Now What?

Robert Miller 2018-10-01

Header Art by Empanada

Much has been written about the Northern War, and we all know how it ended, but what’s next and how did we get here? We reached out to participants of the most recent Northern War to take a sampling of thoughts from pilots on both sides of the aisle.

Leveraging its industrial might, Imperium forces have laid waste to 10 Keepstars and too-many-other-citadels-to-count in a decisive ‘piss off’ to its Northern adversaries. As a result, it’s established itself as the only current superpower in Eve. A peace settlement that hands Delve cash and structures worth hundreds of billions of ISK may be the final tribute, but Pandemic Horde’s decision to ignore the settlement leaves the door open for further wreckage.

Let’s look at how we got here.

How’d We Get Here?

Iron Armada CEO Tridgit believes the Imperium didn’t so much win the war as its enemies lost the war. He says, “The Imperium’s been building and moving their feet for two years straight. It’s no secret. It’s not hidden. They were in the gym lifting weights, over and over, for years. The North did not. It’s no surprise who wins when the guy who’s been working out hard for years goes up against a guy who used to fight years ago but has been sitting on the couch.”

S Tier CEO and TEST Legacy military leader Vily echoes those comments. “The Imperium won this war on their enemies’ incompetence more than any other factor,” he says.

Some of it is structural and cultural as well. Imperium Ministry of Truth member Paramemetic says, “The North has a collection of problems that, all in all, aren’t calculated to be good for the game. High among those is the reality that the biggest forces in the North, the superpowers that served as the Imperium’s counterpart, are either not really interested in playing at all, or aware that they can’t beat us in a real battle. Pandemic Legion’s leadership doesn’t play Eve anymore, with most of their active corporations and alliances having left to do other things. So PL, once the pre-eminent supercapital superpower, is effectively dead. Without PL, Northern Coalition knows they can’t field numbers that can actually beat the Imperium, and even if they could, they’d be doing so to prop up Circle of Two and others who quite obviously aren’t interested in defending themselves.”

The days of ‘elite PvP’ are effectively over, according to Paramemetic. “Industrial power is real power. The instantiation of the conflict was the Imperium versus the North, but it’s a story as old as time: elite PvP focused players who just want to win space battles by punching down at helpless smaller groups versus players willing to engage with so much more of the game than just that small part. This war was the end of a broader cultural war that has proven, in the end, that there’s more to this game than having the best ships and the best pilots in single battles.”
Paramemetic believes that “strong culture, good organization, and a willingness to accept the game as it actually is, rather than to wish the game were something it’s not: these are the things that, in the end, have brought us where we are. The opposite – weak culture focused around being exclusive, poor organization by leaders only interested in killboards, and utter denial of the complexity of the game in favor of focusing only on a very narrow slice – has also brought the North where it is.”

Will Settlement Hold Minus Horde?

As reported in detail here, the not-as-secret-as-intended settlement sees the Imperium withdrawing its main fleet, SIGs/squads, and cloaky campers from Northern territories for one month, and from GOTG space for six months. This started Friday, September 29, as long as a laundry list of conditions were met by enemy forces, but Pandemic Horde removed itself from the peace settlement Saturday due to comments made by their alliance leader.

“The peace settlement minus Horde will hold as long as the various northern alliances can stick to it,” says Imperium diplomat Dirk Stetille. He adds, “[on September 29] we published a policy thread on the peace accords, which is to say that we made it an official post for all of our members to abide by. Sharp-eyed members noted that Geminate has been removed from NIP coverage, because Horde had a very public breakup with GOTG, the group with whom our agreement is with. In combination with comments from the fireside from The Mittani declaring it ‘open season’ on Horde assets in any region, I think (Pandemic Horde alliance leader) Gobbins is about to realize why everyone says ‘you should never make decisions when you’re angry or upset’.”

As reported earlier, Imperium Finance Director Aryth observes that from the North’s perspective, “they [need] their space to be secure enough to live in again or their regions [will] continue to shed members and alliances [will] continue to fall apart. They were going to lose the entire region to a wildfire of steamrolling titans/supers. We save a ton of grinding in AUTZ, and they probably save their coalition.” Signing the peace settlement was “a no-brainer,” Aryth says. “The right call in every scenario.”

Other observers believe the North will hold up its end of the settlement if for no other reason than it has no choice. “They need the breathing room to build their industrial capacity, and rebuild their titan fleets,” a senior Imperium official told INN. “Honestly, they need time to organize, because if one thing killed them in this war, it’s that they weren’t organized and singing from the same hymn sheet.”

