Friday, May 31, 2013

Amores Perros

"War in New Eden is not about e-Honor. It's not about "good fights". It's about ruining the play experience for the other side; a deliberate peeling away of any enjoyment the enemy gets when they mess with you. It is a war of attrition on fun."
      Fiddler's Edge  - For Texas and Miss Lily
If you're a regular reader of The Edge, you weren't surprised by the break-up of the HBC and you weren't surprised that Pandemic Legion (PL) stepped over to the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC) side of the line when the subsequent shooting started.

If I haven't written about the fights in Delve, it's because there hasn't been much to write about. With regard to the battles themselves, the only interesting factors have been the absence of interesting factors to date. Oh, I'm sure its been fun for the participants, who've been starved of fleet fights lo these many months. A few good battle reports were written up, but there's been nothing eye-popping.  Generally its been CFC, PL and NC[dot] subcapital fleets setting up against Test Alliance Please Ignore and Tribal Band subcapital fleets. I regard the battles to date as sparring rounds; warm-ups to a main event which is, I think, unlikely to occur in Delve.

The most interesting thing about the current action in Delve is the absence of Raiden[dot].  Seems they are undergoing internal conflict with regard to alliance direction, which is not uncommon during transition times. When significant moments of change come to a corporation, alliance or coalition, there is a near inevitable evaluating of options among its members, be they pilots, corporations or alliances.  There have been rumors that Raiden has given up the ghost and will soon disband. If that happens I expect much of their supercapital strength will align with Black Legion and The Retirement Club. More on that in a bit.

Raiden being a supercapital intensive alliance, their absence has diminished capital fleet high cover on the Test and Tribal side of the line.  With Test not reimbursing capital losses at present, they are effectively ceding the supercapital high ground to CFC, PL and NC.

Normally this would signal the beginning of the end of the war. When one side of a nullsec scrap becomes risk-averse when it comes to deploying supercaps, the other side simply rolls over them, dropping SBUs in system after system while the defenders retreat; their subcapital fleets effectively useless absent credible supercapital cover. As the defender pulls back the phenomenon known in nullsec as 'dogpiling' begins to occur. Previously uninvolved alliances from across nullsec are drawn to the carnage. Some are opportunists looking to profit from the defenders' ill fortune or curry favor with the soon-to-be victors. Some are administering payback for old grudges and insults. Some are there because the fall of the mighty is an in-game event they don't want to miss. And some are only there for a taste of schadenfreude served up with fava beans and a nice Chianti. 


However, you'll note that Test's sovereignty in Delve remains intact. CFC, PL and NC have left their Supercapital edge at the door. They have dropped SBUs to provoke fights, but seem more focused on humiliating Test's FCs than in taking Test's space.

And that, as Jack Sparrow would say, is very interesting.

It is, perhaps, a reluctance to abandon the No Invasion Pacts (NIPs) of the recent past. However I think it is more likely that these fights are for CFC and company, sparring rounds; an opportunity to provide good fights for the rank and file and to practice large fleet doctrines left unused during the many months of peace and plenty. If Supercapitals have not been employed in one place, it is likely because they are wanted in another place. Soon enough the CFC will find employment for them. But not, I think, in Delve.

Oddly enough, the most interesting events in nullsec are occurring in Deklein, in system VFK-IV. This is Goonswarm Prime, home to Mittanigrad station. As such, it has long been a target for small gang incursions as various nullec players seek to harry, annoy and, to the extent possible, tweak the nose of the mighty swarm. Chief among the Deklein raiders has been Black Legion.

Of late, Black Legion has upped their game considerably and have begun targeting capital ships in the Goonswarm home system.

The raiding fleets are generally comprised of twenty to thirty t3 battlecruisers, particularly the hard-hitting Talos. Some of the early kills were jump freighters and very pricey losses. Not surprisingly the jump freighter kills dropped off quickly as the threat to them became apparent. However a steady parade of capital ship losses in the Goon home system has continued, particularly in the carrier class, amounting to a rough average of a kill a day.  For an alliance with Goonswarms resources these are minor losses. However, they are an embarrassment to the Swarm, occurring as they are in the very core of the hive-land. And they serve to burnish Black Legion's reputation as Goon-killers.

