In most games the metrics used to determine who won and who lost is fairly certain. When your king is in checkmate, you lose. When you kill more tanks than the enemy kills of you, you win. However, the nature of Eve is that the victory is not determined so easily. “Didn’t want that anyway” and “Already been replaced” are manners in which people excuse their losses. Certainly these sort of excuses would get strange looks if done during a chess tournament. The theory goes that because in Eve we pick our objectives and acquiring those objectives count as a “win” while your enemy can accomplish their objective and they too also “win.” To a certain degree I would say this is true. If your alliance’s goal is to destroy an enemy’s towers, and their goal is to maintain sov, both results can mutually exist. However, even in such situations, one side is clearly objectively the “winning party.” Side A destroying side B’s towers is an objective metric regardless if side A is not able to take a foothold in side B’s territory.
Alright, enough general theory. What am I talking about regarding actual Eve events? Well for the past few months, the coalition formerly known as the CFC, has made a declaration of war against lowsec entities following their shadowboxing excursion into Cloud Ring. Most recently they have deployed to Saranen in lowsec to continue said campaign. Their campaign has been mostly composed of taking moon towers from Snuffbox. Why snuff? Nobody seems to know. It’s rather random, and ironically their dislike of PL would probably make Snuff better allies of GSF if anything. The general trend of the campaign has been that the CFC has taken the moon towers through the use of mass numbers, usually 3 to 1 odds, but in the process losing more ISK than the value of the moon if they managed to hold it for a year. When confronted with this fact, the reply is unironically that taking these moons away “takes money out of the war coffers of our enemies.”
This shows a complete lack of understanding regarding even the most basic aspects of lowsec alliances. Snuff doesn’t have the same sort of “social welfare” programs that CFC line members rely on. The vast majority of moons are usually personally owned by key individuals who are already immensely wealthy high skill point characters. Does it suck to lose your personal moons? Sure. Does it actually affect your ability to continue war? Not for Snuff, not really. On another level it’s poor strategic reasoning to attack an entity that is likely to never threaten you and a potential tool against people who will.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not spinning for Snuff here. With the exception of a few people (hi Donnie) most of them can biomass for all I care. Their fleets suck and I avoid them big time. But they’re still one of the top lowsec entities and that shouldn’t be ignored.
I had this shobon moment with a newbro in SMA. We had just blown up his whatever T1 fit ship and he told me how it didn’t matter because “The Imperium is fighting a good war to take away your prize money moons in lowsec.” Adorable. I slipped him 10 mil with the reason message as “thx 4 intel” and went on my way.
Anyway, in effect what the campaign has become is a costly unwinnable war in lowsec while the homefront is reeling from attacks by multiple parties. I assume Mittens will look for some sort of “trophy accomplishment” to point to in order to excuse a withdrawal. I asked Mittens, Sion and some general line members what they thought was the metric by which they measure success. The leadership was hostile but the line members entertained some ideas. The CFC may be losing the isk war for most of their battles, and the objectives may not actually be all that relevant, but the important thing was that members were “doing something.” The idea is more or less Brave Collective’s philosophy of “fun per hour.” It’s not called that by the CFC, but the basic principle is still there. As long as members have something to do, and it doesn’t matter what, then they’re “winning.” So even losing mass amounts of ships either at home when trying to rat or in fleets with 3 to 1 odds in your favor can still be termed as “winning.” Someone even told me with a straight face that the losses they are taking is simply “cutting the fat” and “taught us how to pvp.” However when you’re a massive nullsec alliance, fat’s kind of important to you. Without fat, you don’t have much weight to throw around.
There are three layers to this rationalization. At the bottom you have the line members. They’re either uninformed, or new. They don’t know any better, either because they want to lie to themselves or don’t actually have a wide enough perspective to take all the facts into consideration. On the second level you have the directors and alliance leaders. They certainly won’t tell their members they’re losing. At worst they’ll happily profit off of the losses of the line members. Every ship lost is another ship they’ll make money selling. At best they’ll swoop in with peppy words and claim things are just fine…
SpaceMonkey’s Alliance (SMA) has had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of a dispute with IwantIsk, an Eve casino site with plenty of money to make their point. And in order to make their point, they hired Psychotic Tendencies (TISHU) to carry out an extensive campaign against SMA assets. Initially, TISHU targeted Fade itself. In response, ExRiver (SMA CEO) made some declarations regarding taking over Cloud Ring and installing friendly entities as buffers. So TISHU took SMA’s holdings in Cloud Ring. Some SMA members would argue that despite this, they’re still “winning” where as I would claim that ISK lost, sov over turned, ADMs tanking, losing a quarter of your alliance numbers (over two thousand members) and going from the 2nd largest alliance to the 5th, are clear objective metrics that define victory.
Less clear but still valuable metrics are the propaganda waged on reddit, the level of distrust within the alliance, and the ever growing number of hostile alts within the alliance. Does that mean they’re not having fun? No. They could certainly be having fun. Are they “winning?” Not by any of the meaningful objectives outlined.
Lastly, we get to the top layer of this mental gymnastics routine. Beyond the self deceiving or ignorant line member, beyond the opportunistic or genuinely sincere director, you have the coalition leadership. They have different motivations, interests and roles. Actual money generated by the coalition media site is certainly a factor. This monetary incentive is the reason Sion can no longer run for the CSM, something which he’s extremely upset over and has opted to sit out the rest of his term in protest (wewlads). I’m not making a judgement regarding the ethics of it. I certainly have no interest in making moral calls. However, we cannot ignore that it is a factor. Of course, I’m speaking about TMC, whose success is heavily based on the coalition it seeks to serve. And so the top coalition leadership itself is involved in peddling this “winning” myth despite the numerous set backs. It was remarked that the CFC had “shattered the jaw of TISHU and destroyed their money making moons.” This is completely false. Either the coalition leadership is telling a complete lie to their members knowingly, or they are so distant from the actual affairs of the game, and occupied with TMC, or the media war on slack or reddit, that they are completely ignorant of actual events going on.
But none of that matters. What’s important is that members believe their relativist notion of victory and when that doesn’t work, out right lie. If they log in, they are consumers within their community. What is it important that they consume? TMC media. Clicks bring money, and numbers allow the coalition leadership to point their members in the direction of certain games outside of Eve, one could venture to say in exchange for monetary gain. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. However, if they prioritize monetary gain over sound coalition strategy, aren’t they just a detriment? Do people really want to be part of an entity that makes use of them as a number while making excuses for problems, moving goal posts, and turning accomplishments into relative semantics?