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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Setting the Tempo

It’s musical chair time, people!  Phoebe is a week away, and every commentator is in the throes of tracking and predicting what each alliance is / should be doing.  Right now, folks are curious what Black Legion is going to do.  Will they attack the CFC in Fountain or… attack the CFC in Venal?  N3 seems determined to teach the CFC a lesson (I’ll be curious to see how that goes).

A lot of it is simple propaganda and sabre-rattling you’d expect from the null-sec alliances, but it’d be a mistake to assume there’s nothing to learn from this posturing.

And that lesson would be tempo.

EveNews24 has a good article they’re updating regularly that summarizes the moves being made by the various null entities.  One thing that strikes me is how the N3 alliances are taking space and planning aggressive, offensive deployments in advance of Phoebe.  They’re not waiting for their enemies to determine where the front will be, despite them owning massive amounts of space – much more than they can reasonably expect to defend.

Instead, they've declared a desire to take the Period Basis/Querious region.  They may or may not have paid the CFC for those regions (The Mittani's article today on TMC indicates that they did, but I haven't heard a whisper of this anywhere else).  This begs the question... why would they declare loyalty to a region so far from their renter empire?

The simple fact for NC. is that they have higher-sp pilots, but they don’t have as many of them.  They're going to face significant challenges from non-sov entities - particularly those pushed out over the years - attacking their renter space, and the last thing they want is for the CFC to invade them too.  So they're getting out ahead of it by parking their capital assets right next CFC space.

According to Gentleman's Club's SOTA, this is part of a strategy to invade the CFC.  They certainly seem to believe this will happen, but I don't think so.  Very soon, NC. will be pulled away to defend what regions they still want from non-CFC invaders, and constantly having to turn back to defend their space will blunt any invasion attempt.  Regardless, it's a wise strategy, since it keeps N3's capitals in position to counter the CFC's capitals.  And that deters an attack on the CFC front while N3 tries to manage their renter empire.

That's how you control the tempo of the metagame.  Had N3 waited until invasions were confirmed to be inbound, they would simply be reacting to emerging situations, and thus, have no control over them.  But by demonstrating strength and presenting their full power to their strongest foe, N3 is trying to ward off some of their enemies.  Only preemptive aggressive action can accomplish that.

I’ve talked about the importance of aggression in the past, and this is another iteration of that same principle.  They’ve set the tempo by declaring what they will do and force their enemies to respond to the game they decide to play.

In a 1v1 situation, aggression tends to force your opponent to tip his hand about his fit, his skill, or his tendencies.  Demonstrating boldness suggests that you have an ace in the hole, and encourages him to hesitate or make a mistake.  The same principle that works for the metagame can work for your game too.  Control the tempo and the fight is one of your choosing.

But there’s another aspect to tempo worth drawing attention to: to dictate tempo, you first need to understand both your enemy’s goals and your own.  And to do that, you need to have goals.  You need to know who you are and what you stand for.  A lot of null-sec alliances have the goal only of owning sov.  But that’s not enough.

In philosophy, there’s something called teleological meaning.  It’s a way of ascribing value based on purpose.  We would argue that the teleological value of fleet doctrines, for instance, is tied to its effectiveness.  But making such a judgment implies that we know what the purpose is and can judge how effective that purpose is achieved.

Alliance culture is a term thrown around quite a bit, but very few alliances really have a culture.  Most alliances simply exist, and we use culture to mean “the way they operate”.  But that’s not really a strong use of the term “culture”.  A much better one is “that which is essential and unique about a group of people”.

Another alliance that appears to be working with N3 is Black Legion.  But if you read their most recent SOTA (state-of-the-alliance), you’ll note that they offered up the decision of where they go and what they work towards to the alliance as a whole.  They sought feedback from the alliance to make sure they were still acting according to the goal of the alliance.

That goal?  To maximize the fun they have.  It’s as simple as that.  They have big shiny toys, but time and again, Black Legion has demonstrated that they’re looking to actually play this game.  When they welped an entire capital fleet, their response was, “We’re bl now, because we ran out of capitals.”  They boldly take fights even when outnumbered, laughing and enjoying themselves all the way.

Black Legion knows what they stand for, and their decisions and actions flow from those goals and that identity.  That’s who you build a strong culture.

Look at the alliances that have announced their intentions.  PL was first, giving away much of their renter sov and declaring that they’d go ronin again, going so far as to reset NC. and start attacking their capitals.  Goonswarm was next, announcing what they intended to retain and what space they were giving up.  “Darkeshi” announced their intentions the same way, starting their new coalition off on the right foot.

Doing as your told is playing by someone else’s rules, and it’s hard to maintain a strong culture when doing so.  When you're just reacting all the time, it's hard to maintain that sense of identity that both defines the value you provide to your members and allows you to gain and maintain the tempo in null-sec politics.  You'll always be playing someone else's game, and in so doing, you limit your own effectiveness and the quality of content you can enjoy.  But having that strong culture allows you to play by your own rules even when you fail – look at Solar, who still exists despite so many disasters in their history.

Culture is necessary for setting the tempo in the Eve metagame, and knowing what you stand for is the first cornerstone in establishing a vibrant culture.  Without it, sure, you can win a good number of battles, or be on the winning side, even.  But you can’t truly own your victories, nor will you instill that sort of loyalty that sees your members march through hell with you.

So, what does your alliance truly stand for?  What specific things set you apart from everyone else?

Understand that first.  Only then can you set the tempo.  And setting the tempo gives you that much more of a chance to succeed.


  1. The chairs are moving, but BLAST and TGRAD definitely fell into the comfy chair. We were paid nicely to move into a much bigger space, and one which is better located to content generators (as requested.. being located near some interesting targets is going to be important post-Phoebe).

    I can talk endlessly about corp or alliance culture if you waive the red flag in front of me, but it's pretty simple: Define your alliance's purpose, recruit toward your purpose, and don't try to be a fish and a duck at the same time. That's it.

    Formulating an alliance mission statement is a good practice.

    If your pilots aren't clear what it is and what is expected of them, that's not a good sign. If you wrote Razor's mission statement, what would it look like?

    1. That's a good question, and one I'd like a couple days to mull over. I'll limit myself to writing a Razor mission statement based on the STATED principles and values.