It has been dubbed the Halloween War, a galactic military campaign waged between two powerful factions, being played out on the biggest of virtual stages: EVE Online.
Over the past four months, Pandemic Legion and N3 have engaged in several large-scale battles with their rival, CFC/RUS. This culminated in a Capital ship throwdown last week, known as the Battle of HED-GP, where PL/N3 left the killing fields victorious, taking down 350 CFC/RUS Dreadnoughts in the process. Such a massive engagement led one influential capsuleer to conclude that,”while the fighting is far from over, it will be months before we see a capital fight of this scale again.”
Fast forward just seven days, and that hopeful expectation of a “calm before the storm” can officially be laid to rest. Not only did yesterday’s battle prove larger than HED-GP, it turned into the biggest clash in EVE Online’s ten year existence.
And it began in a way you would have never expected.
The B-R5RB sector, located in the Immensea region, was being used as a staging point for the PL/N3 coalition, housing a large portion of their fleet in the system station controlled by HAVOC, an allied corporation. With sovereignty (ownership) over the entire sector, the coalition was thought to be protected from aggressive actions of others, particularly their main rival, CFC.
Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and Corporation HAVOC made a mistake of astronomical proportions when they forgot to pay “rent.” While this usually incurs a $50 late fee for mere mortals on the shiny blue sphere known as Earth, in EVE, it led to an all-out melee.
To preface, in order to claim sovereignty over a system in null sec space, you have to pay the “mortgage” to NPC entities (this is done for many reasons, one of which is the interesting fact that is serves as a currency sink, keeping in-game inflation in check). When you fail to pay sovereignty fees to CONCORD (EVE’s police force), ownership privileges for the system station itself are essentially revoked, leaving the current renter, and all of the equipment housed there, in an exposed position. Look at it as an extremely valuable supply depot and rally point, with an owner who has a zero tolerance policy for irresponsible tenants.
In most cases, due to protective sovereignty mechanics, this station would be safe, even after a long siege, but when you do not pay your bills….it becomes fair game. And in the virtual universe of EVE, retribution for such a mistake is swift and unforgiving.
“When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” ― Sun Tzu
The reeling CFC/RUS, still licking their wounds from the big loss just a few days past, decided this momentary window of opportunity was the perfect time to strike a major blow to the rival coalition….with improved tactics and a laser focus.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”― Sun Tzu
The Russians were the first to discover the failure to maintain sovereignty, and immediately sent in their fleet to take the station. After establishing a foothold and contesting control of the system with their TCU (Territorial Control Unit), PL reacted swiftly, and came back in force to retake it. Naturally, the new RUS squatters called their buddies at CFC, who responded by transporting their Capital fleet to the sector.
Known as a Merc outfit that relies mainly on smaller ships to do their dirty work, CFC took this as an ideal moment to challenge that reputation and make it a Titan fight.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu
Using the same tired tactics of last week, an overconfident PL entered the fray with their own Capital ships, implementing the well-known “Wrecking Ball” strategy, and expecting a similar result. But they were brutally rebuffed when CFC took the same strategy, overpowering the bewildered and reactionary opposition forces.
It was the deviation from the expected strategy that caught PL/N3 off guard, and due to CFC’s willingness to bring in the cavalry and fight fire with fire, the concentrated Capital assault only made things more difficult for the seemingly invincible PL/N3 coalition.
After 12 hours of fighting, PL/N3 finally retreated, and in doing so, ended the greatest single conflict in EVE Online history.
All told, 2,670 ships entered B-R5RB, and another 7,548 played support roles (reinforcements, fuel/equipment providers, and hunters to pick off ships that made it out of the system alive). CFC/RUS was the overwhelming victor, even while sustaining heavy losses of their own.
Final Score (in Titans destroyed) : CFC: 59 PL: 16
Also obliterated in the massacre were 370 total Dreads, 123 Carriers, and 14 Supers (3 CFC and 11 PL).
Total ISK battle cost: 11 Trillion ($300k+ USD)
Although trillions of ISK in losses could be seen as a definitive indicator to raise the white flag for PL/N3, this is not how EVE Online operates. The CFC win certainly hampers PL/N3′s ability to wage war, but this is not the last we have heard from one of the greatest coalitions in the game.
The Halloween War is not over yet. In fact, we may just be getting started.
For those not privy to EVE Online yet, it is the most popular space MMORPG on the market, and one of the highest quality IP’s in gaming.
This interstellar practice in Machiavellian machinations allows players from around the world to man ships and partake in countless intergalactic activities within a single-shard, sandbox universe. Coalitions and political allegiances are forged, wars are waged, battles are fought, and territory is taken. In essence, anything goes in this digital space, and you are only limited by your own resourcefulness.
The EVE universe is complex, deep, and thrilling, bringing real-world themes to a virtual plane, allowing players to operate as if the entire galaxy is at their disposal. No matter if you are a corporation CEO on the forefront of the galactic power struggle, a lone Merc pilot trying to make a name in the vast space of New Eden, or a casual observer looking for the most dramatic action in interactive entertainment, EVE has something for everyone.
The tentpole title for CCP Games, EVE Online also works in unison with DUST 514, a console first person shooter. This PC-Playstation integration allows micro, fast-twitch moves played out on the DUST battlefield to influence the meta-game and produce a real difference aboard EVE ships and the broader universe they inhabit.
Add the huge potential of their Oculus VR initiative (EVE: Valkyrie), and a host of transmedia initiatives (television series, graphic novels), and it is obvious that CCP is creating an entertainment juggernaut.
EVE Online and all of its properties provide a looking glass into the future of interactive entertainment, and it has been a pleasure to watch the amazing evolution in real-time. I cannot wait to see what is next.