It’s interesting to watch the pendulum swing in militia. As a side gets to Tier 4, farmers take advantage of it until the value of items on their side starts to plummet, at which point they stop and start to work on the other side. You can’t underestimate the power that the non-combatant farming characters hold over faction warfare. While many join FW just to PVP, there are many more that join just to earn money. With TEST and BORG off doing their own operations in null-sec, Gallente seized the opportunity to flip the war in their favor, and did so to great effect. Caldari lost many key systems, including the mission hub of Asakai. While Caldari put up a good fight for it, it simply wasn’t possible to hold. CSSYN and various associates that came to help such as SPROT and the Templis and BORG alliances weren’t able to dedicate enough resources to its defense and still keep standing fleets in Innia, which have become almost a requirement with all the combat going on in Innia and Eha. Between the pressure being applied in Caldari’s core systems and the influx of farmers, Gallente has been able to maintain T2 for most of this month so far, and flip over 15 systems to their side of the conflict. They’ve even been able to fly around with Tier 3 BC’s flipping POCO’s and attacking POS’s with seemingly no resistance due to how thin the entire militia has been stretched.
Part of this pendulum swing is the relentless assault of farmers from Gallente and Minmatar in Caldari space. One of the number one complaints right now in Caldari militia is the abuse of cloaks and warp stabs that seem to be fit on nearly every ship entering our systems. Some corps have even taken to fitting multiple scrams on their ships just to deal with this, as the likelihood of running into a farming character over an actual combat fight is very high. Other pilots, unwilling to fit ships specifically to deal with farmers have even given up trying for the time being, not interested in fighting non-combat ships and just waiting for a return to the days of small skirmishes that used to be common around areas in the Black Rise region.
BORG and TEST have been pushing into Null sec, taking a break from faction warfare back to their roots, running large fleets through Vale of the Silent and surrounding areas. So far it’s been a back and forth slug fest with no particularly clear winner, but part of that is the engagements CFC has already found itself busy with, such as the recent 3900 person fight that occurred in HED-GP, which is featured over on The Mittani here: http://themittani.com/news/battle-hed-gp-live-coverage
That’s not to say there haven’t been some amazing fights in faction warfare recently, and both sides have been ramping up their usage of capital ships to a rather alarming degree. It’s not uncommon to see POCO’s, POS’s and Ihubs being bashed with Dreads and Carriers recently rather than the run of the mill BC fleets that used to be common. Gallente have been pushing things incredibly well in this department, reinforcing POCO’s and forcing Caldari to spend precious resources setting up cyno jammers and defense fleets. Pirate activity has also increased, with both sides calling in large forces of pirates to assist them in fights.
There have been a couple substantial engagements recently in the EU time zone for Caldari, which has become far more active as of late. One such engagement ended in disaster for Caldari, after setting up a significant defense force on a POCO, a Gallente fleet was scouted on the Kinakka gate in Innia. Caldari moved to engage them rather than staying where they had been rallying, unaware that a second fleet run by the pirate alliance SCUM was coming in from Eha and flanked the fleet. From what I’ve been able to tell, 9 dreadnaughts and 4 carriers were dropped by the Gallente during that engagement and it resulted in an absolute loss for Caldari, including the loss of a Carrier and 2 Dreadnaughts. Total losses on each side were 1 Battlecruiser, 7 Cruisers, 7 Destroyers, 9 frigates and 2 Interceptors on the Gallente side, and 1 Assault Frigate, 11 Battclecruisers, 9 Battleships, 1 Carrier, 1 Command Ship, 1 Covert Ops, 6 Cruisers, 5 Destroyers, 2 Dreadnoughts and 9 Frigates for Caldari, totaling 11.8B isk lost for Caldari and only a mere 0.76B lost for Gallente. This was one of the largest single engagement losses that Caldari has ever experienced.
Now, I wasn’t present for the second fight but this is what I’ve been able to piece together regarding it. This fight escalated multiple times on both sides, pirate fleets coming in to assist both the Gallente and Caldari, and some with their own agendas just showing up to kill things and rack up glory for their killboards. This fight started off with Caldari simply defending a POCO, uneventful at first until a pirate gang landed on top of them engaging the militia fleet which consisted at the time of a mix of cruisers, battleships and carriers. It was around that point that Suddenly Spaceships decided to drop in with a Bhaalgorn and multiple T3’s. The pirate fleet did a good job during this of keeping the FC jammed, requiring FC to be handed off to other members of the fleet until he could get a better feel for the warzone. SCUM alliance took this opportunity to warp in from an off grid vantage point and assist with what must have appeared to be an outmatched fleet. Shortly after this happened, Caldari pilots lit cynos, which allowed SNUFF, whom they had been working with to coordinate defense, to jump in to the fleet, bringing T3 and Guardian support which proved to be too much for the original two pirate gangs to handle despite bringing a second Bhaalgorn on field. Gal Mil also landed around this period with sniper ships which ultimately were outmatched by the sniper ships Caldari had brought on field. Overall the engagement was a success, with expensive losses on the fleets attempting to engage the Caldari, and Caldari capitals were able to get off field safely and losses in general were low. This was the first big engagement Caldari had won in some time, and was a much needed morale boost. Unfortunately, unlike the previous battle, due to the numerous pirate groups there shooting at everything, the battle report is difficult to piece apart. The only thing that can be said for certain is that over 16 billion isk in ships were lost with the Caldari and Snuffbox fleet being the clear victor in the engagement.
Caldari has also recently begun to push back, flipping Asakai back to their ownership shortly after losing it, and bringing Gallente back down to T1, climbing back to T2 themselves. The pendulum is still swung in the favor of Gallente when it comes to owned systems, but with morale high once again Caldari pilots have been vigilant about fighting back, with more and more fleets going out to plex systems and regain control of the warzone.
Overall, Caldari has seen themselves toppled from their tower of Tier 4 and overwhelming numbers. With TEST and BORG gone, a significant number of active pilots are no longer around, leaving Innia still the warzone it was before, but with a significantly smaller number of pilots available. Both Gallente and Minmatar have been pushing hard, bringing not just Caldari down to T1 but Amarr as well. The combined forces of Gallente and Minmatar pilots roaming Caldari space for fights and LP farming has proven to be effective. However if the last fight listed above is any indication, further progress on the Gallente side is going to be an uphill battle, and it will be interesting to see how events pan out in the following weeks and months.
Apologies for the article being so heavily biased to the Black Rise region but that’s where I live. A lot of the people fighting on the other front of Faction Warfare are unknown to me, or don’t speak English as their main language. If you have any tips regarding the fights going on futher south please feel free to contribute in the comments or send something to firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to update everyone with more information.