Header Art by Major Sniper
The morale of the line members has generally been attributed as the key factor to the recent change of the war’s direction. The morale of the troops and their willingness to fight day after day has allowed the Goonswarm Federation to last that one day longer than the bad guys.
To quote Noraus (leader of the large Fraternity Alliance) from his reddit post on August 5:
“As it turns out, the Imperium are not like a collation (sic) we have faced before. They have been stockpiling supplies for a decade, and their morale is unbreakable.”https://i.imgur.com/lsWAUd2.jpg
High praise from our retreating enemy and highly accurate with regards to the goon morale. I may be biased, but I think much of that boils down to three key fronts in the morale war.
The Honesty Front
My morale-war analysis looks at the differences in the methods and attitudes of the various players, starting with the honesty of the organizational leaders. Leadership sets the tone and establishes the organization’s norms and values.
The Leaders to Each Other
The war showed the leadership of both organizations shouting across the no-man’s land of the T5Z gate and from the walls of 1DQ. Middle school bantering and name calling to goad the enemy into a mistake, and pointing out inconsistencies between words and deeds to shame and enemy into action. This tactic was effective for two reasons. First, the line members took inspiration from their leaders. Second, there were some mistakes made based on reaction to the name-calling.
I may be showing bias, but I don’t think many would dispute that the Imperium cleaned the clocks of PAPI when it comes to the cross-talk. When comparing the wrestling heel persona of The Mittani to the way that the Council of Wardens called out Mr. Mittens for his name calling – it speaks for itself.
The Leaders to the Troops
Next there were the leaders who spoke directly to their troops and impacting morale. There are rousing Churchillian (I’ll be damned that’s a real word) firesides every week. Or in the townhall, erm, state of the union, umm, townhalls of our enemies. This direct messaging to the troops played a critical part of keeping the mission clear in everyone’s hearts and minds.
A clean sweep for the Imperium. From the very outset of the war, the PAPI messaging has been scattered at best. If the problem were only the inability to be consistent in messaging, that could be forgiven, epecially across so many organizations, and considering the egos at play. But the execution and production values were also poor, and became an object of ridicule and parody themselves.
In recent days, a few of the PAPI leaders have stepped up and spoken honestly about the war. Dunk Dinkle has spoken to BRAVE about the state of PAPI, the war, and the grim prospects of the future. Dunk received high marks on Reddit by his direct tone and sticking to the facts. Unsurprisingly, those who still cling to the idea of PAPI have turned on Dunk, primarily for not supporting the idea that PAPI is doing just fine on their route from Delve.
Maybe if PAPI leadership had been more direct about the war and events, they might have had less burnout. Never underestimate the willingness of people to face difficulty and rise above the challenge. Line members suddenly realized they were being lied to, and morale tanked. The lies cost more than they were worth.
The Leaders to the World
Battles also waged between the various talk shows available to the EVE Online community. Like the USO of old, these periodic shows became a key clearing house of news, propaganda, and entertainment. The Meta Show provides all three of those to the troops of the Imperium, week after week.
I spoke to Brisc Rubal about what makes the Meta Show so effective as a messaging platform.:
“The Meta Show is the premiere EVE talk show, and we have gotten to that point because we put on a solid show that people want to watch. We do our best to provide entertainment, news, and the best analysis you can get from some of the smartest and most interesting guests you’ll find in New Eden. We put a lot of effort into our production values and it shows. We know there are lot of choices for shows to watch out there and we do our best to be as truthful, interesting and funny as we can every week.”Brisc Rubal, Co-host of The Meta Show
I also spoke with Redline XIII about his feelings and the importance of talk shows on the war. When asked about what made his show stand out, he provided the following:
Our strength is that we do not take bribes from blocs or alliances and, under the same principles, do not represent any particular group. Instead, we represent the whole of New Eden (or whoever wants to have a voice at the time). This makes our show different from every other show because you don’t have to be an alliance leader or executive, a big name FC or even someone who’s played the game for a long time, to have a voice (as long as you’re not an idiot).Redline XIII, Host of Trash Talk Tuesday
The Streaming Front
In the past, entertaining fleets was often a tricky proposition – full of dangerous click-bait in fleet chat. Fleets featured clips of videos, funny pictures, and good links. But beware, those good clips are hidden within a swarm of horrible links to 4-chan and worse. Summer children will never have to debate clicking that link, in fear of waffles or lemons. Today’s fleet entertainment has been much improved by the intervention of the Twitch platform.
Modern fleets have sumo fights with Asher, or Bob Ross for the happy tree enthusiasts, and everything in between. For the war, the streams are best represented by two mascots. Mind1 for the Imperium and RonUSMC for PAPI. Both of these streamers made no bones about their affiliation. These streams became a major part of fleet fights in particular. Ron offeredperspective and opinions from the PAPI perspective, while Mind1 would focus on DJing tunes for the fleet.
The Top PAPI Streamer
Depending on your affiliation, your bias will likely carry over. The PAPI side, at least up to M2-XFE, were supported by Ron’s stream. His commentary became the song of his people and set the reddit messaging. However, Imperium propogandists often made a special effort to lampoon Ron’s stream. Several hot takes became the focus of songs through the course of the war. Even yours truly took a few shots at him, going so far as to make a special bee based on his accounts from the fights to put down a Keepstar in NPC Delve. Welcome to EVE, Golden-Bee-Trievers.
All good things must end. After Ron lost his titan at M2-, and his SRP was denied, he publicly turned on PAPI leadership. Several hot takes for songs ensued and he stopped streaming Eve completely. Ceding the ground entirely to Mind1. Ron has since then spent the last several months streaming anything but EVE (and anywhere but Delve). However, he recently shifted to re-streaming the early PAPI victories, while PAPI retreats to the Dronelands.
Direct from the Battle-Bard
I reached out the Mind1 for his thoughts on the war and how the leadership has cited him as a key part of the victory.
It may sound silly but I am very proud to be the Battle Bard. I honestly just love DJing and being able to make tidi fights a little less boring. I am just glad that I could be of some sort of help in the best way I know how. Its hard for me to realize the impact it has had as I just see myself as a nerd who like to DJ and shoot space ships.
Having a dedicated and talented personality has been a massive boon to the team. On more than one occasion the Imperium has had cameos from celebrities like Kenny G, and Napoleon Dynamite. So, I asked Mind1 if he was specifically approached to be the battle bard for these fleets.
It kind of just ended up that way. I had DJ’d a couple of fights leading up to the war and then the SOTG was scheduled to kick off the war. So I planned a pre-war kick-off set and played before the announcement and then played for another 10 hours afterwords (siq).
The streamers were the most visible part of the morale war. That goes without saying. But in a lot of ways, this front of the war had all the subtlety of a nightclub base-line; open to everyone, with line members yelling directly. So basically local chat, but with good music.
The Reddit Wars
Now to the less obvious front of the war, full of misdirection, lies, and memes. On to the Reddit War.
I have brought up the fact that the Imperium has been willing to pay for talent and to get specific results. I now have to start on the war for Reddit. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been an active participant on this front, and been part of the assault on Dreddit’s home turf of r/Eve.
For the few people who don’t know, TEST in general (and Dreddit in particular) have viewed the r/Eve subreddit as their home, in much the same way as the Goons of old viewed somethingawful.com as their home. Setting Goons to attack r/Eve was truly an attack at the heart of TEST players, and thus, Redditswarm was born.
Reportedly, Redditswarm’s purpose is specifically to post content to r/Eve, undermining the morale and solidarity of the messaging for the PAPI coalition. The SIG would, over the course of several months, go on to post many counte- narratives.
The leader of the Ministry of Truth, Cryo_Huren, began issuing pings to the Redditswarm. By all appearances, these pings were intended to go to the members of this new sig, but were accidently issued to all.
After this first set of orders to spin up sock puppet accounts, the war on Reddit became much more active. Known goon posters started making direct reference to the Redditswarm, but the PAPI posters really latched on, to spread the narrative.
PLEX for Posts
Since we have already established that Goons are happy to pay for the time of their members, it is only natural that Redditswarm would pay top posters for their time, effort, and memes.
The concept of plex for posts truly incensed the r/Eve natives. Following a series of posts from goons and defectors alike, Redditswarm became the focal point of conspiracy theories for a number of days and weeks. The salt markets crashed due to excess supply. This reached a peak when noted defector and high volume r/Eve poster Dr Mibbles, showed this gem to everyone.
This is clear evidence that the plex for posting scheme was paying out real dividends. Most of these comments were fairly tongue-in-cheek, but a detailed read of the more than 200 comments show that some people were truly angry. So much so that Reddit moderation was soon making its own drama to try and control things, implementing changes to when memes could be created or posted, and seemingly endless cries of biased moderation abounded.
Meanwhile, Redditswarm became so successful they needed more tools to keep track of their pay outs.
Overall, Redditswarm won the war of Reddit. Salt-mining was off the charts for months. Goon fighters paid billions and billions. Moderation changes and cultural angst. Perhaps the most surprising outcome to the entire war has been the success of Redditswarm, on what is arguably the home field of TEST and PAPI.
The Truth From the Top
I will freely admit, I thought Redditswarm was a meme (partly because I figured I would be invited and get some of that plex-4-posts isk). But, I was never completely sure, so I asked Cryo – just how much was true, and how much wasn’t. In true Goon fashion, he responded with the receipts.
You heard it here first. We at INN can fully confirm that redditswarm was a meme all along. Six months of ship-posts and bad posting was all because of a meme, and according to Cryo, it was only supposed to be a fortnightly joke ping.
It was a meme that got out of controlCryo Huren, Director of Ministry of Truth
The Redditswarm became not only self-propagating (self-propagating propaganda: patent pending), but one step short of self-aware. In large part, the success of Redditswarm was dependent on the dissonance of the PAPI posters. Their willingness to believe the worst possible aspects of Goons enabled them to believe that anything was possible. It only made sense that everything was posted to Reddit was all spin, and they could only be getting paid to create all the fighting. They didn’t really believe what their leaders were telling them, so why would the Goons believe their leaders? Everyone always lies, right?
The Redditswarm was the source of all that is evil in r/Eve, just ask them. Of course it was. No one would dare come into someone else’s home and smear ship-posts on the walls, right? That’s completely uncivilized, and who would dare invade another organization’s home, hell-bent on causing trouble?
Wrapping Things Up
It is my opinion that the war did come down to a question of morale, and the good guys won that war. Seir Luciel penned a substantial op-ed where he posits that the line members of Papi lost the war for their leaders. Gray Doc, Seir Luciel’s father, then penned his own rebuttal, suggesting that it was the leadership’s fault for not providing anything to hang line member faith on.
Regardless of which author you believe, both of them underscore the fact that it was butts-in-seats that broke the stalemate. In one case, it was a question of the effectiveness of the leaders’ messaging that made the difference. In the other, victory belongs to the streamers and the esprit-de-corps that came about from the battle-bard or the #1 New World streamer.
I offer that it is a combination off all these components. The leadership messaging for the Imperium has been solid and consistent. We knew it would be hard; we knew it would take time. We knew it would come down to being ready and willing to sit in our chairs for one day longer than the forces of PAPI.
The streams made it those Ti-Di battles fun. They provided the theme songs for the defense, and the lyrics for the parody songs as well. The streamers set the tone, and amplified the varied themes of our line members. In any number of cases, Goons were having fun, while PAPI members were playing anything but EVE and playing anywhere but Delve.
But I feel that it was the victory on Reddit that really made the difference. For proof, I point to the best poster of the war on the PAPI side – one MarcusMurphy. Say what you will, Marcus is a good poster, and can form a coherent argument to support his thoughts and beliefs. Over the course of the war, the dawning realization – both in Eve and on Reddit – was reflected in his posting. His slow realization that the leadership was using the line members could be a study in itself.
Suffice to say, hail to the Imperium for realizing the importance of honesty, and for setting the tones that lead to victory. Praise to the god-emperor of Delve for his consistent messaging, and for his wrestling heel.
Finally, praise to the good posters of Redditswarm and the Ministry of Truth, for facing the hellscape of Reddit. You made sacrifices so that most line members didn’t have to.