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I sat down to talk with the Executor of DARKNESS(dot), Skilo, over what many have called a controversial move

On the fourteenth of March, 2014, TMC published a news article, in which it revealed that the DARKNESS(dot) Alliance, member of the RUS Coalition, has decided to switch sides in the Halloween war and join its enemy, the N3 Coalition. Intrigued by this development, and wanting to know more, I decided to contact Skilo, their Executor, and learn first hand of the situation. To my surprise, he agreed to give me an interview.

Background
The DARKNESS(dot) Alliance is mainly an English speaking alliance, formed over a year ago in the Stain region. Its creation was intended to help Darkness of Despair Alliance re-take the Esoteria region, which it has lost before. After helping secure the region for Darkness of Despair, DARKNESS(dot) was given the Feythabolis region, and became a member of the new Stain-Wagon Coalition, later re-named RUS Coalition when SOLAR FLEET Alliance joined it. As of time of writing, the DARKNESS(dot) Alliance holds forty-five systems and twenty-two outposts, mainly in the Feythabolis region, but also in Esoteria, Omist, Paragon Soul and Tenerifis regions. It has one thousand, nine hundred and thirteen pilots divided between twenty-two corporation.

Salivan Harddin: what is DARKNESS(dot)?

Skilo: DARKNESS(dot) Alliance was formed when we [the muppets] decided as an English speaking corporation to join Darkness of Despair Alliance in Stain and help it regain the sovereignty it lost in Esoteria. Since -DD- at the time only wanted to include Russian speaking corporations in it, and at the same time had a lot of non-Russian corporations wishing to join, we decided to start gathering those corporations and help -DD- take back Esoteria. We moved to Stain, created the Alliance and started working together with Against ALL Authorities, -DD-, C0VEN and other small entities in Stain.

Salivan Harddin: Did the disbandment of -DD- take you by surprise or were there warning signs beforehand?

Skilo: EVE is a great game because anything you may take for granted can vanish in a heartbeat. -DD- disband took us all by surprise, though now that I think about it, there were warning signs. They weren’t fielding as many pilots as they used to, but after more than a year of grinding sovereignty and fighting, it is only understandable that burnout would occur, with many pilots wishing to relax and take time for themselves. However, nothing prepared us for what happened.

Salivan Harddin: How did DARKNESS(dot) fare so far in the war?

Skilo: We have been fighting alongside the Stain-Wagon Coalition since over a year, since our time in the Stain region. Our first step was reclaiming Esoteria, and we managed to gain systems, and shortly the whole region. At some point a deal was struck for us [The Stain-Wagon Coalition] to gain Feythabolis, Esoteria and Catch, with N3..

Salivan harddin: How long have you been fighting N3?

Skilo: Since Halloween day, at November of last year, until yesterday, when we made the decision that has been seen as so controversial to say the least..

Salivan Harddin: How was the decision to switch sides made?

Skilo: We decided by a vote. After -DD- disbanded we started thinking about what we should do, what were our options. Finally, we narrowed it down to five:

1) Roll over and die

2) retreat to Stain, dropping our sovereignty and becoming just another wandering alliance

3) Stay and fight N3 until the last system.

4) Join another Coalition

5) Move closer to our own Coalition in Catch and keep fighting

The option of moving closer to Catch had its pros and cons. We’d be keeping our standings and fighting alongside our long term allies, some of which we had for years, but it meant we will be losing all of our sovereignty, eventually even Catch itself. This will mean we will be forced to return once more to Stain, something which was easy for me to see, as the Stain-Wagon Coalition alone cannot fight the whole of the N3 Coalition.

A lot was depending on the CFC, and if the Stain-Wagon Coalition truly depends on the CFC, it was time we should consider whether Stain-Wagon Coalition is truly a an entity by its own right or just an extension of the CFC with some autonomy.

There was also the option of joining another coalition. Right now in the game there are only four coalitions besides the Stain-Wagon Coalition: Provi-Bloc, H.E.R.O Coalition, N3 and the CFC. We had friends with many of those coalitions’ leaders so we began talks with all of them, and I was quite surprised that there was not much finger pointing or blame levied at us.

After all the talks, N3 was honest enough and gave us a very fair offer, not taking advantage of our situation at all. Thus I started to talk with the leadership of our Alliance. deciding to do something which is quite uncommon in EVE and post all the options the Alliance had, as well as the results of the conversations with the other coalitions on the leadership forums, and give a twenty-four hour period for CEOs and directors to vote on the issue. They had the freedom to post questions and thoughts as well as whatever was in their hearts, so I can answer their questions and see the reactions. The majority of the Alliance voted to join N3.

we did all we could for Stain-Wagon Coalition, and we can always say now how we could have done things better but thats in the past. we have been fighting long and hard for the Stain-Wagon Coalition, yet we feel the its is already dead, so lets pick another route.

