How Will We Know if We Have Won?

The question came up in the comment thread on Friday’s post about victory conditions for the war.  Rather than waste more time in comments with an off-topic thread (which about six people might bother reading) I figured that would be a reasonable topic for a blog post.  Why keep that old fire burning when you can set a new one?

Victory can be a strangely intangible thing in a video game where you can never actually destroy or remove your foe from the game.

Sometimes it is clear.  I think all sides agree that the CFC won the Fountain War.  In the end TEST agreed that they lost and, after one final spectacular battle, packed up what they could and left.  TEST and its allies stopped fighting.  The war was over.

And there are times when things look like they are going one way and yet end up another.  I think all sides agree on is that the battle at B-R5RB was a major victory for the CFC/Russian coalition.

Wait, what?

Even during the fight PL had gone to their welp logo

We’ve all seen the infographic by now I think.

The war itself though… After B-R5RB the Russians imploded, the coalition collapsed, and the area we were fighting over became part of the vast NCDot rental empire.  A victory for PL and NCDot.

Oddly, the loss of that rental empire as jump fatigue and Fozzie Sov began to come into play wasn’t really seen as a loss for either that I can recall.

The Moneybadgers are #Winning

By any metric you care to look at you can demonstrate that the MBC is winning the war.  They have a huge and diverse coalition.  They are taking space.  They can assemble numbers that The Imperium simply cannot contest.  They go where they please and drop supercaps on us if we form in any significant numbers.

Still I am not sure what their victory condition actually is.  I am not sure they have a satisfactory answer to the question I insist on asking at project planning meetings, “How do we know when we’re done?”

I have heard a range of answers that include:

  • Take VFK-IV
  • Take all Goon sov
  • Take all Imperium sov
  • Break up The Imperium
  • Break Goonswarm
  • Remove The Mittani from GSF leadership

Honestly, I think they could legitimately claim that just forming this coalition was a victory of sorts, since people have been saying things along the lines of, “If everybody just banded together against Goons…” for over five years now.  I wonder who first posted such a statement in the official forums?

Anyway, with a multilateral alliance like the MBC, there are many voices claiming to represent the group.  Who really speaks for the coalition?

Meanwhile, the problem with most victory conditions that I have heard is that they seem to assume that The Imperium is going to be good sports and go along with them the way TEST did at the end of the Fountain War.  Taking all of our sovereignty is a great headline moment, but if everybody high-fives and goes home after that, The Imperium is going to still be there and is unlikely to let the status quo sit unchallenged.

The Imperium – Welcome to Afgoonistan

Victory for The Imperium, on the other hand, is somewhere well over the horizon.  Reddit may mock The Mittani’s “hellwar” and “Goonhammer” metaphors, but he is clearly not selling us an easy win.

The Imperium is going through a paradigm shift.  After years of being fat and happy back in a safe homeland, where whole groups never deployed and devoted themselves to ratting, mining, and industry, we have had to shed all of that very quickly.  Deklein is falling, peacetime reimbursement is a thing of the past, and our reach from the Quafe Factory Warehouse in Saranen is limited.

Deklein - April 18, 2016

Deklein – April 18, 2016

That alone has caused players to leave The Imperium.

The immediate goal of The Imperium is simply “don’t lose.”  We cannot lose if you don’t buy into the enemy narrative, don’t give up, and keep getting into fleets to attack the enemy where we can.  We cannot face the enemy head on, but they cannot be strong everywhere at once.  As they take more territory they become more vulnerable to counter-hacking.  Pandemic Horde found out over the weekend that setting up shop in a station in Fade to rat and mine was inviting trouble.  Reavers and Bomberwaffe were able to sting PH pretty hard while reinforcing various sov structures in the region.

Small victories have to sustain us.  This is helped along by the fact that, for Goons of a certain era, being the underdog is just the natural order of things and they welcome the return of that situation.  Being the insurgent is a more natural role for them.  And, of course, when members of the coalition against us are busy shooting each other… in Iitanmadan or down in Providence… that simply buoys our spirits.

