I was slightly battle value heavy when my faction leader declared our war. That wasn’t a bad thing for a level 3, it meant I had a Hunchback ready to go, a hot dropping Locust, I think it was, on standby and a small fleet of tanks with some artillery support and jump short-range-missle infantry. But I was definitely BV heavy, my level was over 50% accounted for by the strength of my military, and at least half of that was the hunchback.
It was a hell of way for a war to start, my faction leader was level ten and their faction leader was level eleven. Sheer BV and population dictated an unfair fight, but that didn’t matter as much in reality, you could only bring to bear the forces you had actual pilots able to command, and the big guns were your aces in the hole, nobody brought their assault battalions out on opening day. But then the sub-leader, a level 10, declared war without accepting the faction level war. One more crappy loophole in the faction-war system, neither of those empires was open to mercenary attack now, meaning the leader’s empire was more or less on it’s own. Good thing he was one of the best tactical commanders I’d ever met.
So our job, as the faction members, becomes simpler. Beat as many of the member empires as possible, force a loss by the weight of the smaller empires before the higher level empires broke from the initial battles of attrition that begins all upper level wars. So I opened on my two targets, the first one had a few minor battles but we end with a system enforced ceasefire when a lance of his heavy tanks go down. The second I move in and take a few cities but not much fighting before the ceasefire falls. One of my faction mates loses to the last guy I could have attacked, pushing him out of my attack range.
Now I’m on battle command and repair duty for my leader, managing some of the battles where battalions of cheaper vehicles are fighting to prevent the system from using the automatic battle resolution. The ABR was notoriously bad at weighting the actual effects of unit size and type, stories of rifle infantry battalions taking down heavy mechs that most players are quite aware would eat infantry alive were pretty common. I also managed a single lance of heavy mechs in a more serious battle, not my forte but three of the mechs came home from that one. And when battles weren’t demanding my attention, I’d be managing the long lists of units needing repairs. Making sure they wound up at the places most capable of fixing them was a priority, but also getting them to nearby places to keep travel times down was another major concern.
Back on the actual battlefront my first ceasefire was winding down, while one of our mercenaries was reporting back from his losses against the one that got away. Three donation order Wyvern medium mechs. I knew then, he wasn’t in my league, he was way above it. More interspersed battle with my target and he entered the second ceasefire, only one left for him. Second target came up, and I scoured across his land like a plague until there was none left… but the war wasn’t up. A bug, I’d seen before, if a persons BV is tied up and inaccessible, but their holdings are gone the war can’t continue nor the system recognize their defeat. But with the population gains of my recent conquest, I leveled bringing my other target back in sight.
I’d pretty much completely defeated my last opponents, and my higher level faction mates were doing good amongst themselves. Even my leader was pushing back both of his opponents, but we needed more time, and that terrible force that already burned through two players was situated at exactly the right level to attack the majority of our faction. We needed time, one way or another, so I attacked.
It was a good opening, took some land with pretty good population values. But soon enough he had pushed back, and before I knew it I was in the first ceasefire. The second ceasefire with the person I had been fighting before ended and I quickly added the final nail in their coffin, anxious to reposition those troops for the next fight. A few hours later… the enforced ceasefire with my main enemy ended. We were both back at it.
He’d take a zone, I’d take it back. Our lightest forces kept playing cat and mouse with each other, using the mechanics of hot drop and retreat to take zones without major battles, or to remain in captured zones and start battles seemingly at random across the board. But we were mostly fighting in my zones, and when the computer calculated automatic collateral at the beginning of battles it was my cities that found themselves decimated. Time was being bought though, precious time and attention… and then my sister came and got me since they’d just bought Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and wanted me to watch it with them.
A few moments of asking around on IRC and I’d found my erstwhile opponent. They were quite amenable to a short cease-fire while I took some family time. To this day I still think of my opponent as being a pretty nice guy. So I was off, for a short break. When I got back we picked up where we left off and the cat and mouse began again, with one minor change. Our mechs met on the field of battle this time.
One crippled hunchback and one crippled wyvern limped away from each other while my locust ran interference and faced it’s fate as scrap metal at the hands of the other two wyverns. I commissioned a few more tanks into service to balance out my BV and our game of tiddlywinks with my city began again. A few hours later and I was brought face to face with a simple reality, my cities were gone. All of them had been devastated. My pop was at zero, and my landmass was empty, but my units were largely caught retreated into zones I didn’t own. My surrender had never kicked in, since I’d never lost 50% combined BV and Pop. Most of my army was alive, but without anywhere to stage from it might as well have been scrap.
I continued a few sad battles, just buying a few more minutes for my faction mates, my brothers in arms, who I had chatted with so often and battled beside all this time. And when finally my last options to battle were gone, all I could do was close the browser and lean back. Three months of hard work had gone into building that empire, it had been not just my largest, but my favorite. I’d inherited it from a friend after it had been left to run itself into ruin. I’d shrunk it down to a manageable size, balanced the expenses to stop the torrential outward flow of money, and brought the military to some semblance of strength and order. The fight from a bloated and wasting level 5 to a strong and efficient level 3 had been hard, but so rewarding. Later I would find out that my enemy in this war had originally been a level 7, but for somewhat different reasons had also been shrunk down to about a level 4.
Now that empire, and all the work I’d put into it, was gone. I hadn’t fought for pride, or because my enemy had been deserving of destruction, but because my faction mates had needed me. And as much as I tried to hold on for the next couple days, that was probably the last time I’d make a serious go of playing Neveron. To this day I’m still not sure what to make of that. I cherish the memory, but still stopped playing the game. To this day I’ve never felt anything like it in an MMO, and everyday I wish I could feel that just one more time…