Everything was quiet for a moment. With the pirates occupied in Placid and Calmil ninja plexing systems, there wasn’t much to do in the War Zone. GalMil spent the first two weeks of September in a stupor, casually roaming and looking for content but not pushing an objective or planning any major campaigns. Lackadaisically, leadership called for a tier 3 push but made no real move in that direction. On the CalMil side, they continued to plex systems up, headshotting them late at night whenever possible. Then, several things shattered the silence.
For those in northern Black Rise, it was Esessier falling. For the rest of GalMil, the words of a single CalMil member fanned the dying embers of factional war into flame. All of that, however, might have died off in a few weeks if not for the arrival of a new player in our foreverwar. Welcome to the fight, Brave.
We Were Capsuleers Once… And Young: The Campaign in Serthoulde
Early in September, I saw the signs reappear in the Anchauttes pipe: increased MATAFS and Diesel Co. activity, remote systems beginning to drop and the typical lack of response from those GalMil members who live there. Now, before I make two of my favorite corps angry, I will say that I completely understand that attitude. Fighting the Caldari in that area is about as enjoyable as a prostate exam. If you only bring a few members to deplex a system, they sweep in from their well-stocked POSes, usually sending a tasty bait-tanked ship in first, and overwhelm your small gang with shiny pirate frigs, T3Ds and Faction Cruisers. Bring an army, and they disappear to one of the Death Star POSes that litter the constellation, leaving their opponents to either spend hours mindlessly rotating around a beacon, or go elsewhere in search of fights. Naturally, most FCs choose the latter. Over time, the systems fall into Caldari hands with barely any response from GalMil. In this case, CalMil took 7 systems and was pushing two more by the time Gallente forces reacted.
As I said before, I’d seen these signs and promptly decided GMVA’s next move would be to retake the entire pipe. Unfortunately, I seemed to be caught in the same mire of inactivity that the rest of Galmil had fallen into and didn’t get logistics set up until the middle of the month, and by then it was too late. After returning from Eve Atlanta, I found Esessier sitting at an 84% contested rate. Although I formed a small group to deplex the system, it wasn’t enough, and CalMil easily headshot the system in the early morning hours of the USTZ.
Still, we had a full load of ships staged in Anchauttes intended for capturing the rest of the pipe. Also, a local corp by the name of 3.14-Rates declared a campaign with the same objective simultaneously. Together, we retook the system in 5 days. I’d like to say that it was a hard fight and that we had a great time doing it, but for the most part the Caldari patiently waited in their POS, emerging once they had superior numbers and firepower.
That said, GalMil accomplished its objective with almost perfect efficiency, taking Odamia, Alparena and Mercomesier in under a week. Eventually, other GalMil corps and alliances stepped in, and as of right now the entirety of the constellation and its 8 systems are now in Gallente hands. Although this offensive yielded little in the way of fights, they represent the bulk of the War Zone push GalMil has recently made and a newfound dedication to the previously dormant fight between the two militias.
Operation Blame Dantelion
As with so many wars, both in New Eden and on earth, this one began with words. According to Thanatos Marathon of Black Fox Marauders, Dantelion (SQUIDS) has been using the #newfw slack channel, created by CCP Affinity to serve as a place for militia members to discuss upcoming FW changes, to promote a seemingly endless onslaught of “bad ideas.”
“The problem isn’t so much the ideas themselves, but the fact that he won’t listen to anyone else’s opinion. And this is a guy who’s been here for what, 5 months? That’s an eye-blink,” said Marathon.
Apparently, the spam got so bad that people left the channel. Marathon, who was previously considering moth-balling his character and switching to CalMil to “see what it was like and maybe help raise the competition level,” angrily called for a Tier 3 push which GalMil successfully pulled off in early October. Even so, most FW line members don’t follow the slack channel and were unaware of the shift. Then, Dantelion threw yet another log on the fire with his latest FW.com article, providing both motivation and a name for the ongoing GalMil offensive: Operation Blame Dantelion.
