Saturday, February 8, 2014
Waking the Dragon
For the last year or more, the Minmatar have resembled a sleeping beast. Veteran corporations and alliances who still remember the days when sov was called 'Occupancy' and when Amarr and Minmatar lived together in the same stations, have been largely apathetic. Activity has dropped off, and assets have been left to gather dust in hangers as everyone romps the warzone in tech one frigates and destroyers, pretending to care about contestation and really just wanting to see things explode.
So it is easy for me to see how a group like Winmatar, who only have the perspective of militia since last October, could greatly misunderstand and underestimate what lies beneath the surface of the veteran ranks.
Even I, admittedly, wondered if the beast hadn't slept itself to death somewhere along the way.
In all honestly, I often wondered if Winmatar wouldn't be the catalyst to 'wake the beast.' Their enthusiasm was fresh, and they didn't have the stench that comes with languishing under bitter vet syndrome. Though, I figured they'd accomplish it by picking a fight with some new, great enemy and that everyone would jerk awake to come assist them in guts and glory.
I never thought they'd poke the beast themselves.
The first major CTA of the civil war was called for this past Thursday by the leadership of the Weazl/FEO/LNA & CO coalition, who have been cheekily calling themselves the 'Losematar' coalition.
Up until that point it felt like both sides were circling each other, evaluating and testing the waters--like two carnivores circling, bearing their teeth and growling.
This CTA was called days in advance, and I knew that if the war lasted that long, it was when the gloves would be coming off. Many attempts to peacefully conclude the war were made leading up to that point, but Winmatar could not be convinced.
"You will lose more in this war then we will." they told LNA CEO Bahamut420 when he tried to negotiate with them for a peaceful resolution.
When I logged on for the CTA, things were already in full swing, with the Losematar fleet climbing well over 80 pilots.
The target was big, and more or less symbolized a strategic 'head shot' --their Large, faction Titan POS.
During the POS bash, we alternated between an armor battleship setup and a shield tier three battlecruiser set up, carefully keeping tabs on potential batphones or outside parties that could be looking for a third-party fight. We also launched a Mobile Cyno Inhibitor, hoping that this would prevent anyone from dropping directly on our fleet.
Intel came through that Winmatar attempted to batphone Shadow Cartel. The rumor is that SC turned them down flat after the fiasco earlier in the week.
Burning through a Large faction tower was a slow endeavor in Tech 3 Battlecruisers. Winmatar formed a fleet of Talwars to try to do drive-by alphas, and we lost many ships to the tower. However, they would need a little more than destroyers if they intended to protect their titan POS.
Later on, the drive-bys started targeting the Mobile Cyno Inhibitor, making many people think that they were still hoping for some sort of batphone.
The POS entered reinforced mode and there was a collective groan on coms when people saw the timer. It would be late for USTZ --around 11 PM EST, and would most definitely be an alarm clock op for our Europeans. There was some speculation that given our USTZ was a bit weaker than our European, we might not be able to muster the needed numbers, given Winmatar had help.
Late Night Friday, and early morning Saturday came quickly for all of us. Many did not know what to expect. There were rumors early on that Winmatar had called in a significant amount of help, and there was speculation on what our own fleet was going to end up looking like.
When all was said and done, and the flurry settled down from moving ships and getting ammo, and getting people into the correct squads and wings, our fleet had grown to well over 90 pilots--a staggering response.
A USTZ pirate group we occasionally work with, 7-2 showed up to assist with a somewhat impressive guardian contingent. Between their logistics, and our own that joined the party, we had around 17 Guardians.
And after some hem-hawing, we managed to secure an NAP with a local 30-man tech three gang led by Predator Elite. At first, he made it clear that it was his intention to side with Winmatar if Winmatar managed to produce the 80 Tech 3 cruisers they were rumored to have up their sleeve.
"Otherwise, we're third-partying this." Predator announced.
Either a batphone didn't come through for Winmatar, or they had greatly over estimated what they could field. Either way the 80 man tech 3 fleet was never seen. And, seeing how the tides were rolling, Predator decided to throw in with us at the last minute.
We also, perhaps, looked a little bigger then we really were as comments were made about our capital force. We had no intention of using any capitals in the fight, and the large number of carriers seen were merely bus rides for pilots who needed battleships moved from Huola.
The first half hour or so after the tower came out of reinforced was everyone holding their breath--waiting for someone to make a move.
Finally, Annah Kitheran made the call and the Lulm station began blossoming battleships as everyone undocked. I counted no less than a dozen hellcat Abaddons, and that was just a fraction of the friendly battleships on my overview.
As our 90ish man fleet dumped into Bosboger, and local climbed to over 200 pilots, TiDi spiked. One thing militia are not really accustomed to needing to think about is petitioning CCP for a reinforced node. We will need to add that to our to-do list for next time.
The battle kicked off fairly quickly, with Winmatar landing on their pos with a large battleship-guardian fleet, and our own mass of pilots landing right behind them.
The few carriers on field were instantly called primary, and the Losematar forces gained an Archon kill almost first thing, greatly fueling our momentum. A Thanatos was also quickly eradicated from the field, and after that, Winmatar battleships started dropping like flies under a fly swatter.
With an NAP relatively recent, there was some confusion over who was killable and who was not. And things became a little more confusing when Shadow Cartel arrived in a dozen or more ishtars. There was some 'friendlyish' on 'friendlyish' fire, but for the most part, everyone focused on killing Winmatar & Co., whether we were 'officially' naped or not.
Apparently, the fact that a random militia system in the ass-end of nowhere was in 40% TiDi alerted the attention of CCP, and a friendly GM arrived in local at one point to see what was going on. It was relatively late in the fight, and TiDi was already falling off, so I'm not sure if he ended up reinforcing the node at the point or not. In the end, I did not find what TiDi we did experience to be particularly disruptive.
By a little after Midnight USTZ, the fight was concluded with 20+ dead Winmatar battleships, 2 dead carriers, a dead Astarte, a dead Oneiros, several dead guardians, and a very dead large faction POS.
On the Losematar side, we calculated that we lost at least one Battleship, one tech 3 cruiser, and Predator's group lost a couple celestis to friendly fire. (oops) I also saw at least one dead SC Ishtar on the various battle reports.
After the fight, many people simply crashed. There was obviously a lot of craziness on coms, as their often is when 'battle coms' has been let down and people can babble about the fight in a cacophony of excited voices.
However, when the dust settled there was also a certain sense of subdued regret.
The truth of the matter is, we are fighting a war we do not want to be fighting, against people we consider to be our own. We have no desire to crush them as an alliance.
As far as I can tell we're not making unreasonable demands--apparently, our terms are simply that they return the moons that they took. This doesn't seem harsh, or overbearing to me. We are not attempting to bullying them, nor are we 'showing them who is boss.'
And I think we've proven our point. In fact, I think we've proven a point to ourselves as well as to them--
That beneath all the inactivity, rampant bitter vet grumbling, and general apathy, the heart of the Minmatar Militia still beats strong.