In the wake of the Tribute war, I have observed that there are bitter feelings and tensions on both sides of the spectrum. When one thinks about war in New Eden, one thinks about the defining battles such as Asakai or B-R. Outside of the two remaining superpowers, (The Goonswarm Federation and the Pandemic Family,) there is a reluctance to talk about espionage and its role in warfare. I believe this is because there is a certain implied moral issue that revolves around spying. I argue that the emerging powers should heavily invest in espionage to create an exciting game dynamic where the major powers actually fear them. Examples of emerging entities are VOLTA, TEST, CO2, PIZZA/PASTA/whatever, and even LUMPY.
Today, I listened to episode 32 of the Jeffraider show. A good portion of the episode consisted of chest beating and rationalization of Pandemic Legion’s decision to dogpile CO2 and TEST. The guests said that CO2 and TEST members said mean things to them. The guests said that they decided to invade tribute because of these mean words. Conversely, I believe it is far more likely that the combined group of the Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition simply wanted to entertain their members.
In EVE there is a tendency for one side to dogpile the side that is perceived to be the losing side. I call this effect the Grim Patron effect. Last year in the game of Hearthstone there was a card called the Grim patron. When this card received even the slightest amount of damage, another card with a fresh set of stats would spawn. This occurred in a loop and eventually one side could easily obtain a board of Grim Patrons that could kill the opponent in one fell swoop.
I believe that the same principle applies in EVE because smaller organizations have accepted the status quo and want to maximize their effectiveness. They want to get kills; however, they do not want to risk extermination at the hands of the monolithic superpowers. In turn, the monolithic powers alternate turns pummeling a chosen smaller entity to keep their members happy. This comically explains what The Mittani dubs Battered Wife Syndrome.
To review, in New Eden we have two large entities that occasionally choose to farm smaller entities to make their members happy. The Imperium is not immune from this. Prime examples of this are the Viceroy program and the invasion of Providence. The difference is that the Imperium doesn’t go on Reddit and create morale posts for their enemies. So returning to the Jeffraider show I mentioned earlier. On this particular episode, major Pandemic Legion actor Grath Telkin goes on to criticize CO2 for giving up too early despite the impending sledgehammer of pain that is racing towards them. More importantly, he lists several instances where the Pandemic Legion capital fleet is particularly vulnerable to counterplay. For the sake of brevity, I will not go into these instances in detail. However, there was a persistent tone that Pandemic Legion is particularly vulnerable when their capital fleet is split up. I argue that by investing in a strong network of scouting and espionage, smaller entities can really put the fear of god in entities like PL.
I argue that information warfare is the most powerful weapon that smaller entities have. Good information can entice other smaller entities to take risks when they previously would prefer to dogpile. If one watches the Meta Show, one can see that the Mittani consistently and shameless inserts plugs for his spy network known as “The Black Hand.” I believe this is because he understands the power and potency of good information. Conversely, the Goon’s have been coined the bad guys by most of New Eden. Until the end of the “Casino War,” Pandemic Legion was on the side of the “Good Guys,” taking out the evil Goons. After the war finished, everyone was going to have a good time having “goodfites.” We quickly learned that the dogpiling rhetoric continued after the war and is clearly depicted today.
So, what exactly does information warfare offer and what do I suggest that emerging entities should do to become more relevant? I suggest that emerging entities should take a step back from large scale warfare. I suggest that they should occupy their members in small excursions similar to those of Spectre Fleet. If they are at serious risk of invasion from a large entity, I suggest that they should relinquish their space.
Next, I suggest that they should establish a program similar to the Black Hand. They should try to get their own spies in the larger powers. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Additionally, I admit that I am naive to the details of espionage in EVE. However, I know that most of these entities already have espionage programs. I believe that they are less attractive because in the current political landscape, their agents can easily be enticed towards the other side. In that regard, espionage can seem useless and fruitless.
I understand that the current political landscape makes it difficult to establish a strong and consistent spy network. On the other hand, the emerging entities have some powerful tools at their disposal. Specifically, TEST Alliance pretty much owns the entire Reddit narrative. I believe that they can use their strong propaganda talents to create a legitimate culture that romanticizes the the TEST spy. This will allow TEST to create a truly loyal spy that is resistant to the draw of a cushy lifestyle of the PL superpower. Additionally, smaller entities have the advantage of being the underdog. There is much glory to be had when striking against the larger entity. There is even more glory when you do this by standing on your two feet rather than relying on another superpower that will eventually become an enemy.
To continue, I introduce the idea of a phase based implementation of an espionage network. To be honest, this probably should have been introduced first. This system is designed to address the immense difficulty that emergent entities will have keeping and maintaining spies. I suggest that they should start off by using the same tactic of romanticizing their agents as stated above. However, I think that emergent entities should heavily focus on traditional scouting in the beginning. Scouting is an aspect of EVE that is often taken for granted in, “just have fun entities.” I am not an expert in this arena; but, I speak from my experience in TEST alliance. I have seen fleet commanders that are in such a rush to make a name for themselves that they would rather “yolo” and get action rather than invest in truly above average scouting. I am not certain of the quality of the scouting that is exhibited today; however, I would bet my bottom dollar that it is not on the level of what we see from the major powers.
Finally, I suggest a strong method of tiered compartmentalization of information. Emerging entities are highly vulnerable to counter intelligence agents infiltrating their system. For this reason, it is important to keep a “need to know” type policy that is similar to what the U.S. defense department implements today. Scouting information can be broken into information for immediate use and information for storage. Information for immediate use is relayed by an agent in the field directly to the FC that will take immediate action. In this way, the information is less likely to be intercepted by a counter operative. Furthermore, I emphasize the importance of propaganda and controlling the narrative. I believe it is inevitable that we will see an example of a high ranking operative being exposed as a traitor. Controlling the narrative allows emerging entities to mitigate the inevitable loss of morale.
In conclusion, I believe that in the major powers have recently exhibited major vulnerabilities due to arrogance and complacency. They currently so confident that they openly speak about these vulnerabilities. With the “proposed,” changes to allow Engineering Complexes to show supercapitals in build, I believe that scouting will become an incredibly important part of gameplay. I highly suggest that emerging entities should take a step back from PVP and heavily invest in establishing a strong intelligence backbone.
BIO: I am a member of Incertae Sedis, a small corp in a bromance with Dropbears Anonymous. I miss the old days of A Damn Patriot leading us to battle. I have been in Goonswarm and TEST Alliance. Boxxy / Catie enthusiast and dirty weeaboo.