On May 24th, 2014, Imperial forces demonstrated to the Minmatar that sitting in Tier 1 would not stop them from seizing systems in the warzone. Within three hours of each other Eszur in the Metropolis region and Saikamon in the Bleak Lands region were both successfully occupied by crusader pilots.
In the jubilant words of Odysseus Olacar from a statement released to militia, “After a week of plexing Eszur has fallen! Thanks GREATLY to Varrinox and all of J4LP, I.Law as well as groups from Sons of Liberty and Vitoc Health Services. Aka like the whole militia! Thank you to EVERYONE who showed up Eszur is the first system in many to come. +10 for you all.” Odysseus Olacar then goes on to include a number of kills from the “Battle of Eszur.”
RP aside, the offensives in Eszur and Saikamon serve as an indicator of the growing capabilities of coordinated militia efforts. Fighting around Eszur was particularly brutal, with Hashashin Cartel offering stiff resistance. Plexing was completed primarily by Winmatar, with many Winmatar members spending 8-10 hour days seizing control of hard-fought complexes. Fighting reportedly spilled over into the system of Frerstorn. The system was finally captured through an 8-hour effort of a combined Winmatar/J4LP fleet led by Varrinox of J4LP’s Igneus Vindicta and Odysseus Olacar of Winmatar’s Biohazard. The operation was conducted with support from a multitude of Amarrian alliances and corporations including the aforementioned I.Law, Sons of Liberty, Vitoc Health Services, and Shirak Skunkworks.
Varrinox recounts that in the final day of combat, from 18:30 towards 22:00, the Amarrian forces met little resistance as they plexed Eszur, instead utilizing “denial of content” tactics against neutral parties while engaging the odd solo pilot. At the climax of the Battle of Eszur, a Hashashin Cartel Ishtar fleet engaged the Amarrian bash fleet with good Rapier, Scythe, and Scimitar support. The battle was fierce, forcing the Amarrian fleet to utilize novel tactics in engaging the superior firepower of the Hashashin Cartel fleet. To turn the tides, the Amarrian pilots used cans at a distance of 300k above and below the Infrastructure Hub in Eszur. The DPS ships would warp to the hub at 0 and apply their DPS while remaining aligned to a can. This better ensured the preservation of the fleet in the event of hostiles engaging them. The philosophy, as Varrinox shares, was to “have the main fleet align towards the hostiles and have interceptors burn in for hero tackle.”
Varrinox had to this say about the tactics, “On the note of the tactic we employed to deal with Hash. Tactic is superb but requires more of the core parts – More Ceptors to lock down more targets on each pass [if we had ¾ we would have wiped out most of their fleet on the first few initiates]. More Logi – We were so light on logi that when we did move the bulk DPS dealing part of our fleet in range to kill the Ishtars were able to break us.” Hashashin Cartel could not be reached for comment.
Eight jumps away from Eszur, another, smaller engagement was raging in the system of Saikamon. The campaign there was fought between the Amarr militia forces of Amarrian Vengeance, Loaded Dice, Winmatar, and Vitoc Health Services, against a number of pilots from Late Night Alliance, Iron Oxide, and Minmatar Brotherhood. Most of the fighting was sporadic and took place over the course of roughly two weeks, but nonetheless had its fair share of skirmishing between the two sides. Ultimately, the system was liberated three hours after Eszur by a combined effort of a Winmatar stealth bomber fleet and a Loaded Dice attack battlecruiser fleet, with Flyinghotpocket of Amarrian Vengeance dedicating an Armageddon Navy Issue. The Minmatar offered no resistance during the bash, which was surprising, considering that Late Night Alliance was utilizing Saikamon as a temporary base of operations to, as Susan Black describes, “find new people to shoot.”
The back to back victories over Eszur and Saikamon have ramifications beyond the roleplaying of Factional Warfare. Firstly, it demonstrates that despite sitting in Tier 1 Amarrian pilots are willing to rally around particular goals for little or no LP payout. Secondly, the coordinated efforts of the various militia entities across both the warzone-based forces and those that stage in Egghelende is robust enough to handle complex strategic and tactical maneuvers.