On a recent installment of Talking in Stations, TEST Alliance FC Progodlegend offered an opinion on the Catch and Tribute wars as “the first modern wars”. He opined that where Dominion Sov had been like ‘land warfare’, the new meta for capital warfare in EVE was shaping up to become ‘naval warfare’. When pressed for an explanation of what he meant by that, Progod responded with a description of the Fleet-in-Being concept, and cited the Battle of Jutland in World War I, and went on to say that “Japan suicided a lot of their ships” in World War II. Continuing his explanation, he added, “Naval warfare is all about decisive battles, you know, one battle, where you know, once a side loses enough of their ships to where they can no longer engage the enemy, the war is over. You know, that naval war is over, naval warfare for that war is concluded. It’s down to blockades and land warfare. In land warfare, there’s front lines, you know, you’re advancing your front lines, there’s a lot of fights, there’s a lot of engagements, and you’re taking—in EVE’s case—space one step at a time.”
It’s a great analogy. It’s evocative, it’s got a clear distinction of ‘this is how it works here, and this is how it works there, and you can see they’re very different’. It also supports his larger point—the difference in the metagame between Dominion Sov and Citadel Sov—very well. There’s just one problem with it:
It’s completely wrong.
There are a lot of assumptions built into that analogy, indicating a somewhat incomplete understanding of things like Mahan. Like a lot of things, it passes the common sense test. It sounds right, it feels right, without ever actually having to deal with real scrutiny. When it gets that scrutiny, though, it doesn’t hold up so well.
The biggest problem Progod’s analogy has is that he’s separating warfare into two distinct areas that—within the scope of his analogy—don’t actually have the distinction he’s assigning. The kind of singular, decisive, one-and-done attack he says is a ‘naval tactic’ is also the basis of one of the most significant, effective, and short campaigns in the annals of land warfare.
The Battle of France
The Battle of France was six weeks long. Yes, that’s significantly longer than any single fight in EVE, but considering the previous German invasion of France (ie: World War I) had taken four years with a lot less success, the Battle of France has to be considered a decisive engagement. Combined arms and mobility tactics in the early part of the campaign swept the Wehrmacht through Belgium and around the Maginot Line, and forced the British Expeditionary Force to evacuate from Dunkirk. That took from May 10 to June 5, 1940. It’s not the decisive part. The decisive part is that after forcing the evacuation to England of the trapped British and French forces, the Germans then still had to deal with sixty French divisions.
They took Paris nine days later. The French government fled in a panic, and as a result, the army collapsed into chaos. Fast, decisive, and singular, the Battle of France represents everything Progod ascribed to ‘naval warfare’, except of course the ‘fleet-in-being’ concept. At the time, the rapid assault (dubbed ‘Blitzkrieg’ in the UK press, a term that was never actually used by the German military) was seen as a shocking new form of warfare. That contrasts highly with the accounts of officers of the Wehrmacht at the time, who described it only as aggressive officers making the best use of the tools at their disposal under rapidly-changing battlefield conditions. Those accounts are further supported by the opinions of modern military scholars, who view the highly mobile, coordinated doctrines of the Wehrmacht as an application of traditional German tactics to the new, powerful technology of the day.
In short, new tools, but classic German land warfare. But let’s look at the other side of the coin.
Progod cited the Battle of Jutland as his example of a ‘decisive’ naval battle which, if you’ll recall, means the before that, there was naval warfare going on. Afterwards, “naval warfare for that war is concluded. It’s down to blockades and land warfare.”
The problem, of course, is that World War I saw that as the starting conditions: the German High Seas Fleet, following a doctrine of maintaining the fleet as largely a single, unified hammer, was kept in German ports on the North Sea, in striking range of England.
