The Scope Galactic News Network Reports on the Fury at FWST-8
Fury at FWST-8 Rages Over PAPI Keepstars
Further Reporting from the New Eden Correspondents by ISD Deloro
A Foothold in the Fortress - The first fight around a PAPI Keepstar in Delve
Up to 3,800 capsuleers and about 1 trillion ISK in damages; the fight over a Keepstar in FWST-8 on October 5th YC122 was an endurance test for capsuleer and craft and became the current war's record - for the time being.
In the war - dubbed World War Bee II by the capsuleer community - the objective seems to be no other than a full invasion of Imperium territory. System by system, constellation by constellation, forces of Pandemic Associates Please Ignore (PAPI), a coalition kept together solely by a desire to end the Imperium, have wrestled control of the regions of Fountain, Period Basis and Querious from the Imperium. According to the Imperium, the conquered regions are disposable. "Fortress Delve", however, is another matter. A critical point in this conflict is the question of whether PAPI forces can successfully establish a bridgehead in Delve territory or if Imperium forces can manage to repel the attackers long enough to let demoralization, infighting and degradation of material take their toll.
FWST-8 is one of the systems in range of the PAPI Keepstar in 8QT-H4 in Querious and would provide a forward operations base with jump range to a large part of Delve. This is something that both sides knew, and any activity here would be high-stakes play. The PAPI alliance Fraternity (FRT) took the initiative and anchored a Keepstar-class Citadel in the system of FWST-8.
Planning for this operation had started immediately after the successful anchoring of the aforementioned Keepstar in 8QT-H4. But while the plans like location and timing were clear, actually anchoring was another matter. Anchoring a Keepstar within enemy territory, and within range of the enemy's supercarrier wing, is something that draws attention and necessitates the presence of a respectable force. But the more pilots are aware of such an operation, the higher the chance that one of the obligatory spies might catch wind of it. As such, the coalition was largely kept in the dark, but once the Keepstar was anchored, word got out and both sides prepared for the inevitable clash at the precise moment when the Keepstar entered a final vulnerability timer after a 24-hour deployment period.
PAPI was present on grid with a respectable force consisting of several fleets of capitals and sub-capitals, of which Muninn, Eagle and Jackdaw class ships formed the backbone. As the Keepstar became vulnerable Imperium forces, consisting mainly of Muninn, Cerberus, Zealot class vessels and a Baltec battleship fleet - a traditional Imperium fleet doctrine, created during the YC115 Fountain War - as well as a huge number of capitals joined the fight. Both sides also had bomber wings.
In terms of capitals, both sides were asymmetrically set up: PAPI had the advantage of choosing the field and mustered 52 titans, 198 supercarriers, 316 dreadnoughts, 150 carriers and 24 force auxiliaries on field, ready for whatever tactic the Imperium would employ. Flying right into this huge mass of firepower with a full fleet must have seemed futile, and the only real objective was destroying the Keepstar, so the Imperium utilized a tactic of trickling in dreadnoughts from a nearby Fortizar citadel. Regarding this tactic, Noraus, the FRT Fleet Commanders commented after the fight: "The stacking dreads `trickling in` was a pretty successful strategy and they executed it well. On their Fortizar we counted more than 20-30 dreads at all times. We had no way to stop them from warping to a ping-spot and onto our Keepstar."
The Keepstar's ISK value was dwarfed by the overall loss of materiel in this fight. About 1 Trillion ISK was destroyed. The biggest part of that sum was made up of the 262 lost Imperium dreadnoughts with a value of 740 Billion ISK. Many have pointed out that losing ships in a value ratio of 1:9 makes this engagement a net loss for the Imperium, despite having won the objective - a prime example of a Pyrrhic Victory.
But for FRT FC Noraus the matter is more complex: "One could argue if trading 200 dreads for one Keepstar is worth it, but that's a proven, viable tactic." And in this case, it worked, but this battle is part of a bigger war, and therefore one has to consider the industrial side of it as well. Noraus continues: "We don't know how deep their industrial cache is. Replacing 200-300 fitted dreads overnight is unreal for most of us - but if anyone can accomplish that, it would be the Imperium."
At the time PAPI coalition seemed to be determined to make their advance permanent. An Astrahus, a Fortizar and another FRT Keepstar Citadel have been placed in the system. The next chapter of that story was to be written in less than 24 hours.
Image Credit: Razorien
Another Dearly Bought Victory - Imperium destroys second PAPI Keepstar in 24 hours
It promised to be one of the biggest fights in the ongoing conflict known as "World War Bee II". After the first PAPI Keepstar had been destroyed by the defending Imperium forces in a Pyrrhic victory , PAPI coalition members had anchored a second Keepstar in the same system. It would be a test of the Imperium's resourcefulness - both in machinery and strategy. Eventually up 6,551 concurrent pilots clashed in the largest battle in New Eden to this date, spreading over 13 hours of fighting.
At about 17:00 EST, a formidable coalition force had gathered on the Keepstar and waited for the citadel to enter the last phase of deployment: a 15 minute period in which the structure is vulnerable - a certain amount of damage in this phase will stop all repair activity and allows an attacker to destroy the structure before it is fully operational. The respective objectives were clear: The Imperium had to continually apply damage to the structure and the defenders had to destroy the incoming attackers fast enough to reduce the incoming damage and let the repair phase finish. Both sides had a Fortizar in system from which they could fly in more ships. Naturally, with grid control thoroughly established, PAPI could alternatively just bridge in more reinforcements from Querious as needed. Throughout the course of the battle, the fabled supercapital fleet of the Imperium was in jump range and ready to escalate the fight. With that in mind, the defending PAPI coalition showed up in force.
