The Next War?Nikolai Mazinkov
The past couple of months in New Eden have been quite a buzz of activity, roller coaster rides and explosions, some more obvious while others have snuck by. While the war in the East is winding down, it appears that out West some key developments could be the creating perfect storm for the next major conflict in short order.
The Winding Path
I will start by reminding the reader that the last major CFC/Imperium conflict was with PanFam in the North, but the major objective that was stated, and arguably won, was the alleviation of the southern front with The Initiative fighting MC and NC. This is important because the winding path to the current situation starts with the Western Geography of New Eden. In the east, there are more low and nullsec regions to cross if going from north to South, particularly from Delve, while in the West there are up to four lowsec and three nullsec regions from Delve to the greater North. The path taken to deploy to Hakonen was a long one, placing the Imperium squarely on Pandemic Legions front door. Now I beg your pardon while we connect the dots from the battle for Hakonen to today.
The haphazard but successful and funny story of Galmilistan in Cloud Ring, along with the move of pirate-powerhouse Snuffed Out to full member in the Imperium Coalition, has made the West a little wilder lately. Black Rise, one of EVE’s top destinations for pirates, soloists and small gang warfare has seen an uptick in activity from Goonswarm, Snuffed Out, and an uptick in sparring and moon claims with the Caldari and Gallente Militias. Whereas a year ago a Waffles gang or PL militia aid was more frequent, the uptick in CFC-aligned powers and the decreased presence of other major coalitions is certainly something noticeable to residents and to visitors alike.
Though seemingly a long way off (read: Middle of nowhere), the Fountain region comes into play where the Heathens Coalition successfully evicted The-Culture allies in nearby pockets while The-Culture prepared to evacuate to seek greener pastures In October. The-Culture’s withdrawal was slow at first with T-C leadership having been clear that this would be “on their own terms”. When the move came, it came quickly; with their Keepstar successfully unanchored and moved, other remaining assets were moved out in short order. And though it took over a week for the first few systems of southern Fountain to be truly lost, the rest of Fountain fell within a week, mostly to CONDI and their Initiative allies.
Some serious competition has sprung up between former or current Querious Fight Club residents for the other half of Fountain, but it seems to be settling down into its own “Fight Club” of sorts. In the arrangement, all sides have diplomatic agreements with Goons, Initiative, and their local partners to promote joint defense and prevent major SOV and structure wars internally.
The Side Door
So why does this matter? The Initiative has taken half of Fountain, all the way to the opposing regional gate in Cloud Ring, where it borders on Galmilistan and the Caldari-Gallente war zone. And on top of that, we have the regional pocket of Pandemic Horde that projects their power on Western Low-Security Space, defending their ratting and mining systems in Fade. Though on the regional map it appears that the Imperium are still miles from Panfam, the moves of Init and Snuffed place them in Lonetrek, Black Rise, and Cloud ring within a couple of bridges and gates to Delve while still maintaining friendly space and accessible Keepstars. Without leaving friendly territory they could stage and project force into Horde areas, slightly out of reach of the NC. And PL bases in Tribute and Vale. By using “the side door” this front appears a much better one for Goonswarm and its allies when compared to Hakonen. A full deployment move op wouldn’t and I should say, hasn’t, been required to begin gathering forces.
Breaking the Locks
Up to now this is all very dismissible as conjecture but if we take a closer look we will see that a moderate conflict is already here, and it could heat up very quickly. A fact of the present is that a major Horde Hub and an Imperium aligned system are within a few short jumps. Goonswarm fleets have become a regular occurrence in both Fade and Pure Blind, with Horde staging and ratting systems being forced to dock up and form responses several times daily, but with little in the way of major battles or meaningful disruptions as of yet.
Horde activity into Black Rise has also seen an increase, where tension can only rise as Horde redeployed home recently from the war to the East. Another spark to the fire is the addition of Guristas Capital Ships and Sotiyos, which have been found but not successfully destroyed as of yet. Recently, a Pandemic Horde fleet managed to defeat The Initiative during the final NPC Sotiyo timer, denying the valuable blueprints it may have granted.
As of last night, Imperium forces have reportedly reinforced at least two refineries in Cloud Ring, though independent verification has not yet been obtained. Should the reports be true, Sky Marshall and FC Asher Elias was leading the fleet, which broke off an Interceptor gang into Fade to attack Horde forces while a secondary FC continued to assault the structures in Cloud Ring. This hints at something bigger, and is hopefully not a simple boring Sunday night or another blue ball war.
Interviews with Pandemic Horde and Imperium leadership have not yet taken place, but I look forward to speaking with them soon about these developments which, Bob willing, results in a large strategic operation for both sides between Fade and Fountain.