Header art by Elthar Nox
One year ago, officially July 5, 2020, saw the commencement of World War Bee. The collected forces of 103 alliances formed a mega-coalition – at the behest of member coalition, Legacy – a mega-coalition that would later be known as PAPI. The military leaders of Legacy were most vocal in the reasons for the war; hence, the purpose of PAPI was stated clearly: “We are aiming for the removal of Mittani and The Imperium from Eve Online” and “We are here to purge them.” That was the language being touted, at the time, to justify the war on the Imperium. That language also prompted The Mittani to sound the “Horn of Goondor” – only to be sounded under the most dire of circumstances – where “true Goons” were called to come and defend the homeland.
In the early days of the war, some PAPI leaders said a lot; others were simply silent. Therefore, this early “extermination” and “removal” rhetoric was then echoed gleefully by PAPI line members in the local chats of the game, probably thinking this was the “party line,” since no dissenting PAPI voices were in the mix. Members of the Imperium were under no delusion that the forces of PAPI could actually remove the Imperium from the game. I even penned a small piece to explain my own thinking, back in September 2020, “The Return of the Goon.” In it I make very clear my own personal expectations that the Imperium would be overwhelmed by far superior numbers.
The strategy that the PAPI forces first employed was to be the “Anaconda Strategy.” A simple principle of surrounding an enemy force, and limiting supply, with the intent of compressing them into an ever-smaller space. This compression would then force members of the Imperium to leave nullsec or even to quit the game completely. Of course, PAPI leaders stated that this was all for “the good of the game” and that to remove the “toxic leadership” of the Imperium would be healthy for the game. So, PAPI set about the task of attacking the outer regions of space belonging to the Imperium. A very slow and methodical attack requiring little skill, innovation, or imagination.
The Ice Age
The early attacks by PAPI moved at a glacial pace. However, the PAPI member PanFam had made far better progress in Fountain, where Imperium member The Initiative delayed PanFam as best they could. PAPI progressed so slowly that I even offered some guidance, as I felt the Imperium was as prepared as they could be to defend their home system of 1DQ.
Events seemed to be coming to a head with the attempts made by PAPI to anchor a Keepstar in an NPC constellation of Delve. Heroic battles, the likes of which have never been seen before, literally, were conducted. We also saw the daring attempt by Imperium forces, in “Operation Enho,” to wipe out PAPI super capital forces. The plan failed, but it ironically bred a morale boost within the Imperium, as Imperium members knew they had the best strategists in the game on their side, coupled with a willingness to take enormous risks. Then there were the records broken during FWST, with several more against-the-odds wins for the Imperium.
The battle that prevented many battles
PAPI then made what The Mittani, leader of the Imperium, considers to be their biggest mistake. PAPI established their main staging in the system of T5Z, which is right next door to 1DQ. This move echoed one from history, in which Darius Johnson had all Goons move to Delve, midwar, which was already inhabited by their enemy, BoB. Perhaps Vily wanted Legacy to repeat that daring move, which while risky, ultimately ended well for Goons.
However, with this move the PAPI invasion slowed to a halt. This was especially the case after the disastrous events of M2-XFE. It was only after The Mittani declared an end to the “hellcamp” of M2 that PAPI spirits lifted.
Following the events of M2, PAPI have become more than a little coy at taking on any battle where they risk capital assets. Who can blame them? The “in-cyno” for the second battle of M2-X was the worst and most expensive combat mistake ever made in the history of EVE Online. The most amusing aspect of this event was that it occurred under the guidance of the self-declared best and most experienced FC to have ever have played the game, Vily.
In the last three months PAPI have declared the “official siege” of the 1DQ constellation. There have also been statements by PAPI leadership that this state of affairs is likely to remain status quo for the foreseeable future.
Truth: The First Casualty of War
Stories are a big part of what makes people log into EVE. Even those who have no interest in the nullsec meta are still affected by the grand story arcs created. There really is no escaping narratives, given their capacity to drive marketplaces and players’ behaviour.
Imperium had the easier narrative path: survive
From the outset the Imperium has been very clear in its objectives. They have been unwavering and consistent. Imperium members were to resist extermination and delay the forces of PAPI as best they could. If necessary, the Imperium would fight from NPC Delve. The Imperium was “all in” and this resolve has been shown more than once – Operation Enho showed a willingness to take risks and sacrifice titans; the battles of FWST showed a willingness to sacrifice vast amounts of ISK to prevent the attackers from anchoring structures in Delve.
This approach was bolstered for years within the Imperium, as they knew that “all of Eve” would come for them again, even as they had in The Casino War. As World War Bee has “progressed” all the “sweet summer children” within the Imperium have become bloodied veterans. In this war, a new age of “true goons” is being forged, for this is now a “hellwar.” Nothing else really needs saying regarding the situation the Imperium is in. The numbers are very much against them; yet they still manage to hold out.
Cerberus Barks with Three Heads
PAPI’s narrative has been a little more unwieldy, and that assessment is probably being generous. The trouble with long wars is that the truth, sometimes initially covered, tends to slip out. So it has been with the PAPI narrative: a collection of half-truths, bluff, and blunder.
This whole campaign should have been over within three months. Indeed, PAPI leadership was very confident in the early part of the war, for the expectation was that the Imperium would run, pick up their structures, bail on Delve, flee to the safety of lowsec or even highsec. After all, that’s what some PAPI members have done when faced with similar existential crises: they have picked up and fled.
