This article represents the second article in a five-part series on Diplomacy in EVE Online. Part one of this series examined diplomacy in EVE Online, and from a higher perspective, diplomacy’s function; why it is an effective pursuit, when it is inappropriate, and what the benefits and constraints are of its use as a political tool.
Part two examines diplomacy in New Eden, specifically, within-the-game scope and implications. The roles that diplomats fill, daily duties, who the big players are, and the broad strokes of bloc-level politics will be examined herein. How things shape out in the pass of significant events will also be addressed.
In this piece I will refer to diplomats and leaders. Leaders are anyone who can fill the role of a diplomat, formally or informally, such as FCs, trusted officers, directors, etc. The scale and size of the alliance or coalition, and their internal political complexity, will vary and frequently determines just how firm the title of ‘diplomat’ is in context.
The Span of Years
EVE Online has changed, and the diplomacy of New Eden has changed with it. Not merely as a reflection of the relative time which has passed, but in the technology which has evolved in the almost fifteen years since the game was released. Very few of the leaders and diplomats who started back in beta are still as active today as they were then, if they’re even still around. If you were able to reach back in time, even a dozen years, and magically pluck someone out of that era and bring them forward to the ‘new’ New Eden, they would be more than a little lost.
The Changing Landscape
In 2006 anyone who’d started in beta as a leader or diplomat would have had sufficient time to get their feet under them, form a sizable alliance, and begin their best Pinky and the Brain impersonation.
In three years the game grew four-fold, from twenty five thousand to well over a hundred thousand players. A staggering number of new players were entering the game and it was a time of great optimism, ambition, and growth. Anyone with sufficient grit, study, charisma, and effort could raise a force to go toe-to-toe with other alliances or coax (or coerce) them into the fold.
EVE Online had just received its fifth major update release: Bloodlines. The previous four updates had seen the addition many features, including new bloodlines of the major factions, wormholes, expanded number of systems, level 4 agent missions, and other significant improvements. The majority of ship types visible in New Eden today, such as the mighty Titan-class starships, came in at this time. However, the EVE of 2006 – or ‘old EVE’ – is only superficially similar to the EVE approaching 2018.
In the decade following 2006, EVE Online saw the introduction of the following significant structural changes to the game:
- the introduction of industrial command ships (Quantum Rise, 2008)
- the revision of the Crimewatch system (Retribution, 2012)
- the addition of multiple character training (Odyssey, 2013)
- the addition of jump fatigue and updates to the API system (Phoebe, 2014)
- new tutorials and opportunities, skill and cynosural changes, and new PvE events (Mosaic, 2015)
- the update and revision of the sovereignty system (Aegis, 2015)
Even by the end of 2015, the change to the game has been staggering. Someone from ‘old Eve’ would be drinking from the firehose to adapt overnight to the New Eden of December of two years ago. Diplomats and leaders in this time have had to adapt to changes in how space is captured and held, seen their tactical and strategic powers constrained (no more firing doomsday weapons through on-grid cynos), the introduction of new mining ships, new PvE and PvP content, a slew of new faction and Tier 2 and Tier 3 ships, and many, many visual and structural refinements.
Tools of the Trade
The diplomat or leader of 2006 had a few resources available to them to reach out to their enemies and their allies. Skype, Teamspeak, Mumble, and other platforms were ubiquitous by this time, as well as messaging platforms such as ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo to name a few. Many relied on in-game chat or messages, and when sufficient trust was built there might be exchange of telephone numbers or personal emails and messenger identities. A lot of leaders and diplomats relied heavily on the old forum posts and threads, with a lot of effort being invested in the elaborate oratory-style propaganda posts cited in Empires of EVE .
The intervening decade saw not just changes to the in-game reality of EVE Online, but to the technologies, culture, modes, and expressions of the modern world.
Consider this date: June 29, 2007.
If that date isn’t ringing any bells for you, let me bring you up to speed. Until that date, the most advanced mobile device available on the market was this:
The release of the Apple iPhone in June of 2007 changed society. The release of the iPhone is now one of those landmark events like the creation of the World Wide Web, the Apollo missions, the creation of plastic, and the discovery of penicillin which have irrevocably changed society for the better and which – in very real ways – contribute to what our world looks like today. It’s also one of those events that people often forget happened as recently as it did, the technology has become so ubiquitous that we no longer question its place in society.
