Header Art by Redline XIII
Ten years ago last week Band of Brothers, the original superpower in EVE Online, lost all their systems in a single night, and then disbanded the alliance. The following weeks saw Band of Brothers (BoB) dissolve into a few minor corporations, all of them now forgotten, while attempting to regroup in an NPC station in a dusty corner of BoB’s former empire. The collapsing alliance’s many enemies destroyed structures and holdings as BoB’s leaders, shocked by sudden exposure to meta-game deceit, struggled to come to terms with the defeat they had boasted they would never need to face. It was EVE’s first loss of a major alliance. Ten years later, the community still wonders whether Band of Brothers could have avoided this miserable end.
Beginnings: EVE’s First Great Powers
Band of Brothers formed shortly after EVE passed from Beta to open access, in 2004. The original alliance was anchored by three corporations with small gang PVP roots – Reikoku, Black Nova, and Evolution. The CEO of Evolution was SirMolle, who emerged as leader of the BoB alliance after its formation. One of BoB’s first campaigns pitted the alliance against another powerful entity, Ascendant Frontier, whose leader Cyvvok owned the first and – at that time – only titan in the game. BoB destroyed the titan while its owner was offline and ultimately crushed the entire alliance. This firmly established BoB as king of the hill in EVE’s formative years.
BoB consolidated support through alliances and feudalistic relationships with lesser powers over the next several years, during which its arch-rivals Red Alliance and Goonswarm entered the game and began to rise in opposition to BoB. The allies, collectively called the RedSwarm Federation, or RedSwarm for short, were an odd couple. Red Alliance had earned the reputation of a ferocious defender of its own territory by fending off a massive force attacking the only system it controlled at the time in a battle remembered as the Siege of C-J6MT. Goonswarm, on the other hand, sought no such glory and in fact ridiculed the seriousness of other alliances by “swarming” them with massive fleets of disposable ships in an effort to negate the effectiveness of the game’s complex mechanics. Furthermore, Goonswarm had disbanded and reformed several times in its early years, leading the great powers of EVE to assume the alliance was unstable and inconsequential. As a result, BoB ignored Goonswarm and barely paid attention to the beleaguered Red Alliance. This inattentiveness would cost BoB everything, in time.
Band of Developers
By 2007, RedSwarm had spent two years chipping away at BoB’s territory in the southeast and had pressured BoB to consolidate into the original “Fortress Delve” – a heavily reinforced single region in the southwestern part of nullsec. Facing threats on all fronts and struggling to hold off encroaching alliances on its northern borders, BoB hired mercenaries to hold the front while BoB focused on RedSwarm to the east. As BoB’s problems multiplied, a game developer was exposed passing off unique item blueprints to BoB, which the developer had joined with an in-game character. The resulting “Band of Developers” scandal tainted game developer CCP’s reputation and solidified opposition to Band of Brothers among the game’s alliances, who assumed BoB had cheated their way to the top. Opposition to BoB reached its apex following the scandal.
The Forever War and The Mittani
The next two years witnessed daily hostility against BoB by virtually every alliance in EVE. However, BoB could not be displaced from Delve owing to the hugely defensible geography of the region and the sovereignty mechanics of the time, which allowed BoB to fortify its stations with massive banks of defensive weaponry and place multiple jump bridges in each system to allow its members to travel across the region nearly instantaneously. BoB managed to gain control of the region to the immediate south, Period Basis, but their enemies failed to make inroads into any of BoB’s territories. The tide began to turn against BoB when their mercenary allies went renegade and claimed Period Basis for their own territory, forcing BoB into a standoff against enemies on all sides.
During this time, a BoB director named Haargoth Agamar placed a spy alt in Goonswarm in hopes of gaining valuable intelligence against BoB’s most tenacious enemy. However, over the months that followed, Agamar realized that he actually liked Goonswarm and came to resent the elitism and cheating for which his own alliance was known. Rather than turning over intelligence to BoB, Agamar turned double-agent and worked with Goonswarm’s then-spymaster and future leader, The Mittani, to undercut his own alliance. Agamar realized that at some point BoB had granted him the highest alliance-level roles to allow him authority over the alliance’s finances, which corporations were members of the alliance, and the standings of those corporations. These privileges would allow Agamar and The Mittani to ruin BoB in a single strike.
On February 5, 2009, Agamar logged in to destroy Band of Brothers. He seized all money and resources owned by BoB (leaving the now-legendary note “The Mittani sends his regards”), then kicked all corporations from the alliance. The next step was purely ceremonial: Agamar set the standings to all former members of BoB to -10.0. It was ultimately meaningless, though, because Agamar disbanded the alliance next, which instantly removed all of BoB’s sovereignty in Delve. The alliance no longer controlled any systems and thus could not utilize any jump bridges. Even worse, Agamar did all of this while BoB’s mostly European players were asleep, preventing them from organizing a hasty defense or evacuation of the region. Finally, Agamar raised a symbolic middle finger to his old alliance by creating a corporation named Band of Brothers, which The Mittani accepted into the Goonswarm alliance, to prevent former members from regrouping under the familiar name.
By the time alliance leaders awakened, RedSwarm was at the gates of Delve. Now allied with a young but aggressive alliance called Pandemic Legion, RedSwarm Federation commenced a campaign of destruction across Delve. All of BoB’s former stations, jump bridges, and other assets were destroyed by roving fleets that included titans, dreadnoughts, and assorted subcapital ships from many different alliances. As the dust settled, the former enemies of BoB parted ways and pursued their own goals. They had killed a giant.
Band of Brothers evacuated its few remaining members and capital ships to an NPC station in PR-8CA on the outskirts of Delve. Goonswarm and Pandemic Legion then ‘hellcamped’ the station for weeks to prevent any removal of resources. Eventually, the remnants of BoB reformed under the name KenZoku, but even this feeble gesture fell apart as members quit the game or left for other alliances. Only a few months later, on June 16, 2009, KenZoku relinquished all claims to territory in EVE Online, and the final remnant of Band of Brothers disbanded permanently.
“There are no Goons.” – SirMolle, July 27, 2006, following an early eviction of Goonswarm from its territory in Cloud Ring. SirMolle’s judgment would prove to be premature.
“Today we destroyed Band of Brothers.” – The Mittani, February 5, 2009, upon the successful execution of Haargoth Agamar’s plan of betrayal.