FWST-8, Delve — In the earliest hours of the EVE morning, just after downtime, Fraternity began to anchor the largest structure one can anchor, a Keepstar, in the system of FWST-8 in NPC Delve. Unlike anchoring a structure in actual sovereign space, this Keepstar would not have to wait 30 days to anchor and would become an online structure after just 24 hours and 15 minutes. However, the Imperium got wind of the Keepstar anchoring and contested it, sparking a battle that would last most of the morning and span to cross timezones through CNTZ to AUTZ to EUTZ.
Before we discuss the battle, let’s talk about strategy. From the system of FWST, attacking forces have the range to jump directly into almost any part of Delve. With the map above, one can see just how important it is for the Imperium to not allow this Keepstar to anchor. Having a Keepstar here means that even the most simple of money making operations require a full defense fleet as, at any moment, the attacking forces can simply bridge in fleets or jump in capitals in an instant. This would create an unprecedented danger for the citizens of the Imperium and genuinely cripple their ability to make money for the duration of the war to come.
The strategy for destroying this Keepstar was fairly simple for the Imperium, they needed it dead at all costs and assumed the best way to do it was to bring in long range dreadnaughts. These dreadnaughts could pause the Keepstar’s anchoring timer while the subcapital fleets did their best to wrestle grid control away from the PAPI coalition. However, grid control remained soundly in the hands of PAPI, meaning that they were able to bring in their supercapitals, supercarriers and Titans, into the fight. With supers on field, PAPI fed on a constant stream of dreadnaughts as the Imperium pilots continued trickling in one after the other. This resulted in nearly 300 dreadnaughts dying from the Imperium side while only 7 managed to die from the PAPI side. Throughout the fight, PAPI subcapital fleets warped around the grid in a strategy that would prove to be less than impactful to the outcome.
At the end of the battle, the Keepstar was destroyed though no killmail populated for us to see. We estimate its value to be around 200 billion ISK plus logistics costs of getting it into the system. All totaled, around 1 trillion ISK was lost in the fight, 919 billion if it belonging to the Imperium. However, with the strategic objective achieved, they thought they had won the day. Just moments after the first Keepstar was destroyed, another was anchored in the same system. With the Imperium citing time dilation causing mechanics as a reason, they chose not to engage on this Keepstar and it anchored successfully — giving both sides 24 hours to prepare for how they’d approach the next timer.
In those 24 hours, there were no shortage of pings to the alliances involved in this new fight. Hundreds of pings went out to thousands of pilots and they all said the same thing in different words: prepare for the fight of your life. Each alliance involved asked their pilots to stay home from work, divorce their dogs and feed their wives if they had them and many pilots took it to heart. As the time drew near for the battle to begin, nearly 10,000 pilots readied themselves for the fight as the numbers in their respective staging systems surged to numbers unseen in years. Time dilation had kicked into full gear in these reinforced staging systems and this was just from people logging in and joining fleets.
Though fighting hadn’t really started yet, the first death in the battle was a Raven belonging to Jeanluc Decartes. Though his death wasn’t really the first, some other bombers and various frigates had died before him, this was when the battle really began. The defending fleets of PAPI had made an adjustment to their strategies. Rather than clumping up on the Keepstar grid, they had spread themselves around the grid, awaiting whatever subcapital forces were going to warp in. More specifically, over the course of the fight, a sphere of Jackdaws encased the Keepstar. All equipped with defender launchers and all prepared to destroy bombs launched by the Imperium bombers (a strategy that was used for the first Keepstar).
Today, however, Asher Elias had a surprise for everyone. He had managed to grab bookmarks all around the Keepstar grid and his strategy included using long-range sniper Rokh and Raven (from the Initiative) battleships to keep the Keepstar paused. Each battleship picked a bookmark to warp to and the fight was on. Once the damage was sufficient enough to pause the Keepstar’s timer, 5 minutes and 15 seconds remained on it. Meaning that the Imperium would have very little chance to keep the Keepstar paused should they fail to do so for even a moment. The timer, in spite of being in a system with 10% time dilation, ticks down in real time.
Throughout the course of the 14 hour slugfest that followed, the Imperium continued to warp in battleships, bombers and, eventually, dreadnaughts to these bookmarks in an effort to keep the timer paused. Only once in those hours did the timer briefly unpause as it ticked down to around 2 minutes and 49 seconds. During those nearly 3 minutes, the most critical actions were taken and the Imperium called for everything, including the kitchen sink, to the field of battle. At the end of the day, nearly 2 trillion ISK was destroyed in the process of this fight with 1.4 trillion ISK belonging to the Imperium.
The most notable losses in this battle were 307 out of 359 fielded dreadnaughts, 1227 out of 1275 battleships, 518 out of 532 combat battlecruisers and 419 out of 441 cruisers. The Imperium literally spared no expense in destroying this structure but, ultimately, were successful in doing so. There was also a Nyx belonging to Pandemic Horde that was destroyed via awox (allies killing allies) as it was a spy from the Imperium side applying damage to the Keepstar. It also appeared that two supercapital ships, a Hel and an Avatar were warped off the grid by hostile fleet invites and destroyed.
Overall, the battle dispelled one huge myth about World War Bee 2: that the Imperium is going to lose based on their war chests emptying. Being able to spend 14 hours chucking everything that they could at the structure indicates to this writer that they are prepared to go as deep as possible into their wallets to prevent the successful invasion of Delve. At the very least, they’re not going to roll over and die any time soon. What’s more is that ISK truly cannot be counted as a measure of who is winning this war, as neither side is going to run out in the foreseeable future. Time will tell what actually comes of the rest of this war and we’ll continue to give you the latest news as we can.