PandaFam continues to sweep on in Fountain. They have taken most of the ihubs in the region and, save for the few behind the KVN-36 line, the region is mostly theirs at this point. However, a bunch of our structures remain behind in the captured space, including some Keepstars.
Keepstars are the anchors of any defense, the strong points that an attacker must eventually assail if the don’t want the defenders to have a safe harbor behind their lines from which they can operate. PandaFam cannot let them linger, so they have started setting up to kill them.
When our Keepstars in Fountain start to fall, it is going to be a big boost to the morale of the attackers. If you look at zKillboard, dead Keepstars are relatively rare. A few didn’t get recorded due to server issues, but there is only a page or so of kills to scroll down. (There was a time when I was on the kill mail for almost all of the dead Keepstars, and I would wager that I am still on almost half of them.) When one side starts losing Keepstars, it is generally a sign they are losing the war. So the narrative that the Imperium is going to lose, is losing, should give up already is going to be strong.
We have a ridiculous number of Keepstars in Delve. It is going to be a long, slow grind when the enemy attacks there in earnest. But some of the Keepstars out in Fountain are guaranteed to be destroyed. Getting all the way to the far end of the region to defend the one in J5A-IX doesn’t seem viable. And PandaFam is setting up their own structures from which to attack the Keepstars.
Still, the coalition has come up with a strategy to at least make taking these structures costly.
I went out with a Ferox fleet under Asher that was set to try out one of the Keepstar defense plans. There is a Keepstar out in IGE-RI that PandaFam has started reinforcing. We came out to try and defend the armor timer.
Getting there took gates and one titan bridge as the Ansiblex network in Fountain is no longer there. Our ability to move around in the region is very much curtailed.
The enemy showed up with carriers and battle cruisers. Their super carriers, usually one of the main weapons when attacking a Keepstar, are down in FAT-6P in Catch with their main titan force, awaiting their time in the invasion. So carriers need to pick up the slack.
The carriers stood off and sent their fighters in at us in a great wave. We loaded up long range ammo and started shooting them as they fell within our guns.
We tore up a lot of their fighters. Whole groups went down, while damaged sets were recalled. That was when their Feroxes came in.
We swapped over to Spike, the longest range ammo, and Asher moved us so that they were within our fire envelope, at which point his back seat began calling targets and we commenced to blowing them up as fast as we could lock them.
I went out on the fleet in an alt because he had a doctrine Ferox handy, but I kind of wish I had gone on my main, because there was some serious kill board padding to be had. My alt ended up on 126 kill mails, including the final blow on two targets, which doesn’t happen very often on a fleet with more than 100 ships present.
Two kill marks on my Ferox… and lots of wrecks up above the Keepstar where the hostiles had set up station.
The battle was a lot of lock and fire, with some of the hostiles reshipping and returning only to be called and blown up a second time. The battle report showed that we blew up almost 500 ships and fighters.
Unfortunately, for all the carnage, we lost the objective. PandaFam moved the Keepstar into its final timer. A Sunday Keepstar fight will attract a lot of pilots. People like to be on those kill mails.
Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that we will be as successful with Feroxes again as we were this time around. The enemy isn’t likely to be so generous in feeding us kills. Next time they will have some counter to our defense, which means we will have to come up with some new twist of our own.
But this time we did okay, even if we lost the objective. We took out fleet back to Delve.
We will have to see how next time plays out.
Addendum: Our Keepstar in J5A-IX went down just minutes after this post went live.