The Battle of B-R: 18 Hours in a DreadHVAC Repairman
HVAC will be returning to his Second Great War series next week. After discussing what it was like to be in HED last week, it only seems fair he goes over what it was like in a CFC cap during B-R
In my column last week, I wrote about my frustrations with the performance of the HED-GP node. Supercapital fights are a rare event in EVE Online; it isn’t often you’ll find two large groups willing to lay it all on the line at the same time. I had resigned myself to the notion that I’d have to wait another long period of time before the opportunity would present itself again. You can imagine my surprise, then, when CFC jabber pings went out Monday morning telling us that Pandemic Legion had lost sovereignty in their staging system, that a fight was in progress, and that we were escalating to supercapitals. The fight I’d waited my entire EVE career for was happening.
An unpaid sovereignty bill in B-R5RB had put the Pandemic Legion staging system in a precarious position that morning. If PL failed to reclaim the system, hundreds of billions in alliance and personal assets would be locked out, potentially crippling their ability to defend the south for a short period of time. In order to reclaim sov, a Territorial Control Unit needed to be put back online, during which the system would be vulnerable to attack for eight hours. If the CFC and the Russians were able to destroy the online TCU and replace it with one of their own, we’d own the system and PL would be put in a difficult position going forward. When exactly that happened, PL engaged us with their capital forces.
Within the last month, PL and N3 abandoned their subcapital strategic doctrines in favor of sentry-based Archons. The stiff tanks, ability to effectively deliver remote reps, and passive DPS was proving problematic for us in the CFC. We began countering with a Celestis-based doctrine with remote sensor dampeners to make it more difficult for the carriers to remotely repair themselves. PL and N3 countered by adding supercarriers with remote sensor boosters and named the modified doctrine “The Wrecking Ball.” The supercarriers natural immunity to electronic warfare had made our Celestis fleets impotent. Furthermore, the carrier blob would prevent super capitals from being bumped out of repair range (a process known as bouncing) leaving their supercarriers in a less vulnerable state. Titans were added to the doctrine to deal with the threat our dreadnoughts presented.
Things in B-R escalated very quickly; pings on jabber were spammed telling everyone to get on comms and login to EVE. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I logged onto a dread character and joined a fleet being FC’ed by Lazarus Telraven. I’ve always enjoyed flying under Laz; his fleets are generally chill, his restrained personality meant that orders are delivered clearly, and he isn’t afraid of the big fight. I’d always felt his place in EVE was kind of weird; people outside the CFC might recognize him for his time as an alliance tournament commentator, but he has never had the same general name recognition as other CFC FCs like Mister Vee and DaBigRedBoat.
One of the early calls Laz made was to completely forgo subcapital support. In HED-GP, we shot ourselves in the foot by bringing in our drone-based doctrines to provide support for our incoming capitals. The lag from the drones caused commands to start being skipped, and the dreadnoughts we had cynoed in got stuck on grid, unable to load the system. Goonswarm found a new way to break EVE, but it cost us to the tune of hundreds of CFC/Russian dreads. If we wanted to keep the B-R node operational, we’d have to restrain ourselves and find a new use for the subcapitals. Subcap fleets were sent to the various hostile staging systems to keep from reinforcing the trapped PL/N3 supercapitals, and various other small scale operations took place to take advantage of the situation.
Back in B-R, orders were given to jump to the cyno, go into siege mode, and start attacking the N3/PL fleets. Two different sets of targets were being given out; our capitals would target the enemy capitals while our big toys would target their supercapitals. Within fifteen minutes from the start of the escalation, doomsdays were fired by the CFC and the first PL titan was killed. At that point my heart started racing; I couldn’t believe that this was finally happening. PL and N3 had enough DPS on the field to do damage, but the advantage was clearly ours. If we held tackle, and our subcaps were able to lock down the possible reinforcements in other systems, there was a good chance the entire PL/N3 supercapital fleet would be annihilated.
For the next few hours we traded titan kills, slowly grinding through their reps. When all the Ragnaroks died, we moved on to the Erebus pilots. Hours later, when those were all destroyed, we finally began working on the Avatar pilots. One of the first Avatar titans we killed was Shrike, the titan character of SirMolle. Molle was the former leader of Band of Brothers and a figure whose titan we’d killed on at least two previous occasions. By the end of the night, with the exception of a handful of pilots who had managed to jump out, every single hostile titan on field had been destroyed. When downtime came knocking and the dust settled, we found fifty-nine hostile titans dead, versus the sixteen we had lost.
From the time I jumped in to the time the op ended, I was at the computer for nearly eighteen hours. I’ll probably never do that again, but it was worth it. In the seven years I’ve been playing EVE, I’ve been lucky to have experienced some of the biggest wars and events seen in gaming. I’ve been in bittervet syndrome for a few years now, so not a lot gets me excited over events in the client, but this is one of the very few “I was there” moments for me, and is easily now one of my favorite gaming memories of all time.