It has been a long war, hasn’t it? What started on July 5th, 2020 seems like it may go on for far longer. To put it into comparison terms, the Glassing of Tribute took one month; one month is all it took for the Imperium to burn down a region. It has taken PAPI eight months to burn three and most of one with a numerical advantage far greater than the one enjoyed by the Imperium in the Glassing of Tribute, not to mention that PAPI also is enjoying the new Cynojammer mechanics. The last constellation of O-EIMK is proving to be by far the most difficult for PAPI. So why is it a problem now?
The Sin of Numerical Superiority
N+1 is often accepted as the end-all be-all in the nullsec community. While it holds some truth that outnumbering your opponents will grant the best chance to win, it isn’t everything. There are, ironically, inherent disadvantages with outnumbering your opponent in EVE Online. Let us look at a couple, starting with complacency.
Outnumbering your opponents is better reflected in the idea of brute force. There is little to no finesse in N+1, as it simply involves smashing your opponents and giving them little room to survive or win. When this becomes your bread and butter tactic, it breeds complacency, not to mention complete humiliation when it goes horribly wrong. A prime example of this is “The Sinking of the Locusttina,” in which The Imperium, confident in its super fleet’s power, became complacent in its Rorqual mining and lost many Rorquals in a trap well executed by PanFam. Brute force is seemingly mindless, because it requires little strategy or execution by nature. But ultimately, brute force is seen as a sin by many since it doesn’t require people to fulfill their potential. What moments in video games are you most proud of? Almost certainly not those moments where you were sure to win, but rather, those moments where you won against great odds, took on the Boss fight when you really should have leveled more, but you learned techniques and tricks from such battles. Those that rely on simply smashing will likely never learn anything new – until their complacency is exploited.
A second “sin” involves participation. Most followers are more intelligent than many leaders give them credit for. When they are not really needed, most people know it. In EVE that translates into fewer bodies showing up to fight. This makes it difficult for large organizations, as they need to convince their members to show up to win. It appears, due to PAPI’s declining participation, that an ever growing number of PAPI members feel that the war is no longer worth their time and effort. But this strategy of depending on vast numbers can compound yet another problem.
The Sin of Sloth
PAPI’s pace in this war has been very slow and methodical. The core of PAPI’s strategy relies on:
- Outnumber Your Opponent in Open Space IHUB Fights
- Wait 30 days
- Online a Jammer
- Clear the System
Now, this strategy is quite telling of PAPI’s goals in this war. Note that the strategy doesn’t include the destruction of the Imperium, as many in PAPI claim, but merely the space and the structures the Imperium lives in. The problem being that the Imperium is far more than just iHubs and Keepstars. It is, at its core, a player organization just as PAPI is. At its heart are its members, which need to be broken in order to end this war. Due in part to PAPI’s slow pace, battles showing PAPI’s numerical advantage are slipping away from them, as war exhaustion appears to set in for some of its members. While the Imperium has seen its fair share of exhaustion, it does not appear to be near the scale that it is for PAPI. This indicates, at least in part, that PAPI’s slow pace appears to be costing them in bodies on the front lines at an unsustainable rate to maintain a push.
The Sin of Avoidance
As we discussed earlier, PAPI’s strategy relies on removing the space and structures that the Imperium lives in. Since the Imperium has not been able to defend Keepstars in most situations, it has not expended many mobile resources in this war. The bulk of these mobile resources lies in their supercapital fleet. With the most powerful supercapital fleet in existence in EVE Online, the Imperium’s fighting power remains largely the same. Though the supercapital fleet does not enjoy the freedom of movement it once did before the war, due to the final location of the war, this doesn’t help PAPI in the final stretch.
In the final constellation of O-EIMK, the Imperium enjoys not only less time to get to its destination, but, due to the Imperium’s Cynojammers, also enjoys the currently uncontested (at least in the O-EIMK constellation) supercapital umbrella. Had PAPI opted to grind their currently useless supercapital fleet and the Imperium’s supercapital fleets into dust in engagements similar to the first M2-XFE fight, breaking into O-EIMK would be considerably easier, even with their now only slight numerical advantage. And now, because of avoiding supercapital engagements, PAPI has to deal with fighter mechanics en masse.
The problem for PAPI lies in the binary nature of fighters. Unlike the ships that launch the fighters, fighters themselves are very small, roughly about the signature radius of a fit shield destroyer. Fighters themselves do not fare well against small ships that not only take little damage from them, but are able to track and kill fighters quite well. The problem with small ships is they mostly fare poorly in taking or holding objectives against other subcap doctrines without a very large numerical advantage. The other common option is to take anti-support ships such as rapid light missile Caracals or ships that fit a similar role. However, ultimately these ships do not trade well with fighters because of how cheap fighters are to build and are also easily countered by other subcap doctrines. I said earlier, that complacency has cost PAPI potential, but at this point in time they can no longer be complacent. I look forward to the creative strategy they come up with to deal with this problem if and when they solve it.
PAPI started this war with a monsterous numerical advantage. PAPI itself is quite the achievement. PAPI has replaced the Imperium as the largest player organization in Eve Online. But as time goes on, it appears the advantages that PAPI have enjoyed over the course of the war seem to be slipping away from them. At this inflection point, PAPI’s superfleet does them little good. As we come into what should be the final stages of the war, PAPI’s sins could result in an embarrassing loss against what should be, by what I have seen many PAPI members say, an entirely inferior foe.