Header art by Cryo Huren
I want to start by making a few disclaimers. This entire piece is a response to the article produced by Seir Luciel regarding Goons and BoB. I should stress that I am a “new-goon” and the views expressed here are very much my own. I am a proud member of the :+10bux: club and I started out in a feeder corporation for Test Alliance Please Ignore (TAPI). So, I’ve seen EVE from “both sides now,” as the song goes.
Second, as Seir notes in his piece, when drawing comparisons or contrasts between these two groups, we quickly run into difficulties. These organizations have been around a long time and have morphed many times. Goons now bear only partial resemblance to the Goons of a decade ago. BoB, as an alliance, no longer exists, but morphed into NC., which in turn became part of PanFam and influenced other PanFam members, PL and PH. But even these groups have morphed and have idiosyncrasies. For example, the PH of today is not the same PH of five years ago, for instance.
In Seir’s piece, he draws comparisons between Band Of Brothers (BoB) and the Imperium (AKA Goons). In Seir’s conclusion, he makes the claim that there is not really a lot of difference between the Imperium and BoB, but I think this bold claim misses some important parts of the story. We also must remember that the BoB of old never went away; it just re-branded.
First, let’s look at the meat of the claim from Seir’s piece. This seems to be very dependent on attributes such as supercapitals, member count, power projection and other such things. These characteristics make for easy comparisons and are perfectly valid. But there are others that are more salient. So let me first present an idea of the fundamental components required for a successful alliance.
Philosophy, Identity, Origins, and Organization
Philosophy, identity, origins, and organization would seem to be key characteristics of those alliances that are at the top of the heap when it comes to being the biggest, strongest, most influential or any other metric that takes your fancy. Now please indulge me a little while I try to explain myself a little better.
The Imperium believe “our people deserve the best” and it is up to members of the Imperium to define what that is. BoB/Panfam have a different model at their core – a top down approach, more of a traditional business model where the bosses control the workers and make sure they are productive.
These differences become more apparent when you look at things such as recruitment. You want to join GoonSwarm Federation, the lead alliance of the Imperium, then you can just join KarmaFleet or Ascendance. While individual people may have trouble being accepted, especially during this time of war and threats from spycrafting, most applicants have little trouble becoming new bees.
The myth that the Imperium was ever an elite group should be dispelled the moment you learn you could have just spent 10 dollars to be a member of a non-EVE, non-Imperium website. No elite requirements. Simply be a person who wants to play spaceship games. That is it. While PH may have few requirements, can the same be said for NC or Pandemic Legion (PL)? The BoB/NC model sets a very high bar based on skill points and even asset ownership.
Additionally, BoB was PvP-centric with other forms of gameplay being derided. So, Seir may have been able to get into Horde easily, but try getting into PL or NC (the most BoB-like groups in PanFam), Seir, and see how that works for you.
Identity is linked closely to philosophy. BoB/NC members drop corporation in order to save the greenness of their killboard. This is the bane of all video gaming: playing with someone who wants to protect their KDR. The idea of such an action, to a Goon, is simply laughable. BoB/NC wanted to develop an identity of elite PvP. They want(ed) the name BoB/NC. to be linked with death, destruction, and control of nullsec. Goons would be mentioned as being a bunch of morons who would talk a lot of shit and only be able to blob. Both BoB/Panfam and the Imperium have embraced these crude characterizations over the years.
I should note that the “goon vs pubbie” rhetoric is used in the same way as “skins vs shirts” in a game of football in the park. If you analyse this form of “tribalism” any more than that, then you miss the point. Players from other factions join the Imperium all the time and once they are in, they are a Goon from that point on until they choose not to be. When Red Alliance changed from PAPI to Goons, they moved from “pubbie” to Goon as well. The term harbors no sense of either permanence or any more derision than competitors trash-talking on the basketball court.
Then of course there is the “origin story” of the groups. It is generally agreed that BoB/NC dominated early nullsec in New Eden. Like early colonialists, they managed to secure vast swathes of wealth and power using their organizational and technological advantages. It was the plucky upstart Goons that stood up to the self-proclaimed lords of nullsec. Back then, as now, Goons fought for their very survival against those who wanted to rent out nullsec.
Doing Stuff: Organization Goals and Organization
“Doing stuff” is something that both sides excel at. Being able to exist at the highest levels of EVE requires an infrastructure that would put most businesses to shame. This all comes from people “doing stuff.” In this regard, both BoB/NC and the Imperium are very similar. Both have a pool of talented people that are able to solve problems and scale organizational requirements.
