EVE Online's complicated inter-corporate politics are often held together by fragile diplomatic treaties and economic agreements. So fragile, in fact, that a single misclick can lead to a fracas that quickly snowballs into all-out warfare. That's what happened to two of the spacefaring sandbox MMO's largest player alliances in the Battle of Asakai, a massive fleet vs. fleet onslaught involving 3,000 players piloting ships ranging from small interceptors to gargantuan capital ships.
Straight from the wreckage-strewn outcome of the battle, we're breaking down the basics of what happened for everyone to truly fathom one of the biggest engagements in the game's history.
On January 27, two of EVE's largest allied groups—the ClusterF*** Coalition and the HoneyBadger Coalition—clashed with full force in the low-sec Asakai VI region of the Kurala constellation. Both sides continually supplied reinforcements for hours, including Supercarriers and Titans, two of the largest vessel types in the game. In the end, the HoneyBadgers emerged victorious against the Clusters (as we're calling them).
The Clusters are led by the GoonSwarm Federation Alliance, a gigantic gamer horde originating from the Something Awful forums. Its leader, The Mittani, keeps and updates one of the most popular blogs charting the various events transpiring within EVE.
The HoneyBadgers are a coalition leading the Test Alliance, the primary collection of EVE gamers populating Reddit. A sub-alliance within the HoneyBadgers, the Pandemic Legion, focuses on PVP and inciting fleet actions wherever possible.
Years before, the Test Alliance was part of the HoneyBadgers in a hulking super-coalition. Seeking to carve out a piece of the galaxy for its own, a large portion of Test broke away from the accord to form HoneyBadgers, an independently operating group still pledging allegiance to Test but not to GoonSwarm. Strained relations between Test and GoonSwarm reached a breaking point after the leadership threatened open warfare against each other.
A single misclick.
No, really: A Titan pilot beneath the Cluster banner was attempting a "bridge"—using a ship to act as an artificial warp corridor for other ships—to Asakai VI when he accidentally warped himself straight into a very surprised Pandemic Legion fleet. The pilot, named Dabigredboat, immediately came under heavy attack as the Legion pounced on the extremely valuable ship.
Both Dabigredboat and members of the Legion "bat-phoned"—called in reinforcements—additional members of their alliances over the course of the battle. Eventually, nearly the entirety of Test and GoonSwarm became involved in the tremendous tussle, including the deployment of extra Titans and Supercarriers into the fleets.
Titans and Supercarriers are two of the most expensive, deadly, and rare ship types in EVE Online. A single Titan, bristling with gun emplacements and heavy armor, can need upwards of over 900 pilots to beat down into submission. Read that again: 900 pilots . And there were more than one of those behemoths in the battle.
For the HoneyBadgers, losses sustained included six Dreadnoughts, 11 Carriers, and one Supercarrier. The Clusters suffered far worse: 44 Dreadnoughts, 29 Carriers, five Supercarriers, and three Titans.
Ultimately, GoonSwarm leader The Mittani called the Battle of Asakai "a complete rout" for the powerful Something Awful alliance. Estimated ISK (EVE's in-game currency) cost in damages are still being calculated, but early totals reach beyond 700 billion for both sides combined.