I had the pleasure of interviewing Carneros, CEO of The Bastion [BASTN] alliance currently part of the Imperium and living in the south western region of Delve. Throughout my past interactions, Carneros has always been respectful, and pleasant to discuss Eve politics with. I asked if he could tell me about himself, his alliance and experiences in Eve Online:

Seraph: Tell the readers who you are, what role you play in this game, and how long you’ve been playing.

Carneros: I’m the CEO of a mid-sized null sec sov alliance called The Bastion. Like Get Off My Lawn [LAWN] and Tactical Narcotics Team [TNT], we are allied with The Imperium coalition. But I didn’t start off running an alliance or even a corporation.

In 2009 there was a “dot com crash” in the high tech business world and I let a friend come crash in my spare bedroom. He played EVE and I watched him play. It looked crazy, especially getting up in the middle of the night to change his skill queue, but I still asked him to get me a buddy key and I tried it. Not long later I accepted an offer from CCP Games as their Senior Director of Sales. My Carneros character was taken away and I was told to make new alts and play those.

I joined EVE University [E-UNI] and took every class offered. I needed to learn this game for work reasons. I didn’t immediately like the game but I played anyway and I got to enjoy the E-UNI player community. At this point, the Sr. Director of Marketing went on maternity leave and CCP asked me to cover her position and mine – from Reykjavik.  I moved to Iceland, started taking Icelandic lessons, and flew with E-UNI in my free time. I was never sure if E-UNI management knew I worked for CCP.

CCP asks every new employee with an EVE character to  give up that character for six months or more. The account is technically banned but not perma-banned. This is to make sure your loyalties are foremost to CCP and less to your character or corporation or alliance. You get it back if it’s not too famous after six months at CCP — or when you leave the company. When the famous 20% layoff came, like most US employees I was laid off. I had my Carneros character  back and I was now free to play EVE fully — no more employee limitations.

Seraph: What appealed initially to you about the game? Did you gravitate toward industry or combat for example?

Carneros: A friend told me about his favorite podcast at the time “Lost in EVE”  hosted by Jadecougar and told me that Jadecougar was starting a new corp and alliance with a great vision to get sovereign space in null sec. He had just joined the fledgling corp and wanted me to go with him. So I left E-UNI and joined the new corp in its first month.

Jadecougar searched for sov territory for us and felt we needed to join a power block.  After being turned away a number of times, Vile Rat brokered a deal between Jadecougar and SpaceMonkey’s Alliance [SMA] to let Li3’s Electric Cucumbers [L3EC] temporarily join SMA to prove ourselves.

We did well in SMA and rose to become their most active PVP corp but the Cluster Fuck Coalition (CFC, the precursor to the Imperium)  had no extra space to give out. Instead they suggested we take an offer of a spot from the newly forming Honey Badger Coalition (HBC). We created Li3 Federation [L3F],  joined the HBC, and took a pocket in Querious. Remember, these were days of friendship between Goonswarm Federation [CONDI] and Test Alliance Please Ignore [TEST]. At this point, I’d been promoted from line member to corp advisor to alliance XO.

Change is a constant in EVE Online. The CFC invited Li3 Federation back to join them and we made the decision to leave the HBC and move back up north. This cost us about half of our membership including one corporation we hadn’t realized was run by Pandemic Legion [-10.0] alts. We rebuilt in Vale of the Silent alongside Gentlemen’s Agreement [GENTS] which proved a prophetic matching. Jadecougar stepped away from EVE to focus on real life, sold his accounts, and passed leadership of Li3 Federation to me. We continued to participate, grow, make mistakes, and learn.

At EVE Fanfest 2015, Kesper North, CEO of Gentleman’s Agreement, let us know quietly that he was ready to step down from leadership and step partly back from EVE Online. He had no succession prepared for GENTS. I made the offer to Kesper and The Mittani to merge GENTS and L3F if no one else could be found and this option was selected. We chose to honor both parties by starting with fresh branding and a fresh organization and we called it The Bastion as it was the most eastward outpost of the CFC empire, the last bastion of civilization as it were.

