One of EVE Online's most powerful alliances dealt a heavy blow to an opposing group yesterday, luring their opponents into a very costly trap that destroyed around $22,000 worth of virtual ships. Five Titan Class ships, the largest and most expensive ships in the game, were destroyed in just a few minutes, with the attacking crew taking minimal losses. Over 700 individual players ended up participating. Here's how they pulled it off.
Step 1: Spot the sucker.
The leader of the strike was Pandemic Legion fleet commander Killah Bee, who has been playing EVE since 2008. Ever since a rival alliance called Circle of Two had settled into their new home region in EVE's universe, Pandemic had been watching them closely. "They seemed to feel very safe," Killah Bee says. "They would drop [their expensive ships] on anything that moved through their region, any roaming gang at all. They were asking to get baited into something like this." Knowing that Circle of Two was not as experienced as their group at dealing with massive capital engagements, Pandemic Legion slowly moved a force of dreadnought-class ships and others into nearby systems, ready to pounce at the right moment.
Step 2: Set the bait.
While one of Circle of Two's massive capital industrial vessels was inside an asteroid belt mining ore, a sparse fleet of smaller vessels attacked it. These vessels actually belonged to the Goonswarm Federation, an alliance which is often at odds with Pandemic. But this time, they saw an opportunity to team up. "Whoever I can get kills with, I will work with," says Killah Bee.
The Goonswarm ships "tackled", in EVE parlance, the bigger ship, stopping it from being able to warp out of the battle. Then the small ships ignited a beacon that allowed friendly ships to warp into the battle. Quickly, eight dreadnought-class siege vessels appeared, firing at the industrial ship, which immediately called for assistance. Circle of Two's relief fleet arrived quickly, but that was all part of the plan.
Step 3: Spring the trap.
Killah Bee's prediction was right: Circle of Two sent its best, most expensive ships into the asteroid belt to deal with this skirmish. Capital and super capital forces began to engage the enemy dreadnoughts, coming in at a trickle while Pandemic Legion bided their time. Once several Titans and a handful of supercarriers had teleported in (unable to leave because smaller ships had been spreading warp disruption fields around the asteroids), Pandemic dropped the hammer: Eighty more capital vessels teleported in, quickly overwhelming Circle of Two's fleet with sheer numbers. In just a few minutes' time, Circle of Two had lost five vessels each worth over 100 billion ISK (in-game currency worth about $2100) and six more worth about 25 billion ISK (approximately $500) each.
What happens now? Both sides will have to rebuild their fleets, since the ships involved take anywhere between a few days to a month of real time to rebuild. For all the enormity of this battle, one of the most costly EVE skirmishes in years, it was an isolated incident, and not the beginning of a war, Killah Bee says: "We had a chance to kill ships, and we did."