The Royal Navy’s response was laid out by British maritime doctrine under both Fisher and Churchill. That doctrine was simple and direct: the Grand Fleet. The Grand Fleet maintained a force roughly 60% stronger than the High Seas Fleet near Germany in English and allied ports. Simultaneously, other fleets of the Royal Navy protected the Straits of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, and other strategic points for the international shipping upon which the British Empire depended.
In August of 1914, only days after the war began on July 28, the Grand Fleet moved into a blockading posture, sealing Germany up. From the very beginning of the war, things were already “down to blockades and land warfare”.
Jutland changed nothing. The Germans attempted to draw a scouting squadron of battlecruisers into a trap in order to begin breaking the blockade, but the Royal Navy had gotten wind of movements from the High Seas Fleet, and moved a detachments of battleships to reinforce Admiral Beatty’s battlecruisers.
When the engagement actually happened, the British had 151 ships: 28 battleships, 9 battlecruisers, 34 cruisers, and 78 destroyers. The detachment of the High Seas Fleet consisted of 99 ships: 16 battleships, 5 battlecruisers, 6 pre-dreadnoughts (which were not only slower and more lightly armored, they could not bring all of their primary armament to bear on a target), 11 cruisers, and 61 torpedo-boats (short range, lightly armored, and exactly the thing the ‘Torpedo Boat Destroyer’ type of ship was invented to kill). In EVE terms, think of them as goku-bombers: no cloaks.
The British had fully 50% more ships. They weren’t burdened by the outdated pre-dreadnoughts the Germans were using. For every torpedo boat the High Seas Fleet had, the Grand Fleet had 1.3 destroyers designed specifically to kill them.
The British lost 14 ships: 3 battlecruisers, 3 cruisers, and 8 destroyers, with a total displacement of 113,300 tonnes. 6,094 British sailors and officers were killed, 674 wounded, and 177 captured. The Germans lost 11 ships: 1 battlecruiser, 1 of the outdated pre-dreadnoughts, 4 cruisers, and 5 torpedo boats, totalling 62,300 tonnes. 2,551 men of the High Seas Fleet were killed, 507 wounded, none captured.
That’s not a decisive victory. In fact, it’s really not a victory at all. If this scenario happened in EVE, both sides would claim victory, and reddit would just look at it all and say ‘so, what, nobody wanted to fight?’ The German fleet re-engaged briefly after nightfall because the British were between them and home. The British, though, utterly failed to recognize that the Germans were just noping on out of the fight. They thought it was just a few destroyers skirmishing. Meanwhile, the entire German fleet crossed the British line of battle within visual range of the trailing battlecruisers, which had gun crews ready to fire. The officers in charge of those crews managed to simultaneously think someone else would give the order to fire, and never inform the admirals who would have given it.
The High Seas Fleet remained a fleet-in-being the entire duration of the war, operating primarily in the Baltic in order to prevent any opening of a northern invasion corridor. Jutland is not, and never has been, remembered as a decisive battle. Even the strategic situation remained almost exactly the same: Germany was blockaded before Jutland, Germany was blockaded after Jutland. Out in the Atlantic, the major threat to British interests in WWI was the same as it would be in WWII: U-boats. If there was any ‘decisive’ naval engagement of the war, it would be the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and the effect it had in nudging the American population closer to joining the war.
The significance of Jutland, rather, is that it marked the last time battleships from opposing nations engaging one another in direct combat was the primary focus of the battle. Throughout all of World War II, with the most powerful battleships in the world in the Pacific in the form of the American Iowa-class and the Japanese Yamato-class, it never happened. And it never happened, in EVE terms, because the meta shifted.
Meet the Meta
Regarding World War II, Progod said the Japanese “suicided a lot of their ships.” For the moment, let’s assume he’s not imagining kamikaze battleships. I’m not really sure what he does mean, though, or how it in any way supported his idea of a ‘decisive’ battle.
The Battle for the Pacific can be roughly broken down into two phases: Before Midway, and After Midway. Sounds like Midway’s that ‘decisive battle’ Progod’s talking about, doesn’t it? The one where the losing side loses so many ships that they just can’t continue the war?
