Header art by Cryo Huren
Recently Vily, the de facto co-leader of Test Alliance Please Ignore (TEST), and ProGodLegend (PGL), the other co-leader, held a State of the Alliance (SOTA) conference and it was . . . Well, you can decide how to categorize it. Here’s a transcription of the opening. The timer locations for all quotes denote the end of the passage. I know some of you out there need verifiable proof and not opinion, so feel free to listen yourself. I want you to. I have put timer locations in to help you find the appropriate lines. Note, the audio begins slightly into Vily’s speech as the opening is cut off. I have supplied the missing part from the context of what follows:
Vily: “[When we planned this war] we were taking the biggest roll of the dice that anybody had ever seen. And when you do that, it’s a pretty big leap of faith. And, one of the big components of that, that we knew it would mean, is that no matter what happened in that war, whether we won or we lost or any of that, it was gonna change how we operate, basically, forever. And when I saw that, I mean that quite literally, because from that point on there was no more . . . [shifts thought after a pause]. At the end of this war, when we started it, we knew one thing above all others. . . . When the war ended we would have either won or lost, but in either situation, Esoteria would not be our home at the end of it. If we lost, it would mean we would be losing Esoteria to Goons, and if we won, it would mean that sooner or later, we would probably have to be the ones to move into Delve and take it from Goonswarm.” 1:21
An Inconvenient Truth
I cannot stress enough the importance of the first minute of a SOTA. It sets the tone for everything that follows. Will it be upbeat and fast paced? Will it be a call to war, to rally allies? Or, will it be a lacklustre and pitiful display of bumbling, while having to admit a very inconvenient truth? Any leader knows that you only use language such as “biggest roll of the dice anyone has seen,” or “leap of faith” or “no matter what happened” with the greatest of care. Yet, these are utterances in the first few seconds. Further, this opening by Vily seems to be in stark contrast to what was being said only a few weeks ago.
After the phrases like “leap of faith,” Vily ends with the bombshell: TEST will be leaving Esoteria. Win or lose, the call has been made. Now, let’s back up a bit and lay a little groundwork for those who may be new to this conflict.
Only a short while ago, we heard from PGL in a Legacy SOTA regarding the progress in World War Bee. Now, two months on, we are treated to a TEST SOTA. Just in case you are not aware, EVE gets tricky at points. Especially when you are creating the largest “blue donut” ever seen. To add a bit of clarity here, I will try to explain how this invasion force composed of many alliances, often called PAPI, is functionally organized.
TEST is a single alliance that leads a coalition of alliances. This may sound familiar, as it is exactly the way that the Imperium is formed. But when a coalition of 40k plus characters is not enough for you to take on a similarly large and powerful enemy (the Imperium), you will do anything – even join forces with people you were fighting very recently – to find more “blues.” Hence, the mega coalition of PAPI was born. But, the leaders of The Legacy Coalition have to seek agreement with their partners for most actions taken. This group of alliance leaders (think Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at Yalta) then creates a war council. Yes, the PAPI invasion is being run by a committee. If you have any experience with committees running anything, then you will know how these scenarios often play out. It is important to note, though, that when TEST makes a statement of what it plans to do (regardless of what the other members of the committee may want), the other member alliances (such as Pandafam, Fraternity, The Army of Mango) can either do as they are told or leave. Capo di tutti i capi.
To say that Vily was light on details would be an understatement. But Vily did go on to say the following:
“We are now at the point in the war we’re [hesitates] pretty confident that we are going to win.” 1:47
Line members must have really felt like beating the war drums then, especially with that “pretty” thrown in. TEST is going to move from their home, but fortunately Vily is “pretty” confident this will all work out. He goes on to say that the move by TEST out of Esoteria would take place in “one to five/six months, whatever.” 2:04 Quite a spread there. It seems that Vily has at least widened his goal posts so far this time that, even if he fails to deliver, it is likely that everyone will have forgotten what was promised in this SOTA.
What TEST Has Always Really Wanted
Perhaps sensing the mood, PGL then speaks at length. He goes on to add “clarity” to the “plan,” though he covers very little new information except about ship doctrines changing. PGL notes that this announcement is simply TEST leadership giving the line members plenty of time to get their stuff in order to make the move into Querious, Period Basis and Delve. While this impending move may have been big news for some, this exact space grab scenario was predicted and written about on INN in September.
