The “invasion” of Tribute begins, or so we are told. It’s not really an invasion, of course; the attackers have no interest in taking or holding the space, though much of it was taken from The Imperium during World War Bee in the summer of 2016.

What’s it about?

The war has been styled by Imperium propaganda outlets as everything from an anti-botting crusade to some kind of moral retribution against the current occupiers of the space, PanFam. Either way, Tribute is to be ‘glassed’ — presumably a reference to the effect a nuclear weapon has on sand, rather than hitting somebody with a glass bottle.

Now, it’s interesting to hear Goonswarm clutching their pearls about botters when their active policy is not to report botting activity within their coalition, and if that were their true casus belli, one might expect them to invade a region which actually has significant botting activity, rather than Tribute which has half-baked ADMs and relatively low PvE activity.

I also can’t help but feel incredulous as to their claim that they’re bothered by PanFam’s supposed “threatening groups and extorting” when Goons came up with the ultimate extortion tactic: their viceroy programme, which aimed to tax organizations in nearby lowsec space for simply living near the Imperium.

It would be easy for Goons to simply claim that they were seeking retribution for World War Bee, but that might lead people to question why they haven’t ever sought retribution against Test Alliance, who were every part as active in the campaign against them as PanFam.

The reality is that, having created non-invasion pacts with Dead Coalition / Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Legacy Coalition, Goons have relatively few options for any kind of extended engagement.

In a galaxy defined by mega-coalitions, non-invasion pacts, and mechanics which encourage both; inventing a more compelling narrative than “content” is difficult, which becomes a problem for an alliance which prides itself on not valuing “content”.

A war with no purpose

Now, this is not entirely a self-inflicted problem for Goons. Coalitions have existed since before Goons were founded as an alliance, and the fact that they’ve been the most successful at getting large numbers of players to rally around a single banner is hardly their fault.

Even BoB waged the ill-fated MAX damage campaign back in 2008 because there was no real incentive for them to do anything else with half of the galaxy under their direct control or renting from them — lack of meaningful objectives isn’t a new problem, but it is a problem.

The difference is that whilst harassment of Delve, coincidentally BoB’s ancestral home, and traps which forced BoB to lose a significant number of capital ships, effectively halted the MAX campaign. Fast forward to today; Goons and their allies have been feeding Rorquals at home in Fountain and Delve nonstop since the war began, and it has no meaningful effect on their economy.

Supercarriers, titans, and even Keepstars are now so numerous that any strategy to win a war through inflicting heavy casualties is a lost cause; Delve enjoys a mining yield of about 13 trillion ISK worth of ore a month. In order for a harassment campaign to have any effect on Goons’ economy, we would have to see 50-60 Rorquals a day destroyed in their home regions.

This issue isn’t unique to Goons either. Delve may enjoy the greatest mining and ratting yields, but the reality is that even less bountiful nullsec regions like Impass and Tenerefis have PvE incomes exceeding 2 trillion ISK a month, but the alliances which control them have losses which don’t even approach these figures.

This feeds back into my earlier point — that there is no incentive for Goons to take and hold Tribute. It’s not that Tribute is bad space — it isn’t, it has a lot of systems with good truesec, and is a single jump freighter jump from Jita. It’s just that, with Delve and Fountain able to supply their entire coalition’s economy, there is no pressing need for them to expand.

Give me a reason to fly

In summary, New Eden in 2019 is a place in which there is little reason to invade and take space, little reason to defend your home, little reason to risk your titans and supers for even your heaviest structures, and a vanishingly small number of options for alliances which want to shake up nullsec — essentially, rent from one of the existing mega-coalitions, or join one and follow the will of their leadership.

Hilmar alluded to some of these problems in the Eve Down Under CCP AMA (about 4hr 15min into this video):

What are the conditions that brought this about? I think we have, over the past seven-eight years, been giving too many tools to nullsec alliances to increase comfort.

I think the first mistake was to un-symmetrify the mineral distribution, where people became self-sufficient for their resource acquisition in each region. The game was actually completely designed to be the reverse, so that you would never be self-sufficient, so you would have to have access to the whole map, either through aggression or pact-making.

It’s good to see that CCP realizes there is a problem, but the question is how will they solve it? This should be top of their priorities, because a stagnant nullsec, with no space changing hands and even further escalation in heavy assets, is not going to encourage people to stick around.

Reducing mineral density to create an actual trade-off for being huge and create a reason to invade and take space again,  giving structures meaningful defensive mechanics, setting vulnerability windows based on alliance activity hours rather than allowing alliances to choose them based on making the enemy miserable, activity-based sovereignty, distributing resources across the map to require conflict, rebalancing capitals to remove the huge advantage of ‘whoever has the most titans wins’… all of these things can help breathe life back into Eve, and all are — in my opinion — far more valuable changes for the long-term health of the game than new ships, module tweaks, and even the quality of life upgrades (which are awesome) we’ve been getting lately.

CCPls: make war mean something again.

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