The grid was heavily seeded with anchored warp disruptors ("bubbles"). The capitals were mainly concentrated on the Keepstar undock, while subcapital fleets were spread all around the Keepstar perimeter. With much more rallying time than the day before, PAPI managed to field a much larger fleet. While no scans of the initial setup on the Keepstar are available, the streams and battle reports paint a clear picture. PAPI eventually brought the following ships/fleets to the fight: 155 titans, 431 supercarriers, including five Vendettas and a Revenant, 237 dreadnoughts, 482 carriers, several Muninn fleets, several Jackdaw fleets, two Eagle fleets, a Nightmare Fleet, a bomber wing, a frigate fleet designed to disrupt enemy operations, and hundreds of interceptors, interdictors and heavy interdiction cruisers.
With numbers and grid superiority secured by PAPI, the Imperium had to play it smart in order to ensure a continual stream of damage on the structure. Too many ships at the same time would mean unnecessary losses, too few could risk not hitting the damage value needed to stop the repair function. And after having lost 262 dreadnoughts just 24 hours before to destroy a single PAPI Keepstar, everyone was curious what the Imperium could field.
Showing the might of their caches, the Imperium fielded another operational 354 dreadnoughts. The bulk of the attacking force, however, was made up of battleships. 523 Rokhs, 470 Ravens, 238 Megathrons and about two dozen other battleships, all fitted for very long range. Later, battlecruisers and cruisers followed. Two Jackdaw fleets, a Harpy fleet and (in total) 803 stealth bombers were also present.
The fight began as battleships warped onto the grid from different directions and to different points at long range from the Keepstar. This would lower the risk of fatal bombing runs against the Battleships and prevent the defenders from concentrate their forces. dreadnoughts were also used, but in smaller number compared to battleships. Over the next 13 hours, the Imperium would continue using this strategy, albeit varying the ship classes. They did so with great success, because the timer had indeed been stopped at 5 minutes 59 seconds.
At about 00:30 EST, already five hours into the fight, reports were heard that the Imperium had asked their pilots to also bring traditional anti-pirate ships, especially the 100MN afterburner Vexor, a proven weapon in keeping the Blood Raiders of the region at bay. PAPI commentators interpretated this as a sign that the Imperium were running low on actual combat ships to field - a welcome sign of hope regarding the still paused repair timer. However, it is unclear to this moment, if that was indeed the motivation for the change in tactics. It could have been a play to lull PAPI in a false sense of security and spread out their forces. Because alongside the Vexors, that were indeed deployed in large numbers, hundreds of battleships still poured out of the Imperium Fortizar nearby, waiting their turn in the constant onslaught, alongside similarly waiting dreadnoughts - counting 130 at 00:45 EST.
At this time, 00:45 EST, about 20 minutes after the reports of Vexors were heard, another battlefield opened up. An Eagle fleet of Brave Newbies (SBOON) warped onto the Fortizar grid, followed shortly thereafter the a Nightmare fleet of Test Alliance Please Ignore (TEST) and a Northern Coalition. (NC.) Muninn fleet that titan bridged right onto the structure. While they were not able to actually aggress the waiting dreadnoughts and battleships due to the citadel's safety tether, their plan was apparently to hinder the stream of ships by disrupting their warp drives. At 00:51 EST, 35 heavy interdiction cruisers and 15 interdictors created bubbles of nullified space all around the Fortizar. Even if the dreadnoughts wanted, they now could not warp to the Keepstar grid. Microjumpdrives, however, still worked and so the battleships and more agile Vexors could manoeuvre out of the fields on into warp.
While the fight on the Keepstar grid raged on, the Imperium apparently saw the risk in having their staging point warp nullified and reacted. At 01:15 EST the attackers jumped a carrier group of 74 carriers and 15 force auxiliaries onto the Fortizar and started to clear off heavy interdiction cruisers and interdictors. Clearing the enemy warp disruption mostly worked and ships were allowed easier warp towards the Keepstar again. In the meantime, the Fortizar was manned by a gunner and heavy guided bombs were hurled towards the TEST Nightmares. At 1:43 EST, SBOON retreated from the field.
At 2:10 EST - at this point the PAPI interpretation of the Imperium being unable to field more ships had been repeated for three hours - the Imperium used a titan bridge to jump in even more battleships and vexors from deeper within the Delve region. With fresh ships and only 25% of the Keepstar hull still intact, it was just a matter of time until the Keepstar would finally buckle under the constant damage.
At around 5:30 EST, after 13 hours of non-stop fighting, the Keepstar exploded in a blinding light. Including another 30 minutes of loss in materiel, the bill for both sides became apparent: While PAPI had lost about 190 Billion ISK - most of that by losing two supercarriers and 17 dreadnoughts - the Imperium had to face a loss of 1.46 Trillion ISK. The bulk of that consisted of 318 lost dreadnoughts worth 875 Billion ISK, 1,222 battleships worth 390 Billion ISK and 147 Muninns worth 38.5 Billion ISK. While the strategic objective of the Imperium - the destruction of the potential beachhead in Delve - was won against even larger opposition than 24 hours before, the cost was also higher than before.
As the opposing fleets left the battlefield, the debris of the Keepstar drifted apart and mixed with 6,000 wrecks of vessels of every model and size. Some skirmishes were conducted amidst the wrecks and the salvagers and looters were out in force - gathering all scraps in order to rebuild and continue the seemingly never-ending battle of materiel. No new structure had been anchored at the time of writing, and all of New Eden holds its breath to see what the next move in this war will be.
Note: New Eden Correspondents requested comment from FCs and leadership from major participants on both sides and responses received were used in our reporting.
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