Disclaimer: This is an opinion/analysis article and should be read as such.
War often breeds falsehoods. This is true for our world as it is for Eve. The current conflict in Tribute is no different. In this article I will be analyzing some of the claims being made regarding the conflict, particularly the catalysts for certain events that have come to pass.
Almost no invasion in Eve is actually called an “Invasion”. Almost all start out as “Just good fights”, the default narrative by the attacking side, even if the actual intent is an invasion. Why? It’s very simple. Your invasion cannot fail if you were “Only there for good fights”. In case your attack falters, you can always fall back to the narrative of “Good fights”, thus avoiding the morale loss and embarrassment of losing. For months and months World War Bee was not recognized as an invasion by the attackers until its outcome was absolutely clear. In Delve, Goonswarm Federation (Goons) made remarks about going to Fountain for “Good fights” or “Just to burn down towers.” But the moment resistance from The-Culture falters or if they decide to abandon the region, the Goons will step in and call the invasion a success.
My interest is not to complain but rather to accurately define the situation. Gobbins, in his address to Pandemic Horde, clearly states that the goal is to conquer Tribute with Northern Coalition. (NCdot) and Pandemic Legion (PL) and to hold the territory rather than allowing Test Alliance Please Ignore (TEST) or another alliance to take it.
Despite the truth being stated from the start, elements within NCdot and PL claimed it was not an invasion. My interest is not simply semantic, but this kind of cautiousness shows that even within NCdot and PL there is the idea that failure is a strong enough possibility that it warrants a “Plan B narrative” in case things fail. Out of all the invading groups it seems as if only Pandemic Horde is brave (or perhaps foolish) enough to define their goals and intent.
Pandemic Horde showed some early reservations committing to this war. Gobbins himself regretted that “Content could not be found elsewhere” and that there was no actual animosity toward Circle-Of-Two (Co2). In his declaration of war, he even states that things would happen regardless of Pandemic Horde’s involvement, suggesting he was not the initiator of the idea nor someone that could influence the decision.
The reasons presented seem logical on the surface: Better space and better access to empire space. If this were true, Deklein right next to Horde space is undeniably better than Tribute. As for access from to and from Empire space it’s easy to navigate from Jita to Torrinos through highsec and jump just about anywhere relevant in the north. This is much safer than the lowsec routes south of Tribute which Co2 uses, which are often plagued by ganking supers and other pirate entities. Ah, but there is one more claim from within Pandemic Horde. They want to have easier access to Empire space in order to recruit the Alpha clone new players. Likewise, there is no reason to believe Alpha clones would center around Jita, a place for people with money. It would be easier to reach nullsec through the Torrinos route rather than the lowsec Taisy route.
Thus, by all accounts the reasons and goals established by Pandemic Horde could be met much more easily taking space in Deklein. Then why would Pandemic Horde not go through with this? It’s very possible that nobody thought of the idea, but more likely they never had an opportunity to seriously consider this because they are not the ones calling the shots.
The plan to hit Co2 found its approval not from Gobbins, but came from NCdot’s Vince Draken. This explains the aversion to hitting Deklein for space and going to war with the Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, headed by Sort Dragon’s DARKNESS.. Why? One event may give us some insight. In August, when NCPL attacked Co2 in SH1, Darkness had a fleet formed up ready to help support Co2 as per their agreement. NCPL quickly reached out to Sort Dragon who in turn ordered the FC leading the fleet to stand down. What do you call an alliance that has a leader that receives and follows orders from another alliance? Some might use the term “Pet.” I do not mean to be flippant here, but if your policies are decided by another alliance, well… A pet by any other name would smell as weak.
I cannot speak on whatever other agreements Sort Dragon may yoke his alliance to NCPL’s orders, but at least in this case he was told to roll over and he quickly complied. In contrast, Co2’s leader, GigX is likely to give a somewhat more hostile reply to such orders. The message from NCPL is obvious: If you follow orders you’re allowed to hide in our shadow. NCPL leadership recognizes at least this much and respects Co2’s willingness to fight despite the overbearing firepower amassed against them.
There has also been a lot of “Ink” wasted on misrepresentation regarding Co2’s actions in the Tribute pocket owned by Mercenary Coalition (MC). Several people have claimed that MC is now fighting against Co2 because Co2 started hitting MC space. While technically correct, this version of the story fails terribly in detailing actual events. During WWB, Co2 and MC fought against each other, but established a level of mutual respect. Once the Goons retreated from the north, a pocket of Tribute space was given to MC and in exchange entered into a mutual defense pact with Co2. If Tribute was attacked, they would work together to defend it. When NCdot invaded, MC instead claimed neutrality and deployed south, reneging on their agreement with Co2. In response, a handful of Co2 players (11 all told) did destroy an MC tower but not on “Order of Gigx” as some claimed.
Common sense dictates that if you get to have a portion of space in exchange for agreeing to defend said space, but you refuse to do so, you lose any claim to that space as per your agreement. In essence, MC relinquished control of all their Tribute assets the moment they decided they would not help defend the space they had agreed to fight for. In short, they had nothing to complain about.
When I discussed this with MC, their reply was that the mutual defense pact was “Only for fighting off Goons”. However, when I spoke with Gigx, shutupandshave (SUAS) and other leadership people in Co2 that were privy to these agreements, they specifically outlined that the mutual defense pact was “Not just for Goons” but for general defense against invasion. It’s possible that the length of terms regarding the agreement was misunderstood by both sides. If the agreement was “Just for the possibility of a counter Goon invasion” then it reasons that that also goes for MC’s right to territory in Tribute.
