Fighting in Delve ought to seem almost normal to me. I think we spent time every summer from 2012 through to 2016 invading Delve and kicking whoever lived there out.
We went there with TEST and Pandemic Legion in 2012 (seems like strange times now), against TEST in 2013, against somebody nearby in 2014 (we owned the place for a bit, but gave it up), against Darkness and NCDot in 2015, and then finally against LUMPY and a few others when we fled the north after the Casino War to set up shop in the region in 2016.
And yet, here in 2020, I don’t feel like I “know” the region all that well. I know some of the key spots, our staging in 1DQ1-A, the path up into (and through) Fountain down which I traveled so many times, and some key intersections, like 1-SMEB and the run through Aridia. But now that we are fighting a war, I wanted a clearer visualization of the region. Despite living there for four years, I have spent most of that time deployed in space belonging to others and fighting there. Since we arrived we’ve only had to chase small gangs out of Delve. We’ve not been invaded. Time for something new.
I went looking for a map that would cover the area where the war is taking place.
DOTLAN EVE Maps was my first stop. It has logical maps of all the regions. That is very useful for navigating within and individual region, but less so when you want to show more than one region. They do have a combined Delve/Querious/Period basis map, which shows three of three of the regions we are defending.
Also, DOTLAN’s maps, being logical in an attempt to get the systems nicely lined up showing the jump gate connections in as little space as possible, do not reflect how the systems are oriented in space or the distance between stars, which plays into where Ansiblex jump bridges can be deployed and where capitals can jump.
The in-game map shows the distances between star systems fairly well.
You get some sense of the distances between regions… far further than any capital can jump or Ansiblex can bridge… which explains why some foothold systems like TCAG-3 are going to see plenty of action. However, readability of the in-game map is, frankly, shit. As I have said, it is an impressive site to show your friends if you’re showing them the game, but it isn’t all that useful when you’re trying to navigate New Eden.
It isn’t completely useless. You can get some information out of it, see systems where battles have been going on.
TCAG-3 has been a focus point because it is at one end of the regional gate that lays between Period Basis and Paragon Soul, regions held by the Imperium and Legacy Coalition respectively. Legacy getting control of that system and being able to lay down structure would let them roll up our southern flank. (That particular number reflects a Legacy push into the system. We lost more ships, but held the field. I went out for lunch about five minutes before the pings went out for that fight, so completely missed it.)
But back to maps.
In between the DOTLAN and the in-game map is GARPA Topographical Survey, the home grown map tool available to Imperium pilots. It has been around for quite a while, and there was even a version released to the general public at one point. It is less readable than DOTLAN, but much clearer than the in-game map. Also, it has nice pastel shades for regions.
That shows how Delve, Querious, and Period Basis are lined up, along with the strange way that Querious bisects Delve, linking the two regions rather intimately.
You can also see the Legacy regions of Catch, Paragon Soul, Esoteria, and Impass and the routes through which those invading us must come. (Stain is NPC null, but there is a path in from there as well.) Viewed close up, with system names visible:
As I mentioned above, most of the action up to this point has been coming our of Paragon Soul and into Period Basis, with some ventured out of Catch and Aridia. However, that seems likely to change, with the emphasis likely to be on the Catch route into Querious and Delve. The two staging Keepstars, and the super fleets they are holding, are in FAT-6P in Catch, and the first target seems likely to be 4-07MU, which is the Imperium outpost in Catch.
At least I assume that is why they are amassing a super fleet there. They can’t jump into our space, so they have to take the gate to 49-USU in order to get within range of anything.
And then there is Fountain, which doesn’t fit nicely on the above map without making it huge.
There are three was into Fountain besides Delve. Outer Ring is an NPC null sec region, while Cloud Ring, the route we took during the Fountain War back in 2013, seems quiet for the moment. PandaFam has instead set up shop in Hophib in Aridia, which lets them base out of a low sec NPC station which cannot be assailed. That is the upside.
The downside for them seems to be that getting to Hophib is a bit of a pain and doesn’t put them close to anything vital. The main spine of the region runs between KVN-36 and C-4NOD, that epic gate jump up the left side of the region that is the primary highway for the Imperium to head north, and the axis on which our activity there centers. (Those two systems are simply next to each other on the DOTLAN region map.) PandaFam has to go quite a ways to disrupt that, while the jump bridge network lets The Initiative respond to them speedily from the center.
Still, PandaFam, after some initial setbacks, appears to have made more progress than their allies in the south, reinforcing the Taurus constellation next door to their staging.
They still have to get in and fight the node contest, but that will be chaotic with nodes for all six systems spawning in a short time frame. A foothold there won’t break the Imperium, but if they can snap the jump bridge network that lets The Initiative deploy there quickly it could force us to defend further back or spend a lot of time taking gates to get all the way around to where PandaFam is pushing.
Anyway, that is where we are fighting and will likely continue to be fighting for a while. We will see what the new day brings.