Well I am now back from the Xmas break. I played no Eve for two weeks(!) so i've been logging some serious game time since I got back.
My alliance is now deployed in Vale of the Silent. While we've had lots of great brawls so far, in this post i'm going to comment on the strategic situation in the Vale and its effect on the greater N3PL v CFCDTF war.
The Story so far..
If you follow current events in Eve, skip the next two background paragraphs!
If you haven't been following nul-sec politics recently, 'TEMP" is the name of the coalition made up of TEST Alliance and Insidious Empire as well as other smaller groups such as Mordus Angels and Black Core Alliance. Insidious Empire ("EMP") is an alliance that originated in the Honey Badger Coalition ("HBC") and lived in the center of southern nul-sec before the HBC folded. After the HBC died, the eastern HBC was forced out of the South by a resurgent Stainwagon. EMP then absorbed a large number of the displaced HBC alliances and relocated to Cobalt Edge to anchor Pandemic Legion's Northern Border. Recently, they blued TEST alliance.
TEMP is currently in Vale after soundly defeating a number of CFC entities when the latter attempted to open a second front in Pandemic Legion's renter territories. After reversing the CFC's gains in these areas, EMP pushed west into Vale of the Silent. With various CFC alliances unable to stop EMP, European Goonion and Black Legion were redeployed from the main southern front to the Vale of the Silent to defend the CFC's northern border.
The Present Day
At the time of writing, the main alliances fighting in Vale include:
-On the side of PL: Insidious Empire, TEST Alliance Please Ignore
-On the side of CFC/Russians: Black Legion, European Goonion, Circle of Two, Gentleman's Agreement
Evidently, there a larger number of alliances on the CFC side. However TEMP is a sizeable coalition in its own right. Dotlan lists EMP as having just under 4,000 members and TEST as having around 4,800. While many of these characters are merely alts or inactive, alliances of that size can still muster rather large fleets.
For example, in the recent battle of 7-P on January 5th, Insidious Empire and its junior partners was able to field around 250 pilots and TEST around 90. These pilots were spread between a slowcat fleet of around 40 Archons, a sizeable Dominix fleet and various bomber squadrons. By contrast, Black Legion fielded 160 pilots in Maelstroms, European Goonion provided a Dominix fleet of around 150 and Circle of Two a mixed armor brawler battleship fleet of around 120. All up, the CFC has around 435 pilots.
Clearly, the CFC has the advantage in numbers when each entity in the Vale forms up. However if one entity of the CFC trifecta (BL, European Goonion, Co2/Gents) does not appear in force, the numbers are far more even.
Ramifications of the CFC's deployment
TEMP's efforts in the Vale of the Silent are/will be a resounding success as long as Black Legion and European Goonion are not in the South. Sovereignty and ship losses are mostly irrelevant. Any space TEMP loses is CFC renter territory.
Further, I can only assume that Pandemic Legion will be quite happy to bankroll TEMP's efforts given the fact it forces two elite CFC units to remain away from the main front (BL and the European Goonion). PL is awash with ISK from its continuing renter program in the drone regions. Their problem is not ISK, it is the overwhelming numbers of subcapitals the CFC and the DTF have arrayed against them. I say this despite EMP's recent capital whelp.
From the CFC's perspective, I believe the best course would be to recall Black Legion to the main front and have the other CFC entities coordinate a defensive war to prevent TEMP pushing further into Vale. The European Goonion is competently lead by Mr Vee. The Goonion should assume full control over Gents and Circle of Two's strategic operations. Between these entities they should have sufficient pilots to match TEMP ship for ship.
At present the CFC has overdeployed against TEMP in Vale. While this may have been a good thing initially to put a hard stop on TEMP's progress, I believe the second front is absorbing a disproportionate amount of the CFC's resources. Either Black Legion or the Goonion needs to return south. In light of the fact that the Goonion is core CFC and Black Legion is not, it seems logical to redeploy the Legion.
One sticking point in this argument is that the Goonion is, by definition, a European entity. I assume it cannot be fully active in the US time zone during the weekdays. As such, redeploying the Legion (which at present is primarily a US time zone alliance) would seriously dent the CFC's US time zone in the Vale. As such any redeployment of the Legion would force the CFC into a defensive war centered around the European time zone. As the defenders in Eve can generally choose when they fight I don't see this as a massive problem however.
On the other hand, the south is currently awash in CFC/Russian sub-cap pilots. During EU prime time, it seems that the CFC/Rus outnumber N3PL by about 2-1 in subcapital numbers. Perhaps therefore the lack of Black Legion's subcapital force is not a massive problem. Of course, it also means Elo Knight (largely recognized as one of the best FC's in the game) is not on hand to coordinate the CFC's efforts. Nor presumably is the Legion's sizeable Dreadnaught fleet able to support the CFC's capitals.
On balance I still believe the CFC has overdeployed against TEMP and Black Legion should return south. However the question is much more finely balanced that it first appears.
Keeping the Legion in the North deprives the CFC of around 90 Dreadnaughts and an excellent FC in that theatre. Moving them south forces the CFC into a purely defensive campaign in the EU time zone.
I will definitely post some actual pvp content soon(tm)!