Midway was definitely a decisive battle. It had nothing to do with the number of ships lost, and everything to do with how things went down, and will-to-win. The critical numbers here are 31, 48, 4, and 1.
The first of those numbers, 31, is the number of days before Midway that the decisive victory started. May 4, 1942, the beginning of the Battle of Coral Sea. The Coral Sea can be seen as the moment the meta fully shifted from Jutland. At Jutland, the entire fight was surface vessels. In Japanese victories against the Royal Navy in the early parts of the Pacific War, even as air power took over the primary strike role in fleets, surface vessels still came close enough to fire directly on another. At the Coral Sea, the opposing surface fleets never fired on one another. They never even saw one another. Everything was air power.
The real significance of that 31, though, is that Shōkaku and Zuikaku—two of the IJN’s 6 large fleet carriers—were taken off the board. Shōkaku was heavily damaged and in need of repairs, and Zuikaku lost so many aircraft that both had to return to Japan. One of the USN’s large fleet carriers, Lexington, was damaged so badly she had to be scuttled, and another, Yorktown, was reported sunk. She survived, though, and was ordered back to Hawaii for repairs. Which brings us to the second number, 48.
When Yorktown returned to Pearl Harbor on May 27 for repairs, drydock crews estimated 2 weeks to get her patched up enough to return to duty. Admiral Nimitz, however, ordered that she be made ready to sail alongside Admiral Spruance’s Task Force 16. Repair crews working round the clock cut the turnaround time down from two weeks to 48 hours, and Admiral Fletcher’s TF 17, with Yorktown at the center, sailed out of Oahu on time on May 30. Yorktown’s air wing was at full-strength, having received aircraft that had been slated for Saratoga, which was steaming west from California after refitting.
The reason Yorktown’s repairs were so critical is that Spruance had 2 carriers, Hornet and Enterprise, while the Japanese advance force, under Admiral Nagumo, was steaming east with the four remaining undamaged fleet carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy: Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu. Yorktown brought the number of functional aircraft carriers in the defense operations to parity with the Japanese. As the battle unfolded, she would be listed as ‘sunk’ twice by Japanese pilots, only to finally capsize after being torpedoed while under tow home after the fighting was otherwise over. With the IJN’s eyes repeatedly finding Yorktown, Hornet and Enterprise were never directly attacked, enabling Spruance to continue aggressive operations throughout the battle.
By contrast, the Japanese forces lost three of their four carriers in the initial assault of aircraft from the American carriers, with the fourth, Hiryu, destroyed hours later. A single heavy cruiser was also sunk as a result of USN aircraft, with another damaged in a collision while attempting to avoid an American submarine attack.
And that’s the last two critical numbers there: 4, and 1. 4 IJN carriers and 1 USN carrier sunk.
Decisive battle? Yes, very much so. But again, let’s look at Progod’s criteria for how this applies to EVE:
“Naval warfare is all about decisive battles, you know, one battle, where you know, once a side loses enough of their ships to where they can no longer engage the enemy, the war is over.”
USN forces: 3 carriers, 7 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 15 destroyers, 233 carrier-based aircraft, 127 land-based aircraft, 16 submarines.
IJN forces: 4 carriers, 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 12 destroyers, 248 carrier-based aircraft, 16 floatplanes.
More importantly, though: IJN forces coming up behind the carrier group that did not participate:
2 light carriers, 5 battleships (including Yamato), 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, ~35 support ships.
Take a look at that ‘did not participate’ list. Those represent two different groups of additional vessels moving in support of the carrier group, but dispersed as much as 700 nautical miles away. They also, given the severe depletion of aircraft on all three American carriers and Midway itself, likely had enough fighter aircraft to provide air cover for the planned bombardment of Midway.