Something About Victory

So who wins and how?

I think the Moneybadgers could clear out Deklein and Pure Blind, setting all the ADMs back to 1.0, legitimately declare victory, and move on.  They would have made a tangible change to the game and could legitimately claim to have defeated The Imperium as it was at the start of the war and the north would remain chaotic for some time to come.

To hit any of the bigger goals, such as breaking up The Imperium or Goonswarm, would require the coalition to sit, in force, on Saranen for a long time.  I am not sure the coalition has the wherewithal to manage that.

On the other side, there has to be an admission that the old Imperium is dead.  With the current state of the game, there won’t be any return to holding all the space we had before.  The only victory is in not losing and coming out the other side of the war able to exert control over null sec space within easy reach of our staging base in Saranen once the Moneybadgers tire of sitting on us and move on to other ventures.  We win by being around to fight another day, by emerging from the crucible or war intact and hardened, and by simply refusing to admit defeat.

Of course those two victory conditions are not mutually exclusive.  They could both come to pass and each side would claim their own victory.

Are there other victory conditions possible for either side?  Can you ever truly declare an unambiguous victory in New Eden if your foe refuses to acquiesce?

19 thoughts on “How Will We Know if We Have Won?

  1. Dasi

    Now that is an interesting reflection. And I think you hit the nail on the head: MBC can only claim real victory if Goons roll over and die/disentegrate/spurn Mittani…which is very unlikely to happen.
    As someone who has been fighting Goons for a while, it’s not a very comforting thought. But at least the fight will go on :-)

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  2. SynCaine

    In some way HBC has already ‘won’, because they accomplished something no one has even come close to doing in years, despite so many trying and failing; actually hurting Goons in a meaningful way. Prior to this, everyone who fought Goons was basically providing content/targets to shoot at, and everything was on the Goon’s terms. That’s not the case today.

    Goon’s on the other hand will very likely come out of this just fine, because as you noted, being the annoying underdog is what they do best.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Just a note, the coalition is MBC not HBC. My using Moneybadger isn’t a pejorative, it is actually what they call themselves. They have a logo and everything.

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  4. Dave Andrews (@proceduraldave)

    The last sentence you have here is the most important, and the answer is no. You can’t really. Your enemy must concede defeat in order for a victory to be achieved. The Imperium (or rather, GSF, since that is far more likely to be the long term combatant here) could wage a small guerilla campaign forever, wait for MBC members to peel off after their particular victory conditions have been met, and ultimately (in a couple years) take back Deklein and still call that the same war. Indeed, this appears to be the plan.

    The differences in victory conditions is a great point that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I think MBC ends in more grudges than just GSF vs. the world.

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  5. Fenjay

    It’s another minor miracle that the MBC has held together as long as it has. I identified several pairs of alliances/groups in the first day that hate each other, who have been working (at least in principle) alongside each other. So it would not take much to start seeing fault lines.

    And I think those fault lines will appear somewhere around the time that all Goon sov is either taken or starts to be heavily contested. Lots of people will probably move in to the freed-up space, but whether they can retain it is another question. Many times in these wars, the losing side failscades, but that is one thing the Imperium is highly unlikely to do. At least GSF itself is very cohesive out of game, which has been one of its historical aces in the hole.

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  6. Rob Kaichin

    Without wanting to get involved in a slap-fight, the way I see it is this:

    Mittens has set the victory conditions so low that even if GSF disbands, sheds its ‘allies’, reforms with 20 guys and takes back just one system in the north, that’s still a victory for his side.

    Which, I admire in a way. It’s a tacit admission that they’ve lost completely, but they’ll be back.

    I guess it’s up to fate to see who will lead whatever remains back north. It will probably be Mittens, but maybe there’ll be a different person at the helm.

