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Target Caller: The Great Mission Statement Challenge

November 4, 2014

My name is Talvorian Dex. I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I’ve been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I’m particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 . If you would like to read more about my writings, please make sure to visit my Target Caller blog.

On my post about culture and tempo, one of my readers asked what I’d write if I was tasked with writing Razor’s mission statement. Challenge accepted!

A mission statement is nothing more than a summary of an organization’s vision. What are they trying to do? How do they go about it? What do they value? Since it’s written by the organization itself, it’s heavily idealized and subject to propaganda. Sometimes, the organization falls short of that mission statement, but that’s okay, so long as it’s clear that they operate according to it most of the time.

I’m not a part of Razor leadership, so I have no control over policy or direction. But I’ve been in Razor, through three different corporations, for nearly three years. In that time, I’ve heard a lot about what Razor “is” and what Razor values from both leadership and its members. Based on that experience, here’s what I’d write if tasked with distilling those opinions down to a simple statement:

Razor Alliance is one of the oldest null-sec entities, with an emphasis on fielding defined and uniform fleet doctrines – ranging from frigate/cruiser fleets to supercarrier/titan fleets – in large fleet engagements in support of sovereignty defense and conquest. With a rich history of interacting with sovereignty, especially Tenal, and the metagame over the past ten years, Razor conducts itself with professionalism, avoiding smack-talk or disrespect of enemies, while acting with deliberate, stoic efficiency in pursuit of its objectives.

No one can deny that Razor Alliance is both an extremely old alliance, having been started in 2005 long before the current powers existed, and that it has been involved in null-sec politics for the vast majority of that time. Nor can you really argue that Razor doesn’t develop doctrines for and use all ship sizes in its doctrines, or that those doctrines are enforced.

Likewise, Razor has a clear “no talking in local” rule. Razor’s standard procedure is to enter a system, get into an engagement, and toss only “GF”s in local regardless of whether they win or lose. Individual members may break this from time to time, but they are punished for doing so. Razor equates “professionalism” with pursuing objectives with the interest in achieving their goals. To quote Tom Hagen, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

That leaves one area of possible contention, and much of that will likely come from Razor members themselves. And that’s the emphasis on large fleet engagements to the exclusion of solo or small-gang warfare, as well as the focus on sov PvP.

Internally and when recruiting members and corporations, Razor refers to itself as “a PvP alliance”. That’s a broad statement… so broad, in fact, that it pretty much announces only what the alliance does not focus on or actively support: mining, mission-running, or ratting. Moreover, it gives a false impression about the PvP climate because of its broadness.

When you say you’re a PvP alliance, there are certain expectations people will make. One of those is that your reason for existing is to pursue and revel in PvP scenarios. Without a qualification about the size of those engagements, the assumption is that you enjoy all ranges. That solo PvP would be admired and pursued in equal portion to small gang, and that both would be held in equal esteem as large fleet PvP. By saying you’re a “PvP” alliance, you’re claiming that the thrill of that PvP is the greatest good. That, as an alliance, you hunger for the good fight. That you’ll take an engagement against a superior enemy just to see if you can squeak out a victory. That you’ll risk much to achieve an unlikely coup and prove your prowess.

That sounds totally awesome. Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that?

But the reality is that the vast majority of sovereignty alliances can’t have that emphasis. Why? Because these alliances must first and foremost maintain their sov, and as a result will always value large-fleet and objective-based PvP higher than any other kind of PvP. The FCs the alliance leadership trusts are those who can fly large fleets. In today’s null-sec, numbers are more important than overall skill points, so sov alliances are encouraged to acquire as many members as possible. And when you ping for a fleet, you’ll naturally have more people responding. Fleet sizes get bigger because sov alliances need fleet sizes to be big. They need many members to be engaged, so they support content generation that appeals to large numbers of pilots.

No one can focus on everything. And when maintaining the readiness needed to defend your sov relies on large fleet PvP, that’s the type of PvP you will focus on. Small-gang and solo work naturally falls to the wayside, definitely in relative terms if not in absolute terms as well.

There’s a reason the –RZR- ticker doesn’t strike terror into the hearts of low-sec small-gang PvP corps or wormhole corporations. We tend to fly larger fleets because we have more people and our doctrines are developed around minimum number thresholds, doctrines which simply don’t work below a certain fleet size.

And, consistently, Razor has elected not to build small-gang doctrines. It has failed when it’s been tried since that sort of PvP would result in SRP claims and personal losses that represent a drain on finances for fights that “don’t matter” in the sov game. Small-gang and solo work isn’t discouraged, but it isn’t supported in any formal way because it’s off-mission. Sure, individual pilots and even corporations within Razor do participate in other forms of PvP – and can do them quite well – but those are much more localized.

Now, that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. After all, maintaining sov requires a wide range of extremely important and hard-to-acquire skills, along with the right connections, and Razor is extremely good at maintaining its sov – its long history proves that. Razor provides a source of large fleet PvP where players can use their supers and titans, fly tight doctrines, and be part of the narrative of null-sec through sov ownership.

However, saying you’re “a PvP alliance” gives the impression that PvP is all about getting that dopamine drip, that it’s about satisfaction, delight, and pleasure. But in Razor’s case, PvP is “strictly business”. It can be enjoyable business, but it’s business nonetheless. “PvP” as a descriptor is useful only when comparing yourself against high-sec mission running or mining alliances. There are many kinds of PvP, and clearly defining the kind you mean is the best way to recruit those pilots who are looking for that sort of life.

So, I’d give Razor a solid “B” in living according to its stated mission.

Great question!

– Talvorian Dex