Once in a while I write about it too. This here destructoid blog discusses the game in a more tie-wearing, serious-business fashion with less focus on readers that already play the game. For less formal 'jeans-and-a-tshirt' style EVE blogging, I have a tumblr titled A Really Bad Spaceship Game where I post quotes from Jabber, screenshots taken during ops, and write about whatever I feel like.
(Note: A universe map can be found [here] to help unfamiliar readers with locations and general movement in the story)
Goonswarm Federation and Test Alliance Please Ignore have a history together. It's a somewhat unique history in the context of EVE Online, and one that has had a big hand in shaping the game's narrative for the past three years.
In the early months of 2010, Goonswarm was recovering from a massive setback that had left their alliance shattered, without any sovereignty and most of their assets trapped or destroyed. They had retreated to their ancestral home region of Syndicate in NPC-owned nullsec as a shell of their former strength, regrouping and trying to decide what to do or where to go when a corporation called Dreddit was founded.
Dreddit was founded by players who were members of Reddit, the popular news and humor website, as a place to play together with other people from the community. Dreddit's leaders knew about the negative stigma attatched to Goonswarm. They were an alliace of scamming backstabbers and rouges who loved ruining the game for other players. While choosing a system to base out of dreddit tried to locate as far away from them as possible, but their CEO had the universe map turned upside-down while viewing it, and accidentally picked a system only 9 jumps from Goonswarm's current home.
Goonswarm saw this new group of players trying blindly to find their way in the game.It raised intense feelings and old memories in the veteran players of their own days as a small corporation trying to make it on their own. Determined to help them weather the harsh realities of New Eden, Goonswarm promptly hotdropped a Dreddit mining operation, killing every ship in the asteroid belt, before setting them as allies and giving them access to Goonswarm's ship cache and private wiki.
Goonswarm made good on their intentions to help the new corp get itself up and running. When they got an offer to 'crash on their couch' by Tau Ceti Federation, one of Goonswarm's oldest and most trusted allies, they brought Dreddit along with them. When TCF decided to peacefully retire their alliance and transfer the entire region of Deklein to Goonswarm sovereignty, they gave Dreddit's newly formed Test alliance the constellation they had been staying in previously. They helped set Test up with ship caches, sovereignty structures, fleet composition and ship fitting tips, logistical infrastructure, and raw liquid cash. Test were like their little brothers, and Goonswarm was more than happy to give them anything they needed or wanted.
Eventually Test outgrew the small constellation they were currnetly living in, and so in late 2010, Goonswarm and their allies (at the time referred to as the Deklein Coalition, or 'DekCo'), flew south and purged a region named Fountain of it's current residents, and gave the entire region to Test to use as their new home.
For a little over a year, Test enjoys an unrivaled level of prosperity for an alliance of their age. Fast tracked to success with the help of Goonswarm, Test is the owner of a wealthy region, a series of valuable money moons, and one of the top two largest alliances in the game (Goonswarm Federation being the other), with a list of campaigns under their belt. All of this comes at the cost of the rest of the playerbase despising and mocking them for their success. Called 'Goon pets' and accused of being born with a silver spoon in their mouth, the general opinion is that Test is a large alliance full of bumbling, unskilled players backed by one of the most militarily, politically, and economically powerful entities in the history of the game.
Longing to step out from Goonswarm's shadow and make it on their own, they strike out on a campaign south into the region of Delve and the surrounding regions of Querious and Period Basis with their newfound friends in Pandemic Legion.
The alliances living in the southern regions to the east of Delve worried that this marked the beginning of a large-scale conquest of the south, and that without swift retaliation large swaths of the south would be taken. A patchwork collection calling itself The Southern Coalition (or 'SoCo' for short), made up of nearly every southern-dwelling alliance and lead by Against All Authorities, one of the oldest standing alliances in the game, dogpiled into Delve to aid it's defense.
After seeing what they had triggered and fearing the potential geopolitical ramifications of a fully-realized southern coalition, Test decided to ask Goonswarm and the Clusterfuck Coalition for assistence, since if Test failed and SoCo resecured Delve/Querious/Period Basis and decided to keep pushing up through Test owned-space, they would find themselves on Goonswarm's southern doorstep.
Itís been said that most serious wars in EVE arenít won by the strategic superiority or cunning, but by capitalizing on one grievous mistake made by the enemy. Whether itís a mistake made due to the strains of war or simply due to ineptitude, if an opponent reaches this point the war can often be one with a single decisive action.
A little over a week ago, some chat logs were leaked implying that after an argument Vince Draken, the leader of Northern Coalition. (NCdot) had removed 800 billion ISK from the alliance wallet and revoked co-leader Wicked Princessí roles to access said wallet.