The entire point of the attack had been to draw out the American carriers into defending Midway from a surface bombardment, so the big guns on the IJN battleships (especially the 18” guns on Yamato) could destroy them. But Yamamoto held the surface forces back, costing his carriers the anti-aircraft and fighter cover that those other two elements would have provided. Most importantly, though, the loss of the four large fleet carriers convinced Yamamoto to turn back. He lost the will to win. At that point, by all estimates that the IJN had, two USN carriers had been sunk, which meant that there was only one left. With 150 aircraft destroyed, that carrier would be running an incomplete air wing—and especially low on strike craft, as most of those had been shot down during their attack runs on Nagumo’s carriers.
As a result of the battle, the IJN still had two large fleet carriers (Shōkaku and Zuikaku, which would both be returning to service), and a number of light carriers. They had the numerical advantage and the advantage in firepower among their surface fleets. The decisive battle in absolutely no way resulted in the IJN losing ‘enough of their ships to where they can no longer engage the enemy’.
It resulted in the loss of their will to win, the loss of their will to force the engagement, to set the terms and tempo of the war. You can’t win a war on the back foot. That’s true of naval operations, and it’s true of warfare on land. Yes, there have been some decisive battles in naval history where one side has utterly decimated the other’s forces. Trafalgar, for example, or the destruction of the Spanish Armada. There have been as many of those on land, though, like Agincourt, or Stalingrad. Stalingrad may not have been quick, but it was definitely decisive.
The key similarity in all of these impactful, decisive battles, hasn’t been ‘they lost so many people the war was just over’, but rather that one side seized the initiative and the other never regained it. The number of truly ‘well, that ended it, and nobody even bothered fighting that phase of the war anymore’ battles in warfare has been fairly small. Waterloo comes to mind. If anyone’s unclear, it wasn’t a naval battle, despite the name. For the most part, though, after a ‘decisive’ battle there’s usually a long, drawn-out mopping up campaign, and most of that’s a slog and a half. Consider: Midway was June of 1942. The Pacific Theater would continue to see fighting for three more years. Yamato’s two sister ships, Musashi and Shinano would both be sunk in 1944, and Yamato herself would survive until 1945.
Progod talked about how after the decisive naval battle, there’s nothing left but land warfare. What he missed, though, is that modern naval warfare exists to support land warfare. Control of the seas isn’t about claiming the seas, it’s about controlling access to land. In the Pacific, nearly every significant engagement of any size before Midway was about invading islands, from the Philippines to Wake Island to the Coral Sea. After Midway, the pattern continued, right through to Okinawa. Midway itself was about using the threat of a bombardment and invasion to draw out the American carriers that had halted the Japanese advance at the Coral Sea.
The Battle for the Pacific was about land. It was about front lines. Before the Coral Sea, the Japanese were consistently pushing their front lines forward. They could do that not because naval warfare is fundamentally different, but because the effect of overwhelming force and greater mobility is the same on land or at sea. They let the IJN dictate the engagement terms and tempo of a war, just like the Wehrmacht simply driving around sixty divisions of the French Army to take Paris. The Coral Sea marked the first time the lines held. Midway marked the point where the Allies began to do more than just not lose. From there, the entire tempo of the Pacific Theater was dictated by the Allies, not the IJN. That wasn’t because of large numbers of ships destroyed at Midway. It was because staring across the chessboard at Spruance, Yamamoto blinked.
When looking to Mahan, or naval history, about ‘modern’ conflicts, it’s important to remember that for roughly a century now, relying on a singular, decisive victory at sea has been a recipe for failure.
So What’s That Mean For EVE?
On the surface of it, a basic misunderstanding of naval warfare—or really, military history—isn’t that crippling a thing in EVE. Knowing how campaigns end in an environment of limited resources and limited manpower (which is far more important; just ask the Japanese air wings) is fundamentally different than how warfare progresses in an environment where everyone can be running incursions in high-sec to keep their wallets fat and their hangars stocked, and nobody permanently dies.