I contacted N3 and gave them our answer, confirmed the terms of our arrangement and thats where we are at the moment.

Salivan Harddin: Did you fear an information leak, that might throw your plans in disarray?

Skilo: Of course there was always the possibility of a leak but this wasn’t a problem for me because the first thing I did was contact the other leaders of the Stain-Wagon Coalition and tell them of our decision. I wanted them to hear the news from me rather than a news site or another alliance.

Salivan Harddin: How did they take the news?

Skilo: Whatever my decision would be, it was bound to make people upset. You cannot please everyone with any decision you make, and If my decision was to go to Stain I would have lost some corporations. Even the decision to join N3 means I will be losing some members and corporations. Regardless. the decision was made by the Alliance, and not by the other Stain-Wagon entities.

I have nothing to prove to the Stain-Wagin Coalition when it comes to dedication as we were a part of the Coalition from its inception. I love Russian players. Many people have a misconception of Russian players. They are in fact a very good group of players and I am very happy that I was able to fly and fight alongside them. However, the last four years we have been in and out of the Stain region several times, losing and regaining space time after time.

This time I gave the option to choose to the CEOs of my Alliance, and I am sticking to what they chose. I could have always said “Screw this” and pushed the red button or made a one sided decision regardless of their wishes. However, this is not how I run things. In real life we already make too many compromises, I don’t want to this to happen in the game as well.

The majority of the Alliance made a choice, and I am here to support it. I wish all the best to the corporations who decided to leave the Alliance following the vote and will always greet them back with open arms.

Salivan Harddin: Were you surprised by TheMittani(dot)com article on your decision and the comments that were posted on it?

Skilo: If you mean surprised to be called a traitor? No. The decision was made and I told everyone in the [leadership] channel that I expected this, that many wouldn’t understand it. I find some things funny, and not every time the story is told straight. I came to Stain-Wagon Coalition by leaving N3 in the first place, to help it as best I could in order for it to regain its sovereignty.

I can’t claim credit over the fact they got their space back, but I did come and fought for them. So when I came to their aid, I wasn’t a traitor but now, after this decision, I was. It seems things like that don’t depend on what you did, but rather where you are headed. If I went the CFC’s direction, I would have been the good guy, but since I am not, I am the traitor.

Salivan Harddin: How much work is it to change sides during a war, and what does it involve?

Skilo: Pretty much three, four sleepless nights. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it since I am leaving so many friends behind, But what was done was done, and this is the decision the Alliance made, that the majority of the corporations voted for. I fully respect that.

You have many standings with entities already done that needs altering and you need to make new standings to a lot of new entities. You have to make sure once you lose standings, you don’t forget to change them from your end as well. For example, imagine a specific alliance already set us neutral and we still have them blue, they will shoot at us!

There is always a period of time, I’d say twenty-four to forty-eight hours where people can’t really play the game since there are a lot of allies who are actually neutral now, and many who appear to be allies, but are in fact neutral. However, we have been talking as much as possible with our old friends and everything has been going smoothly so far. No major regrets.

Of course, there are always people calling us whatever names they can come up with, but many people forget this is a game and in the end you need to do what you think is best for your alliance and to have fun.

Salivan Harddin: Have there been any incidents since the announcement?

Skilo: No, I think we only lost one interceptor, but so far nothing major. I have asked people to be aware of using capitals and so far they have been following orders and working quite well on that part.

Salivan Harddin: Do you believe switching sides has given N3 a huge advantage in the war?

Skilo: It helps them in two ways. If you are asking about why N3 offered us this deal, you’d have to ask them, but I suppose its less sovereignty grinding on their part to do, and of course it helps them to have our alliance join their side in pilots and staging systems. That is not however my decision to make now, as I am now with N3, so whatever the orders are we [DARKNESS(dot)] will execute them, regardless.

Salivan Harddin: Have you already started joint ops with N3?

Skilo: No, we are still under standing changes, until downtime on Sunday, the sixteenth of March, so we are not joining any N3 fleets and operations at the moment.

Salivan Harddin: Do you believe Stain-Wagon Coalition is in its death throes?

Sokil: The Stain-Wagon I joined a year ago is as I read it, and feel it, is dying. Don’t get me wrong, the Russians haven’t quit playing EVE or disappeared, they are still there, fighting and will try to get back on their feet. And yes, the first broadcasts and fleets done under N3, pressing the F1 key will be done with mixed feelings. And yes, I will probably get primaried by their [Stain-Wagon Coalition’s] side, even just for LOLs, but at the end of the day I can only hope that I can have some good smack talk in local wherever and whenever it happens.

Salivan Harddin: Do you believe after the current Stain-Wagon Coalition is evicted, that a new independent Coalition will take its place, or is New Eden moving towards a polarized political landscape (i.e. N3 vs CFC)?