On the other hand, Darkness CEO Sort Dragon “paid for a timeout,” according to “Talking in Stations” host Matterall. “It’s a gamble. Will his troops run for the hills, make deals of their own with the Imperium, or will they recover and rally? Who knows…who cares? That’s just the topsoil on this deal. Beneath the surface, there is a whole other calculation made by the Imperium which reminds me of Microsoft’s $150 million investment into a beleaguered Apple way back in 1997. At the time, Microsoft was a dominant company under fire by the US government for their aggressive business practices. The move was Microsoft’s way of staving off a federal anti-trust suit for being a monopoly.”

Matterall continues, “In the same way, the Imperium has to modulate its sweep of the north, and as a bonus getting some shiny Fortizars off of Sort Dragon. I’m pretty sure Tuzy, Goons’ logistic commander, is a happy man. Some of those Forts are as defensible as Keepstars, (but) the payment is just a narrative puppet show. [The Initiative. CEO] Sister Bliss was just this side of furious when he found out how lightly Sort had been let off. The real play here is not killing off the competition and staving off a CCP intervention, or even worse killing the host body they live off. By the way, Microsoft’s play didn’t work. In 1998 Microsoft was sued by the government.”

On CCP’s Radar?

But such a decisive victory, including Keepstar timers with no defending pilots in system, raises the specter of CCP intervention. Diplomat Stetille explains, “Any major conflict draws CCP’s attention, but they’re usually relatively neutral, because if people aren’t fighting their game isn’t garnering attention. But I’m sure CCP has taken note of how we’ve pursued our objectives. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of change to the universe based upon their perception of this conflict. They’ve watched for the past two years as we’ve built our industrial machine and the rest of the game has let us be. They almost certainly will feel a need to intervene somehow.”

Conversely, Imperium Ministry of Propaganda member Paramemetic suggests that the Imperium’s mastery of market forces/mining made them unstoppable, but questions whether CCP would make mechanic changes that affect the “fair play” balance of the game.

Iron.Guard Diplomat Jurius Doctor says, “Do I see CCP intervening? Fuck no. Game’s not that far gone, yet, but I can see some strong balance passes coming into the game, and new factions, and new assets, and new ways of playing the game. Plus, Goons aren’t as invincible as the hype says. A determined, savvy group could hurt them.”

What of The North?

With its staging Keeps stardust, it’s an open question whether Northern forces will crawl back to fight another day, or whether new groups will fill the vacuum left behind.

“Ultimately, I think this will prove to have Pandemic Horde become a victim of Gobbins’ lack of strategic overview, because they’re the only hostile group currently set up to challenge us industrially, and they’ve thrown away a month to really fortify into Geminate because he was angry about the terms. PH could have started catching up over the next six months.” says Stetille. That would have required “a focus on utilizing their resources, so a boom in refinery structures to begin with, followed by more shipyards, and a focus on building their super capital fleet.”

Smaller groups could see the war and its aftermath as an opportunity. TEST’s Vily believes “that would be a good thing.”

Another with that view is Jurius Doctor, who says, “One of the things which I believe Imperium diplomats must have realized is that to avoid starving themselves of content, (they) need to do a better job of encouraging small entities to find homes and grow in Null, and to provide some umbrella of independence under which they can operate – without being pets, prey, or an income stream – where the small entities can grow and live long enough to come to encompass a vision of expansion. To be the next large entities.”

He adds, “The steamroller destroys morale and desire for content. It’s like salting the soil in which you want diversity to grow. Yes, Imperium pilots will want to have the opportunity to drop their titans and super capitals, and will eventually starve for content at that scale, because if that becomes the hammer you drop any time you get a decent-sized fight, the Imperium risks turning Tranquility into Serenity, or driving people from the game. Small entities are the future and the health of this game.”

“In fact,” he continues, “Given the long-game adjustment and patience the Imperium and its member corporations will need to exemplify, the greatest threat to the Imperium isn’t a new power rising from without to challenge them, or all of New Eden ganging up to fight them under cries of ‘Grr Goons’. The wolf at the door will be the hungry wolves in their own ranks, getting cagey under a lack of content and seeing an opportunity to use their teeth in earnest. That will likely lead to dissolution from within and a significant number breaking off from the core to form a new force to contend with who has the riches, assets, and lessons learned from Delve to apply somewhere else. Likely Geminate.”

Now What?

Few people involved in the war on either side are willing to go out on a limb and discuss what comes next. It’s opsec, or politically dangerous. Capitalist Army CEO and author of several popular overviews of Eve geopolitics Alekseyev Karrde has no such restraints.

