So this blog entry is dedicated to all the comedians that think BoB are somehow weak because they haven't killed ASCN off inside a month, by the way let me just say up front if you really believe we should have been able to then you are an idiot and I am about to explain why.
Ok, so with that off my chest and the purpose of this blog made clear let's press on.
I'll start with explaining what Bob was looking for in starting this war with ASCN. The answer to that question is very simple, we were looking for a proper war with all that it entails. We weren't looking for a skirmish, the odd fleet battle, a boost to people's killboard stats or to take the odd new region... we were looking for a war, a real war, a nice long, challenging, at times dirty war. We wanted something to occupy us for a long time. Six months is a long time not a long weekend or a two week holiday in the Balaerics. We wanted a proper fight that would engage our members, give us something to do with all our hardware and challenge us to prove we are still the number one alliance killers in Eve.
I'll come back to the points in the above paragraph shortly.
Now let's talk about who we were targeting and what we expected from them. ASCN were a 4000 account alliance, AXE their nearest neighbours and allies were a 1200 account alliance. BoB has 1600 accounts. When we decided to kick off at ASCN we fully expected to be fighting ASCN and AXE together, so it would have been 5200 accounts against 1600, nice odds that suit us down to the ground. Fighting such odds should have leveled the playing field taking account of the quality/age/sp of our pilots, the skill of our fleet commanders and our experience compared to ASCN/AXE. Of course it didn't quite turn out like that as AAA attacked AXE in force just as we started on ASCN. Still, 4000 vs 1600 should have given us a challenge.
ASCN also had more Outposts/Conquerable stations than any alliance in Eve, so we knew we'd have to fight our way through a bazillion POS's and therefore make maximum use of our Dread fleet in order to make serious progress in terms of taking territory. In fact in our worst estimates we expected ASCN to be able to deploy large POS's on pretty much every moon in their key systems such that we had to reinforce and kill literally dozens to take a station system (and we had 21 station systems to conquer before we were done).
ASCN are also or were also known for their very deep wallets and industrial ability. We therefore expected an unprecedented number of mercenary corps to be hired against us, to have their players instantly back in ships once they lost one and to be incredibly adept at POS deployment.
So assuming they would outnumber us horribly, they would have very deep wallets, we would have mercs crawling all over us and they would not only be able to afford to POS spam but would be very good at it we kinda assumed that it would be a very lengthy and grinding operation to even take one system let alone a region.
Rightly or wrongly we also assumed that it was nigh on impossible to have an alliance of 4000 accounts and not have some decent fleet commanders, so it wouldn't always be a walk over in large scale fleet combat (and I think it's reasonable to expect that fighting the blob masters and attacking their infrastructure we should plan for a LOT of large scale fleet combat).
ASCN have also put it about that they had approximately 100 Carriers and we therefore assumed a similar number of Dreads. Of course a) they've got a lot less now and b) they haven't got the balls to use them but those potential capital fleet numbers had to be accounted for.
If you're reading this blog I kinda expect that you'll have half a clue as to what it takes to take out a lot of enemy POS's, however just in case you don't let's get into the detail. If we deployed every dread we own then we could probably field 60-90 of them given that every corp in BoB has 15-20 Dreads (allowing for the fact that TAOSP are much smaller than the other BoB corps and therefore have less), however with timezones to consider and leaving plenty in Delve/Fountain/Period Basis just in case that means we field 10-20 normally during offensive operations. It takes 10-20 Dreads against a hardened POS about 40-80 mins to reinforce and about 20-40 mins to kill it once it comes out of reinforced depending on the number of Dreads. It also takes 10-15 mins to re-arm and re-fuel 10-20 Dreads in between attacks. All these times assume that there is no significant hostile disruption in operations and if you are outnumbered 2.5 : 1 then you expect some disruption.
