A War of Accretion


Header art by Cryo Huren

Celestial bodies form through accretion and die from entropy. And wars are not always won or lost in a major battle; after losses soldiers don’t always give in to attrition. Sun Tzu said in The Art of War that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Things Fall Apart, The Center Cannot Hold

There are many examples in history, including trench warfare on the Western Front in WWI, when the sides maneuvered and positioned in such a way as to drain the other side of men and other resources needed to fight through attrition. In New Eden, such an attempt is currently underway. The PAPI invasion of Delve proper follows several large Keepstar fights in places like FWST-8 and 319-3D in which the Imperium lost trillions of ISK while only temporarily stalling the enemy. One might wonder what role attrition is playing inside the Imperium.

The years in the lifecycle of a video game are usually measured in single digits. Once the content is explored, most players move on to the next new release. Some development studios are able to prolong the life of their game through new expansions. EVE Online is an extreme example of the latter, with generations of gamers coming and going throughout its 17-year history. Corporations and alliances have risen and fallen, just as those players came and went, with their participation confined to the window of time they played the game. But the game lives on and certain groups of players have been remarkably resilient.

Come Together, Right Now, Over Me

Goonswarm, the Imperium, or Mittens Kittens as some affectionately call it, is an exception to the rule for coalitions, just as EVE Online is itself an exception to the norm for video games. As one pilot, Billy Madison of Amok, said, the pendulum has swung for and against Goons throughout the history of EVE online. One could argue that the pendulum is swinging against them now. There have been, for Goons, no great battles won; the fights are arduous and the losses are extensive. While some alliances might worry about attrition, as a junior recruiter in one small corporation, I have a different story to tell.

Recruitment is extremely restricted during wartime in the interest of operational security. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a new pilot to wake up one morning and decide to join the Imperium. But our recruiters are busy with a near-constant stream of applications by players who have flown with us at some point during the history of EVE Online. Even long after the Horn of Goondor sounded, they continue to swell our ranks. They ask, “Do you remember me? I flew with so-and-so,” and they name yet another player of years gone but not forgotten. “I was at the meat meet in 2014.” We recruiters conduct a thorough background check and then welcome them with open arms, back into the swarm.

Mumble channels that were once quiet during late night hours are now full of banter. Like a multigenerational family, we see more and more mates in fleets from prior epochs of EVE’s history. We answer questions about new mechanics and are proud to be flying side by side with generations of Goon heroes. We are like an extended family of grandpas, uncles, aunties and kids.

The Imperium may win or lose this particular sovereignty war in EVE Online. But if you peek inside you will find a band of old friends who love to fight together. Whichever way the “ISK” war goes, our ranks are swelling and we are all richer for the experiences and memories formed together. For us, this is not a war of attrition but a war of accretion as our swarm of spatial dust becomes a solid celestial body. We fight you now, and we will fight you tomorrow. We live, we die, we live again.

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  • Simon Chui

    Brings to mind a quote from Thomas Paine:
    “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

    October 25, 2020 at 12:22 PM
  • Winston Archer

    Good read. I’m not a Goon, never been a Goon, or never wish to be a Goon. That said, however, I’ve really enjoyed watching the Goons over my 12 years of playing Eve. I venture to say that Eve owes a debit of gratitude to Goons because without them Eve would not be the Eve we all know and love. No other organization has done more to put Eve at the forefront of MMOs. Without them we wouldn’t have the glorious fights that make real world headlines. And for that reason alone, I salute Goons. If I could be so bold to offer some advice to Goons it would be this: hunker down, be patient, fight a gorilla war – PAPI will get tired of trying to dislodge you from Delve – they will begin to splinter and return home. Good luck and thanks. o7

    October 25, 2020 at 12:35 PM
  • I, for one, have been having a blast. The last time I played EVE the way we’re playing EVE now was the Great War, which ended in what– 2009? I’ve lost track of the number of historical fixtures of our SIG who have returned. In a game that’s been dying for years, it’s truly strange– but wonderful– to see.

    That said, the returning veteran phenomenon is definitely highlighting some of the deficiencies of post-Fozzie EVE gameplay. Pretty funny to see people coming back after years away, having modern gameplay and ship abilities explained to them, and watch their horrified reactions. “They can do ~*what*~? That’s dumb a/f!”

    We’re having a lot of fun though. Even though in many ways the game seems configured specifically to deny interesting content in favor of consensual slap-fights between big gangs of low-value ships, when there’s this much sheer volume of player activity concentrated in a handful of regions, there are still interesting opportunities to be found.

    October 26, 2020 at 8:07 PM