I arrived in M-0EE8 in a cloaked covert ops frigate at around 18:30 EVE time to watch the event unfold, and it wasn’t long before a world-record-breaking 5,300 pilots had poured into the star system. A cluster of anchorable warp disruption field generators hung like bright lanterns in space, with great swarms of Scorpions and shoals of Machariels swirling inside. A constant stream of weapons fire flowed from these blinding death bubbles to the Keepstar, whittling down its immense structure like a swarm of insects nipping at a Tyrannosauros Rex.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I give a brief account of the Siege of M-0EE8, share some screenshots from the event, take a look at how the server coped with the enormous battle, and drill down into the battle stats to see just how record-breaking the siege was.
Setting up the siege engine
The battle over a citadel takes place over several individual fights, giving the defender multiple opportunities to repel the attack. Last week’s battle in M-0EE8 saw intense fighting and heavy use of expensive capital ships, with over 266 billion ISK worth of ships going up in smoke. The fight was ultimately lost, however, and yesterday’s final conflict was the last chance for Circle of Two and its allies in TEST Alliance to save the structure. The final siege used over a thousand battleships and hundreds of smaller ships instead of risking capital ships, a strategy that likely reduced the financial cost to the attackers.
The Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition battleship fleets were already in place when I arrived at the scene, and at around 1900 EVE time Mercenary Coalition joined the fray in a contingent of armoured Typhoon battleships with Guardian logistics support. The group sprung into action as quickly as the system’s 10% time dilation would allow, and I watched in slow motion as they set up logistics chains and began projecting an endless stream of missiles toward the Keepstar, unchallenged. A virtual death squad of nearly 500 Scorpions from Pandemic Horde joined the siege shortly after, and stealth bombers periodically tried to bomb the battleship groups without success.
Before the Citadel even becomes vulnerable, M-O has set a new Nullsec record for largest system population, still increasing. #tweetfleet
— Josh Bayer / CCP Fozzie (@CCP_Fozzie) December 10, 2016
Watching history unfold
Shipwrecks littered the surrounding space for thousands of kilometers in every direction, with vultures circling in the hopes of stealing what they can from the biggest battle of the year and even bigger vultures preying on them. Escape pods and frozen corpses filled the skies over the next few hours as third party alliances occasionally joined the fray and small skirmishes erupted for the glory of being part of the battle of M-0EE8 and the chance of some nice kills.
Local chat sped past in a constant deluge of copy-paste memes, pointless spam, and the occasional question from an onlooker come to bear witness to a special moment in EVE‘s history. I wondered to myself how many people were, like me, floating safe and cloaked in space just a few hundred or thousand kilometers from the constant ring of explosions and the churn of metal in the meat grinder.
It wasn’t long before we learned that the defending fleets from TEST alliance had retreated to their staging systems, and it looked like the siege would be an inevitable success. The attraction of killing the game’s first fully operational and armed Keepstar had spurred an overwhelming attacking force to come together, and the Keepstar was likely considered lost after the previous two battles over it. In the end, no serious attempt to save the Keepstar was made and very few capital ships entered the fray.
How did the server cope?
In years gone by, the EVE server node running a star system would have simply lagged out or even crashed if a few thousand players decided to jump into the same star system. Forewarning of the battle allowed CCP to put the star system on a dedicated server node to support more players, but the real magic that kept the server running is time dilation. Introduced in 2012, time dilation literally slows down time in a star system to prevent the server node from becoming overloaded and allow everyone to keep playing relatively smoothly (albeit in slow motion). As the system of M-0EE8 groaned under the weight of over five thousand pilots, it chugged along at 10% of normal speed for most of the fight, and some pilots had intermittent connection issues.
When the station hit 0% structure, it took a few minutes for the killmail to be generated and the structure to actually explode. I was unfortunately warping into the field as the explosion was being processed and the station just disappeared silently from my screen, but CCP’s official stream caught the entire explosion in all its slow-motion glory. I did manage to warp over to the Hangar Container with all of the loot to see what dropped, which turned out to be about 2.7 billion ISK’s worth of citadel modules, fuel and ammo. Though I was promptly relieved of my covert ops frigate for my curiosity, I heard that one sneaky player lying in wait in an Occator managed to swipe all of that loot.
(Start at 01:36:30)
M-O has now broken the all-time EVE system pop record. Overwhelming numbers from the attacking forces who want to make history. #tweetfleet
— Josh Bayer / CCP Fozzie (@CCP_Fozzie) December 10, 2016
Running the numbers
We don’t yet know how many unique characters were involved in the battle over the several hours that it was taking place, but a total of 4,078 characters attacked the Keepstar and many players made the dangerous journey to the site just to get on the history-making killmail. The final blow was laid by player Vlulvik Hrapruk from Legion of xXDEATHXx alliance, and the top damage-dealer was Pandemic Legion’s Fiona Erinies with just 227,919 total damage.
From 1600 EVE time on Saturday until 0200 this morning, a total of 513.68 billion ISK’s worth of ships and structures were recorded as destroyed in the system, with 300 billion of that being the Keepstar itself. To put that number into another context, 513.68 billion ISK would currently buy around 485 PLEX on the open market, which is enough to subscribe an account for over 40 years of game time and would cost between $7,275 and $9,675 US to buy with cash.
EVE‘s previous record-holding battles were 2014’s infamous Bloodbath of B-R5RB in which 11 trillion ISK went up in smoke and a world record holding fight in 6VDT-H in 2013 that had 4,070 players at its peak. Yesterday’s battle didn’t come anywhere near the level of financial destruction in B-R5RB, but it absolutely smashed 6VDT-H’s record for concurrent players with over 5,300 in the system at one point. This makes the siege of M-0EE8 Keepstar the new world record holder for the single largest PvP battle in gaming history, which makes you wonder how much larger it could have been if the defenders had shown up in force.