First Hell War

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Hell War

Image of the Hell Desert after the war. It shows both the skybridge used by the Hell Defenders to bridge the attack bunker and the skybridge used by the Coalition to attack the Vault.
DateJune 18th - June 22nd, 2020
Result Capture of Hell Vault, Hell defenders move to other nations most notably Blackwater

Central Powers:




Lone Nations:

Commanders and leaders




~115 ~15
Casualties and losses
14-18 pearled

4 pearled

2 Alts logboxed

The First Hell War was a major world war on CivRealms between a group colloquially known as the Hell Gang, and a large coalition of allied nations formed to fight them. This war saw a truly massive number of players (over 100) band together to free their allies and bring the Hell Gang to justice. This Gang compromised of citizens of the former states of Savaguard (now the Confederacy of Independent States, CIS) and a rogue Carbon member[1] - the owner of Hell Vault, Vanax35. The war began when some of the Hell Gang skybridged and took Varathia's incomplete vault in a decisive sneak attack on the 19th of June 2020. During the initial attack, the Central Powers alliance of Otonabee and Mt Augusta[2] assisted in the defense of Varathia, along with members of neighboring Cantina, Chungus and Blackwater .[3] The group retreated with the pearls to Hell, with several accounts logboxed in their attack bunker. An attack on Hell Vault was commenced by the Allies on June 18 and would result in the breaking of Hell Vault on June 22. Throughout the attack multiple nations joined the Allies, making it the largest coalition of nations in the history of the server at the time.


The Rise of Blackwater and the Dissolution of the Kingdom of Savaguard

The arrival of former ReCharge[4] members on the server in the new nation of Blackwater rapidly disturbed the established geopolitical situation on the server - the former top dog, Savaugard, had a strong challenger in the burgeoning Blackwater-Cantina alliance. The invasion of Eslenti[5] and Savaguard's refusal of their ally's pleas for assitance showed weakness, and this was soon exploited when a group of Cantinans breached the Savaguardian vault, and it fell without any bloodshed[6]. What followed was a complete collapse in both Savaguard's desire to fight, and the very nation itself, as the king Invader1337 abdicated and the nation balkanised into many small nations in a loose defensive alliance[7]. While Savaguard had been defeated, many remembered the injustices performed., These grievances later extended to include GDAN (after he was pearled) and later the Roman Empire, as Cantinan mercenaries under R&S were contracted to return the former lands of Columbia to independent control. Cantina and Blackwater seemed undefeatable - at least, until a new power rose to challenge their newfound hegemony.

Chungus-Varathian Border Incidents

A series of minor scuffles on the border between Chesham and Chungus resulted in two minor conflicts that were quickly resolved by cooler heads [8], but tensions remained reasonably high between the nation and the rapidly growing city on their border, slowly encroaching on their territorial claims. Many believed an escalation into further conflict was likely. Most of all, the negotiations and general performance of Varathia showed weakness to be exploited.

Olendor Aqua Nether Attacks

On the 8th of June, Saren_Solaris (assisted by kicky) trapped the Olendor Aqua Nether portal [9]. Varathia, assisted by their Otonabian allies, managed to rally troops to push the invaders out, with Saren and kicky abandoning their position under overwhelming force.

The Battle of Varathia Vault

Simple representation of the skybridge and attack bunker made to attack Varathia's vault (Note that map data was taken from 6 months after the war, but the attack bunker and a section of the skybridge remain).

On the 18th of June, a group of ex-Savaguardian citizens and several other allies -- mostly on alt accounts -- stealthily constructed a small attack bunker in the desert south of Chesham to use to skybridge the Varathian vault directly north. The attackers made effective use of weaknesses in the (perpetually) incomplete vault to disable it largely without Varathia realising. By the time the attackers started hitting snitches within the vault, it was simply too late for the defenders. The Central Powers alliance was invoked, and allies from Otonabee and Mount Augusta were rallied to defend the vault. This proved to be catastrophic for the defenders, with combat around the vault, trench and surrounding desert costing Varathia and her allies several pearls, most notably the MtA mayor xkevio, Ibis1804 and Otonabian binchymonkey[10].

As the attack on Varathia was underway, many Chungesians arrived at the scene to hold a Chungus Lives Matter protest.


