As we move into the new year and the player community get their collective hands around the impact of the Crucible changes, the ice-flows of sov-warfare that have locked nullsec in place for so long have finally begun to break up.
Despite the delay of the promised Time Dilation functionality, Goonswarm, Test Alliance and a flock of vassals and allies have begun the first large scale invasion of the post-Crucible era. As most of you are aware, White Noise is the target of the invasion, owing to a window of opportunity opened by a schism in that alliance's leadership. An alleged threat against Goonswarm by a leader of one of the factions within White Noise served as a pretext for the invasion.
Of course why Mittens felt he needed an obviously transparent pretext in order to initiate an invasion he'd likely planned since midsummer is a bit of a mystery. Maybe he breaks out in hives if he goes more than ten minutes without channeling the Medicis or Borgias. Anyway.
Although supported by Raiden[dot] and Red Alliance, White Noise was caught off balance and unprepared for the invaders' initial strike at White Noise's holdings in Branch. White Noise has avoided committing their forces to a pitched battle for Branch, instead opting for a strategy of giving ground early in hopes of regrouping while the enemy spends themselves grinding structures in overrun space. Thus, the better part of Branch has fallen quickly, with only the Northwest constellation of KWCZ and a few scattered outposts nominally in White Noise hands as of this writing, and those appear to be falling without resistance.
Unfortunately for White Noise, the bulk of Clusterf##k's forces did not linger in Branch. One arm of the invading forces led by Goonswarm continued to press the Raiden and White Noise forces; following them into NPC Venal where they were attempting to regroup. Meanwhile, Test Alliance and Get Off My Lawn led a secondary force on to attack White Noise and Raiden holdings in Vale of the Silent.
This last may prove problematic for the invaders. Though largely occupied by White Noise and Raiden systems, Vale of the Silent includes real estate owned by DRF and DRF-friendly alliances who haven't come to White Noise's aid yet. Thus, unlike Branch, the attack on Vale could be construed as an attack on the greater DRF and an attempt to impose a Clusterf##k hegemony over the Technetium-rich regions formerly occupied by the old Northern Coaliton. A Solar Fleet presence has begin cropping up in Vale defense fleets, indicating that the rest of the DRF is beginning to perceive the Clusterf##k invasion as a common threat.
Despite their set-backs to date, the only corporations to bolt White Noise to date have been three that joined toward the end of December - two of whom are former Northern Coalition refugees from Morsis Mihi who have switched sides and joined the invading alliances. That White Noise's baseline corporations have held fast speaks to the resilience of the Drone Russian alliances.
Speaking of Solar Fleet, they've continued cheerfully nipping off Shadow of Death systems. As you'll recall, the set-to with fellow DRF alliance Legion of Death began in early December and was heralded as a replay of the Punic War with Solar Fleet in the role of the Romans and Legion of Death standing up as Carthage. As I wrote at the time, this supposedly epic fight got off to an uninspiring start.
If a knock-down, drag-out nullsec sov fight is great sex, the Solar Fleet and Legion spent the better part of December holding hands. Most of the actual punishment was directed at Shadow of Death, Legion's tenants, as if both Legion and Solar were loathe to let matters get out of hand over a rather minor diplomatic pissing match. By the time Christmas rolled around, Solar had claimed four outposts from Legion Proper in Outer Passage without significant resistance. The rest of the territory taken by Solar Fleet has come at the expense of Shadow of Death.
But that territory is significant, spilling over from Outer Passage into Perrigen Falls. And while Shadow and Legion of Death is occupied with Solar Fleet, Intrepid Crossing has been busily knocking over Shadow systems in Oasa. The fact that even after losing so many systems Legion's tenant alliance still has the third largest portfolio of outpost systems in nullsec speaks volumes as to how vast Legion's real estate holdings had become during the Incarna wars.
With Solar beginning to cast an eye in the direction of the Clusterf##k invasion, they may decide they've extracted their pound of flesh in from Legion of Death in terms of humiliation, declare victory and turn their attention to the goings on in Vale.Thus, Mittens may have inadvertently prevented the Solar Fleet /Legion of Death conflict from escalating into a death struggle.
Of course the wild card in these fight is always Pandemic Legion. Apparently no one had bothered to contract them until recently, and if there's one things the boys in the Legion can't abide it's being ignored. So, wherever a large fleet fight breaks out within arms reach they've been summoning their new sidekick, Northern Coalition[dot] alliance, dropping into the middle of the battle and crashing the party by attacking both sides.
Ah, those crazy kids. Every day's a day at the circus for the Legion.
Happily, this seems to have gotten the attention of an employer. Pandemic Legion and the boy wonders of NC[DOT] have started a concerted campaign against Against All Authorities in Catch and have taken the critical systems of HED-GP, that region's main access point to empire, and GE-8JV, -A-'s main trade hub. The most likely suspect when it comes to hiring the Pandemic boys to rough up -A- is Goonswarm. -A- had taken advantage of the Goon's "all in" invasion of Branch to launch an invasion of their own against Goon space. Hiring Pandemic to make an enfilading attack against Catch will kick the props out from under the -A- offensive as -A- falls back to defend their home turf.
And no, I've not forgotten lowsec.
Seems some elements of Eve University have pinned a shiny tin star on their vest and formed the Coalition of Anti-Pirates (COA). The collection of alliances that Comprise COA have been taking the fight to the pirates and griefers in Heimatar and Metropolis, apparently with some success. Around the turn of the year one of their folks posted a progress report in the Eve forums, and it makes for interesting reading. While the thread has a fair amount of smack talk and "Oh no you didn't" from the pirates, there are ample griefer tears and posts bemoaning the end of small gang PvP to be found as well. This, along with killboard comparisons, indicate that COA is making life harder for the pies and driving a number of pirate organizations into the adjacent Aeman constellation in Sing Laison.
War is busting out all over; an auspicious beginning to 2012. My, I've missed the smell of cordite.