CR-0E5 system, Esoteria region. On the 15th of June at 13:23 EVE Standard Time, a battle was fought in the system between Test Alliance Please Ignore [TEST] forces and WinterCo over tackled Rorqual industrial capital ships.
WinterCo forces ignited the battle. The coalition wished to test its new Zealot heavy assault cruiser doctrine as a counter to Test Alliance Please Ignore’s signature Nightmare battleship fleets. To force Test Alliance Please Ignore to fight it at its own terms, the coalition decided to tackle a mining operation in the CR-0E5 system. To do so, they logged off interdictors were prepared in advance while the coalition mustered its fleet. 200 pilots formed the main fleet, with a dreadnought wing held in reserve at WinterCo’s forward staging base.
The Zealot fleet traveled down to the Esoteria region and sprung its trap, logging in the interdictors as its forces closed in on the system. The interdictors swooped down on the unsuspecting miners in their anomaly and quickly tackled them. No less than 17 Rorquals were caught by ambushers, along with a score of Procurer mining vessels. With the mining operation pinned down, the Zealot fleet entered the system and warped to the anomaly, opening fire on the helpless ships.
Just as WinterCo fleet commanders envisioned, Test Alliance Please Ignore swiftly responded to the events unfolding in the CR-0E5 system. A Hurricane battlecruiser fleet was hastily formed, numbering an estimated 100 pilots, while force auxiliaries were being secured to aid the tackled Rorquals which were under constant fire from the heavy assault cruisers.
While Test Alliance Please Ignore prepared its forces to confront WinterCo, the Zealot fleet kept terrorizing the mining operation. The Procurers were dispatched with ease while many of the Rorquals were stripped of their shields and armor, saving themselves in deep structure as they were finally forced to cycle their pulse activated nexus invulnerability cores. This tactic enabled them a brief reprieve as the modules slowly burnt themselves. Once the modules finished their cycles, the Rorquals would be once again at the mercy of the Zealot fleet.
At this point, the Test Alliance Please Ignore Hurricane fleet had managed to sort itself and secured a titan to bridge into the battlefield. One of the Rorquals, heavily damaged and ending its invulnerability cycle, lit its fitted cynosural beacon to let the fleet through. As the Hurricane fleet materialized on the field, disaster struck. The Zealot fleet zeroed in on the Rorqual which lit the beacon and fired upon it. With the ship vulnerable and already heavily damaged, it took a few seconds for the heavy assault cruisers to destroy it.
This loss proved disastrous for the Hurricane fleet which was still in the process of bringing in its fleet. With the beacon disappearing mid-jump, half the fleet was dispersed throughout the system rather than landing on the battlefield, many of the ships finding themselves at the sun. With only half the force making it through to the battle, the Hurricane fleet faced the far numerically superior Zealot fleet, what more, the Hurricanes materialized near the Zealots.
The two sides clashed, the Zealots keeping a close, near brawl range with the battlecruisers. The two fleets lobbed munitions at each other over a 20-kilometer gulf between them. This distance played to the Zealots’ advantage as the Hurricanes’ artillery cannons had a tough time tracking the smaller hulls of the heavy assault cruisers. Volley after volley from the heavy beam laser batteries found their marks and downed a battlecruiser. In rapid succession three dozen battlecruisers were destroyed, all with minimal losses to the Zealot fleet.
While WinterCo was kept busy with the Hurricane fleet, Test Alliance Please Ignore gathered a new Nightmare fleet. Every ship lost in the system freed another pilot to join the Nightmare fleet, allowing it to gain nearly 200 pilots, though only a third were in battleships. At the same time, force auxiliaries trickled to the field, three of them landing near the tackled Rorquals, attempting to provide aid both to the industrial capital ships and the survivors of the Hurricane fleet.
The chaos of the fighting allowed several of the Rorquals to escape, but still, half the fleet remained pinned on the grid. However with the force auxiliaries on the field, the Rorquals had a decent chance to tank the Zealot fleet. The heavy assault cruisers dispatched the remnants of the Hurricane fleet and focused their firepower on the now vulnerable capital industrial ships. However, unlike before, the Zealot fleet struggled to break the tank of the Rorquals, the force auxiliaries managing to transfer shields and keep the vessels alive, barely.
The Zealot fleet didn’t give up and seemed to slowly burn through the shields of one Rorqual, slowly chipping at its structure between shield transfer cycles, when the Test Alliance Please Ignore Nightmare fleet arrived on the field. Using a Minokawa force auxiliary this time, a far more robust ship, to light the cynosural beacon, the battleships jumped straight to the battlefield. The still stranded remnants of the Hurricane fleet still stranded in the system flocked to it, adding more ships and firepower to its ranks.
Yet in a repeat of the previous engagement, the battleships materialized too close to the heavy assault cruisers. The Zealot fleet once again positioned itself merely 20 kilometers away from its foe. The two sides exchange fire immediately. The Nightmares anchored up and attempted to burn away from the Zealots but to no avail. The heavy assault cruisers kept pace, never allowing their opponent to widen the gap between the two fleets. This game of cat and mouse led to the two fleets dancing around the grid, the Nightmares also constrained by the range and placement of the force auxiliaries.
