Art by Cryo Huren
“When you cant defend forts in delve that is a clear sign you are losing.” — Redditor comment on PAPI’s recent activity in Delve.
Delve is burning.
In the two and a half weeks since the M2 breakout on Jan 27, PAPI has carried out a relentless scorched-earth campaign in the Imperium’s home region of Delve, torching more than 1.3 trillion ISK worth of Upwell structures across 11 constellations.
As experienced EVE players know, this level of widespread structure bashing is only possible when attackers have sustained battlefield dominance across the theater, since they must bring to bear entire fleets to burn through multiple layers of defense for each structure across multiple days. Simply put, the Imperium’s structure losses demonstrate who has day-to-day control over most of Delve: PAPI.
Given the Imperium’s long-held commitment to “Fortress Delve,” and the years they have spent preparing to defend against just this kind of onslaught, many PAPI line members have concluded (if their Reddit posts are to be believed) that they are winning this war–and handily.
Before we examine whether or not that conclusion is justified, let’s dig into some of the details of PAPI’s glassing of Delve since the M2 breakout.
In the last 19 days, excluding cyno jammers, PAPI has destroyed 74 Upwell structures in Delve with a total combined value of 1.34 trillion ISK (equivalent to roughly 15 titans). As the various charts below show, the majority of these structures (44) have been small–everything from Astrahus citadels to Ansiblex jump gates–with an average value of 2.9 billion ISK.
There have been, however, some notably large kills; two in particular by themselves make up a third of the total butcher’s bill: the 1-SMEB Keepstar (204 billion) and a Sotiyo with costly rigs that died February 13 in 236-XC (242 billion). And of the 1.34 trillion, more than 900 billion of the Imperium’s losses can be traced to just 10 structures, the two just named plus several faction Fortizars, several Sotiyos, and a couple of Tataras.
1.34 trillion ISK isn’t chump change, and evaluating the impact of these losses on the Imperium’s ability to wage war is difficult. But given that there are two Sotiyos and two Tataras in 1DQ1-A alone (not to mention dozens of faction Fortizars and five Keepstars) it is certain that the Imperium continues to possess a significant industrial capacity in Delve and can continue to produce everything it needs up to supercapitals and titans as long as it maintains stocks of resources. In addition, its ability to stage ships close to the front lines is certainly undiminished by PAPI’s structure-clearing activity.
Likely of greater impact than the structure losses themselves is the simple loss of secure space demonstrated by PAPI’s ability to run rampant across Delve. Loss of space brings loss of income and loss of direct access to raw materials. But unless PAPI intends to try and starve the Imperium out of 1DQ1-A, it is not clear what effect those losses could have on the longer-term military situation in Delve.
And this takes us to the question: Is PAPI winning the larger war? They clearly are projecting force with a free hand across the Imperium’s home region, but is their rampage in Delve pushing the Imperium closer to the moment when they might be forced to seek a settlement or offer some sort of surrender?
A consideration of the larger strategic situation shows a clear answer: No.
Imperium leadership has repeatedly made clear that their strategic focus is not on holding space in Delve (where in addition to bashing structures, PAPI has been making significant sov gains in recent weeks, in particular flipping most of the iHubs in the Imperium’s vaunted “Helm’s Deep”). Imperium leadership is focused on maintaining the hellcamp in M2, and this they continue to do with apparently undiminished vigilance. As recently as yesterday, more than 1,000 Imperium pilots formed in a matter of minutes as pings went out that PAPI might be attempting to stage a breakout.
Why would Imperium leadership go in this direction? Why after months of puffing up “Fortress Delve” and “Helm’s Deep” would they allow almost the entirety of their home region to become a floodplain and be glassed?
The answer is in the numbers.
In the last 19 days, PAPI has killed 1.34 trillion in structures; at the M2 breakout on Jan 27, the Imperium killed 2 trillion in dreads. Which is to say, in 19 days PAPI is two-thirds of the way to extracting the blood that the Imperium extracted in a single day. Just as the amount of ISK in structures standing in 1DQ dwarfs the amount PAPI has burned, so too the amount of ISK trapped in M2 dwarfs what PAPI has burned.
