After the mighty massacre of titans at the Keepstar armor timer in M2-XFE on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, all eyes in the war were on the system for the battle over the final timer. Expectations were high on both sides for a repeat of the earlier blood letting.
That PAPI plan, after getting logged out at downtime after the first fight, was to stay logged out there until the final timer was up, bringing up some reinforcements to jump in to support the forces already there. Or so their actions indicate to me.
The Imperium plan involved a tactic as old as war itself: Get there first in great numbers.
PAPI had some early move ops to get reinforcements in position, which led to a few losses along the way.
Rorgan Darator is said to be a Progodlegend alt, which makes those kills extra special.
The Imperium had a State of the Goonion at 20:00 UTC, five hours before the Keepstar timer. The SOTG had to be move to Twitch as the Mumble server was struggling to handle all the players attempting to log in. While a Fireside on a Saturday can run out to 45 minutes, SOTGs tend to be short and to the point. The Mittani got on with us, told us the plan, then sent us off to do it. We started jumping capital ships into M2-XFE right away… some had jumped before the SOTG… deploying them below the Keepstar, close by where the PAPI fleet logged out.
That huge formation of capitals was on grid for hours. There were more than 4K people in system at that point, way before the fight began. This is the oldest play in the book in New Eden, getting into a system early and being ready before the enemy. Tales of this tactic go back to the Great War and before.
We were there… my alt in his Ninazu in the fax fleet… when PAPI finally started to jump in their fleet from T5ZI-S. Their choice was to go in way above the Keepstar, away from our titans. That put them out of range of our titans (and our titans out of range of theirs), but the supercarriers sent their fighters up after them.
They had 6K people in their staging system and we had 4K in the system already (amounting to more than 25% of the nearly 40K people online in the game at that point) when they started jumping in and… the math just didn’t work out. The server, already in heavy tidi when we were just sitting around doing nothing, began to chug and grind and commands began taking minutes to complete, so that the hostile titans were landing on grid and were not able to load fully or react before the fighters were on them. Titans began blowing up in ones and twos and threes. It turned into a one-sided fight very quickly. The count of dead PAPI titans kept growing.
But the server was still an issue in other ways. Some of the kill mails in the long list on zKillboard show the titans to be unfit, which explains how they died to the fighters so quickly at times. The fighters were on them before the server could pull up and load their fit. There were also reports that some titans, on being blown up, loading back up in the station from which they had undocked undamaged. Over at Talking in Stations they began counting both kill mail losses and wrecks on the field, and the wrecks were showing up at about half the rate.
When this started going very wrong for PAPI they tried to put the brakes on things, but too many were already on the way.
So the actual number of dead titans may remain unknown unless CCP comes out with a dev blog, but the battle reports last night were crazy lopsided in favor of the Imperium, with about 100 billion ISK lost on the Imperium side compared to more than ten trillion ISK lost to PAPI.
The armor timer fight was a massacre of titans, but the final timer ended up being a massacre of PAPI. The final accounting will come at some point. Over at zKillboard the loss list looks to be ~170 titans, plus the five killed before the fight. If even a majority of those are legit, PAPI could be looking at 100 titans destroyed for no titan kills. This was B-R5RB in an evening.
And then there was the Keepstar, which repaired successfully, so we won the objective. They need to start over again in order to destroy it.
My main, once again in a boosting ship, ended up having to wait until things were well under way before he was able to bridge in.
By the time he got there the call went out to pull down boosts and other things that might be contributing to server lag. So there I was, in the system… well, I got kicked out, logged back in, waited for 40 minutes at the login screen and then a long stretch with just a black screen, but eventually I was through again… with no real role. So I went motoring up the Keepstar to see if I could take a few pot shots at hostile titans to get on a kill mail or two of my own. I managed to get on two, both of which had clearly loaded into the system. They were not ghost targets.
Our titans did the same, warping up to the top of the model, to start picking off the remainder of the PAPI fleet.
Now that the fight is over, the post-game analysis will start. That is already well under way on Reddit, with memes proliferating. Some will seek to blame the servers for the loss, and certainly server performance played a role. But the servers favor nobody specifically, and allowing the Imperium to setup on the Keepstar with thousands of pilots, to the point that tidi and lag was constant, and thinking they could jump a fleet in on grid and engage without issues was a serious mistake. (Grath Telken puts it more directly in this Twitch clip, though his full statement is even more brutal.) People will be playing out how it should have been done all week or trying to justify the plan as a good one. But none of that will change what actually happened.
Certainly pleas to CCP to undo losses will go unfulfilled. There is a long history of such requests being denied, so starting now would be a very bad look, and all the more so since they have been going on and on about the problem of super and titan proliferation. Give back dead titans people jumped into a fight? Not going to happen.
Then there is PAPI going forward. The first fight only whetted people’s appetites for more slaughter, but this fight was a serious setback for PAPI, a major loss. They are not defeated in their conquest, but they will have to asses their strategy. They successfully killed the NOL-M9 Keepstar in Delve by putting up a cyno jammer and keeping us out of the system so they could blow it up unimpeded. The system’s location helped with that. If they want to kill more Keepstars they will have do it the safe way, with no slip ups.
But first they have to get out the capital fleet that logged off in the system after the first fight. They didn’t log on and are still in the bubbles the Imperium laid out for them.
Finally, there is the war itself. Leaving aside Vily’s extermination policy, even evicting the Imperium from Delve seems problematic now. Locking us out of a system with cyno jammers and gate camps is one thing, but how do you get in and fight us in 1DQ1-A, our home system, where all our ships, big and small, are waiting to greet any invader, where we can be formed up on grid before an attacker can start finish jumping in? And if you can’t kick us out of our home system can we be defeated directly? Does PAPI have the wherewithal to lay siege to Delve for months more to wear us down to the point such an attack is possible?
For now the war goes on, but everybody will be watching for PAPI’s next move.