The War so Far: Spurred by economic opportunities, the Clustferfuck Coalition(CFC) launched an attack on Fountain, a region in EVE Online’s western rim. The Allied forces of TEST Alliance, Please Ignore, N3, and Pandemic Legion resisted the invasion but were unable to prevent the CFC establishing a bridgehead in Fountain by capturing the J5A-IX. For the full story, check out part two of GamesRadar's series on The Fountain War.
Despite diplomatic and military victories in the early weeks of the Fountain War, CFC advances ground to a halt in the middle of June. Though it had captured the beachhead at J5A-IX, CFC forces were bottled up by dogged Allied resistance in neighboring EI-O0O and Z9PP-H. Choosing to bypass the Allied strongpoint, CFC forces began capturing the surrounding systems in an attempt to remove the strain on J5A-IX and 4-EP12. However, inferior tactical doctrines and an inability to compete with the Allies in the Australian timezones limited the ability of CFC forces to capture and retain Allied territory.
While the Allies were able to prevent a CFC breakout from the front, CFC dominance in the American time zones prevented Allied forces from ejecting CFC forces out of Fountain. Instead, Allied forces decided to adopt a defensive stance at the front and focus on recapturing the five systems Sort Dragon had “gifted" to the CFC. By early July, Allied forces had recaptured all of the lost territory but 4-EP12, while keeping the CFC bottled up.
The Home Front
EVE Online's players are nothing if not opportunistic, and with the majority of Allied and CFC forces concentrated in Fountain enterprising groups of players jumped on the chance to capture territory elsewhere. For the first weeks of the war CFC moons and systems in the east were harassed by Black Legion--eventually causing the CFC so much trouble that that the CFC simply bribed Black Legion to join the attack in Fountain.
Unfortunately for the Allies, their own problems could not be bought off. TEST's ability to fund a protracted war with the wealthy CFC had always been questionable, but when the event came TEST proved even less prepared than expected. Without a steady stream of income, TEST would be unable to replace their losses, threatening TEST's morale.
One major source of income for TEST were the natural resources mined from the moons in Fountain and Delve. However, nearly all of these moons were at risk, either from the CFC or from TEST’s southern neighbors. The day the war began, the CFC had been making efforts to disrupt TEST's income by raiding--and even capturing--the moons in Fountain, while TEST's income was further hampered by attacks on their southern moons by Confederation of xXPizzaXx. Some suspect that the CFC paid Confederation of xXPizzaXx to mount the raids against TEST’s main income source, but no confirming evidence could be found by the author.
No large-scale war in EVE would be complete without propaganda. Throughout the Fountain War, BoodaBooda would constantly--and falsely--reassure his soldiers that TEST's finances were solid, that there were no delays in replacing ships. However, a backlog did accumulate, only to be erased when TEST asked for private donations to fund the war effort. TEST's morale plummeted, as did the number of pilots logging in each day, forcing N3 and PL to shoulder the brunt of the war.
Fortunately, the CFC was having its own morale problems. Despite The Mittani's warnings rank-and-file Goons had expected little resistance. Few had anticipated N3 and PL to enter the war in defense of TEST. With the stalemate, the disappointing performance of CFC attacks, and dogged Allied resistance, CFC participation began to slacken. Fewer players logged in to join attacking fleets, which gave the Allies greater impetus. The Mittani attempted to bolster morale by declaring the slog was all a part of the CFC’s “No fun for our enemies" strategy, but when asked, other CFC leaders dismissed that idea as propaganda. And so the war dragged on, and as the calendar flipped over to July, the CFC turned to cloak and dagger diplomacy to break the stalemate.
Cloak and Dagger
On July 1, 2013 N3 lost control of over 200 of its core systems in the southeast of New Eden. The former owner of those systems, an N3-affiliated corporation named S2NCitizens, was infiltrated by an unknown player, who was able to rise to a high position in the corporation. At some point, this player approached the CFC with an offer to disband S2NCitizens--forfeiting all the territory it controlled--and steal a vast amount from N3’s treasury. The CFC lept at the offer and at the chance to remove N3 from the war. The operation mimicked a legendary blow GoonSwarm inflicted on Band of Brothers, their rivals during the Great War. In fact, the player disbanding S2NCitizens recieved assistance from Band of Brother’s destroyer, who was a GoonSwarm diplomat.
Unlike Band of Brothers, however N3 survived the loss of territory--mostly through luck and the heroic efforts of N3’s large capital fleet. Forced to temporarily withdraw from Fountain, N3 and PL quickly deployed their entire capital and supercapital fleets to the southeast, and began working to recapture the lost systems. N3's usual rivals, such as SOLAR FLEET, were not able to capitalize on the opportunity CFC presented them, leaving N3 and PL free to recapture the lost ground without significant opposition. With the massive capital and supercapital fleets of N3 and PL working in tandem, N3 was able to recapture all of the lost territory in a matter of days.
Back in Fountain, however TEST found itself alone and without N3 and PL to prop it up, TEST’s weakness began to show. The CFC began winning small engagements around Fountain, and while it gained no new territory the victories boosted CFC morale. With the PL and N3 capital fleets deployed to the southeast, CFC commanders felt they could safely deploy their own capital ships, further boosting morale. Eventually TEST was forced to respond in kind, and its inept use of capital ships would lead to one of the greatest blunders of the war.
Next time: The largest battle in months takes place and TEST's Capital Fleet is saved.
The story continues in EVE Online's Fountain War - Miracle of Z9PP-H!