Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Initiative At Bay

Sovereignty warfare is an acquired taste.

The central point of Sov warfare is to take territory from the other guy. Taking territory, now as ever, requires the reducing of military strong points. Siege warfare, in other words. For the average Eve pilot, that means a lot of time grinding away at structures while waiting for the enemy to drop a fleet or two on you. 

Long stretches of boredom, punctuated by moments of terror/excitement.  Just like real life.

Mind, there are rewards for sov warfare beyond simply holding space in nullsec. There is something about being part of large fleet actions that can't be found in small gangs. The pace of combat is not as rapid, but you're constantly aware of the sheer volume of power being thrown around. When structure grinding gives way to punch and counter-punch by fleets numbering in the hundreds of ships, there's nothing like it - particularly if you're winning.

Losing in sov warfare, on the other hand, totally sucks.

As often as not, losing a sov war is not about the battles you win or lose in the field, but the battle to keep your pilots' heads in the game. You can be holding your ground against a determined enemy when suddenly the daily grind of responding to attacks starts to get to your pilots. Eve stops being fun. Starts being a job. Some pilots stop answering CTAs. The operational burden falls on a smaller set of pilots, and some of them burn out and stop answering CTAs. Wash, rinse, repeat. Next thing you know, an enemy you once outnumbered on the battlefield starts outnumbering you, and pilot morale goes into a downward cascade. Sov warfare is as much about psychology as it is about strategy and tactics.

It is the psychological battle The Initiative appears to have lost last Sunday in its fight for the Catch region against Against All Authorities (-A-) and the rest of the Southern Russian Coalition (SRC). 

The Initiative's position had deteriorated over time. The first warning signs were This Initiative's inability to support the vassal alliances Circle of Two (CO2) and Dead Terrorists (DT) that provided a buffer between Catch and the NPC regions -A- had retreated to after The Initiative's invasion. The next blow was the SRC overrunning of Impass and Feythabolis followed by incursions into Catch proper. The initiative turned to IT Alliance for help - a move that backfired from a morale standpoint when IT abandoned the Initiative's cause only a week after going "all in" to eliminate the Southern Russian threat. The Initiative's rehiring of the Northern Coalition Alliance's (NCDOT) capital fleet last week, despite their lack of utility during their first term of service, captures the degree to which The Initiative was in trouble.

In abandoning Catch, The Initiative has pulled its forces back to Immensea. Their intent, according to a press release by Initiative leadership, is to use that Region as a base for raiding and harrying -A- forces in an effort to step away from sov warfare and get back to the rapid-fire PvP they enjoyed before taking of the burdens of a vast nullsec empire.

If you look at the Immensea region, it has only a single point of entry to Catch, which acts as a bottleneck for SRC forces attacking from Catch. At the same time, the region has a number of entry points to Teneferis, where the greater part of The Initiative's renters - and income - reside. The Initiative appears to be making their headquarters at E1F-LK, a system in the station-rich C73-U5 constellation. It's proximity to both the region's sole gateway to Catch and a gateway to Teneferis speaks to The Initiative's intent.

To an extent, The Initiative's actions seem to replicate -A-'s tactic of withdrawing to NPC space to regroup after The Initiative's invasion last Fall. However, The Initiative's circumstances now are quite different from -A-'s then. Many of -A- pilots were long-time veterans of nullsec, hardened to the rigors and pace of sov warfare. Unlike The Initiative, -A-'s pilots had not endured months of bruising sov warfare prior to their retreat. Finally, unlike Immensea, NPC space cannot be conquered.

I doubt the SRC will allow The Initiative the leisure to recover, or a strong point from which to raid Catch. While The Initiative's plan might seem sound at first glance, it's dependent upon defensive indifference by the SRC to be successful. Once they've consolidated their hold on Catch, expect the SRC to go after Teneferis, forcing Initiative into another grinding sov fight while, at the same time, applying pressure to the gateway between Catch and Immensea.

If Teneferis falls, the SRC forces will be able to attack Immensea from three additional gateways -  leaving Initiative's forces trapped in their own refuge.  


  1. I actually read a post in one of the forums claiming that one of the Russians' websites already says as much, that they have no intention of stopping with Catch.

  2. If Init crumbles, there is a fair likelihood that SRC might hit IT in Delve. If IT is forced to defend Delve and Fountain at the same time, things could become very interesting.