WWB: Is the End in Sight?


Art by Auroraonthecouch

The M2 Massacre, as it’s been called by some, has markedly shifted the narrative of World War Bee, for both Imperium and PAPI members. Temporarily misplacing some 300 titans in a bubble farm can’t be a good thing no matter how it turns out.

But the war is bigger than M2-XFE, and how it will ultimately play out is anyone’s guess, so it’s worth taking a look at some of the things that might happen as it drags on. We asked an observer of New Eden’s nullsec activities to chime in on what they think may happen.

Alekseyev Karrde is host of the ‘EVE Online: Geography and Geopolitics’ series on YouTube, and CEO of Noir., an independent mercenary group that has third-partied in various conflicts

What’s your take on the war, at this point?

The Imperium has been on the back foot for pretty much the entirety of the war. They’ve lost region after region, starting with the proxy/loosely affiliated alliances in Pure Blind and Fade, which The Initiative attempted to support versus Horde and company.

Every line they’ve set has been crossed: Fountain got glassed, Querious flooded, Fortress Delve breached repeatedly, Keepstars planted next to their core systems, Keepstars of theirs killed without ceremony. Yet, to their credit, they have remained resilient and participation has remained strong throughout. They’ve even counterpunched at times to retake lost systems or put pressure on newly planted TEST iHubs.

Far from their only tactical win, but M2-XFE was Goons’ first decisive, large scale victory. And it was a big swing, strategically, going from being outnumbered in super caps to (likely) roughly even, with one even/slight victory against PAPI’s super fleet (which has now been diminished).

Taking the Momentum

The Imperium needs to take the momentum [from M2] and make serious headway, rolling back PAPI’s gains and further testing their ability to replace ships. If they do this suddenly, but safely, not giving PAPI the morale-saving counter punch opportunity, then Imperium will be well on their way to turning the tide.

The Imperium’s number one key to victory is breaking apart Legacy, Pan Fam, and their supporting alliances. Whether by forcing them to drop out from losses, demoralizing them against the prospect of continuing, or by extending the conflict out so long that the involved alliances have to go back to defend their home systems.

They Have to Hit Every Ball

On the flip side, PAPI has been running a wave of ever increasing momentum. They put months into prep work isolating and grinding the Imperium down before open war was even declared. They had drastically swept across the map until the last ~50% of Querious or so, where they seemed to stall, but only briefly.

Bottom line with PAPI is that they have to hit every ball they’ve called. To date, every objective they laid forth they achieved, sometimes with minor hiccups, but most of them pretty straight forward. Riiiiight up until losing that titan fleet in M2. If and how TEST recovers from this, and to what degree their allies will stick with them through it, will define their fortunes in the war.

Certainly their move/relocation into Delve out of their home space was bold, and is regrettable in hindsight. They can of course change their minds on that, but it would further undercut their momentum and give the Imperium breathing room and morale fodder. But TEST has to do something, and quickly.

Pushed to the Edge

PAPI as a whole has sustained major losses, but a lot of this is concentrated on TEST, who are also pushed to the financial edge trying to keep things going. As the main Legacy alliance, they’re rightly positioned as a lynchpin for the war. If they take their foot off the gas, their coalition and allies may begin to follow suit. If any of the major PAPI alliances drop out, either permanently or for an indefinite length of time, that is materially very good for the Imperium, but could also snowball. PAPI hasn’t faced strategic adversity in this war before; it’s an open question as to how resilient they will be.

Their keys to victory are twofold. On the morale side, showing they can bounce back from a big loss without losing steam is key. And from an overall strategic point of view, successfully putting their Keepstar-killing fleets into 1DQ and killing the iHub will mark the beginning of the end for the Imperium. The defenders literally cannot move the goalposts further than the loss of their last Keep in their capitol, and once the Keepstar killing snowball starts to roll it will be difficult to stop it.

Pressure and Punish

Some say resolving M2 is the priority, but is there more to it than M2?

