Friday, August 10, 2012

Carebears Triumphant

"In my experience nullsec changes some CareBears. They become a different breed than their high-sec cousins. Tougher. More efficient. More wily. More ruthless. Far richer. The best of them will become the great merchant princes of New Eden. And PVPers will work for them. "
- The Rise of the Carebears (Part Deux)  August 12, 2010

Once upon a time in Fountain, the combined forces of the Deklein Coalition and the old Northern Coalition (not the alliance of the same name) laid low the remains of SirMolle's by then moribund Delve-based empire.  Both coalitions were viewed by the elite PvP alliances of the day as compilations of carebear alliances whose sole military asset was the ability to bring overwhelming numbers to a fight in order to offset their lack of actual fleet PvP skills.  Thus, BOB/IT Alliance's devastating defeat at 6VDT-H in Querious and the alliance's subsequent collapse was perceived by many in nullsec as a bunch of Carebears from up North kicking over a storied nullsec power practically synonymous with the game of Eve itself.

Panic ensued.  The forums erupted with dire predictions:  Soon NC and Deklein would control all of nullsec.  All nullsec alliances would be forced to set each other blue.  Sov wars would become a thing of the past.  Titans would be fitted for mining.  Delve would be turned into a theme park. Group hugs would become mandatory.

Oh, the humanity.

Galvanized by the carebear threat, supercapital-intensive alliances born out of the IT Alliance collapse allied themselves with the Drone Russian Federation (DRF), adding their considerable firepower to DRF and Pandemic Legion operations against Northern Coalition space.  Forced to respond to significant attacks on many fronts, the Northern Coalition either could not or would not respond with its usual application of overwhelming force.  Further, the invaders employed their supercapitals more effectively and, having supercapital inventory reserves with which to replace losses, more aggressively.  In short order, the NC supercapital fleets ceased to deploy at all.

Without a supercapital umbrella, the NC and Deklein conventional fleets (at that time Deklein had little or no supercapital capacity of their own and relied on the NC for supercapital support), however large, were ineffective against the invaders' combined conventional/supercapital fleets.  The NC defense collapsed. and its space was quickly overrun.  The Northern Coalition was no more, and the Deklein Coalition, left in the midst of enemies and sans supercapital support, appeared humbled.  The carebear threat to nullsec was ended and the IT Alliance veterans had their revenge for the debacle at 6VDT-H.

Or so it seemed.   

As the Northern Coalition collapsed, many of the orphaned corporations and individual capsuleers found refuge with long-time friends and allies in the Deklein Coalition. In today's CFC (Deklein coalition's name was shifting to this around the time of the IT Alliance/NC collapse) most alliances count former NC pilots and corporations among their members. As of this writing, Razor Alliance, the sole survivor of the four primary NC alliances, is a member of the CFC.  Despite pronouncements to the contrary by DRF leadership following their victory over the Northern Coalition's nullsec bears, said bears had not been booted from nullsec. They merely changed the name-plate on the door. And the CFC, though in peril, remained.

As the new lords of the North settled into their recently conquered space it became evident that only three nullsec powers remained that represented plausible threats to the new order. The Southern Coalition (SoCo), who had taken advantage of the DRF's occupation in the North to regain Teneferis (lost the year prior to White Noise and Red Alliance), Deklein Coalition (by then re-dubbed CFC) and the once and future wild-card Pandemic Legion.  Of these, the only genuine shooting war that erupted was between elements of the DRF and SoCo.  While the opening rounds of the conflict had the tang of the 2010 White Noise/PL/Initiative invasion of -A- space, the war lost energy as Summer waned and the Incarna war between CCP and its player base heated up.

CFC, meanwhile, played for time while it assembled a supercapital fleet by making a separate peace with the lords of the North; going so far as to publicly entertain the notion of a larger DRF/CFC hegemony that would control roughly eighty percent of player owned nullsec and the resources therein.  PL maintained a low profile during this time, staying well off the DRF's radar and occupying themselves with occasional fights in Delve and hot dropping pirate gangs in lowsec.

