The North Burns, but What Does the Future Hold?
For those even remotely paying attention to EVE over the last few months, the last couple weeks have been an amazing mixture of tensions and terror. Entire books could be written, although probably not Kickstarted, about the decisions and general attitude of certain alliances in EVE Online that led to the current war. The sum of these decisions and their resulting impacts are far too numerous and nuanced to completely summarize but the short of it is as follows; a series of contentious decisions steadily soured relations with the general community for CFC/Imperium member alliances, culminating in the formation of a new coalition of LowSec PvP entities focused on repelling an Imperium assault on resources in certain regions. Though this event was not the end of troubles for the NullSec coalition.
As anyone with understanding of strategy knows, one can never rely on a strategic or tactical situation remaining stable or predictable. This adage is very much true for the current state of the Imperium. The formation of LowSec’s “VOLTRON” became the first in a drastically out of hand threats against the core of the Imperium. Now at first, it appeared that despite exchanges losses and victories, Imperium members were eager to fight a single-front war. What they couldn’t have possible accounted for was the addition fo a variety of new issues and threats, both internal and external. Developments such as the involvement of gambling site I Want ISK in a dispute with member alliance SMA, resulting in IWISK openly supporting and funding attacks on Imperium assets. Or the opening of two major fronts inside traditional Imperium territory. It is these new fronts that have quickly spiraled out of control and are starting to reveal the cracks in the Imperium’s foundation. The downward spiral of morale loss is a difficult thing to overcome, but it would seem that the fates are determined to test the Imperium’s mettle.
The first major addition came in the form of near-perennial enemies of Goons, Northern Coalition. and Pandemic Legion joining the fray against Imperium forces. The injection of skilled players, FCs and logistics support revitalized morale for a crusade against GSF and it’s allies. The simple fact of the matter remains that despite boasting, extensive planning and logistics work, Imperium forces had seemingly failed to achieve meaningful goals and began to take serious ISK losses. These compounding issues were then made much worse during the last week.
As it stands right now, more than two dozen alliances are arrayed against Imperium forces. Several regions across their current territory stand in partial reinforcement. Several stations have been lost in Fade to NC., and the regions of Tenal and Vale of The Silent have been effectively abandoned, and the overall outlook appears grim. With the recent announcement of a full reshuffle of several Imperium alliances into new territory, I see a compounding problem that is only likely to get worse.
There is already a huge amount of player density in the home regions of the coalition that will likely be exacerbated by pushing more alliances into a smaller area. The worst case scenario for increased resource consumption is that player become less likely to login, and the losses continue to pile up. However, I don’t think the Imperium is stuck in an endless cycle of numbers bleed just yet. But, something is definitely wrong, and the leadership has to figure out what.
It’s the current observable failures of the Imperium to live up to it’s promises that make these losses even more hurtful. A common perception of the Imperium has long been that a portion of their substantial numbers are passive ratters, effectively little more than renters who are useless in a fight. There is some truth in EVE to the idea that massive quantity can beat quality, but these consistent losses and dropping morale show that equalized odds don’t favor blob tactics over skill. Sure, Imperium pilots have enjoyed some success, but how much failure can they endure. Alliances have collapsed for less, and depending on who you ask. those others didn’t make the monumental mistakes Imperium leadership has. The key to the survival of the last major superpower coalition in the game will likely lie in combination of might and diplomacy, although mostly diplomacy. It will be nearly impossible to engender a sense of goodwill with the community and potential allies to help them fight, but there is a slim chance that they can negotiate a way out. I do admit that I think the “wait and see” approach that just tries to wait the enemy out is just a race to failure. I would stake all my wealth on the outcome of Imperium morale collapsing before enemy tenacity. And it’s far more likely that more Imperium Sovereignty will drop before the end of this conflict, it’s just a matter of time.
There remains the equally important question of the future of NullSec., what will this area of NullSec look like in a couple months? No one really knows, but it does seem likely that some smaller groups will temporarily take up residence in Vale in order to partake in content. Aside from that eventuality, nothing much will change in the short term. Imperium fleets will continue to defend a shrinking territorial footprint, but at some point the bottom will fall out if all the strain becomes too much to bear. I don’t think anti-Goon groups should count their chickens before they hatch, the war may be in their favor now, but that could shift as quickly as the wind changes.
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