But Progod was talking about capital and supercapital warfare, and doing so in the context of how it’s bad for the game because alphas can’t really get involved. I completely agree with his assessment that alpha clones cannot fly capital ships. No argument whatsoever (except, of course, for fringe cases—people whose accounts lapsed while they were logged off in-space in a super retain the ability to fly the ship and take gates, even if they can’t actually use their skills while they’re an alpha clone).
Having something you still have to pay for to be able to do isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. CCP needs EVE to be a revenue stream, after all. Just having a F2P game that doesn’t offer any revenue beyond microtransactions gets really difficult to pull off. Even World of Tanks has a subscription model available. There needs to be some incentive for Omegas, and capitals are part of that, along with battleships and T2 hulls. It’s likely that as more clone states are unveiled, we’ll see more granularity in these incentives.
In the larger sense, though, Progod is fundamentally wrong about how ‘carriers are the new battleship’ changes gameplay. In making his point, he said that nobody would consistently be willing to throw away 250-man carrier fleets on fights they know they can’t win, and I think he’s right there. However, that doesn’t really represent a change, does it? How many groups in EVE are willing to consistently throw away 250-man battleships fleets on fights they know they’ll lose? Sure, there are groups who will YOLO for the fun of it from time to time, but with a full fleet?
In my experience, the groups I’ve flown with and against, including TEST, generally don’t throw away full fleets of battleships without having some reasonable chance of winning. Maybe they focus on the chance for a headshot of the enemy FC to disrupt things enough to pull out a victory. Maybe they’re looking to achieve their strategic objective even if they have to get slaughtered to a man in order to pull it off. No matter what, though, there’s some path to victory in there, or they blueball. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Bigger Picture
That applies to the larger scope of warfare in EVE as well: people fight when they see a path to victory. Unlike real-world conflicts, you can’t actually threaten to exterminate your enemy in EVE. You can’t present them the kind of truly existential threat that can exist in a real war. Nobody’s family is going to starve because they lost Fountain. Nobody’s children will be rounded up and shot by occupying forces if a system gets overrun, no matter how important it might be. That means that the calculus changes immensely when it comes to what a war is worth.
TEST didn’t lose Fountain because they ran out of ships. The number of losses they took at 6VDT-H showed that. The Imperium certainly didn’t lose the north because we ran out of ships, or suffered massive losses that made it impossible to keep fighting. Interestingly, there are parallels between those wars, and the larger examples Progod was looking at (World War I and II).
Like the Japanese Empire in WWII, TEST ran into supply difficulties during the Fountain War. Logistics (movement of materiel, not fleet tenders) broke down. Unlike the Japanese, though, TEST had no strong, singular central figure to rally around or listen to, no Hirohito, no Tojo. TEST leadership quite publicly fragmented. Fingers were pointed in attempts to lay blame, while those pointing the fingers prepared to make their own escape, pockets filled with stolen Alliance assets. Leadership lost the will to win, even if the line members, and most FCs, did not.
The Imperium, by contrast, faced a problem Kaiser Wilhelm would easily have recognized: fatigue. It’s important to remember that the Casino War began long before most of the game realized it. CCP may have gotten on the ‘WWB’ bandwagon after the first massive assault that drove CO2 out of both the war, and the Imperium, but the conflict had been a low-intensity grind on the other end of Imperium space since the previous August. Pandemic Horde, Mordus’ Angels, and others, had been waging a guerilla war against SMA with a tool expressly intended to force the break-up of large coalitions: Entosis warfare.
Entosis warfare is, of course, everyone in EVE’s absolute favorite activity ever. After five months of constantly feasting on the Turkish Delight of New Eden, though, most of the Imperium’s pilots were largely fed up with it. Line members from SMA and Goonswarm, with strong support from more far-flung members like LAWN and the Bastion, had been responding to entosis timers daily. The attackers could share the load between them, with different groups starting timers at different times, and different solo pilots doing the work on different days. For the defenders, though, scouring the constellations under attack meant needing numbers in fleets.
