This is an odd story to write. There is no simple version and it will likely seem disjointed at points. But this is necessary to convey some of the more far-reaching story arcs that are created within Eve. It is hoped that by the end of it you will at least have some reasonable questions of your own. As always, feel free to express your opinions and ask your questions in the comments section.
If nothing else I would hope that it simply prompts you to talk to veteran Eve players to retell their stories of old.
Fighting the Big Blue Doughnut
In order to make better sense of all of this, let us first take a look at a set of more recent events.
It has long been considered that going to war with the DRF is a bit of a foolish venture. Indeed, there is a great deal of historical evidence to support that this may not be a great life choice. So when this decision was made by Triumvirate, there were many that considered this conflict would be short-lived. Some even stated that it would be a quick affair in which the DRF would win in but a few weeks. Yet here we are, many months on and the war continues unabated.
The whole ordeal so far has been a somewhat complicated affair. Both sides able to claim victories of a sort. So with that in mind, let us revisit some of the highlights to help in gaining a better understanding of this situation.
Tri announced in August that they would be resetting the DRF and leaving their former ally. With this, they declared that they were tired of the Big Blue Donut and wanted to do something about this.
Tri was not to be alone in this venture, and had been courting others in the likes of Co2 to join them.
The first proposed target was that of FCON. But FCON had been busy and ended up joining the DRF. So at this point, you had Tri and Co2 being openly hostile to FCON, and for FCON to then seek the safety of being part of the DRF. This seemed a prudent move on the part of FCON at the time, as surely with the might of the rest of the DRF behind them, any attack would prove futile.
At the time Co2, was complicating its relationship with the rest of The Legacy coalition. Either unknown or ignored by the leader of Co2, Gigx, Test Alliance were also making plans. These plans were to seek content from GotG in the north. The route Test intended to take would be through DRF space and ultimately to set up on a border region to GotG space in the north.
There was much drama at the time about this action by Test that led to the head diplomat of the DRF being thrown under the bus in a very public fashion. I suspect that there is more to this story as well, but that can wait for another time.
The Imperium also headed north to Hakonen. The reason for this was separate to those of other parties. The intention of The Imperium was to force PanFam as a whole to make a choice: to either defend their rental homelands or the money moons to the west. A decision was made in a matter of days that led to the loss of the PanFam money moons.
Relations continued to be strained between Co2 and the other Legacy coalition members. As part of the deal for Test to move north, they had committed to help the DRF against hostile actions on any DRF space. So this now meant that Test would be potentially fighting against Co2 when it came to the defence of DRF space. Thankfully this was an issue that was negated in a hurry with the swift collapse of Co2, and the banning of its leader, Gigx.
FCON was soon to fall after the demise of Co2. But Tri and their allies are still very much in the game.
The DRF was keen to employ the services of other entities in order to resolve the Tri issue. This they did in droves. Even PH was picked up as DRF allies, for a price of course.
There was some internal strife for both of the warring factions. Tri lost Cpt Patrick Archer to NC along with some other notable members of the Tri FC team. Again, this was not a simple clear cut story. There were issues with regard to CPA’s exit, at least at the corp level. Additionally, it appeared that CPA’s character API key was available to spies and as such all his in game information had been available.
With the DRF being a more closed community, internal strife was harder to gauge. But it was rumoured that internally the DRF membership was also less than pleased with the ongoing war. I mean, this should have been an easy win, right?
Victories can be claimed by both sides in this conflict. Tri are still in the fight, which is a victory in its own right, while DRF can claim a Keepstar kill. Sov has been exchanged in both directions. Allies on both sides have been lost.
The war itself is still very much active. No clear winner between the DRF and Tri has been declared at this time. But with the most recent moves it is possible that one group can claim to be victorious.
Even with this very brief summary the complexity of a war of any notable scale in Eve only serves to highlight too well how easy it is to get hooked up in the detail.
The Failure of the Bluetral Haven in the North
But now let us look at a former narrative that was espoused by the PanFam at the end of the Casino War.
At the end of The Casino War there was much touted by the PanFam that the north would become a utopia of PvP and null sec life in general. Truly a haven that would serve all the members regardless of size or status within the PanFam.
This reality was very short lived for Test and Co2 as they were displaced but a mere couple of months after The Imperium had ceded the north. But let us be honest here, Test was only ever a fickle instrument in the plans of PanFam, and Co2 were never to be trusted. Their removal was simply prudent to ensure that the north was going to behave as required.
Even with the removal of Test the PanFam dream failed to live up to expectations. Constantly they would look to other areas to find the content they so desired. PH even decided to setup a high sec extortion scheme which they run to this day. While PL decided to spend more time farming Test and Provi.
A consequence of the actions of the PanFam in the north is that they had in all reality created a stale environment. Devoid of meaningful PvP content and the various renting schemes being pushed hard at every opportunity. Even Rorquals were described as structures in order to maintain NIPs and NAPs.
Anyone who even remotely watched the larger picture knew that such a model was bound to fail. The Mittani stated more than once that such a plan was simply a short term sham in order for limited benefit to a chosen few.
The spoils of war were not evenly divided and many found efforts disproportionally rewarded.
Some may be quick to claim that this is simply not true. Well if that is the case then why does the north all seem to run renting alliances? Why has PH even felt the need to move at all? If the dream had been realised then there would be no incentive to move.
Rise of the Renters
Different models of wealth creation and extraction are present in Eve at an alliance and coalition level. For some the wealth will come from ratting, mining and production. This is all well and good if you have members that are willing to exert some effort. For those less willing to expend as much effort then renting is a very viable option. Why bother ratting or mining when you can get someone to pay for the privilege to do so?