“The omission of PanFam and Triumvirate from the respective north and south peace agreements keeps some doors open for further aggression. FRT is physically between Legacy and TRI, so it seems unlikely that conflict in the south will continue unless FRT completely flips and allows Legacy to stage in their space (or joins outright). I don’t think that’s likely at this juncture, The FRT/TRI relationship is definitely a strategic arrangement and wont last forever though. PanFam will need to organize their disparate groups better and figure out how to get the economic power to match the Delve machine. It’s either that or prepare now for an eventual evacuation, but they can’t really go anywhere either TEST or Goons can’t touch except consolidating with TRI/FRT. However it seems clear that even that will not be enough on its own.”

Guardians of the Galaxy comes out of this conflict “looking just awful,” he continues. “If they don’t do something drastic it’s only a matter of time before the agreement’s up and the Imperium hits them or someone else smells the blood in the water. Either way they will face that conflict weaker now than they are today. Continued conflict between Imperial Legacy and PanFam in the north is possible but unlikely, at least for a little while. Their best move is letting NC/PL/Horde get comfortable again, but moving before they have time to adapt to what Goons brought to the table in this fight.”

He believes that from the Imperium’s perspective, “The rental empires in the Dronelands must make tempting targets at a strategic level. Not the most fun for pilots, but winter is coming and people will be bored. That’s my personal bet for Goons next move IF, and it’s possibly a big if, they do anything at all except continue to expand their fleets and warchests.”

 

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Comments

  • Empanada

    awesome article, yea totally agree, the north need adapt or they going to have very bad days in the future.

    October 1, 2018 at 12:40 am
  • Eli

    I think this allows for smaller and medium sized entities to grow both in the North but also in the East. One thing about Goons is, we had two years of ‘peace’ and in that time, we still did fleet fights every day and every night with someone, somewhere. That won’t change. Goon culture doesn’t really allow much for fragmentation like one of the people suggest above. Even if we don’t get along with each other, the culture in us to not shoot each other (except for fun, insurance or if we find a traitor) is all too strong.

    We’re also a highly reactive alliance. Someone hits us, so we swarm and stomp on them back, only ten times harder. Given there’s always some idiot alliance wanting to hit us (thanks to grr gons) we’ll always have content. Many of us are just happy to mine, refine and produce, then a couple of times a week, go on some patrol to some far flung place and welp fleets. Even the Goons I hate the most, I will die trying to defend against others because like family, that’s what they are. You don’t like all your brothers and sisters in the stable, but damned if anyone else picks on them.

    October 1, 2018 at 8:27 am
    • Axhind Eli

      This is one of the most accurate descriptions of Imperium and something everybody seems to forget. We stick together no matter what. Saranen showed the core of Imperium sticking together and we are all stronger for it.

      October 9, 2018 at 12:02 pm
  • Rammel Kas

    Inciting the grrgons to a fever pitch is a time honored tradition that is not going to go away. We are giddy with excitement when the universe continues to breed such madness as Gobbins. For this one reason alone Imperium will never let it turn into Serenity. For years now the deeper meta game has been not against other player groups. But against the odds of keeping a game we play vibrant and fun.

    Just go back and watch how Sion, Mittani and the others poked the rest of EVE with incensing jibes ahead of the Casino War. It’s what we do to foster the working sandbox.

    … that being said…. this is not the first time the threat of stagnation has been paraded out like a manikin. The :same: argument was used to buy us off in the last big secret deal. NCPL recovered their swagger rather nicely off the back of B-R.

    October 1, 2018 at 8:59 am
  • anaisanais501

    I’ll tell you what next… now I’m not deployed I’m krabbing all week. And probably all next week too. Maybe rest of the month and into next.

    October 1, 2018 at 11:18 am
  • Alot

    The only way I could see one disrupting an entity as large as the imperium (without specifically targeting them) would be to have fluctuating npc harassment throughout null and low sec that would spike to such a degree that entire regions would become inoperable for extended periods of time, forcing inhabitants to batton down the hatches – with the hopes that the severity and unpredictability of the seasons would more adversely affect larger entities which had operations spread across more space.

    Other then that, I don’t see how a second stable industrial powerhouse could rise without eventually merging with the imperium in the natural pursuit of efficiency.

    October 1, 2018 at 12:38 pm
    • Rammel Kas Alot

      CCP already have that. It’s called Incursions and they get head shot in Delve if they interfere with our logistics guys.