It wasn't until the war was well underway that the motivation behind the attacks was revealed in a release by Vanax in a (now deleted) reddit post[11], stating that the attacks were largely due to the aforementioned AN attacks, Varathia disabling the Olendor-Alexandria rail tunnel (for upgrades), and for the expulsion of the Borisian people from the settlement of New Boris in the now infamous Borisian Genocide. The Hell Gang later defended their actions, with Brocktree stating 'Everyone would have been released once the conflict ended, but our opposition escalated the conflict and now it's still ongoing.' - That is, the dispute with Varathia was minor and the inclusion of Cantina and Blackwater in the allies lead the Hell Gang to rally together to fight against past misdeeds, that 'every single non-pvper I know is helping because cantina, blackwater, or chungus have wronged them in some way, and they see this as a chance to bring justice to the groups that bear the most toxicity.'[12]

Allied Counterattack

With more allies remaining, and Chungus and nearby Blackwater choosing to intervene in the conflict on Varathia's side, combat shifted south to the attack bunker[13]. Here, the allies were able to force the retreat of the attacking forces, at the cost of several pearls. Several accounts were logboxed within the now occupied bunker, a costly, disorganised counterattack costing the allies a total 8/9 pearls. One minor victory came in the form of kicky's pearl, as he accidentally logged back into the server meaning to play hypixel, representing the Hell Gang's first big loss[14][15].

The attack on Varathia's vault left them with several active members pearled, their vault partially disabled and hostile bastioned, but also left them with two powerful, unlikely allies in Cantina and Blackwater., and they were out for blood. Carbon also issued a reddit post, admonishing the attack, and indirectly condemning Vanax for his involvement, stating "Any citizen of Carbon participating in the attack will not be protected from those seeking justice for this offensive"[16], but also refusing to intervene.

Siege of Hell Vault


The war soon transitioned from an attack on the now enemy held Varathian vault and accompanying sky-bunkers and ground bunkers to a rescue effort to retrieve pearls from Hell Vault, as the pearls lost in the disastrous Varathia vault defense had already been transferred to Hell before the attack bunker had been taken..

Cantina and Blackwater forces began construction on the attack bunker during the night before the battle, but due to accidents, the location of the first attack bunker and attack tunnels were leaked by the potion status macro during the night. This resulted in the structure being immediately attacked by the Hell Defenders and disabled. The construction of a new attack bunker and tunnel starting near the city of Lynn reached directly east of the Hell vault, where a large resupply bunker was constructed. This bunker would serve as the primary attack bunker during the entire duration of the conflict.

The Hell Gang had bolstered their numbers following the attack on Varathia, and with Blackwater and Cantina joining the allies, this pushed several nations (namely former Eslenti and Boris) to join the defence, along with volunteers from the Roman Empire.

Battle of the Hell Desert

The early coalition began the assault on Hell vault in the eastern desert around the Northern Highway linking Lynn and Tombstone. Hell defenders attempted to hold back the assault with bows and the occasional sword skirmishes. As coalition forces broke bastions, an obsidian path was made from the forward bunker up to the vault trench. The obsidian path was created to shield the attackers from rumored sand traps created in the weeks prior [17]. In this time, several non-aligned observers were pealed, namely esorscher (later released)[18].

The allies pose atop their attack bunker east of the Hell Vault
The infrastructure used by the allies to siege the Hell Vault, starting in Lynn and reaching the forward bunker east of the vault (map data is taken from well after the war)

Attack tunnels

Under heavy fire, the allies began putting pressure on the edges of the Hell Vault, tunneling underground and fighting along the surface on friendly obsidian. This combat was slow and costly (with several pearls lost[19]). However, allied morale was high and the numbers were strongly in favour of the allies, even more so when Otonabee called on the Laurentian Seas Alliance (LSA) to assist them in the war. This lead to two full days of heavy fighting around and under the Hell Desert, with the defenders putting up a significant effort[20] to hold the attacking swarm at bay, pushing the allies back to the attack tunnel several times. This was especially true during EU hours, when allied numbers were lowest. Many defenders pulled long hours to hold the vault, given the need to defend the vault outnumbered at all hours of the day.

Heavy use of 'public bastions' were used by the defending side, flipping permissions to prevent placebreaking and to trap players. Admins needed to intervene in the latter case, preventing the use of bastions in this way until a solution could be found in the form of portal frames (public bastion breakers).

