Header art by Empanada.
Over the course of the Battle for the X47L-Q Keepstar we’ve seen the titan kill count eclipse that of B-R5RB. We have also seen innovative and new tactics employed that could change the future of supercapital engagements. Finally, a key player for the Northern forces have been forced to relocate their staging and make a “tactical” retreat. After the final timer for the X47L-Q, INN reached out to many of the FCs we’d spoken to after the armor timer. We wanted to get their impressions of the final timer, and thoughts for the next phase of the war.
INN: Welcome back Asher and congratulations on the victory. After the armor timer I had asked you for a prediction on what might happen with the hull timer where you thought it unlikely the opposition would make a show of force. Had you been on the other side, what would your response have been upon seeing the Imperium fleet jump in initially?
Asher Elias: Thank you kindly. Once they called PL I was fairly certain they would contest, you generally don’t have people come that far without intending to fight. I’m sure we jumped in roughly what they expected, both sides had very similar numbers.
INN: With Pandemic Legion abandoning their fight in the south to move north and help NC., what kind of concerns or considerations had to be made to account for their involvement?
AE: When PL came up we asked Test to come up. This balanced the numbers pretty well and PL actually didn’t move as many titans as we expected. I had asked Vily and PGL to stay south to avoid lagging out the server. But once PL made their move I asked them to come up for the timer.
INN: Upon initially jumping in there were two hostile titans right on top of the Imperium titan fleet. Was this something command was aware of before the beacon was lit in that spot, or happy coincidence that led to the first titan kill?
AE: They were suicide titans trying to boson our subs or maybe our faxes. They did this in conjunction with using hictors to bubble our midpoint fort. The rag that warped away was invuln and not lockable the entire boson cycle, we only were able to lock him right before he warped out, but all-in-all it wasn’t too bad considering how many people were already in system. Getting a titan kill right off the bat was encouraging.
INN: There were multiple intuitive strategies employed by Imperium commanders in this fight. Unconventional fittings, supercarriers for tackle held in reserve and the use of jabber for fleet coordination. Would you like to comment on these and the creative solutions the Imperium has employed recently?
AE: We put a lot of planning into this timer and you can see from the results. It’s got to be the most one-sided super fight in Eve history for a known timer. The actual plans were mostly boring but it was nice to see all the time we put into it pay off.
INN: Unlike the armor timer, the Imperium seemed to leap out to an early lead that resulted in a complete rout. Even with the clever strategies discussed, this outcome couldn’t have been predicted. With all the advantages defenders have, highlighted previously, how was this possible?
AE: I think both sides had plans for this fight and we just executed ours very well. When you look at the positioning of their side it was very bad, you had Darkness/GOTG in the front basically face tanking, NC had fine positioning but PL dropped outside of our (and their) doomsday range. Very strange, very peculiar – most likely an accident. On an unrelated note I’d like to thank everyone in the Imperial Legacy for dropping next to each other and taking the same amount of risk.
INN: Anybody you’d like to recognize specifically for a role they played in this fight?
AE: There are a lot of people who you can thank in a fight like this, but one particular group that performed very well was Goonswarm Recon, they did a fantastic job.
INN: So the numbers I’ve seen floated around are approximately 80 titans destroyed over the course of the Battle for X47L-Q, with 52 northern titans destroyed to 28 Imperium, give or take. Top that with a headshot staging Keepstar, it seems like the North might be on its heels. Any insights on future plans for the Imperium’s Hell March?
AE: Eve: Ragnarok has certainly lived up to its billing. It will be interesting to see if the north has the stomach for more fights like this. We came in having a longshot hope we could go 1 for 1 titan kills against the defenders advantage and leveraging our economic might to outpace them. Us being this far ahead has to be discouraging for them, I’m excited to see how they respond to the next one.
Right now you’re seeing a lot of corps starting to look for greener pastures. Before this I publicly advised GOTG that we didn’t want their space and they should just retreat to Branch and let us roll CO2 and we’d have been sated. I still think this would have been the most sensible route for them because titans, they can eventually be replaced; people, especially active people, are much harder to replace. I guarantee you Gigx and CO2 will backstab GOTG at the earliest moment it feels expedient to them. A leopard can’t change its spots even if it changes its name to “The Leopard”. If GOTG had gone to Branch they would have heard some grumbling but they wouldn’t have lost their corps, and they are going to lose so many of them. The weakest alliances crumble first, the Casino War proved that.
Briefly mentioned by Asher was the engagement in the Imperium midpoint system involving a fleet of Heavy Interdictors potentially trying to divide the Imperium supercapital forces. To get a different perspective on this we briefly caught up with Apple Pear of Goonswarm Federation who played a key role in dealing with the threat.
