(The linked faction warfare map is the basis for all cardinal directions in this post. All references to the Amarr will connote Amarr militia alliances, excluding Nulli Secunda. Nulli will be referred to as a separate entity, as they are not a permanent fixture in the ongoing war.)
The Amarr are realizing that they have numbers. Very large numbers. And when they want to work together, they can be more than just an annoyance to the Minmatar. They can be a downright threat.
The Amarr have been controlling the battlefields through most of the weekend during most timezones. They can throw the manpower at the problem. They've always had the numbers, since the day Fweddit joined them, but they've never seemed willing to admit to those numbers. With Nulli Secunda entering Minmatar territory from the west, the Amarr have decided to become a threat in the east. Nulli Secunda have not been in evidence on the eastern lines, yet the Amarr are overflowing with piss and vinegar. Their numbers aren't being bolstered by their nullsec friends, they are doing this themselves, though beginning to realize that they never needed Nulli to do what they are now doing. The psychological boost that Nulli has given their war effort has been enormous. And when Nulli is eventually gone, the Amarr are going to be faced with a crossroads: return to their self-debasement and oh-whoa-is-me attitude, skulking in their one system, bemoaning the conspiracy of mechanics that keeps them down; or, are they going to stop, look themselves in the mirror, coming to the great realization that "Dammit all, we did this ourselves and we can continue doing it!"
Yes, the Amarr have become a threat. This is what the Minmatar have been expecting to happen for some time. Eventually Fweddit's skills were going to outgrow shitfit T1 frigates, they were going to stop dying in droves. The Amarr were no longer going to present only goodfights and killboard padding. The Amarr were eventually going to present real territorial challenge, a threat to the entire frontline, a threat to the systems, although deep into Amarr space, that have been home to the Minmatar for a long long while now.
The Battle for KourmonenKourmonen is the battle that will define Minmatar/Amarr faction warfare going forward. If the Amarr can be stopped from taking the system, they likely crawl back into their hole of malaise, content with their four systems and the good fights. If the Amarr take Kourmonen, they realize their power, start sweeping out across lowsec, their goal to show their once servants what constant T1 warzone control feels like.
Most of the weekend was spent defensive plexing Kourmonen and Huola, the two systems where most Minmatar stage. The Amarr were able to get Kourmonen to 50% contested, and Huola to about 30%. By late Sunday (EVE time), Huola was back under 10%, while Kourmonen remained a struggle, hovering at 45% contested.
It was mainly guerilla action. When the Amarr wanted to control the field, mainly via the major plexes and the gates into Kourm, they were able to do so quite easily. Rarely did the Minnie run up willingly against Amarrian Blackbird-backed fleets. The Minmatar took to making sure whatever fights they had, were somewhat to their advantage. They plexed minors and mediums. Forced the fights into smaller ships. They took the majority of the minors, maybe half the mediums, but lost nearly all of the majors.
It's two-steps forward, one step back for the Amarr. Kourmonen is in their sights. But the Minmatar lay down for nobody. If the Amarr take Kourm, it won't be easy. The Minmatar aren't content with four systems and some good fights. They are content only with what they deem to be theirs, and Kourmonen is theirs.
(As I write this, the contested state of Kourmonen is at 51.9%. Huola is back down to 5%.)
Nulli Leaving Faction Warfare?The news came from the spais. Over Amarr militia channels, Nulli Secunda were no longer showing as part of the Amarr militia. More news was to come, but before it did, Minmatar had their fun in local. Trolls and more trolls. When fighting a war that is looking difficult to win, you have to hit anywhere you can. Psychological war is as powerful as blowing up expensive ships.
Behind the scenes, we wondered what was really happening. That Nulli would give up after only a day, seemed far-fetched. Some figured that during staging, a large number of Nulli pilots figured that better than setting up ships in Otosela, would be setting up ships in Minmatar lowsec itself. So much quicker to bring the fight, so much quicker to reship after losses. That is, until they joined the Amarr militia and learned about station lockout.
The official word is that it is some sort of bug. What sort of bug? While corporations are still being correctly associated with their militias, their alliances are not. A visual glitch on the Show Info pages, not something that was restricting Nulli from participating in faction warfare. Or so the reasoning goes.
West vs. EastThe Minmatar frontline has always been along the Kourmonen/Kamela border, the eastern front. That will remain the frontline for the foreseeable future. Nulli are fairweather friends to the Amarr. Once their objective is complete, they pack it up and move out.
The Minmatar could fight Nulli, make life more difficult for them, their job a tad harder. They have numbers though, hellishly large numbers compared to anything a Minmatar alliance can field, and they'd eventually achieve what they want to achieve. By opening up a second front, taking it seriously, the Minmatar make it easier on the Amarr. And it is the Amarr that will remain, long after Nulli Secunda is gone. So the major effort remains in the east. It is the Amarr surge that must be quashed, not Nulli ambitions.
What will happen in the west will happen. There will still be fights out there, any opportunity to make Nulli look foolish will be taken, but the quicker the nullsec upstarts achieve what they want and are gone, the better.
Two front wars are quickly lost on both fronts. Attack the transient enemy, or the permanent enemy. Those are the two choices. The only option clear. Mopping up, reclaiming lost territory after Nulli leaves will be a simple, if dull process. Limiting the ground the Amarr can take, is all-important.
The expectation is that once Nulli leaves, and if the Minmatar were successful in holding back the eastern surge, that the Amarr will quickly fold back in on themselves. I suspect that will not happen this time, but history being history, repeating itself and such as that, predicting how the Amarr will react is never a science.
VulnerabilityThe Amarr and Nulli currently have 25 systems at a vulnerable state. They only have to defeat the iHub to flip them to Amarr control. Why they aren't doing that is obvious. One, for us to move them back to our control would mean defensive plexing, which has no loyalty point benefit. The Minmatar are not doing that. The only two systems we'll spend time defensive plexing are Kourmonen and Huola, simply because of their strategic importance. Two, if these vulnerable systems are flipped to Amarr control, the Minmatar can start offensive plexing them, which would mean loyalty point gains, while the Amarr would have to defensive plex to keep them under their control. Nobody wants to defensive plex unless they have too.
I still think the smart thing to do would be for the Minmatar, using Amarr alts, to flip these systems into Amarr control ourselves. Industrial sabotage, so to speak. We then start relying on all of our AFK carebear plexers to start bringing these systems back into Minmatar control. Doing this has one of two effects, both of which I see as beneficial. Either the Amarr ignore those systems, for the time being, which means they have to replex them in the future, delaying their overall goal of reaching T5 warzone control. Or they have to spend time defending these systems, which draws their attention away from the battle of Kourmonen. Either way, it annoys the hell out of them and gives us more time.
Exciting TimesFaction warfare in the south has not been this exciting, the end-result this unknown, in quite some time. If you're Amarr or Minmatar, you're living in exciting times.