Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Perils of Prognostication

 "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings."
    - Ralph Carpenter
The Fabled Kodachi Snow Globe

For the most part Kirith Kodachi is a conservative writer.

Which is not to say he goes clubbing with Anne Colter or sits down to poutine with Glenn Beck. No, what I mean is that Kirith is a thoughtful writer, not given to fiery rhetoric and an excess of hyperbole.  Kirith thinks twice before clicking on the "Publish" button over at Inner Sanctum of the Niniveh.  He has become something of a senior statesman among bloggers; a sane voice of reason when tempers flare and egos collide in the Eve Online community. 

Heck, he even has his own snow-globe.

However, even Plato stepped in the rhetorical dog-shit now and again. And when that happened his buddies at the lyceum didn't just pass the wine cup around again and pretend they didn't smell the logical fallacies. No, indeed. When that happened a philosophical throw-down would ensue and Plato would be called upon to either defend his thesis before his peers or go outside and scrape said thesis off his metaphorical shoe.

In that same spirit, I must take issue with the Canadian Sage's recent post 'Prognosis' with regard to the ongoing war in Fountain between the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC) and the allied forces of Test Alliance Please Ignore, the N3 coalition, the Retirement Club and small host of other alliances. Kirith had spent some time looking over the situation and came up with a template for victory - a performance checklist of sorts, describing critical ways in which the Allied forces must execute in order win against the CFC:  
  • Excellent participation rates
  • Ship reimbursement program humming along
  • Finances in good shape
  • Allies committed and coordinated
  • Enemies distracted by attacks from third parties
Holding his assessment of the state of the war and the Allies' execution of it against this template he came to the following conclusion:

"Test is screwed."

I know. Not the sort of utterance once expects from a man usually given to nuance. In fact, Kirith was so bearish on the Test's position he recommended they cut their losses and extract themselves from the war lest they lose organizational integrity. 

"If I were TEST leadership, I'd be thinking about my exit strategy at this point before this war grinds your alliance apart."

Now, it should be pointed out that before doing his research for this piece, Kirith wasn't convinced an actual sov war was going on in Fountain at all. As recently as a week ago he was wondering whether or not Fountain wasn't just another Delve 'Thunderdome' with the combatants using the region as a playground for good large fleet fights; sans any desire to actually contest sov or any meaningful enmity between the combatants. Sort of the 'controlled PvP' concept put forward by PL and CFC as an alternative to sov warfare in the pre-Odyssey days.

Anyone who's been paying close attention will have known what Kirith discovered last week: There is an honest to goodness sov war going on in Fountain. In fact, a key point that Kirith seems to have missed is the nature of the war in progress. This war is not merely a push for additional space or interstellar goodies. Leadership on both sides of this fight want nothing less than the extinction of their primary enemies. This, my friends, is a death struggle. Neither side is going to let the other walk away to fight another day. For the principles, there are only two ways out of this war: With your shield, or on it.

The leadership of Test and Nulli want Goonswarm dead. Dead, as in no longer among the quick. Dead, as in singing with the choir celestial. Dead, as in making smores over the flames of a burning Mittanigrad. Test and Nulli's rank and file seem highly motivated toward the same end. This is not a case of senior leadership driving a personal fight of which the membership want no part. Kirith rightly points to the internal fund raiser Test recently held to stabilize their finances as an indication of weakness. However, in so doing he misses entirely the enthusiasm Test's rank and file showed for the effort and how quickly and successfully it met its goals. These are not players ready to turn tail and run. These are highly motivated foot-soldiers with a fierce and personal grudge against Goonswarm.  Nulli Secunda, for it's part, has been quite upfront with their position on Goonswarm: Their self-proclaimed raison d'etre is Goonswarm's destruction. 'Nuff said.

Likewise, CFC leadership does not merely want Fountain. They want Test Alliance well and truly obliterated as a rallying point for anti-Goon resistance.  CFC leadership has had both Test Alliance Please Ignore and Pandemic Legion firmly in their cross-hairs for some time, and that has not changed. Goonswarm will not abide the presence of any entity capable of challenging their hegemony over nullsec; a hegemony that is an essential prerequisite to their longer term plans for economic dominion over New Eden.  At present, Test is the lynchpin of any such challenge to CFC, and must therefore be extirpated. Further, by having the temerity to challenge Goonswarn directly, both Test and Nulli must be utterly laid low in order to serve as an object lesson and cement the CFC's reputation as an irresistible force in order to discourage future challenges from other quarters. 

Under the heading of 'Allies committed and coordinated' Kirith makes much of public statements by Pandemic Legion representatives, particularly in the context of a Crossing Zebras podcast, as to the degree to which PL is committed and how well they're coordinating with the rest of the Allies.

First of all, as I commented on Kirith's website, it should be recalled that the hosts of Crossing Zebras are CFC members who have a vested interest in the outcome of the current conflict.  Thus it is notable that their departure from the fairly dull and mostly harmless CSM/CCP interviews, which have the virtue of being safe and CFC content free, is an interview with Pandemic Legion members saying uncomplimentary things about Test Alliance and leading one to believe PL is ready to abandon the war against CFC should PL stop having fun. This is not to say that propaganda was what motivated Xanfer and Jeg (who I quite like, Zander's fashion sense notwithstanding). In fact the content itself doesn't deliver much in the way of new information for those who've been paying attention (see below). However, the timing of its delivery is of interest, coming as it did in the midst of a CFC push to take a second constellation in Fountain, following a series of set-backs for Test and its allies.

