Header art by Elthar Nox
If you were expecting to be bored, you won’t be disappointed. Pandemic Horde leader Gobbins hosted a Coalition Town Hall on Saturday, June 27. This came amongst rising unrest from the player base, rapidly shrinking numbers in PAPI, and the ongoing attempt to break the O-EIMK constellation. A rousing address or a tactical masterclass – this was not. Gobbins is the accountant to The Mittani’s orator, an effective bean counter (excuse the pun), but his speech will do nothing to reinstall fighting spirit to a flailing coalition.
Gobbins started in the manner we, at least in the Imperium, have become accustomed – it sounded good, but it was a fantasy to present his perspective. He told an elaborate tale to highlight the issues with maintaining an equilibrium – majoring on the fall of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2018-2019. He tells the story of a disagreement between GOTG and PH and how this led to conflict in the north, but also discontent within his own coalition. Like a PAPI battle report, he left out the critical engagement and brushed over the details of how GOTG were an ally of PH, and PH stabbed GOTG in the back when GOTG was at their weakest.
The first component of the Town Hall looked at equilibriums, clearly Gobbins’ “word of the day.” He states “there is always an equilibrium in EVE, then there is a moment of balance. People decide whether they want to continue or break out of it.” Regarding the current situation as a newly formed balance in the game (if one can call “balance” when the virtually all of nullsec fights only one group), he reveals that the Blue Donut Coalition is here to stay. The initial reasoning is sound; the current situation is advantageous to Panfam and any visible future equilibrium may end up being less to their advantage. What follows next is highly revealing.
“This equilibrium that exists right now is far more beneficial than the equilibriums we’ve had in the past for Horde; if we were, for example, to pull back from this war, it would go back to something worse for us.”Gobbins
This quote clearly indicates that the Blue Donut benefits Pandemic Horde. We’ve already seen that it benefits Legacy (as we’ll also see again soon) and Noraus also has stated PAPI will last much longer than people think. Soon, even PAPI line members might start to believe their leaders and stop denying the reality that Serenity 2 is one year old now, with no sign of breaking up.
Looking ahead to what would happen if the PAPI Coalition broke up, or even if Panfam left the encirclement, he states, “Goons (would) probably start to attack TEST and Legacy, and that wouldn’t be a very long war. If you remove our forces, you would have pretty quick progress.” Highlighting the contribution of his Legacy allies, Gobbins once again slips up and confirms what Imperium members have all known for some time. Panfam is carrying Legacy through this war and without the PH muscle, Legacy are next in line on the executioner’s block. Interesting to hear Gobbins state this so boldly. Perhaps he’s reminding not only his line members, but Legacy listeners, that Legacy owes PH their very existence right now.
There was also a follow up discussion about what content would be on offer for Panfam if they did withdraw from Delve. “There would only be smaller groups” he stated “and they would not be interesting fights. I personally have zero interest in a war with VOLTA. No one is interested in blobbing over there.” As an aside, we should note that other PAPI members are quite content to be “blobbing” on VOLTA, taking advantage of the blue donut to take out smaller independent groups. He continued to make the point that some of his FCs had requested operations against VOLTA, but he informed them that these actions would not be SRP’d. He also touched on content against FI.RE but that was discounted as they, well, are blue. The crux of his point built on this simple fact: Panfam have to remain fighting the Imperium because the only other group in the game who aren’t blue are VOLTA.
A doctrine of failure
The audience was then asked which topics they wish to discuss, and the overwhelming majority selected “Tactics, Doctrines and Plans.” Audience members were perhaps hoping, like the rest of us, to get an insight or motivation on how the 102 alliances of the PAPI Coalition were planning on regaining some momentum and actually achieving their war goals. Instead, the listeners were subjected to a 20 minute chat regarding how the booshing destroyer held the keys to the gate.
PAPI have continued with their narrative of experimentation in 3-D for the past month with no tangible success. Booshing Command Destroyers are their latest craze. Attempting to MJD fighters off the gate, to be followed up by their mainline fleet, is clearly the product of the “best theory crafters” in the game. There was additional talk on the improvements to Tech 3 Cruisers and how without the skill loss they will be seen far more on the battlefield, with PAPI experimenting with their own doctrines in the near future.
Geopolitics: 50 Shades of Blue
The subsequent section revolved around Gobbins’ worldview at present. But, credit where it’s due – this section wasn’t too bad. He focused on the word “containment” and his thoughts on the narrative: “I don’t like the term containment – it sounds like sourgrapes,” he stated coolly. “The goal is to try to burn 1DQ, (34:50) burn those fortizars.” For interest, at the 34 minute point is the first time that achieving their war goal was mentioned in the 74 minute event. Gobbins then moved on to deliver his assessment of the situation. Instead of containment, he discussed the concept of influence and the Imperium’s inability to deliver it across the map.
Now, this is an interesting angle to take. Yes, the Imperium currently struggles to deliver hard-power on a scale that it could pre-war. But influence is not just delivered through gunboat diplomacy; there are multiple avenues by which exert it. Influence, at its core, is a cerebral notion. You are changing your enemies’ decisions based upon your actions. The illusion of force can be just as strong as actual force. There are scenarios where the Imperium can no longer have influence upon “structures in Pochven” but the counter is that our influence is keeping the remainder of the galaxy’s super fleets docked outside 1DQ for fear that we will break out.
In addition, the Imperium is cognitively winning this war. Redditswarm is dominating r/EVE; even hardened PAPI members such as MarcusMurphy are calling into question their leaders’ decisions. This is influence. To use the internet colloquialism, true influence is “living in your head rent free.” The more blunt analysis will reveal that, despite the Imperium’s lack of hard power across the galaxy, PAPI are still no closer to removing them from O-EIMK.
Bean Counting and SRP
The closing sections revolved around the end of scarcity, economic issues, and the revelation that PAPI SRP can take 2-3 weeks to be paid. Gobbins has taken interest in his line members’ woes, particularly with SRP, and assured them that this would be addressed. In addition, it was highlighted by an audience member that the PAPI contracts were at a higher price than their enemies’. Panfam had been importing assembled ships from Dronelands and passing the costs onto their line members. To remedy this, a new industry hub has been established closer to the front lines.
Finally, there was further discussion about CCP’s plans to end scarcity. “In CCP’s vision, scarcity has gone far enough,” he stated. “There are plans to end it, get ships back out into space.” The town hall concluded with points relating to the estimated 10 trillion in ISK that may be in the Reserve ESS Bank and possibilities of ESS Keys being released soon – but this was all speculation.
Overall, the address was a slow and steady affair that didn’t give any answers to line members on how long this war would endure. In contrast, The Mittani delivered a fireside chat with verve and force whilst the Imperium continues to harass PAPI on an hourly basis. Yet, Gobbins is not interested in the spotlight this war has offered, and has sat comfortably behind the spreadsheets and continued to feed his members exactly what they want to hear. Delve is safe; Goons can’t hurt PAPI and the Blue Donut is here to stay.