Almost immediately, the Gallente forces snapped into action. In Serthoulde, the systems fell like Dominoes, even as a combined GalMil finishing just in time to hold off a Brave offensive in Agoze. In the south, Aideron, BEBOP and RDRAW pushed back a CalMil offensive in Fliet while capturing two systems in the Ladistier pipe. In the end, Galmil captured 14 systems in as many days. From the northernmost tip of Black Rise to Hevarice in the south, GalMil alts and mains are still furiously plexing, rallying under the caustic and only semi-serious war cry “Blame Dantelion.”
Brave Enters FW
“Hey Jet[stream Drenard], what are you guys up to?” I said over comms on Friday early in the afternoon.
“We’re just going to run around and push squids out of plexes, see if we can find some fights,” he replied.
“Well, there’s a ton of Brave in Agoze, and the system’s at 99.3%. You guys want to head up this way?” I said.
Although it wasn’t the true start of the fight, which began earlier in the day, this kicked off the round-the-clock defense of Agoze. It also marked the first time Brave and GalMil had a chance to feel each other out with Brave testing the tumultuous waters of plex fighting and Galmil getting a first look at the horde arrayed against them.
Fighting outnumbered for most of the afternoon and with no logistics in system, GalMil went with an assortment of sniper doctrines, managing to hold small and novice plexes while waiting for the JF pilots to get home from work. Apparently, Brave had the same issue as each time they lost a fleet they had to return to (presumably) Aunsou to reship.
Reship times aside it was a typical bloodbath. GalMil’s experience with plex fighting factored heavily into the first few hours as they used Longbow Cormorants to thin Brave’s numbers and herd them into the larger plexes while completing Smalls and Novices. Since those finish faster than their Medium and Large counterparts, the slaughter would then continue at Large complexes where the Corms could easily warp in, destroy several targets and warp away without a scratch. In one such fight, GalMil took out an entire wing of Scythes supporting a Caracal fleet, which retreated hastily after losing their logi ships.
After several hours of intense fighting, a combination of Galmil’s USTZ and logistics back bone prevailed, and Brave appeared to abandon their attack. Then, the defense fleet ate itself. Comms erupted into a spout of drunken arguments and line members already worn from hours of plexing and fighting dropped the fleet in droves. In a span of about five minutes, GalMil went from 33 pilots in system to eight, just as a Brave Moa gang arrived. This happened at 8 pm EST with the system at 84% contested, well within capture range.
At that point, I believed the system to be lost, but I didn’t consider two major factors working against Brave. Although they fought alongside their Caldari alliance members, about 90% of Brave had yet to join FW. Many times, this meant that they couldn’t run timers on certain plexes even though their members were holding them. They were able to plex Agoze that night, but they weren’t able to do it efficiently.
The second obstacle facing Brave was the location of their attack. Agoze is one jump from both Snuff’s and Cruis3rs Cr3w’s staging system, which meant intermittent appearances from both groups as well as Shadow Cartel. The pirates harried both sides, but since Brave usually had more numbers in system and larger ships, the pirates tended to be more helpful to GalMil.
Both of these issues conspired against Brave as the system went vulnerable on Saturday morning. Since non-FW pilots can’t bash an iHub, Brave had little in the way of DPS and one of their members decided to drop a Phoenix to speed up the process. Of course, Snuff caught wind of this and dropped three titans and a few Nyxes on the unfortunate Dreadnaught, blapping it off the field instantly. For the next few hours, the system remained vulnerable while Gallente pilots trickled back into the system, and by EU prime, GalMil was once again capturing plexes and lowering the contested rate. Saturday afternoon saw Brave completely abandon the field, ending the battle for Agoze.
Watching a new group learn FW was educational at times and amusing at others. Naturally, they made some rookie mistakes, such as trying to probe down sniper Cormorants at a large complex, only to land at the beacon 70km away (you can’t warp a fleet to a point in dead space). They also appeared to lack effective sub-cruiser doctrines, relying mostly on kitchen sink Frig and Dessie gangs. Given Brave’s origins, I assume they have doctrines for those ships but may not have had the logistical support in place to maintain them once the losses started to pile up. Even with overwhelming numbers in system, they seemed sluggish to respond when GalMil took a plex, and FW is as much about speed and response time as anything. On that last note, the fact that their nearest reships lay four systems away also meant that they were sluggish to respond to comp changes after GalMil got ships into the system, often taking 30 minutes or longer to return. Finally, the Frig and Dessie gangs that they brought all seemed to have a few expensive (relatively speaking) Tech 2, Tech 3 or Pirate Faction ships mixed in, a cardinal sin in attrition warfare. Overall, the main problem seemed to be inexperience with plex warfare and its mechanics.
