Header art by Cryo Huren
In New Eden, with the second battle of M2 proving so costly for PAPI, several of their leaders have updated their troops on the current state of their respective alliances, including plans for busting out of the M2 hellcamp and managing the war given the current climate. I’ll analyze two leaders’ recent statements, looking at both content and tone. We will begin with the announcement Progodlegend (PGL) made for TEST, then move to Dunk Dinkle’s update for Brave.
PGL’s update strikes a considerably different tone than his other recent SOTAs. He doesn’t call Goons dumb, say anything about how TEST will turn Delve into a proper fortress, or slam Imperium’s leadership. He doesn’t even say what he will do once he’s sitting on Imperium’s face. That’s the power of one huge mistake.
In the first paragraph, PGL notes that “coalition leadership made some critical mistakes and misjudged the situation” (para. 1 – all citations are to the reddit post of the speech, and provide paragraph numbers for reference). We note that PGL doesn’t name names, and that’s probably for the best. No reason to publicly shame anyone, if indeed this M2 debacle was a joint decision by multiple leaders. The blame gets shared around enough, with so many alliances in the coalition, that while PGL admits mistakes, he spreads the blame. The first mistake is mentioned in the very next sentence: “When the first battle started over the armor timer, there was no plan for what to do for a possible extraction if the battle went on too long.” I’m tempted to throw in a Sun Tzu quote about war planning, but no need to rub salt in the wound. We can appreciate, I think, the admission of poor planning. It takes considerable courage to admit mistakes. But the admission is very quickly covered up with “. . . as it was difficult to anticipate what would happen for the duration of the armor timer.” I’m not exactly sure what PGL means by “duration of the armor timer,” but if he’s implying that no one could predict the armor timer battle would rage for 12 hours, I disagree. I think many people could have predicted the duration. We’ve seen multiple Keepstar battles that have gone very long indeed, even without titans being in play.
Then we have this explanation for the decision to leave the field at downtime: “While we were pretty pleased with how the battle was going before downtime, fighting after downtime seemed risky, as we’d eventually have to extract and would lose a good chunk of titans pulling out of the battle. That loss would have made it easier for Goons to skip the structure timer and just declare a big victory, and likely would have resulted in the same level of smug you’re seeing now, and so the decision was made to try to leverage our larger titan cache and overall numbers to try to secure a full victory.”
Let’s parse this a bit. Returning at downtime was “risky” because PAPI would have to withdraw before complete victory (are we to accept that as a fact?) and Goons would then kill many extracting capital ships. But it’s not the potential loss of the ships that seemed to sway the decision. No. The key factor was that having Goons kill more ships would have “resulted in the same level of smug you’re seeing now” and that’s why PAPI didn’t log back in after downtime. They didn’t want to hear Goons brag they had won the first fight! To avoid letting Goons get “smug,” PAPI has ended up in this predicament. This leads me to ask, is this a PR war only for PGL? Is this about bragging rights, ultimately? I thought it was about extinction, etc. What if PAPI had lost the first M2 fight? So what? Are we Goons really getting to you that much, with our reddit posts and silly memes? I doubt it. Something even deeper lies beneath the surface. PAPI may have trouble getting line members to log in if too many battles like the first M2 goes against them. If that’s not the case, fine, I’m wrong. Roast me in the comments, but that means then that this really is a PR war after all. Who gets to brag on reddit played a huge part in PAPI war planning.
The next jewel comes in the 2nd paragraph. After explaining the difficulty of the move-op, which required PAPI to get more ships for the 2nd M2 battle, PGL notes that these ships arrived late and Goons were already packed in the system. Then, “At this point the only choice should have been to stand down, but unfortunately no one stepped up to be the bad guy and really put their foot down, so a plan with way too much risk was put together and ultimately attempted.”
PGL has put his finger on a very important aspect of PAPI, one that is not going to go away: it’s a mega coalition, containing huge egos from various alliances. Each alliance has its own win conditions. This is not Operation Overlord, with one coalition commander in charge. Otherwise, it would have been easy for someone “to be the bad guy.” Leaders who have authority also take responsibility and are willing to make unpopular decisions. But PAPI has too many cooks to make an omelet and now they have egg on their face. What happens when another momentous decision has to be made quickly? The same cluster-problem will still be there. Will Vily really tell Noraus what to do with his troops? Will Gobbins obey PGL if ordered to do something that seems sketchy and puts even more PH troops in harm’s way? Leadership by committee. When has that ever worked?
