Art by Cryo Huren
[Editor’s Note: Seir Luciel is a staff writer at INN and a member of Pandemic Horde. Gray Doc is an editor at INN and a member of the Imperium]
Seir Luciel: I’ve been hearing quite a bit of talk about the M2 hellcamp. Certain PAPI members certainly seem to think that Goons might be overstaying their welcome on their own camp, and at times some Goons might also think similarly. What do you think?
Gray Doc: It’s a fair question and has been bandied about quite a bit. [Test military director] ProGodLegend has tried to drive this point home in his own “special” non-biased way, claiming that Goons are playing right into the hands of PAPI by camping M2, at the high cost of losing all kinds of other structures in Delve. That point actually has some legs, but only for those with little long-term understanding of strategy. The keys to this war are simple: PAPI has to destroy 1DQ and save their trapped supers and titans in M2. Period. If they don’t do those things, the war has been a colossal and expensive failure because PAPI will have failed to reach the objectives stated by their own leaders, specifically Vily, PGL, and Gobbins. So, enjoy these moments of claiming the M2 camp is a wonderful distraction and causing Goons all kinds of harm. You can believe that if you want. But the camp has gone on two months and PAPI hasn’t really accomplished much towards destroying 1DQ.
Seir Luciel: Well, I wouldn’t go as far as PGL to say that Goons are “playing right into PAPI’s hands.” Obviously M2 was a major setback for PAPI. However I think the question continually growing bigger in all of our minds, PAPI and Goons, is, “How long is it going to go?” Two months is a long time. What happens when it’s three months? Five months? Is it possible that there is a “too long” for this camp? Is there a point at which, eventually, it would be better to defend space that is continually getting attacked instead of keeping a chunk of soldiers off the front line on camp duty?
Gray Doc: If the camp were to last five months, that would mean the war would have lasted 11 months–an enormously long time. The Goon campaign in the north, in 2018, took six weeks. You might think that all PAPI members are content just to bash basically unprotected Goon structures, and some line members, I suppose, really enjoy padding their kilboards that way. But for a lot of people, they enjoy a “fight” and they aren’t getting fights this way. So, add three more months to that timetable and you’ll get some really restless PAPI line members who are saying, “What the hell are we doing? How long are we going to stay? This is getting stupid.” And they will be right. Of course, for Goons, it’s our home, so we’ll damn well stay here forever if that’s what it takes.
Seir Luciel: Well, I think you raise an interesting point: the longer the camp the longer the war. If PAPI is getting tired, and Goons hope to win the war by just out-stamina-ing, then it is probably the right thing to do. Even if it wasn’t, I don’t see how Goons can actually leave. Can you really just let PAPI titans walk for free? Not really, you can’t. For that reason I want to be clear that I am not critiquing Goon’s decision making with the M2 camp. I don’t actually think they have much of a choice to do anything else. I just wonder if the costs of continuing the hellcamp could start becoming a major factor in the war.
But I want to pick up an idea you mentioned earlier. You said “PAPI has to destroy 1DQ and save their trapped supers and titans in M2.” I have started to think about the possibility of PAPI glassing all the area around these two spots, leaving them as small Imperium islands in a sea of PAPI. That would be a rather awkward position to be in, and wouldn’t necessarily look like a victory even if these islands meant survival. What’s your opinion about the possibility of PAPI ignoring 1DQ and M2 until last in a kind of “islanding” future? Do you think the hellcamp of M2 could lead to that kind of island scenario?