It drove the culture of instant connectivity, advanced apps, and improved mobile capabilities. The iPhone drove the advance of constant contact more than any preceding product ever could have imagined. Since the release of the iPhone we’ve added other tools which have drastically expanded the ease and convenience of instant communications with other players. Slack, Twitter, Facebook—launched in 2005 but restricted to university students and invite-only for several years—and other platforms have provided other quantum leaps in connectivity, with the iPhone as their springboard.
Stepping in to fill the void of content and demand for constant stimulation has been YouTube, also launched in 2005. YouTube has allowed EVE to market itself and its community in ways never before imagined, which will be the focus of another article.
It’s not just the real world technology which has changed, either, and in some ways even the future-is-now contrast of 2006 to 2015 seems grossly outmoded by the changes in both EVE Online and modern society which have occurred in the last two years.
The last two years have seen a shift from convenience to extreme access and radical transparency.
This is true in both EVE Online and in real life.
We’ve seen the addition of new and drastically improved servers and datacentres for EVE Online and huge improvements in CCP’s development pipeline. Code cleaning and improvements which have been on the back burner or under constant development over the past decade are finally being crossed off. The bulk of the ‘spaghetti code’ is finally being purged from EVE, and newer more stable code and implementations are reaching parity with the core offering.
This has meant that there’s been an acceleration of the addition of new features as teams have been able to devote more and more time to rolling out significant upgrades in an environment they don’t have to fear will melt down if they touch the wrong thing. This has been great for Generation Instant, the millennials and generation next who want everything on demand.
If you have the backing and organization to do something, you can do it more-or-less instantly.
Want to take over a pocket of space? Fuck. Sov. Drop a Fortizar. Drop a Keepstar!
Want to upscale your war machine? Drop some Engineering Complexes and get your industrial teams grinding out those battleships, capitals, and supers.
Want to make mad, mad money? Drop some Refineries and mine that moon goo, refine all the things, react with convenience and make your T2 right fucking now.
Sure, it’ll take money and manpower but if you’ve got enough dedicated people behind you it’ll happen faster than you think. If you’ve already got that dedicated, trained, and mobile force, you can make yourself damn near immovable. You can own space in a way never imagined possible with Aegis Sov alone. You can build kingdoms.
Slack was cool. Slack is still cool for some of the things it can do that others haven’t yet managed to match, like integration support for other platforms. In the scope of Generation Instant, though, nothing sincerely slakes the sudden like Discord.
Discord is a game-changer in its own right, and nearly everyone is using it. Certainly, all of the diplomats, leaders, and movers and shakers are. It’s no longer a game of lobbing a provocative propaganda post over the front lines of the forum trenches, or shouting promises of Promethean destruction in local chat, and hoping that you can raise the other side’s diplo to sue for peace. You just ping them and say, “Let’s chat.”
The perks of Generation Instant don’t just stretch into communication, either. There are sophisticated support software and web services supporting all of the major blocs which, thanks to some clever programming and the exploitation of APIs, allow instantaneous and perfect intel. Among other things.
Perfect intelligence is when you absolutely (100%, with no error) know the particulars of when, where, how, what, and why. In almost every situation. You know your enemy. You know what they’re flying, how it’s fit, how many they have, who’s waiting in the wings as backup, what the backup has, how far away they are, and how much money is in their wallets. You name it. It can be quantified and pulled up almost instantly.
It doesn’t replace traditional spying and infiltration, but it does make information management much faster and easier. And that combination takes spying and diplomacy to stratospheric new levels, and you have to have balls the size of Vexors to look an enemy diplo in the face and bluff about what you can put on field.
This is the diplomatic landscape the new diplos and leaders face.
