Ready for a roller coaster of a story? The meat of this article will be quoting an After Action Review written by Jack Haamilton, one of the FCs who brought some kind of order to the utter insanity that was the attempted eviction of Adhocracy from their home hole. This adventure saw my corpmates and me dock at Citadels we were originally supposed to be shooting at, as well as being given, by the victims, self-destructing ships to shoot at—all to spite other evictors. The rationale for such behavior? “Better you than them,” for reasons that will become clear as mud. I have been in some battles in Nullsec that involved thousands of pilots and they all had more order than what ended up happening with only a couple hundred players in this one wormhole. This operation lasted for a few days and I wasn’t there for all of it. I will be adding comments here and there from my own experience, to help add context, but this report mostly speaks for itself. Sit back, relax, and just marvel at this dumpster fire.
AAR: “Those fuckers stole our Op”
October 28th 2018:
WHBOO Operation Team announced an undisclosed operation scheduled for November 7th 2018:
The undisclosed op was an eviction of Adhocracy in J214308. The target had gone mostly inactive and due to a once-high member count had become a tempting loot piñata. Scouts had previously moved into position, with more being seeded in daily leading up to our original intended eviction date.
October 30 2018:
Scouts began to report approximately six Typhoons moving into the target system. Scouts were unsure of their source, as the initial contact came from directional scan only. The ships were later identified as mostly belonging to Mass Collapse, a C4 corp which had been previously evicted by Adhocracy. More ships from separate corps were spotted also. Mostly C4 corps. We quickly came to refer to this group as “C4 Voltron.” As our scouts watched, hour by hour those numbers rose. After spotting a few transports, their intent became clear. C4 Voltron began dropping multiple Astrahus, and Adhocracy’s citadels were reinforced shortly after. Scouts were seeing the start of an eviction and began to monitor the situation very closely. Approximately 80 attacking combat ships were identified, accompanied by approximately a dozen support ships.
November 1st 2018:
Scouts identified a Nullsec direct frigate hole. Scouts were advised not to jump the hole, to maintain anonymity. A plan was made to form and insert a Command Destroyer focused fleet at 2200 Eve time. Unfortunately Bob was not on our side and the hole went EOL at approximately 1700 Eve time, meaning it would close no later than 2100 Eve. With time no longer on our side “POS Party,” and “Of Sound Mind” were contacted in an attempt to bolster our numbers. “Of Sound Mind” would ultimately prove to be unavailable. But a joint POSPY and WHBOO fleet was formed. One of WHBOO’s scouts jumped the frigate hole in the target system, ending up in Catch, not far from Brave Staging. This also proved close for both parties. A joint WHBOO/POSPY fleet of approximately 30 people rallied two jumps out of target. Scouts reported a small Typhoon fleet, belonging to C4 Voltron, slowly rolling the target system’s C4 static. Our fleet jumped into the target system of J214308, but was unable to catch the rolling fleet.
With our presence now known, Adhocracy reached out for contact. They were excited that someone, like a white knight riding over a hill at the eleventh hour, seemed to be showing up out of nowhere to help them, so they were all too eager to provide docking access. We did eventually make our intentions, at least in part, clear:
Several timers on Adhocracy structures were coming up and C4 Voltron’s Typhoon fleet was forced to undock. Predictably, the Typhoon fleet was balled up to avoid the Jump Fields of the command destroyers. In an attempt to mitigate the tactic, late-arriving WHBOO reinforcements were brought in, forming a tight bomber wing. After a few hours of skirmishing, the joint WHBOO/POSPY fleet had managed to gain hole control and forced the attackers to miss several timers, notably, the Azbel “Tequila Dockingbird,” although a few Anathors, and Astrahus also managed to repair. The competency of both fleets was very clearly on display at this point, with C4 Voltron using their own command destroyers to rapidly reposition to avoid bombing and snatch attempts. Despite this effort, the joint WHBOO/POSPY fleet managed to score several kills against the hostile fleet, while sustaining minimal losses, trading 412 million in destroyers and bombers for close to 6.5 billion in command ships, and battleships.
