One of the aspects of deploying off to the other side of null sec for a war is that a bulk of the combat oriented players are now sitting up in Pure Blind while all of our accumulated stuff, infrastructure, and a the people who didn’t get the memo (or didn’t care) about the deployment remain back down in Delve.
This is always an issue, leaving your homeland undefended while you go off to fight elsewhere. In fact, the Reavers SIG was formed in part to exploit just that situation. Part of our mission back in the day was to go live out of ships in safes in enemy territory and attack their assets in order to divert attention away from the main front.
It is a problem for every group leaving their space in null sec to attack elsewhere, and the methods for dealing with it can vary. We forced PAPI to do some clone jumping between regions while keeping up a modest second front in Feythabolis and Esoteria during World War Bee.
Now, however, it is our turn. We’re deploying north and in the past, trouble at home has blunted operations… though the most effective foe was CCP when they sent Sleepers to attack our structures in Delve during a war. (They attacked other places in null sec, but they seemed to be especially present in Delve. The Chaos Era was a hell of a time.)
Anyway, past experience has informed our planning, and the Imperium has been setting up an alternate homeland defense group for the last six months or more.
In that time we have been asked in pings and firesides to prepare an alpha character on its own account for homeland defense. There were instructions and skill plans on how to roll a fresh account, get some bonus skill points, and assign them to the right skills.
There was also a specific corp within the alliance your alpha had to join, one with high taxes to ensure that nobody was slipping in to dodge obligations elsewhere.
I happened to have a character on another account that was unsubscribed and had all the skills, so I didn’t bother creating a new character. I got him into the corp and stationed him in 1DQ1-A months ago, waiting for the moment when he would at last be called up.
And finally, this week, he got his chance. The call went out for alphas to log in to defend our space and I got to see how the whole thing was supposed to work.
Ships were up on corp contract for 1 ISK each. That is effectively a free ship, so nobody should be worried about losing one. (Hell, I insured mine just to make a little more ISK for the effort if it got blown up.) That also removes the need to deal with SRP… though, as I understand it, that didn’t stop people from applying for it all the same. People were scolded for that.
I found my ship. The doctrine is our Ferox fleet, toned down to be alpha friendly and cheap to replace. I even had a SKIN for the hull on my alpha. So once we got everybody together, a full fleet of alphas with Sonrier as FC, it was time to undock and try out alphas.
We did not have far to go. The hostiles were in the ESS in 1DQ… being in an ESS is the way to bait people into coming in and getting blown up… with a Demios fleet, because HACs are everywhere, with logi and boosters looking for somebody to come and fight them. And so we rolled in with a 170 Feroxes to counter their 80 Demioses and it was on.
As one might expect, we shed a lot of ships. But they were cheap ships.
ZKill puts the price of an alpha Ferox at 25 million ISK, while a Demios rings in close to 150 million ISK, so we could lose ships at a four to one rate and still win the ISK war. Yes, we did have some more expensive ships on grid, but we were able to absorb losses and reship and return to the fight.
And their command ships, a trio of Eoses, those were worth about a half a billion ISK.
So when we got to the end of the fight, having ground them down and blown up most of their fleet, the battle report put the ISK war pretty well in our favor.
Capsules count as “ships” in the loss total, so you can lop off 66 from our side and 93 from their side to get the actual ship losses; we lost 128 while they lost 127. A pretty even count, until you get to the ISK.
That is our current go-to plan for defending Delve while our mains are all away in the north. It was interesting to see it in action. My alpha ended up on 34 kill mails, with two kill marks on his Ferox hull. We’ll see how long that hull lasts.