Classical Lessons, Learned Again
The lessons of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Homer, Temüjin, Yamamoto, Tokugawa, Liang , and Clausewitz echo in history. If you are new to EVE Online and you have ambitions of being the leader of a sprawling alliance or a powerful mega-bloc like Imperium (Goons) or Northern Coalition (NCdot) or Pandemic Legion (PL) or Drone Regions Federation (DRF), then I would personally very strongly advise you to become familiar with their works. I’m sure there are people in this game and in this community who will say that my saying so is pure elite sophistry, but hear me out.
There is a reason I was un-ironically using quotes from Sun Tzu in part one, and that’s because when it comes to warfare and diplomacy they’re apt. For someone who has been in the game a long time—Lady Scarlet, for instance, has been playing since beta—the idea of waiting by the side of the river for the body of your enemies to float past isn’t just a quaint anecdote. It’s a good reminder to be patient. Anyone trying to make waves usually doesn’t last long enough to make it downstream alive. Their goals don’t align, and Lady Scarlet needs only wait them out.
No diplomacy required.
Similarly, the lessons of these deep strategic and tactical thinkers will help to educate potential leaders and diplomats of what a bad plan looks like before they go all-in without evaluating.
By way of example, let’s look at an incident in 2016 which RiotRick and Tridgit related to me.
SLYCE had moved into Deklein around April but had a couple of corps that stayed south and kept a home in Detorid. Their neighbours, Vanguard, had a standing non-invasion pact with SLYCE, so the two corporations thought they were safe even though RiotRick had encouraged them to move up North with the main alliance.
Vanguard Alliance’s IT’s ONLY PIXELS and Invidia Gloriae Comes thought they could just break the NIP with no consequence and attacked Detorid sov structures. This led to about a 3 month harassment/cloaking campaign, and a Vanguard Nyx being taken out. Then they hired Kids With Guns to also help attack our POSes, which led to this disaster .
At the end of it, IGC paid SLYCE for all the sov structures in Detorid and deposited the ISK in our SRP fund. They were also nice enough to repair some of my POS modules… oh, and they paid for infrastructure like POCOs and Citadels from the two corps. So the two corps got to Deklein with no infrastructure to move but definitely had the ISK to replace it with.
[Triumvirate] eventually kicked IGC out and PIXELS died in obscurity. These two organizations then tried to move into Fountain and met a stiff Iron wall and just died.
Tridgit takes over the story at this point.
So they get kicked from Detorid, get paid nothing, lose everything, they move to Fountain and get setup by [The Culture] into the old FCORE space. FCORE constantly camps them, etc, and a couple of months in TC gets pushed out of the region by Goons.
As [IGC] were being booted from Detorid they were targeting Fountain as their place to move, right? Well, they literally targeted our home as their destination constellation. Like, Iron HQ! They moved about 20% of their members into (the adjacent system), which is the NPC station next door before they realized who they had targeted for eviction and they held a meeting and adjusted their plan over to a different constellation.
Like… how do you make it a quarter through your alliance move op before you check who owns the space you intend to take? So now goons attempt to make Iron play nice with IGC, and that’s a big nope.jpg and we push hard, diplomatically and in space. Fast forward a few weeks, IGC collapses under pressure and withdraws into Goons.
In our treaty, I demand they remove their infrastructure. Forts, Azbels, etc. Well, as they try to extract, they accidentally did it in FCORE’s prime time and end up losing about 70 Billion ISK to some stealth bombers as they tried to pull their shit.
This whole debacle, it is worth noting, started because of the actions of some overzealous FCs and a rude diplomat. The continued aggressive nature, lack of respect for larger and better prepared alliances, and outright derision cost IGC their home (twice), their wealth (at least twice), and their reputation. All of the above chain of poor decisions and mistakes are things the great thinkers have counselled against, and provided ample historical examples of in their illustrations.
It might seem like a lot of dry reading, but it’s worth it.
Or, to quote Tokugawa, “Forebearance is the root of quiet assurance.”
Handshakes and Daggers
Handshakes are often seen as the start of diplomacy. If you can successfully say ‘hello’ in someone’s language that’s a start. Archaeological ruins and ancient texts show that handshaking – a.k.a. dexiosis – was practiced in Ancient Greece as early as the 5th Century BC (~2500 years ago). Early depictions of handshaking can be seen on Roman ruins, in recovered pottery, and on funeral stelae. Groups as diverse as the Chinese, the Romans, and even Mezoamerican people. There’s even research examining evidence that the act is biological, called chemosignaling, meant to exchange pheromones to establish trust.