The Imperium calculates that to get that ISK trapped in M2 back, PAPI will have to pay a hefty price–at least as great a price as the Imperium stands to lose by letting much of Delve burn. The Imperium has already demonstrated they can force PAPI to pay a price in blood to get their supers back, and they, not unreasonably, calculate that by maintaining the hellcamp, they can force PAPI to do so again.
And if PAPI isn’t willing to pay that price, they stand to lose almost an order of magnitude more in ISK than they’ve glassed in the last 19 days. They could burn Delve for six months at the rate they’re going and not achieve parity.
PAPI has 130* titans trapped in M2 as well as an unknown number of supercarriers and other capitals. That’s almost 12 trillion ISK in titans alone. And perhaps more significantly, there are hundreds of pilots trapped there as well – highly skilled characters (in many instances likely mains) that are simply trapped, unable to login until PAPI stages another breakout.
All of that – the trapped ISK and those trapped pilots – translates into pressure on PAPI, a great deal more pressure than the Imperium feels from burnt structures, even if the value destroyed were triple what it has been.
Until PAPI can save the super fleet it has trapped in M2, they can’t claim to be winning the ISK war in Delve no matter how many structures they burn. And when and if they do extract, the blood price they are forced to pay may well counterbalance their months of structure bashing.
Watching your home burn isn’t pleasant, but dropping the M2 hellcamp to save a few trillion in Upwell structures would be precisely the wrong thing to do. PAPI’s in a deep hole in M2, and they shouldn’t think otherwise. The calculation the Imperium has made makes perfect sense.
For that reason – by the numbers – PAPI’s recent success burning GSF structures in Delve does not indicate progress towards ultimate victory.
* The number dropped to 129 Sunday as one of the trapped BRAVE titan pilots redeemed a ‘Silver Ticket’ and sold his titan to the Imperium.
Deni'z von Meanace
As i said before not sure why you let them kill faction forts. You can replace those with dozen of cheap stuff instead. Taking into the mind faction forts added 50% of value since that war burns them on a constatnt bases.February 16, 2021 at 8:42 AM
Garreth Vlox Deni'z von Meanace
Because test is easily distracted by “shiny” morale kills, and since there is no actual difference between a faction fort and a regular fort once it has been moved for the first time there is literally no difference if we let them kill moved fact forts v regular forts. Why go through all the effort of pulling them down under fire in a warzone when they have no additional benefit to begin with? Test has spent months grinding down their own participation numbers killing these forts because they think green kill boards are how they will win this war. Let them keep thinking that as more and more of their smaller allies find the door or implode under the pressure of the war as they shoot another faction fort that’s already been moved once.February 16, 2021 at 12:07 PM
Marus Garreth Vlox
As far as I know the imperium was already in Delve when the patch came with the faction fortizars. So…where are those fortizars now? Don’t tell me goons move their own faction fortizars in other systems. You are right about the faction fortizars that have been moved to Delve from other locations, but some of the faction fortizars that have died or will die are native to Delve region and the loss will be higher.February 16, 2021 at 12:21 PM
Guilford Australis Marus
Faction Fortizars don’t have any particular strategic value. They are marginally stronger than regular Forts, but that’s meaningless to an alliance that can afford to plop a Keepstar down anywhere it needs a Citadel. The only significance to attackers is the blingy killmail, and the only (potential) significance to defenders is the nostalgia of having built the NPC Outposts that ultimately became the faction Forts.
