Header art by Cryo Huren
Politics can be a fickle thing in Eve Online. Corporations cooperate to form alliances. Alliances cooperate to form coalitions or blocs. Heck, sometimes coalitions cooperate to form mega coalitions such as PAPI. Tens of thousands of individual players cooperating on one sever is what makes Eve Online possible. But how do they do it? How do these organizations interact with one another? They learn the subtle art of the deal.
The Great War: Diplomacy Reshapes New Eden
Let’s look at the Great War of 2006 as an example of diplomacy in action. At that time nullsec was split into three major blocs. Band Of Brothers (BoB) controlled seven regions in the west and south and was allied with Lotka Volterra, which controlled four regions in the south. RedSwarm Federation controlled the southeast, and Northern Coalition controlled the north. Each group has its own ambitions, history, and way of doing things.
On paper the political situation was very stable. These large blocs kept each other in check. They had diplomats, economies, and governing bodies structured like real-world countries. But, as I’ve mentioned in past articles, war is exciting. A big chunk of the EVE community craves PvP content to keep themselves interested, or we would all quit. Therefore, the stability in null had to end and content had to be created.
As Remedial, a former Goonswarm leader, states in one of the first “State of the Goonion” addresses, “All good things must come to an end.” Some real-world shenanigans turned the community against BoB. The group’s rhetoric and play style was aggressive enough to make them a lot of enemies, but the actions of individual players, with a specific agenda, were about to push the situation over the edge. This was enough to get RedSwarm and Northern Coalition into an alliance, two groups that had disliked each other and likely would never have cooperated. In their shared concerns regarding BoB, they made a deal. The day before one of the major battles of the war SirMolle, the leader of BoB, posted the following. “Whatever goes down, it will be written into history.” And all because of deals struck or deals rejected.
The resulting war reshaped New Eden, utterly changed BoB, and established Goonswarm as a new superpower.
Diplomacy Strikes Again in the Casino War
Let us fast forward to 2015. Goonswarm, formerly the CFC, had evolved into the Imperium. It was a massive coalition controlling the richest regions of the game. Anyone who called for war with them was laughed out of the room. According to some, the game was stagnating. Therefore, there were more real-world shenanigans by individual players and they turned the community against the Imperium. A big business at the time was the running of in-game player casinos that dealt in ISK, a practice which has since been banned from the game. “Casino Barons” had ridiculous amounts of ISK on hand at any given time, more than they knew what to do with. They started funding mercenary groups which normally would not have had the in-game resources to take on the Imperium. Therefore, the casino money people plus the mercs made a deal. These groups formed a mega-coalition and were given over seven trillion in ISK, calling themselves the Money Badger Coalition (quite aptly named), and went to war with the Imperium.
According to Seraph IX Basarab, “By March, heavier and larger alliances such as Pandemic Legion, NCdot, and TEST had more or less committed to the ideal of fighting the Imperium head-on.” Many of the other major alliances in the game joined in, and once again, the actions and cooperation of individual players had reshaped the economic and political landscape of New Eden. And once again it started with deals getting done.
WWB: The Blue Donut Gets Formed
Let’s look at the current war that started last year. The Imperium had resettled in Fountain and Delve and regained, or even exceeded, its former strength. Once again, the game had three or four major power blocs controlling various regions of the map. TEST and the Imperium had a long standing non-invasion pact (NIP). For the most part, they had agreed to respect each other’s boarders and not go to war. That move, in itself, is quite a triumph for diplomacy, for TEST had been members of the Money Badger Coalition which had ousted Goons from the north.
In 2020, a former Imperium fleet commander, Vily, who felt he had been slighted four years earlier by Imperium leadership, had gone on to rise through the ranks of TEST and managed to convince the other blocs to form a mega-coalition and invade Goonswarm. These groups deal in order to “exterminate,” or break up, or deplete, the Imperium. “When I came back,” Vily stated in a Polygon article, “they were like, ‘No, we don’t really need you anymore.’ So I said, ‘All right. If you’re going to ignore the contributions I’ve made over these four or five years, I’ll go do something else somewhere else. And I’ll enjoy tearing you down, if that’s the game you want to play.’”
This real politique that exists in Eve Online was not put there by developers. Individual players and player groups, and how they interact with one another, have allowed this game to survive for 18 years. So, pilots never have to feel like they are isolation. They can be a large or a small part of one of these organizations. People, not empires, have forged the long colorful history of this game. Goonswarm has a saying, “Find your F2.” Find the thing in this game that keeps you engaged, and if you have the ambition you can achieve anything. You might even want to become a diplomat and shape the EVE of the future.