Of course when the infinite ISK of the Casinos were turned off by CCP the next least effort required method was renting. The moon changes also meant that the almost passive generation of ISK from moon goo was also unavailable without effort.
Renting seems to be the preferred model of many of the PanFam members. But in order to conduct such business it is necessary that you have spare space. So rather than actually use the space you have to its full potential, you have to own as much real estate as possible.
Even here there is complexity and secrecy. This is probably best demonstrated by the declaration of PL that they have no deals with the DRF. This was done by Elise Randolph in answer to a question about the Brothers of Tangra (BoT) rental alliance. Anyone who has had any dealings with PL in the past know only too well that their statements are often true but wrapped in deceit as well. The question should not have been about whether PL has any deals with the DRF, it should have focused on PanFam as a whole. You see it is common knowledge that Lady Scarlet runs the BoT rental scheme. So although there is no agreement between PL and the DRF there is most certainly one between NC and the DRF.
I would even go so far as to question who BoT actually belongs to. As it is run by Lady Scarlet then what portion of the proceeds actually go to NC?
2 + 2 = narrative
PH have just announced that they intend to move from their current homelands to the region of Geminate. A somewhat surprising move at face value. But in their statement about the relocation lots of reasons were offered as to why this is a great move for PH.
The PH narrative does simply not add up when you start to crunch the numbers. The Monthly Economic Report (MER) has shown for a considerable time what can be extracted from a very modest amount of space. In this regard The Imperium has been leading the way. So given the amount of space PH owns, the membership numbers and the terms in place with their neighbours, it only raises more questions for the more informed mind.
Equally the narrative offered by the DRF historically seems to be lacking in substance. A very large member list with domination of the east for years gave rise to the myth of a powerful force. Additionally the space was considered to be less valuable than other areas. Yet once Tri started their hostilities the might of the DRF seemed to be absent.
Tri continue to hold the position of fighting the Big Blue Donut. This simple narrative is often quite powerful and checks a lot of boxes. Underdog versus the bully. Fighting for a good cause. Good versus Evil. But the relationship between CPA and Vince Draken does raise questions.
Despite Test pretending to be good neighbours they too have been up to mischief. Yet again Test have broken a diplomatic agreement. Additionally they seem to be encouraging members to join with PL in attacking the heartland of The Imperium. Even their leadership seems keen to add further tension by public attacks on The Imperium.
Narratives often morph with the times. Frequently these will be subtle shifts. Today’s enemies will become tomorrow’s friends, and of course vice versa. But often a narrative can be tested against looking at real data. The 15 to 20% dip in membership numbers is often a sign of an issue regardless of what tales the leadership are distributing.
Defined through actions
Now a lot has been covered, albeit very briefly, in this piece as it is somewhat necessary. Only by looking at events over many years can a better understanding of the meta be achieved. But as you look at the movement over the years of all the entities concerned in conjunction with their actions you have to wonder. What exactly is happening at this time?
In order to answer this it can also be useful to understand the observable motivation of the major players concerned.
The Imperium, empire builders and makers of things. All of this with a hint of “we are not here to ruin the game, but to ruin your game”. Space socialism is a core value in conjunction with public service rather then personal gain.
PL and NC are very much the spirit and in many cases the actual flesh of Band of Brothers. BoB believed that they are destined to control all of null sec. That killboards are super important. That they are the true elite of Eve and of their right to rule. As such you will find that in any relationship with such entities that you are ultimately serving their interests and not your own.
The DRF have been historically content over recent years to own vast amounts of space. They have also been more than willing to strike deals as necessary to maintain such an empire. Stability seems to be a key desire. Which makes sense if you have a large part of your coalition income coming from rental typed schemes. After all stability offers a predictable income.
Winners and Losers
Tri have lost a key part of their FC team. A loss that was recently admitted to be a disappointing setback on the Meta Show by the current Tri leader. Additionally with the speed that CPA disappeared to NC you have to wonder if the strategic moves of Tri were encouraged from outside sources. This is especially the case given the reported very close relationship shared by NC leader Vince Draken and CPA.
Co2 lost hard. Although there are reports of Gigx now flying within the GotG alliance. Again with the closing of Co2 and the large number of pilots that went to GotG you have to wonder if Gigx’s thinking was steered in a particular direction.
Test have also lost. Not only a former valuable ally but also credibility on the diplomatic front, at least with The Imperium.
DRF have lost face in not being able to deal with the Tri situation as expediently as initially expected. Also handing over an entire region to the PanFam member PH hardly seems a win either.
FCON also lost themselves out of existence. Initially what would be considered a prudent move, ultimately did not prevent their demise.
PanFam have had considerable gains throughout all of this. Not only have they picked up more members but also a new region. Additionally they have stabilised the north even further and increased their ability for renting potential. All of this has been done without having to expend any real effort on the part of NC and PL. Furthermore, they continue to farm Test and Provi at will.
I’ll Get my Coat
It is not unexpected that this article will attract naysayers. Cries of spin, fake news or similar are likely abound. Given the very brief description of events these cries may seem initially credible to the uninformed. But once you spend countless hours reviewing each part in detail you will also have questions that form for yourself. This piece was never supposed to be a definitive explanation of what has and is happening. But more intended to encourage those who are determined to base their Eve story on the events of the last month to explore the larger picture.
The pieces within the Eve meta as a whole are most certainly being poked and prodded at this time. As a result we are seeing interesting movements on the map. A plan of sorts is most certainly unfolding. Now as to whether or not it is a plan with a clear path or simply ever edging towards a preferred result is not so apparent.