Update: At around 1:46 AM GMT the level of fighter DPS from the Imperium finally fell below the threshold to keep the structure timer paused. As TiDi made the timing of applying fighter DPS too slow to maintain, Imperium will now have to surrender the field as they can no longer destroy the structure before downtime. Here’s the final Battle Report. CCP released a cool montage of the battle as well.
The biggest battle in EVE Online history is underway.
The 9-4RP2 Keepstar battle in Cloud Ring will be cemented in EVE history as one of the most massive EVE Online events ever made. In case you are wondering what’s all this about, I recommend checking out a pre-battle writeup from CSM member progodlegend. The basics are this:
Pandemic Horde, Pandemic Legion, NCDOT and their allies are engaged in a war against the Imperium coalition headed by Goonswarm Federation. Over the last few weeks GSF has launched a series of attacks on Pandemic Horde territory in the region of Cloud Ring.
The Imperium, led by Alex “The Mittani” Gianturco’s Goonswarm Federation, is set to lay siege to a player-owned Keepstar station belonging to Pandemic Horde. The battle will take place in the 9-4RP2 system, along the western edge of the game world.
But lets get to what you’re all here for, the glorious space pew-pew.
As the timer was set to expire on the Keepstar, thus making it vulnerable to attack, the local system that would be the site of the battle slowly filled as both sides brought in thousands of pilots in both sub-capital and super-capital ships. As of writing, the peak count for individual pilots had surpassed 6,000.
This massive fight meant that Time Dilation took heavy hold in the system. This means that actions slow to a crawl and many ship modules don’t work properly. As thousands of combatants waited for the vulnerability timer to tick down, Pandemic Legion and their allies apparently sprung a trap against the Imperium.
A PL spy within GSF was able to light a jump beacon that tricked some GSF members into jumping right into the enemy fleet without support.
At the same time, more fleets on both sides began moving in and out of system. PL and their allies worked hard to try and catch some of the Imperium fleets in warp bubbles that would keep them trapped on the grid. PL managed to catch four Imperium Nyx Super Carriers in these bubbles. Several of the Carriers went down under sustained fire from hundreds of enemy ships. Here’s a scan of the anti-Imperium forces at one point.
In order to try and save the Supers and other ships trapped by the PL spy, the Imperium brought in multiple fleets of Carriers and Faction Battleships. In response, NC./PL decided to drop a large super-capital force. This new addition of cannon fodder meant that losses would pile up on both sides.
The attackers managed to do some damage to the Keepstar, but there is going to be an hours-long tug of war to see who wins out between the two forces. As of writing, the Keepstar is sitting at around 85% of its hull points. Current estimates place the amount of time to destroy the Keepstar at around 8 hours. Although, if the Keepstar is destroyed, all of that DPS will be turned from the Keepstar towards the defenders.
For those not familiar with the mechanics here; lets talk basic mechanics. A timer on the Keepstar structure will count down to a window of vulnerability that lasts 15 minutes. It’s worth mentioning that, under TiDi, that same window can last hours. It’s possible to either pause or restart the countdown on that timer to successfully defend the Keepstar by managing DPS, if the timer counts down, the vulnerability window closes. The Imperium is attempting to apply enough damage to keep the timer paused long enough to then destroy the Keepstar.
Towards the end of the battle, the Imperium decided to pull their sub-capital ships off the battlefield. The call was made after sustained losses from the combination of enemy bombers attacking their fighters and enemy capitals picking off Imperium sub-caps wore them down. To add insult to injury, the Imperium could not successfully reload their supply of fighter craft on field due to TiDi to keep up DPS. Overall, the defenders battle plan of targeting Imperium DPS and leveraging TiDi and attrition in their favor seems to have won the day.
The only remaining option Imperium forces had to take the field was to commit a significant number of super-capital ships deep inside enemy territory to clear the enemy fleets and Keepstar. It would be a serious tactical error to try and take that path, as an good FC will tell you. The Imperium now has to focus on extracting their forces and preparing for the next fight on Saturday.
This fight does highlight a major problem within the mechanics around structures in EVE Online. Once fleet battles reach a certain critical mass, server load makes it seemingly impossible to leverage a lot of common tactics. The Imperium learned the hard way that fighter and bomber swarms might not be too effective as a solution to the combination of TiDi and Citadels. This issue has been a problem in one form or another throughout most of EVEs history, so lets hope CCP can find a solution to these issues.
CCP says that it’s committed to improving performance, both in the short term and for the long haul.
“We’ll keep working on hardware and software to enable larger and larger fights over time,” the CCP game designer who goes by the name CCP_Fozzie on Twitter said. “We know that Eve players will always step up to the plate and keep us on our toes.”
If you want to watch, check out the pro-Imperium stream below: