Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
Everybody thinks their side is winning.
There is a huge temptation to look at the last battle, the last kill vs. loss report, the last sovereignty change and to pronounce that one side couldn’t possibly winning because look how badly they just did. That is what most of the forum and comment thread crowing is about right now.
The thing is that fights, even losing fights, are motivators for both sides. Such fights are why a large majority of the rank and file show up every day. We want to blow things up. We want to use all those skills we have trained, to fly all those ships we have bought. It is fun.
And so we have had 10 days running of thousand plus ship fights. The war goes on and the pitched battles continue because it is what most of us want.
As for other indicators of winning or losing, they seem rather mixed.
The CFC’s biggest claim to winning is that we have deployed forces to Fountain and have taken and held systems in the region. The last I heard, we have also knocked out more than a score of TEST moon mining stations, the key assets over which this war is being fought. Executing to plan, as one might say. And the “not winning fast enough” theory was discredited last year with the campaign in Tribute and Vale. The CFC has proven they can stay in the fight over the long haul.
On the flip side the CFC diplomatic corps wasn’t able to set favorable terms for the battle before hand. This has always been part of the power of the CFC, the ability to rig the odds in advance through back channels.
This failure has allowed TEST to run a very successful “Come Kill Goons” campaign as it sought allies. Who would have thought so many people would respond favorably to that rallying cry, right? Hah!
Meanwhile, who has the CFC picked up? Fweddit. There is a propaganda victory in that, what with Fweddit sharing with TEST an origin in Reddit. But the CFC can’t really run a “come shoot shit posters from Reddit” counter campaign now, can they? (Though, hey, well played Fweddit! Thanks!)
So the CFC is looking at a lot of motivated enemies who seem pretty united on the “Kill Goons” part of the strategy. This has meant not only facing fleets of equal size at all turns, but has unleashed a series of attacks in the CFC backfield. The convoy route to the Fountain front is camped and disrupted regularly. Gents has had some capital ship assembly arrays at home destroyed, while Goonswarm lost a system in Tribute. Life is getting difficult for the CFC and will remain so for some time, barring a diplomatic break through.
On the other side of the battle, TEST’s biggest claims to winning right now is that they have all these allies ready and willing to shoot Goons, that they are causing the CFC pain, and that they have shown the wherewithal in the past to ride out a sovereignty grind until the other side gives up.
The problem with their claims is that it is hard to explain away the fact that the CFC continues to hold 10% of Fountain despite efforts to retake systems. The sovereignty change listing for Fountain shows a lot of flips in ownership, but TEST has not been able to push the CFC back. Moon mining operations in the region have been thoroughly disrupted. Plus, historically, a focus on defense has always been a losing proposition. TEST and its allies really haven’t brought the fight into the CFC homeland in any significant way to distract them from Fountain.
And then there are the TEST allies. What happens when you invite so many wolves into your camp to defeat a bear? Where do all their interests lay? Granted, that is more of a post war diplomatic problem, which won’t matter if TEST loses.
All of the above is great fodder for forum wars and comment thread battles and, more importantly, feeds the propaganda war. Because it is the propaganda war that likely to have the most impact over time.
It is very difficult to take sovereignty from an actively resisting alliance, even when they are vastly outnumbered. Remember how long the Walltreipers Alliance held out in Delve last summer?
But if an alliance loses heart, if it starts thinking it cannot win, that the fight isn’t worthwhile, if members stop showing up for fights, if people start hauling things out of null sec “just in case,” well, then the war might be over. Remember White Noise back in early 2012 or, going back to Delve last summer, how Nulli Secuda folded over their treatment by Against All Authorities even as Walltreipers was holding firm. Nulli wasn’t beaten by external forces, they simple ceased to believe in the fight. That is all it takes. And then there was Northern Coalition (who ironically now live in the south) and their retreat from Tribute and Vale after they tired of the sov grind. (And in one of those “the more things change” events, Northern Coalition, Nulli Secunda, and former White Noise ally Raiden are all in with TEST at this point.)
That is how I imagine the war in Fountain will be decided.
One side or the other will decide the fight isn’t worth it and stop showing up.
Again, at this point, everybody thinks the opposition will fold. How can they not, facing such odds?
As long as both sides hold on to that idea, and barring and serious shift in the balance of forces, the war will grind on.