Your point about the faction Fortizars in Delve largely being in their original locations is precisely why few of them are worth defending. Take my old home of MJXW-P. It’s a pointless system strategically yet had an Outpost, which became a faction Fortizar. I think it’s safe to say The Imperium wouldn’t stretch itself trying to defend that particular Fortizar sitting on the butthole end of nowhere when it still has 130 titans trapped in M2-.February 16, 2021 at 3:58 PM
Garreth Vlox Marus
“Don’t tell me goons move their own faction fortizars in other systems. ” We got 40 fact forts from the tribute campaign against panfam, they were anchored all over the place, we got access to several more when we got PB and Querious, some had been moved, some had not, all of them have an inflated isk value due to the perceived rarity of faction forts themselves. In the end moving the fort is as bad as losing it because the specialty rig dies either way.February 16, 2021 at 8:51 PM
Deni'z von Meanace Garreth Vlox
Ok i see your point, in my mind I’d just prefer to kill them myself and not give an enemy chance to add them to KB losses. How about 200+ billi Sotiyo? Imp didn’t even make an attempt to kill as much as possible while papi grind this structure.February 16, 2021 at 8:37 PM
Matterall on Talking in Stations says Goons are losing and deliberately lying to their members. You must be wrong if he says so.February 16, 2021 at 9:00 AM
Garreth Vlox Bumpy Dog
Matterall also came out in favor of “gold” pay to win ammo… I still can’t understand why people who play and understand the game listen to his podcast. I get the spin shows have their place on both sides, but matterall tries to play the neutral observer who knows a lot about the game and fails on both counts regularly.February 16, 2021 at 12:03 PM
Alaric Faelen Garreth Vlox
If it’s one thing I’ve learned from listening to Matterall speak, it’s that Matterall knows a lot less about Eve than he likes to think he does. He is a pretentious nitwit that reads something somewhere then regurgitates it ad naseum as if he was the originator of the idea. He has demonstrated several times he neither understands Eve or Eve players.February 18, 2021 at 3:21 PM
Garreth Vlox Alaric Faelen
He reminds me of ron that way. Neither one has anywhere near the understanding of game knowledge that they claim to have but that doesn’t stop them from trying to explain things they don’t know. Like the time papi staged in npc delve and materall explained they were now only x number of jumps away from the goon capital and then points at 1dh on the map…February 18, 2021 at 10:00 PM
Alaric Faelen Garreth Vlox
I recall him on one show where he had read a book and pulled some concept out of it, then kept repeating it as if it were some slam dunk of logic. When his points were shot down he just claimed that the other people simply didn’t understand this lofty concept. If you disagree with him, it’s because you just don’t ‘get it’, never because he has no idea what he is talking about…..February 19, 2021 at 5:49 PM
Vertigoe Bumpy Dog
There is an opinion we can all count on to be unbiased right…February 16, 2021 at 12:05 PM
Seir Luciel Vertigoe
Where does one go to get “unbiased” information when in The Imperium? The Meta Show?February 16, 2021 at 5:01 PM
Garreth Vlox Seir Luciel
Here’s a comparison for you, the quotes are approximate summations of what was said not word for word gospel because I’m not digging through several weeks of hours long videos looking for a 15 second clip.
Unbiased opinion on the loss of the 1smeb keepstar from the meta show: “we lost the 1-smeb keep this week and that sucks”
Unbiased opinion on the war from any episode of talking in stations that features progod or vily: ” goons are being crushed their structure losses are massive (completely ignores their own massive structure loss in their home space back east) goon will collapse for sure this time (10th+ time such prediction has been made on the show in question) when we finish flipping the ihubs in (insert random delve constellation here)
No one is unbiased, but some shows manage to be a lot closer to the reality of what is happening in the game than others. Though to be fair to crying in stations as hard as they spin at time they are LIGHTYEARS closer to reality than redlines non-stop spin podcast.February 16, 2021 at 8:49 PM
Seir Luciel Garreth Vlox
I don’t feel the need to defend TIS or any news source particularly, but calling the show “crying in stations” hints at a bias likely to affect one’s evaluative judgment of material made by non-Imperium sources.
