“If your enemy logs off, make sure they can’t log on.” - Sun Tzu, ancient Chinese general and fan of Eve Online.
Yes, the space warfare MMO is once again full of exploding spaceships thanks to a new war between two large blocs of corporate murder fans. It’s as convoluted as any other conflict in this game of moneymaking and military skulduggery, but basically: a huge battle broke out last week between two massive superfleets, and now hundreds of pilots from one of those fleets are trapped, besieged by a worrying number of TEST and Goonswarm hyenas thirsting for shipwrecks.
To give you some background, the galaxy of Eve is currently bubbling with war. It’s a universal conflict with dozens of big players but the short version is that Imperium (the Goons and assorted space pals) have joined forces with a group called the Legacy Coalition (which includes TEST Alliance). Against them stands another large bloc of degenerates, the biggest groups of which are Pandemic Legion, Holy Rental Empire and Guardians of the Galaxy. For simplicity, let's call this shower of space rats the “Northeastern Bloc”.
It’s a bit of a clusterfunk if you're not Eve literate, but here, I’ve stolen Kotaku’s idea and drawn some red lines over a map from sov.space to roughly show where the divisions lie. Click to make it large.
Simply put, it’s a war with two major theatres: the north and the southeast. The reasons for it are many (money, territory, the craic of having a big fight) but an underlying motive for the Imperium is vengeance. They were kicked out of their historic homes in the North a couple of years ago during the Casino War (an earlier galaxy-wide conflict that was funded by gambling kingpins). They’ve never forgotten that, and a rallying cry from Imperium propaganda broadcaster Imperium News leans heavily on the prospect of revenge and the reconquering of their “homeland”.
“We are flagrantly violating the galactic balance of power,” said Imperium leader Alex "TheMittani" Gianturco, “by deploying the largest single armor supercapital force the game has seen under one coalition banner up the ass of the north.”
At the same time as the Goons marched northward, their pally wallys in Legacy Coalition marched on turf in the southeast. They established a Keepstar in the region of Tenerifis. Keepstars are those gargantuan space castles. The plan was to use this as a staging post for further invasion. To put this another way, Legacy basically walked into their neighbour's garden and started building Helm's Deep. Anyway, this kinda worked and kinda didn’t. Because of the way these death stations are built there is a moment of weakness for them, a window of 15 minutes after being constructed during which an enemy fleet can start to wear the Keepstar down and destroy it. The Northeastern Bloc knew this and decided to attack. The real war starts here.
The ensuing battle of UALX-3 was a flaming wreck session, and seemed impossible to resist for all parties. Titans and supercapitals, the biggest and most expensive ships in the game, came flooding in for both sides. Even the Imperium, not content with fighting in the north, rushed a heavily armoured fleet of ships down to the superbrawl. Here’s a video from Eve Online fansite, the New Eden Report, showing highlights from the battle (from which I've also taken screenshots of the battle).
At the end of the 10-hour battle, EVE downtime kicked in. At least 14 Titans had been destroyed and almost 3 trillion ISK (Eve's virtuacash) was lost in total, according to the battle report. The Northeastern Bloc technically came out on top in terms of ISK lost, but there’s a complication. Over 300 of their best pilots are now stuck in the system.
You see, after Eve came out of downtime, the pilots of 145 Titans and another bunch of flyfolks in 170 supercarriers simply stayed logged off. Sensing an opportunity, Imperium and Legacy set up a “hellcamp”, essentially circling the waterhole. They’ve built another Keepstar and a Fortizar (another angry space station) close to the logoff point. Now, if any of the Northeastern pilots log on, they know they’ll be immediately razed without support. For these important ships, the southwestern forces have basically blockaded the game. A rescue attempt has been made, according to a recent post on the New Eden Report, with a fleet of Northeastern cruisers sent to dismantle ship-slowing “bubbles” and clear the way for their allies to log in and quickly escape, but it didn't work.
And that’s where we stand. This war is only getting started, and this is the biggest battle so far. It’s unclear how much further the invading forces of the Imperium will get towards reclaiming their old home. But with plenty of Goons and Legacy louts licking their chops at this feast of stranded pilots, it’s clear it is a war they want to win.