Recently, three PAPI leaders made statements regarding the next phase in the PAPI war effort. The crux of their comments can be summed up with the phrase “PAPI doesn’t plan to use supers when attacking 1DQ.” Gobbins, the leader of Pandemic Horde (PH) noted that the many PAPI pilots would be “disappointed” at the news. The hope of a massive, record-setting battle, like M2, was effectively taken off the table.
Diehard PAPI members, like INN writer and editor Seir Luciel, insisted that Gobbins left the door open for titans to be used, noting that he got into the game because of the Battle of B-R5RB: “Now [PAPI has] a shot at a Titan battle to end all Titan battles: I’m only human.” The sentiment here clearly shows that yes, some PAPI members are disappointed that a titan-fest is unlikely. And part of the “disappointment” is that the announcement doesn’t meet the expectations we’ve been hearing for month after month. We’ve heard from so many PAPI people, claiming they are “all in” on this fight. But these Reddit and talk-show moments of braggadocio sound hollow when they bump against the actual leadership strategy we heard from Gobbins, Dinkle, and Progodlegend (PGL).
Let’s analyze the “why” of the strategy, rather than the “what.” We know what PAPI plan to do – hope that Goons stop showing up for pings, so that, eventually, PAPI will be able to take advantage of their massive disparity in numbers, and will be able to, with subcaps, destroy the IHub and then plant a structure and begin the month-long/year-long grind of taking out all the structures in 1DQ. So, why try to take the strongest defensive stronghold EVE Online has ever seen with subcaps? Here are some possible reasons.
It Can Be Done That Way
Reason 1: It can theoretically be done. The Imperium has destroyed four Keepstars in FWST-8, in this very war. Goons have provided the blueprint for attacking a defended Keepstar: send wave after wave of expendable ships, get close enough to the target to create DPS, and then turn around and hope not to get exploded on the round trip. Rinse and repeat until you are exploded (which is virtually inevitable) and then reship, rinse, and repeat. For each Keepstar, Goons spent about 800B-1.5Tril ISK. As long as you can replace the ships, and are willing to accept the cost in ISK lost, this technique works. Of course, on the fifth Keepstar, Goons faced the bubble-wrapped KS, which in turn has skewed the meta. So, killing a KS with subcaps can be done, even when heavily defended, and while costly, it may be less costly than the alternative.
It’s Relatively Inexpensive
Reason 2: The Iron Price. Due to changes with scarcity and more recently with industry, the price of certain ships has skyrocketed. Supers will be very expensive and time-consuming to produce. But supers are also game-changers, and have been since they were first introduced into the game. The alliance that has more supercaps than another, all other things being equal, often has an advantage. Therefore, no alliance wants to be without capital ships. Further, the losses that some alliances suffered during the M2-XFE debacle still have not been replaced by SRP, meaning these alliances are still suffering the effects from M2- and also suffering from the fear that another such loss could take them right out of contention as a game powerhouse. Post M2-, all groups now think twice before being willing to lose capital ships. Hence, the decision to assault 1DQ with subcaps.
It Anticipates the Next War
Reason 3: Some PAPI members are fighting the next war. No alliance wants to win WWB while simultaneously making it certain they will lose the next large conflict. In American football, if in the 4th quarter you have a huge advantage or a huge disadvantage, teams pull their best players. They can’t sacrifice future wins just to assure themselves of a win that is already virtually assured. In the M2- debacle, some alliances lost more titans than others. Fraternity lost none, because they were very conveniently away from the battle. It’s only natural, then, that each alliance must look to their own best interest while still trying to win WWB. Gobbins does not want to risk his titans if he thereby may lose more of them than TEST and WinterCo. This concern is particularly true knowing that TEST has a history of nullifying NIPs, so that even if TEST has signed an agreement to not invade Panfam space post-WWB, the only real deterrent to such potential future aggression lies in the power of one’s fleet.
These reasons aren’t mutually exclusive and all could be in play simultaneously. So, strategically, it makes sense for the Big Three in PAPI to be risk averse. For PH, they have almost nothing to gain from engaging in what could be a slaughterfest in 1DQ. Yes, they want revenge for the 40 GOTG fortizars, but are they really willing to go “all in” to achieve that goal, which is really based on pride rather than strategy? Would they risk losing 40 titans to kill 40 fortizars? Would they risk 400 titans? Similarly, Legacy has alliances that are teetering on the edge. Only a few months ago, we discovered, through the Brave leaks, that Brave leadership showed frustration at the length and expense of the war and they were having trouble coming up with the funds for SRP.
Fraternity, having lost no titans in M2-, would love to see TEST or especially AoM lose titans in 1DQ. They are relatively much stronger now vis-à-vis TEST than they were at the beginning of the war. I don’t see Noraus going “all in.” Winter Coalition has already met most of their war objectives. They’ve expanded, too, and are renting out space and producing ratting income the likes of which has rarely ever been seen. There’s no point messing with what works. Noraus also recently suggested that the PAPI coalition could last longer than most people anticipated. So, Noraus and WinterCo won’t be in any hurry to assault 1DQ when they are doing so well with the status quo right now.
“This is the Way the World Ends . . .”
And those are some of the reasons why PAPI’s war plans for 1DQ don’t include a massive titan brawl. Subsequent to those announcements, we saw WWB enter into an almost somnolent state. The most recent war updates show some of the least activity in the entire history of the war. What the hell is going on? Shouldn’t we be entering an Armageddon phase, or at least a Battle of the Bulge phase? Instead, we are seeing less destruction than if there were no war. People ratting, pre-war, produced more destruction!
PAPI line members can talk a good game about being all in, especially if they have no actual titans to lose. But their dreams are dead. They died in M2-XFE. M2- may actually have been the titan brawl to end all titan brawls – literally. We might have already experienced the costliest battle EVE ever produces. Every other event, for as long as EVE shall last, may be less impressive. And if that comes to pass, if M2- marked the apex of EVE Online, we’ll have PAPI (WWB) and CCP (scarcity and industry changes) to thank for the slide into mediocrity, or “same old same old.” For Goons are poised and ready for a titan brawl like no other, one that would dwarf the first battle of M2-XFE in the way M2- dwarfed B-R5RB.
If we aren’t going to see a titan brawl over 1DQ, to complete the longest and costliest war in EVE Online history, we may see this war end, as T. S. Eliot said, “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”