PGL then says:
“One of the things we’ve talked about on the FC team is that if Goons actually knew what they were doing, it’s very likely we would have lost this war trying to assault it. Trying to break into Delve and Querious.” 4:30
He then went on to declare that Delve, Period Basis and Querious were a fortress and that there is only one invasion vector. This statement is a tad odd, given that the five months of “exterminating goons from the game” centered on a “pincer maneuver” that involved the region of Fountain. PAPI completely ignored the approach that, PGL states, was always known by TEST leadership to be the main route into Delve. If he knew it, then why bother with Fountain? Oh wait! TEST didn’t bother much with Fountain. They left PandaFam to suffer a lot of losses to glass it for them while TEST engaged in some “complicated” move ops. Now, after writers at INN, including me, kept talking about the single vector, PGL notes this was the only way into Delve.
But why take over Delve, Period Basis, and Querious? PGL supplies the answer:
“Delve, Querious, and Period Basis are actually a fortress. Goons didn’t make a fortress out of it. It IS a fortress. It is exceptionally difficult to invade. There is only one invasion vector and if you defend it properly, it is almost impossible to invade. Unlike Goons, we are actually smart enough to defend it properly.” 4:53
The implication is, of course, that TEST will need a defensible space, because when this war is over, the blue donut breaks apart and turns on each other, including TEST. But TEST will have the fortress. Too bad, Pandafam; thanks for the assist. Mangos–well done; now get the hell out of here. Frat; sorry lads, stop pinging my Discord, it’s bugging me. You don’t like us taking Fortress Delve? Just try to get us out of it.
“The plan was always we were going to move into Delve and Period Basis at some point. It is better space. It is very much better space.” 4:14
What Becomes of Esoteria?
The SOTA then is mostly taken up with a series of rambling statements that seem to completely reverse what Vily has said. Vily initially said everything was coming out of Esoteria. Then, just a little later, PGL says, “Even when the war is completely over, we will still have structures in Esoteria, we will try to maintain jump bridges, etc., etc., but we want to make sure that everyone is well aware of what the plan is.” 11:38 Well, I guess we know now. Everything’s moving. No wait. Everything is staying! I got mixed up there for a second.
This really is looking like TEST leadership reacting to an ever-evolving situation that is far from within their control any more. Questions about selling citadels to the “new owners” of Esoteria were batted away swiftly with “we have interested buyers” and then no more details.
What About Goons? “Who Cares”
It would be really simple for me to just go through the notes of the TAPI SOTA and list the bits where one thing is said only to see it contradicted later on. But I am not even going to bother. PAPI was formed with the intention of “exterminating goons from the game.” That was their original goal. That is the drum that PAPI banged hard to start this war. Ever since then PAPI has been walking things back. In PGL’s own words:
“We have to finish the war with maximum effort. We have to kill every Goon structure in all three of these regions and drive them to lowsec and then sit on their face and make sure they truly understand how terrible their leadership is for putting them in this situation and start to realize that Goonswarm, is not, in its current form, a viable alliance in this game. Maybe one day in the future they’ll change and become something useful and maybe they’ll die. Who cares?” 10:09
Well, TEST, I thought you guys cared. I thought Vily cared when he talked of “extermination.” Maybe all you really cared about was taking over Delve, Period Basis, and Querious and making sure it’s you that have the fortress.
Perhaps the main thing to take away from the TEST SOTA is that Vily and PGL have yet again claimed that they can see into the future. These two generals, leading the largest blue donut ever, know exactly what they are doing. They are committing to regions when the rest of Eve is going “Hey, let’s wait and see what CCP does with the changes before we even try to adapt to them.” But PGL spent much of the end of the SOTA claiming that it will only take one battle for PAPI to lose and, if they do, it will be because the CCP servers are terrible.
Being here and writing this article now feels a little odd. Two months ago I rushed back into the game. Moved some assets about and re-fitted ships to the current doctrines. I then prepared for death or glory. Two months on and the Imperium is still here, in Delve. It would be foolish to say, even for a second, that the Imperium is out of the woods. The Imperium is still vastly outnumbered. The PAPI invasion forces also seem determined to embrace the “hell dunk or blue balls” mentality of Vily. Will this lead to good fights and the content promised to PAPI members? Or will it only encourage the Imperium to find more methods of asymmetric warfare that seem to have proven so successful in Esoteria?
A final thought. If this SOTA by TEST was all planned out and is a super good thing, then why is there so little on Reddit about it? There are a couple of posts that have just been dismissive comments. Surely, TEST and all their Legacy members moving into the lands of the people they intend to exterminate must be a good thing, right? So where are all the “victory” posts? Just listen to this TEST SOTA and draw your own conclusions.
I would love to know your thoughts in the comments. Was this a top notch SOTA worthy of winners or was it a rambling disorganized mess?