Enaluri, Black Rise: In war, history is often written by the victors. I have tried many times to maintain some semblance of balance in previous reports on the happenings in Black Rise, but with the events of this week there's really no point in trying. One side got its ass handed to it in such a fashion that to paint it in any other light would be doing a disservice to those involved on both sides.
As I type these words, a massive evacuation of Enaluri is underway. Thousands of ships have been destroyed in the intense fighting that has taken place over the last three days, and the back of the Caldari fleet lies broken. The Gallente that are not actively capturing plexes in the system are camping system exits and the station, with dozens of “Cockbag Thrashers” popping anything they can lay a point on. Enaluri presently stands at 90.7% contested as of early AM April 14, and it will likely fall before you read these words. After a three-week stalemate, this campaign is finally about to conclude.
How We Got Here
Some of you may recall a report I made two weeks ago detailing a Caldari offensive planned against Nennamaila. It followed a week-long buildup of assets and forces next door in the Enaluri system. With leaked intelligence flying back and forth on both sides, the Gallente mobilized a massive defensive effort to defend Rome from the barbarian hordes. Nearly every corp and alliance within the central command structure were notified and called upon to lend aide, and in true Gallente fashion nearly everyone answered the call. Ships, clones, and munitions were stockpiled at Nenna Station in preparation for a massive attack... that never came.
Fighting did occur that weekend, of course, but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. With the extra attention brought to the area by TMDC's audience, it could be argued that more action came from outsiders roaming into the area looking for fights than happened between the Gallente and Caldari militias. Evemails intercepted by Gallente spies indicated that, with the element of surprise gone, several Caldari leaders advised against over-playing their hand against Nennamaila, and went with a more conservative approach.
Over the next week, both sides made advances on each other's systems, but with Caldari forces operating in an EU TZ and Gallente operations taking place later in the evenings, the advantage went to the defensive plexers on both sides. Systems were brought into the 20% or 30% range, only to be brought back down near stable as one side or the other slept. Then new factors entered the battle on both sides.
In early April, a Russian Mattari alliance - Smile 'n' Wave <WAVE> - made contact with Gallente alliances GMVA, BNANA, SPCA, and corporation JUSTK to settle up mutual blue standings for joint operations in the war zone. It took them some time to completely get into position, but when they arrived in Nennamaila ready to rock on April 11 their 272 members were able to completely fill the EU TZ gap unfilled by the Gallente, and the counter assault began in earnest.
The Caldari were not without some help of their own. 615-man null-sec alliance The Gorgon Empire <-GE-> joined Faction War on the side of the Caldari and began arriving in Enaluri to support their efforts no less than a day before WAVE made their entrance into the conflict. Unlike Ev0ke, -GE- showed no unwillingness to work with their new purple friends, and a joint operation was on. It became very apparent to both sides that the days of having back and forth “Gud Fites” were over, and someone was about to lose their home system. The gloves abruptly came off, and the fighting commenced.
With the addition of -GE-, the Caldari Alliance (not counting individual corporations) potential residency numbers in Enaluri doubled to 1,200 pilots. With the addition of WAVE, the Gallente/Mattari potential residency in Nennamaila based on Alliances only (again, not individual corps) rose to 978, an increase of 39%. Of course, actual numbers were likely less thanks to inactive pilots or those not presently living with the rest of their alliance, but the potential of having over 1,000 war targets ready to take Fortress Nenna from them gave the Gallente all the motivation they needed to call for an all hands operation to push the Caldari out first.
When fighting began on Thursday (Apr. 11), the Gallente found themselves outnumbered against the Caldari for the first time in recent memory. It wasn't by much - usually in the 4-10 range, depending on the specific battle - but it was noticeable. The Gallente made a point early on of attempting to turn the focus of the conflict on the Caldari home system Enaluri, and trying to draw them away from plexing Nennamaila. Between WAVE and the Gallente, Enaluri was brought to 25% by Thursday evening while Nennamaila was stabilized.
Early on, -GE- experienced some of the growing pains that almost every null sec alliance does upon entering FW. The mechanics of fighting and tactics needed are vastly different from how things play out in 0.0, and if you're not ready for them you can find yourself making silly mistakes, i.e., TEST not realizing a bait cyno ship is useless on a plex gate. Ooops!
Tech 3 ships and anything battlecruiser class or larger are nearly useless in a plex war, save for the rarely seen large plexes. Camping the outsides of such complexes is usually pointless, as most experienced FW pilots are able to use a mechanic termed Hans Sliding to slip inside a plex with very little chance of being caught on the gate, forcing the other side to engage inside the complex if they want a chance at it.
Friday saw a solid defensive effort by the Caldari bring Enaluri back down to 15% contested. The afternoon started ominously for the Gallente as they were sandwiched between a pirate BS gang and a Caldari kitchen sink fleet.
Mistakes were made, as they say. A Gallente triage carrier was misused, ships left rep range and were lost, and while the Archon was able to leave the field (after nearly being abandoned by its support fleet) the fight was a sound drubbing, with morale taking a serious hit for a short time. Several members left fleet, and a new FC - one who generally hates the job - took over and began to reform. Cruisers and triage were dumped in favor of a fast attack T1/Navy frig brawler fleet. 31 pilots were pulled together in the rally, with four volunteering for Navitas duty. The Caldari fleet at the time was estimated to be at 35-40 strong, with a solid mix of T1/T2 frigates, destroyers, and cruisers.