Since Circle-Of-Two’s (CO2) decision to flip against the Imperium there has been a lot of discussion on how big of an impact the betrayal will have on the current war. The community at /r/eve has, predictably, seized on it as the beginning of an Imperium failcascade. While the Imperium maintains it could have been much worse, even they concede the situation in the east is not good. As a result, the Imperium has been making big efforts to consolidate its forces in a single staging area. Whether this strategy will strengthen the core of Imperium space remains to be seen, but no matter how the larger war plays out, it does not look like CO2 has a path for victory.
WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR CO2
The worst situation CO2 can find itself in is pretty obvious. If the Moneybadger Coalition (MBC) begins to fragment or the Imperium’s consolidation strategy is able to bring fleet parity to timers, CO2 will find itself the focus of immense pressure in the short-term. CO2’s decision yesterday to pre-emptively purge a 200+ member corporation that it suspected of pro-Imperium leanings indicates that it may not be as cohesive as many originally thought.
Can CO2 survive losing its space? Probably, but not without shedding a lot more members. Recent leaked diplomatic logs regarding CO2’s tenure in the CFC, and later the Imperium, show a highly corrupt directorate run amok. Long after other CFC alliances established generous Ship Replace Programs (SRP), CO2 corporations and members were still reliant on ratting revenue and taxes as their leadership embezzeled hundreds of billions in moon revenue. But let us be generous, even in this worst case hypothetical, and say they keep it together. What happens next?
In this scenario, a resurgent Imperium, flush with an unexpected quick victory, would find eager new allies to co-opt Vale of the Silent. Even if CO2 were to establish themselves in the south they would most likely find themselves the target of Imperium deployments for months, if not years, to come. Seeing as CO2 limped into the coalition with barely 300 pilots it is hard to see how they survive unless they have completely revamped their leadership.
Admittedly, while this scenario is possible, it does not look particularly plausible at the moment. Let us jump to the other end of the spectrum and see what the best case scenario for CO2 looks like.
BEST CASE SCENARIO FOR CO2
The best case situation for CO2 is actually just as implausible as its worst case scenario. Not only does the Imperium suffer a full defeat and lose its territory, but the vast majority of goons also quit the game after the war. While one could reasonably expect a full defeat to weaken the Imperium’s numbers and cause the coalition to shrink, it stretches credulity that the same Goonswarm that had to unexpectedly evacuate Delve and live in lowsec for months would just give up the game. If anything, the community is more entrenched and now stretches over several different games. Many pilots in the Imperium would be reluctant to abandon characters and accounts where they have considerable assets and time invested, even in the face of a crushing defeat.
However, that is just one permutation. The Imperium does not necessarily need to disband for CO2 to reap a best case scenario. If CO2 rides with Moneybadgers to an eventual victory over the Imperium, it is possible that Pandemic Legion, Northern Coalition, and the plethora of smaller groups that are currently invading the space would unite and make a long-term commitment to defend this space for CO2 and whoever else they con into taking other regions. Even a cursory review, however, of the MBC membership would show that to be less likely than even a Goonswarm withdrawal from the game. There are too many personalities at play to realistically expect a long-term commitment to defend CO2.
However unlikely, either one of the above would have to happen for CO2 to exit the conflict in better shape than it started. That leads us to the most likely scenario.
MOST LIKELY SCENARIO FOR CO2
Let us assume for a moment that the Imperium is forced into lowsec, or has their nullsec holdings reduced to such an amount that the war is declared won by the MBC. Whatever form this victory takes, the most likely result is that MBC will splinter and a reduced Imperium will begin rebuilding. Even if they install stronger groups like Northern Coaltion or Pandemic Legion, the ultimate stability of these holdings will depend on a long-term commitment from MBC that is not sustainable or realistic. What is to stop the Imperium from retaking these territories a month down the line? Or three months?
For groups like Northern Coalition and Pandemic Horde, returning to lowsec is no big deal. They have spent years operating there successfully. As long term enemies, they wont attract the same kind of grudge that CO2 will likely face for its sudden betrayal. How does CO2 continue in any coherent fashion in this situation? It is hard to envision. It seems CO2 has painted itself into a corner and they will be struggling against years of EVE history to find a way out.
This article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TMC or its staff.