(Editor's Note: This battle report is the personal account of Vily, a Goonswarm Federation Fleet Commander and the leader of one of the CFC Megathron fleets in the battle of 6VDT.)
Today, ladies and gentlemen, we saw the largest engagement in the history of video games.
I say that because a battle involving over 4000 pilots is now over, with the embers of our enemies' wrecks still smoldering (even though they technically can't) in the cold, dark space of 6VDT-H in Fountain.
This battle is the culmination of what will likely be called the Fountain War, a war that has raged for two months and represents one of the most dynamic conflicts of EVE Online in the last two years.
When we (the CFC, or ClusterFuck Coalition) decided to reinforce the 6VDT-H station, we did so merely on a whim. TEST Alliance had shown an unacceptable level of resistance to one of our daily European timezone siege groups; the farther they let us push, the farther we shall push. In a surprising turn of events, TEST Alliance decided to time the station timer for European prime (afternoon US timezone) instead of the usual Australian timezone strategy, which has, while providing little success in the past, at least allowed them to resist at a moderate level.
We didn't think particularly much of the timer; 6VDT-H is not anywhere near the level of strategic importance it once held. Its use as a transit hub is mostly deprecated, and it no longer represents an active military base for more than a fraction of TEST's forces. However, the morning after the initial attack, we awoke to a surprise: All TEST operations for the following two days had been canceled. All forces were to prepare for a defence of 6VDT on Sunday, the 28th of July. This was where they would hold the line. This was where they would end our advance.
So: we in the CFC prepared, as we do for all operations. We analyzed the locations and timers and organized our allies and membership. We were told that TEST Alliance, along with their returning allies N3/Nulli (altogether known as N3ST), would make a stand. This would be their Alamo. We found weaknesses. N3ST's moon control was lacking, allowing us, with moderate effort the day before, to gain complete moon supremacy, thereby ensuring that there would be no "high ground" (a moon-based tower) for N3ST to fall back to. This would limit their options if they chose to deploy super-capital class assets into the fight. Preparation and organization is a hallmark of CFC strategy, and for a battle as important as this, no opportunity for advantage would be passed up.
The morning of the fight we had some chats, but the FC group in charge of the CFC war machine are old dogs for this type of fight. We know the mechanics of herding our people, moving them at best speed, and getting there to the destination in best order. Before a single broadcast had gone out, 2300 people sat ready in 4-EP (the CFC staging base). More would log-in over the course of the day. The N3ST staging systems amassed just under two thousand pilots, leaving them slightly outnumbered, but not by a margin anywhere near what we had expected.
The CFC war machine drummed, and seven fleets of 256 (the max allowable) Megathron-class battleships were formed under our willing FCs: Vily, Mister Vee, Lazarus Telraven, Reagalan, Cor Six, Intergalaktor, and Ironwulf. Two fleets of bombers under Kcolor and Dabigredboat were also formed, as well as an electronic warfare fleet under David Cedarbridge. Also, a mobile armor heavy assault cruiser (AHAC) group under Imperian was deployed to go after smaller groups in a shark hunter role. Finally, a large number of capital ships (carriers and dreadnoughts) were formed under TheAdj and held in reserve. When all was said and done, within an hour of sounding the horn, over 2200 pilots had moved into fleets and began the process of preparing for the fight.
The forces of N3ST were not sitting idly by. While I am not privy to all their formation information, I do know they formed two fleets of Prophecy-class battlecruisers, a pair of AHAC fleets, an electronic warfare fleet, a Dominix-class battleship fleet, and other fleets of bombers and assorted cruiser and frigate class ships. Notably, a "Gokufleet" of stealth bombers went to 4-EP instead of the main battle to intercept our reinforcements.
Moving such a mass of forces is an extremely unique aspect of EVE Online; moving a single 256 man fleet can be a challenge at times, and moving eight of them at once is even more so. Time dilation usually kicks in any time you see 300 or more pilots moving as a group, so moving 1000+ makes it a certainty. As such, the CFC formed almost two hours in advance of the reinforced timer exiting invulnerable mode. It is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary if you plan to achieve system control first, giving you a significant tactical advantage. As such, almost 1 hour before the timer approached, we had entered system and moved in around the station, evenly orbiting with several fleets, providing ourselves a position almost entirely immune to hostile bomber fleets.
Most of our pilots took advantage of this time to get lunch, say goodbye to their families, and prepare for the worst while expecting the best. At the same time, N3ST forces slowly went through the process of moving their forces into a position to engage. This can be arduous, and it was obvious that they were playing against the clock to organize themselves properly to arrive in time to contest the system.