The Great Purge and the PR- Camp: Feb 13th - March 13th 2009
Demoralized by the titan loss, the KenZoku leadership made its single
greatest error of the war
: the combined RKZ capital fleet was
ordered to log off in one station in NPC Delve, PR-. For the next
thirty days, coalition subcapitals camped this station. This prevented
RKZ from undocking their capitals, meaning that they could do nothing
to fight against the proliferation of coalition dickstars. Confidence
in RKZ leadership was badly shaken. The Great Purge had begun.
Delve is a uniquely protected region. At this phase of the war, hostile
forces only controlled stations in Catch and Period Basis. Coalition
capital fleets could operate without support and without risk of
hostile capitals ambushing them so long as they sieged only in Delve.
With siegework transformed by the PR- camp from an incredibly
dangerous, high-risk activity to something a child could arrange, the
coalition capital fleet became almost 'self-aware'. From February 13th
onwards, thirty to forty capital pilots began operating in shifts,
23/7, as they no longer required a hundred or more subcapitals for
support. Individual capital pilots began running the capital fleet,
rather than relying on an officially-appointed fleet commander.
The first day saw twenty RKZ towers killed. The next, thirty. Each day,
the number increased, peaking at fifty tower kills in one 23-hour
server day on Feb 17th. Fleet commanders couldn't find targets fast
enough for the all-consuming capital blob; participation soared as the
magnitude of the accomplishment grew. The Jita market for strontium -
the fuel for sieges - was bought out for days at a time.
Meanwhile, the Northern Coalition was towering up Querious, and
stations began to fall there. Occasional resistance cropped up in the
form of -A- or RKZ subcapital fleets attacking the capital blob, but
these were swiftly beaten back; coalition pilots were so eager for a
fight that the announcement of an attack on the capitals brought forth
hordes of defenders. By February 23rd, all twenty stations in Delve
were either captured or trending towards Goonswarm sovereignty. Delve
had fallen, weeks ahead of the deadline.
The Great Purge continued for another three weeks. In that time,
coalition forces seized all RKZ-held R64 moons in Delve and Querious,
then moved to Period Basis and took the constellation formerly owned by
Destructive Influence (A KenZoku corporation) for Zenith Affinity.
The Counterrevolution Begins: March 13th - April 3rd
Throughout the Great Purge, this was the question in the mind of many
coalition and KenZoku pilots: When would Against All Authorities
intervene? Its borders secure and living in nearby Catch (bordering
Querious), -A- was the most powerful of RKZ's allies. Yet while -A-
would periodically send fleets roaming into Delve to tangle with the
coalition, there was no sustained commitment on their part to rescue
KenZoku. On March 13th, the 30th day of the PR- camp, that
changed. An -A- fleet arrived along with their allies Stain Empire (SE)
and Red.Overlord (ROL), combined with the RKZ fleet and freed KenZoku's
Invigorated by the influx of allies, KenZoku began plotting to take
their space back. On the border between Catch and Querious, 49- became
the fulcrum of the next phase of the war, a system a mere three jumps
from -A-'s regional capital in FAT. A classic timezone war broke out:
in the hours after downtime and through euro primetime, 49- would be
packed with hundreds of RKZ and -A- pilots, sieging coalition towers.
In the later hours of US and ANZAC timezone, the coalition would return
the favor. Given the overwhelming superiority in each's primetime, very
little direct conflict occurred.
Exhausted by a month and a half of desperate conquest, Goonswarm
logistics began to crack under the strain; errors in timing towers
resulted in 49- falling to KenZoku on April 4th. 3BK, another station
in Querious, fell to a combined surprise attack of RKZ, -A- and ROL;
3BK hadn't been fully purged of hostile towers and was spammed without
a fight, written off as a loss by the coalition.
Silence!: April 4th - April 14th
On the day 49- fell to KenZoku, Sir Molle announced
that RKZ's vengeance was at hand. He rationalized the Great Purge as a
planned loss, part of a grand strategy to delay and exhaust the
coaliton, leaving them ripe for the impending counterattack. A mere
three hours after the announcement, the RKZ capital fleet was annihilated
in a coalition ambush in 9CG. Yet, my gloating in that week's column
proved to be outrageously premature.
While victory in 9CG staunched the coalition's bleeding in Querious and
garnered a propaganda coup, the growing timezone superiority of the
combined RKZ and -A- forces allowed unrestricted kiting of coalition
towers between downtime and late eurotime. Kiting is a method to kill a
tower where the attacker keeps the tower's shields between 25% and 50%
for many hours. -A- would begin a kite at 8:00 GMT and RKZ would
maintain it for 12 hours, finally reinforcing the tower at the end of
their primetime. This rendered stront timing nearly impossible for the
coalition, because -A- could chose to reinforce the tower at 0800 or
allow it be kited, leaving an unpredictable 12 hour timeframe in which
the coalition would have to defend the tower. R64 moons in
Querious began to rapidly fall to KenZoku, increasing their holdings
from five to sixteen, allowing them to amass a vast warchest for the
planned reconquest of Delve. Meanwhile, a breakdown in organizational
communication meant that the average coalition pilot wasn't even aware
that things were going so badly. Defensive efforts were halfhearted and
ineffective. The few remaining coalition towers in 49- came under daily
siege; unless a way could be found to stop the enemy from kiting, the
coalition's defeat was inevitable - and rapidly approaching.