Burnout was inevitable. The line would turn up for fights, even if they had to cross two regions to do it, but by the time yet another round of invasion rolled around, the numbers in entosis fleets were already frighteningly anemic. So the decision was made that Goonswarm’s sov holdings would not be seriously defended. This, in turn, ushered in a wave of mockery and accusations of ‘didn’t want that space anyway’. Of course we wanted that space. We simply wanted our supercapital fleet, and our pilots’ ability to enjoy what they were doing in fleets, far more.
We had the ships to keep fighting. The sheer number of Hurricane fleets we threw away attests to that. Leadership was forced to recognize the toll the months of annoying, frustrating work chasing solo cloaky and frigate entosisers around had taken on the line. The will to win simply wasn’t there, and after the half-year grind of constant FozzieSov defense, that level of burnout and frustration was entirely understandable. So instead, hurfs were blurfed, and fleet activities focused on situations where the line could enjoy the experience. By the time the Imperium withdrew from the theater of war, morale had rebuilt, and the line was looking forward to a new challenge.
And Now For Something Completely Not Different
The Traitors’ War follows that same dynamic. For all Vily and Progod have attempted to spin this as ‘TEST vs Goons’, this is, and has been from the very beginning, an invasion of Stainwagon’s space. Even the framing of the war makes this clear: The name does not—and never did—refer to CO2’s withdrawal from the Casino War, but rather their decision to attack the one non-Imperium power that acted in their defense.
Even TEST’s own alliance addresses and openly-acknowledged plans make it clear that this war is between TESCO and Stainwagon: Vily’s declaration of victory in V-3 included TEST’s intention to take the war toward Impass. The imgur album link he included in that address shows the larger plan: Impass, yes, but also Feythabolis, Esoteria, and Paragon Soul, all regions well out of the reach of any Imperium assistance.
And that is all the Imperium could ever have done: assist. As has been proven again and again in the last eighteen months, allies cannot fight your war for you anymore. When someone is attacked, it is up to them to defend their sovereignty structures. As a result, the defense of Catch hinged not on Imperium forces, but on Stainwagon’s commitment to defending the region. And therein lies another significant failure of understanding that Progod displayed on TiS: That commitment is one Stainwagon has very little reason to make.
Stainwagon, as will no surprise no-one other than perhaps Progod, is primarily based in Stain. The region is NPC space. Citadels can be anchored, but staging in NPC stations cannot be prevented. In the long term, it is impossible to force an enemy out of NPC stations if they are patient enough. It was true of MOA’s long residence in NPC Pure Blind. It was true of Fountain Core’s time living in Serpentis space. It is also true of Stainwagon’s many, many years living and basing primarily in Stain.
Sovholding is a luxury for them, one they indulge in when they can, and do without whenever they must. It is an approach that has seen them weather the assault of entities far more powerful and far more capable than TESCO—including the very NCPL forces that drove TESCO from the north. They have no pressing need to hold sov. As a result, their threshold of effort needed to decide to simply return to Stain and bide their is somewhat lower than it might otherwise be. In the big picture, they lose nothing, and so need risk nothing in its defense.
Progodlegend made the point that once TEST had their own citadels in V-3, they were essentially impossible to force out. But he has good reason to know that this is not the case. Citadels provide a strong defensive point, but they are far from indestructible. If they were, he and his allies would still be in the north. The greater irony, though, is that he made this point while attempting to claim that cyno jammers were the deciding factor in how the recent warfare in Tribute played out, and that they somehow prevented a headshot on the M-O Keepstar.
To make this assertion is to completely ignore all realities of the Tribute and Lonetrek landscape. Had they wanted a headshot, NCdot could have had one at any time. It would have been a trivial matter to restage their supercapitals to lowsec and simply bring them directly to M-O. If headshotting the Keepstar was actually the goal of the campaign, it would have been done early. Rather, NCPL simply used time and repetition to grind the defenders down.
