It’s interesting to see what’s happening in Nullsec.
For More than three weeks now, CFC has been engaged in a war, originally with TEST and originally with the objective of seizing the moons of Fountain. This was the stated objective of the War, by mittens, and it dictated their entire war policy. Mittens made it quite clear in his press release a bit back.
“Our finance team – the best in the game – tells me that in order for us to uphold our social programs, we must acquire more than fifty new R64s for the coalition.”
Simple enough. GFC saw the incoming moon rebalance, realised that the spread sheets no longer added up, and attempted to do something about it.
“Tonight we are invading Fountain. But we are not going to bother with stating a grievance or demonizing the defender – We are doing it because we need the region and its moons for our people and our friends.”
In fact on closer inspection you can see that the entire war was designed with economics in mind. Supercap fleets are expensive to lose, so rather than engaging with supercaps and losing a couple in the inevitable smack down, the idea was to attack with subcaps and break TEST- by the time that TEST attempted to force a Super fight, it would be a move of desperation when half of it’s pilots had gotten sicko f the blueballing, the dozens of minor defeats and the slow advance of Goonswarm. It was truly a Goonswarm psychological war- one that hinged on the morale of the sides rather than the ISK.
It was the cheaper option. Titans cost a lot. Carcals, not so much.
It would be a genius move- If Goonswarm was still the young, small, underdog nullsec alliance that it was against BOB. However, for better or worse, the situation is reversed. Goonswarm are no longer the underdog. They are the Empire, the superpower, America, or as the common analogy goes, Soviet Russia.
As the Empire, in order to be seen to be winning, you must Win in a very irrefutable and overt way. Which is precisely the opposite of CFC’s strategy was.
Because as we all know, if you manage to even prove that the empire can bleed, enemies spring out of the woodworks from everywhere. CFC made the mistake of assuming that upon the colaspe of HBC, TEST would be alone and friendless when the invasion came. If so this strategy would have worked- TEST, demoralised by the loss of its friends and by the guerrilla warfare of CFC, would have steadily have lost ground, logins, and eventually when TEST made a supercap gambit, and CFC would have had an excuse to execute them in a suitably flashy manner, a humiliating end to a humiliating war. CFC would have gotten bragging rights about being able to kill off one of the major players in nullsec without even using supercaps. CFC’s position at the top of the nullsec pile would have been secured.
Instead, CFC’s decision to get out of their battle tanks and fight TEST with combat knives in the name of preserving ammo has left it in a position where any player can turn up with their combat knives (Brave Noobies) or their battle tanks (Pandemic Legion) and have an impact on the field.
Moreover, these new entities felt that they would have a fighting chance. As the empire, between TEST and CFC, the perception that CFC was not winning in the way an Empire has to win to be seen as winning was a non-factor. TEST was still going to lose. CFC was still going to win. However, there are other fish in the nullsec see. And TEST’s propaganda campaign that it was successfully holding out against the Big Bad Goonswarm was highly effective. Being seen to lose was deadly. And then Suddenly it was no longer CFC vs TEST, it was CFC vs TEST and everyone else.
Of course, even fighting with the figurative knife, CFC started out in a superior position. It had trained its fleet doctrine for this kind of combat, while TEST initially floundered in it. TEST leadership was busy attempting to recover from the collapse of HBC, while CFC leadership had engineered it.
However, now there are a lot more knives on the field. And most of them aren’t fighting for CFC. CFC is still winning fights, but that’s due to their current advantage in tactics and organisation. Which is by its own nature, inherently temporary. Tactics can and are copied, organisation structures can and are improved, FCs and players become experienced. Test and Pals aren’t yet a coherent fighting force- not even close if the recent ganking of a Hel Kadeshi Hell by Pandemic Legion is any indication.
The war has also changed. This is no longer a war fought over the moons of Fountain. TEST is pitching this as a war that will decide the fate of Nullsec, that this will be the point where nullsec decides if they wil leave under the rule of Mittens, or if to roam free. They are invoking every single arch-narrative in the book. TEST and Pals are the Continental Army against Goonswarm the British Empire, the Rebel Alliance against the Empire, the Free Peoples of Middle Earth against the forces of Sauron.
With is, TEST can reliably claim that as the defender, even narrow defeats are victories.
Mittens actually touched on this issue- in fact it was the main gist of his “Not winning first enough” CEO update back in september last year.
“So now “Not Winning Fast Enough” is now the de facto standard of success our enemies are using to measure themselves against us. Our enemies typically envision themselves as Spartans, or Lions, or some other outnumbered-hero-dying-tragically, and if you just hold out long enough the loser actually wins through the retarded alchemy of pubbie thought.”
