Yesterday I wrote about one of my main concerns regarding the ultimate outcome of World War Bee – namely, what is happening to all the space being evacced by the Imperium. Fade, Vale, Tribute, Tenal, and Branch are all seeing Imperium forces lose sov – Pure Blind and Deklein can be assumed to be next after those. Seven regions of nullsec up for grabs and no one (aside from Pandemic Horde and Drone Walkers) looks intent on taking it.
Today I read Neville Smit’s lovely post about the war and wandered down into his comments. There, something struck me – specifically Stabs’ comment, responding to something Neville wrote, seen here:
This struck me not for the ambition of the statement – as Neville remarked in reply to the comment, that goal is probably achievable. What struck me was the fact that everyone seems to have a different view of the war’s purpose. We all know who everyone in Eve is fighting against at this point – Goonswarm and their Imperium allies. But why?
Stabs thinks it is to remove them from the sov map. But Helicity Boson thinks otherwise:
Other people attribute general anger over the Kickstarter, the arrogance of The Mittani and Sion, the treatment of allies (both in the Alliance sense, as well as the individual person) – ask 10 people what they think the war is about and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.
This is not a winning strategy. Right now, the Money Badger Coalition holds an unprecedented numbers advantage over the Imperium, but what happens when the explosions are no longer plentiful? When activity starts to dwindle as the war transitions fully into grinding timers (as it already has begun to)? Well, there go the pirates who want nothing but explosions. Numbers shaved off the pile.
What happens when the Imperium is reduced from seven to just two regions and a lowsec staging point? Will some alliances feel this is retribution enough and seek to cut deals? Will we see the ballyhooed 57 alliances of the Money Badger Coalition all start to make their own, separate peaces with the Imperium?
If you’re in Stabs’ boat, this should worry you a great deal, as it will ensure that your preferred end is never achieved. And if I’m the Imperium, I start to look outside the usual suspects for allies (Elo Knight and Stainwagon are great and all, but they aren’t gonna turn the tide of this war). The Mittani made his name on the idea that he was a spymaster. This war, with its many combatants, non-complimentary goals, differing philosophies and desired outcomes – this war should be heaven for a real spymaster. He should cut through the morass of 57 alliances, encourage defections, cede territory where necessary (you didn’t have the people to keep ADMs up anyways, right?), and prey upon the petty grudges that threaten every day to set the 57 alliance coalition on fire.
I’ll close this by tossing out some more super great real life comparisons that ultimately fall apart because this is just a game, but nonetheless provide useful examples of the type of behavior and strategy we should like to see in our game. I’m gonna go to Ancient Rome for this one, right in my wheelhouse, so hold on:
As the Roman Empire grew, famously holding territory from the British Isles in the west to modern day Iraq in the east, it ran into problems. Mass migrations of barbarians from the Mongol steppes and from the Scandinavian/Russian region put pressure on borders that were already tenuously manned. In the Fourth and Fifth Centuries AD, the Romans figured out how to kill two birds with one stone – alleviate foreign pressure on their borders and bolster their defensive capabilities.
They let the barbarians in.
There were conditions, of course. Military aged males were absorbed into the Roman legions. The civilians were settled far from their point of entry into the empire, separating them from potential allies outside the borders of the Empire. Often, the Romans played rivalries within these hordes against each other to great effect, by granting competing concessions to different tribes. And the real stroke of genius, enabled by the fact that the empire was so large, was that they not only made the civilians live far away from their entry point – they also made the military aged males, absorbed into the legions, serve away from both their point of origin and their families.
This would change over time, and there were missteps along the way – Adrianople, for one. However, this basic idea of allowing certain numbers of otherwise hostile tribes into the Empire, turning them into good citizens, and restocking the military with fresh blood, served the Empire well for a long time to come (well, it served the east well – in the west, the Emperors were weak and ineffective at curbing the ambitions of foreign generals, leading to the fall of the Western Roman Empire).
To bring it back around to Eve, imagine an Imperium that did not become increasingly insular, but instead plied diplomatic waters to release some of the pressure, to allow some of the Allies into their sanctum, to dazzle them with the possibility of becoming a Roman. Of course, that would signal a significant course reversal – but that’s nothing new for The Mittani these days.