The TL;DR of the “Backstabber’s Brawl”
How the Tribute war started seems to be settling with GigX, the leader of Co2, simply being GigX. Not well known for his ability to play nicely with others seems to have riled NC in some way. Although it is quite likely that NC were just looking for any excuse to flex their power to demonstrate their own ability and independence. PH then joined in on the fray, on the side of NC, and were keen to take Tribute for themselves. The justification for this was the anticipated influx of Alpha Clones, the free-to-play accounts, as well as easier logistics to Jita. Despite this looking like an easy win for NC and PH alone, the involvement of Test on the side of Co2 hampered the plans of NC and PH.
The combined forces of Test and Co2 meant that NC and PH were soon calling on others to assist in their campaign. Early on we saw a major engagement in the SH1- system where both sides used capitals. This did not go too well for Co2, and Test wisely kept its capital fleet out of the engagement. With a convincing win for PanFam, NC/PL/PH and others, it was all too clear that Test and Co2 would not win a capital escalation.
With the capital fight already decided, it was now a process of slightly more arduous grinds for sovereignty. PanFam soon took to being more strategic in the way that these battles were executed. The fight for Tribute then became a simple matter of the erosion of Co2 space pushing ever closer to the Co2 home system of M-O. The progress of PanFam was accelerated once a greater commitment from PL was present after their victory at the CCP Alliance Tournament.
The victories that Co2 and Test could claim were small in reality. Sensibility had not completely abandoned them, and there were a few very interesting moves that they made to secure their major assets. The capital fleet of Co2, for instance, was moved to the safety of the New Eden Trade Network Keepstar in Aunenen. This was actually a very smart move on their part and ensured not only safety but also the potential to use this fleet in combat if Co2 were so inclined.
Timers for the Co2 Keepstar in their capital system of M-O were now being set by PanFam. Gigx seems to have made an error on the initial timer by being in the Keepstar gunning position and then going AFK. This meant that the Keepstar defences were virtually non-existent and PanFam were able to set the initial timer with only minor event. News of the initial timer soon spread throughout New Eden, and favours were being called in from both sides. Approximately 4400 pilots would be present for the second armour timer of the Co2 Keepstar in M-O. Although GigX had claimed a spy had turned off the Keepstar’s defences, they magically appeared to be working this time around. This was all to no avail. PanFam had brought the superior numbers and compositions. So the Co2 Keepstar entered its final timer cycle. This was set perfectly for the weekend and it was certainly going to be of interest to a lot of the New Eden population.
Around 5700 pilots would be present in M-O for the final timer. Remarkably the server did not crash but was undoubtedly under great strain. A new record of pilots present and fighting in a single system was reached. A great deal of coverage was given to this event. Not only was it the largest single collection of pilots in a single system but the prize of a live Keepstar kill was also gifted.
Just as with the beginning of this war, the end is just as untidy. Within New Eden, there is often not a clear victory unless your enemy is disbanded to the winds, in what is typically referred to as a “fail-cascade”. With the Co2 Keepstar destroyed and their space taken, they had already committed to moving to the NPC space of Venal. With Test seemingly next on the dance card of PanFam they made a surprising announcement, they are moving to Curse. Even more surprisingly is that Co2 will apparently be going with them.
The Pieces of the Puzzle
Although it would be very easy to simply leave this story as-is, there are a number of as-yet unanswered questions. It is first necessary to recap on some of the assembled pieces. The following should only be considered a highlight reel in many respects.
Seraph IX Basarab was, by his own extensive words, a major factor in the Casino War. The part Seraph played harkens back to the latter part of 2015 when they were approaching Co2 to work out a deal for Co2 to abandon their long-standing allies within the Imperium. At the time their corporation of Angry Dragons was in the well-known alliance of Psychotic Tendencies (TISHU). TISHU has subsequently folded with some more competent players joining PL. Prior to the collapse of TISHU, they moved close to PL staging. Angry Dragons joined Co2 at the end of August 2016. Seraph IX Basarab has claimed that the leaders in the Casino War all credit him with being instrumental in the success that they had against The Imperium. The sudden and unexpected departure of Co2 from The Imperium key to their victory.
ShutUpAndShave (Suas) has also been presented as being a major player during the Casino War, again on the side of the PamFam/Money Badger Coalition. Suas also has an interesting history leading up to them becoming a seemingly key component of the Co2 command structure. Suas took his corp from his previous alliance, one he had started, and joined Co2 at the end of July 2016. Suas claimed during his meeting where he split from The OSS that he wanted to focus on PvP and leave the production and mining life behind. Anyone who knows anything about Suas will find this odd given their previous boasting about their ability to produce en-mass. It would also be foolish to not note that Black Omega Security also was within PL for over 4 years. Suas also ran the buy-back program for PH when they left Querious to move to Fade. It may even surprise you that most of the Keepstars produced so far have all been done with the aid of Suas. There is considerably more to the back story of Suas, far too much to include here, but the character of the player is undoubtedly set.