INN: Hello Apple Pear, I was told you were the one to talk to regarding the attempted HIC bomb in O-N8XZ. I’m looking to get a few comments from you regarding what you think they were attempting? How did the Imperium respond, and what would have happened if it worked?
Apple Pear: The goal of that HIC bomb was to split our forces for a while to keep us from bringing in the full force in so that the timer could repair a bit and also make it easier to kill some of our forces in X47 since we couldn’t bring in reinforcements and faxes. When they did the HIC bomb our supercarriers got to work and I bridged in my ferox fleet to help kill them. They were dead within minutes and it didn’t have any effect really. Outside of some killmails. The ferox fleet that I formed had, as a goal, to protect O-N, since last time we lost a titan and some stuff and that’s why we were ready for it.
INN: Do you have any additional insight into the fight? What circumstances do you think helped lead to the rout of the Northern forces?
AP: I was never personally in X47 during the fight. But what I saw on stream and heard in comms is that there positioning of forces on the keepstar made it so not all their titan groups were in range of our titans. So they couldn’t DD volley with all their forces. Also the HIC’s we got on their titan on the initial jump in made it so that some couldn’t tether or dock. So we could kill them and got the early lead. With the keepstar going to die for sure, they would lose their safety net and I can understand why they called it a day.
One of the most notable survivors of the final timer was Sort Dragon, who took fire in two separate instances from Imperium forces, but managed to get his titan re-tethered both times. Sort remains one of the longest-tenured sources of institutional memory in the sov wars of New Eden.
INN: How do you feel about how things unfolded?
SD: Crap. And absolutely disappointed.
INN: I think that’s understandable. Things seemed to go wrong for you guys almost from the start. There was a Heavy Interdictor/Boson trap that went awry right at the beginning, for example. Can you tell us anything about what happened there? Was that bad placement, or were more BFG titans supposed to come in that didn’t?
SD: I wasn’t running that part so not sure what happened or what died or didn’t.
INN: Also fair. What kind of reaction was there to the discovery that Asher had told Imperium Erebuses to fit a dual-tank? On the Imperium side, a lot of people wrote Dozmet’s ‘bus off for dead before the combined TEST and Imperium faxes caught him.
SD: Not that much of a surprise. Mine was tanked with it shield and armor as I knew they would try it with me. It was good to see some adapting for sure on both sides. And I think it wasn’t just the fits that saved him it was the amount of titans that crashed As we still killed the one we killed with same amount of DDs.
INN: Indeed. We’ve heard the titans on the defending side were organized into squads, and those squads had DCs reduce their usefulness. In your opinion, would it have made a difference if the titan FC had shifted to using multiple squads at a time? Was that adjustment something the defenders tried to make?
SD: We ended up combining squads. That’s how PL and us killed the Erebus. It was a PL squad and the DC titans that had loaded, but the disconnect levels were phenomenal.
INN: Speaking of PL, they came in behind a lot of the defenders. Was that where they were supposed to come in?
SD: So people keep bringing this up, yet PL was able to shoot the bus we picked. The thing is it is smart for FCs to pick to only be in range of a partial amount of the hostile titans means they cannot shoot back with the full power. We weren’t in range of everything either, and TEST did same thing PL did.
INN: Killah Bee went onto the INN stream and said that the intent with the O-N HIC-bomb was to cause TiDi by making supers launch their fighters.
SD: So the intent from my side and it failed horribly for God knows what reason. Was to see if we could get the goon titans in without their fax.
But the HIC FC was told they were about to jump but he didn’t go until way too late. So the plan ended with a massive hic feed.
INN: Both the Imperium’s mumble server and the CCP servers experienced DDoS attacks during the window of the battle. Many people on the CCP forums and /r/EVE are pointing fingers at Goons for the DDoS. Were the defenders’ services or comms affected at all by the shenanigans going on?
SD: The DDoS thing is crap and I reference what I said last time. If anything it’s some random idiot trying to be funny. I hope he or she brags and then I can report the fucker if it’s in my group. And with regards to defensive comms, I don’t know. Multiple comms and all.
INN: With the keepstar dead, NCdot’s moved up to the keepstar in DO6H, which they were given by Dead Coalition. Is that intended right now as a temporary transfer? Without getting into any opsec details, obviously, what’s the plan for the ongoing defense at this time? Anything you can share?
SD: Um see what happens basically. Both sides experienced that fight feeling it on both sides.
INN: Gotcha. Any final thoughts about the timer that you’d like to share with our readers?
SD: Worst experience since Y-2 and HED-GP. Something has to change. And I don’t believe its the players.
And grats to the imp boys and girls for killing the keepstar. Let’s see what happens next.
INN also reached out to Killah Bee, head FC for the northern forces in the battle, but his schedule did not permit time to sit down to talk.