For a pilot like Varc Grayback, his five years with EVE Online as a primary fleet commander for some of the game’s biggest alliances has provided him no shortage of epic stories to tell. Last year, EVE Online broke major headlines when the game was home to the largest battle in online history, totalling a whopping $300,000 in damages.
Varc Grayback was there, watching and fighting, as the heavens burned.
But as epic as the Bloodbath of B-R5RB was, it wasn’t what stood out in Varc’s mind when I asked him to recall his favorite combat engagement. After some thinking, he finally narrowed it down.
“It was honestly the best fight I’ve ever [fleet commanded] in EVE,” Varc told me.
In the wake of the Halloween War, an engagement that would set the stage for B-R5RB, Varc explained that almost all of nullsec was at war. His alliance, the Unthinkables, had a standing agreement to support BRAVE, an alliance comprised mainly of new players.
“All [they] had to do was drop me a line on Skype and let me know what time and where,” he said.
Varc and his alliance were hungry for fights, and at the time a neighboring threat, Curatores Veritatis Alliance (and several allied alliances), were willing to give them.
“My Skype just sort of blew up and BRAVE were like, CVA are on our undock with a 200 man fleet,” Varc said. “So we were like, yeah, no problem, leave it with me.”
Varc sent out a call to arms and mustered a force of 70 core ships plus support including logistics (repair ships) and interdictors (ships that specialize in tackling enemy ships so they cannot retreat).
Varc called for his pilots to fly Ishtars, an advanced heavy assault cruiser with a penchant for dishing out extreme damage using a variety of automated drones. Ishtars can also be incredibly fast, able to kite opponents as they struggle to chase them down—which Varc intended to use to his advantage.
As the CVA fleet abandoned their siege on BRAVE’s station, Varc meant to surprise them by bringing the fight to them.
“I had spies in place in their fleet aswell—I knew they were on the way,” Varc said. “The second their FC gave the order ‘warp [to stargate] and jump on contact’, we lit our cyno and jumped through our bridge knowing they would be coming in one by one and it would be too late to do anything about it.”
It would be devastating. For a moment, it seemed the stargate would be The Unthinkable’s greatest asset, as enemy ships jumping through it arrived haphazardly on the other side, scattered and out of formation.
CVA’s fleet commander, CoreBloodBrother, was quick to respond to the sudden and dire threat. Immediately, he called to retreat to the next stargate in the system, hoping to break through the Ishtar line and escape. Initial casualties were minimal.
“We picked a couple of them off and then chased after them,” Varc said. “They carried on running through the next three systems.”
The chase was on, and CVA could see the finish line.
“We thought they were on the run, and once they got into SV5 (star system) we couldn’t follow them any further, pretty much because Catch (region) was on the other side, they could bring more reinforcements in.”
They jumped through a stargate hoping to catch CVA, but what they discovered was that they had just fallen victim to their own trick. As Varc, his fleet of Ishtars, and support began landing one by one on the other side, it was their turn to face a legion. It seemed that the stargate would be their grave. CVA were flying Myrmidons and Prophecys, drone-boats just like the Ishtars, but much more adept at brawling at closer ranges.
“They had reproached the gate on the other side, so we were sort of in a position where we were outnumbered and kind of f***ed,” Varc said.
At this point, CVAs own interdictors had covered the stargate in interdiction bubbles—special force fields that prevent a ship’s warp drive from functioning. Varc and his fleet were trapped.
“We had to fight, no matter what we did.”
“Everyone overheated [micro-warp drives] and tanks, we started burning away, got 30k off the gate, dropped our [drones] and started brawling down.”
Until now, Varc’s voice had maintained a cool detached tone during the entirety of our conversation, but as he began to relive the events in his head, I could hear smallest break in his voice—he was excited.
“We just started calling target after target after target. Comms were silent—it was perfect,” Varc said. “Everyone was just on top form.”
“I was shouting, logi kept saying ‘we’re holding! we’re holding!’”
As CVA’s own logistics chain broke, no longer able to repair the damage that The Unthinkable fleet was unleashing, it became evident that the battle was won.
It wasn’t long until CVA switched their primary focus from the Ishtars and logistics support, to destroying the interdictors that had, by now, placed their own warp-disabling bubbles on the gate. The fleet made short work of the interdictors, and shortly after a full scale retreat was underway—that is, except for one.
“He told his fleet to warp out,” Varc said. “And I knew he was going to do that, so I got our interceptors to fly in and point him and keep him on grid.”
Now, with his fleet retreating, CoreBloodBrothers found he was about to be left behind. With the speedy interceptors jamming his ability to warp away and his guns too large to target them effectively, he was a sitting duck.
“Once all of his fleet had left grid, we focused fired and killed him.”
The fight was over in a matter of minutes. In the end, Varc Grayback told me that, despite the overwhelming numbers, he didn’t lose a single Ishtar in the fight.
“There was this moment of silence on comms like, I felt like I had been calling targets solid one after the other for like fifteen minutes; everyone’s adrenaline had been going,” Varc said. “Then everyone was just screaming ‘Oh my god that was just epic!’”
With hearts pounding in their chests, The Unthinkables headed for home. The fight itself would soon be eclipsed by more crucial battles in the endless wars of nullsec, but as Varc finishes recounting the fight, I can tell that this will be one that will stay with him for a long time.