But that psychological aspect is important. Contrary to what Mittens is saying, Goonswarm does not enter into wars expecting a meatgrinder. It enters into wars in which due to spies and internal division, where the enemy can’t put up a good fight.
Goonswarm meanwhile, completely abdicated the field in this regard. CFC painted Goonswarm as the archtypical villian in the story with TEST aand Pals as the Ragtag alliance of misfits, and Goonswarm responded by saying “no hard feelings, but we need your moons”. CFC’s press releases have actually reinforced the TEST line- in the imploration for Goonswarm to stick to its fleet doctrine of attempting to create “anti-fun” has only stirred the hatred higher.
And of course, the lack of a suitable narrative explanation for the invasion has had an impact on the Goons themselves. It’s all very well for Goonswarm’s Financial team to declare that Goonswarm must fight this way to preserve ISK, but the average member of the Financial team is not the average combat pilot.
“Without old grudges, what the fuck are we supposed to care about in this game? What happened to caring about why we fight, or what side we’re actually on? If there’s none of that we’re reduced to flying RvB in nullsec.”- Wortazilla
And byTEST marketing it as such, that is what the War has become. I found it doubtful that the war will stop at Fountain, no matter what the result is. If TEST is victorious, than the momentum of the Anti-Goon sentiment demand further invasions of Goon space. If TEST loses, then All of Nullsec will fight all the harder to avoid falling under the dominion of Goonswarm will hold. For better or worse, this has now evolved into an existential war, it wil not stop until the other side is if not annihilated, at least removed from sovereign space.
No one, it seems has told the Goons this. Instead they’re persisting to fight a war that pits their own morale against that of the enemy, which due to the
a) The relative freshness of newer entrants like N3
b) the greater number of pilots in the TEST bloc
c) the greater number of skilled and experienced FCs in the Test Bloc, as each Alliance brings plenty of its own, rather than the goons which have relatively few.
d) the successful TEST Propaganda Campaign.
Is currently swinging in TEST’s favour. Meanwhile the CFC financial team finds out ways to make cheaper Foxcats with the CFC railgun. Which is all well and good, but it doesn’t fix the problem. The Stakes have been upped, this is no longer a mere landgrab between two regional powers. If CFC continues in the fashion it is now, it could well risk wearing its own player population out and exhausting its FCs, as well as giving the anti-goon band of misfits time to form into something more determined and permeant. If CFC decides that the cost outweighs the benefit of continuing to attempt to take Fountain and retreats, it will be a huge blow to CFC reputation and will most likely result in TEST and friends chasing them home, possibly after reconstructing. If CFC dedicates to a Supercap war, it will be expensive.
However, unlike TEST and many of its friends, Goonswarm is held to have the largest strategic reserve of any of the players currently in nullsec. Unlike TEST and friends, it can afford to fight an ISK attrition war that denies the enemy fun by forcing them to trade supercaps until they cannot replace those supercaps.
It can afford to go in Empire style, and force a massive supercap engagement. The AGAMI (Anti-Goon Alliance of Mutual Interest) really doesn’t, both due to the majority of the combatants not being under direct threat from a sov perspective, and due to the fragile bonds holding them together.
Unforgiven Storm cited the threat of 100 Pandemic Legion Supercaps preventing CFC Cap ops in his post, but PL has long been known as one of the more risk adverse groups in the game. If CFC starts deploying Supercap fleets, will PL front up it’s own Supercaps to a mauling to stop them? More importantly, how many supercap losses can PL withstand before they withdraw? After all it isn’t PL turf on the line- yet.
CFC needs a win.
The simple fact is while the Goonswarm Financial team finds it inconvenient, the nature of supercaps is that they will die.
Decisive action is needed. The longer they delay, the more solid it grows, and the more likely it is that Goonswarm’s original plan- the wearing down of enemy moral through dozens of sub-cap defeats and guerilla warfare to the point where they are unlikely to log on becomes ever more likely to be turned against Goonswarm itself. The central principle that CFC is relying is that it can fight a war of attrition better than any other nullsec entity, and indeed better than every other nullsec entity put together. Some of this is very real- Goon economics, logistics and leadership is exceptional in comparison to most of nullsec. But assuming that Goons have some mysterious elan that will make them immune from the same psychological warfare tactics that it plans to use on its opponents is a mistake, especially considering the forces arrayed against them.
It’s time for CFC to get into its tanks and force its own Battle Of Kursk to shatter the fragile alliance which is the AGAMI- Before it loses too many of its soldiers to the knife fight.