Yet the tradition of shaking hands has a pragmatic and military application as well, and was something done as late as the middle-ages by the courts of Jarls and Dukes and Kings to visitors on their way in to audience with their lord. An appointed squire or knight would greet the visitor and take their hand, shaking the arm with a few swift tugs, to try to shake loose the “dagger up the sleeve” of any potential would-be assassins.
The act everyone sees today as a measure of trust and greeting may have started out in earnest as an expression of distrust and paranoid security. The act of extending one’s open hand, meant to display it doesn’t carry a weapon.
The term has even found a home in Information Technology, a ‘handshake’ referring to the “exchange of standardized signals in a computer network regulating the transfer of data”. The definition is apt, because it meets up with its behavioural example as well. A recognized pairing of communication and intent, with a clear signal.
A lot of diplomacy happens in handshakes, not just the physical ones. Certain types of diplomatic congress happen only between certain types of parties, and other types of diplomatic expressions happen only when there is an unequal power dynamic involved. I’ll briefly examine a couple of the smaller diplomatic encounters here.
While a lot of conversations start through formal channels following some-such unfortunate line crossed or a desire expressed, the handshake that introduces you to someone can be very informal. Tridgit and RiotRick – who I cited earlier – met when Tridgit was entosising Rick’s space and Riot asked what was going on. They ended up talking for several hours, because it turned out they liked each other.
A lot of diplomatic relationships happen only because people like each other, for some reason or another. Dabigredboat, who I’ve recently had the enjoyment of getting to know, had this to say (I believe he also posted it to Reddit):
There’s another form of diplomacy you are omitting as well. The FC to FC diplomacy, the one you should really be most familiar with. As FCs you and others have a very privileged relationship with other entities, you get to discuss with them without needing to be careful about your words, to carefully craft sentences, to make sure everything is smooth. Often, those FC to FC relationships are what enable us to start working diplomatically.
I have built relationships personally with groups like the Stain Russians that lead to them being willing to work with us only because they liked me, even though they hated most Goon leadership.
This happens a ton; Snuff joined the Imperium due in part to the relationship between Jay Amazingness and their leadership.
As such, the kind of interactions which begin in a combat setting, or as the result of a fight, can be the best introductions for diplomats and alliances.
Best of Enemies
While diplomats themselves hold a particular and recognized position within EVE, particularly within the large power blocs of New Eden, not all people engaged in diplomacy are diplomats, and not all diplomats deal solely in diplomacy. Diplomacy also takes a different flavour depending on where you’re from what what your cultural or ethnic norms consider to be polite congress, and sometimes your flavour of diplomacy and someone else’s don’t mix.
There’s a fun quote from Jim Butcher’s book Turn Coat, where the main character – a wizard named Harry Dresden – explains American diplomacy to an acquaintance.
“You’re in America now,” I said. “Our idea of diplomacy is showing up with a gun in one hand and a sandwich in the other and asking which you’d prefer.”
You can see how that would complicate things if the person you’re dealing with is accustomed to a higher level of engagement, with time taken for niceties and the formal chit-chat reserved for state galas. This is where the different types of diplomatic engagements often find their friction.
While most bloc-level diplomacy is diplomat to diplomat, the reasons for that engagement can be driven from the top of an organization, or the bottom, depending on circumstances. These conversations will often go much as you’d expect, but I’ll cover this in the section for bloc politics, below.
Conversations between diplomats and FCs tend to be more of a collaborative or enforcement nature, either soliciting active intel and reinforcing the decisions or plans as laid out, or ensuring that the leadership’s wishes are going to be followed. Similarly, that intel may be solicited by a diplomat to see if the FCs and their scouts have been able to determine if the other side intends to hold to their end of a bargain.
Junior FCs may also reach out to a diplomat to see if someone they encounter is a valid target, or if a structure can be attacked without violating any agreements. Senior FCs, for the most part, don’t need to do this because they already know what’s going on. Or at least they should.