      October 2, 2018 at 5:37 am
      • Alot Rammel Kas

        Incursions drop loot, have limited offensive behaviour (you may call me out on this) and can be put down in short order.

        I’m talking about hordes which drop no loot or are utterly passive (like a radiation storm). If you had some long lasting affliction on an area which could not be profitably dealt with (perhaps with some medium value reward distributed throughout the zone for a short duration after it ended) you could put strain on established logistical practices – with the aim of trying to provoke the no 1 killer or large orgs, egos and tempers over situations which heavily detriment random clans of the larger structure.

        October 2, 2018 at 11:24 am
        • Rammel Kas Alot

          But NPC Delve already spawns random hate mobs of koolaid swilling drooling idiots flying low value ships which inevitably catch out newer Imperium members on the daily. And Bombers Bads will exclusively only roll toward Delve and away from NCPL space. Certain player groups harass Delve on a continual basis almost dogmatically following the Shaddoo play book of little bits of chaos, yet fail.

          Player groups already do their level best at this. I do not think people understand what is really going on whenever I hear them stir the pot for some intervention.

          It’s a sandbox by design. If developers have to bend it then you get even worse results as we have already seen in the not too distant past. And Imperium tends to weather it far better than other groups seem to be able to. It’s entirely in the capability and will of other players to work to become the new apex. Word to the wise: no free lunch.

          October 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm
  • General Thade

    Well now we know that the most powerful player entity in the game is un beatable from a conventional war perspective. If they wanted to invade the rest of the game, I dont think there would be much stopping them. I just hope this doesn’t turn into serenity.

    Either goons will stretch out so far that they cant defend their space, or they defend it leaving the only places to be ruled WHspace and Highsec (I think lowsec is now ruled by nullsec powers). I dont like how powerful they have become, but I think it would be bad if CCP interfered. If you can learn anything from geo politics, learn that empires will eventually die. It might take a while but it will happen. In EVE goons will eventually fall apart and split up, like how IRL Russia, China, and USA will eventually split up or collapse. I dont believe tho that the imperial age (yea you guys have your own era) is coming to a end (actually I think its just beginning, you just found out how OP you are).

    The Roman and Mongolian empires lasted thousands of years. EVE is a game, but goons just got the empire equation right and they are going to stick around for a while. Literally the only thing that could kill the imperium would be a civil war, which I dont see happening with the current morale.

    If CCP could add fun PVE content, that actually puts player groups at risk, then that would add more non wiping content.

    Good job goons, you just won EVE.

    October 1, 2018 at 3:16 pm
    • Rob Bobbie General Thade

      They don’t want to kill the game, just YOUR game. Like any good parasite though, they don’t understand with a dead game, they have nothing left to suck on.

      October 1, 2018 at 10:17 pm
      • Don’t blame us for killing the game: blame the game designers for completely fucking the game mechanics / balance. We’re just the group that adapted best to their new meta.

        October 2, 2018 at 2:04 am
  • Guilford Australis

    Excellent article. To borrow an analogy Carneros used yesterday on Talking in Stations, I think the Imperium would have liked to see the northern entities take advantage of the armistice to have a post-WWII-style baby boom of industry and super/titan construction – just like we’ll be doing back in Delve/Fountain. Instead, they seem intent on crippling each other, thus guaranteeing the next invasion will be even worse for them.

    It was amusing to see various northern alliances mocking The Initiative, Bastion, TNT, etc. as Goonswarm ‘pets’ during this campaign. I suspect if the northern alliances had as much respect for their own allies as Goonswarm does for the rest of the Imperium, this could have turned out less embarrassingly for them. They might have held out long enough for us to tire of the fight rather than having to cough up the ‘Danegeld’ to send us home.

    Pandemic Horde’s self-dismissal from the armistice, seemingly on grounds of moral outrage or whatever, followed by petty squabbling with GOTG, has the Imperium dreaming of more Danegeld.

    October 1, 2018 at 3:24 pm
  • phuzz

    I think more likely than CCP intervening, would be the Imperium’s leadership coming up with some way to create content for themselves. Maybe split the whole coalition into a supersized version of RvB? Maybe create drama to splinter the whole coalition into warring pieces.
    Whatever they do, it’s clear now that the rest of New Eden can’t keep the Imperium entertained, so they’re going to have to make their own entertainment.

    October 1, 2018 at 4:03 pm
    • manek phuzz

      We already do. I’ve only been a goon for under a year and I’ve never had so much content in my 9 years of playing Eve. It may only be pixels but it’s a hell of a game when it’s well-organised.