The Autumn of 2011 may go down as the dullest in Eve's history from a SOV warfare perspective.  CCP had capitulated to player demands and were preparing significant "ships in space" upgrades to the Eve along with time dialation (TiDi) to reduce lag during large fleet battles and the much anticipated Winter Supercapital Nerf.  While waiting to assess the impact of these changes, nullsec seemed locked like a fly in amber into the status quo.  Wars were limited and little in the way of territory changed hands by force of arms.  Most fleet combat occurred in Delve and Querious, which had become something of a no-mans land; a place the nullsec powers could go to find fleet fights without threatening each others' established sovereignty.

I've written elsewhere as to what happened next:  As the year turned, internal squabbles within the DRF as a whole and within the individual alliances allowed the CFC and Pandemic Legion to overwhelm White Noise, Red Alliance and Raiden Alliance in Branch while Solar Fleet committed fratricide against their fellow DRF alliance Legion of Death, effectively ending the DRF as a coherent power block.  After consolidating those gains, the CFC struck again, this time driving SoCo forces from Delve and the remains of Red Alliance from Querious and putting the two regions under the control of CFC stalwart Test Alliance Please Ignore.

What is most interesting about the CFC campaigns in Branch and Delve is how quickly and effectively they were executed.  It can be argued that, on a pilot to pilot basis, the alliances recently displaced by CFC were the better PvPers and that CFC merely "brought the blob" and overwhelmed their opponents with sheer numbers.  However, it is widely acknowledged that the CFC pilots are well led in the field and that that the CFC headquarters staff are disciplined and organized; leveraging the coalition's financial, logistical and numeric advantages in order to bring overwhelming force to bear against its enemies.

The paradigm, it seems, has shifted again.  Fighting well is no longer enough.  Elite PvP alliances must now look to their internal organizations if they wish to play the great game in nullsec.  Regardless of their PvP skills, effective managers and administrators are as valuable in nullsec as the best FCs and are likely more rare.  Superior organizations with solid financials, minimal internal friction and clear lines of command and control are essential.  Funding and administering wars has become every bit as essential as fighting them.

Until recently, successful nullsec alliances could simply be bands of brothers out in the dark beyond, living the warrior code.  Now they must be an enterprise; We Be Warriors, inc.

The carebears have won.  The merchant princes are in control.  And the PvPers work for them.


  1. A case of art imitating life, indeed. Amazing how quickly social structures evolve into the familiar patterns of history, isn't it? It isn't a question of *if*,but how and when.

    The Gold Rule holds true in EVE as it has since time immemorial. Those that have the gold, make the rules.

  2. The balance between carebears and pvpers is what makes Eve a delightful game and needs to be handled with some care.

    I think I can provide some evidence that it was tilted too far and that's from ore prices.

    Before Inferno 1.2 miners got best isk from Arkonor, then Scordite, then Veldspar. Ore is distributed in Eve so that there are high end ores that are dangerous to mine. However there have been so many nullbears cheerfully mining out in the safety of deepest nullsec and so few casuals mining Veld one jump from Jita that Veld and Scordite are worth more than all bar the very best of dangerous space ore.

    That's because, rightly or wrongly, high sec players are feeling that mining is more dangerous than nullsec players. Now that's just not good balance.

    I was mining ore in my wormhole for a bit but stopped. It's moderately dangerous (I've lost one Hulk in the last 6 months) and I can't squeeze an orca in because it's a low end wormhole. I would earn more isk per hour in high than in w-space because so many people are mining in "dangerous" space and so few in safe space. It's out of whack.

    Suicide ganking should be a menace but not an industry. And certainly not an industry that's over-fished its waters.

  3. Fiddler's Note: Pointy Sticks (author of the blog of the same name) submitted a comment that, though approved, will not display for some reason. Until the software bug is resolved, I present his comment here:

    "Pointy Sticks August 9, 2012 - Small minds will never get it. Apparently, l'il mitenz' fanboys think no further or broader than the end of their nose. Like mittenz, CCP also has a policy, that when totaled, is also anti-high sec in an effort to get people to move to null. Making high sec shittier, which makes null look better in comparison, is a rather stupid way of dealing with the issue. It isn't going to accomplish much in the short term, and in the long term, it'll cost subscriptions. With people being who and what they are, especially in Eve, improving null sec is going to take a shit load of dedicated effort, by a small number of people, to an extended period of time, before the drooling sheep will slowly come on side."

  4. Pretty sure this is not entirely new, one of the main reasons Pandemic Legion has been successful for years now is because they had/have good bureaucrats as well as PvP'ers.

