A handful of Dreadnoughts with an accompanying support fleet blast away at a large POS, not expecting a fight. Suddenly, an Armageddon drops cloak, and fires up the cyno, simultaneously pointing a nearby foe. Capitals appear around the 'geddon, and settle in for a fight as the enemy fleet lights a cyno of it's own. Before you know it, fighter bombers are buzzing around killing capitals left and right. Just another day in nullsec right? Not quite. This conflict is not over a valuable technetium moon somewhere in the Northern reaches of New Eden. It's just another day in Genesis. Welcome to lowsec.
When people hear lowsec, they usually imagine pirate battlecruisers roaming around, and the occasional gatecamp on important travel bottlenecks. Lately, however, fights seem to be getting bigger and bigger as various pirate corporations follow the trend of forming coalitions, and fights over moons change from battleship brawls to capital warfare.
Many a nullseccer will say something along the lines of "But who cares? All the good moons are out here!". While this is largely true, every lowsec region has a couple of gems hidden among the piles of rubble that most lowsec moons are. For the longest time, enterprising lowsec corporations and alliances would scan down a moon that seems too good to be true, only to find a tower anchored there that belongs either to an existing 0.0 power or a subsidiary. These were almost always left alone, due to the threat of hotdrops and the general consensus that there simply wouldn't be numbers or the skill required to overcome such a large opponent.
What's to do, then, but fight over the table scraps. Some moons I've seen are worth so little that all that gets anchored is a small tower, silo, and harvesting array. If you used a large tower with guns, any profit from the moon goo would be just enough to break even with fuel costs. For a long time, people could get away with this. Roughly even capital capabilities of known enemies combined with the the ever present (and definitely not unfounded) threat of surprise guests from nullsec meant that towers were dealt with by subcaps, and even a small tower remains a large, boring EHP brick when all you have are some battleships.
A White Whale!
Dreads reared their heads occasionally, but usually only when bashing an enemy installation during their off time zones, or blasting down an NPC customs office. Whispers of Pandemic Legion spies were enough to tighten the sphincter of any capital pilot, and rightly so. PL's self described "fishing squad" claimed many kills over the years, culling the herds of wild capitals, until only the most paranoid, careful and well-prepared pilots bothered to deploy ships of that size in actual combat.
I was lucky enough to meet one of these fishermen, and he told me that there were only a handful of pilots in PL who were constantly searching for targets. He went on to say many of their kills were spur-of-the-moment strikes of opportunity. However, given that everyone and their grandmother loves capital killmails, selling yourself a little short to ensure future killmails doesn't seem like a bad idea. Tinfoil hat or not, no one will argue that PL is good at what they do, and have the ability to put their money where their mouths are.
Pandemic Legion isn't the only bear in the forest as far as hotdrops go. Just the other day I learned of a lowsec conflict that had started as subcapital, but escalated. Side A dropped a triage Archon to keep their battleships alive, when side B counter-dropped a tracking Moros and a Revelation. Having taken the bait, the Archon's side cyno'd in two supercarriers from out of corp and alliance to dispatch the dreads. In an interview with one of the victors, it was revealed that the supercarrier pilots were the real life brother and friend of one of the pilots from side A. Apparently bored of grinding structures or sitting in a POS, he was elated to jump at the chance to kill something, all the while aiding his sibling. It almost made me wish my siblings had the attention span for a game such as EVE, but then I pictured said siblings in command of a Nyx. The ALOD article practically writes itself.
Bait Bites Back
These days, it’s not unheard of for a lowsec alliance to have a supercarrier or two, or even a Titan. While a Titan in lowsec will almost never see direct combat, the bridging capability is a huge asset for all the same reasons as in nullsec. Supercarriers are stuck in the awkward middle ground of having to be on the field to be useful, but still being huge targets for outside intervention. Because of this, they are mostly used for structure grinding (what a novelty) or very one-sided hotdrops. The fear of outside intervention is just that strong.
Occasionally however, lowsec bites back. We've all heard the stories of militia pilots working to bring down a titan. The level of planning and secrecy involved was awe-inspiring. On the day of the operation, many smaller fleets converged on the target. Some of the FC's didn't even know what they were getting into, but the results were clearly worth the subterfuge. These days, some of the lowsec blocs, especially those that formed around the Faction Warfare community, command not-insignificant fleets of capitals. As gangs become fleets, and capital brawls become more and more common in lowsec, will it, rather than NPC 0.0, become the birthing place of the alliances of the future? Only time will tell.