We tend to talk a lot about biased/unbiased reporting, news, souces, etc. What about unbiased listening?February 16, 2021 at 10:49 PM
George Ewing Seir Luciel
This article was an analysis piece. Its author is free to analyze the situation with whatever data he decides to use, or not use. Whether the analysis is correct only time will tell.February 16, 2021 at 11:05 PM
Garreth Vlox Seir Luciel
Crying stations has earned that name given the recent soap box whine sessions they have had vily on to conduct over the past few months.February 17, 2021 at 1:05 AM
Bumpy Dog Seir Luciel
This comment smacks of “blaming the listener” because TIS is biased.February 17, 2021 at 8:27 AM
Ichinumi Tsukaya Seir Luciel
CIS content sucks, imagine listening to +1h of a few people crying. oh but blame the listeners for shitty unengaging content. ITS THE CUSTOMER’S FAULT!!!!!!February 17, 2021 at 12:19 PM
Bumpy Dog Seir Luciel
The TIS podcast, has become the mouthpiece for PAPI and the agenda that Matterall likes to set. And Matterall has no love for the Goons. The game needs hard working, dedicated people like him, but some balance in the podcast would improve matters.February 17, 2021 at 8:26 AM
Michael Porter Bumpy Dog
Did he? I didn’t see that. Link?February 16, 2021 at 1:22 PM
Bumpy Dog Michael Porter
About three weeks ago on Talking in Stations podcast. I will leave it to you to plough through the audio…February 16, 2021 at 2:03 PM
Arrendis Bumpy Dog
And during his CSM run. Which was a big chunk of why it failed.February 16, 2021 at 10:11 PM
Join me in 0sht having free reign on their homes!!! Death to Legacy!!!February 16, 2021 at 10:23 AM
Berth Ljunggren Havish Montak
Yeah they have lost a fair amount in their own home regions, that Test Sotiyo that got killed was the biggest structure kill in isk value since 2017 according to Frost ees OP on YouTubeFebruary 26, 2021 at 2:18 PM
Interesting comparison but the discussion is way more complex than this. First of all, the ISK destroyed in structures by PAPI is really and trully GONE. The ISK that is trapped in M2 by imperium is …temporary unavailable, but it’s not gone yet. And just like in the first breakout, sure PAPI would bleed some ISK getting back the rest of the assets, but would not bleed the entire of it’s ISK value, at least not without making the imperium bleed also some titans.
Other aspects are to be considered: besides the structure bashes, both sides are also losing ISK through the ships lost, and I would consider imperium losing more ships and more ISK since they are not contesting the structures and are also fighting outnumbered. And on top of all these, then comes the effects on long term, imperium is losing it’s structures, it’s industry and economy, and it’s ability to replace the ships lost. Sure they still have M2 and 1DQ sotyos but you cannot build efficient in just 2 systems. If someone can check (I haven’t yet) the system cost index for M2 and 1DQ, that would be interesting to know and to project if they are building al higher costs. For how long could they maintain this …we will see. By comparison, PAPI’s industry was pretty much unaffected all these 8 months of war and won’t have problems keeping the pressure.February 16, 2021 at 10:35 AM
Agreed that there are many additional complicating factors to a full analysis. Insurance payouts, for example, which dreads get and structures do not. When insurance is considered, PAPI doesn’t have to get to two million in structures to reach ISK parity with the M2 breakout dreadbomb. In addition I only considered GSF structures in this analysis; there might be others to consider, although GSF structures would be the lion’s share.
Regardless, I think the larger point still stands. If winning this war is about ISK, then PAPI can’t claim to be winning until they extract from M2, and the Imperium would be foolish to let them do so easily. If winning the war is about forcing the Imperium to withdraw from Delve, then they have to force them to withdraw from M2 and 1DQ, and it’s not at all clear that burning structures in the rest of Delve forwards that objective.February 16, 2021 at 11:57 AM
Seir Luciel Gwailar
“If winning this war is about ISK, then PAPI can’t claim to be winning until they extract from M2”
I agree with this statement, and in general I think you wrote a good article. There are two things that ought to be factored into the war: 1) isk and 2) true production. With isk one needs to factor in Isk income as well as the static isk held and lost in assets. The question is not only how much isk is PAPI losing vs. The Imperium but also to factor in isk income. The equation should look more like this:
(PAPI isk – loss + gains = ?) > / < / = (Goon isk – loss + gains = ?)
The destruction of ihubs and structures and more generally having safe space to do stuff in decreases Goon's ability to make income meaning they have to increasingly rely on what's in the coffers and increasing PAPI isk losses. Otherwise they won't come out ahead in the isk war. Not saying Goons can't do it; if what's in the coffers can support the losses then a lack of income doesn't matter.
But this is all less important than what I call true production, or the true economy. Isk doesn't build ships; isk is a currency, not a building material. Its value is always in flux and markets constantly ebb and flow with scarcity, demand, meta, etc. But minerals, PI, true factory line production is much more stable and what actually gets the work done, actually blows up the enemy. This aspect of the economy is going to have the greatest impact on the war. And in this aspect PAPI, I would argue, has advantages.February 16, 2021 at 5:31 PM
Gwailar Seir Luciel
Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading.
In theory I agree with you about production, but at the end of the day I’m not sure how much it will actually affect the outcome of the war.
