After initially being popularized by The Judge late last year, the act of citadel flipping has seen frequent use over the current Northern Conflict. It usually involves a disgruntled director or CEO doing a smash and grab of what assets they have access to, and flipping control of the citadels that their corporation manages over to another entity, usually an invader or another hostile group.
To think that just under a year ago, the entirety of the Imperium’s forces deployed to the North could not even anchor a Fortizar in a Northern lowsec system, (not even in hostile sovereignty) boggles the mind. Now, The Imperium has multiple Fortizars across the North and, even if they were to pull out now, it would take Guardians of the Galaxy spending a considerable amount of time to destroy those assets. The amusing part is that much of the Imperium’s forces are simply some, albeit the largest, of Goonswarm’s special-interest-groups and The Initiative, rather than a proper coalition-wide deployment.
It would be interesting to see if these types of defections could be pursued by intelligence agencies, such as Goonswarm’s Black-Hand or Northern Coalition.’s Kugutsumen/Polaris. Perhaps, in order to specifically replicate the losses that would take disgruntled CEOs and directors to do, thefts instead could be done by spies planted with the specific intent of working their way through leadership ranks to gain the necessary permissions and then run off with all the assets that they can get.
These high profile defections and asset flips also highlight the current citadel proliferation and the mechanics that have come with them. In the pre-citadel era, it would be unthinkable to inflict the level of loss that The Judge wrought upon Circle-Of-Two. Now, however, many alliances will need to adapt fast to the changing meta in which the major points of many wars will be defined by which alliance leaders were most effective in their delegation and inspiring loyalty amongst their inner circle, lest they run off with everything but the kitchen sink when difficult times persist. We can expect to see many leadership groups shrinking in size to decrease the chance of defection or asset loss. We may even see CCP change the current citadel mechanics to favor outright coups rather than a disgruntled director taking advantage of the permissions he has while the rest of his directorate is asleep.
Defections on this scale also bring attention to the effectiveness of /r/eve as a weapon to destroy enemy morale, similar to that of the EVE Online forums back in the games infancy period. The majority of nullsec PVPers no doubt enjoy reading the various posts and memes that are found on the subreddit, but opening up /r/eve’s front page every day to find posts and propaganda damning their alliance’s skill and insulting their leaders has a clear effect on morale, particularly after a sustained period. This psychological bombardment must hit leaders just the same as their line members, if not more due to their personal nature. It appears to be key in many of the defectors’ decisions to flip as they can almost always be found defending their dishonorable actions in the comment sections of threads talking about their defection.
It remains to be seen how long these types of defections will continue until either CCP or New Eden’s leaders make drastic changes in order to avoid these substantial losses.