This month saw a revival in the bloodbath that is FW lowsec, specifically the Gallente/Caldari War Zone (WZ). The brutal fighting began at the start of July with a full Gallente assault on the Kehjari system, which made it the most deadly system in EVE while the assault lasted. Shortly after the Gallente forces were repulsed in Kehjari, Brave Collective returned to lowsec, claiming a home in Aunsou in the Placid region. Since then, pirate forces in the WZ have been drawn to the area like sharks to blood, causing a huge shift in the content levels of a once quiet region full of farmers. Finally, Tama has made a comeback after a fairly quiet (for Tama) previous month as a hotbed of PvP action. The happy fragrance of smoking wrecks is in the air from Nisuwa to Hasmijaala.
Kehjari: A Divine Wind Strikes
I won’t spend too much time on the nearly weeklong brawl in Kehjari because it has been extensively covered, both on this website and on Crossing Zebras. That said, it was one of the most memorable campaigns in recent history as both militias committed almost the entirety of their forces to the region. I say almost, because while Bebop, Villore Accords (GMVA) and a few other Northern Galmil alliances brought their full might to bear on the system, Rapid Withdrawal (RDRAW) pushed Tama in an attempt to hold Caldari Special Forces (CALSF) and Operation Meatshield (OM) in the South, nearly 11 jumps from the maelstrom brewing in Kehjari. When the Southern Caldari forces realized that Tama was in no danger, however, they made their way north and provided critical reinforcements for the Bloc, who had much of their leadership AFK at the time. For a moment, it looked like Kehjari, and thus the surrounding Upriken constellation, would crumble under the combined weight of the FU Coalition. A relentless defense, sometimes Kamikaze-like in nature, the effects of DUST 514 and a “Divine Wind” eventually proved otherwise.
It’s easy to draw parallels between the Mongol invasion(s) of Japan (1231-1259 A.D.), and the battle of Kehjari. First, the Upriken constellation represents an island of Caldari control in the North of the WZ. Its defenders were and are resilient, willing to fight to the last man to protect their honor and their homeland. Gallente pilots, for the most part, are hardened veterans with a definite edge in the SP department, not unlike Kublai Khan’s Mongol horde, and this shows on the killboards from the system. Finally, the Japanese were ultimately saved by a Typhoon, or “Divine Wind,” which destroyed many of the Mongol reinforcements at sea. In this case, the Typhoon is analogous to the Incursion, which spawned on Sunday after 3 days of exhaustive combat, causing major problems for Gallente logistical teams trying to resupply their pilots with fresh ships. Although the Incursion is what most people, and I am not just referring to Galmil leadership, point to as the reason the Gallente Militia failed to take the system, it really came down to the Caldari willingness to constantly battle for their home territory, eventually wearing down Galmil ship supplies and their pilots, who clocked several late nights to combat a strong Caldari AUTZ.
Aftermath of Kehjari: The Calmil Putsche
After the battle-weariness of Kehjari wore off, Caldari pilots began a counter-offensive on several fronts in mid-July. While the hubbub surrounding Brave’s arrival drew Gallente fleets far from the front lines of FW, Calmil leadership noticed a few systems, marked as key staging areas for assaults on larger targets, were ripe for the taking thanks to the diligent work of their farmers. First, Calmil struck at Enaluri, a short jump from both a Gallente home system and Nennamalia, a centerpiece of Galmil’s WZ holdings. At first, the Gallente response was weak, but as the USTZ players began to log on, the tide turned quickly in Galmil’s favor. The fact that Calmil staged out of a system two jumps away rather than a POS in Enaluri also helped turn the tide. After a day of intense plex warfare, the Caldari retreated to their staging system, and the contested level dropped from the mid-80s down to stable.
Almost immediately, Caldari forces began pushing Pavanakka. Not only was this system next door to their staging system in Aivonen but also provides a direct route to Innia, the historic site of many of the most ferocious battles in the history of the WZ. Removing the buffer of Pavanakka would allow Caldari forces a much closer staging ground to the massive system, which, if taken, would then provide the State with the ability to form a two-pronged assault on the Gallente fortress system of Eha.
Unlike the fight in Enaluri, Galmil responded lackadaisically, only committing a good number of pilots once the system topped 90%. On at least two separate nights, I was told to move any assets out of system, as it would be “taken by the morning.” After about three days of fighting to which neither side seemed fully committed, Pavanakka somehow held, topping out at 99.9% contested.
