The war drums are beating. Shouts of ‘the end of Goons’ and ‘the birth of a new nullsec’ are heard across New Eden. The ruckus comes as a result of Legacy ending its three-year Non-Invasion Pact with the Imperium on July 5. In response, last week, Imperium leader The Mittani accused other null sec entities of banding together to try and repeat the successes of The Casino War, potentially opening multiple fronts against Goons and challenging the defenses of fortress Fountain and fortress Delve. And in a stunning coincidence both TEST Military Leader Progodlegend and FRT leader Noraus admitted as much in talks to their respective alliances days later.
But not so fast. If you measure the winner by the amount of noise they’re making, you may have pick the wrong side. It’s unlikely that this war will be the undoing of the Imperium, and the history of Goonswarm in EVE would suggest the opposite.
The Early Days in Syndicate
Ancient EVE Goons will no doubt recall the days in Syndicate, some 15 years ago, and banner ads on SomethingAwful.com for each major recruitment effort. It may be hard to imagine now, but Goons were once tenants of the OSS, an alliance managing space in the Syndicate region. They were famous for “zerging” tactics – using new pilots to harass and overwhelm more established pilots with sheer numbers, leading to the comparison with a swarm of bees. Local pirates took note of this growing annoyance and hell-camped stations in S-UA84 with dozens of battleships in an event known as the Christmas Camp-In. Goons survived 2005.
In June of 2006, a Goon raiding party accidentally discovered that a major alliance in Cloud Ring had let their sovereignty lapse and began a guerrilla campaign to take territory for the first time. For nearly a month, the out-gunned Goons fought German alliance D2 to a near-standstill, scraping together whatever resources they could find, in battles costing what was back then an unheard of 100 billion ISK or more. By the end of July, D2 deployed 40 stations to the embattled systems and called upon the largest alliance in the game for aid. Band of Brothers (BoB) tried many tactics to exterminate Goonswarm and the Goons lost all of their held territory, BoB’s leader SirMolle even declaring on the official EVE forums “There are no Goons. Goodbye.” But Goons survived 2006.
The Great EVE Wars
From September of 2006 to April of 2008, along with their allies in the RedSwarm Federation, Goonswarm fought against the then-raid boss alliance of BoB in one of online gaming’s bloodiest wars. The Great EVE War cost CCP some of its players’ trust as allegations of developer impropriety flew and eventually led to the decimation of the Band of Brothers alliance. BoB had grown powerful from the ISK they made renting out space to smaller organizations in exchange for protection, but when the RedSwarm Federation showed up, BoB’s protection failed to materialize. Speaking to a former BoB tenant, he explained, “We paid them for space and thought they would help us. We got kicked out by a bunch of angry Russians pretty quickly.” The proliferation of super capitals that some people feel plagues the game today has its roots in that war. Goons survived and began to thrive.
Following the first Great EVE War, an uneasy peace lay across the galaxy. Only six months after defeating BoB, Goons and their allies turned on one another, starting the second Great EVE War. By the end of June 2009, Goons had finished the job of vengeance three years in the making, finally destroying the Band of Brothers alliance, with some players going so far as to post on CCP forums, “There is no BoB. Goodbye.” Goons even went so far as to take control of the alliance name “Band of Brothers” as a trophy, and firmly established themselves as a premier power in New Eden.
TEST Enters the Stage
2013 brought The Fountain War where, after years of antagonizing neighbors and eventually siding with the attackers during the Battle of Asakai (souring relations even with Goons), TEST decided that they didn’t need the rest of their coalition. Resentment had been festering since TEST helped to ambush a Goon Titan and costing the then-CFC over 700 billion ISK. The Mittani declared war. Cartras Vokan, currently an FC with Imperium alliance The Bastion, has vivid memories of that time.
“I had no idea what was to come from that summer. I remember the ‘State of the Goonion’ where Mittani announced we were going to invade Fountain for a number of reasons, like the scene from Patton where he gives the speech in front of the flag.” Cartras said, “It felt awesome to see the hundreds and then thousands of players moving out in fleets one after another. I also remember thinking that at points it felt like we weren’t just going to win the war. It felt like a titanic slug fest, going back and forth across the J5A divide. Once we had the bridgehead, it was a huge breath of fresh air.”
Dabigredboat, an Imperium FC and the pilot whose Titan was lost at Asakai, knew exactly how J5A was won. “We broke them on J5A when they got sloppy. They got all excited to kill some [enemy] structures in Vale or Tribute, but they didn’t have a jump bridge network back to Fountain like we did. We snuck in dreads to J5A with a fleet and killed the iHUB. By the time [TEST] got back and got fleets up, they had lost the iHUB which means they lost the jammer and the Fountain War moved into Fountain after that.”
Cartras continued, “The feeling after 6VDT was great. We knew we had already won the war before that fight when TEST’s allies started leaving, but it was kind of the coda that emphasized it.” Bastion CEO Carneros lost his Titan during that fight, bridging out the Goonswarm subcap fleet then getting bumped out of the POS by hostile battleships. By then, though, it was too late for TEST. About a month later, TEST had been driven to low sec.
Two Factions and Progodlegend
In leaked audio from a town hall with alliance members, TEST military Director Progodlegend claimed that there was no more content to be had on their eastern frontier, and that they would be making a big announcement soon, now that the NIP with the Imperium was ending. When asked for a reaction to this, Dabigredboat said, “You have two factions in TEST – those that hate Goons and those that like Goons. PGL never really liked Goons and was always on the BoB side in wars.”
“TEST has no idea what they are getting themselves into,” Boat said. “Fighting against FRT is one thing, it’s one entity in one time zone, but Goons today are very different than Goons back in the last war.” Even the Casino War, funded by RMT and full of ‘allies’ betraying the Imperium, wasn’t enough to crush Goons. They moved out of the north and into Delve and thrived.
Social media is full of propaganda from that time, still claiming “There are no Goons,” but the institutional memory of the Imperium is long and every lesson is forged in blood. Victory through strength of arms isn’t enough for Goons, they are sated only by crushing their enemies’ morale and anyone going to war with them is wise to remember it.
As the Mittani put it: “We want them to invade us. This is the perfect war for us right now. We’re fucking ready. Bring it, bitches.”