One Ring to Rule Them All: A Thought Experiment Regarding EVE and Nullsec


Header art by Major Sniper

Let us perform a thought experiment together. We’ll run parallel versions of a very similar scenario, reducing the nullsec presence of major alliances by one, so the end result can be expressed specifically. That expression starts with X, and represents the number of mega-alliances in null: currently, the number of wartime coalitions = X.


Experiment I (for Imperium)

Imagine that PAPI triumphs in this current war and Goons are wiped from the nullsec map. For the moment, we won’t concern ourselves with what becomes of Goon players. For the thought experiment, it doesn’t matter. But in Experiment I, Imperium has no sov in nullsec. We can express this result as a formula: X-1; in other words, the total number of mega-alliances in null has been reduced by one.

Experiment L (for Legacy)

Imagine that WWB has ended with Goon survival (somehow) and the Imperium, bent on revenge, make good on their promise that “TEST is next.” Other Legacy groups, out of loyalty, aid TEST and the war widens so that if TEST goes down, all Legacy goes with it. Imperium wins in this thought experiment, but it doesn’t change the formula: X-1.


Regardless of which thought experiment you find most likely, we end up with the same formula, X-1. In my thought experiment, in some New Eden future, we have one fewer nullsec mega-alliances. Once we have established that equation, we have several other possible paths we can explore. Let’s call it the “The Garden of Forking Paths.”

The Path of Division

Let’s follow the first forking path. On this path, given the new status of null with X-1, the number of mega-alliances might then increase by division.  Division implies that one mega-alliance breaks into at least two groups.  They just can’t get along anymore and with the elimination of one large mega-alliance via WWB, there is plenty of space for a group to claim separate sov (possibly without even moving) and they plant a different flag on an iHub. We can create a new formula to describe this result, with the arrow representing “yields” or “results in”:  X-1 → X+1, indicating that in some future time we return to the exact same number of mega-alliances we had before the war, just without either Goons or Legacy.

The Path of Addition

In this possible scenario, we have all the major alliances remaining stable, but a newcomer enters null and establishes itself, eventually, as a major player. Maybe it will be the defeated alliance in WWB that re-establishes itself, or some other group entirely. Maybe it will be a conglomeration of corps that have been kicked to the curb in the past. We can still express this scenario with the following formula:  X-1 → X+1.

With either of these forks, nullsec ends up looking very similar to the way it did before WWB. X major nullsec alliances. In the division and addition scenarios, nullsec is like an ecosystem that always comes back to homeostasis: X would then seem to represent the perfect number of nullsec groups. No matter what extermination was done to any given group, the homeostatic ecosystem of null will come back to X.

The Path Toward Serenity

But we have another possible scenario, a very different one. In this scenario, null is not an ecosystem that will always return to stasis. It’s an evolving world where a catastrophic event can forever alter the environment and send it on a doomsday spin.

I’ll express it this way: X-1 → X-2. In this possible future, nullsec, after WWB, finds itself with X-1 mega-alliances. But rather than eventually increasing that number back up to X, it reduces the number even further, down to X-2. It could work like this. Imagine WWB is now over. Either Goons or Legacy has been wiped out and has no presence in nullsec.

But one of the remaining mega-alliances is clearly stronger than the others. For me, it’s obvious that some alliances are currently hurting more than others, have paid a higher blood price to participate in this war. Similarly, it’s obvious that some alliances have suffered far fewer setbacks. They may actually be in a stronger, more powerful situation now than they were in last July. After this war is over, that very strength makes that alliance a threat to the other remaining alliances. They clearly remember the arguments presented for WWB: “Goons are just too strong. We can’t let any one group get so powerful they dominate the game.”

The same argument comes into play, though substitute the new dominant alliance’s name in place of “Goons.” Depending on which alliance is most dominant, we can also imagine other rhetoric that might get the remaining alliances’ blood a-boiling into a suitable war-fury: “these horrible botters are bad for the game,” “this alliance has terrible leaders that lie to their line members,” etc. World War Bee has shown us that these narratives can be used to create a donut sizable enough to take on the largest power in the game. That lesson, while not new, is now really fresh on everyone’s minds.

Therefore, in this forking path, we have another WWB. Another blue donut forms to attack whichever alliance clearly dominates the game after this current war ends. It’s simple logic, yes? Kill the most powerful group and your group will have more space and more security. Nothing like a blue donut for security. So, we end up with the formula X-1 → X-2. From our current number of X mega-alliances, we reduce to X-1 and then to X-2.

But with X-2 mega-alliances left in the game, one will soon come to dominate. None of the remaining alliances will really want to attack any other one of the other alliances, for fear that both will be weakened to the point that the other, non-warring alliances will sit back and let the two dogs fight it out to the point of exhaustion.

That scenario will ultimately lead to a pre-emptive strike, with the formation of another big blue donut to strike at, and exterminate, the most dominant group. The attacking alliances will again use the exact same rationale as has been used in WWB: “That alliance is just too big, too dangerous. We can’t engage in any wars in EVE without taking them into account, and so the game has stagnated; therefore, we must attack them now because they are bad for the game.”  Some rationales will get recycled to get line members worked up, and a new blue donut will be formed to attack the strongest alliance until IT is no more.  The formula for that is: X – 2 → X – 3.

