World War Bee 2 has been rampaging through New Eden since last July, marking nearly 250 days since the inception of the PAPI coalition, comprised primarily of the Legacy and PanFam/Winter coalitions, with the primary goal of nuking the Imperium (commonly referred to as Goons) out of existence. Through nine months of war, a lot has happened. The Imperium News Network has been posting updates about the combat actions and strategic accomplishments every week for the last 35 weeks (their latest here) and you can view all these updates here. However, the intention of this article is to, instead of digging into specific battles and turning points, provide a broad stroked view of the war, taking you from the beginning to now, where the war is entering its final phase: the Siege and (hopefully for PAPI) eventual destruction of the Goon staging system of 1DQ1-A.
Throughout this article, there will be links to specific coverage both on this website and other EVE news outlets. These links can open in a new window so feel free to read at your leisure.
Before we dig in to the events of the war, there are two campaign battle reports that I would like to share. The first battle report is circulated by the Imperium and includes every region in the game and also places anyone who is not the Imperium on the side of PAPI. This includes neutral logistics crews (which the Imperium uses) who are unfortunate enough to meet their end in various reaches of space. I have also prepared an alternate battle report, only looking at the areas of conflict (including invaders’ home regions where a counter-invasion has happened) and removing truly neutral parties from either side. Though, at the scale of loss here, the difference is rather trivial, I feel it relevant to ensure accuracy in reporting.
War was declared by Vily from TEST Alliance Please Ignore the first week of July in 2020. Attacks would begin immediately by all involved parties. The initial attacks hit on two fronts, Fountain and Period Basis. The Legacy coalition, already positioned on the border of Period Basis, moved in closer and laid siege to the region. They routinely reinforced infrastructure HUBs and structures but relatively little movement happened in the area. They primarily fought against Goonswarm Federation and its satellite alliances, which meant they had a large task at hand. On the other side of the galaxy, PanFam (Pandemic Horde, Pandemic Legion, Northern Coalition. and other affiliates) were tasked with pushing into Fountain. This pitted them against the Initiative primarily along with their satellite alliances.
Most events during this time period happened in Fountain, where PanFam forces pushed in from nearby low-security system Hophib. By July 15th, PanFam had cracked the walls of Fountain and began controlling infrastructure HUBs (IHUBs). Three IHUBs were destroyed and replaced, allowing PanFam to spread their reach deeper into the region. Within 5 days, PanFam also controlled the entrance system of D4KU-5 which essentially allowed them to traverse Fountain of their own accord. Almost immediately, restaging happened and the region of Fountain was under full siege from the inside. This, in time, led to the historic killing of the first ever Goonswarm Keepstar in J5A. Previously, even Keepstars held in the outer rim of Imperium influence were unanchored and returned home successfully, but now they were unable to defend against the onslaught as close to home as home can get.
Following their success, PAPI forces continued to rampage across Fountain, until they got to the system of Y-2ANO. This system, the first into Fountain from Delve, was easily accessible not only by the Initiative but also by Goonswarm Federation. As such, the contest over the Keepstar in this system was bloody and saw the first public usage of the term “pubbie woodchipper” which would go on to become a staple of Goon culture. After a bloody weekend of fighting including a server crash and a failed reinforcement of the Keepstar, PAPI decided to reroute their forces, choosing to attack and destroy other Keepstars in the region first.
After a furious month of continued citadel destruction, Fountain was successfully “glassed”. All Keepstars were destroyed along with any production facilities and potential staging locations, leaving the Initiative to stage out of the region’s NPC systems and the door into Delve wide open for PAPI to come on in. However, instead of coming in, the attack was rerouted to the region of Querious. PanFam moved quickly, on a gold-bricked path through low-security space consisting of 14 shiny new Keepstar citadels. Their entire supercapital, capital, and subcapital force were staged just outside Querious, ready to move in and attack.
The Move Onto Querious
The action in Querious was infrequent as the Imperium solidified their defensive line around their home region, Delve. There were relatively few fights in the region of consequence. One was a supercapital fight in 49-U that saw more than 1 trillion ISK destroyed between the combatants. Previously, a fight in this system was “passed on” due to questionable server conditions (this becomes important later) and this battle saw even bigger indications that server performance would be a huge deciding factor in the outcome of some of these battles. In the fight, the Imperium supercapital fleet tried to make a play that involved them coming in, destroying dreadnaughts, and then using their Fortizar’s point defense system to clear interdiction probes and warp away. However, when the PDS was activated, no damage came and the probes remained active, resulting in half of the fleet warping off and the other half being commanded to tether up on the citadel.