The OSS was the former alliance of Black Omega Security which is run by Suas. There was a great deal of talk that the ties between The OSS and BOS would remain strong despite their apparent separate paths. A cursory glance at Dotlan would also seem to suggest that The OSS have also suffered in the Tribute War. That is until you look at who holds the stations and infrastructure hubs. Somehow Mercenary Coalition has only decided to take the Territorial Claim Unit for systems “lost” by The OSS. The OSS have managed to retain all other structures which seems odd for a publicly declared carebear alliance that could not keep the mighty PvP warrior Suas as their leader.
You should remember that Co2 has claimed that Mercenary Coalition “back stabbed” them during the Tribute War. This was due to Mercenary Coalition first having a mercenary contract in play for Querious and then simply saying “this is not our fight” to Co2. The last days before the fall of the Co2 Keepstar most certainly had Mercenary Coalition on the side of PamFam. It would seem that the diplomatic efforts of Co2 had either been unwilling or unable to mend the relationship with Mercenary Coalition. Mercenary Coalition seem to have been doing rather well of late though despite the conflict surrounding their home nullsec systems. So well in fact that they retain ownership of the Keepstar in Basgerin which is part of New Eden Trade Network, unlike the other Keepstars which are controlled by Chribba’s alt corps. They also seem comfortable in actually staging in Basgerin.
Lenny also features still in this story. He will benefit greatly from the New Eden Trade Network and is heavily invested in its success despite still being banned from the game. Lenny has been quite vocal about his pet project and how good it will be for everyone. It will never be used to project military might around the map and will only be a force for the good of Eve Online. Sounds great until you look at who is actually supporting this scheme. The contribution of ISK made by Lenny during the Casino War was considerable. Co2 even benefited from Lenny Bucks. There does seem to definitely be a pattern as to who benefited from the ISK.
In a System, Far, Far Away
So now onto the Keepstar recently destroyed by forces in the south of New Eden. The Keepstar was dropped under a PL alt corp owned by Rocket X in the system of Jayneleb. When reports of this Keepstar first came about word soon spread quickly. Action would need to be taken quickly if it was to be destroyed and given who was rumoured to be coming to defend it a token force would not be enough for the kill. Co2 were being reported as coming to aid in the defense of the PL Keepstar on Reddit until the initial post was altered. Many were confused or simply outraged at this after what PL had just done to Co2. The mere notion that Co2 would do such a thing felt ridiculous. That is until you start to think about it. Suas, previous PL member, supplier of Keepstars, builder of things, hoarder of ISK, leader of Co2. Co2 were also keeping their capital forces in the New Eden Trade Network Keepstar in Aunenen. Food for thought if nothing else.
The call for the Keepstar kill went out across the South led by The Imperium. An unusual and unexpected group of alliances that were often not altogether friendly with each other formed to kill the Keepstar. Approximately 1500 attackers appeared in Jayneleb with very few “friendly fire” incidents, which was surprising given who attended. Each of the defending groups scouted the system of Jayneleb to simply make the wise decision of not engaging.
In what can only be called a theatrical battle in PF-Q, at the same time as the Keepstar was due to go online, PL/NC fought Co2. All parties involved came with a lackluster fleet composition and fought over a Fortizar. The butchers bill on each side was in the region of 10 billion ISK a piece. Commentators felt that this was all in order to deflect not only their intended collusion in defending the Keepstar but also as a way to avoid the massacre of the defenders that would ensue should they turn up. With only around 200 pilots on each side, this was a poor showing in attendance given that this was such an “important” fight.
The Jayneleb Keepstar fell. All the assembled attackers returned to their respective homes without any real further incidents.
Looking Beyond Tribute
Test and Co2 have stated their intention to move to Curse. This is an NPC controlled region of null sec so will not offer the benefits of truly owned player space. It will be more than adequate to act as a bridgehead into other space. So the question is, where will Co2 and Test project their power? Only three nullsec regions connect to Curse: Catch, Scalding Pass, and Great Wildlands. It would be too early to predict their intended direction and it is quite likely that we will just see them settle in over the holiday period. Hostilities may ensue once we are into 2017.
Co2 have stated that this is simply a deployment for them in order to assist Test in setting up a new home. Time will tell how committed Co2 are as an ally to Test. One can only hope that the efforts of Test in assisting Co2 were not in vain.
The PamFam are more brazen now than ever with their power. There is not even a hint at hiding the vast control that they have in Eve Online. Leaders are obviously present in renting schemes and evidence of working relationships all too evident. Almost three-quarters of null sec are arguably under their control. Wormhole space is completely theirs and unassailable. With their involvement in the New Eden Trading Network, you can even say that they are encroaching on low-sec space with hi-sec probably not far behind. For all intents and purposes, it looks as if BoB has risen again.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is one. This was taken from a reddit post “discussing” the Jayneleb Keepstar. Also, note that the comment was made by Jintaan who does not really have a dog in this fight.
One of the most attractive elements to many who play Eve Online are the stories. Often there are stories within stories within even more stories. The actual story arcs can play out over many years and are an incredibly interesting and rich source of entertainment. Often you can hear people say “this should be a film”. Now is the time that many within New Eden should be looking to decide on which side they will fight, for the next exciting installment that is Eve Online.