The other argument presented toward me was that MC had confirmation from Gigx that once the invasion would be thwarted, Co2 would take MC’s space. Well, of course. If MC has their space based on an agreement of mutual defense, and you fail to mutually defend, or the agreement to defend against Goons expires because of circumstance, you forfeit your claim to that space as per your agreement. Either way, even if Co2 does lose Tribute, Gobbin’s declaration of war is vague on the status of MC’s hold to their territory stating that it will be “Left alone for the time being.”
Some individuals on reddit, particularly the bitter buzzing variety, are now remarking that this is only fitting to happen to a “Traitor like Co2”. This shows a severe ignorance of the events leading up to Co2’s defection from the Imperium. Who am I to claim this? When I was part of the Money Badger Coalition (MBC) via my old alliance, Psychotic Tendencies. (TISHU), I was the one that reached out to Co2’s head diplomat, Da Winci, and with him established the relationship that would culminate in Co2’s departure. I wrote an extensive series of articles detailing the process of which he signed off on for accuracy. Recently, after my corp joined Co2, Gigx appointed me as a diplomat for his alliance. Some may find it hard to believe, but I’m not saying these things to brag, merely to establish my credibility on the subject and that I’m not like the many different people who like to speak on matters they had little to do with. I’m not speaking from a place of ignorance, at least for this one topic.
From this position I would like to offer the counter argument to “Co2 are traitors” and that “MC is simply doing to Co2 what Co2 did to the Imperium”. Co2 held the single most successful front in defense against the Imperium. They inflicted heavy casualties on their attackers and were the most capable individual alliance of their coalition by far, except perhaps Goons themselves. In contrast, SpaceMonkey’s Alliance (SMA), a fellow coalition member which at the time was the second largest alliance in the game, crumbled under the stress of TISHU’s Blackops strikes and Pandemic Horde’s camping.
Co2’s responsibility to the Goons and the greater Imperium Coalition was to defend the north against the invaders. Unquestionably they were the most successful in this endeavor. They were not obligated to retreat from the fight and capitulate to the enemy as the rest of the Imperium did. They were not obligated to deploy elsewhere, otherwise any time the various Imperium alliances refused to deploy in the past, they would be branded traitors. The Initiative. is a perfect example of that, as is any time just about any other alliance refused to deploy in the coalitions history.
The claim that they are traitors is baseless and unprecedented. Instead, I would level the mark of traitor at Goons, because they failed in their obligation to defend coalition space, actively took actions to undermine the capabilities of their allies, specifically planning to absorb (WIDOT – Named after Wildly Inappropriate alliance which was absorbed into a corporaiton in Goonswarm Federation) SMA, dismantled Co2’s defensive strategy with The Bastion and Get Off My Lawn (LAWN), and just generally “Not giving a fuck” about certain coalition allies, as Mittani himself put it. If you are in that sort of toxic relationship, is the person who is tired of such abuse and walking away really the traitor? If you get married and your spouse abuses you and makes decisions that harm the family continuously, do you really have to go with it just because they bought the house? The traitor to the relationship is the one that begets the negative aspects, not the person who files the divorce.
The second part of the claim is that MC is simply acting the same way Co2 acted toward the Imperium. But for this argument to be true, it would have to be MC that continues to defend Tribute from the invaders while Co2 would be the ones retreating to lowsec. No such arrangement exists and instead Co2 continues to hold up their word defending Tribute.
The last claim that I look to debunk is this whole idea of “Good fights”. Not in the sense of “Not an invasion, just good fights” but just in general what a good fight is. Most people would agree that generally a “Good fight” is one where both sides are relatively evenly matched, essentially a “Fair fight”. I think the whole concept is nonsense to begin with. Fair is for tournaments and duels. Eve is about using every possible asset as a weapon to attack your enemy. When you outnumber your enemy by the hundreds and then on top of that throw in hundreds of super capitals and titans on top of that, it’s no longer a “Good” or “Fair” fight. Again, this is not a complaint, but rather more accurately describing the engagement. You wouldn’t go Covert Ops dropping a ship and call it “Solo PvP” either.
It’s impossible to really predict how this conflict will play out. Truthfully, these engagements over UMI-KK or 15W-GC are battles fought outside the castle wall. If Co2 can hold strong, the actual war will be decided on the Keepstar in M-OEE8. NCPL have summoned everyone from Guardians of the Galaxy coalition to members of Vanguard coalition. Not only do they hold an advantage in the numbers of supercaps, but now they’re also clearly outnumbered in term of subcaps. Essentially, Co2 and TEST are fighting the rest of the MBC and have decided to resist against relatively the same force from which the Imperium retreated into lowsec from. At the very least, they deserve some credit for that. The rest will depend on how the Keepstar siege will go. Such a battle would be new for everyone in Eve and likely to cause casualties in the tens of trillions.
The other factors are also the lowsec alliances that are semi-involved in the conflict. These entities were either part of the Lowsec Voltron semi-coalition that predated the MBC and was most active during the preliminary phase of WWB. They include Snuffed Out, Project.Mayhem., Shadow Cartel and Escalating Entropy among others. They could very well dog pile against Co2 and help NCPL, get some valuable kills and possibly help remove Co2 from Tribute. However, I have to wonder if this is really the best interest for such groups. NCPL and lowsec groups swim in the same waters and are often competitors. Would they not gain more benefit to use such an opportunity to harm their natural territorial rival instead? It’s not impossible. If WWB proved anything, it was that even the immovable can be nudged. If these entities managed to stand together and even out the odds, we could witness a truly spectacular battle that would be remembered for years to come.