If you compare the history of 0.0 politics with that of our own world you will find many common features and patterns. For example, the current dualistic nature of 0.0 politics mirrors very much the situation in the latter half of the 20th century. Unlike many others, I do not consider the current form of 0.0 politics an error or bad game design itself (although there are some things that need fixed) but rather the natural progression of human development.
When Eve started, you had small groups that explored the fringes. These corporations were fairly primitive and disorganized compared to many of the groups today. These various corporations fought, grew, developed, and aligned with one another. The Great Northern War, the fall of BoB etc, these were times where Eve entities grew from their basic tribal configurations into alliances and the precursors to the modern coalitions. Due to lack of organization, numerical saturation (which leads to intellectual saturation, redundancy and advancement, See Sedentary vs Nomadic) we had a variety of entities that all fought each other.
We saw this cycle happen a few times in our own world. Compare Europe when Rome only ruled central Italy and you had a variety of powers from Carthage to the various Greek entities, to Thracians, Iberians, Celts etc. Then compare it to the 2nd century AD where you had Rome as an Empire, the Persian Empire and a few groups to the north that varied in effectiveness. We could compare that with today where we have two major coalitions and a few smaller groups that fall between the two such as CVA, Hero Coalition, Russian Remnants and some of the lowsec and npc 0.0 areas.
Economics, ideology, security, these are all factors that can bring people together or push them apart. In conflict motivation one or more take precedence over the others. The war between BoB and Goons was an ideological one. The Tribute War (CFC vs DotBros) was economic. N3’s conquest of the east and the exile of Solar from the Drone Regions was both economic and security. The Fountain War was also economic and security based as both the GSF and TEST held an almost identical ideology. The Halloween War was about security (N3 vs RUS) but by proxy (and sometimes directly) it was ideological (N3 vs CFC.)
If one were so inclined, one could write quite a lengthy piece on each of those aspects but since my interest today will focus on the ideology, it should be a shorter piece. Now when I say ideology I am also referring specifically to the organizational structure of the two coalitions. The difficulty of such an article is in large part due to it being impossible to completely separate the two when talking about them. As such there will be a phasing in and out of both sides in their respective sections and perhaps some repetition of some points. The motivation behind this piece is over one of the questions I had to answer recently in and interview with Q, and I as it peaked her interest in the subject, I hope that others can observe my perspective and hopefully motivate discussion.
The Cluster Fuck Coalition: One Troll to Rule them All
It is first important to understand how a group was created in order to understand how it functions. I’ll skip the over told story of the fall of BoB and all that. It’s been covered elsewhere ad nauseam. Instead we will refer to the time when the GSF lived in Deklein and the old Northern Coalition (no relations to today’s NCdot) was fighting a war against the Drone Russian Federation. The DRF had been buying capitals from the old NC which at the time had grown extremely rich, fat and lazy. When the old NC started pushing further east, they met the DRF ready for war more so than ever and along with that, had hired Pandemic Legion to spearhead their offensive. PL using their Thundercat doctrine (Missile Kiting Tengus) handed old NC a series of staggering defeats.
Throughout the conflict, the GSF, which had had good relations with elements in the Russian community, specifically Red Alliance. In the past Red Alliance and the Goons had worked together and due to the past, the GSF offered minimal assistance to the old NC. There are some who would argue that the GSF refused to help the old NC because they wanted it to fall so that they may replace it. Either by accident or intent that is exactly what happened. White Noise and Raiden took old NC’s holdings in the north while the GSF held off a headshot attempt from PL. White Noise and Raiden were a forced to be reckoned with as their sizable blap titan fleets.
Two major things happened that changed the balance in the Goon’s favor. First off, CCP changed the way that Titans worked by limiting the tracking of capital guns thus limiting their engagement options. Blame Goon meta, blame CCP, blame both, whatever the case, this allowed the GSF to use their numeric advantage to put up a fight against White Noise and Raiden. The next major event was the internal conflict within White Noise and the formation of “Black Noise.” This divided White Noise as an alliance and Raiden seeing the writing on the wall withdrew from the north. So the GSF placed itself on the Northern Throne absorbing many of the old NC membership either directly into its alliance or coalition members such as Razor. As the point of stability and the greatest contributor in terms of numbers, but even more so than that, the GSF’s commitment to organization, logistics and leadership, they took center stage in what would be the CFC.
I’ve said this in the past and it still rings true, the GSF’s heavily centralized model keeps its coalition members strong enough to be useful, but also too weak to challenge GSF dominance. Propaganda often praises the accomplishments of the coalition as a whole. If a system is taken, it is a CFC victory. On the other hand if there is a terrible loss such as a super capital or a bad campaign, it is referred to as a failure of that particular alliance. By these means the notion that “you accomplish much with the coalition but little alone” is constantly repeated.
That may come off as a criticism but it is simply an observation. Central rule must be enforced if it is to be maintained. These methods are necessary for the stability of the CFC. At the same time steps must be taken to ensure that resentment between the GSF and the other coalition members does now grow. Even so the majority of FCs, decisions, resources and other assets find their way within the GSF.
One example of an entity which grew within (arguably) the CFC to a level where they could become a challenge to the GSF dominance was TEST Alliance. They held a long rivalry with CFC member, Fatal Ascension. The then leader of TEST, Montolio, sought direct war with FA even as they invaded the south west region of nullsec. The two antagonized each other until Montolio directly challenged the GSF. TEST lost their home region of Fountain in the process and FA was given the conquered area as their prize.
