Header art by Major Sniper
It is almost a full year now since the “first official” invasion of the Imperium’s home region of Delve began. The attackers, the largest mega-coalition ever assembled, PAPI (PanDaFam Alliance Please Ignore), number 150k characters-strong according to Dotlan. The self-declared best and most experienced FC team ever assembled in New Eden. A vast supply of materiel with bodies and causus belli aplenty.
PAPI have said a lot in the last year, so much that it would take several books to dissect, analyze, and comprehend – though due to conflicting statement of various PAPI leaders, comprehending should not be the goal. Rather, we will focus on just one statement that PAPI are brave enough to still present to their members to this day: “1DQ will burn.” Variations on that theme have been parroted by PAPI line members for the whole year. With this in mind, you would think that PAPI leadership had already formulated a plan to take 1DQ before starting the war and tossing out the “burn Goons” rhetoric. After all, to start a war with no plan to achieve a war goal would be foolish, surely.
In a shock to absolutely no one, except some pilots in PAPI, it would seem that the PAPI leadership did not have a plan to take 1DQ. But it gets better. You would think that after a year of back-to-back self-declared victories, that PAPI would have had plenty of time for formulate a plan, even if they started the war with a blank slate where the plan should be. But alas, the PAPI plan to burn 1DQ is hard to find.
A blue donut in need . .
Being the really helpful Goon that I am, I thought I would help PAPI out a bit. I have already done something similar in this piece from October 2020. In it I talk about how to invade Delve. Ultimately, after false starts and months of move ops, PAPI leadership formulated a plan shaped very similar to the one I laid out. Of course months had gone by, but Serenity has never been in a rush to close out self-serving wars.
It is most important to understand that the Imperium always knew that “all of EVE” would come for them again, sooner or later, under some false pretense just as in the past. This prophecy was hammered home by the continued camping and harassment of the Imperium’s home region of Delve. Cries of “Goons only krab and blob” echoed around Reddit from players who would soon form the mega-coalition of PAPI. To understand that the Imperium knew this day would come, one only needs to look at the Keepstar grid of 1DQ, which is mostly unchanged in the past year. That Dyson-sphere of death was created for just such a day as this.
Of particular note is the “Querns Hardpoint.” In simple terms, this refers to the combination of an iHub and a grandfathered faction Fortizar being in range of said iHub. This unique setup within New Eden shows great forethought on the part of Querns, GSOL Director of the Imperium at the time of setting up 1DQ. Destroying an iHub is a matter of using the sov mechanics. The initial event to create a timer would require the attackers to hack the 1DQ iHub under the fire of a faction Fortizar. It would be bloody. Not impossible, but bloody.
The key, PAPI, to taking 1DQ would have been to act swiftly while having the members of the Imperium somewhat dispersed, with assets strewn all about Delve that would need consideration. This is not to propose a “headshot,” as that would likely fail. But to place structures within 1DQ and to apply pressure on the home system would be essential. This would have been more similar to The Casino War, where the Imperium was trapped within the low sec system of Saranen. It is this type of action that causes a feeling of utter hopelessness that would impact the membership numbers of the Imperium in the way PAPI had hoped. Needless to say, none of the above has transpired in the way is should have for success. The long slow grind allowed the Imperium to reinforce 1DQ and environs, and the “Anaconda” strategy has meant that all of the Imperium are “constricted” into a tight ball, rather than being strewn about with assets all of the place.
Also, leaving the Imperium an escape route would also have been crucial. No need to begin by burning anything in Fountain or Querious. That could have waited until later. Apply the pressure to Delve and dissolve the Imperium from its core. Any student of history can tell you that an encircled enemy will fight far more fiercely than one that believes it has options to escape. Opponents might suggest, “Yes, by Goons would have just moved their home base to another Keepstar, and so we had to make sure that didn’t happen.” Of course Goons would have done that, moved their capital to some vastly less defended Keepstar somewhere other than 1DQ’s Dyson-ball of death. PAPI has shows a real facility for killing Keepstars.
Further, setting realistic expectations up front for how the war would progress is another factor that could have had significant effect on events. The rhetoric used by PAPI at the start of the war should have been a lot more viable: something like “cause significant economic harm” was a good expectation from Gobbins, leader of Pandemic Horde (PH), though that phrase was used deep into the conflict. At the start PAPI used “extermination” and “toxic leadership” and “stop them from playing the game” as goals. Such language may seem wonderful in the heat of the moment, but it caused issues later as people started to think “what does extermination even mean in a video game?” The Imperium grabbed onto that non-sensical goal very early on, and rightly so. It galvanized the Imperium’s resolve to “not be exterminated,” which is a really low bar by the way.
An assault on 1DQ itself would be a tidi-grindfest of the highest order. PAPI would also need to coordinate forces to assault other high value targets. Remember, the main focus here is to cause the feeling of hopelessness. No shit talking in local about how Goons are going to be crushed and the like. It would still require a massive effort on the part of PAPI. Days, if not weeks, of near constant fleets and continual harassment. Supplies would have to be in good order and PAPI line members amply rewarded for their efforts. What we have seen, though, is very sporadic attempts. A large attempt will be made and then many days elapse as PAPI seem to go back to the planning table to come up with new fittings with different ships.
Regardless of the time frame, the cost would be horrific under normal circumstances. Each major engagement in 1DQ would likely cost PAPI two trillion at today’s rates. For those PAPI members that find this number exhorbitant, remember it cost the Imperium 800B to over 1T to kill the unanchored Keeps PAPI put up. My estimate is probably conservative. This is the kind of cost it would take to reduce The Imperium’s ability to re-supply and provide ships for their members. The push on 1DQ would have to be relentless. There needs to be no time for the Imperium to organize its supply and finances. There would be no “war bonds.” Some Imperium members may balk that I’m laying out such a clear outline of a workable plan. People, these things are obvious strategies, not state secrets. I’m sure they’ve already been discussed at high-level PAPI meetings. And if not, well . . . .
