Most importantly, however, was the loss of the final Imperium iHub in Fountain.
Thursday’s action leaked into Friday morning when PandaFam and TEST/Legacy made its play for the Y-2ANO Keepstar during USTZ prime time. The fight cost the attackers 42.5 billion ISK in ships and fighters, while the Imperium defenders lost nearly 22 billion ISK. The Keepstar was reinforced into armor despite a spirited defense and set up a critical armor timer fight for Saturday, nearly 36 hours later.
“[For] the shield timer they tried for a low commitment skynet with carrier fighters,” explained Imperium SkyTeam member Asher Elias. “We made them pay using Feroxes and support so that they had to keep warping down onto the Keepstar to shoot them, and then INIT would bomb them. They (INIT) didn’t have enough bombers to outright kill them but it weakened them, you will see that at the next timer we made sure to have enough bombers.”
INN Streamer Mifune SwordGod, who covered the action live on stream both Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, added, “Thursday, PanFam put their subcaps on grid with the Keepstar, splitting attention of the Imperium subcaps, allowing [PandaFam’s fighters] to reinforce the shield.”
Saturday’s action was completely dominated by the Y-2ANO Keepstar’s armor timer fight. A few observers on INN’s live coverage Saturday noted that generally, major alliances have failed to find strategies to successfully defend these major strategic positions, and once the Keepstar timers begin to run down, most defenders roll over for the inevitable. On The Meta Show on Saturday, Asher Elias said, “I haven’t had to defend citadels before,” and suggested the Imperium’s leadership was learning on the job. When loading the Keepstar grid on Saturday, ahead of the armor timer fight, all combatants would notice the massive backstop of drag bubbles that the Imperium erected on the far side of the Keepstar from the PandaFam Astrahus.
“The drag bubbles forced TEST and PandaFam to decide whether to welp subcaps or fighters,” said SwordGod. “[The Imperium] pretty much fixed all of the mistakes from Thursday. We started to formulate a plan to take advantage of time dilation to kill fighters before they reached the Keepstar.”
Asher continued, “For the armour timer we knew they’d change tactics. We had many changes of our own, but their plan was so feeble that we didn’t really have to show most of them.” As both sides arrived in Y-2ANO, it was clear that things would be different from Friday’s fight. PandaFam cynoed in their combat carriers to their Astrahus on grid, then deployed high angle weapon dreadnoughts on the gate to ZXB-VC to fend off Imperium subcap fleets entering the system. PandaFam played their first card – a strategic gambit to lock down the system as time dilation mounted: smothering the ZXB-VC gate with light fighters, allowing them to destroy ships coming in that couldn’t get off the grid fast enough. Meanwhile, the Imperium played for time, undocking fleets from the Keepstar, forming a toothy defense of the station as the invulnerability timer wore down and the system kept filling with players. At its peak, Y-2ANO played host to nearly 5,000 concurrent pilots, with crushing time dilation so that the server could adjudicate actions fairly.
As new fleets came into the fight, the Keepstar came out of its protected state, allowing PandaFam to begin attacking it again. They played their second card – a fleet of roughly 200 TEST Alliance Ravens that they bridged in to siege down the Keepstar. It was clear why they were confident enough to leave their fighters on the gate as the Raven fleet was set to do immense damage to the Keepstar, an irony that CSM member Brisc Rubal lamented on The Meta Show, since The Initiative had developed the doctrine for just such an occasion.
Out of nowhere, however, was a remarkable reversal of fortune – three bomber fleets were in-system for just such an occasion. “First bomb run was Stain Russian bombers,” explained SwordGod. That run softened up the Raven fleet’s defenses, but the real damage was to come.
“The Ravens bubbled themselves, so we (had) to wait for a better chance,” said Dabigredboat (DBRB), Imperium bomber FC and INN streamer. DBRB needed a warp-in to jump the Ravens and align their bombs. “[We] got it with a Rapier from NC., who left the bubble. I probed him down, warped to him, bombed, boom.”
“All credit to DBRB for his great bombing running, then Sister Bliss immediately behind them to finish them off. Great stuff,” Asher added. Very quickly, that fleet of fearsome Ravens was a fleet of pods, waiting to death clone home in tidi.
Most critically of all, however, was that destroying the Raven fleet meant that PandaFam no longer had enough DPS on grid to fight the reinforcement timer. PandaFam streamer Gigabiten2142 was on grid and reacted in real time. One of the critical advantages the Imperium deployed in the fight was time dilation itself. Time dilation slows all of the server ticks so that everything can be fairly decided by the server in systems where the population has spiked immensely. However, this does not affect timers like vulnerability windows which happen in real time. As the PandaFam fighters tried to make their way slowly over from the gate, it was too late. The Keepstar had fully repaired and the Imperium had won both a major strategic defense and a massive morale victory.