Another chat log leak revealed that the incident started over an issue with a Black Legion. pilot shooting a neutral Falcon that belonged to Vince. When it comes to shooting other ships in-game, most nullsec entities live by NBSI rules: not blue, shoot it. According to this rule, shooting the Falcon was an appropriate action. Vince (speaking as his neutral character) demanded compensation from the pilot, who promptly told him no. Vince, still speaking as his neutral character, threatened to reset the standings with his alliance. By saying this through his neutral character, it lacked sincerity and the pilot didnít believe him. The argument with Wicked Princess occured after this happened.
The drama that followed is a little muddled at this point, but Wicked Princess left NCdot, either by choice or by force, joining up with Black Legion, the alliance Elo Knight, her internet romantic interest was a leader and fleet commander of. Black Legion pulled out of the coalitionís shared staging system back to their own. Nulli Secunda also pulled their assets out of the shared staging system as a security measure. [note: If an alliance loses docking rights to a station owned by another alliance, then any assets in that station are Ďlocked downí and inaccessible until docking rights have been returned.] Around this time one of NCdotís primary fleet commanders also left the alliance, although apparently for unrelated reasons.
NCdotís primary tactic in the war up until this point had been to time all of their structures to come out of reinforced mode in Australian time zone (the block of time people living in Australia of asia are most likely to be playing), one of the CFCís weakest timezones, and run harassment fleets the rest of the day. This meant that structures became vulnerable to attack at this time and required the CFC to form fleets at inopportune hours to destroy them.
Elo Knight spearheaded the harassment effort, often running fleets around the clock. This earned him some measure of respect among the CFC, who appreciate anyone who is so willing to fight an enemy as large and formidable as them. The overall result was that while the CFC was steadily taking Tribute from NCdot, it was slow, and it was grinding, and it was a chore, which doesnít sound like an accomplishment, but the CFC hadnít faced opposition this stiff in almost a year. They even revamped their fleet doctrines to compensate for the increased resistance.
With Elo not running fleets anymore, fights began to dry up. Structures were still timed for the CFCís weak timezone, but US and EU timezones suffered from lack of activity.
As the story now goes, Mister Vee, one of the CFCís strategic fleet commanders and generally considered one of the most successful FCs in the history of the game, got upset at NCdot and Black Legion for not giving him any good fights, and in a whirlwind of anger, sieged what was left of the enemyís structures in Tribute in a single night, totalling over 11 stations and various other sovereignty structures. This accomplishment was played up by CFC leadership and used as a propaganda tool, raising morale high enough to attempt a killing blow. Tonight, the CFC (a coalition exceeding an estimated 9000 individual members) is going to form up for a major operation with the objective of capturing every one of the reinforced stations and effectively conquering the remaining half of Tribute in a single night.
Actions of this nature; massive strategic upheavals intended to cripple and destroy an enemy in one swift movement have gone by a lot of names over the course of EVEís lifetime. The phrase commonly used in the gameís current lexicon is Ďgoing in for the dick-chopí. The story has yet to be finished, but it canít be argued that the war came to this point because one side made a mistake that the other side exploited for massive strategic benefits.
A few months ago, an alliance that was part of OTEC decided to break the treaty, ostensibly in the interest of Ďgood fightsí. Since then the north has become a somewhat complicated political landscape.
Northern Coalition. (NCdot) has always had a strained relationship with the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC) when it comes to OTEC. They regularly pushed the boundaries of the treaty and the other member alliancesí goodwill, even going as far as to attack sovereignty belonging to Goonswarm Federation (GSF) during EVEís Fanfest earlier this year (they lost three titans for their efforts).
NCdot is no longer a part of OTEC, and the cost of breaking the treaty was opening the gates of hell. The only thing keeping the CFC from trying to wipe NCdot off the map was the treaty. Breaking it resulted in an immediate purge and capture of their Tech moon holdings in Venal, an NPC-owned region, followed by an invasion into the neighboring Tenal, a region under NCdotís control.
While this is going on, NCdot still has blue standings with one member of OTEC, Ev0ke. The primary agreement in the treaty was a non-aggression pact on each otherís Tech moons. This doesnít prevent the defense of Tech belonging to outside organizations, so before moving east to help on a different front, Ev0ke was helping defend NCdot Tech moons from the CFC, a fellow OTEC member. The CFC and Ev0ke arenít friendly outside of OTEC and actually have a long standing rivalry going back years, however Ev0ke is a proud german alliance, and has upkept their end of the OTEC agreement to the word, and so is still a full member.
