EVE Online has once again been plunged into a major battle - possibly its biggest one ever, depending on how it all goes. At around 7AM AEDT today, a Keepstar-class Citadel (the single largest object that can be owned by a player in EVE) held by the Pandemic Horde alliance has come under attack, and is poised for destruction.
Still from Imperium News' Twitch stream of the battle today.
Keepstars dwarf the game's massive supercapital Titan warships, and cost well over three times as much to construct. To destroy this particular Keepstar, players from The Imperium have already launched three massive attacks against it over the past two weeks, leaving it in the vulnerable state we find it in today. The final assault is projected to be the largest engagement in EVE Online's volatile history, one that could see over a million dollars' worth of in-game items destroyed.
Thus far, the most famous and consequential battle in EVE was The Bloodbath of B-R5RB four years ago, which saw the Clusterfuck Coalition and their Russian allies fighting against the N3 Coalition. Over the course of the 21-hour battle, over 7500 pilots were involved in the primary or secondary combats. A staggering 500 capital-class vessels were involved, each ship requiring at least a year of training time, and billions of in-game ISK to purchase. On top of these ships, each side had roughly 80 Titans, the game's largest ships which require years of training time, and close to 100 billion ISK to purchase and properly equip. Seventy-five of the Titans fielded at B-R5 were lost, helping to make the battle stack up to a real-world loss equivalency of around $375,500.
Today's fight could make the battle of B-R5 look like a casual border skirmish in comparison. The players involved are aligned along very similar diplomatic lines to the battle four years ago. Defending the space station are the Pandemic Horde alliance, who are a creation of the leaders of the former N3 coalition. Defenders of the structure are also expected to include the remnants of the Moneybadger Coalition, who reside in the northern regions of the galaxy in close proximity to Pandemic Horde. The assaulting force, The Imperium, is led by the same group who led the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC), the Goonswarm Federation. This is the group of people who came out victorious from B-R5, but have suffered through several military defeats in the years since then at the hands of the Moneybadger Coalition.
In addition to being a very personal battle for many of the players involved, the fleets that have been prepared for this fight are nearly an order of magnitude larger than were involved in B-R5. The Imperium is expected to be capable of fielding over 250 Titan-class vessels, with their regular capital ships numbering in the thousands, though exact counts of these ships have been obfuscated by keeping the fleet in smaller parts while navigating them into place.
A Keepstar. Image: CCP Games
In the hours leading up to the battle, Pandemic Horde and their allies slowly manoeuvred defensive fleets into place as well, with reports showing that they could field similar numbers of capital ships as the Imperium. In addition to these capital ships, both sides in this fight have hundreds of smaller vessels supporting the fight in various ways. The Pandemic Horde alliance alone is reported to have over 650 Electronic Countermeasure Battleships on the field. These ships specialize in scrambling their opponents targeting computers preventing them from applying damage.
As of now, the battle to decide the station's fate has begun. The Imperium's carriers and super-carriers have begun long-range bombardment of the station, and the defenders are attempting to stop the incoming damage in any way they can. Fleet commanders on both sides are manoeuvring their ships in place and waiting for their counterparts on the other side to make a mistake and expose a weakness. Should one be exposed, then there is a chance of this fight escalating into something that will go down in the history books. As of this moment, the Keepstar is taking sufficient damage to prevent it from completing its 15-minute repair cycle. So long as this damage continues, the structure will eventually die.
There are already over 6000 players logged in to the system where the space station is currently holding on to life, with more continuing to pile in every minute. Reportedly, several thousand more players are waiting in the wings to jump into the fray and be part of history.