Gray Doc: Absolutely. It’s very possible that Goons are left (sort of) on two islands. Now, let me explain the “sort of.” Most Goons have very highly developed alts. A lot of Goons have played for many years, so even the alts are highly leveled, so don’t think that if Delve is reduced to two isolated islands that means we aren’t mining, doing PI, building ships, etc. We are doing all those things–just in other places. So, we could probably hold the two islands, at least 1DQ, indefinitely, as long as PAPI continues to “play it safe” by not being willing to pay the “blood price” for destroying Keepstars in M2 and 1DQ. Make no mistake: I believe PAPI can destroy the Keepstar in M2. They should have already done so long long ago. But they don’t want to pay the price. They are trying to do so “on the cheap,” because they don’t want line members to sacrifice too greatly, fearing line members will believe the cost is too high. Ask Dunk Dinkle how high the cost has been for Brave, for example, of going this long in the war. Then, of course, after M2, PAPI can start destroying the five Keepstars in 1DQ, which will exact an even greater blood price, because it will be under constant tidi and Goons will all be tethered. It can still be done, but the cost will be astronomical. Let me make this a bit personal: you haven’t played that long and don’t have that many expensive ships. But imagine that you had a titan. Are you willing, as a Horde member, to sacrifice it, so that Legacy can live in Delve? Because I just don’t see what’s in it for you, as a Horde line member. If you reduce Goons to two islands, you’ve achieved an unbelievable goal. So, what’s in it for you to complete the “extermination?” Since we’re alternating, answer that one first.
Seir Luciel: Alright I’ll answer that one first. What’s in it for me? Winning. “You play – to win – the game” as Herm Edwards would say. Now it is true, if I lost my titan by logging into the M2 hellcamp and lost it for nothing I would feel sick. Anyone would. But if I lost my titan feeling it contributed to a great historic battle of conquest and glory, I would be perfectly satisfied. These ships are meant to be used, not just sit in the hanger.
But you’ve accused PAPI of being unwilling to pay the blood price of killing M2 and 1DQ. This doesn’t align to me with the high blood prices PAPI has paid to break titans out of M2. In fact, I have been a vocal advocate of leaving M2 alone and attacking other things. PAPI, as a collective, appears to me more willing than I am as an individual to pay high blood prices. Just because they haven’t paid them yet doesn’t mean they are unwilling to in the future, or when the time is ripe strategically.
I want to ask you, though, if you really believe the Imperium as an entity could exist for long, or at least exist with any kind of strength, as islands? True, highly skilled alts can continue to generate ISK. But it seems to me that islands in the middle of enemy territory would so disrupt trade routes and the influx of non-ISK materials that it couldn’t be kept up “indefinitely” like you say. If you were The Mittani, what would you do if you started seeing the island-ification of the Imperium?
Gray Doc: Island-ification? Whoa. The gauntlet has been thrown down and I’ve got to create some wacky noun myself! But to your point. Obviously, The Mittani, and other Goons in the strategic planning sector of Imperium have considered this exact possibility (because these decisions aren’t made by a single person, in a TEST-ification way). It’s theoretically possible that Goons could re-establish in lowsec Delve and keep the islands. And yes, I see the island of 1DQ lasting a very long time indeed, because the game mechanics favor defense. Goons can load the server hours before any armor timer on a1DQ Keepstar. We’ll know when PAPI is coming, load up 10,000 pilots four hours, five hours, six hours before the timer runs out, and just enjoy the feed. Remember when PAPI planted some four or five Keepstars, one at a time of course, in Delve, trying to get a foothold there and the first attempts were defeated by Imperium? But it took the Imperium hurling, in one case, one trillion ISK worth of ships to kill the KS. I can see that happening, in reverse, of course, in 1DQ IF PAPI actually tries to attack 1DQ at all.
Now to your point about winning. Cool quote from Herm. He got fired, though, three years later because not enough people in the Jets organization felt as Herm felt, and those people held the real power. You see, the people in power eventually wanted the Jets to lose games to get higher draft picks, in an attempt to improve the team and exit the death spiral they were in. Herm wanted to win games, even meaningless ones. That sports analogy actually works pretty well here. I doubt seriously that many pilots in Horde would offer up their titans, and gain a “win,” just so that Legacy could now have their dream of stretching all across the map. When is a win actually a loss? When winning costs so much you lose the broader perspective of what’s good for YOUR alliance.
Seir Luciel: Ha ha, I applaud you for knowing my Herm reference better than me; you got me there. But to return to your point, I don’t have to argue about whether or not Horde would offer up their Titans. They already have and continue to do so. We can debate about whether that is wise or not. I personally think there are times in this war it is going to be necessary, but the question is already settled whether Horde and PAPI at large are willing to put their biggest chips on the table. I’m going to let the historians answer “when is a win actually a loss.” We are calling your bluff! Now we wait to see how the cards turn over.