Skilo: That will depend on the the will of the Russians to keep fighting and reclaim their space or if they decide to make a deal with the other coalitions. This is something I can’t really answer. I sure hope, and I know after flying with them for four, five years, that they will try to come back either here or in the north, west or even east of New Eden. But I believe they will try to come back. However we shouldn’t talk like everything is already over. -A- is still fighting the good fight in Catch, as well as other entities in the Stain-Wagon Coalition. I am not calling the current Stain-Wagon Coalition dead, just the one I joined a year ago.

Salivan Harddin: There have been many questions about the CFC’s support of the Stain-Wagon Coalition in this war, yet after the victory of B-R5RB they completely disappeared from the battlefield, and Stain-Wagon Coalition began losing all gains made until that point, why?

Skilo: A lot of the things happened in the last month, true. I wouldn’t say the CFC supported the Stain-Wagon Coalition from the start of the war, but after Halloween, when SOLAR Fleet joined and the CFC started acting as an “honourable third party” we started our winning streak.

Don’t get me wrong, things like B-R5RB were only possible because of the CFC. I was there, and it was a great fight. I kept firing the doomsday device of my titan at everything and it was a great fun. True, it was laggy, with heavy Time Dilation and everything else that comes with it, but still a great fight. Even the ones who were there and lost a titan, I truly believe are happy that it was under those circumstances, in that battle that they lost it.

a lot of the things we achieved in the last months of the war were due to the fact the CFC was there with us. Regardless of what was written on TheMittani(dot)com and of what CFC thinks, calling me a traitor and everything, I cannot forget or lie and say they didn’t do an amazing job supporting us and helping us get more space, and sustain the attack on N3. Especially when you consider Stain-Wagon is mainly EU TZ and that we really were missing the crucial US TZ the CFC came and gave us a lot of aid.

However at some point they were attacked in their own home space. Black Legion was in their home and burning it to the ground – They were losing towers and people, so they had to return home. CFC didn’t abandon the Stain-Wagon Coalition, they just had look after their own territory. I am still waiting to see what will be the CFC’s next move: Will they return to help the Stain-Wagon Coalition again, or after seeing the recent events, are altering their plans. I just don’t know.

By then, the problem was a lot of the alliances in the Stain-Wagon Coalition were tired, we were seeing lower pilot participation. CTAs that in the past had around four hundred, three hundred pilots were now getting only a third of that number. Many Fleet Commanders were burnout by the constant grind. It wasn’t the issue of morale, but mainly fatigue. We still don’t know what happened in Darkness of Despair. There are talks of a hacker who actually disbanded the alliance, and I prefer to believe in that and to see what will be CCP’s answer on the matter.

But the true fact was that the Coalition itself wasn’t doing well. So it wasn’t -DD-’s disband that was the catalyst for the recent defeats. CFC were the ones that by the end of the month were doing the majority of the fighting due mostly to the timers set to US TZ.

Salivan Harddin: Do you think part of the reason for this state of affairs was the war started before your side was prepared?

Skilo: It is quite easy for me to say now, in hindsight, yes, but if you asked me four, five months back I would have said no, after all we were winning, we were claiming systems and striking down N3 time after time.

Should we at some point stopped the sovereignty grind, for example in Tenerifis, and made a deal with N3 saying we got what we came for and wanted a break now, and you [N3] need a break as well, probably. would N3 have taken that deal, or the CFC liked us to make it?

There are many questions that now I can look back and see we should have done things differently. However I have no regrets on any of the decisions that were made. The Coalition decided to keep pushing, and so we [the Alliance] did.

Did we burn out many FCs because of our decision, yes. Yet there were also many pilots who burned out on the other side. So I think not, we did what had to be done, it was fun and yeah. Some might say that we started the war with N3 too soon, but I see it as that we started when it had to and thats it. Many may also say it was N3 that took the first shots, I am not going to debate who started what. There were diplomacy channels on both sides that just didn’t work.

Salivan Harddin: Thank you very much for your time, and I hope to your future successes, do you have anything else to add?

Skilo: I have shot and have been shot by many of my current friends, and I will shoot and shoot with many of my current enemies. This is EVE, who you shoot today will be your best friend tomorrow. Lets face it how many games can offer this kind of content. Many of us play it for this reason alone.
———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Special thanks to Tuqiri, of Astrum Fidelis, Apocalypse Now(dot) Alliance for bringing the news to my attention, and for Skilo of the muppets, DARKNESS(dot) Alliance for granting me this interview.

*The text has been been transcribed and altered to create a flowing narrative, as well as correct grammar and spelling mistakes. It has been verified by Skilo of the muppets, DARKNESS(dot) Alliance before publication.

Salivan Harddin, when not shooting Sansha in anomalies, likes to write a fair, balanced news site for the Providence Bloc at the EVE Scribe

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