The Battle of the Bill, they're calling it. OK, actually it's just me calling it that. But still, history will forever remember that EVE Online's most colossal (not to mention colossally expensive) virtual star war began because one alliance missed a bill payment - at least until another biggest battle in EVE history happens in, like, three months. But still, this one kicked off because the N3 coalition failed to make a hugely important system, allowing other alliances to attempt complete takeover. Madness ensued. Nearly $300,000 worth of madness.
CCP explained the situation in an email:
"An alliance in the N3 coalition missed a bill payment for the system where Pandemic Legion is staging and storing their fleets. This missed bill caused sovereignty to drop across the system leaving the station vulnerable to capture. Seizing the opportunity, the CFC (Goonswarm Federation, Razor Alliance, Black Legion and the Initiative) and Russian Coalition (Solar Fleet, Darkness of Despair and Against ALL Authorities) captured the station."
So then N3 and Pandemic struck back with more firepower. And then CFC and Rus struck back with more firepower. And so on and so forth until things escalated to a point of no return. In the process, the various factions involved lost a total of around 70 titans. Given that titans are massive god ships - the blue whales to everyone else's guppies - and cost somewhere in the area of $3,000 a pop, losses were truly tremendous. With another 4,000-some-odd ships tossed into space's deadliest rave, it all adds up to approximately $284,500, and numbers are still rising.
In the end, N3 and Pandemic lost roughly 40-50 titans while CFC, Rus, and co managed a slightly less catastrophic 20-25. CFC won, but obviously not without some serious wounds to nurse.
As ever, The Mittani has an excellent write-up of the positively gargantuan conflict. Among other things, it's worth noting that this battle fell on the one-year anniversary of the nearly as insane Battle of Asakai, but it's apparently been angrily burbling in the background since Halloween.
There are some almost unsettlingly gorgeous images of the wanton destruction here. It makes a man wonder, you know? Why must we solve all of our space conflicts with violence? Why can't we take the example set by the wiser diplomats of our time and settle our intergalactic disagreements... with basketball?