Art by Major Sniper
The Freemen of the North and Winter Coalition announced a ceasefire that will end hostilities and hand control of Tribute over to Fraternity. To understand this eight week-long conflict that has drawn the attention of New Eden, we spoke to heads of both parties to review the war, how it was fought and find out what it means for the future of their alliances.
As noted in previous articles, the war for the north was fought between the Fraternity led Winter Coalition and the previously scattered alliances of Toilet Paper, Rote Kapelle, The Brotherhood of Spacers, and others. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, the Freemen employed a style of guerrilla warfare against their much larger neighbours, dropping behind enemy lines to attack opportune targets whilst also fiercely contesting incursions into their space. However, as the war progressed, continuing pressure from Winter Co. eventually resulted in victory and the eviction of those smaller alliances from Tribute.
The ceasefire was called at 1500 on Feb 20 and will last for two weeks, giving the Freemen time to evacuate their stations and leave Tribute. A gesture that in many ways summarises the good nature in which this war has been fought. Whilst the battles have been hotly contested, there was no doubt from the start that the Freemen would not be able to hold off the tide of Winter Co, for to do so required a monumental effort. “Our dudes have to answer every CTA ping, sometimes even rage form at awkward hours,” said Freemen spokesman Frank LeTank of Toilet Paper. Speaking on the reasons behind the required ceasefire Frank continued, “Our FCs are exhausted. For a short period of time this is manageable, but in the long term we have to think about our pilots and wallets.”
The continuous commitment of Freemen pilots through all hours was finally felt in week eight when they suffered defeat after defeat. Noraus, CEO of Fraternity said, “We pushed TP with Winter CO.’s EUTZ, where we could easily out form and beat them on a daily basis.”
Even though allies were willing to commit to the fight, as shown in the defence of D7-ZAC where third parties from VOLTA, The Initiative and Rekking Crew supported the Freemen, Noraus added, “I’s unrealistic to batphone people from the south everyday. [They] called everyone who would listen to them, but we immediately switched to daily reffing structures [and] won every engagement for week. I guess that’s when they decided to leave.”
What is next for the Freemen of the North, a coalition that tried to win the unwinnable and were valiantly defeated? Frank said, “We made friends on the way and [TP] will be happy to work with the other Freemen in the future. Those guys are great” He added that while TP doesn’t yet have a plan for the future, “We aren’t interested to be a part of a nullsec bloc, it’s not our thing”. Their future will likely involve a safe move to lowsec followed by finding a new home.
Reflecting on the war, both sides had nothing but positivity for their opponent, a stark contract to the viciousness developing in the south. “To FRT I’d say, GF, really. They offered us a real war that we all enjoyed, even if we are getting evicted in the end,” Frank said. “I’m sure a lot of my guys will remember this war as a mythical moment in their EVE career. As I said on reddit, it’s a bit of a David vs Goliath thing but with spaceships. Awesome!”
Despite Winter Co being depicted as the Goliath in this scenario, Noraus shared no ill will towards the Freemen. “I wish them best of luck wherever they go next. I know I will hear about them in future.”
Although the outcome of the war between Winter Coalition and the Freemen of the North may have been a foregone conclusion, it raises questions about the future of nullsec and the ever-growing power of super coalitions. How do smaller alliances survive in a game dominated by blocs, where escalation from small conflict to capital drops is immediate? “Smaller entities are crucial since bloc wars tend to get too intensive like you might experience in Delve right now,” Noraus said. “Small to medium scale fights are vital to our players’ experience. However, in a bigger picture where blocs are confronting against each other, it’s quite hard to balance between smaller states.”
Yet, despite the present monopoly over nullsec the Imperium, Pandemic Horde, TEST and Winter Coalition, there are still bastions of independent alliances that act freely and without fear. The Providence-based Rekking Crew and VOLTA have remained largely neutral during the war and have made gains to secure their footholds whilst the major powers are distracted.
The question is, will they survive the aftermath? In addition, we have seen the continual rise of Snuffed Out in lowsec, projecting its force against previously unkillable targets such as the Basgerin and Ignoitton TTC Keepstar. In a post-World War Bee scenario, scarcity may force major blocs into lowsec to claim resources, which may result in further spread of their power bases into the place that acts as a crucible for fledgling alliances.
Reflecting on their small alliances’ experience on the war, Frank had a message to all that supported their cause. “To our fans or supporters, if you enjoyed this war and the narrative that was deployed on reddit…you can join the fun too. Being in a small/mid alliance can be harsh sometimes but, in the end, everything feels more real. I hope every pilot in EVE will at some point live an adventure like this. It was really a cool experience.”
With the North now secure, Fraternity are aiming to take a break from conflict and regroup, according to Noraus. “This alliance will rest a bit, while regaining strength [that] we lost during wwb2,” said Noraus.