The Delve War: Call to Glory
by, 2011-07-01 at 11:30 PM (1421 Views)
For a game that counts itself as a member of the "Massively Multiplayer" genre, it is surprising how often pivotal events in EVE center around one person's singular moment of stupidity. One fleet member throwing his bubble up at the wrong moment leads to defeat. One scout falling asleep leads to a disastrous hotdrop. One director failing to login to pay bills leads to... well we haven't quite gotten there yet have we? Suffice it to say the decision by our good friend Sir Molle to dock his entire capital fleet into an NPC Station in Delve was seemingly innocuous at the time for him, but turned into a critical juncture in the course of Delve War Two, the history of EVE Online, and the rise of a young upstart fleet commander named Heath Ledger.
Onxy-Class Battlewagons were used heavily during the camp, by which I mean I lost like three to gate rats alone.
On the morning following that fateful decision, the assorted members of the GBC logged in to find over fifty anchored bubbles outside the PR- station. Manning them were several hundred Goons, grimly brandishing pop tarts, ramen, and poop socks. Armed with terrible stories by DBRB and diaper fetish pornography spam in local, they gleefully dispatched several dreadnoughts, carriers, and jump-freighters from the GBC before the knowledge began to sink in for the enemy; They were trapped, and while they idled inside the station waiting to be told what to do, Delve was burning.
To fully understand the magnitude of what came to be known as "The Great Purge" requires a small bit of mathematics. Reinforcing a standard large control tower with an average of twenty dreadnoughts requires about ten minutes of time. A fully shield hardened tower without guns will take twenty minutes. Assuming that the average amount of time between the two groups is around fifteen minutes, you can guess that effort it would take to also form up a group of pilots, fuel, and deploy your fleet to engage the tower would round out to somewhere around thirty minutes per tower, coming to about an hour overall for both the initial reinforcement and the actual kill several days later.
There were over one thousand hostile towers in Delve and Querious.
Large fleets of one hundred dreadnoughts across the coalition soon dwindled to small groups of ten to fifteen blearry eye'd masochists, waking up at all hours to continue the purge. On some nights, it would be as few as three to four dreads on the killmails. Throughout the whole operation, it was a miracle no one from Kenzoku realised they could bushwack these fleets with a group of twenty battleships or something.
As RAZOR pilots became more hideously bored with the unending monotony of camping PR- and grinding towers, I found a solution to improve morale. Since I neither owned a capital pilot yet, or gave a shit about camping PR- (the one time I did attempt it, I left about twenty minutes later after some Goon began reading "Pride and Prejudice" on Teamspeak), I returned to running small roams to Providence and Catch. From our base in UHKL, it was only around twenty jumps to get to Providence, where fights were assured.
My little gangs went from five to six corpmates to closer to thirty or so alliance members, and routinely racked up freighter, carrier, or faction battleship kills from the hideously bad pilots of the Providence holders. At one point, the enigmatic leader of RAZOR, Fred0, even posted a thread praising my actions as one of "RAZOR's most promising up and coming FCs".
Concurrently during this time, Kenzoku had clonejumped their pilots to lowsec adjacent to Delve, leaving their capital fleet and a massive amount of corporate and personal assets locked in PR- behind the confines of the great bubble camp. Led mostly by Lady Scarlet, they began using long range HAC gangs to skirt around NPC Delve, constantly testing the strength of the camp.
Often no more than a dozen pilots would be manning the camp, but at the approach of a Kenzoku gang they would start spamming Jabber messages across the entire coalition, and within minutes the fleet would swell by a hundred or more pilots. Though Kenzoku often got close, they usually did not attempt to enter the system as it would have been futile.
As the duration of the camp lengthened, each response fleet to a Kenzoku incursion began getting smaller and smaller, and many leaders worried that the integrity of the camp would fail before Delve was completely conquered.
A month went by.
As was my custom, I logged on to EVE after an afternoon class, early enough to still catch the Euro crowd. Forming a gang of battlecruisers and assorted other things, we took our usual route into Providence and sat around killing things until a CVA fleet of a hundred pilots threw a wet blanket on the notion and chased us out.
Unbenownst to us at the time, Kenzoku had picked this day to organize a surprise breakout attempt. From their lowsec base of Sakht, they mobilized one hundred and fifty long range HACs, and began getting ready to head towards PR-
On our way back from Providence, the jabber broadcasts started to go out; "BREAKOUT IN PROGRESS! 150 KENNY HACS INBOUND TO PR-!" Frantically, I ordered my small roam to burn back to UHKL at best speed. Our formup channel was filled with "Need Invites!" and "Is there a fleet?", with no invites or answers being handed out.
As we arrived in UHKL, a CEI director whose name escapes me dropped into our channel, quickly followed by a flood of a hundred other Razor pilots. He spoke with an unconcerned voice, "PR- Camp needs to be held or we are fucked. You are in charge, the fleet is yours.", and then promptly logged off from comms.
The fleet was mine, and with it all the responsibility of not fucking up hundreds of players time, isk, and entertainment.
A few minutes later, we had a fleet of roughly a hundred and twenty sniper battleships. Since I didn't know any titan pilots (or how to set up a titan bridge for that matter), we began burning towards PR-. The Kenzoku fleet was several jumps ahead of us according to intel, preparing to jump into PR-. The Goon camp had only a few dozen pilots in it, nothing close to the numbers needed to stop a hundred and fifty HACs.
Though I was tentative to take the largest fleet I had ever controlled and quite possibly lose them in horrendous fashion, I knew the integrity of the camp was more important than my e-reputation. When we reached one out from PR-, Kenzoku jumped into PR- and began slaughtering the disorganized and ineffective Goonswarm gang. I can only imagine half of the ships that died were AFK.
As my fleet landed on the ingate to PR-, I took a deep breath. All those desires to lead climactic battles that would alter the balance of power in EVE that I had fostered since those early days in IDEC had come to fruition here and know. "Jump jump jump!" I shouted, intent on victory or death.
This is probably the point where most of you expected me to start regaling you with the colorful play by play of an epic space battle where I emerged triumphant due to my natural skill, charisma, and fortitude. A simple mistake dear reader. As we all know, EVE is more often than not an anti-climatic game, and as such things didn't quite pan out as perhaps both you and I intended.
As my fleet jumped into system, Kenzoku simply warped off, jumped out, and burned back to lowsec. I would later learn that apparently they thought someone competent was in charge of our fleet. Their mistake I suppose.
I think we ended up doing something stupid like shooting an offline tower with the battleships, and declaring victory. Though no fight occurred, this instance remains a watershed event in my memory because afterwards I felt no qualms about forming up a large fleet, or taking command of one when the actual FC broke down or died. That tap on the shoulder from the director who handed me a fleet set me off on a path that perhaps would not have occurred otherwise.
The mighty PR- camp was finally broken around six weeks after its inception when a combined Kenzoku and AAA fleet (diverted from the Eastern Front where the Legion of xx.DeathXx remained entrenched against the Russians and the newly resurgent Atlas Alliance offensive into old Goonspace) liberated the system with three hundred or so subcapitals. However, by the time the Kenzoku capital fleet was freed, they had lost all sovereignty in Delve and Querious, and would have to start from scratch if they wanted any of it back. The Great Purge was over.
As for me, I had the trust of my alliance mates from all of our roams together, the approval of alliance leadership who was desperate for new Fleet Commanders, and the desire to prove myself as deserving of their trust.
It would turn out to be good timing in the end, since a month later Kenzoku would be surging back with a counteroffensive aimed at a backwater system called "49-U"
NEXT TIME - DELVE WAR: FALL OF 49-U
Coming July 15th