Unlike the battlecruisers, the battleships proved deadlier for the heavy assault cruisers. Though suffering the same disadvantages of their smaller brethren, the Nightmares’ tachyon beam lasers were better able to hit the fast-moving Zealots. They established a more even exchange as Nightmares picked out the weaker ships in the Zealots’ line up, in particular, the Deimos heavy assault cruisers whose tank was weaker in comparison to the Zealots. The Zealots for their part focused on the battleships, burning through their shields at an even pace.
At this point, WinterCo attempted to escalate matters. The dreadnought wing which had been waiting in the friendly territory was told to travel to the X-7BIX system in the region. This system has a regional gate which would bring the dreadnoughts in range of the system. With the dreadnoughts brought in, WinterCo hoped to be rid of the force auxiliaries, as well as clear the remaining tackled Rorquals and perhaps further illicit escalation from Test Alliance Please Ignore.
The dreadnoughts slowly traveled via gates to the system, entering the Esoteria region through the regional gate and prepared to jump in. However, it was WinterCo’s turn to suffer calamity. The cynosural beacon lit up on the grid, near the hostile Minokawas and Rorquals. Test Alliance Please Ignore forces immediately targeted it, destroying it before the bulk of the dreadnoughts could jump in. Only five dreadnoughts materialized on the field, far too few to break the tank of the force auxiliaries.
Worse yet, Test Alliance Please Ignore scouts had spotted the rest of the dreadnought force and sent interdictors in to pin it down. Caught without support two squadrons of dreadnoughts found themselves in the X-7BIX system, entirely at the mercy of Test Alliance Please Ignore forces. For their part, Test Alliance Please Ignore organized three squadrons of combat carriers and secured a cynosural beacon at a perch 200 kilometers from the stranded dreadnoughts. Lighting the cyno, the combat carriers jumped into the system at a safe distance from the dangerous guns of the WinterCo dreadnoughts.
Flights of fighters were launched and sent into the dreadnought ranks. The fighters descended upon their helpless prey, burning through the hulls at a moderate pace. All the while the dreadnoughts were unable to return fire or offer any defense against the fighter onslaught, forced to suffer in silence as the Test Please Ignore fleet executed its revenge. With the dreadnoughts destroyed, the combat carriers extracted safely, having foiled WinterCo’s plans.
With the dreadnoughts taken out, the fight in CR-0E5 became ever more desperate and brutal. Both sides were bleeding mainline ships, their firepower steadily dwindling. With less damage output, more and more hostile ships were able to catch remote repairs, especially on the Test Alliance Please Ignore side which had the force auxiliaries on the field, their number rising to five. As the battle progressed, WinterCo found itself more and more at a disadvantage.
Finally having trouble breaking the Nightmares, the fleet change targets to the more fragile battlecruisers. Once again Hurricanes were destroyed at a rapid rate, but this time WinterCo was forced to pay a toll for every hostile ship it destroyed. The Test Alliance Please Ignore fleet had changed primaries, focusing instead on pruning the WinterCo logistics wing. Many logistics cruisers, in particular, Exequrors, fell to the Test Alliance Please Ignore assault. As the logistics ship numbers dropped, so too did the fleet’s ability to tank the incoming damage.
It didn’t take long for the Nightmare fleet to target the Zealots themselves. With fewer logistics ships, the robust armor of the heavy assault cruisers proved rather brittle. Slowly, Zealots began to drop, the remaining firepower of the Nightmare fleet more than enough to dispatch them. With losses mounting, WinterCo fleet commanders began preparing the fleet for extraction.
The Zealot fleet prioritized tackle and support ships over damage dealers. Interceptors, interdictors and force recons were targeted and removed from the battlefield or else forced off by the Zealots’ guns. The fleet itself began burning away from the battleships, increasing the distance as it tried to navigate the warp disruption probes the Test Alliance Please Ignore interdictors attempted to trap it.
It was the Nightmare fleet that was giving chase now, firing from a medium range at the retreated heavy assault cruisers. Picking up stragglers, the Nightmares pressed their advantage, but the Zealot fleet was able to clear the warp disruption probes and align out. The WinterCo fleet commander gave the command and the fleet warped off the grid, leaving only a few ships behind for Test Alliance Please Ignore to destroy.
Test Alliance Please Ignore for its part focused on clearing the grid and securing it. Test easily destroyed the few WinterCo dreadnoughts which managed to make it to the fight. The remaining Rorquals extracted as well, the vast majority of them survive the battle. With the field under Test Alliance Please Ignore’s control, the alliance lotted the many wrecks littering the anomaly, recouping some of its losses.
With Test Alliance Please Ignore declining to pursue, WinterCo fleet returned to its region, stopping to collect the remaining dreadnoughts which had not jumped through the gate and escort them back home. Thus the battle of CR-0E5 came to an end.
The battle from the perspective of the WinterCo Zealot fleet. (Editor’s note: Sorry, I could not figure out how to properly embed from this site. If you know how, please join this discord server and message Curt#8110)
Battle report for the CR-0E5 and X-7BIX systems can be found here.
All told the battle on its various parts lasted 86 minutes with Time Dilation not reported as a factor by combatants and the CR-0E5 system hosting 400 pilots at the peak of the fighting.
Test Alliance Please Ignore 257 ships in the fight, including but not limited to 1 industrial capital ship, 55 battleships and 108 battlecruisers for a total of 72.97 billion ISK damage.
WinterCo lost 125 ships in the fight, including 17 dreadnoughts and 32 heavy assault cruisers for a total of 56.82 billion ISK.
Featured and secondary image credit: Razorien