Reinforced POSes dot moons across the system of Huola. The once-busy system has largely returned to its pre-campaign state, dominated by Minmatar with a smattering of Amarrian soloists and crusader die-hards. The “Burn Huola” campaign seems to have fizzled out, into a lengthening list of failed attempts of seizing the system. A final gasp occurred between July 20 and July 21, with Amarrian forces bringing the system up to 40% contested, but as if guided by a normal distribution, the DOTLAN curve shows that after reaching that peak, there was little the crusaders could do to keep it there. Sly Visionz, the WINMATAR. Biohazard FC during the push had this to say, “I had the problem of people going afk instead of leaving fleet and then I thought that I had more pilots, so then we would lose fights and then more people would leave.” Despite the vicious cycle, Sly Visionz added, “This is definitely not the end.”
With the recent announcement that Flyinghotpocket would be leaving EVE, coupled with a severe lack of Amarrian pilots in Huola, a perennial question resonates throughout the intel channels of the 24th Imperial Crusade: Is Burn Huola over?
Beyond the pressing matter of reluctant or hesitant commanders to evacuate their POSes out of Huola, another question sits firmly as the one that will judge the actions of every pilot involved in the conflagration: How did Huola remain firmly in Minmatar control?
Stalking Mantis of Team Amarrica’s Amarrian Vengeance, along with Flyinghotpocket and Templar Dane, were instrumental in coordinating and leading Amarrian forces during the Burn Huola campaign. Factionwarfare.com reached out to Stalking Mantis to gain his perspective on how the Amarrians could have fared better.
1- “This is the first taste of Siege warfare for many a corporation in the Amarr I believe and contrary to corporations that have multiple sieges under their belts it was a great learning experience for pilots and directors alike. I hope future sieges will benefit from the lessons learned here.”
2- “The Achilles heel for this invasion on the Amarr side was the lack of some leaders to work hand in hand with other leaders or corporations. Going forward I hope others learn from this and get beyond petty grievances and grudges when facing a larger goal and mission. Not to mention the Gallente and Minmatar were much more coordinated than the Caldari and Amarr were.”
The defense of Huola is made up of multiple groups all unified behind a single purpose of defending the system. Burn Huola began, as PunchBug2142 of Late Night Alliance’s Ka Pow Inc. puts it, “On 7/06 that night we saw neutral archons moving ships to the Amarr POSes and knew we were going to be experiencing another siege of Huola. This being the 4th one we figured it wouldn’t be an issue because they had always failed in two or three days.” Unlike the other sieges, however, this particular campaign proved to be a far more resilient assault. Amarrian forces were apparently committed to taking the system. PunchBug2142 mentions that the Huola defense coalition became “efficient in knowing what plex would be next and what the Amarr had at hand.” Recounting his role as a US player, he states, “I was mainly a US TZ player during this and for about 3-4 hours every night we would be outnumbered. Instead of going toe to toe and wasting our time and ships, we would reship to take plexes that they did not have the numbers for. In doing so this stalled the US TZ pushes… and would let us either keep the contested level the same or we would come out ahead.” Regarding communication, Punchbug2142 reveals, “We all used the same comms and this let us organize things very quickly. Didn’t matter who you were, if you were in fleet, ships were ready to be handed out and everybody worked together.”
Queen Daenerys Targaryen of The Periphery’s Parallax Shift provided insight into the importance of the system of Huola beyond its strategic position in the Bleak Lands and proximity to Amarr, “Huola is our home. Simply put, most of us will fight tooth and nail to defend her. To the Amarr, she is but a prize; so we have the advantage there. Huola is also invaded quite frequently, so we’re pretty used to it.”
However, the defense of Huola is not a monolithic, faceless, emotionless struggle that led to absolute victory. Like their Amarrian counterparts, the Minmatar and their allies reigned on the battlefield on some days but suffered crushing defeats on others. Both PunchBug2142 and Queen Daenerys Targaryen agree that the darkest day of the siege was immediately after a major defeat at a large plex where defense coalition forces suffered heavy casualties at the hands of a Caldari Ishtar/Scimitar fleet and a J4LP Harpy fleet–it was the night that Huola reached its highest contested percentage of 65%. They differ, however, on the high points of morale: Queen Daenerys Targaryen feels it was after a cruiser brawl in a medium plex, while PunchBug2142 recounts an adjustment of strategy against Amarrian Coercer and Harpy fleets (he noted that this only indicates a glimpse of the fighting, as the Minmatar obviously lost ships as well), allowing defense coalition forces to reverse the 65% gain made by the Amarr-Caldari push.