Extermination? Fortizars? Too Large? Toxicity?
But as the war slowly progressed, the PAPI narrative came increasingly into question. How could extermination be accomplished? Were 40 faction fortizars really so important to PanDaFam that they were willing to throw away many more titans in M2 just to destroy them? Was the “too large, too powerful” Imperium really more of a threat to the game than the super large blue donut that PAPI has become? A questioning pilot, even a PAPI member, can easily see through the veneer of shoddy rhetoric.
The largest blue donut in history was being formed and the main beneficiary was PanDaFam. Initially, this claim was denied with great fervor. But after a year of PAPI existing and with their rental plans very public, you have to wonder at what point PAPI becomes an official coalition. It has existed a year, 5.5% of the entire existence of this game, and it could be argued that a key component of PAPI has existed since before the Casino War in the form of PanFam.
If the war continues another year, which some in PAPI have predicted, PAPI would have controlled virtually all of nullsec for over 10% of the lifespan of EVE. Of course, these concerns are swept under the rug by PAPI leaders, even while they describe the future in terms of “wardens” and “containment” and “equilibrium.” And the rationale is still that defeating the Imperium, creating the blue donut, eliminating small groups like Toilet Paper and Volta, is all good for the game.
Townhalls and censorship to control the narrative
Speaking of hiding things away, the PAPI narratives have seen further setbacks. Some in PAPI now claim that the whole war was just for “good fights” and not to “exterminate” anyone. In fact, the PAPI narratives have still yet to really be defined. The closest we have at this time can be seen via the Legacy and Pandemic Horde Townhalls. Meanwhile, on other community platforms, pro-PAPI supporters began heavy-handed measures to control the narrative. To post a picture or comment about the “PAPI blue donut” would result in being banned by over-zealous mods.
Thankfully, this issue was addressed by the moderators of the r/eve subreddit, changing the way they worked. Other platforms were more draconian in their approach. They simply banned people that were even suspected of being an Imperium member. Contrast this to INN, where PAPI members publish articles and work on the creative and editorial staffs.
Some pro-PAPI supporters were even going so far as to call members of the Imperium a group of right wing government sponsored terrorists. In true PAPI fashion, they also claimed that they were the good guys while banning people and attempting to get CCP and Twitch to ban INN. When people make such statements and perform such actions over a video game, then I really do wonder what the world has come to.
PAPI leadership has also taken to revising history in some rather significant ways. For instance, PanFam only “really” came into existence in 2018, according to Pandemic Horde leader Gobbins. Which makes you wonder why this article was written in March 2017. Additionally, Gobbins wants to portray the Imperium as being allied with both Legacy and Guardians of the Galaxy, which is fantasy. In fact, in a complete disregard to history, Gobbins tries to suggest that for years Imperium has ravaged and controlled vast swathes of nullsec.
Gobbins has also taken the unusual step of taking credit for CCP’s “Scarcity” campaign. It is through his influence that Scarcity was implemented, Gobbins says, whereas Imperium’s Brisc Rubal and others fought against it. He was also quick to note how advantageous the current landscape of nullsec is to PanDaFam. Winter Coalition have replaced former “valued allies” GotG within the PanFam diplomatic triumvirate, with FIRE taking up their old role as rental agents.
Subcaps for 1DQ? And I’ve got some swamp land for sale…
One of the most damning things to come from the PAPI leadership is the revelation that there is still no plan as to how to attack 1DQ. How is it possible that after one year of war they have no plan to attack the very thing they defined as a war objective?
The narrative within Legacy is even worse. Once one leader stated that there is a plan to take 1DQ and that it is well thought out. Two weeks later the other leader of the Legacy campaign said there is no plan. You just cannot make this stuff up. This incoherence is having an impact on attendance from Legacy members.
Welcome to the New Normal
The Imperium is still resolute in remaining in 1DQ. Not because they want to or even have to. They choose to and will only leave on their terms. They will not be forced to lowsec again, as they were during the Casino War. The sentiment of Imperium has been consistent week after week on the “fireside chats” The Mittani likes to have. The fact that the Imperium still retains a complete constellation in Delve after a full year of war – and against such odds – is amazing. Both The Mittani and the line members of Imperium know this and you can hear as much in one of the latest Imperium Fireside Chats. This is not the sound of the defeated.
Options for the forces of the Imperium are still very limited. But members are still engaged and everything is set for “the big one in 1DQ” should that ever happen. Meanwhile, Imperium members are still able to make ISK and entertain themselves quite readily. All the PAPI talk of “sieges,” “containment,” and “blockades” is foolish hyperbole that is dispelled by one glance at Dotlan.
Does “equilibrium” differ from Serenity?
Gobbins declaration of being more than happy with the current state of nullsec is the most telling for PAPI. In the most recent Pandemic Horde Townhall, Gobbins advised that even if PH were to call an end to the war, there would be no one else they could attack. Gobbins is not interested in attacking the likes of VOLTA or FIRE. Winter Coalition did not even get a mention for some reason. So, Gobbins then goes on to talk of “equilibrium” and how that the current state of nullsec is favourable to PH. It is favorable to PH. But is it favorable to the game as a whole? Take a look at the EVE Online Status Monitor and note that the number of concurrent users is in a freefall. Then explain again to me how this war has been good for the game as a whole.
When World War Bee was started by the forces of PAPI, it was with the intent of “saving the game.” One has to ask one year later: is PAPI closer, or further, from that goal?