If you work that out it takes about 11.5 to 22.5 hours of real work to take out all the POS in a station system assuming there are 10 large POS defending soveriegnty (see my comments about ASCN's apparent deep wallets and assumed POS capabilities, we expected at LEAST that number). The other factor those numbers don't take into account of course is the times that POS come out of reinforced and that BoB has enough fleet superiority 23/7 to engage in Dread operations at all times. If you also take into account player tiredness, concentration levels, 2-3 days stront in every POS (leading to long reinforce times) and an extra day to gain soveriegnty (as it takes a downtime to process) so that we can actually take the station (another hour or so) that means that it takes 4-5 days per station system.
There were 5 ASCN/AXE stations in Paragon Soul alone, that's 20-25 days to take those stations, assuming we take them in series and not in parallel. Just a quick comment on that strategy as well, although we have carried out some parallel strikes, a key element of any war is logistics, over stretching ourselves was never going to be an option so we planned to take one inch of space, one station system, one region at a time. In our plans we therefore allowed 3-4 weeks to take Paragon Soul depending on buggeration factors such as losing a day to patching, reacting to enemy strategy and any acts of god that would get in our way.
If you take then expand this to include Feythabolis and Esoteria (not even counting Prime Orbital System's stations) that equates to 21 station systems or about 80 to 100 days, still assuming we do it largely in series (reasonable considering the odds we are facing) and that no other factor slows us down. You never plan for a war to go smoothly or for advantageous conditions all the time. No matter which way we looked at it the minimum amount of time we could therefore expect the campaign to last in order to take all of ASCN's space was three months.
Now before I go into any details on how we are actually progressing there are two other facts I need to explain from our planning. I alluded to one at the start of this post, we were looking for a war that would last i.e. we were not in a hurry. Central to all our preparation, planning and conduct in this war is that fact, we simply are not in a rush. It serves us no good at all to rush through this and kill ASCN off in a couple of months. As Oveur stated in his presentation at the fan fest recently, Eve has a lot of life left in it... up to 10 years in fact if you take his comments at face value. If this campaign (and every other) took us six months that means we have another nineteen to do, well actually if you assume an average of two months between campaigns to restock, clean up and prep the next one that actually means another fourteen after this one. That's a lot of campaigns in anyone's book! So let's just agree that we really weren't in a rush to finish this one.
The second key point in our approach was that as we weren't in a rush we wouldn't deploy our capital ships, get involved in deploying POS's or fighting over stations until the middle of November (we started properly going for ASCN at the start of October). I know all the ASCN/AXE tinfoil hat wearing, conspiracy theorists and HC believing people won't believe me when I state that we were seriously not planning to get the capital ships out for the first month or two but that was our intention none the less.
So we have about 1.5 months during which we were just going to raid, probe and test ASCN whilst polishing our fleet skills again. We then have a minimum of 3 months to actually take ASCN's station systems.
Even if you factor in a total loss of morale and an internal collapse (leading to the removal of lots of POS from ASCN space) it would have been ridiculous for us to expect the war to be complete in anything less than three months. As we were in no rush and assumed that we would have to react to ASCN's own strategy during the war a 5-6 months timeframe looked much more realistic to us.
Of course ASCN quote back at us that it only took them about two weeks to take Paragon Soul from Tribal Souls. What an utterly ridiculous comparison. With all due respect to anyone in Tribal Souls at the time, ASCN outnumbered them closer to five to one or more if you allow for AXE. TS also had far less deep pockets and POS reserves than ASCN apparently had. Quite how anyone can compare BoB's assault on Paragon with the one ASCN conducted is beyond me and speaks to a strategic niavety of the highest order.
Comparing the above analysis with the current state of the war is of course interesting, it's the 22nd November and we'd planned to have been actually working ASCN's station systems about a week by now. Even our best estimates therefore had us taking Paragon Soul in approximately two weeks. The region is already ours.
A lot of you armchair warriors commenting on how long it really takes to fight an alliance war need to actually try fighting one before you open your mouths and make utter fools out of yourselves.
We're not in a rush and we're ahead of schedule.
ASCN will die.