The first phase of the war took place while Pandemic Legion was still involved in preparing for, and flying in, the Alliance Tournament. During that time, TESCO saw their only sustained victories and ability to counterattack on NCdot holdings. While a number of observers publicly criticized NCdot for their inability to deal with CO2 on their own, when viewed through the lens of the Casino War, the tactic begins to make more sense: CO2 was being played on their pride. A few probing attacks, and CO2 predictably began retaliatory strikes—and began pushing the optempo of the war, and the burden on their own pilots. At the same time, NCdot was able to focus on sov timers when needed, but shift a large portion of the burden of maintaining optempo to the much larger pool of pilots in Pandemic Horde, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other allies.
As a result, once the AT was out of the way and Pandemic Legion could fully commit to the war effort, the attackers remained relatively fresh, despite four months of combat. With PL’s full entry into the theater, entosis operations began again, using Force Auxiliaries to generate and win timers, and forcing defensive fleets to turn up to protect cyno jammers as well as to defend the timers.
The result? By the time NCPL and their allies decided to attack the M-O Keepstar, it had been the only significant target remaining for two weeks. Most of EVE had expected the attack to come a week earlier. And when it did come, TESCO put forth a token defense, at best. NCPL hadn’t delayed the attack because they needed to deal with cynojammers—as stated earlier, they could have attacked directly at any time. Instead, they had used a long, grinding campaign that required far less effort on the part of their individual pilots than on the defenders’ to make the results of the Keepstar battle feel inevitable. They ground down TESCO’s will to win.
Only Idiots and Tryhards…
So what’s the takeaway from all of this? It would be easy to tar and feather Progodlegend here. He presented himself, perhaps unintentionally, as an authority. In part that presentation was based on two wars in which he’d been a significant military leader. He then offered a vision of how wars would be fought in the future based on a particular interpretation of recent events, and an analogy citing historical references to illustrate his point. And he got it all wrong. Not just the historical references, but why things unfolded the way they did in both Tribute and in Catch. All of it. So yes, it would be easy. But it would be wrong.
Rather than focus on what he was wrong about, focus instead on why he was wrong, on why so many FCs and pilots in EVE would have been equally wrong. It’s a running joke in EVE that only idiots and tryhards quote Sun Tzu. There’s a good reason for that: most of The Art of War is as much a treatise on the psychology of soldiers as it is a manual of strategic principles. After all, one of the first and most fundamental princples of strategic warfare is that you need soldiers. But EVE players aren’t soldiers. They can walk away whenever they like. At the same time, though, we have to be wary of being too dismissive, of some of the lessons military history can offer, such as the importance of proper logistic capabilities, or the critical role of scouting and intelligence.
Or the illusion of the ‘decisive battle’. Just because a battle is historically significant doesn’t mean it provided any kind of decisive inflection point in the larger conflict that framed it. Even if it was decisive, it’s important to understand why, and to remember that the Hollywood imagery of ‘We blew up the Death Star, everyone admits we won!’ is almost never the case. Land or sea, decisive inflection points aren’t just possible, they’re positively littering the pages of history. When they arrive though, their power and impact doesn’t come from the amount of casualties, or some incredible knockout blow that ends the war right then and their. It comes from one side’s ability to capitalize on their advantage, and the other’s inability to recover from the setback.
Sometimes there are clear mistakes at the top. TEST leadership fell to squabbling in Fountain. Yamamoto failed to see his plan through after losing his four large carriers. Sometimes, the situation just breaks down beyond the point of recovery. The French Army couldn’t re-establish cohesion and central command planning after the fall of Paris. Line members in EVE burn out after long, protracted wars with high optempo. Materiel can be replaced, given time. What makes a setback unrecoverable, what truly loses a war, is losing the will to win it.