Players in Eve Online tend to band together as corporations. It's nearly impossible to survive in nullsec without one. Corporations then form alliances and alliances align as coalitions which then proceed to control nullsec areas.
The political jockeying between coalitions can cause huge shifts of power. One such occurred when Pandemic Legion aligned itself with N3 (Nulli Secunda, Northern Coalition, and assorted other alliances) in an effort to displace a mostly Russian alliance called SOLAR. The new coalition called itself N3/PL and moved to seize a stretch of New Eden known as the Dronelands.
Clusterfuck Coalition watched warily from the sidelines until N3/PL became embroiled in a minor war against CFC. The resulting injury meant that CFC were more than happy to join SOLAR in a war for the Dronelands in October.
Overall N3/PL were the numerally deficient force but they dominated most battles they got into by ensuring local superiority of numbers and that they outgunned their opponents. They repeatedly denied their opponents a chance to bring their larger numbers to bear. Just a week prior to B-R5RB, CFC and Russian forces had taken heavy losses in the 'Battle of HED-GP'.
Although part of a larger conflict, now known as the Halloween War, what became the Battle of B-R5RB, began because of an unpaid bill. Coincidentally it took place a year after the massive Battle of Asakai.
B-R5RB belonged to the Pandemic Legion and hosted a space station where they stored warships, munitions, and equipment. A player corporation called HAVOC was responsible for the system. The system contained 9 planets, 66 moons, and 12 asteroid belts.
Unforunately when CONCORD came to collect the monthly sovereignty bill (a bill that guaranteed Pandemic Legion control of the system), they were unable to. Whether by player error or deliberate sabotage, HAVOC had left their automatic payment unchecked. Sovereignty in the system was lost and it became available for anyone to seize.
The opposing alliance, consisting of the CFC Alliance and Russian coalitions (such as SOLAR), mobilised rapidly to take advantage of this sudden strategic weakness. One of the three fleet commanders for Clusterfuck Coalition, Lazarus Telraven, mobilised his fleet for immediate action. They had a window of eight hours to act. Territorial Claim Units, drones that take control of a system, had already been deployed by Pandemic Legion and were coming online.
At 1300 Eve Time (equivalent to GMT), CFC & co hit B-R5RB with 45 Capital class dreadnoughts and nearly 300 sub-capital ships in support. They captured the station, destroyed all of the opposing TCUs, deployed their own, and took up defensive positions.
Pandemic Legion and N3 forces were caught off guard. All of their TCUs were destroyed before they could come online and many of their players were at work (the attack taking place on a Monday). N3/PL realised the seriousness of the situation and began to deploy whatever capital and super-capital ships they could scrape up in a 'Wrecking Ball' formation near the station. Just a week before this formation had earned them victory at HED-GP.
CFC and the Russian coalition were quick to exploit the opportunity. Lazarus Telraven made the call and decided to deploy their entire Capital Fleet to gain local superiority in the system before N3/PL could respond. Meanwhile the CFC/Russian sub-capital fleets were deployed to N3/PL staging systems like I-NGI8 and GXK-7F to delay and harass any reinforcements.
The N3/PL commander,, ordered his Titans to concentrate their fire on the CFC/Russian dreadnoughts. Generally the Doomsday cannon from a Titan would destroy a smaller ship in one hit but the CFC/Russian dreadnoughts had been uparmoured to require two hits. It became a war of attrition with the CFC/Russian fleet bringing in replacements faster than the N3/PL ships could take them out.
Meanwhile the CFC/Russian Titans had concentrated their fire on a single PL Titan, taking it out in the first 30 minutes of the battle.
The sheer number of players in the system now caused the game's time dilation software to engage. It slowed the game to ten percent normal speed. Both sides proceeded to trade Titan kills with a slight lead in favour of the CFC/Russian forces.
Outside of the main battle, numerous conflicts were sparking off. Smaller ships that would be useless in a confrontation of Titans, were blocking reinforcements and attacking fleeing ships from B-R5RB.
The slugfest continued until Manfred Sideous handed control to, CEO of Northern Coalition. He changed tactics to concentrate fire on CFC/Russian Titans and experienced early success, destroying several and forcing others to flee the system with heavily damaged shields and armour. Overly eager to go for the kill, PL/N3 focused their fire on Sort Dragon, one of the fourteen members of the Council of Stellar Management and the player responsible for coordinating all Russian forces left on the field.
The high damage resistance of Sort Dragon's Titan and the combined repair efforts of his fleet, enabled the Titan to survive much longer. By the time PL/N3 managed to destroy it, the CFC/Russian forces had destroyed 5 more Titans. From then on the battle would be a losing battle of attrition in favour of CFC/Rus, their volley fire increasing their lead with each Titan destroyed.
PL/N3 fought on hoping for reinforcements but when their US timezone players logged in; the numbers were much less than had been hoped for. The decision was made to retreat. They switched their fire to the CFC/Russian dreadnoughts in an effort to destroy as many ships as possible while retreating.
CFC/Rus had used their spy network to good effect during the battle and were well aware of the retreat. Interdictors were deployed to trap the retreating ships. In the confusion of the retreat, several more Titans, Super Carriers, and Capitals, were lost. Most of them were trapped by the warp disruption bubbles that littered the battlefield.
B-R5RB saw the greatest loss of capital class starships in a single battle in Eve Online. 75 Titans were destroyed, 59 from PL/N3, 16 from the CFC/Russian forces. Prior to this, no more than 12 Titans had been lost in a single engagement.
13 supercarriers, 123 carriers, and 370 dreadnoughts, were destroyed along with uncounted numbers of smaller ships and drones.
In game, more than 20 million soldiers were killed on the 600 plus Capital class ships that were destroyed in the fighting. The 21 hour battle had involved 717 corporations and 55 alliances.
The loss of the battle saw Pandemic Legion withdraw from the southeast theater and broker an agreement with CFC which allowed them to save billions of their assets. N3 forces retreated on all fronts, allowing CFC to capture twenty three systems in total. The Russian bloc of alliances began to suffer from internal strife which allowed N3 to recoup their losses and return almost to status quo bellum.
CFC emerged the winner from the conflict, a veritable superpower which dominated the game for the next two years.
Battle sped up and compressed to show scale.
Summary of the battle
Initial CFC Jump
Second CFC Jump
- Goonswarm Federation
- Razor Alliance
- Fidelas Constans
- Gentlemen's Agreement
- Fatal Ascension
- Spacemonkey's Alliance
- Solar Fleet
- Black Legion
- Against ALL Authorities
- Darkness of Despair
- Northern Coalition
- Nulli Secunda
- Pandemic Legion