The twenty four hours after war retraction passed without further hostilities, and fighting is now officially over. So, what’s the final body count, and what has Ironfleet learned?

First, the tonnage destroyed.

Chebri’s War: No ship losses on either side (unless you count Chebri’s Ibis that TorpedoTed salvaged.) Chebri had one Blackbird get damaged into structure, so perhaps a small repair bill there.

Effectively a no-tonnage tie.


Ironfleet lost:

1 Kestrel frigate (details)
1 Vexor cruiser (details)

AC-ME lost:

1 Procurer mining barge (details)
1 Iteron Mark V hauler carrying a lot of loot (details, AC-ME Acting CEO Cordus’s loss estimate)
1 Sigil hauler mining/carrying ore (details)
1 Capsule with pilot (Vryder04, amount of metal in head unknown, see above for details)
1 Giant Secure Container (AC-ME 4 in Isaz belts)
many jetcans containing ore

INDY (non AC-ME) lost:

2 Retriever mining barges (details, details)
1 Vexor cruiser (details)
1 Capsule with pilot (accidental podding, implants reimbursed after end of war)

On tonnage, the wars were a clear victory for Ironfleet.

May I pause for a moment to note how astonishing that is? Ironfleet had a total of three pilots in space during this war, and I think the three of us were all in the same system only once during the entire war. AC-ME routinely had five or six combat pilots in space, once they stopped mining and focused on trying to catch us and kill us, and that’s not counting the handful of experienced combat veteran volunteers from the Alliance that they often had flying with them.

I take that as proof that guerrilla warfare can work in EVE, if you can fly cloaked and have enough patience. Hit ’em where they ain’t, as the saying goes. But of course, it only works against an enemy who has soft targets in space.

Which leads to the money part of the war, and then to the politics. Because, tonnage victory or no, Ironfleet wasn’t fighting this war for the purpose of blowing shit up.

Economic Wins And Losses:

In raw ISK, it looks like a slight win for Ironfleet, thanks again to TorpedoTed’s catching the Iteron.

Ironfleet’s war bill was $100 million isk, versus an estimated few million for Chebri’s. We also paid for a set of +3 implants for Aktala after the war, to avoid bad blood with someone who was never our enemy but for a quirk of game mechanics. Miss Iron’s cruiser turned out to be free — she replaced it cheap in Isaz and then had the purchase price cheerfully refunded by the seller. We also picked up valuable mods from the wrecks of a couple of different mining barges, plus everything we were able to grab from the Iteron wreckage.

There’s also the unknown factor: how much metal was in Vryder04’s head? We’ll never know.

Disruption of Ironfleet’s normal salvage operations cannot be ignored — we did some salvaging during the war, but I was more interested in finding targets. AC-ME’s operations, however, were heavily disrupted. Before the war they had unescorted barges mining in the belts all the time. During the war, those same characters were often found in combat ships, and it was common for me to see all the known AC-ME members who were online in combat ships. They did get some mining done, but only in heavily-guarded operations with more combat pilots than miners. (Of course they got more done at times when Ironfleet was not online — disruption had to be far from absolute.)

It’s also hard to know what was rumor, what was counter-intelligence work, what was psy-ops, and what was maskirovka, but it’s also pretty clear that AC-ME either attempted to move during the war, or put a lot of effort (and an Iteron V full of stuff) into a pretty convincing feint.

So, there’s room for dispute, but I’m calling this as an economic win for Ironfleet, despite the expense of paying war fees against an Alliance.

What about political factors?

First of all, Ironfleet’s war plan just worked. It was audacious and frightening to war dec an entire alliance, but there was a reason for doing it, and we got what we wanted.

The logic of the thing started and ended with my perception that there was a strong and organic link between Chebri and AC-ME. I’ve detailed the reasons I thought so, and had people argue and dispute each individual reason, sometimes with merit and sometimes not. It may be that parts of the connection were weaker than I at first imagined. But in the heart of the business, I was not wrong. I perceived AC-ME as a responsible party in the hostilities, and I still perceive them that way, and nobody much disputes that they were at least an intended beneficiary and enthusiastic cheering squad for Chebri’s war.