When looking at a closed system like EVE, with a certain number of players, then the players are going to distribute themselves in some way. Some will congregate in highsec mission corps or decide to live in wormholes. People tend to gather in groups; weird, right? How this is done is going to be based on their perception of the “product” being offered by each entity and the wants and needs of the prospective member.
In this instance, both BoB/NC and Imperium have a well-developed alliance offering. The Imperium sees itself as offering the best nullsec product in the game. The Imperium has as a focus that “our people deserve the best.” Therefore, they set themselves the task of trying to provide the “best” of all that EVE has to offer within nullsec New Eden. SIGs, the entertainment groups, the DJ, the dozens – maybe hundreds – of chat options, offer the Imperium member, hands down, the best “social” opportunities in the game.
Yes, we can shoot spaceships with the best of them, but since the gameplay is spreadsheets in space, belonging to a group with a high level of social structure can attract, and entertain, players for a very long time. Aside from those social elements, any outward bravado, real or imagined, is closely coupled with the lines of “goons are shit, only krab, never undock, only blob.” Goons have heard these lines so many times over their history that they now take great pride in holding off the self-declared elite PvP forces of nullsec for almost an entire year. By almost any measure, this war should have been over about six months ago, but PAPI seems to “only blob” and are risk-averse. Want proof? Nine months, and counting, of war is all the proof we need.
Actions Speak Louder Than Shitposts
Take a look at some infamous moments from EVE, incidents that bring shame upon the perpetrators. In 2007, CCP held a lottery to give away BPOs. A CCP member, who also belonged to BoB, rigged the lottery to make sure BoB members got those coveted blueprints. Another scandal, out of many I could name, is the “Pie of Shame,” a graphic posted by CCP to show which alliances have engaged in the most botting over a 16 year period. The “usual suspects” appear: NC., Fraternity, etc. NC comes in with 16% of banned botters and RMTers. Seir, there is a reason Goons hate renters and renting. Historically, renting space is used for botting and botting for RMT.
Perhaps the greatest difference is seen in the actions of the respective parties. When BoB/NC grouped up with all of nullsec to extinguish the Goon menace, what did they do once they had secured victory? They went on to kick TAPI and Co2 out of the north and then rent it out. Show me anything the Imperium has done that parallels that move.
The Imperium had to leave their home during the Casino War due to the massive advantages PAPI – sorry I mean BoB, no I mean N3, nope not that one either, Honey Badger Coalition – had in illicit ISK and manpower. The Imperium uses the wealth it has gained through hard work to fight wars, not wealth generated from subsequently banned activities.
Then there is of course the end game. PAPI/BoB/NC really want to kill Goons. And they want to kill goons without risking their assets, either. They want goons to just quit and run. The whole of World War Bee has been PAPI creating a false narrative of “evil” Goons. Here is the kicker: we watch PAPI create this fiction of how bad Goons are, and yet they are in no hurry to rid the “menace” from the game. This will reach a crescendo when PAPI tries to take 1DQ, assuming they ever do.
Therefore, the Imperium and Panfam are very different in many ways. The Imperium are clear in their actions and presence. There is no need for deceit regarding how the Imperium live and make their income. You won’t find phony holding companies renting out space. The Imperium, love them or hate them, are a target in plain sight. Some PanFam members are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Who owns what and just where does the money go?
Many in the Imperium regret not having the chance to fight that was denied to us during The Casino War. When the Imperium glassed Tribute, Goons hoped that a lot of capitals would be lost, but again this did not happen. Panfam did not stay to fight. They ran. TAPI and Co2 ran also. This time the Imperium has a chance to fight for it all! The Imperium is more than happy to host another world record event or two and more see more monuments built to hail their achievements. Yet PAPI/BoB/NC do not want this, despite having every possible advantage.
I leave you with a final thought. The Imperium stands and fights while PAPI hopes that the goons just stop logging in. The goal of the respective parties? Well, for The Imperium it is to resist being exterminated. As for PAPI, that is more complicated it seems. But renting is most definitely a feature PAPI has in mind for nullsec.
I hope I have been able to show you some of the chasms in ideology and action that exist between BoB/NC and The Imperium. If you do have any questions then please feel free to ask them. Corrections are also welcome.