Allied Losses

The allies lost many critical pearls in this time, losing Posey to a spleef[21][22] and later Vah. Regardless, the allies soldiered on, bolstered by the high levels of international support. After countless hours of battling for inches, the Coalition fighters felt they were ready to make a push outside of the tunnel and into the trench. With nearly triple the numbers currently logged on and the bastion on the verge of being broken, they planned to overwhelm the vault defenders in order to gain control. The surface team, lead by Commanders Seared and Phacad, was waiting for the ground (bedrock) team to give them the signal to jump. The ground team, lead by Evocat0r, needed to break a couple more pieces of stone reinforced obsidian before giving the signal. Suddenly, ground forces notice a friendly on the other side of the wall - it was Commander Seared. He fell into the trench minutes before the ground team was ready. Commander Evocat0r immediately gave the signal for the surface forces to jump in to buy him time. After only seconds of hesitation, they proceeded to jump into the trench from above. Evocat0r instructed ground forced to immediately break 2 pieces of obsidian and then to immediately flood the trench in an all-out attempt to save Seared. Forces flooded the trench, but due to the initial hesitation, Seared was already too low on health potions. Cantina lost the second of their three leaders.

The allies were not without minor successes, with SirCrowley (and later HanTzu) getting trapped and killed[23], with his allies managing to be awarded the pearl by doing more damage. At this time, there was an unknown bug causing everyone to spawn in Tombstone, a short walk from the vault, allowing their swift return to combat.

Fall of Alexandria Vault

While the war was well underway, prominent Alexandrian Le_Brine arranged to donate materials to the allied effort, but was fooled by Phacad4 - a fake alt of SirCrowley pretending to be Blackwater leader, Phacad3. Crowley took the supplies and then pearled Le_Brine, returning to the Hell Vault untouched. When it became clear that Alexandria was leaning towards assisting the allies, Vanax stole the groups to Alexandria's ocean vault that he had constructed for them under contract for his business, VaultCo. This necessitated a small Alexandrian strike group go and disable their own vault, taking them briefly out of the siege.

Father's Day Cease Fire

After two gruesome days of fighting, neutral parties such as Carbon and CivCorp stepped in to bring the combatants to the negotiation table. Both parties agreed on a short 12 hour ceasefire to sleep and enjoy Father's Day[24], as well as to begin further negotiations. The truce was largely quiet, with only minor accusations of breaking it. In this period, CivCorp founder MCSPenguin presented a 'peace for XP' deal in which both parties would be rewarded with stacks of XP for avoiding further conflict[18]. The defenders accepted this deal, but the attackers refused - they wanted justice, not peace. Peace deals continued, with both sides unable to come to an agreement[25][12]. Finally, the admincrimes memorial was created atop the obsidian mess, with server admin crimeo placing a little garden just outside the Hell trench.

Carbon Enters the Fight

Following the breakdown of peace negotiations after the truce, Carbon finally stepped out of neutrality, bringing it and its numerous puppet nations into the fray, massively bolstering allied numbers, supplies and morale.

SPQR Leaves a little note to their old friend HanTzu on the borders of the Hell trench, and hoist their flag.

SPQR Joins the Allies

Following the discovery of bastions broken and replaced within their territory[24], SPQR entered the conflict on the allied side, working with Columbia to remove and disable an escape tunnel to the south of the vault. At this stage, the only active nations without any level of involvement in the conflict were Yamato and Moloka.

Hell Vault Falls

After days of fighting in ground tunnels, and hardly any progress being made past the trench, Cantina released their secret weapon, Sharpcastle33. Sharp and Posey spent a lot of time theory crafting vault attacks prior to attacking Hell. Sharp was able to figure out a new and extremely effective way to sky bridge. With these additions of nations being added to the allies, they were able to attack from the ground, middle, and multiple tunnels in the sky - overwhelming the Hell defenders. These groups were colloquially referred to as 'ground gang' and 'sky gang' - with one group breaking reinforced blocks and bastions for hours, and the other enduring an endless hail of TNT from above. In this period, the allies were able to secure at least two more pearls - Asumaru Bob and Swift[26].

In the end, Hell's defences were breached after three arduous days of back-and-forth combat. The defenders all largely abandoned the inner regions of the vault[27], with only HanTzu briefly engaging some Chungesians within the vault rings[25].

Freeing the Pearls

The allies break LeBrine out from his sky pyramid just north of the Hell Vault.