Chebri’s war was a problem for Ironfleet, because you can’t hurt a combat pilot even if you can kill them repeatedly, which it seemed unlikely that I could given my available military resources. They live for the fight and they don’t mind losses very much. Unless Ironfleet wanted a state of perpetual war, I had to find leverage. I had to find something I could hurt, something that somebody with influence over Chebri would care about. AC-ME was the only thing I could see that might fill the bill. I wasn’t sure it would, but I thought it was worth a try.

The unknown for me was INDY. A lot of corps, most of which sounded at least somewhat industrial, and AC-ME was a new member. How strongly would INDY respond? How supportive of AC-ME would they be, versus annoyed that their new member came in with stupid and avoidable diplomatic baggage? There was no good way a noob to EVE politics could predict that one.

So, of course Chebri denies any and all influence by anyone. No man is an island, but Chebri is, if you listen to her.

But, let’s review the tape:

Chebri’s war dec was received on 12/25 at 03:57. War went active on 12/26 at 03:57. She must have paid her war bill before 1/2 at 03:57. And again, before 1/9 at 03:57.

Ironfleet’s first AC-ME kill was on 1/04. Our next (the big one) was on 1/7. Our first INDY kill was on 1/8. Our next (AC-ME) was on 1/9 after Chebri paid her war bill. Then on 1/10 toward the end of the day, we made two more INDY kills.

Chebri’s war retraction came in the early hours of 1/11. Coincidence? Possible. But I doubt it. I believe she was persuaded to let her war drop. Why else would she withdraw a war dec with five days paid on it?

So, the war worked. What were the other political gains and losses?

Chebri’s still an enemy, possibly a more implacable one than when the war began. Wars harden hearts, and enemies in EVE always have costs. I doubt we’ve seen the last of her, and I’m sure she’ll never pass up the chance to do us an injury, if she ever sees one.

I think there are a few others in AC-ME who have greater enmity against Ironfleet than they did when the war began. Another political loss.

On the gain side, Ironfleet has several new friends in the vicinity of Isaziwa. Miss Iron in particular (being a nicer person and a better diplomat than me) made some friendly contacts there. But I met some new friends too. AC-ME already had enemies, and some of them like Ironfleet better for the war.

Also on the gain side, some of the AC-ME folks that I knew a bit and liked, I now like better; and some I did not know, I know better and like. There was some nice professional flying and good courtesy during this war, and it was appreciated.

The same goes double for INDY. Independent Faction is a good outfit with some friendly people and some excellent pilots. Ironfleet by its nature is not an alliance-joining sort of corporation, but if we were, I hope we could find one as decent as INDY.

What did I learn?

First, warfare can be fun. I still don’t consider myself a combat pilot — the usual rock/scissors/paper of EVE combat leaves me cold. It’s an adrenaline rush, but I hate those — and the randomness and number of factors outside my control make it uninteresting to me. The only kind of combat I like is the kind where I’ve got the scissors and they’ve got the paper. If I don’t have a pretty good idea that’s what’s happening when I go in, I don’t go in.

But flying the stealth bomber in target-rich space was an absolute blast. I don’t know why these ships are so despised. You get to pick your targets and pick your battles, and if you’re very very careful and very very patient, nobody can touch you. It’s a slow and patient sort of warfare that works much better when you have corpmates in local to find your targets, but it works solo, even against overwhelming odds, if you’re patient enough.

Second, during this war I got a ton of practical experience flying my Manticores, completely overhauled my standard fittings, and gained an enormous amount of confidence in my ability to engage and disengage at will. I also learned a lot about which sort of combat vessels can be killed, which sort can be forced to leave, and which sort just tank the damage and laugh while calling in interceptors.

Third, I think I want one of those Cerberuses. Missile spamming from extreme range? That’s me. I have a new goal, and it’s not that far out of reach.

I’m still a terrible noob at matters martial, but less of one than I was. All in all, the war was a good experience for me and (I think) the rest of Ironfleet.

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