Certain people of the Goon variety whine and complain that I often critique their alliance and write little of anything else. A quick review through my article history will prove that claim wrong. I will admit that I have more critiques written about Goonswarm/Imperium but the reason is quite simple: they do more things to critique than other similarly influential entities. This does not mean that they are the only entity deserving criticism. Pandemic Legion, popularly thought of as an elite pinnacle within Eve, has made its own share of mistakes some of which I will cover in this article.
The critiques I bring forth against PL are three fold; they fail to initiate large scale meaningful conflicts such as World War Bee (WWB) and instead prefer to wait until the outcome is clear before fully committing, they mismanaged the occupation of Saranen by alienating allies and providing the Imperium with small but much needed “morale wins”, and lastly they failed to capitalize on the Imperium’s route to Delve. I like to divide the PL player base into four portions which are important to distinguish before moving forward. I list them in ranking of most useful and valued, to least.
How did PL fail to initiate WWB? Weren’t they the reason the Imperium lost the north? Some might be surprised to find out that WWB had kicked off at least three months before PL was involved in mid/late March of 2016. If we count the start of WWB from when Lenny began paying Psychotic Tendencies <TISHU> to begin their Fade deployment that crippled SpaceMonkey’s Alliance <SMA>, it would be January of 2016. More appropriate however, would be to count the start of WWB from the start of the Imperium’s Viceroyalty campaign when they attempted to invade lowsec. This solidified “Low Sec Voltron” which would be a sort of precursor to the larger MBC (Money Badger Coalition). In short, WWB started at least 3 months prior to PL being involved and possibly as many as 6 months. Alliances like TISHU, Mercenary Coalition, OSS, Out of Sight, and Suddenly Spaceships, among others, acted as the Vanguard and did most of the actual work in WWB. This is something the Generalissimos and Shitslugs in PL are oblivious to.
By the time PL moved up north in March, fighting had been going on for months. The Imperium had been facing failures on all fronts with the notable exception of Circle-of-Two <CO2> in Tribute/Lonetrek. A major push was called to hit Bastion and Lawn in Vale, just east of Co2. Of course nobody in PL wanted to call it an invasion yet. After all, you can’t have your invasion fail if you don’t call it that. It’s just “gudfites” and “loldunks.” In Eve, it’s never an invasion… until it is. This tendency to preemptively save face is common among many alliances, but nonetheless obnoxious and fully deserving of ridicule.
Despite the self-delusion of certain Generalissimos in PL, the Imperium did not collapse because of any major battle they orchestrated or FCed. The key defining point of WWB was not military, but diplomatic. The defection of Co2 was in the works months before PL showed up and is recognized by individuals on all sides as pivotal. Grath Telkin, CEO of Sniggerdly and one of the “Content Makers” stated, “I would say it (Co2’s defection) was pretty much the tipping point in the war. Co2 has very large fleets for its alliance size, much less an Imperium alliance. Them leaving showed some of the other Imperium alliances that they didn’t have to deal with the shit given to them and that they could live apart and away from the Imperium without being hunted like dogs. The narrative that Imperium leadership spun for the longest time was that if its members left, they’d be hunted down and killed for their years of service with the Imperium. Only that hasn’t happened at all. In fact most of the alliances are doing well. Fcon’s fine, Co2 is fine, Init, while still with the Imperium has shown that operating at arms length has kept them strong. So it was pretty much another crack in the façade, and probably the last one. After they left there weren’t really any fights of size to care about. There wasn’t enough meat left in the Imperium grinder and it lost massive number of players over the weeks after. So yeah, big, huge.”
So then what was the role of PL? There’s no question they played a role, but it’s certainly not the leading one some imagined. Their role, along with NCdot, TEST, GOTG coalition, etc, was simply bringing weight in against the largest coalition in the game. This has value, there’s no question about it. But for PL who would ridicule Goons for winning just because of numbers that makes them no more useful than Goons in this context.
As a counter point, is it even PL’s job to initiate the conflict? Why should PL go and have to lead the charge in WWB? It isn’t PL’s obligation to do anything. Nobody has any obligation. This much is true. It’s just that as Eve’s premier elite pvp super capital powerhouse you just sort of expect that they’d live up to that potential. Certainly nobody expected some medium sized lowsec alliances to be the ones leading the charge against the Imperium. PL leaders of all colors kept repeating the narrative that GSF had skillfully implanted in their psyche, “Imperium is too big to fail.” It was only after the conflict was more certain, that PL became involved just enough that the Generalissimos could elbow their way into the spotlight. What did they do with that spotlight?
