While out in Querious killing a couple of fortizars a few nights ago, an interesting conspiracy theory came up on voice comms. It’s the sort of thing that requires a tinfoil hat and a wall festooned with thumbtacks and string. Nobody discussing it actually took it seriously, but like all the best conspiracy theories, it is also weirdly compelling and almost plausible.
What if – and bear with me here – what if Vily is actually secretly still a Goon? What if he is, in fact, the ultimate deep-cover agent, loyally destroying the Imperium’s enemies from within?
Come with me into another dimension . . .
Exhibit A: Divide and conquer
As discussed in an earlier article, PAPI was never brought under the umbrella of a unified leadership. There was no Eisenhower-esque figure taking executive control of the whole disorganized shebang. Any student of military history, professional or amateur, would know that’s a recipe for failure from the start.
In the real world, attacks upon a defended position or territory fail due to disorganization. If the army shows up and nobody knows when “go time” is, or one company is out of position, or one guy’s starting early, or two different officers think they’re in charge of the approach from the south, or nobody knows who’s providing the air support . . . when, in short, nobody knows who is in charge or what the plan is, operations get called off or the assaults fail.
To put it another, more glib way – too many cooks trying to stir the same pot.
Vily is an experienced veteran of nullsec warfare, well-versed in the history of military conflict. He should and likely does understand the concept. He must know good and well that a clear and well-organized command structure is pivotal to any military endeavor. Even if he doesn’t know it, somebody in his position should know it. And yet, he sabotaged it.
He sabotaged it by either failing to form such a leadership structure or failing to submit his own ego to let someone else fill that role. I can understand not forming it himself. Most of PAPI did not respond well to maple syrup, preferring the more traditional carrot and stick model. But, he didn’t accept another’s generalship either. In so doing, he directly harmed the war effort, to the Imperium’s benefit.
Exhibit B: Death by slow strangulation
There’s a gag trope that I never fail to find amusing: the moment when a character, digging through a pile of stuff for a particular MacGuffin, finds something else that’s incredibly valuable – a diamond the size of a puppy, a map to the fountain of youth, a nuclear bomb, a genie in a lamp – and then promptly tosses it over her shoulder to continue her search.
The “anaconda strategy” did this with PAPI’s initiative.
The initiative is not just the name of a wonderful alliance; it is also an important principle: whoever has the initiative has the advantage. Which makes PAPI’s whole policy of slow strangulation so totally baffling. To wheel out the traditional WW2 comparison here, it is as if the Wehrmacht, having completed the Saar Offensive and poised their tanks – ready to strike through the Ardennes and the Somme Valley – had instead then spent the next ten months picnicking in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands while only making threatening noises at the French but never actually Blitzkrieging.
Pressure in an invasion is not like the slow, wrapping coils of a snake. Rather, it is more like a fire hose: constant, fierce, and high-volume. There’s nothing slow about it. Slow strangulation by siege only works if the besieged party’s supplies are completely blocked and blockaded. Absent that, the pressure needs to be a deluge, not a squeeze.
By championing this Anaconda strategy, Vily took the PAPI coalition’s foot off the gas at exactly the wrong moment. The Imperium could scarcely have asked for a more welcome relief.
Exhibit C: Yo, he AWOXed guys
I mean. Dude. I’m just saying. If I cyno’d all our supers and titans right into the middle of the most giant blob of waiting enemy torp bombers . . .
Exhibit D: Les Miserables
Who has done more harm to PAPI morale than Vily? Seriously: Who? Go take a look at Reddit. Bring your salt goggles. Among the many, many disgruntled posts from NC., from former TEST line members, from folks whose possessions are now scattered in asset safety or destroyed, what’s the one name on every list?
PGL goes unmentioned sometimes. Vily never does.
The anger and frustration is never directed at Mittani or Brisc, despite those two being the most visible faces of the Imperium. Nobody in the Imperium leadership gets the credit for PAPI’s collapse.
Vily, though? The failure cascade is being laid squarely at his feet by his own pilots. The coalition’s mutual omnidirectional distrust, the morale drain, the total absence of any real enthusiasm, the dwindling numbers, the bankrupt coffers? Vily’s fault.
Plot twist of the century?
It sure would be. But, I’m not serious. I don’t actually foresee Vily and Mittani hugging on the next Meta Show and detailing the longest and subtlest con in gaming history. What I’m doing here is suggesting that the Imperium got lucky.
It’s tempting – in the middle of the celebratory destruction of the Tower of Legends, and all the associated elation, the regoonquista, “Delve Is Healing,” and so on – to get complacent. We’ve just weathered the worst storm in EVE’s long run, right? M2 proves that they could never have invaded 1DQ, right?
Well, no. A large part of our victory can be attributed to unforced errors by the other guys. They let the pressure off when they thought they were applying it. They made a number of critically bad decisions. We didn’t. We fought a competent war, with the occasional stroke of genius sadly defeated by server limitations. But let’s not pretend that we were unassailable, nor that our whole campaign was a jewelry case of scintillating strategic brilliance: we were merely competent.
Competent was certainly enough to win in this case, but the other side are going to be looking at what went wrong. They’re going to be studying. They’re going to learn. And the desire to knock us down a few pegs, kick us out of Delve, and generally bring an end to the Imperium isn’t going to fade.
It might take a few years before there’s the will and resources back in place. But somebody’s going to try, and perhaps even make it happen. And when our enemies come to the gate next time, they’ll know what went wrong this time. Next time, they’ll have listened to all this free feedback we’re giving them on how to be better. Next time, we’ll need to be more than just competent.
Because next time, we might not have Vily on our side.