Another factor in the battle for Pavanakka were the Gallente and Caldari forces drawn away to the Serthoulde constellation by yet another Calmil push in that area. Fighting in this constellation, which consists of systems considered strategically irrelevant and a backwater by most of Galmil (and probably Calmil as well) is like no other place in the WZ that I’ve experienced. Here, there is a small Caldari contingent consisting of two corporations that can field up to 30 pilots (from what I’ve seen) together at maximum. Usually, they only field about 10-12 in the entire region. This makes the area ripe for small-gang warfare, and I’ve spent many nights probing around the area for enemy forces with a few close friends.
After last month, in which GMVA spearheaded a successful blitzkrieg to reclaim the lost territory, the Caldari occupants have slowly crept back into the area, first taking Arderonne and Alamel, and finally assaulting Odamia at the same time the Bloc besieged Pavanakka. Though the fighting wasn’t as intense here, the conflict came to a climax when Galmil forces pushed a State fleet off the ihub, and it seemed that the battle for Odamia was won. The locals are nothing if not persistent, however, and patiently waited for Galmil forces to disperse to their beds and then captured the system by the next day, presumably after downtime.
Aunsou and Brave Newbies: The Tremors of Conflict
Pilots heralded Brave’s arrival in Lowsec with both malicious and genuine glee. After hearing rumors and reading stories of the content they provided to the nullsec blocs in the past and the recent memory of TEST lingering in everyone’s mind, the excitement was well warranted. What we did not predict, however, was their presence planting the seed for a rapidly escalating conflict, transforming “Placid” into an ironic name for a region filled with combat.
Galmil was one of the first groups to draw from the new well of good fights, forming regularly for arranged fights with Brave. Others soon followed, drawing the attention of the larger lowsec powers, namely Snuff and Shadow Cartel. I have no way of confirming this other than the fights I’ve been in, but I suspect that many smaller lowsec entities moved capital ships into the region, hoping to drop on Brave or respond if Brave dropped on them. Naturally, where there are capitals in lowsec, there will be Snuff Box, and they’ve responded by moving a nebulous amount of their capital force into the region though they remain based out of Rakapas at the moment. Both legions (Pandemic and Black) have been batphoned or come to engage in fights of their own accord over the past week.
Although there have only been a few skirmishes thus far, the presence of this many capital ships on killboards and in space hasn’t been seen since before the Battle of Hallanen and may speak to a much larger clash brewing. Combine this with the consistent presence of the two elite mercenary alliances in the game and some Reddit leaks, and I believe you have a serious case for predicting an oncoming storm in Placid. Regardless of what does or does not happen, it’s a great time to be in the WZ.
Tama Returns: RDRAW and Operation Meatshield Top the KBs
Tama, being the closest system in the WZ to Jita, has a certain reputation. In a Crossing Zebras article, head editor Niden called it a “charnel house.” There’s at least one Reddit post per week from a newbie that goes something along the lines of “TIFU and went to Tama.” In the past 24 hours, Tama has seen twice the kills of any other lowsec system (three times the kills if you discount Brave’s home system). There to capitalize on the mayhem and destruction are Rapid Withdrawal for Galmil and Operation Meatshield for the State. Both corporations lead their factions in kills (RDRAW: 2,257 kills; OM: 836), and RDRAW tops the ZKillboard charts for all corporations in Eve.
According to RDRAW CEO Tek Stalker, his 150-member corp has over 7,000 kills this month, and RDRAW FC Max Evangelion leads all characters in the game with 561 kills over the past week. Though the system remains at a steadily low contested rate in favor of the Caldari, it is not uncommon to see an RDRAW fleet plexing the system during the USTZ.
On the other side of the conflict, Caldari Cerberus and frig fleets steadily pour out of Tama and Hasmijaala on a daily basis to do battle with their Gallente and pirate foes. Although much of the daily fighting is done in frigs and dessies, conflicts between RDRAW and CALSF/OM range from faction/t2 cruisers to BS fights to capital fights. This is unique to the Southern regions as the rest of the WZ gets an occasional dose of Caldari T2 cruiser fleets but rarely anything above that.
Though the rest of the WZ seems to be in a lull after the siege of Kehjari, these guys never seem to take a break and should be commended for creating top quality content, both for themselves and lowsec at large.
SoTWZ (State of the War Zone)
After languishing in the doldrums of summer for the past two months, the WZ has exploded with a vengeance. Whether it’s classic campaigns, furious plex fighting, massive capital ship engagements or small-gang warfare, lowsec seems to be thriving in every category. This month saw the Caldari retake three out of five attempted systems, while Galmil went 0-for-1. Brave moved in and caused a stir that may shake the entirety of the WZ and shape its strategic engagements for months to come. Finally, Tama made a return as the king of lowsec PvP systems drawing fighters into its bloody bosom like a Valkyrie and dispatching them to Valhalla or wherever their home system is. It’s good to be back.