Under these circumstances, eventually the inevitable will occur, and only one mega-alliance will remain. For the good of the game, of course. We’ll have Serenity 2.0. One big blue ring to rule them all!

Some of you may find this thought experiment too simplistic, because I have presented the X-1 –> X-2 –> X-3 as a cascading inevitable catastrophe, like the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. At any time in the cascade, we could see an addition, instead of another subtraction. Perhaps. The future is not inevitable. But why, when I analyze WWB, do I keep hearing a scratchy voice, barely audible, saying “My . . . precious!”

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  • Rammel Kas

    So how long before “the_rest_of-eve.jpg” a.k.a “verite influence map” a.k.a. “the big blue doghnut” a.k.a. “PaPi” realize they are now de facto renters of the botting empires of the greater north-east co-prosperity sphere?

    March 1, 2021 at 9:00 AM
  • Caleb Ayrania

    I believe this article has been written almost around every big war in EVE history. +1 for maths though. 🙂

    March 1, 2021 at 11:02 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    I think the only realistic outcome from WWB is that no one is eliminated, but everyone is weakened.

    PanFam’s Reddit mouth-breathers insist they’re having the time of their lives and would gladly sacrifice their entire supercapital armada on behalf of PGL and Vily so that TEST can control half of the nullsec map. Let’s assume they’re telling the truth and that their line members are good with living right on top of Goons in Delve for the next three or four years while they throw away 100+ titans on every armor and hull timer for each of the 40 remaining Keepstars in Delve. They go home with no strategic gains and no titans, but that’s okay because they had So Much Fun serving as PGL’s designated bootlickers.

    Goons aren’t going anywhere unless PAPI kills all our Keepstars and commits to camping us permanently in NPC Delve. That ain’t happening.

    TEST, like Goons, has rebounded from past setbacks that were predicted to be the end of their alliance and coalition. They’re not going away either even if they are “next” on The Imperium’s list of backstabbing shitstains in need of instruction about the wages of sin.

    No one’s going anywhere. PAPI’s grand coalition of 150,000 members – assembled to stop the bad, bad, terrible phenomenon of a 50,000 member coalition being too big – will continue to declare Total Reddit Victory over each Fortizar they kill, while failing to displace their enemies.

    The sov map might end up changing in nullsec, but the overall balance of power won’t.

    March 1, 2021 at 2:13 PM
    • I’m not convinced that EVERY group will be weakened. One group, FRT, that started in PAPI has done very well for themselves, primarily by getting away from the front, by losing zero titans in M2, and by securing larger areas to rent. So, your prediction, with that exception, might be very accurate.

      March 1, 2021 at 8:14 PM
      • Guilford Australis Gray Doc

        That’s a good point. We could also observe that some groups (like Brave) will suffer more than the huge alliances owing to their size, role in the war, capabilities, and finances.

        I think you’re right that FRT was wise to moonwalk out of this mess. I thought Brave was smart for doing the same until the leaked chatlogs revealed their military director reversed course on that and decided to screw their line members by sacrificing the homeland to fight on behalf of Piggles and Vily in Delve.

        March 1, 2021 at 11:53 PM
    • Those numbers you are presenting remind me of the bold titles on Polygon, MMORPG and the likes. Having 50k or 150k members means literally fuck all as server top online in last 13 years was around 40k players tops. From which, i would guess, is about 20-25k in nullsec and i seriously doubt that my guess is even remotely accurate and not everyone in nullsec is involved in this lulzwar, that fact makes it even less on both sides.

      Test will remain in Delve, just for the sake of two egos, they are strange bunch, thats what i think anyway, and since CCP doesnt have the resources to provide stable enviroment for fights of the – in this case – required size, it may as well end up with some temporary truce of some sort between Test and Goons as PanFam, believe it or not, doesnt give a fuck.

      I will refrain from commenting on your poor attemps to dive into PanFams loyality and purpose on battlefield having in fresh memory Mittani’s ass climbing “PanFam, you burned all our assets, please leave” from few months ago in his very own MetaShow.

      Every goon, and iam talking real goon, not INIT, not Razor (LOL), nor Bastn, deeply in their mind knew this shitstorm will eventually happen at some point and they welcome it as well as people on our side (PanFam), cant speak for Test and the others due to lack of friends to ask there.

      People tend to overthink and overanalyze..

      March 3, 2021 at 11:34 AM
  • kwnyupstate .

    PAPI still can’t SRP all the losses from M-2 months after it happened because titan/super prices continue to increase so they can’t afford the big battle that would happen if they finally assaulted 1DQ.
    There is no way they will assault 1DQ and take the inevitable gigantic titan/super losses which would result.

    March 1, 2021 at 5:43 PM
  • Simon Chui

    We still don’t really know what CCP wants to do with scarcity. It’s possible they plan to make nullsec empires economically unsustainable, and the current war is only accelerating the decline. Imagine if, after a few more titan brawls, Snuffed Out becomes the group with the most remaining titans. The hold a bit of null sov to do whatever can only be done in null, but their wealth flows from lowsec mining. Maybe that’s what CCP wants.

    March 2, 2021 at 12:11 AM
  • run the 1DQ assault so we can see what that looks like

    March 2, 2021 at 7:25 AM