Anyone who’s been playing EVE for a while knows that Perimeter has become a true battleground in recent months. TEST pushed out IChooseYou and Pandemic Horde from the alliance owned market space last Fall and thus far has been able to operate Tranquility Trading Tower with virtual impunity ever since. PH reinforced shields over the Christmas period but didn’t go back for the Armor timer and hasn’t made much of an effort to remove TTT from grid since then. What has been happening, however, is a constant influx of new trading structure have been dropped in order to undercut TEST’s market profits and grind their will to continue down.
Many of those structures are blotted from existence within a couple days. And most are not defended. But occasionally they are, and last night was one of those instances where a large fleet was formed to defend a friendly armor timer. When TEST didn’t show up to contest leadership decided to reinforce TTT instead. We were all dressed up and didn’t want to go home feeling blue. 5 hours later TTT’s shield was reinforced and 60B ISK in ships had been lost.
When the pings first started going out that an important Strat Op was forming I was busy with my wife and couldn’t join up. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to join up for the Op, which grew into something much bigger than originally planned, for another 3 hours. But when I was finally free to log into EVE my wife broke out into laughter. Apparently I looked like an excited kid on Christmas morning. I literally ran to the Den and logged into EVE as fast as I could. But it took me about 30 minutes before I could haul in some ships with my hisec hauler, because there was no way I was going to warp in a Ferox from our O-V all the way to Perimeter through a string of hostile space. I had been lax in pre-positioning ships in Perimeter prior to last night, but that has been rectified by this morning. I’m ready for whatever comes next time.
But last night I had some initial hauling to do with my alt while I frantically burned to Perimeter in my Interceptor. Once shipped up I joined the overflow fleet (there was no room in the main fleet…) and spent the next hour guarding the Jita gate and racking up a number of kills. Streams of capsules were heading through the gate into Jita in order to re-ship, and occasionally TEST pilots would come back through the gate hoping to warp off before they could be tackled. For those trying to re-ship, I had already found Jita practically bare of Ferox’s an hour earlier. I paid a 20M premium for the two hulls I purchased, and it only went higher from there. I saw hulls going up on the market for 100M, which were selling. It was an industrialists wet dream last night, if they had hulls to sells.
Earlier in the battle Test brought a Battleship heavy fleet up against our Ferox doctrine but were unable to break our back or push us off TTT. Wave, after wave, of the TEST fleet threw itself at PH, finally shipping down into a Ferox doctrine fleet as well. From that point I’ve heard the battle described as a “knife fight in a bathtub” — RonUSMC [TEST], which is as apt a description as I could come up with myself. So we’ll go with that.
As the StratOp crossed the four hour point the overflow FC had to head off and TEST finally pushed us off the Jita gate. It was at that point I was able to join the main fleet and move up to the Keepstar. Test was still sending small waves at the PH fleet, but in truth the fight was largely over. The shield inexorably ticked down, and when it crossed below 5% you could hear the excitement rising on comms. Nearly 5 hours in to the Op and all you could hear were pilots ready for more. The fight isn’t one of the biggest of battles to ever happen in EVE’s history, but its very rare to see hisec battles approaching anything of this magnitude. It was a meat grinder to say the least, and I’m happy to note that it was PH turning the handle this time around.
So what comes next? I have no idea, but speaking only for myself I hope we go back for the armor timer. Reports are that Goons will be joining TEST for the armor timer. And make no mistake, TEST must show for their timer, regardless of whether we do. The position TEST finds itself in is not enviable. They control the alliance market space in the Forge, but its far from their home base in the south, whereas its immediately next door for PH. Strictly speaking, TEST can’t control the battlefield. And that was precisely what TEST’s recent campaign into Geminate was all about. They sought to keep PH busy in Geminate, and out of Perimeter. But they’d lost when they decided not deploy their Super Cap fleet. No one knew how badly the “war” would go for them at the time, however. It went badly.
So even if PH ultimately decides to eschew the armor timer this time around, we can go back any time we choose. We can reinforce the shields over, and over, and over again. Imagine how demoralizing that might feel to constantly be on the receiving end of attacks on your key strategic asset and never being able to fully secure it? Always having to respond, only to see the enemy not show up for the next battle. Always having to be on the ball, when the enemy only has to be on the ball once. Can this go on all Winter? Spring? Summer? We’ll see.
TEST isn’t alone, however. For all of the posturing that TEST and GOONS aren’t allies, the evidence says otherwise. Frenemies, or whatever, I expect GOONS to get more involved. They did when TEST launched their campaign into Germinate, largely responsible for the shenanigans in Kalevala. But are GOONS willing to make a major deployment to the NE in order to support TEST? This is the real question I’m waiting to see answered. Events may have started last night in a Perimeter meat grinder of a battle, but it’s likely last night won’t be the end of it when all is said and done.