    In other news, Deklein systems continue to fall and the MBC still hasn’t imploded. Gobbins isn’t banned and neither are the rest of our leadership. PL and NC have bubbled EC9PI or whatever the system is to death, and Goons are chestbeating about killing rookie ships.

    A good week :).

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  7. Stabs

    I think what Syncaine wrote is spot on. The aura of invincibiity is dead.

    For MBC members I imagine each of us have our own win condition. I honestly couldn’t tell you what that is in my corp – the Waffle Khan plays his cards pretty close to his chest.

    For Goons there are a number of alternative options that could be pursued (moving to Delve would be my pick) but it looks like you’re focused on La Reconquista.

    For that to happen I think you need to neutralise PL. If PL remains there at the heart of the MBC I don’t see how you can win any big battles. I can tell you as a veteran of Catch era Brave what it’s like when one side can bring supers and the other can’t.

    It may be that La Reconquista brings another B-R and it may be that your side wins it.

    Interesting times ahead.

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  8. Chaosrook

    Well dam, i messed up. Seems buying a steam version of the game was not the right thing to do…now im stuck with an account thats not connected to my trail….no activation keys as most games and such. bahhh losing out 14 days of trail and any progress i have made and now i got to kill the toons so i can reuse the names…why does termination take so long…doh sorry man. not sure what you lose out but i had just bought a bestower for 500k. Trying to figure our how to get it to my new toons on another account :(

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  9. Werd

    The MBC has destroyed the imperium, but the objective is to destroy goons. The imperium has already fallen, and it was an easy war.

    Goons on the other hand are far from broken. I think the rumors of the martini being jealous of pandemic horde are spot on. PH is basically a modern version of the goonswarm which was handed to the martini after the war on BoB, minus the asshole mentality. Namely a corp of extremely active, bloodthirsty people who simply get shit done.

    I think in losing everything willingly the martini is trying to shred the weak links, revitalize former members and position goonswarm to be what it was. Parts of this strategy is already working, I mean, just look at the goon probaganda in PH staging.

    I think he may underestimate just how much people hate him and his leadership but who wins? The MBC had already destroyed the imperium, but turning goons on their leadership is going to be hard.

    I doubt this war will be over in 2016, and if does end sooner than that, I think it might be with a revitalized goonswarm.

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  10. Anonymouse

    One thing I don’t understand, and perhaps Wilhelm can explain:

    GSF has more than 17K players, right? More than any other alliance, by a signficant margin, yes? Yet, according to the battle reports, far less than 10% are typically involved in a fight. Assuming that you can get 50%, or even 25%, of GSF on the field, no one really should be able to beat them.

    So, I do not understand why everyone says that the Goons would automatically lose any “last stand” battle. I would think that it would be very difficult for the mixed-bag leadership of the MBC to coordinate enough players to stand up to the entire GSF, under its single leadership.

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  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Anonymouse – That is part of the whole “fat and happy” thing I mentioned in the post. Deklein hasn’t seen an external threat since 2011. The regions we took in 2012 have stayed in our hands since then without any real effort by anybody to take them. All wars since then were expeditions to other places. So, for example, the group that was dedicated to homeland defense back in the day evolved into a carrier AFK ratting group. They optimized their Chimera fit to allow them to jump to each other to handle a small roaming gang because that is pretty much all they ever faced.

    Lots of people got used to being able to follow their care bear desires, tend their reaction farms, run incursions, and otherwise print ISK without being bothered. Those people don’t show up in Saranen very often or go on many fleets. They are not motivated, and all the more so because they’re losing their stuff. The people regularly now are the same people who would go off to distant wars, while the others are still getting their acts together. They may simply leave or stop logging in, hoping to come back in happier times.