FC to FC conversations hold a special sort of diplomacy, and several people I’ve talked to have been sincere in their expression that this is some of the most honest diplomacy which happens in New Eden.
KillahBee, a respected Northern Coalition FC, was nice enough to give his take. Since we spoke on comms – he doesn’t much like typing long responses – the below is a paraphrased synopsis of his response.
JuriusDoctor: What does FC-to-FC diplomacy look like to you? Do you find yourself opening a convo window with someone before a fight?
KillahBee: No, I don’t really like to do that. In fact, I really don’t like to do that. Progod does that sometimes when we fight, and it bugs me. He says, “Hey man, let’s just have a good fight. Let’s keep it even.”
I like a lot of the FCs out there. I’ve met with them at meetups, or at Fanfest, or wherever. I can have a beer with Progodlegend, or with Sort, or with Mittani. They’re cool guys, and they’re fun to hang out with, but when it comes to fighting them in space or over an objective I’m all business.
M-OEE8 is a great example. I’d had it on my bucket list for a while. I wanted to be able to kill the first online and fully-active Keepstar. That was a big one for me, and I was glad I got to do that. He (Progod) messages me during the Keepstar defense and starts up with the same “let’s keep it even” talk.
I told him, “I brought 5,500 people to the fight to kill this thing. If it was just a couple of our fleets out, and we had no objectives, and we were flying comparable doctrines. Cool. Let’s do that. But not for an objective. I don’t invite 5,500 people to a fight to play nice.”
Fleet Commanders, in this way, can be a lot like boxers or mixed martial arts fighters. Outside of the ring they’re often friends, they have dinner at each other’s houses, know each other’s families. It can be a very tight community and one where there’s a culture of mutual respect, people know each other in a way only seasoned fighters can. However, when it comes time to step into the ring the intent is to do harm, no matter how much you like the other man or woman.
FCs are often the best of enemies.
Ability and the Cult of Personality
For the organizations who don’t have sprawling member counts or huge tracts of space to call their own, the role of the diplomat often falls to the CEO, Alliance Leader, or perhaps a trusted director. The smaller the organization, and the less rigidly hierarchical, the more likely this is.
As I covered in part one of this series, in the organizations which can support a dedicated diplomatic position or a corps of diplomats, diplomats themselves often try to keep a low-profile. This isn’t always possible, and at some level the diplomat must be someone who is known and respected enough to have the confidence of leadership, that they can carry the responsibility well. But what defines that ability?
There is, within New Eden and perhaps in the real world as well, a paradoxical relationship between ability and the cult of personality.
A little investigation reveals, there are fundamentally four types of personality which enter the scene as diplomats and leaders in New Eden:
- Those who are known, and have shown themselves capable
- Those who are space famous, and either show themselves capable or maintain that fame through some other means
- Those who are unknown, except by a small cadre of the people necessary for them to do their job, or are known for a particular thing or skill but otherwise unremarkable except in the job they do
- Those who want to be known, whether they have the ability or the fame, or not
The paradox lies in the reality that becoming a good diplomat is a lot like trying to be altruistic. It poses a paradox of intent.
Altruism is the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. You cannot try to be altruistic, you either are or you are not. If you stop by the side of the road and give a small sum of money from your pocket to a beggar or a homeless person, are you doing it because you believe you are helping, or are you doing it because it makes you feel good to say you’ve helped? Even then, if you gain some reward from it, however small, is it altruism?
The same can be said for diplomacy. Diplomacy is not capitalism, and as Ayn Rand said,
Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society.
A diplomat who is interested only in personal gain—whether that gain be fame, or influence, or financial means, or power—has lost sight of the game. A diplomat works on behalf of their corporation or alliance or coalition; it’s not their place to think of themselves in their dealings. In fact, I would argue that a really good diplomat should be thinking about the other diplomat’s benefit, and working to secure it in a way that also rewards their own leadership’s interests.
If you need something from somebody always give that person a way to hand it to you. – Sue Monk Kidd
So while a person may be space famous, that may not make them a good diplomat, and a good diplomat might never become space famous. In fact, they may only hold the position until they, or someone else, tires of them doing the job.
