Two weeks on from my initial foray into EVE Online's new faction warfare system, the state of the war has changed considerably. Interesting developments have cropped up on all sides as the tides of war have pushed players into action. Pilot numbers on all sides have swelled, several high profile engagements have occurred and new fleet tactics have emerged. The four militias are beginning to find their feet and the face of war in EVE Online is evolving at pace. In this article, I examine the state of the war and how it has changed in the past two weeks.

High profile battles:
In the early days of faction warfare, several high profile engagements and epic fleet battles occurred. Since then, the border zones have continued to heat up and news of further high profile combat has surfaced. Under the expert command of Caldari fleet commander Boromos, a Gallente militia carrier was killed in Heydieles star system. Co-ordinating with a large nearby fleet, Boromos managed to trap the Gallente militia fleet in a classic pincer manoeuvre. The Gallente carrier was called as a primary target the moment it entered the fray and was killed as its support fleet crumbled.

Enraged, the Gallente militia got revenge for their carrier loss six-fold.

Disproportionate response:
In retaliation for losing their carrier in Heydieles, the Federal Defence Union launched an assault against a band of Caldari carriers on the evening of June 28th. When the two carriers were spotted suspiciously hanging around stations and stargates in Tama, the federation fleet initially smelled a trap. Throwing caution to the wind, a fleet composed mostly of Invicta and Einherjar Rising corporation members followed the carriers to a stargate and engaged. The trap closed as four more Caldari carriers jumped into the system and engaged, escorted by a small support fleet.

The Caldari carriers maintained sturdy tanks with a chain of capital remote repairers and shield transfers, a highly effective tactic known as spider tanking. This allowed them to concentrate their repairing on one ship at a time, operating almost as a single ship with massive tanking capabilities and a cloud of powerful fighters. Under the command of Lucas Avignon, clever tactics were used to draw the carrier's fighters away from the battle and destroy them, rendering the carriers almost weaponless.

During the fight, reinforcements from friendly alliances and local roaming gangs were called in to help break the carrier's massive tanks. After a short and intense battle, the federation fleet emerged victorious with six more carrier kills under their belts. This marks the 14th capital ship kill for the Gallente militia since it was founded.

Headcount:
The number of players in the militias has almost doubled in the past two weeks and only now looks like it's stabilising. The number of Gallente and Minmatar pilots in particular has taken a dramatic climb, which is good news for the Gallente-Minmatar alliance. The militia numbers now stand at 7559 Caldari pilots, 4728 Gallente, 4546 Minmatar and only 2761 Amarr pilots. Despite their superior numbers, the Caldari militia is still not performing as well as their rivals, scoring less kills and barely maintaining their lead on victory points.

Statistics show the Minmatar and Amarr militias to be extremely competent and deadly, followed closely by the Gallente militia. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Amarr militia is are closely matching their Minmatar adversaries on kills per pilot and have stepped up their system-capturing efforts significantly in recent days.

System conquered:
As with many of faction warfare's epic firsts, the first system being conquered was an occasion to remember. On the evening of June 16th, Odamia star system in Placid fell under the control of the Caldari State Protectorate following a well-organised siege of the system's control bunker. The control bunker in Odamia had become vulnerable after the system was heavily contested by Caldari militia forces over a period of days.

This early system capture was due in part to inadequate efforts on the part of the Gallente militia to recapture the system. It has been largely blamed on faction warfare being new and players not knowing how to recapture the system once contested. Since then, no systems have been officially reported to have changed hands. The Minmatar militia is credited as having captured an Amarr star system but their own official news sources have been almost silent since the fighting began.

Striking deep:
Although the majority of faction warfare's fighting occurs in the low-security border zones between faction territories, daring pilots have made use of novel strategies to get behind enemy lines and hit them where they least expect it. The Caldari militia were the first to try this strategy when they launched cavalry raids into secure Gallente trade hubs. Hoping to catch pilots unaware, their fleet of cruisers outran Gallente navy police patrols and quickly made its way to Oursulaert star system. Once there, they made a number of kills and sent a strong message that Gallente pilots are at risk even in their safest systems.

On June 28th, Gallente loyalist corporation "The Dead Parrot Shoppe, Inc." returned the favour and took the fight to the Caldari. Under command of Friedrick Psitalon, the 15 man gang parked outside the most densely populated station in trade hub Jita. The fleet killed 22 State Protectorate ships while suffering only a single loss due to pilot error. Before attacking, Friedrick warned his victims over local comm channels, saying: "CALDARI MILITIA! We are here in defiance of your Navy, who can do nothing to stop us! Your military is weak, as is your militia! In your own high-security space, you lack the means to defend yourself!".

Evolution of the war machine:
The past two weeks have seen shifts in fleet compositions on all sides as players develop new strategies to minimise losses. Fleets with dozens of disposable missile-slinging cruisers have been spotted killing pilots with a single collective volley. In retaliation, some corps are practising elaborate spider-tanking manoeuvres that allow a small gang of battleships to successfully take on fleets five times their own size. The pressure of war has spawned a great deal of innovation, with specialised fleets cropping up more and more often.

One of the biggest things to affect the militias has been change in their organisation structure and fleet command. Despite taking the early lead in organisation, the Gallente militia has recently found itself without any of its star fleet commanders. Popular commander Zero Threat left the militia to pursue other corporate goals and complex-capturing specialist Benedict Dauphine (an alt of Warp Drive Active's Benilopax) has not been active recently. Due to a computer hardware problem, fleet commander Elijah Ghost who had some initial successes has also had limited and intermittent access to EVE.

The remaining fleet commanders in the Gallente militia lack confidence in their ability to manage large fleets, causing a large number of smaller gangs to be made instead. Organisation efforts have nevertheless continued on all sides, with varying degrees of success. HuLiGaNkA and DanFraser of the Amarr militia have been making a strong effort to supply their comrades with free fitted frigates and destroyers. Meanwhile, the Gallente militia has made significant headway with the introduction of a single communal killboard and forum.

In summary:
The message with faction warfare is still as prominent as it always was. Players have continued to focus on the instant action PvP it provides and are having a lot of fun in the process. Despite the fact that rank and system ownership still offer no benefits, many players are still motivated enough to hold their systems uncontested. Two weeks into the great faction war, the battle for New Eden is really starting to heat up.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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