Well, we won, not only the largest battle in the history of “Eve Online”, but also Fountain. While I was out enjoying a ~victory dinner~, TEST threw in the towel and is now busy retreating to NOL. We have a bunch of clean-up work to do and can’t let our guard down, but hi5s all around and well fucking done.
The Mittani, post-battle broadcast
Sunday was a long day online.
The battle had been in the sights of both sides for a couple of days now, and the work leading up to it started well in advance.
Saturday evening I was actually out on one of the preparatory missions, taking down jump bridges and blowing up the one remaining TEST POS in 6VDT-H. Afterwards GSOL, the heroes who keep all of our infrastructure going, dropped 26 towers in the system, one at every possible location, so that TEST would have no safe spot at which to rally in the coming battle. It is my understanding that TEST only figured this out during the battle when they sought to drop a tower to create such a haven and found all the parking spots full.
That work went on throughout the night while I slept.
Sunday morning I rose late. The op was set to begin at 11:30am local time for me, so I rolled out of bed a little after 9am and jumped in the shower. After getting dressed and having the “breakfast of champions” (cold pizza and a coke) I got myself logged into my computer and into the various comms channels with well over 90 minutes left before the form up time.
I was greeted by calls to stock food around my desk, to say farewell to my family for the day, and to get online and in a ship and undocked ASAP to avoid the rush.
When I got in game in 4-EP there were already 1,300 people in the system and that number was growing quickly, even as early bomber fleets assembled and jumped out. I got slowly undocked and joined the mass of Megathrons at the staging POS where we attempted to form a conga line. It was still nearly 45 minutes before the official operation start time when, faced with 2,000 pilots in the staging system and time dilation hard over at 10%, the decision was made to form fleets.
Six Baltec fleets were created and the megathrons flooded into them so rapidly that I only just found space in the sixth fleet under Zagdul. All six were full and you could already tell the system was getting stressed. On a number of occasions, our fleet showed 257 members, despite the limit being 256.
One by one the fleets were bridged out through the tidi. We went by the numbers, so the sixth fleet went last while command was attempting to form up additional fleets for people still waiting. Fortunately for us, getting to 6VDT-H involved a single bridge from 4-EP. By the time it was our turn, tidi was fading in 4-EP and, while there was tidi upon us jumping into 6VDT-H, once the loading into system ceased, tidi went away. We moved to the station where one of the recurring pictures of the battle was six fleets orbiting the station.
Waiting on 6VDT-H station
The view was compared to ants swarming. I preferred to think of it as bees around a potential new hive.
Then it was time to wait. Even delayed as we were, there being six Baltec fleet to move out, we were there with plenty of time to spare. The station still had nearly an hour before it came out of reinforce and the main point of the battle… shoot the station… could begin.
The clock counts down
We sat in orbit of the station, where we would remain for the bulk of the battle, waiting for bits of intel to dribble in while Solo Drakban was no doubt fretting over the comms infrastructure. In the past, big operations like this have brought down our voice comms, requiring the server to be re-provisioned to accommodate the load, a process which requires every pilot to go change their Mumble configuration. Since, at the best of times, maybe 4 out of 5 people actually hear (but not necessarily comprehend) instructions coming over comms, that sort of thing becomes a major undertaking on its own.
So we were told to just stay quiet and use voice comms as little as possible, lest we bring the whole house down. This actually worked, at least on our channel, which was surprising. Goons and allies are a talkative bunch and, when left with little to do, will begin to chat or argue about whatever happens to come up. With the warning in place, for long stretches, it was like being in the “no chatter” channel, where you can only hear the fleet command personnel speaking. (That channel can be a mercy when the topic of the day becomes violently inane.)
We were told about TEST and their allies from time to time. It was clear that they were forming up (answering the “Will they fight?” question) and that they had at least 2,000 pilots on hand from various sources. In that at least some of their friends from the east, done thrashing SOLAR FLEET, had returned and there were contingents from Northern Coalition, Nulli Secunda, Why So Serious, joining TEST and Tribal Band for the big show.
Gevlon has a post up about the TEST fleet coming together that gives the view from that side of the battle that is worth a read.
So we sat and orbited the station as the timer ticked down. At one point a good chunk of us got disconnected and had to ask for re-invites back to fleet on a specific chat channel. That actually worked surprisingly well. I just had to type “x for Baltec 6″ and I was invited back immediately.
Finally, the moment arrived, the station came out of reinforce. We locked it up and shot at it. Then, finally, TEST began to arrive on scene. The battle could begin.
The local count began to rise and tidi, mostly absent up to that point, began to impose its iron will upon the fight. 3,600. 3,800. 3,900. Then it was past 4,000 people in system. TEST got themselves together and landed on us at the station and the fight began in earnest.
And for the next five hours we struggled to kill each other.
Why you name your ship
Tidi is one thing. Everything, including your UI, moves at 10% of normal speed to help the servers keep up. But beyond a certain point tidi is not enough for the servers to keep up. And then you have entered the lag zone, where the UI ceases to respond, where you can spend a long time waiting for a target that shows as locked to actually become available, where attempting to activate your guns fails more often than not, where you fear to change ammo or scripts or targets because things just started working and you are afraid to mess with it.
