YZ9-F6, Delve – In the early hours of the EVE morning, fighting ensued over the armor timer of an Imperium Fortizar. With recent attempts to anchor Keepstar citadels unsuccessful, the PAPI coalition has turned its eyes towards the structures the Imperium has previously used to launch their counterattacks during battles. Three Fortizars came out of reinforcement at around the same time, one here in YZ9-F6 and the other two in FWST-8, the system where the largest battle in EVE Online’s history took place. There was no contest over the Fortizars in FWST-8.
The battle followed the standard escalation chain as both groups brought in battleship fleets to fight for the structure. The fight quickly escalated to high-angle weapon (HAW) dreadnaughts and anti-capital dreadnaughts before finally being escalated to supercarriers and titans. Over the course of the battle that saw 2.6 trillion ISK destroyed, the Imperium lost 5 Erebus, 9 Avatars, 2 Ragnaroks, 14 Hels, 8 Nyxs, and 3 Aeons. This totals to 16 titans and 25 supercarriers. Thankfully, of the 8 morale Wyverns on field, none were destroyed.
Though the prospect of supercapitals fighting each other is one that can often be mouthwatering, but the real story of this battle isn’t that the supercapitals were deployed, it’s how they were deployed. As the PAPI supercarriers were jumping in, around 20 Titans warped from various locations around the system. These Titans were equipped with Bosonic Field Generators– doomsday class weapons that fire a cone of area of effect damage in an area of the pilot’s choosing — and were all aimed at the PAPI supercarrier fleet.
This move, on a normal day in a system without time dilation, may have been able to wipe out the entire supercapital fleet. In Imperium Sky Marshal Asher Elias’ reddit post, he explains in detail what went into the deployment of this group of Valhalla bound titans in Operation Enho and what led to what’s being called “The Puckering of YZ9-F6”. You can see a video of this below.
Over the 24 hours before the timer we we tried to get as many titans secreted into YZ9 as possible. Whenever the system would empty out we would jump one titan in and warp him to his pre-assigned spot then safe log him. A couple times one titan was spotted but I wasn’t too worried, titans move around all the time. We wanted 25 but a few just had no time where they could come in because YZ9 is a pipe system. I wasn’t worried though, 20 was plenty.Asher Elias on Operation Enho
Asher explains that through observation of his enemy’s positioning, he established that the PAPI supercapital forces would likely all jump in together in one tight ball of metal, leaving them vulnerable to area of effect damage. Of course, he’d have to get the supercarriers into the system first, meaning he had to come up with a way to “bait” the escalation. When the cynosural fields were lit on the spot, all clumped up, Asher and the Valhalla bound titans knew it was time to go.
Through hours of testing, Asher and the pilots involved got the strategy down to what they called a science. With utmost confidence in their ability to execute, as the PAPI supercarriers jumped in, the trigger was pulled. However, because the system was in 10% time dilation, things got a little bit weird. When the bosons launched, it created a beautiful set of lights, but no supercarrier explosions. Speculation started immediately on what went wrong. There are two varying thoughts and, of course, they’re from opposite sides of the battlefield.
In Asher’s post, he blames the server’s instability, saying that time dilation negated ~70% of the damage that would normally be done by the bosonic field generator. Typically, these modules are active for 20 seconds and do 10,000 damage of each type (kinetic, thermal, explosive, EM) each second of activity. Reports from the pilots were that only between 1 and 3 damage ticks actually connected to the targets.
Another theory is that the supercarriers held their “invulnerability timers”, a 60-second window where a ship is untargetable and unable to be damaged right after jumping into a system either by cynosural field or gate. This would mean that the bosons were fired early and the damage was actually absorbed by the invulnerability timer. In my opinion, this is the most likely scenario as time dilation affects all timers player timers, including invulnerability. When time dilation is at the 10% threshold, timers are unreliable and do not count down in real time and, often, count down sporadically.
After the failed boson attempts, PAPI titans and dreadnaughts were jumped in, causing the battle to reach its conclusion rather quickly. All but a few of the Imperium Titans were destroyed, the Fortizar was reinforced into its final timer, and PAPI won the ISK war with greater than 70% efficiency. As fleets disengaged, the biggest thing on everyone’s mind, even PAPI pilots, was how amazing Operation Enho would’ve been if it worked.
One of the biggest narrative points of World War Bee 2 so far is that the ties that bind the PAPI coalition are weak and can easily be broken. Having an entire wing of supercarriers wiped out could’ve been enough to completely sever that tie and have PandaFam (Pandemic Horde, Pandemic Legion, Northern Coalition and Fraternity) back out of the war completely. This would spell a certain end to the War for the south.
Thankfully for the attacking side, Operation Enho was not successful and the fight continues on. This writer is excited to see what other interesting strategies the Imperium comes up with next.