Seraph: That’s truly a fascinating story. I knew of Bastion being a kind of merger between CFC alliances but not that in depth. What were some early challenges for you as leader of the new alliance? Were people resistant or welcoming to your move upward?

Carneros: New Eden is not a place where people are quick to trust new people. Some of the GENTS folks knew me as L3F had lived in Vale of the Silent with them. But a lot of them never paid attention to their neighbors. One of the first problems brought to my attention was a backlog of unserved GENTS SRP requests. I collected them and paid them all out of my pocket personally rather than using GENTS or L3F funds. That impressed a few people. I was obviously not there to acquire their hoarded technetium wealth. They were open to seeing more and getting to know my leadership style.

Seraph: How was your experience leading Bastion during war time?

Carneros: I love war time. I’m in all the fleets in my time zone and I’m obviously enjoying myself and that’s infectious. My members enjoy seeing me in the fleet with them. And as if that is not enough, I get invited to the military strategy meetings and the command coordination channel and get to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a war. Wars in New Eden are amazing things. I learn so much in each war.

Seraph: I don’t know if you are aware of this but you have a bit of a reputation of being “space honorable”…which may run contradictory to what some may deem as a successful Eve alliance leader, but also some of your coalition peers. What are your thoughts on that?

Carneros: EVE Online is a long term game and is best played with a long term perspective. Valuing your personal reputation fits within a long term perspective. Common sense usually helps as well.  If you act like a trustworthy leader, more people will trust you and follow you.

Does that mean some kind of space honor is the best path to success? I’m in no position to advocate such a thing. I’ve only been leading for about 3-4 years now. I’m a beginner in many ways. If I’m fortunate, I may find a path to success but it won’t be the most common path.

Seraph: What was the atmosphere, concerns, plans, etc for you, in the months leading up to WWB?

Carneros: When the plans for EVE Online: Aegis were released and we saw how the new sovereignty system would be shaped, I had proposed to my advisory council that we only try to hold and own the BUG6-X constellation in Vale of the Silent. If necessary, we could have two: BUG6-X and F-V9QW even though they were not contiguous. But their pride was too great to yield the extra space and reduce to much fewer systems held.

I explained that the systems we didn’t claim would just be left fallow. If someone came to act in them, we could play the “offensive” side of the Aegis sov system. If someone attacked our systems, we would play the “defensive” side (trying to use a sports analogy.) I told them we didn’t have the necessary numbers to have the density to really control the space at max level. After losing all the space in the war and moving all the way to Delve, they now agree with me that sometimes when it comes to null sec sov… less is more. Now we hold a much smaller footprint, live in it much more densely, and it turns out my suggestions were still not conservative enough.

Seraph: What was Bastion’s role in helping the Imperium through its loss of the north and how has your alliance developed since then?

Carneros: When The Bastion lost Vale of the Silent and retreated to Saranen, none of the alliance particularly wanted to be there. Once we arrived and were often unable to undock and play EVE, many of my members were unhappy. I counseled them to take a long term view and be patient. More than half of our membership either stopped logging in or left for greener pastures elsewhere. This was hard to watch but I had faith in The Imperium to bounce back and re-establish ourselves.

Eventually the day came that we were ready to take our next steps and surprisingly, they weren’t toward Deklein. We took a long path to Delve instead with Goonswarm Federation leading and TNT, LAWN, and BASTN supporting and participating and encouraging the group. Goonswarm Federation could have moved south and taken Delve alone, but EVE Online and MMO gaming in general are both better with friends. The Bastion are good friends and strive to pull our weight and keep a good attitude.

Fast forward to today and we have a beautiful home together. Everyone in my alliance admits we like our new home better than Vale of the Silent. We live much more closely with our friends and enjoy it far more than we would have guessed.

Personally, I am thankful for EVE Online, the Imperium, and the entire EVE community.