Wednesday, February 5, 2014

All His Dreams, Torn Asunder

We've had so many reports of null-sec politics updates that I really must comment on them.  After all, it’s not every day null-sec entities decide to shuffle the deck so completely.  Let’s look at how it all started, though, before going into the detail about what’s happening now.

B-R was a turning point in null-sec politics this year (and yes, I’ve written about the consequences to PL and given a few musings in fictional form.  Prior to it, N3 and PL combined were widely believed to hold an overwhelming advantage in titan and supercarrier power.  Already, PL has proven their willingness to drop supers on anything with a pulse, as well as a long-standing network of cyno alts that allow them to bridge to any capital fight anywhere in the galaxy within about fifteen minutes’ notice.  No other null-sec entity can do that.

PL had always snuck under the radar by not owning very much space themselves.  Sure, they had plenty of moons, but tracking moon ownership without the corresponding sov ownership is difficult at best.  How many moons do they own?  I’m sure some of the CFC logistics folks know, but it’s not widely known.

Recently (as in last year), they added all the B0T renter lands, which only increases their vast resource reserves.  If anyone harbored any doubt that PL could continue its cyno chains indefinitely to and from battles all across New Eden, that doubt disappeared with the birth of B0T.

So, PL had both the willingness and ability to drop supers, as well as probably the most experience flying supers of any alliance.  With N3, it was widely assumed that they had more supers than anyone else, too.

Why does this matter?  Because any massive sov fight will inevitably go to the side that can commit to that final escalation.  Like in poker, knowing you hold a monster makes you much freer with your chips, inducing you to come over the top of any bet you meet.  Have quad kings with two in the pocket?  You’re unlikely to let up on your bets.

It was widely assumed that while the CFC held a numerical superiority, it could not field enough supers to break PL/N3’s wrecking ball fleet (archons with supers/titans).  Well, if PL was holding quad kings, the CFC had a straight flush.  They were able to crumple PL/N3’s supposedly overwhelming weapon in a surprisingly one-sided affair (56-19, if you count the only relevant measure, titans killed).  It was a dark day for anyone vested in a CFC failure.

But, more than that, the fact that the CFC was able to field more titans and field them competently, it signaled the failure of the anti-CFC doomsday tactic.  As it turned out – as a surprise to everyone, including the CFC, I think – PL/N3 actually didn’t control the final escalation option after all.  The CFC could freely engage anyone, knowing for certain – tested, proven, certainty – that they could break anyone simply by escalating beyond all reason.

Now, the CFC held all the cards.

Fast forward to this week.  In their own words, PL and N3 took a bat to the face, with one retiring from the war entirely and the other pulling back to hold on to whatever they can in the fact of no plausible path to victory.  Some have called this shameful, but that’s simply ridiculous.

Both have fallen back to resource-hoarding mode – that inevitable and intelligent tactic following a war defeat in which the losing side saves as many resources as possible for the inevitable next go around.  I say this is intelligent because self-pity or denial of the new paradigm is simply a waste of resources.  Their leadership is wise, and they see that prolonging the inevitable for some face-saving tactic is simply a waste of good resources.  They decided to deploy elsewhere to give themselves time to recover from the loss, build/buy new titans, and replenish their war chest.

But the ripples spread outward from there.  Rather than cling to what allies they have, PL decided to punish those allies who proved themselves less than valuable.  This is a smart move.  It sends a signal to those who stood back that PL isn’t the type of alliance to cling to an ally, regardless of his worth.  “Find another host to suckle on,” as it were.  This could easily be the end of Why So Serious.  It’s ironic that their existence is threatened not by an enemy, but by an ally frustrated by their behavior.

Be careful who you ally with.

Then, Phreeze announced that Insidious Empire would be shutting down because he literally could not find anyone within the 3500-man alliance to help shoulder the load.  I find this hard to believe.  I’ve gone against some Insidious Empire gangs that had the guts to do small-gang roaming, and I found some of them very competent.  I don’t really have anything against them.  The pilots themselves may have only fought when they had superior numbers, but they showed a willingness to PvP that I respect.  I'm sure there were plenty of people who could learn to pick up the reins.

That said, I’m delighted to see EMP fold, mainly because of the rhetoric.  EMP always came across as arrogant, like the little kid trying to act like his three karate classes meant he was Bruce Lee.  When EMP took Cobalt Edge, they acted like they had somehow defeated Razor, despite us showing no real interest protecting our sov.  Quite literally, the only value it held was as possible renter space, but the creation of PBLRD made it impossible to attract any renters to what was comparatively worthless space.

But, that didn’t stop the chest-beating about how EMP had taken an entire region from Razor.  It’s not that they did this in local that augured poorly for EMP; after all, gloating that they now owned our space is a good goad to get us to fight them.  But when you tell your membership that you defeated an 8-year old alliance when you simply took what they didn’t want… that’s called inventing a triumph.  And it doesn’t speak to your confidence in your alliance.

Then, Phreeze posted a Razor update as if it was being released by a Razor member.  At first, you may not see anything wrong with that.  But it represents a massive breach of etiquette and journalistic integrity.  If your spy gives you info about Razor, it’s a leak.  If a member of Razor posts something, it’s an update.  It’s a subtle distinction, but one that reveals the allegiance of the author.  And it’s an important one to a fellow writer; one that speaks to journalistic integrity, or the lack thereof.  It’s easy to use words to lie; skill lies in using the truth to persuade.

And what picture does this paint?  Of a former Razor Alliance member out to destroy his old alliance even at the cost of violating any sense of journalistic integrity (honesty about the type of content he generated, revealing his bias and agenda).  He inflated every victory into a Roman triumph, even though he didn’t learn the basic lesson of nearly every important null-sec alliance… you need an entire network of good people working on logistics, command, organization, and communications.  A single person isn’t enough, and a single person can’t contain all the power for himself.

Let that be a lesson for all you would-be alliance leaders.  Relevance comes from longevity.  Longevity comes from a solid core of leaders.  And that core comes from delegation.

The alternative is a flash in the pan.  “I’d like to introduce you to Insidious Empire, the alliance that just died.”

I hope all the members find good homes following quality leadership.  I have respect for those of you I’ve flown against.  Some of you fought me 1v1 when you could have blobbed.  Some of you roamed through Razor space and took what fights you found, regardless of size.  I salute you.

But as to Phreeze, I’m glad to see all his dreams torn asunder.  I only regret that his deception (if he withheld things from you) or ignorance (if he didn’t know how to properly form an alliance) or selfishness (if you have the leadership to operate without him) means he took all of you down with him.


  1. As an EMP grunt I can assure you, that many high-level directors were surprised by Phreeze move and most of us think it has something to do w/ PL needing more space/isk to replace its supercaps and titans. Keep in mind, that Phreeze IS a PL member.

    1. That doesn't really surprise me. I really hope the PvP corps of EMP either join up with another good entity or start something of their own. If you join a null-sec entity, please keep in mind the type of alliance you want: one that distributes power among all corporations, in which all corps are equals (more or less), and which give corps some flexibility to have their own identities.