In the 20 months that I have played EVE Online, no experience was quite like the fight over the Keepstar’s armor timer in M2-XFE. Since I started playing, I’ve been fortunate enough to find my way into some good corporations which allowed me to find great opportunities for different types of content. I started with EVE University and while I have not done much as any sort of FC recently, I give much appreciation to the people who were willing to join that first Merlin roam I led.
Even though I was new and had only ever been in two or three fleets before, I hope to start leading roaming gangs once again and maybe try some small-medium objectives after I see the end of this war. I was at most of the big fights of the past year and I had seen titans doomsdaying before. However, nothing compares to watching the full might of two massive coalitions facing off against each other in the sort of fight that occurs once every couple of years. In addition to this, not only did the last fights occur before I started playing, but this one ended up dwarfing everything before it. Based on zKillboard’s numbers, nearly one-fifth of all titan kills occurred on this night.
I had two characters in this fight starting earlier when we formed up for a different Keepstar timer in an adjacent system and gave up on logging in my third character (my capital pilot) after a while. Because of this, after I logged my alt off to keep my computer from crashing, I spent most of the fight sitting tethered in an Onyx, eagerly waiting for the order to warp in and tackle ships bigger than mine. With this “Put me in, Coach!” mentality, I immediately x-ed up each time the FC asked for volunteers until I finally lost my Onyx in one of these tackle attempts.
I usually look at titans as useful ships which I don’t think I would personally want to own. I am thankful for every bridger who reduces fleet travel time and I appreciate the strategic benefit provided by the fleet-in-being. However, they are too expensive to throw around as often as I would like to do with my ships and if I had one, I would need to either to avoid straying far from a friendly Keepstar or dedicate a character to flying it and nothing else. This fight was the first time that I really wished I had a titan of my own to participate in the action.
How absurdly massive was this fight? Each side lost more than the combined value of any fight before it. Unlike previous battles in EVE’s history, the only thing that feels appropriate to compare it to is a battle that occurred in Warhammer 40,000. The Battle of Beta-Garmon was one of the largest of the Horus Heresy. At Beta-Garmon, over a thousand titans clashed over a massive fortress in order to take control of a star system while the forces of Chaos advanced upon Sol, the heavily fortified system at the heart of the Imperium. The battle was massive enough that its casualties alone exceeded the last five years of the Great Crusade, the last major war prior to the Horus Heresy. By the end of the Horus Heresy, only the Siege of Terra, a fight over the most heavily fortified part of Sol, would end up being larger, and the battlefield became known as the Titandeath.
While the comparison is not perfect, it has enough parallels to make the point clear. In both M2- and Beta-Garmon, over a thousand titans. While the titans at Beta-Garmon are something quite different, they are similar in that they are massive machines of war that dwarf everything else on the battlefield and are worshipped as gods of war. A titan Princeps essentially wears his engine in order to operate it in a manner not entirely different from a capsuleer in EVE. In both games, titans clashed over a massive fortress defended by a faction called the Imperium, in a battle big enough to make every previous one look insignificant by comparison.
That being said, the outcomes of these battles were quite different. Beta-Garmon was a clear, though pyrrhic, a victory for the attackers. Its massive casualties greatly weakened both sides for the Solar War and Siege of Terra. The M2- fight did not have a clear victor despite the attacking forces having successfully reinforced the Keepstar’s armor timer. The titan fleets themselves were a more valuable strategic objective than the structure over which they fought. At the time of writing, neither the final timer nor the extraction has occurred for the outcome to be fully settled. The defending forces were slightly ahead in the butcher’s bill. The biggest difference between M2- and both Beta-Garmon and B-R5RB, New Eden’s previous largest clash of titans, is that the losses do not seem to heavily weaken either side. Both sides had deep enough reserves that they have been bragging to each other about how quickly people returned to the fight. This is what truly seems to make M2- unique: while it was so much bigger than anything before it, the strength of the two sides in it makes its impact smaller.
Am I glad that I was able to participate? Absolutely. Would I want to be in something similar during the next big war? It was a long op and what I was doing was not the most exciting part of it. I had been trying to adjust my sleep schedule back to that of a normal person and going to bed at 4:30 AM (09:30 UTC) was not particularly helpful. However, the “I was there” factor makes it worthwhile. I certainly would want to be in the “Big One” of a future war if I am active in two or three years when it comes around again. If in that situation, I have to decide again which clients to log out in order to keep my computer from crashing, I probably will not keep a subcapital ship logged in However, I want to be able to say “I was there” again if I am active during this kind of war.
Most of all, I have been convinced that I should train a titan pilot at some point. Titans are troublesome enough to have that I’m not in a huge hurry to train it but I, finally, can fully understand the appeal. I don’t know if I would want to maintain ownership of a titan in between wars because of how inconvenient it would be to have an asset too expensive to risk very often with limited docking access. However, if I deploy for a future big coalition war, my goal is to be able to obtain a titan so I can be part of the deployment, be part of the massive doomsday volleys, and eventually lose it by the end of the fight. There is truly nothing like this in any other game and even in this game, not very often.