For some pilots, the campaign drags on. Indeed, one Minmatar source, Major Trant of Iron Oxide, declined to comment, stating, “Whilst the Amarr POSs remain in Huola and stay fuelled, we consider this campaign still ongoing.”
The Minmatar, however, are not the only participants in the defense of Huola–this was a fact stressed by both Queen Daenerys Targaryen and PunchBug2142. They both praised the assistance and skill of the Gallente pilots, as well as the unexpected help from pirate corporations like Scope Works.
The Gallente in Huola were led in no small part by X Gallentius, the CEO of Justified Chaos [JUSTK]. At first, defending the system of Huola was a fun excursion for the fights–a suggestion made by JUSTK member Yuri Antollare. With ships already in Huola from a previous deployment a year earlier, the transition to the Amarr-Minmatar warzone was seamless, though the situation became serious rather quickly, “But, then it became clear that a ‘headshot’ was a real possibility, so we decided to step it up. Our objective from here on out was to prevent the head shot and buy the Minmatar some time to get active again.” The following mail was sent to the Gallente militia on Monday July 7, 2014, citing a favor that was long owed:
“A long time ago the squids made a push for Nennamaila. It was up to 50% when a Russian Minmatar alliance Smile’n’Wave showed up to help us out. They deplexed the system down to stable and then helped us kick the Squids out of their “unbreakable stronghold” of Enaluri. It was a killing blow to the Caldari from which they have yet to recover from… Smile’n’Wave also helped us kick the squids out of their stronghold in Old Man Star.”
In terms of morale, X Gallentius states that morale was pretty high, the emotional stakes were limited as the system did not belong to the Gallente. He agrees, however, that the Gallente became discouraged at the beginning of the second week, in the wake of the aforementioned Caldari intervention. He reveals, however, that the ecstatic Amarrians were broken by Iron Oxide, which “… squashed the Amarr during EUTZ and carried their momentum throughout the following US and AUTZ’s.” Finally, regarding the ubiquitous–and to some, infamous–”Derptron,” he states, “Why the Derptron? It works. It’s a proven, cost effective hull that scales well for large fights.” He added, “+1 for A-VNG for stepping up and creating massive content for everybody.”
But aside from the militia entities that rose to defend Huola, it is often forgotten that Huola is home to neutral powers as well–entities that played a crucial role in stemming the Amarrian tide. One of the easily recognizable pirate entities in Huola is none other than Scope Works. Responding to a request from FactionWarfare.com, a number of Scope Works advisors and diplomats collaborated to share their thoughts and views on the Burn Huola campaign. The important issues for Scope Works revolved around Huola being their home coupled with numerous Amarrian insults. Allegedly produced by Stalking Mantis of Amarrian Vengeance, this little piece of propaganda along with attempts at extortion to remain neutral did much to ignite anti-Amarr sensibilities in Scope Works.
Intriguingly, the Scope Works pilots indicated that the Minmatar offered more advantages regarding Scope Works’ mission to prepare new pilots and carebears for lowsec than the Amarr would, “The Minmatar people respect our efforts most of the time and the system is one of the most secure faction warfare border systems for people passing through… If Amarr was to take the system we would clearly have another camping era in Huola. Also as Amarr had a little more resources to push right into Huola at that time, we clearly would have a hard time teaching them to not camp in our system – if we were to keep it as our home at all.” They also noted that unlike the Amarr, the Minmatar honored good fights “and didn’t ship up just seeing us arriving in the system.”
Roland D’audeles of Scope Works had this to say, “As for the fighting, it was glorious. Being led by so many fantastic FCs like Tea, Major Trant, Altaen, Dopified, Anslo, Zen, etc, all fighting for the same purpose with different fleet types and FC styles was a great experience. The fact that such a diverse group from Minmatar militia, GalMil, pirate corps, ‘journalism’ corps, and NPC corps set aside so many things to unify was a sight to behold.”