A collective sigh of relief could be heard across the Cal/Gal warzone as they looked back on June – the whole region is red hot with action of every variety. If early July is any indication of what the rest of the summer will be like, the battles are just beginning. This past month, warzone control was not a major focus for either militia. The Caldari remain firmly in Tier 1 control, while GalMil lay claim to the lower half of Tier 2 control and the majority of systems.
June also brought to the forefront a strategic reality of Cal/Gal FW warfare that has always been present but not so apparent: the Gallente can coordinate and cooperate anywhere in the warzone, while the Caldari suffer from disunity, rivalries, and sometimes even civil wars.
This is not to say that the Gallente all travel in lockstep towards the same objective; indeed, there are plenty of cliques and rivalries in GalMil. But when a serious battle kicks off, the major corporations in GalMil depend on the support of their Gallente brothers throughout the warzone. This is especially true since the corp responsible for kicking off the assault on Heydieles this month, Aideron Robotics, does not even operate on the same comms as the greater Gallente Militia; GalMil still rallied on Heydieles to successfully take the system.
The Caldari response to this attack was rather fragmented. Heydieles is a system dominated by Russian CalMil corps and Russian pirates. When the Gallente descended on the system, the other elements of CalMil did not meaningfully respond to the threat. There were likely a number of factors at play for this non-response, but it would be unrealistic to think that this was merely a case of inconvenience (Heydieles is indeed quite far from the typical CalMil area of operation). The opinion of some in English-speaking CalMil on the defeat of the Russian CalMil in Heydieles was “They don’t help us, why should we help them?” Times change, opinions change – but for now this line of thinking serves to only benefit the Gallente.
In light of the somewhat disjointed nature of the Caldari, the GalMil are set on proving a point: The Gallente can take or defend any system they want in FW space and ultimately the Caldari cannot stop them. Whether this is entirely true will no doubt be subject to some debate; nevertheless, in June, the Gallente furnished us with two convincing pieces of evidence: Heydieles and Enaluri.
East vs. West - Heydieles
Heydieles has a rich history of being a contentious system, and June provided another notch in its running tally of major battles. As mentioned earlier, a large Russian contingent of CalMil called Heydieles home, which was a constant generator of conflict for the Gallente as a number of their corporations based out of adjacent systems Fliet and Yvangier. Aideron Robotics in particular frequently ran plexing fleets in Heydieles but the Russians were resolute in keeping Heydieles to themselves and, in typical fashion, also reached out to various pirate corporations for support.
June saw an escalation in hostilities. Aideron redoubled its efforts to take its neighbor, and enlisted the support of various GalMil corporations like Justified Chaos, C.Q.B, and several others. The Gallente now had the numbers and the ISK to dominate the Caldari defenders in all time zones except for Russian primetime. After near constant pressure, GalMil pushed Heydieles into vulnerable and bashed the iHub.
The defense of Heydieles by the likes of Old Man Gang and their typical associates was nothing short of heroic. Fantastic fights were enjoyed by all, and, despite their considerable advantage, the Gallente never felt comfortable as the Russian Caldari/pirates could field significant numbers. By the time the system reached high contestability, both parties fielded carriers and dreads to provide the extra bit of excitement that accompanies a truly fantastic system siege.
For now, things are quiet in Heydieles. There are still plenty of pirates operating in the region - some even still basing out of the system - but for now both sides of factional warfare seem to be focused elsewhere.
Out of the frying pan - Enaluri
Heydieles sported the Gallente flag for barely a day before Enaluri was assaulted by a Caldari offensive. The elements of CalMil only peripherally involved in the defense of Heydieles were busy planning and deploying for an assault of Gallente home system Enaluri.
The siege was intense but short-lived. Gallente had only a brief respite from the fighting in Heydieles before an entirely separate contingent of CalMil flooded Enaluri, which left some Gallente scrambling from one side of the warzone to the other. Although the timing was far from advantageous for the Gallente, Enaluri’s proximity to Nennamaila, Hallanen, and several other GalMil home systems made rapid reshipping and resupplying easy despite the sudden onslaught. The Caldari fielded impressive numbers and enjoyed intermittent success in capturing and holding plexes, but the Gallente were able to retain solid control over the system throughout the siege. The importance of Enaluri for many Gallente corps and the considerable GalMil infrastructure already in place in the region made Enaluri an ambitious target for the Caldari, to say the least. CalMil’s operation should be applauded for its audacity and, of course, because both sides agreed that many fun fights were had.
On the surface, it appeared as if the Caldari were repulsed without issue. However, during the battle a confidential correspondence circulating among Caldari leadership leaked to the Gallente that the true purpose of the Enaluri siege was to conduct a live training exercise. The purpose of the CalMil deployment to the area was not, in fact, to take the system, but to develop a new series of doctrines that were tuned to counter Gallente fleets for each class of plex.
Caldari FCs report that, despite not ever seriously threatening Enaluri, the operation was a resounding success as it served its true purpose to prepare its pilots for “the real thing.” When and where the Caldari plan to put the skills accumulated from their training to use still remains to be seen; hopefully the Gallente will get to see the CalMil’s lessons learned in full effect in July.
Batphoning is a contentious issue in FW – some chide batphoning for taking the easy way out of a difficult fight, while others call it an essential strategy to ensure victory. Unless a fleet reaches a critical mass of “shininess,” most FCs can engage in battle without concern for a brigade of supercaps appearing on grid. However, last month both sides of the war are fielding more expensive doctrines which enhances the chances of third party involvement, particularly powerful nullsec entities. It is less and less rare these days to find FW fleets where the average ship cost reaches into hundreds of millions of ISK, rather than the relatively “cheap” Thorax or Vexor fleet with ships costing only 30 or so million.
Admittedly, PL is no stranger to Cal/Gal FW space and they have extensive reconnaissance assets in the region to help “stir the pot” and encourage escalation. Recently, however, the likes of Razor, Goonswarm, and other major entities frequent the area looking for fights. Despite this, major cap battles have yet to generate any super kills, or even more than a handful of dread/capital kills. If the trend continues, however, the age-old principle of escalation may ignite another massive cap battle right in FW’s own backyard. To the would-be FW dread or capital pilot: beware, nullsec is watching.