More recently we saw several internal changes within the CFC. GENTS and Li3 Federation merged into “The Bastion.” Li3 Federation was an old CFC member that had been kicked out, crashed on TEST’s couch in Querious and were later re-absorbed into the CFC. My contacts within GENTS tell me that the BOTLORD agreement left them with few options for pvp. Within Razor we saw hirr be kicked out for whatever reasons when they attempted to form their own alliance within the CFC. On the other hand when the Graduates attempted to do the same thing, they were given permission. Rather than have more corporations bleed out of the CFC and into N3, the Mittani made the smart move of letting certain elements restructure so long as it was kept within the CFC. So long as GSF dominance is maintained, rules are flexible. Anyone remember how renting was “bad” and “ungoon like” and “BoB like” to do?
Heavily centralized rule has many strengths. Decision making is much quicker. Everyone has a role which they must adhere to (or be disregarded) so that the coalition as a whole can accomplish goals. While there will be elements within the CFC that will attempt to establish a unique character, a higher level of autonomy and individual campaigns, a common narrative and ideology, even if vague at times, keeps the CFC together. Internal challenges are less likely and the repeated narrative of CFC contra mundum keeps the majority of the coalition members in line.
N3(PL?): Too leet for my shirt
The same “us vs them” narrative that helped keep the CFC unified has also created a unified enemy against them. Any time you create an “us” you inevitably create a “them.” This “Them” exists as a reaction to the CFC. In this case that them has come in the form of N3(PL?).
Years ago Nulli Secunda held sov in Delve and Period Basis and was allied with -A- and other members of SoCo against Red Alliance. The war was a slow grindy back and forth until RA began losing ground. -A- took the opportunity to make a deal with RA. In exchange for turning sov in the south over to -A-, RA would be allowed to settle by Nulli. It wasn’t long before Nulli and RA came to trading blows and roams turned into moves to take sov. Pandemic Legion, which at the time was allied with TEST which lived just north in Fountain, took advantage of the war and third partied the conflict. Unfortunately for Nulli, RA dropped out early leaving the war to be mostly between PL and Nulli. TEST took advantage of their ally’s move and launched a full invasion of Delve and Period Basis. Nulli put up a respectable fight but were pushed into lowsec to join Amarr FW.
As TEST and their allies started a full war with -A-, Nulli found refuge in an alliance with NCdot and their then allies, Black Legion. The group became known as “Dotbros” and as war raged on in the south, the Dotbros defended their holdings in Tribute against the CFC. Internal drama would split up NCdot and BL but Nulli would stick around with NCdot as well as Nexus (the 3rd in N3 although some say the name comes from “No Name Needed.”) Although eventually Dotbros/N3 would lose Tribute, the conflict would establish BL as a solid pvp powerhouse and push N3 into invading the east. Solar had been the 2nd front during the Tribute War and once the CFC finally managed to take the region from them, they left Solar and the east to fall to N3. PL and N3 allied in taking the east from Solar and their allies setting up a massive rental empire across the ancient russian regions.
TEST fell in the west, Solar fell in the east and both the CFC and N3/PL took the lion’s share of the territory. This all came together in the south with “RUSRUS” or “DTF” coalition stuck between the two. The Halloween War saw a massive capital loss for the CFC/DTF side in HED-GP while B-R would show the world the most expensive battle in Eve history at the expense of N3/PL. Regardless of the CFC/DTF win, the CFC pulled back allowing N3/PL to reverse their losses and completely control the south pushing -A- and other remnants into Stain and other sovless regions.
So now that we know by what manner this coalition was put together, how does it compare with the CFC? Well most notably, N3/PL has no single leader as the CFC does. There is no “MIttani” for the N3/PL side. Grath, Vince, Progod, all carry a certain amount of influence and weight in the coalition that would stagger the group would one end up leaving or being destroyed. This heightened level of autonomy and self sufficiency allows certain individual alliances to deploy effectively. PL or NCdot shows up in your backyard, it’s a problem. The same cannot be said about individual CFC alliances.
However that level of individual strength does not always mean the coalition as a whole is stronger. From a meta perspective there are certain things that can be taken advantage of. The CFC established a treaty with PL and PL only cutting off a northern front offensive from the entire N3 coalition. Nulli has taken to a campaign in Providence and while CFC media is keen on reporting on their losses, Nulli has shown individual military prowess. Where the issues arise is in their relationship with PL which has reset all N3 coalition members save for NCdot for the time being. Differences of opinion, debate, egos, all hamper a single unified progress of the coalition for a single goal on the same level that the CFC can maintain. That’s not to say that N3/PL should be restructured, simply put, these are the differences between the two and this is how they will work differently. N3/PL isn’t a coalition formed of equals by any means either. But the balance of power is spread out over several alliances rather than being completely centralized on one.
Is it better to have one head or several? Well one can say that if you have only one head, then decisions are made more quickly. This can be true. At the same time however, having several heads means that if one is cut off, this does not ensure the entire coalition falls. Both coalitions likewise place an emphasis on a certain type of culture. Although each corp and alliance has their own perspective on the matter, there is an “over culture” for each coalition be it “elite pvp” or “us vs them” etc. Whatever the case, both sides would do well to try to use that culture to unify rather than disassemble their coalitions. One coalition exists to balance out the other, however I believe if the CFC would fall first, it is more likely that N3 will reset its members for the sake of pvp than the other way around. The emphasis on centralism in the CFC seeks to maintain the status quo while the decentralized model of N3 places more emphasis on the different alliances.
What do you think? Is one manner of rule better than the other? Would you seek to maintain your coalition were you leading it or would you rather break up 0.0 into many different groups? How do you see the next conflict come to existence and what conclusion would you foresee? How do the factors discussed above affect each aspect?
– Seraph IX Basarab