    Solar is extremely well organized internally as well which is why and how they prevailed, over xxxLegionxxx for as far as I can tell (as an outsider).

    But every successful and *lasting* empire in human history was build by a combination of warriors and bureaucrats. And the greatest (most well known) of histories conquerors tended to combine both in the same person (Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Constantine, Suleiman, Peter the Great the list goes on ;) ).
    And since EVE is at it's core a social microcosm it's hardly surprising it's not much different.

    Anyway I see what you're getting at, but isn't this Elite-PvP/Carebear divide a rather artificial construct? How many PvP'ers outside the ultra-rich and PLEX-warriors are really 100% PvP'ers?

    Personally I maintain a modest industry empire, yet I define myself as a PvP'er but I could just as easily claim to be CareBear.
    I've always found that the real difference in EvE is between people that accept that ultimately EvE is a *harsh* PVP game and people that refuse to accept this (to those people I do always pose the question; why on earth did you willingly install a 'friendly fire on no save havens PvP game' that is advertised as such...?)

    1. Good comments, good thoughts.

      No, the PvP/Carebear divide is not an artificial construct. Blog posts decrying "carebear rot" as a primary contributor for Sov warfare alliance failscades were common back in 2010 when "Rise of the Carebears"(parts one and two) were written. It was a well documented point of division in the early "North/South" campaigns and the wars between the Drone Russian Federation and the Northern/Deklein Coalition wars. Posts and forum comments warning about a carebear empire in nullsec were commonplace after the fall of IT Alliance.

      We sometimes lose track of how much nullsec has changed since the Dominion Sov warfare system kicked in, drawing a large population of bears down to nullsec and requiring requiring nullsec alliances actively administer their space.

    2. PL is very well organized when if comes to fleet PvP. However they are specialists tightly focused in that area.

      They do not hold Sov and, since Dominion, have been unsuccessful at so doing. Like the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin. They are dependent upon selling their PvP skills to other alliances or ratting in client held or NPC space for the income needed to focus on their specialty.

      You'll note they are presently working for CFC and not the other way around. Thus, an elite nullsec PvP alliance (arguably the best fleet PvPers in game) is working for a nullsec bear alliance.

    3. That's going on the assumption they *want* to hold SOV. Because let's be honest you do not need SOV to hold moons or to be in 0.0 or to PvP.

      You need SOV to build certain things (like supers) and for no other reason at all. If you genuinely do not have an interest in PvE all you need to do is secure some deals to give you access to Moons (or just have enough raw firepower to make the locals think twice about shooting your towers) for alliance level cash flow and somebody to sell you supers (if like PL you want to do supercap PvP).

      SOV is ultimate only actually relevant to carebears that need it to build things. Many of 0.0's highest rated 'elite pvp'ers' have ulimately no interest in SOV (Hydra, Outbreak, Born-2-Kill, Team Liquid etc etc etc).

    4. Kaeda -

      I concur that PL doesn't want to hold Sov. But that wasn't always the case and there are reasons for the change. It's not simply a matter of "Didn't want that space anyway."

      The decision to do without sov was prefaced by PL's having been booted from their space several times by different alliances. Now, it's possible that these experiences had nothing to do with PL's decision, but I doubt it.

      It certainly would have driven home the point that holding sov forced PL to fight in a manner that didn't leverage their strengths and provided their enemies a fixed point of attack.

      Now, having made the argument that holding is "only relevant to carebears" are you by extension making the case that those alliances presently holding sov are carebear alliances?


    5. Yes, I guess I am!
      With the exception of those that rent most all their space away so they can buy more PvP ships I guess that is what I'm saying.

      I've often proclaimed in my corp chat that 0.0 is full of bears, and I do kind of mean that. I live in Stain atm and roam a lot from there. I can't say the guys in -A- get any less cross with me when I stop them from carebearing by lingering in their systems then the Russians to the south do or that they are any more likely to attempt a response.
      It's sadly extremely rare that they dock up and return in something to fight me (and I fly assault frigs, nothing fancy) so from personal experience I will certainly state most 0.0 residents seem uninterested in PvP most the time while getting quite cross if they can't finish their Haven/Sanctums!

      Of course I claim this from the limited perspective of somebody that rarely has more then 3 or 4 people fleeted.