A new war for a new year, and its first major battle hit yesterday with as many as 4,000 pilots in local as much of null sec declared sides in the war between TEST, Circle-of-Two, and their allies and the Stainwagon Coalition, whose composition I noted in a war preview post last week, and its allies, which includes the Imperium.
The location was the system of F4R2-Q in the Catch region where TEST and CO2 had each placed a Fortizar citadel to act as staging points for their invasion of the region.
On the Imperium side there was a pre-battle State of the Goonion where The Mittani spoke of standing by those who had stood by us during the Casino War and opposing those who proved faithless when the going got tough.
I was already in Asher’s just formed Machariel fleet before the address concluded, joining the logi contingent in a Guardian. The fleet quickly filled up and we ended up with too much logi, so some of them were sent off to other fleets, but I stuck around preferring to fly with Asher and Arrendis and more than a few fellow Reavers.
This was clearly going to be a big op. As our subcap fleet undocked and moved to where we would get bridged, there were a lot of capital ships hanging on our staging Fortizar.
We hung out waiting for out bridge for a bit, with the usual calls for people who were not in range of the titan or who had accidentally clicked in space and started wandering off. Coms were busy as we were in the mode where multiple fleets share the same coms channel, so chatter had to be heavily restricted.
I did get a bit cocky though and logged in my alt and got him setup in a pointing Vigil. I did not join the fleet, but made my way along the gate route to the destination system where I warped out to one of our staging towers where fleets were staging and went into a 150km orbit to just watch from above things. TEST and CO2 did not have the luxury of towers in the system as, in a repeat of the battle of 6VDT-H (another 4K pilot battle), they let us sneak in and put towers up on all the moons in the system. They were depending on their Fortizars for safe points.
And then we warped in and the battle began.
What does one say about a battle where the server has hit 10% time dilation and still cannot keep up, so people get disconnected, parts of the UI stop working, where no action is reliable, where ships get stuck in your overview and appear there long after they have gone?
Wilhelm got disconnected four times during the battle. But things were moving so slowly that I never had to worry about warping back to the fleet. Even during the peak, when it took me 20 minutes to log back in and load grid, I found myself still on anchor, still capping up my partners in the cap chain, all as though I had never left. The main problem was once when one of my cap buddies dumped out of the chain at the same time and I had to get back in fleet, get the watch list up, target a new buddy, and start capping him. That series of actions took 15 minutes. And then the old buddy got back in and I was another five minutes getting things sorted back to the way they were.
On the other hand, when time is moving slow and your fleet is clearly going to be sitting on grid exchanging alpha strikes, which kill a ship in a single volley leaving nothing to repair, you can find time to do other things. I managed to go take a shower, make lunch, take down the Christmas lights on the house, and eat dinner while watching a TV show. I just had to check my position at every set of commercials.
When our fleet started taking a few losses, I put my alt in and had him paint targets as Asher called for it. But then he got disconnected, so I let him be for a while, choosing to focus on logi. We did save a few people… more than a few… when attempts at alpha strikes were done badly and ended up as ragged volleys that applied damage over what seemed like a long stretch of time. We kept Asher alive a few times as opposing fleets locked him up in an attempt to headshot him.
A while later, when things had hit a routine as we sat near the CO2 Fortizar I logged my alt back in. However, he had been some place bad while I was away, having had his armor peeled away well into half structure, though his shields were back to full. As he auto-warped onto grid again he landed in the midst of a TEST fleet and the ship wasn’t long for the world. I did managed to paint and shoot a Flycatcher and a Sabre as that Vigil went out in a blaze of glory.
I left him there in his pod as a vantage point for screen shots before eventually pointing him at the gate home where he was picked off by Solar Fleet camp on the gate that was happily taking out anybody trying to leave. I watched a couple of Oneiros logi cruisers get popped before it was my turn.
