Role-play only justifies idiotic decisions if the role you play is an idiot. - June 2010
I haven't written about Providence for a while now. Not since August fourth, to be precise. Which is not surprising, when you think about it. Providence being the kiddy pool of nullsec, attention naturally falls away from it when the grown-ups are busily drowning each other in the deep end of the pool.
However, as often happens, events in deep nullsec are creating waves that have reached the shallows of Providence and are roiling those waters as well.
Early in the year, as most readers of The Edge will recall, -A- drove Curatores Veritatis Alliance (CVA) and their allies from Providence nullsec altogether and reseeded the space with hand-picked vassal alliances in a campaign known as "The Great Eviction". Over the New Providence Holders (NPH), -A- established "The Rule": Thou shalt not screw with thy neighbor's sovereignty. Period. PvP against each other was allowed (in fact encouraged), but Sov tampering was a strict no-no. -A- stood as The Rule's final arbiter and enforcer. Beyond The Rule, NPH alliances worked together when threatened by an external entity.
Now, when The Initiative, White Noise, et al, knocked the -A- nullsec empire out from under it back in October, -A- was no longer in position to enforce The Rule. Further, as allies of -A-, the NPH came under attack by those enemies of -A- not engaged in taking over their nullsec space, as well as a renewed effort the CVA role-players to liberate their holy land from the NPH infidels - which is CVA's raison d'etre.
In late Summer before The Initiative's invasion of -A- space, Ushra'Khan, -A-'s chief vassal and enforcer in Providence, had been weakened by a temporary alliance disband. By the time of the invasion, U'K had not fully recovered and was vulnerable to attack. The U'K position was further weakened by the defection of CO2, a key U'K ally, to The Initiative's invasion force. Targeted by old enemies and -A- foes, U'K was quickly driven from Providence.
The remnants of the NPH alliances held on as best they could - mutual defense keeping the fabric of the coalition from completely unraveling despite its tattered state. CVA, having been handed systems by the embittered Noir Mercenary Group as they exited Providence, had finally achieved a long sought after foot-hold in Providence as the NPH no longer had the strength of arms to push CVA out as it had in the past.
Then Ev0ke showed up on the doorstep.
History often reads like a big game of bumper cars. People don't move without good reason. The barbarian horde doesn't just wake up one morning and collectively say "Hey guys, lets go invade Rome." When the barbarians show up on your doorstep, some external pressure has moved them in your direction. Population pressures, for example, or famine, or drought. Very commonly, your barbarians have been pushed out of the space they formerly occupied by another even nastier barbarian horde. In effect, they've been pushed in your direction. If you can't hold your ground against them, they'll push you out of your space, and you'll be forced to either assimilate into their horde (assuming they let you), or go find lodgings elsewhere.
As in real life, so in Eve.
Ev0ke, having been run out of the Cloud Ring by the Deklein Coalition a month or so back, announced they were loading up the truck and moving to seek their fortunes in Providence. Veteran sov warriors who'd been battling Goons and Test Alliance up in the Ring, Ev0ke was more than a match for the Providence alliances, who tend to prefer sharp lowsec style PvP to the relentless, grinding fleet battles practiced in deep nullsec. Ev0ke quickly carved out a presence in North-East Providence, and have been expanding steadily to the West.
With the additional pressure from Ev0ke, the NPH has effectively ceased to be. A number of the remaining alliances have begin to pull out of Providence. CO2, having been pushed out of Impass in the -A- resurgence, planned to return to their Providence holdings and regroup. However, unable to hold their member corporations together, CO2's leadership has announced it will disband. This means that a large chunk of Providence real estate is about to become available with CVA and Ev0ke being the likely inheritors.
Of these two, Ev0ke is better positioned to pick up the pieces. While CVA has gone about snatching up systems wherever it can, Ev0ke has built its new holdings in Providence strategically - expanding from a controlled center in the North-East. C02's extensive holdings in North-central Providence sit practically on Ev0ke's doorstep.
So, a new battle for Providence shapes up, with CVA extending its holdings in the South, and Ev0ke expanding in the North. Numerically the sides appear to be evenly matched. However, CVA has a few serious disadvantages to overcome.
First of all, Northern Coalition alliance seems to have taken an interest in Providence and have established a presence smack in the middle of the South where CVA operates. They've shown themselves to be tough PvPers and appear to be coordinating their efforts in Southern Providence with Ev0ke. If they expand their presence in Southern Providence, it could mean serious trouble for CVA. CVA's holdings in Southern Providence are rather scattered and CVA still has to contend with Flying Dangerous and Legio Astartes Arcanum while, at the same time, contending with Ev0ke and NC.
Finally, CVA has a marked inclination toward casting away allies and opportunities; using role-play as a justification for obviously foolish strategic, diplomatic and economic decisions. CVA has no allies to call on, having either alienated them or seen to their destruction during and shortly after the Great Eviction. Former NPHers seeking to remain in Providence are likely to join Ev0ke or NC Alliance and battle CVA, CVA having been quick to burn bridges with the NPH 'infidels' in the name of role-playing rather than engage in realpolitik.
Ironically, Ev0ke's greatest ally in the coming war with CVA, may be CVA.