While PanFam worked in Querious, Legacy worked in Period Basis, quickly clearing the region of infrastructure and citadels. However, behind enemy lines, the Initiative, The Bastion, Ferra Victrix, among others began to push into TEST alliance’s home region of Esoteria, killing structures and reinforcing infrastructure HUBs along the way. The sovereignty map above is Esoteria today as it has remained relatively unchanged since the initial attacks with the exception of systems being taken on the east side of the region. The Initiative regained control of most of Fountain, though some small groups still contest pockets of it while they are deployed.
Breaching the Gates of Delve
Not long after the events of 49-U, Querious had met the same fate as Fountain, with the now combined forces of the PAPI coalition rolling through remaining infrastructure and citadels. It was finally time for the invasion to hit home as the region of Delve was on the chopping block. Finally, PAPI had found real Delve, and began making meaningful progress in the region. This phase of the war saw quite a few setpiece battles, one of which happened in YZ9-F6. The Imperium, relying again on server performance, laid an elaborate trap that they called “Operation Enho”, named after a Japanese sumo wrestler who was known for being smaller than normal but still able to topple larger opponents.
In Operation Enho, Goonswarm had seeded around 20 Titans fit with bosonic field generators, strong area of effect doomsday weapons, and warped them into a freshly loaded PAPI supercapital force. They activated their modules and lined up the shot, most hitting their targets directly. However, in a post on reddit, Asher Elias details that their pilots were reporting that damage just stopped counting, as though the server was unable to keep up with the calls. As much as they willed it, the damage never came and this resulted in 16 Titans being destroyed, the first loss of this scale in the war. The root cause of this battle was an Imperium Fortizar timer and, after this costly engagement, it was destroyed.
Soon, PAPI had decided they would not be satisfied staging outside of Delve and began to push further in. Throughout the course of a few weeks, PAPI anchored (and lost) four Keepstars, the first two in the system of FWST-8. All of these battles involved thousands of pilots and more than a trillion ISK lost by the Imperium with very little lost by PAPI in comparison. The Imperium threw anything and everything they could at the Keepstars to kill them (so the loss was by design, and well worth the cost) and did so successfully and more efficiently each time. It wasn’t until the final Keepstar, aptly anchored in YZ9, was wrapped in anchorable interdiction probes, that a Keepstar anchored and onlined for PAPI. This anchoring signaled certain doom for this area of the region, giving PAPI access to project their supercapital forces further into Delve and begin to push the invasion in.
The Doom Clock
As infrastructure HUBs in Delve began to fall a strategy took form from PAPI leadership. This strategy was simple, take an IHUB, hold an IHUB, and install a cynosural field jammer. These jammers prevent anyone from lighting cynos, giving whoever owns them the ability to control the flow of traffic in and out of the system. Though stargates are unaffected by jammers, it is very easy to prevent a sizable opposition from getting where it needs to be with the use of interdiction mechanics. As PAPI began to control IHUBs where Keepstars were, the Imperium developed “The D00m Clock”, an app they could use to track how long they had to reinforce and destroy the IHUB before it reached sovereignty level 3 (35 days) and was able to be jammed.
Though there were numerous attempts at taking back these Keepstar IHUBs, PAPI eventually reached its mark in NOL-M9, killing the Keepstar contained within. PAPI even destroyed one in a freighter and stole another in the process. With one fell swoop, PAPI had taken possession of or destroyed three Keepstars in the span of a few weeks. They then moved further away, attacking a Keepstar in Period Basis before continuing their push into Delve. Up until this point, PAPI had killed nine Imperium Keepstars, including those in Fountain, and was poised to continue. In this time, PAPI moved their staging to a new Keepstar that anchored uncontested in T5ZI and they stage there today.
At this point, the Imperium had moved their forces into the last remaining safe constellations they had and set up a beachhead in E3OI, a plan commonly referred to as Helm’s Deep, taking notes from Lord of the Rings as the place where the humans huddled up to try to fend off the orcish onslaught. They waited in Helm’s Deep as more of their citadels fell, continuing to ask for an opportunity to take the Titan fight everyone so desperately wanted. No one knew they were about to get just that.
M2-XFE and the Hellcamp
One of the next systems to reach the D00m Clock zero-hour was M2-XFE. Unless you’re living in a rock, you know what happened there. The initial reinforcement went off without an issue and the Keepstar was primed to be destroyed like the others before it. However, on the armor timer, a newer player in but a tiny ship prevented the jammer from being active for the briefest of times. This brief window was enough for the Imperium to get their supercapital fleet into position on the Keepstar while PAPI did the same. What resulted was the costliest battle in EVE Online’s history, the Massacre of M2-XFE. Though the Keepstar was reinforced, both groups paid a steep price in Titan blood on the battlefield, resulting in what most called a draw. Both sides opted to cheer that they had won, PAPI because they had reinforced the Keepstar and the Imperium because they logged in after downtime while PAPI did not.
