Header Art by Redline XIII
Editor’s note: typically, any characterisation of players as seen in the Meta Show segment would return to the author for alteration. However, The Mittani saw the initial version pre-alteration, and was happy to have this article published without alteration.
It has been a good week for Goon morale; they are more manic than usual. I decided to check the pulse of the Goon bloodstream, and made the rounds – The Meta Show, Imperium Network News, and Push to Talk.
The Meta Show
The Meta Show production was to be expected. It is a common sight, peculiar but not surprising. The Mittani looked like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. If it weren’t part of the weekly repetition, one might conclude he, in fact, was breaking down before one’s very eyes. The flesh of his face undulating, his adam’s apple bobbing up and down like a buoy on choppy seas, eyes squinting and widening erratically into the camera, this was only outdone by the chaos of his rapidly fluctuating vocal pitches.
“SAPI, Serenity Alliance Please Ignore. All this week these people have been screaming about how dare we call them a blue donut, when YOU BLUE THE ENTIRE GALAXY. You blue the entire galaxy, and you still couldn’t get it done! We are going to be shitting down your throats, SAPI! . . . I want you to cry about how toxic Goons are, because there’s nobody to help you!“
From what, exactly, PAPI would need help, though, The Mittani said little more than, “We don’t want to speak too soon. We got azbel ops on Monday, we got stuff to do. There’s legitimate war stuff to do. Um, but yeah.” What I found most curious, stripping away the bombastic antics of The Mittani’s Vince McMahon impersonation, was a central thesis: PAPI should be ashamed of their ability to engage in diplomacy successfully. A strange position to take when playing a space warlord game where the politics and meta is what makes EVE so unique, and draws so many in to play.
After all, isn’t “blue[ing] the entire galaxy,” at its core, a diplomatic success if there ever was one; a bold claim that military might isn’t everything in war, that having good (or poor) relations with one’s neighbors can bring down an empire? What is painfully, embarrassingly obvious is that Goon rage directed at PAPI diplomacy isn’t only fostered by an unfavorable military situation; it is a stark, clear reminder that Goon’s diplomatic history leading up to this moment has failed so terribly. It is a fact that Goons have been repressing, though it keeps bubbling up from their unconscious in the chaotic form of Mittani’s ravings. The Mittani, and Goons at large, project their insecurity of what they lack, diplomatic ability, as rage onto their diplomatically successful enemy.
As a psychology student himself, I’m sure The Mittani would appreciate this analysis. At the end of the day, Goons find themselves alone, having alienated everyone else in the galaxy, pushed into their last 7 remaining systems, taunting their enemy for having friends outside of their coalition. Goon morale, however, is high this week.
Imperium News Network
On INN, one Goon article in particular states proudly that the Initiative outmaneuvered PAPI forces, leading to the successful anchoring of another keepstar in 3-D. It said:
“The Initiative. recently taught PAPI war planners a lesson regarding how to successfully anchor structures, not through force, but through deception. The move is known as a gambit in chess. Make them think you are moving one way and strike where they do not expect you. As the dust settled from another unsuccessful Azbel pawn move by the PAPI Coalition, INIT leadership were half-way through their gambit to protect the gates on 3-DMQT–call it a king’s side castle. In a multi-day operation, kept secret from all but the lead fleet commanders, INIT drew their enemies’ pieces north, then swiftly relocated their own pilots and anchored a Keepstar on the gate to the O-EIMK constellation.“
I appreciated the chess analogy greatly. Within hours, Pandemic Horde leader Gobbins posted an announcement:
“Remember that the assault on a final, fully cynojammed constellation is the greatest challenge in eve. Expect any of these fights to be difficult for the attacker side. Expect server issues. Expect most of the fighting to be in Delve, but also elsewhere in eve wherever we find enemy assets hidden in other regions. The flipside of this is that for us to defend against push backs has also been easy so far. In Delve the most our enemies have accomplished when they tried pushing out has been reffing jump bridges. In drones, everything INIT has bragged about on reddit (azbel anchors, sov refs and the one renter that flipped) was quickly shut down by our forces so far, without having to send back any capitals let alone supers. But I don’t want to disparage init for it, like us they are slowly poking for weaknesses and trying new things while dealing with the challenge of attacking a fortified chokepoint.“
However brilliant The Initiative’s maneuvering, Horde’s leader appears unfazed and unworried. Perhaps it is because Goon pieces are pinned down in the corner of the board. Their rook cannot move lest it expose their queen. And though they’d like to castle on King’s side, they cannot do so because it would be through check. Their defense is well structured, but immobile; a long game awaits. Goons have anchored another Keepstar in 3-D, shadowed by the 41 Keepstars they have lost this war. Goon morale, however, is high this week.