Secondly, as I've reported previously, Pandemic Legion has not been terribly committed to the Allies from the the get-go. Their participation to date has been, shall we say, episodic, and not merely due to a lack of coordination. Pandemic is now and has always been in Eve for the 'pride parade'. While they play hard and are very good at what they do, they are grasshoppers as opposed to Goonswarm's ants, preferring to gambol in the glades of Summer and move on at the approach of Autumn's chill.  Mindful of this, CFC's diplomatic corp will have been working tirelessly to emphasize how cold the Winter will get for PL should they dedicate themselves more than marginally against the CFC and end up on the losing side. Unless and until the present tide turns again and the trench warfare in Fountain turns into a march on Deklein, I don't anticipate Pandemic Legion will battle in earnest for the Allies. If, on the other hand, Fountain turns into a route for the Allies, I expect PL will pull out altogether.

Having said all this, there's no doubt the tides of war have been running in CFC's favor. The Allies continue to fight the war on CFC's terms which, as I've written previously, has allowed the CFC to concentrate their forces in the Fountain staging areas and given the CFC diplomatic and psyops corps plenty of time to do their work. At the same time, the fall-off in secondary enfilading fronts against the CFC has permitted the CFC home-front to operate relatively unmolested and avoid the sort of perception of vulnerability that brings on the dog-pile.

But barring unforeseen misfortune for either side, the 'Fountain' war is far from over. Despite recent CFC successes the Allied forces have prevented the fight from becoming a rout and and have limited their losses to the Centaur and part of the Pegasus constellations. Pegasus is heavily contested at present; CFC having just today burned through ten Territory Control Units in a close-run attempt to take 9-VO0Q.

If the status quo holds, who wins this war may be decided by who has the will to stand against the other and keep punching the longest.  In such a fight, who is best led and best coordinated matters far less than the collective will of the rank and file pilots.  It is the sort of fight in which the clock could as easily run against the CFC, where to date it has run primarily against the Allies.  Offensives in which the invaders are not heavily invested in the outcome, particularly those against a determined foe, tend not to end well for the invader in the long run.  Despite their leadership's desire for an end to Test Alliance and access to Fountain's moons, the CFC rank and file are generally quite comfortable and well-fed in their existing territories.  The war's justification on CFC's side is primarily financial, aimed at acquiring additional income streams.

"More money for the Mittani", while an honest battle cry, is not one that's going to keep the CFC pilots enthusiastic about fleeting up for grinding sov fights. 

But status quos can be fragile things, and Test and its allies are battling with their backs to the wall. There is no exit strategy for Test Alliance in this war except kill or be killed and if CFC can score a knock-out punch or open a significant second front against the Allies, resistance in Fountain could collapse along with Test Alliance itself. 

Time will tell. The clock ticks. The winds of war blow ever unpredictably; their small, subtle winds the pins 'pon which the great outcomes swing. Meanwhile, somewhere in the depths of nullsec, a fat lady checks her watch and waits patiently for her cue. 

Tricky things, prognoses.


  1. 'Zebras has already gotten the rolled up newspaper taken to its nose for speaking out against CFC's above-mentioned controlled PvP policy'

    As the host of CZ and the person who edits and posts the podcast, I wish someone had told me about this. It would have been good to know I was being chastised by CFC leadership. [/sarcasm]


  2. Two sources have said that displeasure was expressed among CFC leadership regarding your outspoken opposition to Controlled PvP after I spoke well of you for it on The Edge. Despite your passion on the subject it was dropped almost immediately thereafter. I suppose it's possible it was coincidence, or a sudden change of heart or loss of interest on your part.

    1. @Xander - As you've stated for the record that you were not approached with complaints from leadership I have removed the offending sentence.

  3. He has topics. He doesn't repeat those topics. Should he beat "controlled PvP" into the ground every week? He discussed pornfleets on the last CZ, if he never talks about them again, is that because the porn industry has muzzled him?

    1. As I recall, this was a bit of an ongoing rant; Xander was quite agitated on the matter. It's always possible that he lost interest around the same time as I got word it was upsetting to someone in the ministry of silly walks.

  4. Thanks again, Mord. And thanks for coming back to write about Eve political sphere. Yours is the only blog worth reading when it comes to nullsec politics.

  5. "The leadership of Test and Nulli want Goonswarm dead. Dead, as in no longer among the quick. Dead, as in singing with the choir celestial. Dead, as in making smores over the flames of a burning Mittanigrad."

    They might achieve that last thing, though frankly if I was a betting man my money wouldn't be on the lose coalition of opportunity that just decided marching on Moscow in winter is a great idea...

    That said, the death of the swarm won't happen, even in the unlikely event of them losing all their space (which has happened before) they won't die. They'll eat some humble pie, spin some propaganda about the 'elitist' alliances that beat them and the long march to 0.0 will begin again. Much like SOLAR I doubt defeat would 'kill' the swarm, they'd just become meaner.

  6. You can't kill Immortals... you can only make em lose a clone and reship. Alliances failscade only when the leadership stops leading...

    I wonder (1) just how deep and amazing the security for the Swarms alliance 'paperwork' is... and (b) if they ever were disbanded like BoB was... what would they call themselves then?

    It only takes one guy with the right login and PW sitting at a keyboard just a few clicks and loss of the "Goon" label, their brand, their image, their... flag? That would be the only really fatal blow that could be dealt to the GSF... to make them no longer GSF.

    1. Were not Goons betrayed by Kartoon and forced to reform? They have been there and done that.