Adding to the political confusion, an alliance named Black Legion. sided with NC. and was working against the CFC in the war. NCdot had been caught earlier this year harboring Black Legion. Tech moons in their space under a shell corporation behind the backs of the other OTEC members, so they probably owed NCdot a favor even though they never turn down an opportunity to shoot at the CFC. The two alliances were further connected by the internet relationship between a fleet commander in Black Legion named Elo Knight and a director in NCdot named Wicked Princess.
Rounding out the collection of alliances opposing the CFC was Nulli Secunda, an alliance recently evicted from their southern home by the CFC and TEST Alliance. Lacking a home and unwelcome in the south by their former allies for criticizing their coalitionís leading alliance, they decided to move north and continue the fight with some new allies.
This situation probably sounds impossibly confusing to any outsider that isn't a political science major, and it's not just because an outsider doesn't understand the game mechanics or process behind sovereignty war in EVE. All of these alliances and coalitions have rich histories, some dating back over 6 years. involving events that are woven deep into the fabric of the game's player narrative.
With the stage set, my next post will explain how the war went up until recently and the events that have lead to this weekend and what it means for the war in the north.
Today in Benghazi the US consulate was stormed by armed men, which resulted in the death of one consulate member. Under normal circumstances for me and many others this would simply be another newspaper headline, or something for news channels to bicker over, sad to be sure, but only a piece of news.
Today, for me and the rest of Eve, itís a tragedy.
The consulate member killed was former CSM member, head diplomat and member of Goonswarm Federation, Vile Rat.
I didnít know the man personally, but he was a respected member of both the goonswarm community and the Eve community as a whole, and even though Iíve never met him, it still hits close to home knowing that someone I knew in-game and played alongside died during an event that I would usually consider trivial to my personal life.
The Mittani has already written an obituary for him, and condolences for his family and friends, both in game and out, are pouring in from sources like twitter and in-game messages.
edit 2: Since my first edit, even more stations have been renamed, and several events have been held in Vile Rat's memory. People are even pushing for his Titan to be moved somewhere special in the universe and transformed into a permanent monument for him.
Nulli Secunda, an alliance opposing Goonswarm and the CFC, brought a fleet of Rifters (Goonswarm's historically favorite ship) to the primary staging system for their current campaign, ejected from the ships, and left. Every ship in the fleet was named "RIP Vile Rat".
TEST Alliance's faction warfare corporation held a 21 gun salute in his name using T1 destroyers.
Vile Rat was both an external and internal diplomat. Any internal incident of ally on ally violence was sent to him, and a well-known phrase among the CFC was "Shoot Blues ---> Tell Vile Rat". The CFC held a massive blue-on-blue thunderdome slaughter to honor him.
Space Monkeys Alliance held a candlelight vigil in-game by lighting tons of cynosural fields in the CFC's primary staging system.
It's a touching sight, witnessing gaming's most disparaging, ruthless and violent player community coming together to mourn the loss of one of their own, regardless of in-game political relationships.
One of the most dangerous things a corp or alliance can do in New Eden is to gain a reputation for betraying allies or not abiding by contracts and agreements. In a persistent, single-shard universe like Eve, who you know can be the difference between survival and fading away into the annals of the gameís history, but you need to know you can trust those people, lest they sacrifice you for their own ends, rather then treat you like a true ally.
Grudges in Eve are strong ones, and players often lust for vengeance after being wronged. Even if an alliance stabs another alliance in the back and lives to tell their side of the story, they have forever marred their credibility as an ally or partner, so an alliance needs to think any ideas of treachery through carefully and decide if this cost is worth it. Eve is rife with stories of alliances acting behind the backs of their friends and ultimately paying the price for it, but there are also long-lasting political relationships built off of mutual trust and friendship.
For several years starting from 2006, Band of Brothers was possibly the most powerful alliance in the game. They lived in the most valuable regions New Eden had to offer, surrounded by allies and ready to take on anyone. Over the next few years, spies, forum leaks, and frequent warfare started to reveal the truth that Band of Brothers was far from an ideal ally. They made promises to the greater BoB community that they didnít follow through on, and there is evidence that they had intentionally thrown allies under a bus to save themselves when backed up against a wall. By 2009 they were a shell of their former power, lacking in allies and sympathy.
Against All Authorities was an ally of Red Swarm Federation for a long time, but were eventually bribed into turning coat, attacking RSF's flank while still set as an ally. This decision recently came back to haunt them. Goonswarm Federation, a member of the RSF before itís dissolution, hadnít forgotten AAAís betrayal. When AAA got involved in a war with one of Goonswarm Federationís allies, the GSF war machine flew south and spent three weeks forcibly relieving AAA and itís allies of three regions of their space.