There was a point later in the battle, when the numbers in local dropped down to 3,000 and CCP’s servers began to catch up, that merely being in 10% tidi felt liberating. Simple things, like your guns activating on the first try or targets actually locking in the time indicated were like a breath of fresh air. Running at one tenth normal speed is a doddle, if only the client will actually respond to your actions.
As for the battle itself, TEST landed on us and the fleets were intermixed in that odd way that happens in very large fights. At times I found myself flying between a pair of NC dominixes or through a cloud of TEST logistics. A Nulli Secunda logistics bantam appeared to orbit me at one point.
Meanwhile, we shot. Targets were called and we struggled to get our guns to fire on them. In the end I managed to get on 38 kill mails, primarily zealots and legions, which were our main targets. I had to change my overview a number of times. First I had to exclude capsules, which began to litter the field, and which we were told not to shoot. Let them walk home was the plan. And then I had to narrow that down to just the current target type so I could lock up the called target, as fleet target broadcasts were taking a long time to arrive on my screen. I need to sit down and make a series of “just X” overviews, as my more general ones become useless in a big fight like this.
At its peak, the system was moving so slowly that there were times when we were told some intel over comms, we would then read about that intel in the live report updates over at The Mittani.com, and then the actual action would come to pass in game.
One such action happened when TEST and pals appeared to be pulling out. The rallied around the B17 gate, then changed their mind and decided to end the battle in a glorious death ride straight into the teeth of the enemy (us), which by this time included two reinforcement Baltec fleets and a large fleet of dreadnoughts supported by carriers.
There is a decent summary of the battle posted over at The Mittani. I will link more as they show up. The numbers themselves are immense. The Battle Doctor report , which has finally caught up and settled down so might be somewhat accurate, shows a total 5,095 characters involved over the course of the fight with over 1,500 ships destroyed, and a pile of capsules on top of that.
CFC kills blue – TEST kills red
The battle raged on until even tidi began to ease up. I was logged in for almost eight hours straight before it became time to take my wife out to dinner. Lots of people came and went. Gaff, who was busy at the beginning of the fight, got back in time to join the capital fleet that dropped into the middle of the fight. Over at DOTLAN stats for the system were prominent.
Over a six hour fight
Not sure how that aligns with the Battle Doctor report. Maybe it hasn’t caught up after all. And then there were the big spikes in the 6VDT-H system graphs.
Spikes in the Graphs
I did not stay until the bitter end. After all day on the computer, I took the family out to dinner. But we were mopping up before I left. The numbers were down to JUST 2,000 in system and tidi was going away.
The battle was won by the CFC, as was the war. Reports of TEST retiring to Delve were in before I arrived home from dinner.
The war is over. A good thing I got my second propaganda post up last week. There is a large amount of clean up to be done. And there will be plenty of groups out there eager for some kills who will no doubt be camping gates. But operations will be unlikely to face full fleets of opposition. We are back to the general state of null sec at rest, with 10 man gangs sitting on gates or on drag bubbles between gates ganking single passers by.
While I lived through the big battle, I managed to get myself killed in a silly and embarrassing way by a member of SOLAR FLEET no less… because everybody showed up I guess. This was after I managed to escape from some NC zealots at the sun, who neglected to bring a tackler with them. I wasn’t at the keyboard when the critical moment came and deserved to die. Life in EVE. At least I lost the cursed megathron that I had problems with at Z9PP-H. And it was insured.
And since we managed to lose a titan during the post-battle operations, I don’t feel so bad.
There will be lots of musing about this battle. It was a victory for the CFC as well as for CCP, who managed to keep everything going for a whole day under very trying circumstances, and with the memories of z9PP-H looming.
Coverage of the battle made its way from EVE sites to MMO sites (with Massively noticeably terse and late to the party) to gaming sites to the mainstream news. Granted, the BBC seems to have a soft spot for EVE Online, and we are in the summer season of slow news, but still that is some coverage. Various coverage:
And in the blogesphere, reactions and commentary continue to flow about various aspects of the battle.
Added: CCP has a dev blog posted about the 6VDT battle now.
And then there is what to do with Fountain itself. While the CFC grabbed the region for its moon wealth, that very wealth will make it vulnerable to those who would seek to mess with the CFC in general and the Goons in particular. To protect them, somebody is going to have to move into the region. I expect we will see some shifts in the sovereignty map as alliances get rewarded for their participation in the war.
Finally, there is the spectacle aspect of this, which is where the general media joined in. A great event happened. A record was set. A war was won and lost. And I was there.
Ironic twist: We didn’t actually take the station. We just put it into the next level of reinforce. That was expected. But those on the outside looking in might be a bit confused over that. Finishing that off is all part of the “more work to do” aspect of victory.
And after that, what are we going to do in space?
As usual, I took a screen shots during the battle. A gallery of pictures is available after the cut.