Whether it’s about ISK or about breaking 1DQ, which way the scale tips in this war is ultimately going to come down to supercapital fights, and neither side needs new production to support at least one more massive supercapital engagement–probably more than one. And no production pipeline can replace hundreds of titans in a tactically-meaningful timeframe no matter how robust it is.
So the chips that will decide the course of this war are already on the table, and right now the next phase waits on M2. The question is when and how that situation will be resolved, and whether PAPI has the appetite to solve it by force or takes a negotiated settlement instead (as individual pilots have started doing for themselves).February 16, 2021 at 6:22 PM
Arrendis Seir Luciel
In the end, this will come down to only one thing. The same thing all EVE wars come down to: Will to win.
Which side is willing to inflict more misery upon themselves in order to outlast their opponents?
That will be the deciding factor. Minerals, industry, ISK… all of that can be acquired outside of the theater of war, via alts. Both sides are already doing that. Production, too—the only thing that has to be done in null is supercapital production. Anything else can be built safely in a station someplace else and moved in.
In the end, it is only a matter of who can’t keep putting numbers in fleets, whose members get tired of the war first. And in that, the unrelenting hate that’s bred by calling for people to be exterminated from the game… that breeds a whole lot of will to endure.February 16, 2021 at 10:12 PM
The only one who wins is the last man standing. The rest of this conjecture is meaningless.February 16, 2021 at 1:23 PM
Guilford Australis Michael Porter
I’m not sure there will be a clear winner. The worst possible outcome for Goons is a withdrawal to NPC Delve. Meanwhile, the victory conditions PAPI has set (“extermination” of Goons; driving us out of Delve) are impossible, and The Mittani has said he will not accept a diplomatic resolution. So it seems we are on a collision course for a stalemate in which all sides are still standing, although greatly weakened. It could turn into a “forever war” in which PanFam heads back north but leaves a SIG or optional deployment to continue fighting.
I suspect the end of the main phase of the war will come down to which side runs out of money first. The Imperium is well capitalized and already had huge reserves of minerals and materiel in Delve at the start of the war. PAPI has had to import *everything.* It’s hard to imagine PAPI continuing the war once their wallets (and thus SRP funds) drain, but The Imperium can sit around using up all the stuff it still has in hangars throughout Delve for quite some time.February 16, 2021 at 3:23 PM
phuzz Michael Porter
“Last man standing” is not something that’s possible in Eve, because there’s no way to permanently kill a capsuleer. The closest you can get is by killing their morale so that they never log in again, and that’s pretty unlikely.February 18, 2021 at 2:48 PM
For exactly the same reasons PAPI were never going to “exterminate” Goons, equally, Goons will never be able to exterminate PAPI.
PAPI will currently be measured by “For us, this is a war of extermination” as that was the initial goal of their war. This stood for months for PAPI with no other goal really being offered. Then the “economic harm” objective was touted. This was a sensible goal as not only had it already been achieved at the time.but it was also quite measurable. Prior to Christmas PAPI could lay claim to economic victory comfortably had they wanted to do so. After Christmas, a lot less so after the M2-X debacle.
The Imperium are singular in their resolve, remain “not exterminated”. That really is it for them as nothing else is required. As soon as I came back to the game I said that the war objective of PAPI was a gift to The Imperium as it is an objective that would not be met.
So both sides can claim to be “winning” given their own perspectives. You can use other measures such as member counts and space owned. Again in this both sides can argue a win. The Imperium has lost space but PAPI is losing allies and space.
What will be said in the next PH townhall I think will be most interesting. This was supposed to happen this month. If it does not happen it may be a sign of further issues for the PAPI war council.February 16, 2021 at 3:19 PM
Yeah but, “They didn’t need those titans anyway and can do the work just fine without them due to their exceptionally-brilliant half-breakout attempts.” See? They don’t even need those hundred titans to kill our Raitarus alright?February 16, 2021 at 7:22 PM
PAPI is making progress on their objectives, incredibly slowly as always, so they are winning. However since they’re losing a fortune in the process and can’t ever truly destroy the Imperium its inevitable that they’ll be forced to retreat and lose all their progress at some point. They can’t keep up an endless offensive war against a group that can practically afford to fight forever and has the huge advantage of NPC space in their territory meaning they can never be fully driven out either.February 18, 2021 at 12:55 AM