Thirty minutes before downtime on October 25th, the wormhole alliance No Holes Barred met an invading force that outnumbered them in their off-peak hour. In the scant time remaining before downtime, they destroyed two carriers and nine dreadnoughts while only losing a single dreadnought. All told, the battle report showed 141 billion ISK destroyed while NoHo only suffered 7 billion in losses. To get to the bottom of this story TMC sat down with Two Step, Xtrah, Etheris, and Zara Arran from No Holes Barred.
TMC: Who are you all within No Holes Barred?
Xtrah: I'm one of the main FCs for NOHO, also one of the more common triage pilots, I triaged during the fight.
Two step: I'm a big slacker, a former CSM member, and current AHARM director.
Zara Arran: I am the diplomat for No Holes Barred.
Etheris: I am the US TZ Director for the alliance, so I was there for the initial entrance and engagement
When did you realize that you were being seriously invaded?
Zara: well we noticed some capitals jumping into Polaris, either directly seen them or indirectly noticed. so you get an idea then that it is more serious than a simple fight.
Xtrah: We figured it was either a seriously organized site gank or a proper invasion as it went on for about a month's time.
Would you mind explaining a little bit about the mechanics of seeding capitals into C5/C6 space for our readers who don't have experience in high end wormholes?
Two step: Sure! Basically, you are limited to three capitals at a time through a wormhole. If you want to invade a large entity, you need to move capitals in waves over a period of weeks or months. This can be made easier by a couple of things. First, if your target is a C6 you can chain collapse wormholes and have a 1 in 113 chance of connecting. Secondly, if your target is inactive at certain times you can scan out from their hole. In the case of our system they did a little of both. They were getting caps in in very late US TZ and also chain collapsing.
This translates to hundreds of man hours spent staring at a wormhole while you wait to get those specific pilots inside the wormhole. It's not something undertaken lightly; unfortunately, as of this writing, the other side of the fight has not responded to requests for comment.
What time did things start for the actual invasion?
etheris: at 4:16 eve time two days ago the US TZ saw a massive log on of the QEX, HK, Lazerhawks group. 125+ Subcaps, 18 capitals. They staged their subcaps on the Static WH, their dreads began sieging POS's.
About how many NoHo were online at the time?
etheris: We had 13 people online so we sniped a Tengu to draw first blood, and started moving anything we could into Containers at our POS's
Was there any confusion about what was going on or did you guys instantly know this was going to be an eviction?
Two step: We had been planning for it for a while because we had seen the caps. We weren't totally sure when but we were pretty sure what was going on.
Zara: It wasn’t a complete surprise, we just didn't know exactly when.
There wasn't any actual diplomacy from them? No warnings or ultimatums?
Two step: That is the way it is normally done in w-space. You want to hit people quick, to try to lock assets into towers. Ships can still be removed but stuff in hangars is locked in.
Zara: No diplomacy, no threats.
Xtrah: even after they had shown themselves, local chat was empty.
Which alliances were trying to kick you guys out?
Two step: Hard Knocks, Quantum Explosion, and Lazerhawks were the main force.
When you decided to fight them, what did the numbers look like? How many versus how many?
Zara: They had shown a lot of numbers, a lot of subcaps keeping wormhole control.. and dreads shooting at our towers. we used this time to get organized. With about 15 people online, and them having more towards 150... we just started with sniper Tornados, and managed to kill a Tengu. They did adapt to that tactic, so we then waited for a better time, and got our capitals organized to fight their bigger fleet who were bashing our POSes.
Can you tell me what happened once you decided to attack?
etheris: The decision was made to wait until we saw an opportunity to strike. They had separated their dreadnaughts to attack multiple POS's and kept their subcapital fleet on the hole. We warped our dreadnaughts in to engage their dreads and placed a safety bubble 110km off in the direction of their subcaps. Their subcap fleet warped right to us and was caught in the bubble. By the time they made it to their capitals their dreadnaughts were dead.
Xtrah: we engaged one of the groups, and by the time the 2nd cap group landed, half of the first group was dead their subcaps landed and shit got serious. When all their dreads were dead, we started working on subcaps with dreads, and our Vigilants made it happen.
Essentially, the enemy fleet had decided to save some time by splitting their fleet into two groups of capitals and grinding multiple towers at the same time, with their subcapital support holding on the static hole in order to support either fleet should they get in trouble. No Holes Barred took advantage of a tired and probably exceptionally bored fleet's slower reaction time and warped in on half the fleet with their full capital strength with a bubble in place to catch the subcapital support far from the conflict.
By the time the second capital group landed the first capitals were almost entirely dead and the subcapital fleets were neutralized due to positioning. While the strategic cruisers made their way into the melee, the last of their capitals were being destroyed. Once the subcaps made it into the fray the webbing strength of the Vigilant class cruiser slowed down the subcapitals while the C6 Magnetar's 100% bonus to damage meant that every hit was absolutely destructive. This allowed Noho's dreadnoughts to blap subcapitals indiscriminately.
Loss mails show that No Holes Barred was fit for buffer tanking while their enemies had more typical self-repping fits on their capitals. This added buffer meant that there was a greater amount of time for repairs to land on primaried ships while NoHo could easily overwhelm their enemies repping power. After the capitals went down, the subcapitals were still a very real threat - due to the Magnetar's bonuses effectively doubling their worth in DPS - but the enemy fleet was slow to realize the importance of the Vigilant's webs and it was too little too late when they began focusing fire upon the cruisers instead of the capitals. Without Hard Knocks, Quantum Explosion or Lazerhawks side of the story it's impossible to tell whether the unfamiliarity with each other's tactics and possible communication errors might have contributed to the cascade of errors, but it seems likely, considering at least the language barrier within Quantum Explosion.
If the fight had gone on longer, do you think it would have continued to stay in your favor or would there possibly have been a response mounted?
Two step: The fight ended because we ran out of targets.
Was there anything else you guys wanted to add to this that you think the readers should know?
Two step: I just wanted to say that I have had a blast. Getting invaded has actually been something I have been wishing for a very long time, and I hope the setbacks we handed to our invaders doesn't deter future visitors
Xtrah: I'd love to say thanks to everyone who showed after the fight to help reinforce the system and help us hold hole control for more than 24 hours
Zara: Well, it was a blast this weekend. It was a great fight. It was amazing to see my corp mates be so active, not sleeping, forgetting to eat or getting wife aggro for a game. And, amazing to see how many other entities were willing to help us out
etheris: Not really, all in all it was a fun time. We're glad they brought the fight, and had a great time
A special note to Nalren's daughter, who is twelve and apparently already doing a great job as a support by cooking dinner for her father in order for him to continue playing EVE.