In the days leading up to the hull timer, the Imperium controlled M2-XFE. The cyno jammers were destroyed and replaced with Imperium-controlled ones (though they were unable to be onlined since they did not control the IHUB). They anchored warp disruption bubbles on the spot where the battleworn Titans were logged out, preventing them from logging back in without meeting a disasterous fate. As the timer approached, the Imperium positioned themselves for attack, making a circle around the spot where the logged off Titans were, preparing for PAPI to bring their remaining supercapital fleet in alongside them and bring on another Titan fight. However, PAPI opted differently, choosing to jump their supercapital force in at the top of the Keepstar, largely out of range of the Imperium fleet.
There was one small, tiny, insignificant problem. We play EVE Online and, in the war to this point, we had seen at least three instances where server performance impacted the outcome of a battle. We were about to see the fourth and, regrettably, largest impact to date as the server completely stopped responding to calls for the supercapitals to jump in. This led to what I refer to as the Slaughter of M2-XFE, where one side was able to shoot the other’s Titans and supers with almost zero consequence, simply because they had arrived on grid first.
According to a devblog CCP posted about the event more than 13,700 players were ready to jump into the system. This was approximately 35% of all online pilots in the game. Obviously, the servers could not handle this load and, much like the Imperium had learned before, the servers being unstable should’ve been a lesson that we all took with us to this day. Because the servers weren’t processing the jump in calls, an order was given to the pilots to close their clients and lessen the likelihood that they would end up in the system. Unfortunately for at least 169 of them, this did not work. The Imperium eventually warped their Titans closer and began to free fire on PAPI Titans, creating the field of debris you see above.
Though it was reported that more than 90 of the “destroyed” Titans ended up safe in their hangars, the loss of 70+ with no reciprocating destruction was a blow to morale and momentum on the PAPI side. To solidify their hold on the system, the Imperium launched a hellcamp that lasted for two months and has only recently been lifted (as PAPI has controlled the IHUB in system for more than 35 days). Throughout the time the system was camped, the Imperium relentlessly destroyed any ship that logged in showing no discrimination. They destroyed everything from the smallest Corvettes to the largest Titans within moments of them logging in, while preventing PAPI from making any meaningful attempts at getting their ships out with 23/7 coverage and fleet commanders at the ready to defend. However, despite their best efforts, a crack in the armor did see almost 200 of the 300+ trapped supercapitals set free. This was truthfully the only real attempt at a “breakout” that occurred (regardless of what other sources will say).
Burning in the Backlines
While the hellcamp continued, the landscape of the south changed substantially. At first, PAPI held systems in Delve started to get peeled back as pilots in subcapital ships were trapped in M2- as well and, as previously stated, morale was lower than normal. Because of this stark shift in momentum, opponents of the PAPI coalition were able to move into other regions of space and wreak havoc. The regions that saw the largest amount of damage (aside from Delve) were Catch and Immensea, Brave Collective’s home regions.
Catch (pictured above) took the brunt of the beating with most every system in the region reinforced and now controlled by an outside force. This destruction (and some very public leadership leaks) seemingly forced Brave to up their timeline on moving into their new home (Querious) alongside TEST in Delve. This move was considered to be a gamble by opponents but has proven to be a sound decision as Legacy currently controls most of the region of Querious with intent to pass it onto Brave when the time is right.
The Final Phase of the War
The final phase of World War Bee 2 is set to begin now as PAPI, free of the camp in M2-XFE and back to rolling through Keepstars and IHUBs, positions themselves to siege the system of 1DQ1-A. If previous server performance is any indicator, leadership on both sides of the battle have to be considering the possibilities of even starting, let alone winning, an engagement in the system. Five of the Imperium’s remaining Keepstars are in 1DQ1-A and all of the Faction Fortizars used to barter for peace in the northern war of 2018 are anchored there.
One possible outcome of this final phase is a true stalemate where neither side can really claim a victory. The Imperium can remain in 1DQ1-A while TEST and various other Legacy alliances inhabit the other systems in the region. This would not be an ideal victory as, without forward progress, it’s likely that PanFam and other associates in the PAPI coalition withdraw their forces, prematurely ending the coalition before the war is over.
Another possible outcome is that there are more multi-trillion ISK Titan fights and both groups get to take pieces out of each other as they fight over the Keepstars within the system. More likely, however, is that fights will happen over the infrastructure HUB, the Fortizar on grid with it, and the cynosural jammers that are anchored. If PAPI wins either, the path to a full victory becomes ever clearer. In either case, the grind is now truly going to begin as PAPI prepares itself to dive deeper into the hornet’s nest. We’ll keep you updated on what happens next and, of course, keep you in the know on who gets stung and who doesn’t.
Editorial Note: While this article tries to be as comprehensive as possible, the events of World War Bee 2 could be written into their own novel. I am no novelist, but if you know someone who is it would probably make a great read. As it stands, some recollections may not be as complete as you’d like. I ask that, instead of being upset about it, you submit a comment (or even your own version of the events).