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.
DISCUSSION OF THE RESULTS
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!”