Header art by Cryo Huren
After consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, an acquaintance of mine spent the rest of the evening trying to explain to me that if one accepted Immanuel Kant’s preconditions, then his arguments were irrefutable. The most recent ecosystem devblog didn’t quite give me deja vu, but it came close. If one accepts that “scarcity breeds war,” then CCP has done an absolute cracker of a job rebalancing the economy, working to make everyone poor. However, I must ask, in what world does scarcity breed war? Scarcity does not breed war in EVE or the real world. So, where would CCP get this idea?
Part of CCP’s blindspot seems to be cultural. The closest thing to a war Iceland has waged since its independence was some nothingburgers over fish. Despite the risible name of the Cod Wars, they were not wars. Iceland isn’t even a violent place; less murders have occurred there in the past 20 years than happen in one holiday weekend in Chicago. Perhaps CCP thinks back to the Viking Age, where the longships would pull up, the vikings would take all the gold and the pretty girls, then torch the town on their way out. That also was not a war.
See, what scarcity breeds is actually conflict. However, one should not confuse conflict with war. Conflict is what happens when my family gets together for Christmas. War is what happens when the United States has grown tired of another country’s shit. The Somali pirates face some of the scarcest conditions imaginable, yet they don’t go to war. They engage in piracy. The ability to make war is beyond the ability of the pirates.
War, on the other hand, has been a chief export of the United States since 1941. For me, it’s been a family affair, with my father, grandparents, and brother belonging to all three branches of the military and the US Air Force. I am a US Marine veteran, though, dear reader, you can be excused for not knowing this as I don’t append USMC to my name or anything. I am proud to have been a professional warfighter and experienced war close up and personal.
Wars are not cheap. A war requires the full focus of a nation to prosecute, with vast amounts of national resources committed to the act. When the United States and United Kingdom invaded Iraq, they committed over 200 thousand troops. More military hardware in the form of armored vehicles and aircraft than Iceland’s 2003 entire GDP could afford rolled into Iraq and laid waste to the Iraqi military. Deploying—just getting that hardware to the warzone—alone cost more money than Pearl Abyss paid for CCP.
The United States did not emerge from Iraq better off in terms of resources. Not to get too political, but it wasn’t a war for oil.
To borrow a quote from General Patton: “Through various towns in southern Germany and Austria, whose names I cannot pronounce, but whose places I have removed”—wait, wait. Wrong one. CCP doesn’t “know any more about real battle than they do about fucking.” Don’t take it personally. War is something that one has to experience to know, and Iceland is fortunate that they don’t know war.
There are a few good examples of one country invading another for resources. The most recent was Iraq invading Kuwait for their oil to pay for the war debts Iraq incurred in the Iraq-Iran war. To put this into perspective, in 1991, Iraq had the 5th largest military, and Kuwait had a division. Iraq took over the entirety of Kuwait in two days. To compare, this would be around the equivalent of the US 2nd Marine Division showing up off the coast of Iceland and invading. Let’s not call the Invasion of Kuwait a war, even if it meets the dictionary definition.
In EVE terms, the Invasion of Kuwait is analogous to one of the major null blocs taking a moon from a low sec corp.
In 1937, Imperial Japan invaded China. At the time, Japan was an industrialized military power, who deployed 600 thousand well-equipped, well-armed troops to a fragmented and weak China. I hope, dear reader, you are seeing a theme here. If one is facing scarcity, and one wants resources, knocking off a weak neighbor is the way to go. Countries never got past the ‘beating up the weak nerd for lunchmoney’ phase of life.
The ending to Imperial Japan’s tale is well known. Ka-BOOM. Twice.
Listing all the wars that had nothing, or very little to do with scarcity would take more words than I care to write in a lifetime. Here’s a short list of the fun ones.
In 1995, Peru faced off against Ecuador in the Cenepa war over a stretch of disputed territory. The war lasted a month and involved less people than World War Bee.
In 1998 Eritrea invaded Ethiopia regarding a territorial dispute. Neither country was in good economic shape and war only made the problems worse. Both countries ended the war poorer than when they started.
In 1967, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan invaded Israel over a territorial dispute—they didn’t think Israel had the right to exist. Over the course of six days, Israel gained territory.
The list does go on.
In 2013, the CFC invaded Fountain with the goal of expelling TEST. The leadership of TEST had become increasingly hostile to the CFC, and the continued existence of a powerful hostile on the southern border of CFC space posed a clear and present danger. Flush with ISK from the Technetium moons, the CFC was able to evict TEST from Fountain.
In 2016, flush with casino cash, the rest of EVE invaded the Imperium in the Casino War. With almost unlimited funds unlinked to any sort of ingame activity, the Money Badger Coalition was able to evict the Imperium from Deklein. Due to changes in moon mining, the Imperium could not compete with the casino cash advantage.
In 2020, Vily, a former FC of the Imperium, gathered an alliance with the rest of EVE sans Imperium. Ancient grudges break to new mutiny as World War Bee kicked off in July. The ongoing war has already broken world records. The Imperium spent the years since their eviction from Deklien fortifying Delve. Many trillions of ISK have already been spent on a war for a mostly worthless region, thanks to CCP’s resource changes.
The largest war in EVE’s history and the marquee event for 2020 is a war costing players huge amounts of ISK. If there had been a large wealth inequality like the Casino war, then World War Bee would have ended by now. If both sides had been poor, there would not have been a war in the first place. EVE players well know not to fly what one cannot afford to lose. Both sides calculated what they can afford to lose, and the war will go until they reach that point. If neither side could afford to lose trillions of ISK, then roaming fleets and border fights would be the soup du jour.
Thousands of players have already come back to EVE for this war, injecting real life dollars into CCP’s bank account. The Ferengi Rule of Acquisition No. 34: war is good for business proves true in game and out.
There is an example of a game that exists showing how injections of wealth prolong the game well beyond its intended point: Monopoly. Monopoly was originally invented to show how bad capitalism was, and if played according to the rules, the game goes quickly, with players going bankrupt left and right. However, house rules, usually involving Free Parking and picking up the pot of cash from fines and what not, keep injecting cash into the system. A short game becomes an hours long affair.
For EVE, the goal of CCP is, I hope, to keep people playing. Injecting cash keeps the war going, it keeps people playing. In the past few months, the war has ground to a halt as the both sides sheppherd their resources. Gone are the marquee battles that make the news, the supercapital clashes. Both sides realize they cannot afford it. Everyone is thinking of the future and their ability, or lack thereof, to rebuild their losses. It’s leading to a very boring game.
War is what null sec is built around. For years, both sides have built up the cash and material reserves necessary for the big one. In between the Imperium has deployed forces to glass regions, or harass enemies, but that was not war. That was a mere conflict.
Pride breeds war. Insult breeds war. Greed breeds war. Human nature breeds war. A fight over some fish is not a war, no matter what it’s called. It’s time for CCP to remove the cultural blinders and see what war is and start designing EVE for it. At the very least, they should listen to the professionals.
This was written before the first M2-XFE Meatgrinder. CCP is going to use this as part of their marketing, piggybacking off all the media coverage that will come out of the battle. The number of titans killed will be plastered all over the internet. Someone will make a real life money comparison to the losses.
The M2- battle was born out of abundance. Building those fleets took years, and countless thousands of man hours of the most boring PVE in any MMO. All the changes CCP are making will only make that PVE more boring, less rewarding, and more tedious. In turn, this means that there will be no more battles like M2-, or B-R5. Great fucking job, CCP.