Below is a guest article submitted by GavinGoodrich with special thanks to Moglarr, Mira Devorsha, and Gibson Soikutsu. It was submitted on 01/12/2014 and some information may be slightly out of date.
The pendulum that is Faction Warfare continues to swing back and forth on the Caldari/Gallente warfront. Like a pendulum, momentum required to swing the warzone into some form of “progress” for the underdog takes time. Unlike the pendulum, it takes determination. All modern societies look to one big thing when undertaking big projects: results. “Did we come out ahead? Was it worth it? Did we get anywhere?”
As the momentum builds in favor of the Caldari the answer is yes, but not without an extreme number of ships exploding on all sides. I say all, because there’s more than two. Often times when shit gets real, all the local pirates and thrill-seekers get involved. They represent the often under-appreciated wild cards that can help your faction one day, and hurt it the next.
Faction Warfare is often fought with the smaller-end of ships: typically Frigate through Cruiser-sized ships. The big guns are still used on Ihubs, and occasionally POCOS and POS’es get hit as well. FW fleet battles, particularly ones for system control, don’t revolve around multiple timers as the current (and broken) 0.0 system does. FW occupancy is a grind, a constant grind, which peaks with entire fleets slugging it out in multiple kinds of ships, multiple times per day. You want Occupancy levels to change? You have to run the plexes. And what typically happens is a snowball effect of people helping others for control of multiple tactical points in the system at the same time, all hours of the day. Frankly, it’s a wonderful mechanic when it culminates with multiple fleet battles. But it usually centers around one or two systems. In early 2015, it’s all about Hasmijaala. More on that system in a bit.
Oto, the prequel to Hasmijaala. December, 2014
Some time ago, the Caldari secured gains in Okkamon and surrounding systems, giving them a stable base to launch more attacks. Some of these have centered on systems such as Deven, Sujarento, and the areas around Aivonen, to name a few. For the most part, the Gallente have successfully defended most of their important systems. But as the squids push further out, their supply/reshipping lines become increasingly stressed. Sometimes this stress takes real effect on the round-robin style reshipping it takes to control the system long enough to flip it. Also, Caldari entity Templis was based further into the warzone than the other Caldari alliances, which meant they were often outnumbered. Meanwhile, Moglarr from Templis CALSF, explains:
“As it came closer to Christmas it became obvious that we would not be able to take Sujarento. The contested level was being consistently dropped as soon as our gangs logged off and I remember a few nights where we never even saw a Gallente pilot. Then Rapid Withdrawal invaded Oto. Almost as if it was a “F U” to Templis they occupied the system around the clock and started running timers.
We charged at them as soon as we realized what was happening. They were occupying the system with fleets much larger than we usually saw out of them. Frankly, we were a little surprised. One fight in particular stands out in my memory. Despite that one victory, we lost the system on the 29th.”
As you can see, it doesn’t take the shiniest ships in the galaxy to win these systems.
Templis CALSF then withdrew to Hasmijaala, after the Gallente won a bloody campaign for nearby Oto. Caldari leadership was asked to support defending “Has:” a system near a high sec exit, close to Jita, yet within striking distance of Gallente systems “next” on the list, including the staging system Deven. The Gallente didn’t let up, and began pushing back on “Has,” leaving Templis outnumbered and low on supplies after fighting vigorously. They asked for support. Other alliances reluctantly agreed, knowing the hassle of reshipping to another forward-area puts a toll on its members. The question had to be asked…”is this going to be worth it?”
Throwing your chips in on a good bet for pew pew
Because it’s multiple fights in a single night rapid reshipping is the key, which is why supply lines in low sec are extremely important. At first, “Has” had only Templis defending it, and most other corps/alliances on the Caldari weren’t able to reship quickly enough as they were further away. To aid in the effort, just about everyone brought assets directly into Has. The tug-of-war, militia-wide, for control of Has had fully escalated. The statistics of this campaign are all over sites like DOTLAN, which draw in more thrill-seekers to the fray every day.
This is what system control is all about in FW. While good doctrines, high morale, and a huge backup of ships is critical to win, it’s not about who brings the most bling. Most of these bloody battles are done with doctrines like Derptrons, suicide Catalysts, and t1 Kestrels by the dozen. When things escalate, you’re looking at sniper Cormorants, logi frigates/cruisers, Hacs, Recons, and even morep. Links are almost always used, and well-balanced doctrines often struggle vs. an all-or-nothing suicide firepower fleet. Fighting for a system for weeks at a time is a battle of wills. Often I would log in to a fleet in Has, fight for a while, go to dinner, and the fleet is STILL reshipping and fighting when I get back.
Often I had to use an alt to bring in modules just to keep a single night’s fleets functioning, until the other market/logi gurus could take over. Meanwhile Gallente have managed to get at least a half-dozen POSes setup for rapid reshipping inside of Has itself. This didn’t happen without a fight from the Caldari, including a bloody battle for their first POS which escalated into a staggering 5-way between multiple pirate groups.
That’s what’s happening in and around “Has” as we speak. At the time of this article (1/12/15) the system is no more than 13% contested after weeks of bloody fighting and hundreds and hundreds of ships and pods destroyed. If the Caldari hold it, which is extremely likely, the FW warzone will shift as they attempt to make further gains, at the expense of defense and supply lines. The Gallente will defend any system they deem as A) something with strategic value, and/or B) something they can get tons of fights out of. The Gallente have the ability to trade ground for picking and choosing the fights they want, the Caldari do not. And for the longest time, the Gallente pick almost every fight they can get their hands on. Both sides have tier 2 occupancy levels across the warzone, with Gallente holding almost double the number of systems. Caldari have a long way to go, and many strategic objectives to work on.
What it takes to “win” a FW system of value
You want a FW system with a station in it? Or one of the enemy’s station systems? You need diplomacy, you need good FC’s, and you need people to cooperate with doctrines different than yours. If pirates or thrill-seekers are in the area, you need to beat your opponent to the punch to talk to them, or they typically end up teamed against you. Either way, third parties almost always get involved. Most importantly, you need willpower. When things really heat up fighting for a FW system, it is vicious and continuous. Many people have advocated FW’s occupancy system as a candidate for the future 0.0 Sov system, and for good reason.
Can you imagine what kind of ship explosions you would see if the larger 0.0 powers had to fight for a system using these mechanics?