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The Bloodbath of B-R5RB is considered to be one of the largest, if not the largest PvP (player-versus-player) battle to have ever played out in a videogame. It also marks the largest battle to date in the EVE Online universe, a space-themed MMORPG developed by icelandic CCP. The battle, led between the two player coalitions N3/PL and CFC/RUS, pitted 7500 players against each other in a battle that saw the destruction of 75 Titan-class ships, the largest type of capital ship available in the game. In total, the Bloodbath of B-R5RB lasted for 21 hours, with an estimated value of $300 000 worth of materiel destroyed.
EVE Online is an MMORPG where players can pilot starships and engage in a variety of tasks, such as mining, exploring the universe for hidden artefacts, manufacturing and fighting each other. Players have the ability to band together as corporations (the EVE equivalent of a WoW guild) to further mutual interests. These corporations can band together into alliances, who in turn can form a much larger coalition of players that number in the thousands of players. These coalitions own entire regions of space, and often try to conquer each others’ “land” through warfare, diplomacy and/or sabotage. The political landscape in EVE is tenuous, and often leads to violent conflicts between power blocs, such as the Great Wars.
One of these conflicts erupted around a year ago, when the two coalitions N3 and Pandemic Legion formed up as the supercoalition N3/PL to drive the predominantly russian SOLAR Fleet alliance out from their territory together, while simultaneously gain control over a piece of territory called the Dronelands; a stretch of space ideal for the construction of the largest ships in EVE. The Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC) maintained a neutral approach to the conflict until N3/PL allied with their old adversaries, TEST Alliance Please Ignore, and started a minor war with the CFC. In turn, Clusterfuck formed an alliance with the russians out of necessity. The conflict, known as the Halloween war, eventually became a war of attrition between the two sides: the CFC and russians outnumbered N3/PL by a large amount, but the latter often managed to bring larger amounts of firepower to the field.
Taking a solar system from the hands of the enemy in EVE Online is no easy feat, and neither is maintaining it under your control. Owners of a system must pay a monthly fee to the game’s NPC police (CONCORD) to maintain sovereignty. Fail to pay on time, and you lose control of the system and any stations you might own in it, meaning that anyone else might swoop in and take control of your former assets. N3/PL used the B-R5RB system as a staging area for their operations against the CFC. Staging systems are of vital importance to coalitions, as they contain hangars holding hundreds of ships for their pilots, and are an important logistics centre and meeting area for their owners.
On january 27th, however, the bill for maintaining ownership of B-R5RB was not paid on time.
This proved to be a huge blunder for N3/PL. CFC took notice as they lost control of the system and rushed to capture everything they could with the help of their russian allies. N3/PL retaliated, sending a whole fleet of capital ships, including the massive Titans, to stop the CFC. Unexpectedly, the CFC responded by fielding an equally large force. As the two massive fleets engaged each other, reinforcements were called in on both sides to aid in the battle until it escalated out of proportions previously unseen.
And thus, the largest battle in EVE Online began due to a clerical error.
As more and more players arrived on the scene to fight, CCP’s servers in London were struggling to bear the massive load without crashing the server node. Since EVE Online differs from other MMO in having all players assembled on a single shard instead of spreading them out across different servers, CCP had to develop different ways of handling large battles like the one of B-R5RB. For this purpose, a concept called Time Dilation was implemented, slowing down time on the node to 10% of normal game speed while keeping the rest of the nodes running normally. This feature was also used for the famous Battle of Asakai last year, as well as the battle for 6VDT. Ironically, this enabled both N3/PL and CFC/RUS to call in reinforcements quicker than they were being depleted, thus increasing server load.
While smaller ships skirmished close to stargates and neighbouring systems in an attempt to halt reinforcements, the main bulk of the fighting was carried out by both sides’ capital fleets, involving ships measuring several kilometres long such as carriers, dreadnoughts, supercarriers and the infamous Titans. Titans are the largest, most time consuming and most expensive ships to build in-game, and are valued due to being able to take huge amounts of punishment, deploy portals that can teleport entire fleets across several solar systems at once, and for their ability to fit doomsday weapons that can vaporize most ships in a single shot before going on a ten minute cooldown period. With Time Dilation active however, Titan pilots had to wait an entire hour in real time before being able to fire their doomsdays again.
As news of the fighting spread across the EVE universe, opportunists and curious third parties alike rushed to the scene, either to simply witness the massacre, record it and upload footage on YouTube, or simply steal as much loot from the shipwrecks as they could. The player Nick_Fuzzeh, among others, managed to livestream large parts of the battle on Twitch.
After twelve hours of fighting, it became clear for N3/PL leadership that they were losing badly and would have to retreat. As they struggled to evacuate as many capital ships as they could – easier said than done, as both sides had deployed interdiction bubbles that prevents any ship caught within from warping away – the CFC attempted to kill off as many retreating ships as they could. Although the main capital ship fight was drawing to a close, it would take many more hours before the rest of the fighting between smaller fleets and skirmishes died down – only to stop when the servers went on maintenance downtime, 21 hours after the battle had started.
The resulting losses were on a scale previously unseen in EVE Online. A total of 7548 unique characters in total participated in the battle, involving 717 corporations as a part of 55 alliances. Both sides lost a total of 370 dreadnoughts, 123 carriers and 13 supercarriers. But the most staggering losses were the total amount of Titans destroyed; 75 in total, of which 59 belonged to N3/PL and 16 were CFC/RUS.
Since EVE players can buy PLEX (a card offering 30 days of game time) either through money-based subscription ($15 a month) or through in the game currency isk (~600 million isk for a single PLEX), it offers a rough estimate on the real-life value of spaceships in EVE. Using this estimate, the total cost for the battle lands at 11 trillion isk, or $330 000, with each individual Titan costing around $3000, or 200 PLEX cards.
In recognition of the massive battle, CCP has elected to erect a monument in B-R5RB at the location of the battle. The monument, called Titanomachy, was implemented on January 31st and appears in the game as a ship graveyard that can be visited in space.
The battle was a major source of discussion on Reddit, themittani.com and other gaming websites, but also garnered attention on the mainstream media, such as the BBC and the Huffington Post. According to Kotaku, the fighting got so big the Associated Press even sent out a war correspondent to record the events.
BBC News Technology – Eve Online virtual war costs $300 000 in virtual damage
Huffington Post – Who Knew Interstellar War Could Look This Amazing?
Rock, Paper, Shotgun – EVE Online’s Largest Battle To Be Marked By Ship Graveyard