Push To Talk
The Push To Talk Show on May 29 was the most interesting by far, though perhaps less watched and/or listened to. It played host to none other than Moomin Amatin, who walked listeners through a history lesson going back before the Casino War. (In a rather touching moment, Moomin said: “I just want to put this out there for all the Imperium allies. And I don’t really see you as allies, necessarily; if you are on the side of The Imperium, you are a Goon. And I thank you for your service and for entertaining me for as much as you all have over the last year.”)
The show was effectively a two hour long PAPI-bashing party – a bunch of people in a room agreeing with each other, describing in the most precise terms and with the most delicate nuance, exactly how and why they agree with each other so much. At one point, the members of this discussion constructed a rather fascinating conspiracy theory: Vily approached The Imperium first, offering them a deal to attack PanFam, but this was only a ploy to get Goons out of position for PanFam and Legacy to pounce – Goons were the targets all along. No evidence is provided for said theory, only speculation which absolves Goons of any culpability for diplomatic errors, and diplomatic misjudgements of the past. There is something comforting in believing that it was all going to happen like this anyway, no way to avoid it; it was all just a conspiracy.
At the end of the show Erick Asmock attempts to wrap up and gather a consensus of the discussion. “I’m just trying to decipher this” (me too Erick), “so are we basically going to the fact that PAPI, Legacy, all these, you know, they just have commitment issues?” Another speaker comments that “Oh, they have both commitment and performance issues. Hm.” Then something strange happens. Almost out of nowhere, perhaps shockingly, Goons begin to consider the possibility of their defenses not holding.
The Break Point?
Caleb Ayrania chimes in, having spent most of the episode being critical of PAPI and their chances: “Let me just throw in the warning here, right? Don’t get cocky, kid. Because they do have a strategy and an idea of how they want to do 1DQ, and if they actually start succeeding in that – even though I still think its a horrible, horrible bet to make – but if they start succeeding the morale boost could be considerable. And you do not want that morale boost certainly happening. If suddenly you get a good win for PAPI and a success criteria for taking 1DQ, that could be very very bad for The Imperium.”
“I don’t disagree,” said Bardghost Isu, “and yes, there are outcomes that this could happen. But with what I’ve seen with the structure of 1DQ, on the Keepstar grid, they are going to bleed just to get to the Keepstar.”
“Unless they work their way through it,” said Dawn Rhea. It is at this point that the Goons start to ponder what they have been trying so hard not to think about. “Let’s say they get an azbel or fort. Let’s just go magic here; magic, here we are. They’ve got a fort 1000 off one of the forts on the left side, right . . .” Goons begin comforting themselves with stories of how challenging it would be for PAPI to make progress, simultaneously talking about how they would do it.
Caleb Ayrania gives his final word of the show: “The way I see things, if PAPI really wants to win, I think they need to get their head out of this slow mode thing. Even though that works on paper, I don’t actually think it’s going to work because people want to see progress. . . . I do think there is a win condition for them.”
Caleb might not think the “slow mode” thing is going to work, but even he has to concede that it “works on paper.” Amidst all the doubt, there is an admission that PAPI’s strategy has validity, a rationality, a logic. Caleb finds it doubtful PAPI will be able to implement it; he doubts PAPI line members have the resolve to keep pushing, following what “works on paper” without visible marks of “progress.”
I think this is a fair concern, one PAPI should have in mind; maybe he’s right to doubt. But then again, maybe he is wrong; maybe PAPI will have the resolve and patience to make work in reality what “works on paper.” As Caleb made these admissions, Goons listened to him silently. No one objected, or countered him. Even Moomin, perhaps the Gooniest of Goons, who spoke after Caleb in PTT’s around-the-circle wrap-up, didn’t counter Caleb’s claim/admission that PAPI’s strategy works on paper as I expected him to.
