Part Three – Things Fly Apart
The South was the key theatre in the Great War, but as Band of Brothers concentrated more and more on that theatre, and as their facade of invincibility crumbled, other power-blocs began to feel that they could settle old scores. This post will be a short diversion from the southern theatre. Although my main character is in Goonswarm, I fought on both these fronts, one as part of an expeditionary force, the other on a spy alt on a different side.
This episode is a little longer than the others so far. But there is a lot of ground to cover.
The Wider War – The North
When their offensive against Goonswarm had begun, in the late spring of 2007, Band of Brothers had fielded a grand coalition of more than fifteen alliances, which they referred to as “pets”. Their declared intention was to control all of 0.0 space in Eve, and by the middle of the year, they were well on the way towards this goal. While they had ground through Tenerifis and Omist in the deep south, their key pet Mercenary Coalition, together with various allies and proxies, had been ordered to go north in April.
While this northern thrust initially cheered Goonswarm members, who were short of friends and saw the opening of a northern front as dragging the reluctant northern forces into the fray, it in fact proved a disaster. Goons sent reinforcements, but the D2 logisticians were incompetent (the first conquerable station Goons ever held was taken from D2 a year previously, when they had turned out to have no defences at all in place), while supercapitals were still invincible, and Goons withdrew in disgust. The MC were the spearhead for a series of rapid and successful campaigns that utterly destroyed the key northern power, D2, and rapidly brought vast tracts of space under the hegemony of Band of Brothers. Worse, it drew in new allies for the ascendant BoB powerbloc, attracted by the newly-opened frontier space they could now offer. We faced more enemies than ever.
BoB’s hope was that of Germany in 1914: rapidly destroy the enemy on one front and then concentrate their forces against the remaining enemies. They thought that, by the time they had overrun Goonswarm and were approaching Red Alliance’s holdings, their northern forces would be ready to bring into the attack. The successes of the efficient Mercenary Coalition-led attack meant that seven of the nine northern regions had fallen in succession. It actually looked as if BoB might just conquer the whole of Eve.
But as Bob poured more and more forces into the meat-grinder which was 9-9, they had less resources with which to finish off the last two northern regions of conquerable space. Their feudal subjects were more and more prone to spending time developing their new space and rebuilding exhausted wallets, and spent less time in the constant misery of the 9-9 attack. Then, as the front swept westwards, BoB abandoned their northern allies, declaring them ready to stand alone. But in the place of the sclerotic D2 were now two smaller, more vigorous powers – Razor and Morsus Mihi. Rebuilding the Northern Coalition, they began to sweep the “New North” back to empire. Band of Brothers refused to help, abandoning even the northern assets of their loyal subjects in Mercenary Coalition (whose newfound independence at the heart of the New North was not viewed kindly) and demanding they return to defend Fortress Delve.
Pets from the south had been resettled (albeit still paying huge sums in rent) in Fountain. However, as the rejuvenated Northern Coalition took advantage of BoB’s focus on the south, Fountain became more and more exposed. By the time that alliances like M.Pire and Rise were being shipped in cattle trucks to Fountain, pressure from Northern and ex-Northern alliances, alongside the new player called “Bruce”, were placing pressure upon Fountain and making it uninhabitable. Add to this the fact that BoB insisted on charging 6 billion ISK per constellation to pets who had lost their space fighting alongside them, and we saw an explosion of drama and withdrawals from the BoB pet system that lead to the Fountain front collapsing.
The Wider War – The Destruction of Army Group Centre
A month after the tide turned in the South-East, AAA and IAC were emboldened to launch an attack on Querious, a key border region for BoB that was held by Firmius Ixion. Fix held on for more than a month under a great deal of pressure due to good attendance and (usually) superb logisticians, but eventually BoB had to call on the Mercenary Coalition to end their northern contract and to bolster this key, central front. Fix and the MC were soon working closely together, which would ultimately prove disastrous for Bob and fatal for the Mercenary Coalition.
With the arrival of the MC, the Querious front stabilised in the 49- system, then began to roll back into IAC’s Catch homelands. In July, IAC and AAA had been on the offensive in hostile territory. By August, they had been stalemated. As BoB abandoned their northern pets’ holdings and recalled them south, the momentum shifted further, and the MC/Fix-led forces pushed into Catch. Goons could not yet move to help: they were busy fighting fires on their own front where their allies were repeatedly failing to secure the systems won for them in a litany of poor logistical decisions. But morale on the central front was bolstered when AAA killed the MC titan piloted by their leader.
BoB, still not grasping the seriousness of their situation, allowed themselves to be provoked into openeing yet another subsidiary front, in Providence, where they wished to secure a logistical route for their invasion of eastern Catch. While the MC started their attack on IAC’s central holdings (yet again, in a theme of allied incompetence that was becoming bewildering to Goons, badly defended by holding insufficient moons), Bob launched an attack on a system in Providence. They supposed that Paxton Federation, a minor power in the roleplaying bloc headed by Curatores Veritas Alliance, and occupying some of the worst space in the game, would be a pushover. In fact, it proved to be a short but bloody conflict which saw the Providence powers mount several initially successful defences before being forced to give ground.
But the effect of the Providence sideshow was not limited to the securing of a beacon system for supplying Bob’s Catch attacks.
The MC, tired of BoB ignoring their (frankly superior) strategic advice and of their inability to focus on a single front, suddenly announced the end of their contract and their return to their Period Basis holdings. With this single move, the central front returned to stalemate as November began: BoB could no longer, without their key allies, muster the force required to press home their offensive. They would remain in Catch for some time, but on the defensive.
Worse, and unknown to them as yet, the Mercenary Coalition had started talking to Firmius Ixion about the establishment of a new power-bloc, outside the orbit of the Band of Brothers. This never came to fruition, but the first cracks in the damn had appeared.
At last, BoB realised that they were beaten, and that they could no longer support their bloated empire. They therefore decided to announce a withdrawal to the Delve-Querious-Period Basis triangle: a compact and defensible triangle or regions that represented their last holdings. All across the south, pets scrambled to save what they could of their possesssions as they tumbled, abandoned by their masters, back to their last stronghold.
In a politically unwise move, BoB included the Mercenary Coalition in their announcement video where they listed the retreating and beaten powers.
Goonswarm’s response to that video summed up the reason why our advance was so persistent, and why our motivation had been so certain even when we had seemed on the verge of extinction. We had been relaxed, fun-loving players in a backwater of Eve, and now we were killing them.
The War So Far
This is a huge, horrible map which I wish I could find out how to spoiler/hide on WordPress:
If you look at this map, you’ll see the holdings of the various powers on the eve of the Delve invasion, near the end of 2007. Bear in mind that this map was created by a close friend and occasional member of Band of Brothers, and that it is designed to make their stand more impressive (it omits well over half of their allies).
The mass of red in the south-east represents the territory taken by Goons and Red Alliance from Bob and from Lokta Volterra, their erstwhile allies. Looking at the individual regions, as late as June, Band of Brothers had held Paragoin Soul, Esoteria, Feythabolis, Omist, much of Tenerifis and had even started an attack on Detorid, the second-last region held by Goons.
In the north, they had held Cloud Ring, Fade, Deklein, Branch and most of Tribute and Tenal. One could have circled two-thirds of the map and never left BoB-controlled space.
Now, only on the central front, in Catch, were BoB clinging precariously onto their gains, and then only because of the work of FiX and the MC. Fountain would soon fall to Bruce, Catch was untenable, and while their south-western fortresses remained stubbornly intact, enemies were at the gates, and they would soon be betrayed from within.