PAPI would be prudent to make offers of free passage to new lands and a fresh start to member corporations of the Imperium. Perhaps PAPI could even go so far as to sweeten the deal by alleviating any burdensome costs.
Finally, and probably the hardest part for PAPI, would be to show some “class” in victory. Each time they won or lost an engagement there would only be “good fight” in local. The will of the Imperium is their strength, and it is only by attacking this seemingly unending will that PAPI has any hope of permanently dislodging them.
All in all, I would have expected this campaign, which I’ve just outlined, to last at most three months. I would also expect it to cost in the region of 20 trillion for the attackers. Now you may think I’m being fantasy-driven, but please do remember PAPI have three times the forces of The Imperium.
But Instead . . .
You may have wondered why I am comfortable in talking about how 1DQ can be attacked. The reason for this is just that these options are no longer available to PAPI, at least not for World War Bee. Over the last year it has become more apparent that PAPI had hoped that the Imperium would react to the all the posturing of PAPI forces.
PAPI relied on the “Anaconda strategy.” With this they intended to close slowly around the Imperium and encircle them, trapping the Imperium so that their line members would flee in droves. By taking this approach, PAPI only gave the Imperium more time to prepare. Assets were moved about. The “Horn of Goondor” was sounded. Almost no defections have occurred, except in PAPI’s somewhat fevered dreams (note the PGL speech from November of last year). The pressure being applied by PAPI was to the periphery, not the heart.
However, the achievements of PAPI should not be dismissed. PAPI have indeed killed a massive amount of undefended structures. They have also successfully taken away the Imperium’s home space save a small constellation in Delve.
In these endeavours we have seen probably the most monumental waste of combat resources ever within New Eden. PAPI decided to spend almost a year shooting mainly undefended structures. The whole war should have taken three months at most given any competence. Probably the worst part of the PAPI plan is that the rhetoric they initially used was then proven to be a lie. But the PAPI leaders were so confident of victory at the time, with the resources available to them, that they did not really care to “fix” the initially lame war goals. Nor did PAPI line members, who were still invested in being on the “winning team,” question what was going on.
The future of 1DQ . . .
PAPI have declared that 1DQ is now a “containment zone.” The “goon threat has been eliminated . . . for now” but of course it could rise at any given moment. What New Eden needs is something like rangers, paladins, or wardens to make sure nullsec is a healthy eco-system of human activity. This is exactly what PAPI seem to be proposing, for the good of the game of course.
Meanwhile, Fraternity are making moves against the independent alliances of VOLTA and Toilet Paper in the north, for the good of the game, I’m sure. FIRE are clearing out former valued ally IGC from so that FIRE has more room to grow, I guess, for the good of the game as a whole. Evidently, VOLTA, TP, and IGC also had to be eliminated or reduced to renters so that this game can prosper.
PAPI do keep trying to chip away at the final constellation belonging to the Imperium. PAPI line members chant the mantra “we only need to win once” while ignoring the fact that even if they had no cynojammer active in 1DQ, the Imperium is “pre-staged” and don’t need to jump anything anywhere. The Imperium only need to undock and they are set to go. This fact does not change and the 1st Palace Keepstar in 1DQ is at the very heart of the PAPI conundrum.
With the better options no longer available to PAPI, their choices are greatly reduced. They can sit in T5Z and “contain goons” while they “probe” for weaknesses. All the time PAPI leadership will continue to state how much they respect their members’ time, while ignoring the fact this war has taken far longer than it ever should have. PAPI can also hope that by some strange turn of events the Imperium simply implodes. Withdrawal is the final option for at least some of the PAPI members, although some are more committed now to Delve than others.
If you were to read some of my previous pieces on INN you would know I was fully expecting to be in NPC Delve well before Christmas last year. Over the many months and many missteps from PAPI, I have become increasingly confident that 1DQ will not fall. Not because it is impossible: quite the contrary, as it is very possible. It is just simply a case of PAPI no longer being in a position where they can convince their line members to pay the price required. M2 changed that.
When, and if, the Imperium leaves Delve it will be of their own accord. They have already made this very clear. Meanwhile, members of the Imperium get to watch the instigators of this war damage themselves. I can assure you that, as a Goon, I believe there is nothing funnier than this single fact. And some wonder why the Imperium did not accept Legacy’s offer to attack Panfam over a year ago. Look at Legacy then, and look at it now. Does that help clarify things for you?
A conflict of ideologies
Again we seem to see evidence of a very different approach, at least among the leadership, of the respective sides in this war. The Imperium is “all in” and has demonstrated its intent more than once. Bold moves such as “Enho” and M2-X have proven this statement (please remember M2’s first day!) and have given PAPI leadership pause for thought. The Imperium is prepared to lose capital ships in bunches, but PAPI seem less keen, especially after M2, to risk their ability to project force on New Eden.
PAPI also had to fabricate on the fly much of their narrative for the war. This is something not required by the Imperium. They could simply go and shoot people as they like to shoot people. Deployments either worked or did not. With the PAPI falsehoods now revealed, it is harder for their line members to feign ignorance of the map (PAPI line member, go check out Dotlan and then continue to deny Serenity 2) and the actions of PAPI leadership.
How the war plays out in the future is still uncertain in many respects. It is generally agreed that the “extermination” thing was a massive over reach by PAPI. What is certain at this time is that the Imperium is still standing when by all rights it should not be, given a willing and competent foe.