Possibly one of the largest battles ever seen in HighSec space occurred on 21st of August YC119.
As part of their attack on several alliances in the north, Goonswarm Federation [CONDI] had formally declared war on Pandemic Horde [REKTD] through CONCORD, enabling them to fight Pandemic Horde anywhere in New Eden. After other alliances of the Imperium coalition had followed Goonswarm Federation’s lead, Pandemic Legion [-10.0], an alliance closely connected to Pandemic Horde, reacted as well and declared war on all of these alliances. While under wardec CONCORD allows capsuleers to shoot each other without interfering – the stage for a monumental clash in HighSec had been set.
Since shortly after the introduction of Skill Injectors in February and Citadels in April of last year, freeport citadels on the overview shape a pilot’s impression of Perimeter while flying through the system. Just one jump away from New Eden’s main trade Hub – Jita 4-4 – Perimeter quickly established itself as a tradehub for special items. Even though the market taxes are small, having an established market there is still very lucrative. One market citadel of the Fortizar class, albeit not the most lucrative one in Perimeter, was the “PanFam secured Hub” owned by Pandemic Horde. Maybe in an attempt to disturb the income of Pandemic Horde or to show New Eden that the great PanFam coalition is not invulnerable, the Imperium targeted this citadel, easily wiping out shield and armor of the structure and preparing for a big fight around the structure timer on YC119.08.21.
Once the day arrived, the strategies on both sides couldn’t have been more different. While Pandemic Horde, assisted by Norther Coalition. [NC], Mercenary Coalition [MC] and the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition brought their signature Machariel Battleships as well as several Tech 3 and Tech 2 hulls, the Imperium brought almost exclusively Tech 1 ships: an armor based fleet of Typhoon class Battleships with a T2 logistics wing and a second, shield based fleet made out of Hurricane class Battlecruisers. The battle began with both sides engaging each other and the Imperium attacking the Citadel simultaneously.
"The DPS ships where ordered to put their drones on the citadel, the Typhoons would fight the enemy Machariels.", Imperium logistics pilot Jorry Cassel remembers the fight. A Tech 1 Battleship fleet would be heavily outmatched against the same number of Pirate Battleships and this fight was no different. Pandemic Horde FC Steadyo confirms that "initially we brawled against goon typhoons, trading extremely well until they started losing DPS and they gave up the fight against us and turned all damage to the Fortizar." But the Imperium came prepared and had ships ready to give out to replace losses: "If we were to die, we needed to warp to one of two citadels where a member of the coalition would give us a replacement ship – one citadel for Typhoons and one for frigates. I assume the Hurricane fleet had the same setup.", Goonswarm Federation's Jorry Cassel explains.
Through this logistical masterplan, the fleets could stay in the fight for a long time. Although both sides initially held their own, when the citadel was at about 40% of its structure, the fight turned relatively one-sided, with the Imperium not being able to keep up the pressure on the Machariels. "We lost many Typhoons and had almost run out of replacements.", Jorry Cassel stated. It was at this point that the attention of the fleet was split between absorbing damage from the enemy fleet and attacking the Citadel, with Imperium logistics teams trying to keep as many ships alive as possible. When the structure hit around 20% integrity, replacement ships had run out and everyone who lost a ship was ordered to fly to New Eden's main trade hub, just one jump away, and buy whatever ship they could afford. This perseverance paid off as the Imperium managed to constantly lower the structure's hull.
But the battle had arrived at the decisive moment, as Jorry Cassel vividly recalls: "When we hit about 10%, all the Typhoons where nearly dead and we got the order to withdraw to a friendly Astrahus and reform with the Hurricane fleet, that was reformed in Hakonen. While reforming, the citadel's repair timer was being paused by people just warping in Newbie Frigate after Newbie Frigate."
Pandemic Horde's Steadyos account is very similar: "They came in Destroyers and Frigates and spread out, hitting the minimum damage required to pause the repair timer and stopping the clock at 2 minutes and 46 seconds." 387 Tech 1 Frigates and even 37 Corvettes were used during the fight in this important effort to keep the citadel's repair systems from activating. A tactic of hundreds of little pinpricks instead of dozens of Battleships turned out to be a successful tactic and bought the Imperium some precious time. The reformed and merged fleet then entered grid again and took over the attack on the Citadel, disregarding the enemy Machariels decimating their ranks.
In the end, the Imperium won the race against the clock; the Fortizar class Citadel had been destroyed. Perseverance had prevailed over finesse. "We had just proven that if you keep throwing ships at it, you can destroy every Fortizar in the game.", says Jorry Cassel, while Steadyo points out the cost of this success: "It goes to show: if you hurl enough ships at a fort it will eventually break. In a showing that resulted in the very definition of a Pyrrhic Victory." Sure enough, the price for victory was great and the success not as long-lived as many had hoped. The Citadel had been replaced within 48 hours with a newly anchored, uncontested Citadel and the impact on the market hadn't been particularly noticeable. Still, the local traders were sent a message; your favourite market hub can come under attack and be destroyed at any time, but a station is the safest bet for your business.
Alongside the Citadel, about 93 Billion ISK value was destroyed – 70 Billion ISK for the Imperium alone. 166 Battleships, 80 Battlecruisers, 387 Frigates and 37 Corvettes found their demise in this battle. As of this moment, it is not clear if the Imperium will attack another Pandemic Horde citadel. However, Steadyo makes a promise for Pandemic Horde: "If there is another attack, we have plans in place which will see them bleed just as hard, but this time without a Fortizar kill at the end."
GalNet Battle Reports