In sum, Goon morale is high this week. From an outsider’s perspective, there are cracks in that impenetrable goon facade, pretending there are no doubts, not worries, no regrets. Goons’ decision to stress so greatly the Serenity Superstition, to aim rage at PAPI’s successful diplomacy, reveals a deeply repressed insecurity in being unable to get along with others in the universe. I think, deep down, they’re hurt no one seems to like them, that all the other kids at school think they are the bully; and so they lash out all the more.
While they press their headphones into their ears, playing filter songs loudly in their last 7 systems, headbanging to show how unified they are in their confidence against the enemy, there are still whispers of doubt here and there that slip amongst themselves, at the end of long shows when they have let their guard down and, perhaps, thinking no PAPI player would listened to the end. At the end of these shows, there are what-ifs and magic, warnings and don’t-get-cocky’s. There are even acknowledgements that, on paper, things just might work for PAPI. These are not comforting thoughts, and even the painfully crafted conspiracy theories don’t fully keep them at bay.
Moreover, the Goons whine loudly, even desperately “What are you waiting for?! Come on and hit us!” One cannot help but wonder, when confronted by such tauntings, if PAPI’s siege is working even better than we hoped for. If Goons were more quiet, I might start to get worried: “Maybe we aren’t really hurting them after all. Maybe all this siege stuff is a bad idea; they seem to be doing fine, they haven’t said a word.” But these wild outbursts only present the Goon heart laid bare before PAPI eyes. In war, observe which side is complaining the most; there lies the losing side. Leaders may lie, but agitation reveals. On the whole, Goon morale is high. What more can be said than that?
P.S. Now More Seriously
Let’s talk straight: PAPI has many challenges ahead of it, and Goon defenses are looking mighty sturdy. So far, Goons have managed to push back PAPI’s probings. This can be demoralizing, and Caleb rightly pointed out that people tend to want instant gratification for their efforts; without progress that feels tangible it is easy to get the impression that progress isn’t being made. Goons are counting on this tendency, hoping PAPI will let off the gas and eventually give up. If PAPI hopes to succeed, its members will need to continually remind itself that they were warned it was going to be hard, going to be long. But as Caleb points out, PAPI strategy works on paper so long as a tendency for instant gratification gets the better of us; if PAPI wins the war it will be due to dedication, discipline, and patience, regardless of a perceived lack of progress when things got slow.
Goons: you are having a good week. Blarpies appear to have been countered, and another week goes by without PAPI making much headway. It is a good moment, but the moment may pass in time; as Caleb said: “don’t get cocky, kid.” You, like Caleb, may also doubt PAPI’s ability to stayed disciplined even in the face of weeks with little “progress.” But there are reasons PAPI won’t give up easily, even when its nose gets bloodied. One is good, simple pride. PAPI has effectively doubled down on the siege, the idea of eventually taking 1DQ. For many, the thought of flying back to their home regions with egg on their face, Goons laughing at their backs, is too painful; they’d rather play hours and hours, weeks and weeks of less than exciting gameplay. It is easy to mock the egos and pride of PAPI members, but don’t underestimate it as a motivation to destroy your home.
Another reason, also simple, is that there are many people who do not like you. You know this already. But this war isn’t making people like you any more than they did beforehand. “Eat my ass,” “Vily’s willy,” “PISSPI” etc. only fuels PAPI members to keep logging in, keep getting in fleet, gratified to hear more Goon complaining about PAPI taking too long. Disdain and schadenfreude are powerful motivators in war, and PAPI aren’t lacking in them.
A while back in comms I heard a [I think] newer player saying something to the effect of: “You know, when I first came out here to Delve I didn’t care too much about Goons, I just wanted to shoot some ships and have fun. But these guys with their “eat my ass” stuff in the chat, I’m really starting to hate these guys. I mean, I don’t really hate anyone, but, ya know?” That’s a player whose going to keep showing up, keep fighting Goons; +1 loyal PAPI lineman from distasteful Goon taunts alone – not even a person whose history/anger with goons runs deep.
PAPI players like this, charged up by Goon rhetoric, and other PAPI members whose pride will never let them turn around so long as they can still get a ship in their hands, are going to prove Caleb’s doubts wrong.