With the initial skirmish out of the way, Adhocracy made it clear that they had batphoned friends from both Goonswarm and The Initiative and would like to get them in to assist. Given the C2 static, and the relatively high frequency of C2s with their own Highsec static, or even a wandering Highsec connection, it should have been relatively trivial to provide access to these pilots. Unfortunately for them, we had other plans in mind. After all, an Adhocracy batphone might cost us our docking rights. So, capitalizing on the chaos we wreaked upon our arrival and subsequent skirmish with C4 Voltron, WHBOO/POSPY pushed to backstop the holes before they could arrive (of course, though, not before our pilots could arrive). Between our efforts, and perhaps some intentional misinformation given to The Initiative by a C4 Voltron spy, the hole was ultimately backstopped with less than six pilots arriving to support Adhocracy. Simultaneously, the WHBOO/POSPY fleet nearly doubled in numbers. The joint WHBOO/POSPY fleet then proceeded to assist with the reinforcement of C4 Voltron’s structures, after which all involved parties seemed to turned in for the night.
I actually wasn’t part of the initial fleet. I joined later in the day. I hopped onto TeamSpeak to see two very full channels in the fleet comms section, and I, with several others who hopped on, had become very confused. ExookiZ, or Exo as everyone in the corp calls our alliance CEO, decided to gather the latecomers into a confessor fleet to help reinforce our fleet in the target op hole. We had just jumped in to the connected wormhole system and were sitting on the “in gate” wormhole that we were just about to jump, when approximately eight battleships jumped through and ended up rolling the hole, in order to stop less than 20 confessors. We ate almost all of them rather quickly, although a few were able to get away. We joined the op fleet in the hole anyway a little while later. I recall the general mood being optimistic, but cautious, as set by the leadership. We had no idea what the next day was going to bring.
The Next Day: Pandora’s Lootbox
November 2nd 2018:
Adhocracy had managed to lose hole control during the night, allowing for C4 Voltron to reinforce their fleet with a TEST Harpy fleet. Once that had happened, there was little more we could do until C4 Voltron and TEST moved to destroy the first structure to exit its invulnerability period. This structure was a Tatara named “Hakuna Tatara.” The TEST Harpies were a hard counter to our much slower fleet. So when the Tatara exited its invulnerability, we decided to not engage, but to sit and watch for an opening we might exploit. It wasn’t until the Tatara exploded, and it ejected its hangar containers, that our scouts saw their opening. The TEST fleet, understandably enthralled by the lack of asset safety unique to wormholes, started to scatter upon the hangar containers. We then observed C4 Voltron suddenly begin engaging the TEST Harpies, seeming perturbed by TEST stealing their loot. Although, it wasn’t enough to cause the groups to remain hostile to each other. After the TEST harpies fleet warped off of the loot, both groups seemed to calm down and work together again. Luckily for us, the next structure to come out of reinforcement was a Fortizar named “THE HAWKING MODEL.” Given that it was the main staging point for Adhocracy, the loot field would be substantially larger.
Seeing the looting, and friendly fire, we devised a plan to react once the looting began. We would focus on attacking TEST Harpies as they were out of position. To maximize chaos during this time, WHBOO and POSPY began delivering cans with one piece of ammo, or a bookmark to people in local or anyone that would not have otherwise have been docked in the structure, as this would generate further hangar containers. During this time, a scout for our bomber wing reported what appeared to be an AFK red Loki that had drifted off tether. Our bombers, seeing a free kill, moved to engage. But the Loki in question was not AFK and actually part of the (potentially unaffiliated) Cloaky Smartbombing T3 fleet. This resulted in the loss of most our bomber wing. Well played.
I want to add a bit more context here, because I feel that the FCs did an amazing job and deserve to be recognized. The plan to pick off said Harpies involved multiple command destroyers being used in succession to get us directly next to, then immediately away from, specific targets. In the next paragraph Jack talks about more of the battlefield’s geography, so while reading it imagine this. Valasius of POS Party was leading the combat fleet when Jack could not: at one point Jack said he was running four simultaneous fleets during this whole operation, which is just insane. These pinpoint attacks on such small targets were a thing of beauty. We would warp in on a specific target, utterly melt it, then be gone. The utter chaos that is described in the next paragraph can’t be fully appreciated without understanding the above context.