The Mittani had something to say about this, which will be released with my upcoming interview with him, but I’ll paraphrase here.
The reality of Eve is that there’s very few people with real authority as opposed to people with derived or delegated authority who hurf blurfs to try to seem important… We regularly recruit new diplos and replace any who have lost the plot. Certainly in other alliances, a bad diplo can ruin everything and bring about the fall of their alliance.
We Are Legion
Since I bring up the Mittani, it might be a good time to introduce the big bloc-level coalitions; the allied alliances which make up the bulk of power in New Eden. I list here the names and sizes of the coalitions and their member alliances for a sense of scale, which is kind of ridiculous because it is actually surprisingly difficult to get your head around the kind of numbers of people we’re talking about. There are towns and cities around the world with fewer people living in them than some of these alliances have pilots.
That said, within the power structure of New Eden there are really only a small number of truly significant coalitions.
Note: An asterix next to the member count indicates a ‘core’ alliance, meaning that it is unlikely they will “never not be blue” to each other. Other alliances may belong to these blocs temporarily or on an ongoing basis. This is not a definitive list. You can see a mostly up-to-date list here.
Short for the Pandemic Family; the two senior alliances, Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition., have long been known for their large combined supercapital fleet.
- Pandemic Legion <-10.0> (2,835 members)*
- Northern Coalition. <NC> (3,937 members)*
- Pandemic Horde <REKTD> (13,359 members)*
Often considered members of PanFam by outsiders, Mercenary Coalition <MC> (1,383 members) have a long-standing friendship with NC. and may assist PanFam at times.
Guardians of the Galaxy:
Often allied with PanFam, GotG nevertheless maintains its own strategic and diplomatic interests.
- DARKNESS. <DARK.> (3,968 members)*
- Soylaris Chtonium <SLYCE> (3,256 members)*
- Mordu’s Angels <MOA> (2,863 members)*
- Chaos Theory <KOS> (1,581 members)*
- Blades of Grass <2GTHR> (1,126 members)*
- Caladrius Alliance <-000-> (797 members)
- Estamos Solos Alliance. <-EST->(405 members)
With almost almost fifty thousand pilots; this is the group which funds this news site and is made up of the following alliances:
- Goonswarm Federation <CONDI> (34,989 members)*
- The Bastion <BASTN> (3,080 members)*
- Tactical Narcotics Team <TNT> (2,307 members)*
- Brothers in Arms Alliance <BIA> (1,492 members)*
- Snuffed Out <BBC> (756 members)*
- Get Off My Lawn <LAWN> (536 members)*
- The Initiative <INIT.> (3,018 members)*
- Initiative Associates <-IA-> (1,522 members)
- Initiative Mercenaries <IM> (867 members)
Red Menace Coalition:
While not part of Imperium, RMC often work closely with their larger neighbors. Red Alliance’s shared history with Goonswarm in the old RedSwarm Federation can lead casual observers to assume the two coalitions are a single unified entity.
- Red Alliance <RED> (1,437 members)*
- Dream Fleet <DRF> (810 members)*
- Midas 22 <MI22> (495 members)
About twenty thousand pilots strong, Legacy is home to well-known FCs like Vily and Progodlegend.