The defenders had a final surprise for the attackers - with roughly 16 pearls taken, the pearls were scattered in sky height diamond reinforced chests surrounded with DRO, covered by exterior bastions untouched by the conflict. This required the exhausted defenders spend upwards of 12 hours freeing the remaining pearls from the sky prisons. These allies included the now legendary A_E_Sky, an Otonabian recruit who freed pearls naked and only using an iron pickaxe[28]. The final pearls were being held in a larger pyramid out in the western ocean, and took a reasonable time to free the Cantinan commanders Posey and SeaRed.

Norlund Repents

The final combat in the war involved HanTzu attacking a Norlish bunker and pearling Wolftale for their involvement in the Hell War[29].


A view of the damage to Hell from the ground.

Peace terms

With many of the Hell Gang remaining free and scattering into the west, the allies wanted no further bloodshed and put forward what they deemed to be 'reasonable' peace terms[30] after a meeting with all leaders of the allied nations. Vanax and HanTzu refused their terms, claiming they were ridiculous, with Saren accepting his exile to the Thomas Archipelago and several other members paying reparations. The deadline passed, and the allies prepared to begin hunting bounties on those pearls, when Blackwater leader Phacad3 came to the allies with a proposition - significantly reduced terms for the defenders in exchange for minor reparations and groups for Varathia's grief and Alexandria's vault. This was put to the allies with the allies voting in favour of keeping the initial, harsher terms.

Operation Paperclip

A view from above of the damage to the hell desert, with ground obsidian, tunnels and several skybridges crossing the region.

Going against the wishes of the alliance, Blackwater moved ahead with the peace deals[31], protecting the Hell Gang from being hunted bu the allies by integrating them into Blackwater. This allowed the Hell Gang to survive after returning groups and paying minor reparations, and with Blackwater owning the attack groups on Hell, they were able to assist in returning Hell to being a functional vault. This, understandably, left many other allied nations frustrated, with the justice they demanded escaping them. For a time, this also broke the previously strong Blackwater-Cantina alliance (which was later repaired, but the damage was done). As a result, nobody served a pearl sentence longer than a few days, and kicky_ was released and re-accepted into Cantina.

The Hell Desert

The Hell Desert, seeing heavy combat throughout the war, was utterly devastated by the combat and skybridges. Much of the fighting took place within the claims of the Grand Imperium, who were moderately inactive at this stage. Much of the damage remains to this day.

Postwar Celebrations

Following the war, a great celebration was held at LeBrine square in Alexandria, hosted by the man himself. A great number of the allies showed up to drink and celebrate their victory[32].

Alt-Raiding Wave

At the conclusion of the war, the server was struck by several weeks of blatant altraiding, with raiders using VPNs to evade being pearled. Many allied nations were attacked, namely Alexandria, CivCorp and Varathia. Due to the aforementioned bug, Tombstone also saw moderate raiding (as it was where all accounts were spawning).


Allied propaganda from Reddit at the time of the Hell Vault's fall.

The First Hell War remains the largest single siege in the history of CivRealms. While later wars would cover multiple vaults and conflict across multiple shards, the siege of Hell involved a massive number of players. This war would be the first major conflict for a number of newfriends, and proved a valuable lesson that some would learn from. Remarkably too, the war involved very minimal damage to civilian infrastructure, with much of the fighting localised around the Varathian and Hell vaults.

This conflict proved a major turning point in the geopolitical situation on the server, with the previously powerful Blackwater-Cantina alliance being considerably stronger on the Blackwater side, with the admission of the Hell Gang bolstering their numbers with a strong, experienced group of battle-hardened fighters. This would catapult Blackwater to certain superpower status, with consequences that would materialise in the next two major server conflicts. In the end however, the most obvious legacy of the Hell War would come in the form of the Second Hell War, which would eventually result in the destruction of CivCorp and the start of the Great War.

In a similar vein, this conflict also began to show the cracks in the server's vault 'meta', with defenders outnumbered at times 5 to 1 able to defend a vault and take pearls with very minimal losses. The defenders were able to develop a fighting style that was very difficult to defeat with the addition of autopot, and the strong bastions and reinforcements making a ground assault tremendously difficult. In the end, Hell fell reasonably easily with a well constructed skybridge assault, by utilising a ladder placement method to break bastions as the attackers advanced. The lessons learned in the assault on Hell also lead to the design and construction of the Ascension Vault, as well as several other defending tricks that would be utilised heavily in the next war.

Finally, the Hell War ended on generally good terms, with the allies begrudgingly accepting the modified peace deals under Operation Paperclip. Many would later look back on this conflict with nostalgia, especially with the nature of the wars to come, with a plethora of memes and PvP compilation videos released.


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