With Triumvirate announcing their withdrawal from the Insmother region and their tenacity as an underdog fighting the mighty DRF being lauded, something tickled the back of my mind.
The recent engagements in Insmother seem peculiar in the sense that, as Moomin so very rightly pointed out, nobody would have expected Triumvirate (or any other alliance, as far as raw numbers are concerned) to hold up for this long and that Tri continuing their fight is a victory in and of itself. Although the perceived strength of our friendly neighbourhood Russian coalition should long have proven insurmountable to Tri, they are still standing. This might be especially surprising since, as some older players might be able to recall, Tris historic instability as an alliance and their repeated reformations have been the subject of much amusement in the past. By the way, which iteration are we at? Tri Mk 17? Has anyone kept count?
The point I am getting at is that this sort of underdog clawing-your-way-back-to-the-surface-fight isn’t new, albeit rare in EVE history. It seems as though once all hope and morale is lost, few will have the resolve to keep fighting and throwing more and more assets into the ship grinder. This behaviour was famously observed with the collapse of BoB and, more recently, the quite hilarious implosion of CO2. Failcascades happen all the time and some of them are probably kicking off as you are reading this article. That might be why we like to read stories about those daring and proud dwarves fighting giants. It doesn’t just make for quaint reading, but it shows a degree dedication that is not often observed in a video game, especially in an age where short-term gratification is so readily available in gaming.
However, there is an elating moment to fighting against all odds. Many moons and months ago, I was part of an alliance called Ev0ke. For those sweet summer children among you who are too young to recall the glory days of true AoE doomsdays, upgrading your clone and motherships, Ev0ke was an alliance of exclusively German players that had at some point in history won the Alliance tournament.
Ev0ke was based out of A-SJ8X in Syndicate and had an almost absurd fetish for the region of Cloud Ring. Now, Cloud Ring at the time was quite possibly the worst nullsec space short of Outer Ring. The strategic value of that region could not possibly be understated- it had exactly two station systems (9-4RP2 and XZH-4X), no valuable moons to speak of, bordered no valuable regions of note and featured only one somewhat viable ratting system, with XZH bringing a whopping -0.75 truesec to the table. Since 0.0 wealth generation in EVE was mostly done via ratting and moon mining, these factors combined made Cloud Ring as unattractive as non-NPC nullsec could be. In short: there was nothing in CR that Ev0ke could have wanted, which makes me believe that the aim was indeed to generate ~gudfites~ as was the going narrative at the time.
Even before Goonswarm replaced bonjourmadame Tau Ceti Federation in Deklein and developed most of the initial northern coalition into the CFC, Ev0ke had made repeated attempts at invading Pure Blind, which at the time was held by Mostly Harmless, a northern coalition alliance that was then seen as the south-western NC pet du jour. True to their name, MH proved to be incapable of defending their space, with Ev0ke repeatedly gaining footholds in Cloud Ring and even Pure Blind, although the Northern Coalition often came down in force to fight Ze Germans.
The fights were different from your modern-day EVE battles. Blobbing was very much an issue then as it is now, but as time dilation was not yet in place, battles unfolded at a fast pace, even though they were horrific lag fests. People flew glass cannon BS much in the line of modern alpha fleets, had actual Drake fleets or resorted to using armor HACs. Interceptor fleets were nonexistent and so too was the danger of getting hotdropped by a capital or super capital fleet. The most lethal danger to any operation was a titan hotdrop. The AoE doomsdays of old allowed titan-wielding alliances to eradicate entire grids with the push of about two or three buttons, as battleships could only be reasonably fit to sustain two doomsday attacks at once.
I personally remember crashing half a dozen interdictors in a single evening and reshipping about four times per fight when, eventually, Goons had arrived to reinforce the old NC. Although the constant threat to the south-western border may not have amounted to much more than target practice for the enemy, Ev0ke and its allies (most notably Cry Havoc, White Noise, The Initiative and, at times, Triumvirate) almost always fought outnumbered and still managed to sustain their campaign.
Although all attacks were ultimately foiled by superior NC numbers, morale was never low in Ev0ke and the line members retained their fighting spirit no matter how many times they were kicked back out of Cloud Ring to Syndicate. Whether this was due to skilful propaganda (which I doubt on account of there having been no actual propaganda department), a common hatred for the big blue doughnut™ or the fact that Ev0ke was the only German alliance worth its salt ever I cannot say, but they were good times I still remember.
After years of fighting, Ev0ke leadership had eroded, FCs had left and at some point, TSS1 decided to lead the alliance into faction warfare (also known as “the place where alliances go to die”) to ~reform~. Ev0ke predictably dwindled into insignificance and so the blob eventually did win out.
Will Triumvirate, with their unique history, share the fate of Ev0ke? I don’t presume to know. For now, though, their fight against the DRF seems very similar to this particular piece of EVE history and I am definitely rooting for Tri to bounce back and “win”. I wish them good luck in their endeavours and hope that you, dear reader, have found this little trip down my personal history lane worth your while.