    In my estimate, based on what I have seen over the last week or two, GSF, by itself, can fill a fleet in a flash, 255 pilots, if somebody announced “supers tackled!” during prime time on a Saturday and put up three, maybe four, fleets with some notice and a lot of pings and the op is slated for an US/EU overlap time on a weekend. But that is still probably less than 1,000 people out of that 17K number. Some of the difference is due to time zones and people being busy or the fact that there are a lot of alts or supercap pilots who only log in for the exact right fight or that there are non-combat groups that actually have war essential work to do, but that is still a pretty poor ratio.

    Meanwhile our foes are all expeditionary forces, so everybody they brought north came here to fight. No single group is as big as GSF, but there are a lot of those groups. So on the field they typically hold a 2:1 to 5:1 advantage if we go toe to toe.

    And some GSF allies are not much better. SMA, on the battle line for three months straight had the best turn out compared to population. My own alliance, TNT, puts up very small numbers even relative to our ~1,300 member size. So part of the who Saranen plan will be changing who we are and I imagine that the alliance member counts will shrink as people who don’t want to fight leave or get dropped because they stopped logging in.

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  12. Werd

    Forget everything I said earlier. It turns out the fountain war was never lost by test. Test simply decided to give up their sov, wait for CFC to get bored before launching a hell war.

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  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Werd – Yeah… there is just that whole “stopped fighting” bit that is completely different from the current situation. Meanwhile, if you go to Fade, you’ll see PH turning into carebears before your very eyes, ratting and mining while the war still goes on. Not exactly “bloodthirsty” as advertised.

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  14. Random poster

    You know this war doe ssort of back up what Gevlon had been saying for a while about Goons really being carebears(hate that term)now. I don’t think the exact scenario werd posted is what had been planned but I do see it happening. The non pvp types are going to go by the wayside leaving those of you like you Wilhelm who want to fight and take your frustratiations out on those who wronged you (the traitors who sort of started this mess). The reavers you are a part of sort of reminded of the early days of GSF and I see that becoming the norm instead of the outlier.

    When it all settles out and GSF/Imperium is ready to return do you see SMA joining back up or are they too gunshy now? As you said they had some of the best turnout relative to size out of the Imperium, but they also finally said nope, we’re done.

    And a final thought, what happened to the vaunted goon spy service? This whole thing seems like it caught them with their pants down (especially the Co2 defection)and have seen nothing that seemed that important come from them during the whole thing?

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  15. Werd

    Some of the ratting and mining is strategic to upgrade the ADM, but a lot of it isn’t. No one needs to up the ADM in the horde staging system and you still see people ratting and mining there, you even see people ratting and mining there while there are 60 enemy stealth bombers in the system.

    I don’t think this says much though, horde is 90% spies after all. I think fleet participation is what counts and I’m not under the impression that horde has problems in that area.

    Sunday horde conquered pure blind, removing every goon jump bridge from low sec to the north. This wasn’t uncontested, but the goons were completely outmanouvered by superior horde tactics of simply having enough pilots who are willing to take an entosis loss ( without SRP) because it burns the bee hive.

    Monday goons formed a hefty fleet in an attempt to live up to boats (now failed) promise of taking horde staging by today. Goons got of to a great start by bombing hordes response fleet on undock. Horde pilots quickly got into new ships, however, and proceeded to devastate the goon doctrine fleet with their hastily put together kitchen sink.

    I know goons love blowing up horde lone horde miners right now, but it seems like that’s about all goons are capable of doing at this point, and you have to remember horde is a bunch of newbies. What are you going to do when you have to face the rest of us?

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  16. CunningB

    @Wilhelm – PH aren’t turning into carebears, that’s how they generate income to carry on fighting. Not everyone in EvE gets srp’d to victory, most have to generate an isk income to buy ships to fight. Ratting and mining in nullsec is just another way of doing this and considering they have a pretty high pvp activity ratio, kills and losses, they need the isk generation more than most.

    The worst that can really be said is that they’re either very brave or very stupid to be carrying on doing it in the middle of a warzone, unlike many others who’ve turned and fled at the first sign of a little risk.

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  17. Pingback: 3 Weeks of War, A Status Update | Random Waypoint

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