Brave also did many things well, though. First and foremost, they brought the fight, held nothing back and worked ferociously to bring down Agoze. If they are to succeed in FW, they’ll need to bring that mentality to every major campaign in the future. Almost as important, they took fights against the odds and never seemed bothered by losing ships. Obviously, that’s neither sustainable nor advisable in the long run, but it is undoubtedly the best way to learn. If Brave FCs took something away from each of those fights, they should be well on their way to making an impact in FW. Also, from my perspective, they did learn and did so quickly. Those kitchen sink Frig and Dessie gangs I mentioned were eventually replaced by uniform comps. Shortly after the fighting in Agoze died down, Brave leadership decided to move into the CalMil stronghold of Kehjari, yet another decision that leads me to believe they are learning. Lastly, BNI left Brave collective to join Brave Squids/CalMil, which means they now have more than enough militia members to take down an Infrastructure Hub. I believe my boss at Crossing Zebras, Niden, already said this, but if Brave listens to their new roommates, the FW veterans of the Mjolnir Bloc, they could easily become the spearhead for the biggest Caldari push since TEST joined CalMil.
Hero AT Ship Down
Usually, there’s no real reward for destroying an iHub in FW. It takes a ridiculously long time, it doesn’t explode after you’ve blown away its HP, there’s no killmail and unless the system was highly contested and/or valuable there’s not a huge feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes though, the Eve Gods smile down on those doing the dirty but necessary work.
I arrived on comms just in time to hear “He’s down” and some of GalMil’s most jaded bittervets explode into laughter and ecstatic shouts. From their general tone I picked up that they’d killed something, probably a blingy T3 Cruiser or Links, but it seemed like quite a lot of celebration for that. Then again, it was early, and maybe they were a bit hopped up on coffee.
“What did you guys kill?” I asked.
In a voice that was almost hysterical with laughter, I got the response: “A Moracha. We killed a Moracha.”
I don’t think I’ve ever gone through the five stages of grief so quickly. I’d actually planned to log in half an hour before but got distracted by some irrelevant Internet chicanery (damn you, Reddit). I’m just glad no one could see my face because I was at Wicked Witch of the West levels of green for the next few hours.
The details behind RDRAW and BEBOP’s 127bil ISK Moracha kill are already on this site and Reddit, so I won’t go into too much detail. Suffice it to say that a Shadow Cartel member with balls of steel, or the brains of a lizard depending on who you ask, recklessly flew his AT ship into a group of RDRAW bombers as they were bashing the hub. Unfortunately for him, the Gallente pilots were aware of his presence and had set a trap, complete with cloaky Proteus warp scramblers, webs and a neuting Pilgrim. In the end, the Moracha pilot pulled an Icarus, flying too close to the Pilgrim whose neuts proved fatal.
Congratulations to all of the pilots involved (you lucky bastards), and congrats to the Maracha pilot for having the testicular fortitude to actually use that ship.
State of the War Zone
For the first half of the month, it seemed Calmil would once again come away with a handful of systems, bringing them even closer to evening the numbers as far as sovereignty is concerned. That changed almost overnight when GalMil began a counter-offensive, sweeping through Serthoulde in the north and the Ladistier pipe in the south. I believe the system count for this month is 14-5 in favor of GalMil. Brave joined the fight and came within a hair’s breadth of capturing a system located in the soft underbelly of Gallente territory in Placid but were eventually repulsed due to a hard-working coalition of GalMil pilots, Snuff’s capital force, and the low number of Brave pilots actually enlisted in FW. If it’s anything like the last two weeks of September, October should prove to be a grindy affair full of plex fighting and system captures. Whether that’s CalMil utilizing Brave to push systems in the North or GalMil continuing their recent success, only time will tell.