Until a few months ago, Raiden. was a rich and powerful alliance in 0.0 politics. They were able to field a significant supercapital fleet, and had a large technetium-rich region to their name. Over the course of 2 weeks they were reduced to nearly nothing, and are no longer a relevant power in nullsec. This process started when they ostracized the German alliance Ev0ke, one of their longest and most competent allies, over a non-invasion-pact formed with the Clusterfuck Coalition. A few days later, an administrative error resulted in Raiden. kicking their sov-holding corporation from the alliance, resulting in the complete loss of their space. Nobody put forth any real effort to help Raiden. regain their space or recoup from the loss.
Important Internet Spaceship League (BDEAL) was removed from TEST space and shunned by the rest of the Clusterfuck Coalition for going to Goonswarm Federation and Razor Alliance behind TESTís back and falsely claiming they were being forced out of their space by TEST. This is considered Ďblue-fuckingí, and is not tolerated in the CFC.
These mistakes extend to smaller entities like corporations as well. A corporation within Goonswarm Federation was recently evicted from the alliance and their space for repeatedly selling supercapital ships to non-allies, which is a grievous offense in the CFC thatís comparable to treason.
On the other hand, there are alliances that share nigh unbreakable bonds, forged in the fires of war, and tempered by combat. Legion of xXDeathXx, an offshoot of Red Alliance lead by the players who fought alongside Goonswarm in the Great Wars, share blue standings with them to this day, even moving to a nearby region after losing all of their space in a civil war amongst the gameís Russian-speaking alliances. Goonswarm has a saying: "Great War debts are eternal".
CCP often advertises how consequential the actions of Eve players are, and this is what they mean. In a universe where you canít run from your past actions, what you do now will forever affect how the player base treats you in the future. Eve Online has a history book spanning nine years, and getting longer every day. I can assure you, there are player grudges that have existed longer than the server has been open.
The word Ďlogisticsí can mean two things in EVE: Either logistics work, or logistics ships. This article is about the former.
Alliances operate like machines. Different parts do different things to achieve a specified goal, whether it be to hold sov, defeat an enemy, or manufacture valuable ships. No matter what is being accomplished by an alliance, chances are it is getting done because of work borne on the backs of a logistics team.
Once a corporation or alliance reaches a critical mass of activity, that player group will need a logistics force to handle all of the background work that goes into keeping an alliance oiled up and running. Everything from evacuating corporation or alliance assets if your home comes under siege to refueling towers and jump bridges is probably handled by a small circle of players who do some of the most excruciatingly tedious work in the game.
Especially in nullsec, any smart alliance worships their logistics team. POSes (player-owned starbases) are a small nightmare to set up and run. They need to be fueled regularly, and if anything is being harvested or manufactured by it then materials need to be hauled in and products need to be hauled out. If itís valuable enough to possibly come under attack then it needs to be defended. POS guns and shield hardeners need to be installed. If there is a jump bridge then it needs to be fueled, and how often they need to be fueled is based on how often they are used and by what ships.
Ships sitting on a Jump Bridge
While an alliance is in a war for sovereignty they need to set up things like staging towers to form fleets from, Territorial Claim Units (TCU) to hold sov, and Sovereignty Blockade Units (SBU) to contest sovereignty in an enemy system. This usually falls on a logistics team.
In early 2012, Goonswarm Federation and itís allies, acting in unison as the Clusterfuck Coalition, assaulted the nearby region of Branch, home to the alliance White Noise. The entire region was captured in as little as 2 weeks; an incredible feat that was due in no small part to the dedicated group of players that often forewent sleep in order to anchor all of the towers and sov structures at the pace their fleets were purging enemy systems.
Another aspect of the game that technically isnít logistics but has many parallels is reimbursement. Ships are expensive in New Eden, so almost every nullsec alliance in the game has a reimbursement program for ships lost during important fights, whether it be a strategic op to capture a tech moon or a fleet to kill an enemy Titan. If you lose a ship and it is qualified for reimbursement, somebody needs to send you the money.
This is a thankless job that takes a lot of work. Reimbursement teams need to look at every lossmail to verify that it qualifies. If you donít fit the right modules, have the right skills, or lose it on a reimbursable operation, then they wonít give you the money.
There are a lot of things that need to be done to keep large player groups operating at full capacity, and nobody wants to do them. The people that buckle down and do the dirty work to allow the rest of their alliance to have fun blowing up space ships are the unsung heroes of New Eden.