Art by AnuranonthecoucH
This is not the first time that the Imperium has been massively outnumbered in a war. The last time this happened was during the Casino War back in March of 2016.
In many respects, the Imperium in 2016 was a very different beast from what it is today. The most striking difference revolves around the geographical footprint they had then and the organizational structure of the Imperium in regard to member alliances. In 2016 the Imperium owned vast swathes of space, with member alliances often controlling at least one region. The Imperium was still riding high on its previous successes in the Fountain War, followed by the Halloween War. With hubris, a book deal, yachts and a Viceroy program, the Imperium was not endearing itself to the greater nullsec community.
The Mittani was actively pushing his high-dollar media empire and was looking to take part in the creation of a book that exalted the many accomplishments of the Imperium. Stories were bandied about regarding The Mittani’s luxurious lifestyle, complete with partying and yachts. At that point the Imperium was bored with the state of peace that existed at that time. This gave rise to the Imperium’s Viceroy program, which was used as a mechanism to annoy lowsec residents.
At that time CCP was also unhappy with the current state of gameplay and released some massive changes that greatly impacted nullsec. Jump fatigue came into gameplay and “Fozzie Sov” was just coming online. So-called Fozzie Sov was an “engaging” form of gameplay used to determine the fate of IHubs and sov within nullsec, involving battles over event nodes that were spawned and required a special hacking beam to “complete.” The numerous enemies of the Imperium also had access to the Real Money Trading ISK that would be used to fund The Casino War. The stage was set for the fall of the Imperium.
Fall It Did
With the perfect storm building against the Imperium, the Money Badger Coalition (MBC) was formed with the intent of removing the Imperium from nullsec. The MBC was headed by PanFam (PL, NC) but had dozens of other alliances also affiliated. This war spawned the largest blue donut ever seen at that time, with the participants funded by casino ISK. The MBC combatants literally had nothing to lose in that war and they set as their goal the destruction of the Imperium.
The very deliberate and public betrayal of the Imperium by Co2 was a defining point in The Casino War. The Imperium had attempted to assist Co2 in every way. They showed Co2 that their finance director was stealing from them. But, the Co2 leader, GigX, always wanted more and refused to believe that he was being robbed. So, GigX authorized negotiations with the MBC many months before The Casino War even started, approved a deal to defect once the war was underway. At this point, the Imperium made the decision to re-stage to Saranen.
The Imperium was further weakened by the departure of fair weather friends. Over the years, the Imperium had become a beacon of civilization and wealth. These benefits attracted many, but not all groups were fit for war when it broke out. Their departure was not unexpected, but served to further assault the morale of those willing to remain loyal to the Imperium. Vastly outnumbered and with numbers continuing to fall, the Imperium fought against MBC, which brought every tool to bear. One such tool was the resurrection of an old Goonswarm CEO to try and appeal to all “true goons” in order to lure them away from the Imperium, a venture that ultimately failed so hard that former members of “Ten Dollar Bond” found themselves in PL. That CEO was Darius Johnson, who coined the phrase “We are not here to ruin the game; we are here to ruin your game,” which brought him fame and ignominy.
Once war began, region after region fell out of Imperial control. The Imperium re-staged to the comparative safety offered by lowsec in the system of Saranen in an attempt to weather the storm. Those days felt dark for the Imperium. Abandoned and betrayed, with the braying masses calling for their destruction, the Imperium’s fate seemed all but certain.
To say the Imperium lacked fight during those times would be disingenuous. The coalition put up a spirited defense, utilizing the limited tools available at the time, which often greatly angered the invading MBC. Many within the Imperium would also argue that this was some of the best online gaming they have ever had the chance to experience. It was incredible to fight battles at such uneven odds, and the Imperium did so frequently.
By July 2016, the Imperium had lost all sov in nullsec. The leadership of the Imperium then made the decision to vacate the north and concede defeat. Most of the Money Badger Coalition was happy to see that happen, especially as the ISK casino money was running out. The MBC could declare victory, knowing that they had indeed thrown the Imperium out of nullsec. The only alliance that looked to pursue the Imperium south was Test, under the direction of ProGodLegend (PGL). Fortunately for the Imperium, PGL has a very particular track record of failure, so the threat offered by Test was short lived and ineffective.