Once Co2 defected, the Imperium ceased any serious attempt to retake their space in the north. Instead they abandoned everything and retreated to Saranen. Co2 leaving not only robbed the Imperium of the 2nd most powerful alliance in the Imperium after GSF, but also provided for the invaders intelligence on all Imperium supercap/titan build poses. The estimated value of supers and titans destroyed either because of MBC sieging these towers or because the makers pulled them out of build, is rumored to have dwarfed even B-R. There was nothing left for PL to really command or orchestrate. TEST absorbed Vale, Darkness took Deklein, PHorde took Fade. PL set its sights on occupying Saranen, the lowsec capital of the recently evicted Imperium.
It was during the occupation that the Imperium was at its weakest. The Mittani began spinning his wheels even more than usual claiming CCP wanted GSF destroyed and that the casinos were built on child gambling. While the Imperium was losing sov, Mittens stated that the sov mechanics favored the attacker. Once they had essentially lost their sov and in turn became attackers themselves, the sov now “favored defenders.” PL made a massive mistake here. They attempted to “camp Goons into Saranen.” It’s true I may have never lead a coalition wide invasion so my experience is limited. Despite this I’m going to go ahead and say camping a lowsec system is probably not the smartest idea. This gave the Imperium the option to engage when and how they wanted. A handful of times Imperium welp-cane fleets even managed to snag some capitals from the occupying force. The morale boosts were a welcome change from having been ejected from their northern territories.
During this time, the Imperium had not completely relinquished their claim to the north. There were a number of attempts they made to retake space. Instead of trying to camp them into the station, PL along with MBC forces should have backed off, allowed the Imperium to gain some hard objectives, and then take it away from them. This would raise morale internally, then causing a morale collapse. 1 step forward, 2 steps back for them. PL’s attempts to strong arm MBC into camping Saranen had the opposite effect and instead estranged some of the MBC allies. Although many answered the call initially, after a few weeks, alliances preferred getting reset by PL than waiting around on a lowsec npc station undock for the Imperium which mostly now undocked ceptors or throw away Hurricanes.
Delve was the obvious and only choice for the Imperium to regain their footing. The handful of smaller alliances living there were swept aside. TEST attempted to obstruct the Imperium’s settlement of the region hoping to put the final nail in the coffin. PL instead opted to attack TEST’s assets in Vale. It’s difficult to understand why that choice was made. Perhaps it wasn’t even conscious. Some could say that PL lacks a real vision beyond shooting whatever is near them and picking their fights carefully. Personally I would say there is no higher pleasure in Eve than destroying an alliance. Blowing up pixels is one thing, but finding the pressure points of a social construct like an alliance, and disassembling it is another matter altogether. Either way the argument of “well who said it’s PL’s job to do that?” still stands and as a fair point. Nonetheless, we can analyze and consider the alliance’s capability and potential and notice a lack of direction, and leadership.
Many of the aforementioned issues stem from the 4 way division I outlined previously. There is also a cultural division widening within PL between the “Old Guard” made up of position 1 and 2 and, the “Meme Squad” hosting position 3 and 4. When PL lost their original sov in Fountain, it had a profound effect on its mode of operation and culture. Now with the new sov mechanics, PL has found a new desire to hold territory. Another major shift could occur, but that depends upong which people within the alliance have the authority and ability to reign in the useful individuals. With the upcoming moon mining changes, further adaptation will be needed as different ways of receiving passive income will need to be used. It remains to be seen how PL will develop through this crucial period and how the internal cultural contrast will be affected by the game mechanics themselves.
There may not be a singular leader of Pandemic Legion making decisions. It’s more of a confederation of tribes attacking in whichever direction the loudest of the FCs is making that day. PL doesn’t necessarily need to change its format, but if they do not have a consistent and overarching vision beyond picking careful fights and having a bunch of supers, they’ll end up again being late to the party, obstructing progress and failing to capitalize on success. It seems like there is a lot of wasted potential within the alliance. There’s too much of a concern for looking good and a fear of failure that limits potential. Reputation is important and it must be guarded well but an obsession with it can be even detrimental. There’s nothing wrong with assessing risk and deciding to commit based on that. I’m not one of the players in this game that cries “risk adverse” at people if they refuse to welp their fleets. If I were a member of PL, I would question what the purpose of the alliance is. Is it to wait around for things to happen in order to interject on one side with overwhelming force and feel good about kill mails? Isn’t PL more capable than that? Aren’t they able to be the masters of their own destiny? PL has enough competent people that they can start wars, not just wait around for them to happen. They can be the ones who make stories in Eve happen rather than waiting for something to happen and then deciding to participate. There’s no question about the potential for them to do it. The real question is if they actually will.