With the loss of our bomber wing, we suddenly found ourselves in a far weaker position than we had originally anticipated, but we chose to engage regardless. All hope was not lost though. As previously seen, TEST had started mass looting. With the total number of hangars in space reaching well over 200, the smell of loot had thrown their fleet into disarray. All of which had taken the irritation previously displayed by C4 Voltron to the next level and had broken out into a full blown fight, turning what was once a two way struggle into a chaotic three way brawl with heavily blurred lines. Despite this, the joint WHBOO/POSPY fleet quickly sustained heavy losses, and over the course of the following ten minutes we had bled most of our fleet. As we were getting ready to cut our losses and begin looting what we could, the cloaky Smartbomb T3 fleet from earlier managed to get a warp in on our fleet, which decloaked just as we warped off, at the same time as a large part of the Harpy fleet landed. The smartbombing T3s ate through a portion of the Harpy fleet. We made one more pass at the looters, grabbing a Nestor fit for wormhole ratting that TEST was in the process of stealing. The call came out. “Steal whatever the fuck you can.” A few of the more notable thefts where:
1) A mostly unfit Phoenix:
2) A Naglfar that was then stripped and self destructed
2) Two Ninazus that did not show on the killboard, but were also stripped and self destructed
For reasons unknown to me, it was not long after our first wave of looting that the TEST fleet chose to extract from the wormhole, leaving the loot pile mostly undefended, as a second Fortizar, and an Athanor, were exiting their reinforcement timer, forcing the majority of the C4 Voltron fleet to leave grid. The following events can only be described with one word: “Thunderdome.”
What is even going on?
At this point it was chaos incarnate. No attempt was being made by any fleet to maintain hole control. This allowed most of the WHBOO/POSPY forces to reenter the engagement. We quickly divided our fleet into two parts: The “Looters”, who focused on looting cans (with looted transports, and pods) and the “PvPers” who used ships they looted from the Hangar containers to attack hostile looters. This started small, as the initial loot PvP was disorganized, with destroyers and interdictors intercepting and attacking as required. As the looting continued though, the ships escalated. After a while it was noticed that a tough Loki Gang belonging a small group from C4 Voltron was guarding a specific area of the loot. With some effort, they were pushed off. We quickly found out what they had been so fiercely guarding: a hangar container worth 67 Billion isk.
As we started looting some of the more valuable loot, the C4 Voltron group (which previously had been the Loki Gang) reformed with some of their own Typhoons and several looted ratting nestors acting as logi. They landed on the can and forced us off. C4 Voltron seemed to focus their efforts on this can, allowing us to loot more freely. We focused on cans with Adhocracy tags, ignoring the bait cans we had produced. By the end of the night, all the loot we had extracted came to approximately 40 billion isk. The loot was exported in our looted DSTs and escorted by a heavy armor fleet which was made up entirely of ships no one in the fleet had paid for.
Conclusion: WHBOO had ultimately intended to evict Adhocracy so, in a roundabout way, that goal was (sort of) accomplished. It wasn’t really our effort that caused that. We absolutely could have offered to throw our support in with C4 Voltron’s forces to accomplish that. Instead, we attempted to be a third party, which ultimately made it harder for Adhocracy to be evicted. Despite this, in my opinion, that was the correct choice. Our position as a third party made for difficult choices all around. Our fleet being heavily out-shipped and out-gunned, we had to take more lateral forms of engagement, something we tend to not do as a group. Further, our presence there turned what had promised to be little more than a Hole Control/Structure Grind operation into a chaotic hot mess of PvP. Although it may have hurt their ultimate take of the loot, I hope that C4 Voltron enjoyed it as much as we did.
This was so much fun! The leadership had to think on the fly and everyone ended up pulling their weight as best they could. As mentioned earlier, I have been in large fleet engagements. I have been both a capital and subcap linemember in battles that lasted for hours. I have never gotten up from one of those engagements and suddenly felt I had just gotten out of the car from an 8 hour trip. I was about ready to pass out after we had finally taken what we could out of the wormhole. There were multiple times when I had to just make a decision and see how I could be helpful given the job I had fallen into (I was using a looted Impel to gather modules from cans). Once, I warped directly in the middle of a bubble, looted the can, then microjumped out soon after like nothing happened. Other people were picking off pods or hostile looters and kept them busy so that I, and the other DSTs, could do our job. People were consistently working together to find stuff for people to loot when they weren’t themselves doing the looting. Every pilot mattered. While this bizarre op is the exception in wormhole space, there is nowhere else in the game it could have even remotely happened. Wormholes are the coolest part of the game.