There’s definitely more to it than M2. M2 is a key point, but neither side maximizes their advantage if it remains a stalemate. Whichever side plays around M2 best will drive their advantage. For Goons, while they maintain their hellcamp, they should be going on the offensive against iHubs at a minimum, maybe some citadels if they feel bold. Put pressure on TEST to extract their super fleet and then punish them when they do.

What specific moves must the two sides make to reach their respective objectives?

On TEST’s front, defending against Goon aggression is obviously very important to prevent a negative-morale feedback loop, and potentially seeing their hard won progress in Delve/Querious undone. But their best move would be to find another pressure point that can draw attention away from M2 and put their morale back on the right track.

PAPI could start cracking 1DQ Keepstars. Eventually they are going to need to try it, and if they do it successfully, once or twice, Imperium will likely be done at that point.

The Imperium must continue to stall out its attackers, making the most of every defensive Keepstar timer, to bleed them out. When they catch a lull in attacks, or win a big tactical victory, convert that into a limited offensive posture to threaten or recapture PAPI gains.

And when the dust settles?

PAPI Overcomes the Imperium

There’s not much reason to think things would be different than [the end of the first world war bee] if PAPI wins, except TEST will move into the captured space instead of PanFam. As the super coalition goes back to normal day-to-day life though, Legacy will have to deal with the massive losses they’ve taken and will need time to heal. I don’t have the slightest idea who would, but if someone makes a serious challenge to one of their less-valued regions they might concede it just cause it’s not worth further exhaustion. But I don’t think there’s another coalition who could do it and would be inclined to.

The Imperium wouldn’t break up, that much is obvious. So they will regroup and relocate just like the end of WWBI, probably moving to the other side of the map (or consolidating into Fountain as a middle step, assuming they still have it at that point). The North, West, and Southeast are their relocation options, unless they want to chill in NPC space for a while.

The Imperium Overcomes PAPI

If the Imperium wins they will have a decision to make about TEST. Imperium has been extremely careful not to overextend itself in the post-fozzie-sov era. I think them capturing Paragon, Esoteria etc. is unlikely, unless a major alliance flips, or newly aligns with them and it’s given to them as a reward. More likely they could go on a campaign to glass one or more regions to punish Legacy’s aggression. Or use the threat of doing it as a way to get some kind of surrender deal out of TEST, but even if so I don’t think it would be a long lasting peace.

On the other hand, not punishing Legacy is also a viable option, particularly if the Imperium is sick of war. If they “win” because everyone is exhausted and goes home that would be a bit anticlimactic, and there’d be considerable pressure to not keep everyone on a campaign footing. But especially post M2, I don’t see the Imperium morale post-victory as likely to be low.

And strategically, the way Imperium operates/thinks is very realpolitik-influenced, which while providing a justification for not spending resources on a campaign which gains you nothing of strategic value, would just as readily suggest that unchecked aggression against you would invite more of the same so you need to punish/penalize those who attack you.

This war has gone on too long and gotten too personal for so many that it’s difficult to imagine an almost immediate return to an enduring pre-war NIP/NAP status quo. A pause for them to restore their war chest is more likely.

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  • Simon Chui

    Indeed, papi’s best move is, as it’s always been, to attack 1DQ. The longer they drag things out, the more opportunities they’ll have to make another mistake, or for the Imperium to pull off an Operation Enho-type move. Maybe they were too arrogant before to contemplate the possibility that they could screw up that hard, but surely they understand that by now.

    January 22, 2021 at 11:29 AM
    • Moomin Amatin Simon Chui

      M2-X is crippling PAPI at this time. You can see it in their actions. Everything is focused on trying to draw The Imperium from M2-X. Yet PAPI and their commentators keep saying that it is not important. The disconnects here from PAPI are simply amazing at this time. If I was a line member in PAPI I would have no idea what to think of “the plan”.

