After 968 days of Minmatar occupation, the vaunted fortress that was Huola was liberated by Amarr forces on November 29, 2014 (or YC116) at 16:12:34 EVE time. Within three weeks of the liberation of Huola, the final bastion of Minmatar resistance–the system of Evati–fell to Crusader forces.
The campaign to retake Huola started earlier in the week when the Loaded-Dice [D6] alliance began a plexing effort from a siege POS located within the system following Iron Oxide’s declaration that it was leaving the Minmatar militia. Primary resistance stemmed from the Minmatar and Minmatar-sympathetic EU timezone forces. After the initial siege had begun, other members of the Scorch OP coalition began to supplement the Loaded-Dice forces. Drawn from across Scorch OP, representative forces stemmed from Dirt ‘n’ Glittler [DnG], Calibrated Chaos [L33T.], Imperial Outlaws. [ILAW], The Imperial Fedaykin [TMFED], Terpene Conglomerate [TERP], Praetoria Imperialis Excubitoris [PIE], Ordos Titanis [ORDOS], Blood Fountain Massacre [BFM], and scores more Amarr entities descending upon the system.
Huola, however, was not truly defined by the campaign to take the system itself, but rather by the concurrent offensive led by the Smile ‘n’ Wave [WAVE] alliance in Amamake. Fighting on two fronts, the Scorch OP coalition floundered in the early days to maintain a presence in Huola while also defending Amamake. However, efforts to contain the Smile ‘n’ Wave alliance eventually proved to be essentially needless.
When Amamake finally became vulnerable, it was apparent that the Smile ‘n’ Wave alliance, officially a member of the Federal Defense Union, was unable to target or fire upon the Infrastructure Hub. Although some forces from the Minmatar militia arrived to help bash the infrastructure hub, Smile ‘n’ Wave forces, now relegated to a support role, were forced off by Scorch OP and wider militia forces. Although another effort was made on the I-Hub once Smile ‘n’ Wave-affiliated dreadnought pilots were placed in Tribal Liberation Force, a 40-man Amarr militia battleship fleet, drawn heavily from Scorch OP and residents of “Fortress Siseide” dissuaded further efforts. praying mantis01, then of Imperial Outlaws.’ Heart of Pyerite [NO45] and now of Calibrated Chaos, who led large portions of the defense of Amamake, summed up the campaign by saying, “They kept trying to siege dreads on Amamake and it was stopped twice by our battleship fleet.” Although FactionWarfare.com reached out to Smile ‘n’ Wave executor White Drop, no comment was ultimately provided.
Following the debacle in Amamake, Smile ‘n’ Wave dropped from the Gallente militia, removing roughly two hundred pilots from the ever-dwindling pool of defenders for the hapless system of Huola. Indeed the lack of substantial Minmatar resistance was so apparent, that even Gallente NPCs joined the fray. What little Minmatar resistance present came in the form of Talwar fleets or Cormorant squadrons more interested in picking off the random Crusader rather than de-plexing system. Additionally, although pro-Amarr DUST forces were unable to maintain control of the ground war, with the plexing fleet handed off between various FCs, Amarr forces were able to continually plex in an organized fashion. With fewer pilots to de-plex it and with most resistance stemming from former Minmatar corporations and alliances that turned pirate, Huola was plexed largely without incident until the system became vulnerable.
The Hub Bash itself was notable not because of a major battle that took place, but due to the sheer amount of firepower deployed, which ultimately went on to include a massive general militia stealth bomber wing and long-range fighter support provided by POS-based carriers from the Loaded-Dice alliance. After the system was flipped, the Amarr militia celebrated by decommissioning Republic Fleet assets by destroying this freighter at the Hub.
It is not lost on the militia, however, that taking Huola was at best a bittersweet affair. Where most players were expecting the levels of conflict that characterized the summer’s “Burn Huola” campaign, the actual liberation of Huola turned out to be little more than a mopping up effort akin to taking any other nearly-empty system.
Tristan daCuhna, of DnG offered, ““The orbit Huola campaign was much easier than expected. The Minmatar are in a bad place right now, while the Amarr have finally got our act together. I don’t know about the rest of the Scorch OP coalition but I love to kick the slaves while they are down and Huola was just the start.”
Samira Kerner of PIE was especially reserved, “”I’m happy about it, but it shouldn’t be viewed as more than it was. It wasn’t a second Burn Huola, it was a lucky break.”
Odysseus Olacar of Calibrated Chaos held similar thoughts, providing the following, “Huola is ours, though many active sieges have happened over the years, Amarr has been in a “Cold War” state with Huola forever, always waiting and watching ready to strike the moment the Minmatar lower their guard.
The opportunity finally came. The Minmatar alliances shifted–some leaving or dropping FW and in their greatest moment of weakness, Amarr struck. Huola was conquered, and Smile ‘n’ Wave was at the same time smashed in Amamake causing the last major Minmatar alliance to withdraw from their militia.
Nothing more to be said than Amarr Victor!”
The rest of the effort to take the warzone has been laughably easy as Minmatar resistance crumbled after the departure of major Minmatar and pro-Minmatar corporations and alliances, leaving only the Ghosts of Deep Space and Ushra’Khan to stand against the full might of a united 24th Imperial Crusade. Although initial resistance was offered in Bosboger, a concerted effort by Scorch OP coalition members–notably lacking a large presence of Imperial Outlaws. following the alliance’s dissolution–was able to take the system after a few days. As the campaign ground further north, Minmatar resistance was largely sporadic, consisting primarily of Talwar fleets more interested in obtaining fights than defending the warzone while pirate entities struck at targets of opportunity.
Finally, at 16:21 on December 13, 2014 (YC116), Evati was captured. For the first time since the inception of Factional Warfare, the action united the Amarr-Minmatar warzone under a single Imperial banner. This is the first time the Amarr-Minmatar warzone has been completely conquered and makes the Amarr the third major faction to have taken a warzone in its entirety.
The future of the warzone seems bleak, however. With few groups offering resistance or aid, the warzone may remain Amarr-dominated, the Crusaders sitting in a perpetual stay of Tier 4 loyalty point farming. What is the future for these seventy systems with the Minmatar defeated, old enemies having departed for other areas of lowsec, NPC nullsec, wormhole space, or sov? With that, the year closes with Amarr victorious.
Amarr Victor indeed.
Credit for image: http://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/2p61hs/dirt_n_glitter_finishes_the_warzone_in_style/