The alleged “Capital of Carnage“, Tama, in the hands of the Caldari for months, just fell back into Gallente control several days ago.
What is Tama and why should you care about it? Well, Tama has been the center of attention for many active groups in the Caldari-Gallente FW space. From the pirates of the Snuff Box alliance, to the fierce aggressor of Rapid Withdrawal, to the Caldari of Operation Meatshield.
[Editor’s Note: What follows is an opinion piece and personal interpretation of the recent battles and ultimate GalMil capture of Tama. The author acknowledges that he does not speak for the Caldari leadership nor does he claim that this account of the events are unbiased.]
More importantly, Tama is a strategic system for Caldari FW space in that it is the entry system for the Caldari newbies from high-sec. Caldari characters created in The Citadel region and The Forge see the station in Nourvukaiken as the first FW station they can have access to without entering the still-scary-for-a-newbie low-sec part of Caldari FW. And of course, the system right next to Nourvukaiken and leading directly into FW space is, you guessed it, Tama! So for the Caldari militia, Tama is a system that matters because it allows for a quick access to FW space for its newbies.
But even for the more experienced players Tama is an important system. Being that close to the economic heart of the EVE universe, Jita, the system sees a lot of traffic from people coming from Jita with their cargoes full of goods, ammo, and weapons. Thus you have a “road” that can save a dozen of jumps for anyone ferrying goods, but that is camped by the most dangerous campers in the game. This fact alone ensured that the system would see a massive amount of kills pretty much perpetually.
The Caldari managed to capture Tama fairly late in 2014. This was part of the Caldari counter-offensive made possible thanks to the new interest the Gallente militia found in fighting pirate groups instead of the defeated Caldari. Since then the Militia has been able to hold the system, but that mostly happened through the intervention of the pirates living there. These third parties would pay a visit to anyone foolhardy enough to plex the system. Combine that with it being close to Nisuwa, a home system for many of Rapid Withdrawal and Spaceship Bebop pilots, and you have a hotbed for conflict.
Then, one day in early 2015, entered an actor that would be central to the recent history of the system:
Operation Meatshield (OM)
A young corporation that decided to make Tama their home, Operation Meatshield was focused on a few tenets.
- No fear whatsoever.
- Meatshields, literally.
- Lots of people.
Operation Meatshield would get as many people as they could, especially newbies, that could at least fly a ship, and then send them into the grinder.
Through a very aggressive recruitment strategy the corporation managed to get some impressive numbers. More importantly, they recruited some well-liked and respected pilots in the Caldari militia, Mr. Duffo (you can check his videos here, they are legit!), Destropia, and Nicholas Goldfinder. This gave a serious boost to their ability to attract players and expertise to train them.
With ships and players, the goal of Operation Meatshield was to defend what was a system in a constant state of war. They sought to defend Tama against the Gallente despite the heavy pirate presence in the system and around it. Their plan was to be the Meatshield (that ‘literally’ was there for a reason), with tons of ships sent toward the enemies of the State be they in a militia or not.
For a while everything went according to plan. OM got their share of fights by just undocking and Tama held. Unfortunately, the pirates and Gallente would not be so easily thwarted. The Gallente pushed for the system several times in the coming months and each of those pushes ended up being bloody affairs. Alongside those pushes, the pirates made their presence felt. While being assailed by the Gallente, the Caldari in system would have to deal with pirate smartbombing battleships right outside their undock (unless of course there was a full-on station camp instead).
In the end, the ability of Operation Meatshield to hold Tama proved to be… lacking. And thus holding the system would necessitate the involvement of most of CalMil.
And this is the heart of what is significant about the recent fall of Tama. The fall is first and foremost the fall of Operation Meatshield. With their objective burned to ashes in front of their very eyes, Operation Meatshield more importantly lost the validity of their modus operandi. What happened to them is of significant importance for the Caldari as it shows that the strategy of trying to swarm and outnumbered what are persistent, driven, and well-equipped enemies is very unlikely to succeed.
Faced with the enemies that we have, the Caldari have no other choice than to step up in Quality. Operation Meatshield would pride themselves in sending a newbie straight to the field in a simple Merlin. If this reminds you of another entity that made the headlines not that long ago, good, it should. Operation Meatshield in a way followed the Brave example. Brave was also well-known for their swarm tactics and bravado. We all know how the Brave experiment went, with a superior and cunning enemy utterly crushing them. Perhaps the Caldari cannot afford to follow the Brave strategy. Maybe we cannot afford to get our newbies burned in droves. The major legacy Operation Meatshield will leave in Tama is an extended list of kills for the different Gallente corps. The rise of Rapid Withdrawal as one of the top PvP corps in terms of kills is certainly not a coincidence when you take into account that most of their activities happened in the vicinity of Tama.
What happened this August 16 was a perfect storm of Operation Meatshield giving up and the Gallente militia being invited into the system by the chaos caused by several entities joining the mess. Most notorious among them is elements of the Goonswarm Federation, with the infamous Xenuria being offered as a sacrifice in a Capital ship so that the gods of mayhem and chaos could intensify their gaze on the system. To sum it, the mess in Tama proved too much to a lone and isolated Operation Meatshield to handle.
In the end, losing Tama is not an entire loss. By losing Tama the Caldari will hopefully also lose a mentality that is detrimental to it. The mentality of brute force against an enemy that outnumber us and has far more resources to spend than us, and that in an environment where we are surrounded by powerful and committed entities.
The access to one more station deeper into Caldari space will certainly prove to be a boon for the Gallente militia. They can now strike even more in the vicinity of Kedama, Reitsato, and Nagamanen. However, the Caldari have a precious opportunity to start focusing on how to outplay instead of how to overwhelm.
Hopefully the Caldari will seize that opportunity and, one day, take back Tama which is rightfully theirs.
Want to start your own adventures in Faction Warfare? The SQUIDS. [IBLOB] corporation will help you with your first steps in the target-rich environment of Faction Warfare, with plenty of Gallente and Pirates to shoot at!