I’ll wrap this section up by saying, ironically, kudos to PGL. This is PGL’s first speech to his alliance that approached a reasoned argument. By admitting your faults, you actually gain credence. That’s leadership: taking responsibility. Further, you drop the mindlessly-attacking anti-Goon spin, laced with ad hominem attacks and braggadocio. This was, by far, the best rhetoric of all TEST’s updates.
Brave’s Alliance Meeting, January 10, 2021
A few days after PGL’s announcement for TEST, Dunk Dinkle gave announcements at a Brave alliance meeting. INN has covered that well. The content was straightforward: a Rocky III analogy to inspire the troops to get back to basics after the M2 loss, an explanation of why Dinkle wants subcap pilots trapped in M2 to log in there, get wiped, and then get refitted into a different ship, and exhortations to get into fleets in Catch. Here, then, I’ll analyze a few bits to peel away some onion layers, and also especially look at the tonal shift from other Dinkle updates.
First, I found this bit interesting: “All these people are messing with us in our home ground and we have the green light to form hard, in Catch, and go mess with them.” 10:46 When I hear those words I have to wonder who is giving Brave the “green light.” Though Dinkle is the CEO of Brave, he must have people over him, from whom he has to ask permission to be able to go back home and protect Brave’s home space. I can see why that move might be problematic, because it means Brave pilots won’t be in the front lines of Delve anymore, as long as they are trying to expel Initiative, Simple Farmers, and others from their own space. The war to kick Goons out of Delve goes less well when the attacking forces aren’t in Delve anymore.
Second, the tonal shift. Dinkle’s Not-a-Sotas have been refreshingly different in the past: he usually has a few shots as he discusses Brave’s current standing and seems, above all things, calm, cool, and collected. But this update was different. It’s not a video, so there was no body language or facial features to read, but he sounds angry, and his rhetoric was much more strident. In the past he eschewed the kind of slang speech, laced with four-letter words, that characterize other Legacy leaders’ updates. But not this time. A sample:
- “Push back on all these knuckleheads fucking with us in our home. I don’t like, uh, us having to not engage. I don’t like us having to dock up. I don’t like having to let timers go. Several of you have reached out to me about this.” 9:27 (all timer markings show the recording marker at the end of the quoted passage)
- It is time for Brave to stand up together and start forming the kinds of fleets that we can form and smacking these fuckers in the face.” 10:09.
- “I want you to smash these fuckers. I’m tired of it. I know you are tired of it. It’s time to get together. But what that takes is each of you deciding to participate in these fleets. I can’t make you do it. Brave isn’t the kind of outfit that kick people out if they don’t file paplinks. We don’t even have paplinks. It’s up to each of you to go out on these fleets and shoot other bad guys.” 12:42
We may well wonder what happened to the laid-back guy that was actually toasting the Imperium in his last Not-a-SOTA, for providing good fights. In that last talk, he stated that the goal of the war was just to get good fights, have laughs, and swap stories, and that can still happen even when Brave is being invaded. But I think he has discovered that it’s not nearly as fun, and there aren’t nearly as many laughs, when your home space is getting “messed with.” And now he’s mad.
I also wonder about the exhortations. A sample:
- “We need to stop waiting for someone else to do something before we form a fleet and do something about it.” 10:21
- I want our indy folks building stuff. I want dreads and carriers. I want them getting built. I want pilots getting into them. We need to strengthen our capital, strengthen our home regions. I want dreadbombs ready to go at a moment’s notice. These people think they can play around with supers in our space and do stuff like that. I want to kill their goddamn supers. We need dreads to do that. 11:32.
- “We need to build up and be back to where we were when people didn’t mess with us in our home space.” 11:55
The tone here, and also the content, seems to indicate that Brave is having some problems with pilots expecting other corps to assist them (which is natural when you are in a coalition) and no aid has been forthcoming. Therefore, Brave must handle their own business and stop looking for assistance. I look at the quick, sharp, commands: “I want our indy folks building stuff. I want dreads and carriers. I want them getting built.” That clearly implies they haven’t been getting built. You don’t exhort someone already doing their job. Dinkle is probably finding that having split priorities (saving the homeland while wrecking Delve) means that neither of those goals gets done well.
And so, Brave is choosing to save the homeland. I don’t blame him. After all, Imperium pilots have been doing that for seven months now.
Post M2-, many things have changed. One of the greatest changes can be found in the content and tone of Legacy leadership. A war this long was bound to have challenges of all kinds: some on the battlefield, but also some in morale and participation.