      October 5, 2018 at 5:49 pm
  • Honestly? I think CCP should wipe the servers. Let people keep their skillpoints, but nuke every structure and every player asset and send us all back to day zero in Ibises. Let the cycle begin anew.

    October 2, 2018 at 4:48 am
    • EQ1 did something similar with their progression servers. The problem is that you can’t also wipe the brains of everyone out there who already have the game and how to min/max it, worked out. It’d be a mad dash by those who have that knowledge and the willingness to play non-stop, to race ahead of everyone else.

      If CCP wanted to do that, they’d be better off creating a separate server like the makers of EQ did where skill points *were* wiped. They’d need to get rid of injectors too. Those were a mistake anyway. Then we could relive the days when having 30M skill points and the ability to fly a battleship with T2 guns and do it well reigned supreme.

      October 7, 2018 at 12:02 pm
  • stuart hyatt

    so mostly goons are going to attack a starter corp have fun playing the game alone as you will drive lots out of the game.

    October 2, 2018 at 6:05 am
    • Rammel Kas stuart hyatt

      TIP: PL did it first btw. And that’s where PH actually came from.

      October 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm
    • George Ewing stuart hyatt

      where do you even come up with this idea? nowhere in this article does it say anything remotely like that.

      October 2, 2018 at 12:55 pm
    • General Thade stuart hyatt

      PH basically trashed Brave and EVE Uni and they merged

      October 2, 2018 at 3:31 pm
  • PEND. Total Newbie

    CCP Intervening into the conflicts and the ability to project force is what has essentially killed the game. Every time they nerf something grrr goons is good at, it exponentially hurts everyone else more. When non-playing devs start to interfere in the sandbox reality it is far worse for the game than natural attrition and diplomacy keep it viable. Gobbins’ actions (Although it remains to be seen) will essentially Kill the nothern coalitions, and hopefully the fallout will spring forth new leaders, young leaders, who can rally a worthy adversary.

    October 2, 2018 at 7:27 pm
  • Bill

    This article is pretty funny in a sad kind of way. What this war exposed is that Eve is essentially over as a competitive game. Goons couldn’t crush their long time adversaries, and managed to avoid being crushed themselves, but in the meantime their long time rivals simply lost interest and left. Careers, families, or other, newer games will do that after a decade unless your identity is so wrapped up in this game and your power and prestige in it that you just can’t see that it’s over.

    This is bad news for CCP and their new owners. The thing that has kept the game alive for so long was that long simmering feud, or at least the appearance of it. At the end of the day Goons are left sitting atop a dead game, simply because they cared more about it, and outlasted everyone else. This war just exposed the fact that it’s dead.

    That’ll be a pretty strong down-draft on plex sales. Subs too, most likely. Who wants to pay money to succeed at a dead game? If plex sales start to fade, so will the ability of the hard-core lifers to plex their many accounts. They’ll either have to start paying, or give some of them up.

    Congrats Goons, you are the last superpower standing. Do us a favor and turn the lights out when you leave.

    October 6, 2018 at 9:26 pm
    • Amiral Degrace Bill

      EVE is dead… I think we heard this before…

      October 7, 2018 at 10:14 am
      • The “end game” if you can call the null-sov game the “end game” is objectively dead. There is no “top tier” anymore, clearly. Just a top dog. They didn’t beat everyone else, they just out-lasted everyone else.

        i fault the introduction of extractors/injectors as much as anything else. If you’re willing to grind the isk, it’s possible now to create as many super/titan pilots as you want.

        Call me cynical, but I think that in introducing them, CCP knew they were probably shortening the game’s lifespan to extract more cash flow in the short run. It’s the kind of thing that you want to do if your goal is to sell the company and cash out.

        October 7, 2018 at 12:54 pm
        • George Ewing Bill

          which they haven’t done and based on the recent sale to pearl won’t be doing……. try again…

          October 8, 2018 at 1:33 am
    • George Ewing Bill

      lololol…… eve dead….that’s what we tell newbies…… how bout you get serious?

      October 8, 2018 at 1:32 am
  • Amiral Degrace

    Nice to see Goonswarm are back as the ruling force of EVE. Imperium leadership are wise and wisdom people who have superior interest of the game at hearth. I know they will not abuse of their power. They may want to ruin your game, but they want the game to live long and prosper 😉

    October 8, 2018 at 9:21 pm
  • Hrvoje Perun

    Imperium is too big for the game and you know it. Serenity is here

    October 10, 2018 at 6:59 am