That reputation has been proven in large fleet combat as well. In recent weeks Black Legion, with the support of The Retirement Club (SirMolle's current home), have proved the most effective of the nullsec entities when it comes to bringing the fight to the CFC.  They've chalked up some nice victories, including one in Venal MCA-5J on May 23  in which they traded a fleet of Dreadnaughts for a CFC Titan, two CFC supercarriers and a side-order of supporting CFC Dreadnaughts. From an ISK standpoint it was a clean win for Black Legion, albeit likely a phyrric one as the CFC will have replaced their losses from standing capital/supercapital reserves while Black Legion will have had to buy and fit a replacement Dreadnaught fleet.  Nonetheless, Black Legion and The Retirement Club followed up with an encore the next day, destroying fifteen CFC capitals in Syndicate TXW-EI with no recorded losses of their own. 

I'd venture the CFC losses are attributable in part to their capital fleets' surprise at the Black Legion attacks. Owing in part to their metagame success, the CFC has become accustomed to opponents who are risk-averse when it comes to deploying capital fleets. This has allowed the CFC to deploy capital fleets with impunity and to control the time, place and tempo of capital ship combat.  However, in deploying their capitals in a bold and effective manner, Black Legion and The Retirement Club have forced the CFC into a stand-up fight on the capital ship high ground; and it's been a while since the CFC has had to play that game. 

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't put Black Legion's recent activities in perspective. They are not large enough to present what CFC's leadership would call an 'extinction level threat'. The losses Black Legion and Retirement Club have inflicted on the CFC to date can easily be replaced. And with CFC positioning themselves to take advantage of the Odyssey release changes, slapping down these upstarts will be low on the CFC do-do list. However, the CFC would be wrong to dismiss the two alliances out of hand.

'Why?" you ask. Well, because Black Legion and Retirement Club are having fun fighting the CFC while the CFC is having far less fun fighting back.

Much of the CFC's diplomatic game is based on the common wisdom that fighting the CFC is not fun; that doing so is, in fact, a sure path to having the opposite of fun. As I've written elsewhere, the core of the Goonswarm war doctrine is making war on the enemy's ability to have fun. If you deprive the enemy of enjoyable play, they won't want to play.

So far, Black Legion and Retirement Club have put the CFC on the wrong side of the fun equation.

A corollary to Mord's Maxim is that if your guys are having fun, other guys will want to join you. That is the threat Black Legion presents to CFC. If the above common wisdom gets turned on its head and becomes that fighting the CFC is crazy good times, there's a lot of folk in nullsec who'll want to join that party. And there's nothing like watching who joins the dog pack circling you, noses in the air and sniffing for the scent of blood, to show you who your friends are. 

If Burn Mittanigrad becomes a more popular in game event than Burn Jita, the correct answer to 'Who killed the CFC?' will be 'fun'.  


  1. "With Test not reimbursing capital losses at present..."

    Um, what? That is an incorrect statement.

  2. As usual, a joy to read, keep up Mord :-)

  3. And of course this is the curse of TEST - that we're great fun to fight.

    I don't mind one bit but as I replied when someone said to me "if we lose our space all we'll do is fly around in frigs and cruisers all day" that's all I do now.

    I do think TEST is a complete wildcard in this and that if PL decide they want some of the fun BLand 401K are having we'll be seeing suitors bringing bouquets from the very people who are shooting us in SMEB now.

    1. In Eve as elsewhere, a good offense is the best defense. Being on the attack in a nullsec sov war is way more fun than hunkering down to defend.

      Right now Test is allowing CFC, PL and NC to dictate where and when the fights occur. Test can do nothing but react to enemy attacks as long as Test chooses a passive, defensive posture. Which is, of course, not much fun.

      If fun is the goal, Test high command needs to get their team out of the bunkers and start fighting an agile, mobile war.

    2. We did deliberately choose the defensive war. How it will work out we don't know but when TEST decided they didn't want Sort in charge there were many other options which would not have left us so isolated.

      The problem is with the narrative. It's a thin line between "Fortress Delve" and evac to high sec.

  4. The CFC has made a large laundry list of foes over the years, and to launch a war against Test at this point is a foolish endeavor that is sure to end in heartbreak and failure, if not worse should they become the Northern Coalition 2.0 and go the same way as the old Northern Coalition did. With OTEC seemingly no longer a reliable gauge of security, the CFC faces a combined assault from the south with PL, BL, S2N, NC, and others, while BL and 4O1K strike from Venal.