To close out Saturday, Infensus lost a faction Fortizar uncontested in L7-APB.
The Southern Theater
While many of week six’s major headlines were the Keepstar fights in Fountain, plenty of action took place in the South as the war sprawled across the Southwest of New Eden. Sunday saw Imperium capitals catch a bomber fleet and enemy capitals in Period Basis, destroying 7.7 billion for almost 600 million ISK lost. Some Goon campers also caught a loaded jump freighter in FAT-6P, the primary TEST/Legacy staging in Catch, for nearly 23 billion ISK. The last of the Sunday, August 9, action was the earliest, a gnarly fight on an Against ALL Authorities Fortizar in Stain, with TEST/Legacy dropping caps to destroy the citadel, trading 17 billion ISK in losses for 26.1b in losses for the Imperium and affiliates.
Monday was busy with fleet actions as Goons dropped caps on a The Army of Mango Alliance Ferox fleet in TCAG-3, a critical Period Basis border system. AOM lost 11.5 billion to 1.8 billion for the Imperium. Imperium Senior FC John Hartley captured the action on his YouTube channel. Later in the day, the Imperium repelled a far stronger attack in TCAG-3 trading 18.3 billion ISK lost to 23.3 billion for TEST/Legacy. In Querious, central star system 9CG6-H saw the Imperium defend their iHub while trading 2.1 billion to 1.1 billion. Additionally, a Karmafleet 49-U gate camp caught a small Jackdaw gang. Tuesday was quieter as Goons deployed a battleship fleet to defend critical jump bridges in Northern Delve and The Initiative popped up in HED-GP with a Gila fleet that forced Legacy to drop caps, costing the Imperium 26.1 billion in losses for 8.6 billion by Legacy.
Wednesday was busier again as the Imperium reinforced the G-M4GK Ansiblex while taking 2 to 1 losses, then a nearly reversed battle report later in TCAG-3, the Imperium hunted a PandaFam Jackdaw fleet through Delve, as well as a small skirmish in Catch. The biggest fight of the day saw Imperium FC Apple Pear take a Baltec fleet (an Imperium doctrine focused on Megathrons) to fend off a Muninn fleet in 5-CDQA on the Ansiblex. “They started reinforcing the 5-C jump gate connected to 1DQ1-A (the Imperium capital system),” Apple Pear said. “I formed Baltecs supported by FAXes and HAW dreads. [We] jumped everything through the gate and started shooting them and that forced them off. We took losses but we couldn’t wait longer, otherwise it would’ve been reinforced. Then INIT dropped the hammer and shot more.”
Thursday was brisk as it opened with an Imperium Harpy fleet getting bombed before dropping capitals on a TEST Muninn fleet attacking the HIX4-H Ansiblex. The TEST fleet reinforced the Ansiblex but at great cost, losing 20.7 billion ISK for 8.2 billion in Imperium losses. Later that day, the Imperium leadership announced that they had successfully onlined 70 citadels in Esoteria, allowing safe havens for guerrilla actions. Other action included TEST/Legacy dropping supers in G-M4GK on an Imperium HAC fleet, killing nearly 9 billion ISK for 2.5 billion in losses and two whaling gangs caught Rorquals deep in Esoteria. TEST also made an attempt on a Fortizar in Stain, but were chased off by a quick reaction fleet.
Friday, surprisingly, had nearly no action to speak of. Saturday, despite the main event in Fountain, had some remarkable action of its own as Goons lost a Fortizar in Stain and there was a dreadnought brawl in HED-GP with INIT trading 60 billion ISK lost to 50.4 billion for TEST/Legacy.
“We wanted to do something a little daring,” said INIT FC La Loca Fappuccino. “Voltron likes to drop caps on us whenever we touch HED, so we decided to play around with them a little. We were pretty outnumbered on caps/subs but we gave it a go anyway, and it spawned a good fight. We hit the iHub to get their attention. They formed caps straight away with an Eagle fleet, and we called in our friends” from the Dock Workers alliance. Fappuccino added, “[TEST/Legacy] started dropping carriers to try and nuke down our subs so we cyno’d Dock Workers to zero on their carriers, they brought in a few dreads they’d left behind so we chewed through them then extracted out before the backup TEST fleet got there. Everything nuked each other then left. There was an imbalance in the cost of the caps. We lost fewer, but they were more expensive, and their subs traded better than ours.”
Of additional note on Saturday, TEST/Legacy entosis hackers reinforced nine iHubs in Period Basis and nearly 20 in Querious during the Keepstar fight in Fountain, including some of the critical “Fake Querious” systems on the pipe directly into Delve. Nearly all of the timers are scheduled to come out during EUTZ on Monday.