That leads us to who took sides with whom. I am waiting for a full accounting… or at least a battle report that will generate accurately… but it looked like Provi Bloc, led by CVA, came out in support of Stainwagon and we made them temp blue for the fight. Meanwhile, the Drone Region Federation, the “other” Russians that don’t get along with the Stainwagon Russians came out to join TEST and CO2, which saw us fighting people we had teamed up with in the past, like Solar Fleet, and former enemies like the Dronewalkers and Legion of xXDeathXx allied.
And then there was NCDot who came on down just to shoot targets of opportunity on both sides of the fight. Have to respect that.
The fight went on and on as reports of the two Fortizars had them inching slowly to their doom. Eventually the CO2 Fortizar exploded at 03:11 UTC and the fight shifted to focus around the TEST Fortizar, which had been erroneously reported as dead at 23:30, but which didn’t actually die until 04:14.
Somewhere along the way I managed to get a combat drone out and on each of the Fortizars in order to secure myself a spot on the kill mail. I also was able to get in on a few of the opposing dreadnoughts at the end when the enemy had essentially given up shooting us and was trying to extract what they could from the field. When the TEST Fortizar went up there was a short period of mopping up as tidi finally rose above 10%.
As the system emptied out, the game sped up, which was almost disorienting. Things that had been essentially moving in slow motion for hours were suddenly running at full speed. And then in a euphoric fit, Asher said he would make us ten participation links, one for each hour the fleet was out, something he no doubt immediately regretted as then he had to go make the damn things. I would have been happy with a few less and a quicker trip home.
However, we did have to cover capitals as the went back to staging. Fortunately we were only a gate and a jump from home, so it wasn’t a long haul. We caught the bridge and covered a gate for the supers, then docked back up for the night. And just in time too, as the new season of Sherlock was set to start on PBS just 11 minutes after I logged out. But it had been a long day in space.
That leaves the result of the battle.
We won the objective. TEST and CO2 lost their Fortizars and will continue to stage from NPC null sec space for now. While they are pushing this off as no big deal, just a matter of a couple of gates, when your plan is an invasion and you are repulsed, you have lost.
Then there is the ISK war. On Reddit, which is largely the sphere of TEST, our foes are claiming a stunning victory, claiming to have killed as much as 600 billion ISK in ships over the course of the battle. They are oddly quiet about their own losses however. They are likely less, so they have probably won the ISK war. How much less remains in question until things settle down and a battle report can be generated. I cannot reliably fetch my own profile on zKillboard, much less a battle report. All we have right now is ship losses.
But the question arises as to who can afford losses and who can’t.
TEST and CO2 just lost all of their space after a couple months of war in Tribute. They are currently living in NPC null sec and do not have any territory from which to extract wealth.
I do not know the state of Stainwagon, though they have been hanging out in their space for a long time, so it should be safe to assume they are not poor.
Then there is the Imperium, which has been working to restore it coffers since the end of summer in Delve. Look at the November economic report and note which region has the largest amount of mining going on. (And again in December.) We lost 600 billion in ISK worth of ships in our own system less than a month ago and were still happy to go to war. So I do not think the losses will dissuade us from our cause.
Also this is just the first major battle of the war. Both sides can afford to dismiss what happened and claim it as a victory. But which side is going to be able to sustain the fights, the losses, the day long events spent in 10% tidi? That question has yet to be answered.
So the war is on.
Also, I am totally set for participation links for the month, with 11 in already.
Here is coverage of the battle on other sites, which I will update as more show up:
- INN – The Traitor’s War Breaks Out – The Battle of F4R2-Q (live blog attempt)
- The Nosy Gamer – The Winter War: Death To Supercarriers And Citadels
- Video of the Battle from an NCDot pilot
- CZ – The Winter War: First Blood another Jin’taan video
- EN24 – Winter has come to the south!
- INN – Biggest Battle of the Year so F4R
And then some screen shots from my 10 hours in space yesterday: