Header and inset art by Cryo Huren
World War Bee continues to rage on with the PAPI forces of 150 thousand players looking to “exterminate” the Imperium forces of 50 thousand. This entire conflict has been recorded in great detail by INN. But, to put the very recent events of the war into perspective and to bring you up to speed, here are some of the major highlights of the war.
The Road To Delve
Six months ago PAPI forces began planning war against the Imperium. Their intent: nothing less than the removal of all Imperium players from EVE Online.
Initially PAPI forces were split into two (note the two theaters of operation in week three of the war, for example). They planned on a grand “pincer manoeuvre.” PandaFam would strike through the region of Fountain, eliminating a potential escape route for the Imperium. Simultaneously, the combined forces of The Legacy would push in from the south, clearing the regions of Period Basis and Querious.
PandaFam had obvious success in Fountain, attacking primarily against Inititative forces and structures. Initiative (a member alliance in Imperium) fought very well against massive odds, but the fate of Fountain was sealed as soon as PandaFam pressed forward in such large numbers. The Legacy, however, was having considerably more difficulty meeting its strategic objectives in the south. These troubles prompted a shift in PAPI’s battle strategy. When PandaFam had completed their task in Fountain, the active battles slowed to a crawl as a major move op took place, with PandaFam heading east to join with The Legacy in order to assist with the southern attack. The “pincer manoeuvre” gave way to a single, combined, force.
The most interesting feature of the PAPI “extermination” plan is its speed. Or, more accurately, its lack of speed. The Mittani stated many months ago that the Imperium was ill prepared for such a massive assault, and was therefore grateful for the slow pace of conflict, as it allowed preparations to take place that would have been impossible had PAPI forces struck quickly. Fortunately for the Imperium, PAPI conducted multiple move ops that took a combined several weeks and turned into a rather odd procession around much of the west of New Eden.
The Will for War
While PAPI’s strategy evolved over the initial weeks of the war, the Imperium has been steadfast in its objectives: the Imperium will defend Delve to the very last. If needed, it will even pull back to the NPC-owned systems of Delve. But, the Imperium are determined to remain in Delve, regardless of cost.
PAPI line members (in posts, comments, and public appearances on streaming outlets) repeat that the Imperium are moving “goal posts.” However, the Imperium has no goal posts to move. When PAPI stated that their intent is to “exterminate goons from the game,” they set the war’s victory condition. To “win” PAPI must exterminate Goons. For the Imperium to “win,” they must survive as a coalition and not lose all member alliances and corporations. PAPI leadership, at least exemplified by Vily, established where the “goalpost” is set.
Speaking of members, PAPI numbers generally hold steady in those alliances that seem to be more active against the Imperium. The will of PAPI to continue their campaign of “hell dunk or blue balls” seems to still have momentum, though in coming days we may hear of some movement away from the front.
Yet, PAPI are determined to keep pushing very odd narratives. PAPI vastly outnumber the Imperium. This war should be a “no contest” and, in the past, every other alliance or coalition faced with similar odds has run away. But not the Imperium. Time and time again PAPI have made the predictions that the Imperium leadership will fail. The Imperium membership was predicted by some to fall by 30% due to the pressure. This did not happen. The Imperium was supposed to retreat to lowsec after the first major battle in Delve. But after battles that broke two world records, the Imperium remains committed to its sole objective, survival in Delve.
Vily, the leader of PAPI forces, has made repeated statements that the Army Of Mango (AOM) alliance moving away from the front lines is nothing to be concerned about. Others from PAPI have also claim that AoM’s move made no difference to the war effort, as AoM did not do anything for the PAPI war effort anyway. Yet, in reality, it seems that AoM were pulled back to help deal with attacks by the Imperium in the home regions of Test Alliance.
PAPI leadership have also been quick to quell the idea that there are any internal cracks within PAPI. Many of the alliances that form the PAPI coalition have a checkered history with each other. Frequently, they have tried to kill or evict other groups that are now under the greater PAPI umbrella. Yet, the cracks appear. Recently, the leader of Fraternity appeared on a show and told the leader of AoM that, after Fraternity has dealt with the Goons, AoM is next.
The data tells much of the story. The most cursory of glances at the data shows that both sides are still very committed to this war. Sov and iHub timers are being set by both Imperium and PAPI and frequently provoke fights. This hard data does not show any lack of fight in the Imperium forces or any sense of battle fatigue.
“We Stand At Helm’s Deep”
On Saturday, November 7, 2020 The Mittani, leader of the Imperium, held his normal weekly “fireside chat.” These are weekly occurrences by which the Imperium leadership relays important news and events to line members. It is also an opportunity for line members to pose questions to leadership. In short order The Mittani said that there was “big news” to be announced, consisting of two main parts.
The first was the announcement that the Imperium capital forces would re-stage to the system of E3OI-U. This system is the gateway to four constellations that the Imperium intends to use as a choke point. However, the geography of Delve should not really matter when the attacking forces have 100 thousand characters more than the defenders.
The Mittani went on to announce the arrival of new allies in the defense of Delve. Red Alliance has left PAPI and joined up with the Imperium again. Some in PAPI have vocally condemned their former RA allies, and continue to delight when they see corporations leaving RA to set up their own alliances. But those who understand EVE history know that these moves may actually return the Russian community to a distribution similar to what they had before the attempt to make the Russian FIRE Coalition work.
French Connexion, a storied alliance with strong ties to the Imperium, has also announced that they are now again joining the Imperium. The player “Wind Spirits” has also joined the Imperium, which is notable, as Wind Spirits was the founder of the Chinese community-focused Fraternity. When asked why he joined the Imperium, now of all times, Wind Spirits said, “now is a good time to make new friends and fight for the underdog.”
Despite the difficult situation in which the Imperium finds itself, there are still those who flock to its banner. Over 1400 people listened to the most recent Fireside, which proclaimed bloody resolve. The Mittani clearly delineated the monumental task that lies ahead. Not only does the Imperium have to endure this particular assault; it also has to deal with changes CCP has made to the game as a whole. The Mittani was confident that the Imperium would survive and adapt. His confidence is arguably well founded, given the history of the Imperium.
Some Realities of War at Helm’s Deep
Large scale coalition warfare is a style of gameplay that appeals to some, but not to others. For the typical line member, it really comes down to whether you like shooting enemy structures or not. Some love it because it’s an easy opportunity to pad killmail stats. On the other hand, some hate it because it’s repetitive and often involves a tidi slog. Some players enjoy big battles and full tidi; others prefer smaller skirmishes. Such is EVE. We find many play styles here.
For the Imperium, FCs and line members get to truly test their skills: punching up, out-manned and outgunned. Those who can win in these circumstances will have bragging rights. The alternative, of course, is to “hell dunk or blue balls,” which is the current tactic from PAPI. For the more excitable types making a dash for the comments, this is not meant to be a slur, but rather a statement of fact.
The number of player-owned structures owned by Imperium members within Delve is simply staggering. It numbers in the thousands. If PAPI intends to do as they say and destroy all of Delve, they have a mountainous task ahead of them. And as PAPI proceeds with their crusade, they will still have to deal with the Imperium.
The Imperium has endured hard times before. The Casino War was rife with circumstances that rattled the coalition to its very core. But it managed to survive, rebuild, and grow – all the while knowing that the blue donut would again come for it one day.
Now we get to see how the Imperium defenses hold up. Is Delve a fortress? Can a fortress even be achieved in New Eden? Will the Imperium be pushed back even further, into NPC Delve? One conclusion is unavoidable: the Imperium is doing what no other coalition has done in recent times, standing its ground despite the overwhelming odds.