      January 22, 2021 at 1:12 PM
      • kwnyupstate . Moomin Amatin

        PAPI lost keepstars a bit ago and tried to rebrand it as enjoying letting goons feed.
        PAPI has super fleet trapped and tries to rebrand it as enjoying having a place to go for content.
        It’s like that Beavis and Butthead episode where the gym coach encourages them to kick him in the jimmy over and over.

        January 22, 2021 at 5:22 PM
        • Nate Hunter kwnyupstate .

          Imperium lost Supers in 49 and YZ9 and rebranded it as our supers are cheaper than yours. Each side spins the way it suits them

          January 22, 2021 at 6:49 PM
          • Moomin Amatin Nate Hunter

            Imperium supers being cheaper is a fact though. just check contracts. Also Mittens has said that losses like that do of course hurt. But he also says that is the nature of war. So at least The Imperium is not spinning here, I mean what do we really have to spin?

            January 22, 2021 at 11:30 PM
          • Garreth Vlox Nate Hunter

            They literally were cheaper for the imperium to build though, that’s not spin it’s merely a financial fact. Spin is when you get when redline claims papi (no caps) has the imperium titan fleet “trapped” in m2- camping their own logged off titans…. there’s a MASSIVE difference.

            January 23, 2021 at 12:36 AM
          • Lol our supers are cheaper you dumbfuck. We do industry where others don’t. Look at the MER history.

            January 23, 2021 at 1:35 AM
          • Carvj94 Nate Hunter

            Should look at contracts at some point Titans literally are cheaper for Imperium members compared to any other group.

            January 23, 2021 at 11:49 PM
        • Rayford Carpathia kwnyupstate .

          Beavis and Butthead’s coach was a boss. He kept taking the hits like a champ, unlike trapi.

          January 23, 2021 at 7:33 PM
      • Simon Chui Moomin Amatin

        They don’t have to be crippled, they can do their big breakout/titan feed at any time. They just can’t get past their aversion to taking losses, even if it’ll improve their position strategically. Why go to war if they can’t bear losing stuff?

        January 22, 2021 at 10:47 PM
        • Moomin Amatin Simon Chui

          PAPI just spent hours setting as many iHub timers as they could in “Helm’s Deep”. They then shouted very loudly about how they were “winning”. Note that this was not to win an iHub timer but to set the intial event. While PAPI was setting timers in Delve trapi were losing an iHub in Querious. At the moment PAPI are very much crippled. Unable to pursue their stated war goals, unable to withdraw. The fact this has happened is amazing to be quite honest.

          January 22, 2021 at 11:34 PM
        • Garreth Vlox Simon Chui

          “Why go to war if they can’t bear losing stuff?” Players have been asking that about pl/nc for years, now it seems the same loss aversion has infected tapi and horde as well.

          January 23, 2021 at 12:34 AM
        • they went to war thinking it would be a dogpile.

          January 24, 2021 at 10:56 PM
          • Garreth Vlox Rain

            And technically that did happen, they did dog pile the imperium, but then the imperium pulled a neo and started kicking the shit out of them even while comically outnumbered.

            January 25, 2021 at 7:40 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    The trouble with making predictions at this point is that all of the many possible outcomes are equally plausible.

    PAPI planted its Keepstar (and final goalpost) in T5Z two months ago. They’ve nibbled at I-Hubs here and there, made one half-hearted attempt to headshot the 1DQ I-Hub, and tried to snipe the Keepstar in M2- in the two months they’ve lived right on top of The Imperium’s staging system. They can’t realistically siege 1DQ (which will cost them a ton of titans) without a successful extraction from M2- (which will cost them a ton of titans) even if all goes according to plan. Anyone seriously think that calculus is looking good for PAPI?

    January 22, 2021 at 11:56 AM
    • George Ewing Guilford Australis

      I’m curious whether the Imperium will try to take the initiative (no pun intended) while M2 is a thing, further diverting PAPI in the process. That was a solid suggestion in this article.

