Today, in approximately five hours, will be a hugely significant battle in the nascent World War Bee - the conflict that has been brewing for quite some time. All accounts suggest that it could be the largest battle in Eve history.
For those of you who are new to null politics or just looking at a map, VFK doesn't seem to be that critical. It's the only system reinforced in Deklein, far behind the front, and almost impossible for the allies to use as a forward base even if they win today. But, numbers and facts don't matter here.
For, VFK was the long-time capital of this iteration of Goonswarm Federation, changed only as a result of FozzieSov and jump changes last year. In the same way that Rome was still important to the Roman Empire even after the capital was moved, should VFK fall, it would be a watershed moment in the course of Eve history. It would symbolize the loss of the most important relic in the Goon religion. Down would come "RIP Vile Rat", almost certainly to be replaced with a taunt against the CFC itself.
From a military strategy perspective, though, it's a gutsy move, whether it was intended to be or not.
As I mentioned, VFK was the long-time home of Goonswarm, and for many goons, it's the motherland. It holds a special place in the heart of the oldest and most loyal of goons - including those who have been unsubbed for some time. Famously, Goonswarm members tend to go off and play other games until Eve starts to provide some action. Indeed, Goonswarm has depended on the return of older, faithful goons whose attention has wandered for many of their wars. The believe is that when the going gets tough or Fortress Deklein is threatened, those older goons will return to man the ramparts.
But, for many goons who have been part of the alliance for years, helped win the north, and are lifetime goons, Fortress Deklein IS VFK. There is no system, timer, or rallying cry that is more likely to draw them back to Eve than "Defend VFK". YA0, the current staging system, means nothing to them, nor does pretty much anything else. VFK is Goonswarm.
The big question is about how many of those lapsed players will return to bolster GSF's numbers. Have they heard the call and do they recognize the urgency? Many of those players missed the last few months of soul-crushing boredom as a result of the sea of blues surrounding Deklein. They missed the aggravation caused by the CFC sticking to its political structure in a world of jump fatigue and FozzieSov, both which require pilots to stay close to home (boring) and defend nodes (boring). For them, Eve is about large fleet fights, PvP kills, and excitement, and they've been largely untouched by the new paradigm of null-sec.
Will they be a factor? Will they come back?
The battle is likely to be brutal and long; in all likelihood, Tidi could max out for the entire day, since Goonswarm has a heavy USTZ focus. It'll be interesting to see how European Goonian holds up against the strong allies' EUTZ; I predict the USTZ will fall decidedly in the allies' favor, if it gets to that point.
The outcome is far from certain, but both sides will be inclined to throw everything they can at the battle. If VFK falls, I highly doubt they can count on their lapsed members anymore; it would signal the death of the old Goonswarm and the one symbol they care about. What else could encourage them to return to the game and bolster GSF's ranks?
For the allies, they need this victory. Unlike the CFC, the coalition of "good guys" isn't really a coalition. They don't have unified services, fleet command, or a history of cooperation. The coalition - and by extension the effort of attacking the CFC - depends on keeping excitement and momentum on their side. All of the pilots in that attacking force recognize the significance of VFK; it's the vile pit of hate and contemptuousness from which Goons spew their filth across the universe, a nest of vipers, liars, and thieves that needs to be stamped out. Or, so the propaganda would have you believe.
If Goons should manage to defend it, it might blunt the momentum of the coalition. It's unlikely to end the war, but it could signal a turning point, particularly if the battle is lost because Old Guard goons return in droves to repel the invaders.
The stakes are incredibly high for this battle, not from a strategic perspective, but for the effects it will have on the will of each side. I'll be at work, but you can be sure i'll be watching reddit for up-to-the-minute reports on how the battle is progressing.
Don't you want to say you were there the day VFK fell? Don't you want to say you held the line and pushed back the barbarian hordes? Don't you want to say, "I was there"?