- Test Alliance Please Ignore <TEST> (10,975 members)*
- Brave Collective <BRAVE> (5,815 members)*
- Requiem Eternal <REQ> (1,376 members)*
- DRONE WALKERS <WALKA> (1,306 members)*
- Tactical Supremacy <TIKLE> (591 members)
- Dangerous Voltage <DV> (439 members)
The combined independent alliances of Providence defend their shared home region and NRDS (Not Red, Don’t Shoot) policy as a unified whole.:
- Curatores Veritatis Alliance <CVA> (1,990 members)*
- Silent Infinity <AFK> (2,075 members)*
- Apocalypse Now. <APOC> (1,356 members)
- Elemental Tide <MENTL> (1,236 members)
- Yulai Federation <YF> (1,183 members)
- Evictus <IOU> (1,139 members)
- Sev3rance <-7-> (839 members)
- Several others
The Drone Regions Federation:
DRF for short; with about forty thousand pilots, this coalition boasts a large, well-organized Russian-speaking contingent:
- Legion of xXDEATHXx <X.I.X> (2,290 members)*
- SOLAR FLEET <SOLAR> (1,561 members)*
- Shadow of Death <X.W.X> (7,691 members)*
- SOLAR WING. <SLR-W> (1,274 members)*
- Brothers of Tangra <B0T> (5,429 members)*
- Badfellas Inc. <BADI> (2,745 members)
- Wings Wanderers <WSHOT> (2,449 members)
- Kids With Guns Alliance <-KWG-> (2,393 members)
- Infinity Space <IN.SP> (2,001 members)
- inPanic <-INP-> (1,857 members)
- Razor Alliance <RZR> (1,694 members)
- Synergy of Steel <SYN> (886 members)
- The Explicit Alliance <XPLCT> (648 members)
With so many people belonging to these coalitions, it can be hard to keep track of who is with whom, and where the coalition lines are drawn. These alliances and their memberships are also fluid entities. Alliances have been known to shift rapidly, sometimes overnight. The recent departures of Army of New Eden <ARMY>, Circle of Two <CO2>, and Fidelas Constans <FCON> from the above coalitions illustrate this. I suspect that by the time this article is published, at least one of these organizations will undergo at least some type of change.
Big dogs and the shape of the pack
Each of the large coalitions organizes itself in its own way, with the Imperium leaning towards rigidly hierarchical, and the North being almost rigidly independent. In my investigations of the diplomacy of New Eden, I reached out to over 30 notable and well-known individuals in the leadership and diplomacy of EVE’s alliances. Many responded, and were very forthcoming with information which has helped me to write this piece. Several will very likely turn into future one-on-one interviews spotlighting their organizations and their ambitions.
As of writing, only three individuals I really wanted to talk to—for their unique perspectives—could not be reached, chose not to comment, or did not wish to be interviewed. The first is Sort Dragon of GotG, whom I would have very much liked to speak to about the events surrounding MTO2-2 and the diplomacy within his organization. Then there’s Garst Tyrell of Triumvirate, whom I’d have liked to speak to about current action in and around DRF space. The last is UAxDeath, leader of XIX and the DRF, a relatively enigmatic figure who I think would have had some interesting things to say about the current diplomatic landscape of New Eden. That said perhaps it’s best that these figures keep their silence and their mystique, as EVE wouldn’t be EVE if all the secrets were revealed. Big dogs don’t need to bark, after all. (As a note, UAxDeath did make several of his thoughts known on The Meta Show.)
Of those that did speak with me, I can say that the shape of diplomatic structures within EVE share certain similarities no matter how they’re organized. The common thread between all of these is that at the heart of the major alliances and coalitions of EVE Online, among over a hundred thousand players, really only six or seven people in New Eden wield real power. That number may even be a little inflated. Those within these organizations often behave like civilized packs of wolves, dangerous to be sure, but always deferring to their Alpha. Certainly there are those senior FCs and diplos and directors who do not need to defer to the big dog for approval, because they have their trust and by some measure of long working together know what the expectations and permissible actions are, but that authoritarian presence remains.
As such, within the greater scope of EVE the bloc-level politics come down to the decisions of these few. The smaller decisions in between may happen through lesser proxies, or through trusted friends, or through an entire corps diplomatique, but at the end of the day it is the powerful few who set the course for New Eden’s future.
Until someone new steps up.
The Slow Death
So on the day to day running of these large organizations, and lesser ones, diplomats often fill middle-seats of power. And because the things with which they deal are often the day-to-day ennui-inducing administrivia, diplomats either get very, very good at balancing opportunity and efficiency, or they pick a thing and stick to it. Trying to manage everything at once can lead to a slow wear that can, as Mittani puts it, cause one to lose the plot.
To illustrate the point, consider how many “can I have temporary blue to get my stuff out” requests you have to deal with in an organization with a population bigger than most major metroplitan University campuses.
It can truly be death by a thousand cuts.
And a bad diplo can break a union.