Credit where credit is due. Goonswarm and their allies have become a force to be reckoned with yet again. This is due to a combination of them doing a number of things right, and their enemies doing quite a few things wrong. While PanFam farmed Provi for “content” Goons studied the Rorqual. When Panfam deployed to low sec, Goons cultivated their industry. While PanFam let Fountain fall, Goons mastered the Reddit brigade. And now that Goons are anchoring Keepstars in the north you expect gudfites?
There’s no question that the current Rorqual and resource density of regions is broken and I go over the main points in my last article. The fact that a single region can support the entirety of the Imperium without even being at full capacity is proof enough. However the Imperium are simply playing with the game that CCP is giving them and you cannot fault them for that.
At the end of World War Bee the Imperium was left homeless. Starting with their failed campaign in low sec during the second half of 2015 and ending effectively in March of 2016 with the defection of Circle-of-Two, the Imperium had suffered a catastrophic humiliation at the hands of their enemies. Then living in low sec, they turtled down until most of the Anti-Imperium members of Money Badger Coalition had decided to ignore them and carve up the territory in the North. Goons took whatever few remaining allies they had and decided to invade Delve, a region at the time which was occupied by multiple smaller entities. Test Alliance Please Ignore, who had formed a portion of the MBC, decided to follow them South and obstruct this campaign. It was at this point that Pandemic Legion, allies with Test in the war against the Imperium, decided to attack them in their new Northern Holdings. Test was driving the final nail in the coffin and PL essentially saved the Imperium.
Perhaps the expectation was that the Imperium would remain a shadow of its former self and a fun place to dread bomb every few days. And Dread bombing is exactly how it went with the Imperium losing a number of Super caps, Titans and Rorquals at the hands of NC/PL. However it was never quite a challenge to their root in the region. The Imperium offered a level of organisation in terms of game interaction and community that has always been unrivalled. This drew in more and more members while maintaining the older Goonswarm/Imperium members. Long gone were the days where PL was the only major alliance that could field a full fleet of T3s for example.
Toward the end of 2016 the Imperium was bestowed with another gift. PanFam decided to invade the regions of Tribute and the Vale of the Silent belonging to Circle-of-Two and Test Alliance respectively. The justification was a mixture of CO2’s leader, GigX being “arrogant” and then something about wanting renter space for Pandemic Horde which never quite actually manifested. After several months of CO2 defending against the onslaught with Test alliances tepid support, the two alliances decided to move South away from their Invaders. CO2 and Test holding an invading force that both outnumbered them and had Superior capital capabilities was a testament to their credit but it was not enough. CO2 leadership never had any illusions of ever being truly friends with PanFam so they weren’t surprised when the invasion happened. But it seems Test alliance took it a bit more to heart. Despite test having a number of former Goons who had left Goonswarm on relatively bad terms such as Vily, and ProGod who had been on the opposing side against the Goons numerous times, there was a political shift. Test had suffered almost complete destruction in 2012 when the Goons evicted them from Fountain. But many years had passed and it seemed no matter what Test did, PanFam was going to continue to obstruct and harass them. They had essentially pushed Test into the Diplomatic arms of the Imperium. Although not officially Allied, Test and the Imperium developed an agreement not to attack each other’s money making capabilities. But there was one more obstacle for this relationship: Circle-of-Two.
Test essentially scapegoated CO2 and especially GigX as refusing to play ball and being difficult. From my own personal experience working with the man I can say that he is someone that refuses to take shit from anyone. He’s both fiercely independent and fiercely loyal to his people. So much so that he even liquidated his own Titan characters to pay for SRP for his members during his defense of Tribute. That alone speaks of his character. But if he senses just a bit that you are dishonest or trying to take advantage of him he will not budge and he will be very direct and blunt about it. GigX felt just this way in regard to some of the territory in the south.
All of this came to a conclusion when the CO2 diplomat, The Judge, was flipped over to the Goon cause and used his director roles to steal a massive amount of money from his alliance as well as changing ownership of structures. At the same time Test attacked the remnants of CO2. In the process of all of this happening GigX had a natural reaction of anger and said some things which could be construed as a threat forcing CCP to ban him. CO2 had been stabbed in the back and beheaded all at once.
During WWB I had worked with CO2 and their head diplomat Da Winci on their eventual defection from the Imperium. During the process The Judge was sucking up to me me to get him in touch with Lenny, one of the main financiers of the MBC. When the agreement was made for CO2 to defect he contacted me personally asking if I could pay him an exorbitant amount of money for the defection which I of course refused. Months later when Da Winci left the game and my own Corp joined CO2 I was made a diplomat within the alliance and saw some other questionable things first hand. While CO2 was defending tribute from PanFam, and GigX was melting down personal characters and other assets so he could pay for SRP, The Judge was whining and complaining about making sure he could get his money back for investing in their M-0 Keepstar. Putting it mildly, The Judge is a psychosomatic combination of greed and uselessness. He’s the embodiment of ephialtes within Eve. You can see a very stark contrast between him and GigX just based on that.
One may call it a moral failing on behalf of Test leadership to work with someone like The Judge over GigX, but it would be a mistake to ignore the role PanFam had played in pushing Test closer and closer into the Diplomatic orbit of the Imperium.
Goons on the other hand are playing this extremely smart. Tests campaign in the South is a win for the Goons regardless of how it ends up. Either Test somehow manages to defeat PL and further weakens the enemies of the Goons, or Test is destroyed by PL and the corporations join the Imperium strengthening it further. Either way they are a diversion. Test Diversion Please Ignore. Test is kidding itself if it doesn’t think Goons would sacrifice them at the drop of a hat if it meant retaking the North.
As far as Goons…kudos. They’re playing this extremely well and I’m legitimately impressed. However we have to keep in mind that this is at least the third time the Imperium has had a campaign that could be considered an invasion. We could say the first two times were simply probing attacks to see what kind of reaction they would get. They were basically played off as nothing more than content campaigns and not actual invasions. Although if they actually did have some success those other times you can be certain it would have become an official invasion. This time it’s unquestionable. The invasion is real and based on how much time and effort PanFam wastes on the Test diversion, we may very well see a successful “ReGoonquista” of the North.
P.S. This article was written on July 13th and thus some of my expectations for the Imperium Invasion’s momentum have shifted somewhat. At the present time it’s quite possible that the invasion will stall out, however they still have unparalleled economic advantages that could carry them through the North if their leadership properly utilises their resources.