      January 22, 2021 at 4:06 PM
      • Lordis Kall George Ewing

        I wouldn’t expect a major attack beyond ihub flipping. Any serious attack would require forces to be pulled out of m2-

        January 22, 2021 at 4:45 PM
      • kwnyupstate . George Ewing

        No because the best thing you can do is sit on M2 and constantly humiliate PAPI. PAPI can’t brag to their people of how they can still win this if they can’t even show them a real plan to extract from M2. Every time PAPI fleet comes to M2 just keep asking them why they can’t extract and spam a pepe feelsbad meme. The elephant in the room for PAPI leadership is why they can’t extract from M2.
        PAPI will be even more hesitant to make a huge M2 attack since the grid has become even less favorable to them over time.

        January 22, 2021 at 5:28 PM
      • Garreth Vlox George Ewing

        The worst thing we could do at this point is counter attack. Their morale is in the gutter, a large portion of their titan fleet is dead, another portion still trapped, ihubs all over delve have been/are being reset. Over reaching and attempting some massive retaking of space and reffing of papi (no caps) structures would give them what they want, a spread out, burned out imperium.

        January 23, 2021 at 12:43 AM
    • Garreth Vlox Guilford Australis

      Their one big swing of taking 3 keepstars in 1 day imploded in their faces in fantastic fashion. They allowed themselves to be distracted defending jammers which allowed the first keep to repair, the second keep timer lead to what should objectively be called a draw that was the first M2- keepstar fight, and the third keep timer passed while they were fighting over the second keep. Then the armor timer for the second keep wound up being a complete cluster fuck. And in the ensuing collapse of their offensive plans ALL the ihubs guarding those keeps were captured and reset. So their single meaningful attempt at a big morale boost and damage to goons resulted in a loss of all strat objectives, the trapping of about 30~% of their titan fleet, and resetting of almost every single delve ihub. You can’t fail much harder than that.

      January 23, 2021 at 12:41 AM
  • Gray Doc

    “PAPI could start cracking 1DQ Keepstars.” Well, this should read, “PAPI could try cracking 1DQ Keepstars.” If PAPI couldn’t take out the KS in M2, what hope do they have in 1DQ? M2, on the 2nd battle, had 4500 Goons in system before the attackers attempted to load. 1DQ could see double that number of Goons. Every Goon has at least an alt parked in 1DQ and they could undock at a moment’s notice. No jump needed, nothing. BOOM. 9-10 thousand Goons. I look forward to seeing PAPI try this, if they ever get extracted from M2. Imagine if they succeed and put one of the KSs in an armor timer. Two more battles to go to kill just one of the KSs in 1DQ.

    January 22, 2021 at 5:28 PM
    • kwnyupstate . Gray Doc

      If goons merely logged on the server would fail and any PAPI attack would be prevented without a single structure lost. It wouldn’t even be a case of just a long tidi fight; it literally would crash the server.
      PAPI would never try to bring thousands of people on hostile grids especially after what happened to them in M2.
      Many goons are staged in M2 with at least one character and the same thing would happen if they tried a fight in M2; goons would just need to log on and tether and server would crash.
      Of course PAPI leaders will keep insisting until hell freezes over that 1DQ is still technically possible because they won’t admit the game can’t handle it and won’t admit the goal since the start of the war was never even possible.

      January 22, 2021 at 5:45 PM
      • Nate Hunter kwnyupstate .

        Yes a head to head battle of Titans was proved to be unfeasible especially on the oppositions keepstar. Now each side is too big to operate under the assumption that TIDI will let us fight, each side has to play the painful game of demoralizing the other side to a point that the server won’t be an issue. Its a safe assumption that if Imperium manages to trap PAPI into another one sided titan battle in the same fashion as M2 hull timer PAPI will just crumble due to morale.

        January 22, 2021 at 6:21 PM
    • Carvj94 Gray Doc

      I like to imagine them actually managing to take a few systems in Delve, with significant losses of course, and the PVE segment of Imperium is forced to stack so high in the remaining systems that PAPI can’t even attack cause there’s 10,000 ratting and mining ships already in system.