Fool Me Once
In rebuilding, the Imperium vowed to learn well from the hard-won lessons of The Casino War. The same mistakes would not easily be repeated. Delve would become a fortress and leadership revisited the mechanisms of internal organization regarding how the Imperium worked. The Imperium of today always knew that this day would come, when invading forces would again be amassed in order to prevent the Imperium from further interfering with their schemes.
Back in 2016 I wrote the following when Co2 were evicted from Tribute. It may seem familiar and current:
“The PamFam are more brazen now than ever with their power. There is not even a hint at hiding the vast control that they have in Eve Online. Leaders are obviously involved in renting schemes and evidence of working relationships are all too evident. Almost three-quarters of null sec is arguably under their control. Wormhole space is completely theirs and unassailable. With their involvement in the New Eden Trading Network, you can even say that they are encroaching on low-sec space with hi-sec probably not far behind. For all intents and purposes, it looks as if BoB has risen again.”
This current planned extermination of the Imperium has an extra twist. It is being led by Test Alliance Please Ignore: The very same Test that was nurtured by the Imperium many years ago; the same Test that broke a deal that started the Fountain War – a deal that was considered mutually beneficial until PanFam whispered sweet words of “strong independent alliance” into the ears of the fickle Test leadership; the same Test that the Imperium has saved time and time again over the years.
War of Words
Narratives are crucial in times of war. The Imperium has been defiant and consistent in theirs: survive and make it as bloody as possible. This has been unchanging and now has been demonstrated many times over on the field of battle. Older members of the Imperium have heard the inane rantings of their enemies over the years. PAPI leadership accuses the Imperium of breaking deals, treating their allies badly, or a myriad of other imagined crimes. But of late the PAPI narrative seems to be very hard to pin down.
Here are some recent narrative strands:
- PAPI says Goons have to be exterminated from the game to save the game.
- PAPI says they intend to defeat Goons as slowly and as painfully as possible.
- PAPI drops Keepstars, claiming all failed attempts to online a KS fit in with the grand design of the “ISK” war, depleting Imperium economic resources.
- PAPI successfully onlines a Keepstar and notes that was always the goal.
- PAPI brings attention to the results of the MER in Delve, but ignores results in other regions of New Eden.
- PAPI declare themselves to be true warriors, while actually being the blobbing blue donut yet again.
But all of this history is now moot: “All that’s left to do is burn it all down,” said ProGodLegend on October 22, 2020 in the Legacy War Update. It would seem that PAPI leadership now declares that the only war objective left is to clean up a pacified and broken Delve.
Even so-called neutral commentators try to press home images of the Imperium collapsing. Some claim corporations are abandoning the Imperium, when the reality is quite different. Many of those currently aligned against the Imperium were former members and the assets seen jumping to the new PAPI Keepstar in NPC Delve represent the extraction of assets of these former members. But such simple deductions seem out of reach for those who profess to be seeking “truth.” Perhaps they are too busy contemplating which Pay2Win mechanic should be the basis of their next CSM campaign.
The End of the Beginning
With their beachhead now secured by the valiant efforts of William Chen, PAPI will embark on the next phase of their war of extermination. This is likely to follow a pattern of risk aversion that has already been well demonstrated over previous months. PAPI forces are likely to focus their efforts on eroding key infrastructure of the Imperium in the form of iHubs, Ansiblex jump gates, and cyno jammers. This strategy is designed to keep PAPI forces as safe as possible while they press forward their attack into Delve.
The leader of the Imperium, The Mittani, has already stated that the Imperium will fight every fight that they can until it is pushed back to the untameable systems of NPC Delve. The Mittani has vowed to continue the fight no matter the cost; the massive outlay in ships and ISK in the recent weeks shows that vow has teeth.
Already in this war we have seen the stuff of legends. Vastly outnumbered and outgunned, the Imperium achieved victory in the largest ever online gaming battle. Further, thousands witnessed the “Ride Into Valhalla” by the daring Imperium titan pilots. Even as PAPI boasts over 100,000 characters more than the Imperium, the defenders remain steadfast in Delve.
No matter which side you are on, or want to be on, there is still time to say “I was there.”