      January 23, 2021 at 11:47 PM
  • mbox

    Where did you find this this guy? He has no concept of strategy for this war beyond reddit posts. Let’s demonstrate:

    “by extending the conflict out so long that the involved alliances have to go back to defend their home systems.” –We aren’t the ones with 3 times the numbers that already extended this war 7 months from incompetence and already are going back to defend; Brave, FRT.

    “Successfully putting their Keepstar-killing fleets into 1DQ and killing the iHub will mark the beginning of the end for the Imperium. The defenders literally cannot move the goalposts further than the loss of their last Keep in their capitol, and once the Keepstar killing snowball starts to roll it will be difficult to stop it.” –what’s with the fantasies? All but 1 keep was outside of delve at least 35 days after holding the system for cyno jammer protection. The 2/60 keepstar of delve dick slapped papi and this guy wants to give fantasy talk of killing 1dq keep in a more defensible system? And we are the ones shifting the goal post?

    “For Goons, while they maintain their hellcamp, they should be going on the offensive against iHubs at a minimum, maybe some citadels if they feel bold”–when did you interview this guy, 6 months ago? We flipped every ihub with a keepstar under it, hold most of them and Merc destroys citadel daily while rating beer, afgoonistan reking querious citadel daily, init in catch daily and bastion in Esoteria daily.

    “PAPI has been running a wave of ever increasing momentum”–7 months is having a brain fart, not momentum.

    “To date, every objective they laid forth they achieved…Certainly their move/relocation into Delve out of their home space was bold, and is regrettable in hindsight”–so which is it, papi is the strategic genius that nails every decision they make or are blundering idiots that lept into delve without a plan? Hint, M2.

    Way to pick a winner of a player to interview.

    January 23, 2021 at 7:41 PM
    • Carvj94 mbox

      My favorite part is where he’s criticizing the defenders (The Imperium) for not being the attackers lol. Imperium has been financially ruining them almost 23/7 since before Covid-19 became a pandemic and PAPI is making fun of them cause they aren’t counterattacking and trying to wipe PAPI off the map? How can anyone actually be this dumb? You can’t make this stuff up.

      January 23, 2021 at 11:43 PM
    • George Ewing mbox

      That you disagree with the person interviewed is your prerogative, but what I don’t see are any counter suggestions from you.

      January 24, 2021 at 12:11 AM
      • Counter suggestions? I thought it was clear my suggestion was to not interview biased idiots. That said, all of Eve is either with us or against us and if they are not directly involved with the war, they accept the propaganda from reddit with little first hand knowledge. So finding a pilot without hard leaning bias would be hard to find.

        So if you can interview pilots with follow up questions, you can direct the conversation and point out their bias with stats/links/quotes/etc. Challenging their hard leaning opinions as they say it will allow for discussions on the war effort. Not propaganda regurgitation.

        Example: “in what way has the Imperium continously moved their war goal posts?” Their reply here. “Wasn’t the goonswarm only goal post to survive extermination and provide the best chance for winning the war that all of New Eden brought to them?” Their reply here. “Is it fair to state then that PAPI has constantly shifted their goal posts by stating and restating new reasons for this war and setting goals for their members that never take place or become impossible to achieve?” Their answer here.

        January 24, 2021 at 2:22 AM
        • George Ewing mbox

          Providing that kind of perspective would have been doable had I been interested in mirroring what any of us can already see or hear on reddit, YouTube, Twitch and a host of other sources. Partisan versus partisan points. Instead, I sought an outside voice to look at what’s happening and provide a third view. You are by no means under any pressure to like what was said. Thanks for your comments, nonetheless.

          January 25, 2021 at 2:50 PM
          • “Partisan versus partisan points” so our only option was a partisan one, as I pointed out in my first comment. Why ask your readers for input when you are only calling them out for showing your lack of a bipartisan interview. But it’s your show, and myself and other readers are under no pressure to read your articles. But thank you for your comments, nonetheless.

            January 26, 2021 at 6:43 AM