Asher Ascendant and the New Age of Risk for the Imperium

insure your supers

-Asher, just before Operation Enho

On Thursday we got a big announcement.  Asher Elias, long time bloc level fleet commander and the Imperium sky marshal during World War Bee, was stepping up to lead Goonswarm Federation, and by extension the Imperium, filling the leadership vacuum left by the departure of The Mittani.

Welcome to the new regime.

You think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark.

I can’t actually remember why I threw together that Asher/Bane mash up image last year… there was probably some running gag on one of his fleets… but it was the only image of his character I had readily to hand.  And a new leader has to project a fearsome image, right?

Long time readers of this blog might find the name familiar.  Including this post I have 105 posts tagged with “Asher Elias” going back to a rupture fleet he ran back in 2014 where we got bombed into oblivion.

He has more positive mentions as leader of the Reavers SIG within the Imperium, founded back in 2015, which I happened to stumble into just as it was being formed, something that changed the game for me.

Reavers forum bee

I blame Asher and Reavers for my continuing to play EVE Online for the last seven years or so because going from main fleet to a SIG that did special operations and its own doctrines kept null sec alive and interesting for me.  A couple of times over the last few years I have thought it might be time to take a break… and then a Reavers deployment comes up and I am back in the game again.

In addition to being sky marshal and running the Reavers SIG he has run the Goonswarm alliance tournament team and currently stands as the pilot on the most kill mails in all of the Goonswarm Federation alliance, standing at 26,691 kills as I write this.

The GSF top five pilots based on kill mails – GinFOX is catching up

Known for his meticulous planning and audacious schemes… which includes trying to boosh subcaps into optimum range of a HAW dread to helping put together Operation Ehno, the attempt to trap and kill PAPI supers at YZ9-F6… he play the null sec fleet operations game at the highest level.

If there was anybody more unlike The Mittani when it came to the game, it would be hard to find them.  Mittens bragged about never logging in and playing the meta game, using the weekly Meta Show to harangue our foes and call them names in order to enrage them and get them to come at us.

Asher, while he has his own Twitch channel, is probably better known there and on YouTube for his League of Legends videos.  He is mild of temper and not prone to throwing insults or creating bad feelings.

In a prepared speech he read today (which you can listen to here or read here or at the end of this post) after TheAdj announced he would be taking over the reigns of the alliance and coalition, he charted out a different path forward.  Rather than going on weekly shows to mock our foes in order to get them to hate us, he said we would be pursing an in-game strategy of actually attack them and taking their space in order to get them mad at us.

As part of this the Imperium will be taking more risks, because risks lead to the type of fights that make this game memorable, that make ongoing tales of null sec worth writing books about.

He said during his speech that the Imperium had previously been following a line of simply not losing.  As an example, he said that after the twin battles on the Keepstar at M2-XFE he said our foes were demoralized, their titans trapped, and were worried that we would take out their Keepstar in NPC Delve, cutting their safe route into Delve.  They were alleged to be surprised that we did not move against them, choosing instead to abandon our defense of the Helms Deep systems and any pretense of attack in order to sit and camp their titans until they revived the morale of their line members and resumed grinding down Delve, and freeing most of their trapped titans in order to resume the offensive.

Asher, sky marshal of the Imperium, whose job was to coordinate and plan the strategy of the war, was forbidden by Imperium leadership from attacking the PAPI Keepstar in Delve.

The war could have been won, decisively, with an explosive battle, rather than being dragged out for months and months until the enemy finally retreated in dismay, undefeated in battle, but worn down by the long siege of 1DQ1-A.

The reason for the decision to leave the Keepstar alone was that to attack it contained an element of risk.  It would have been a gamble, and nobody at the top wanted to roll the dice.  So the war went on.

So part of Asher’s comments were that we would, as an organization, be taking more risks and committing more heavily to war.  His speech was followed up by a call to deploy more forces to the front in the war against FI.RE in Tenerifis and Immensea.  Capitals and supers were being moved.  The war was going to be dialed up, with the possibility that this escalation might bring a response from other groups.  We shall see.

But it is a different message with a different tone.  We will let the weight of our forces do the talking.

The only downside to this is that the responsibilities of state will likely keep Asher from being able to lead Reavers ops.  But I can say that the leader of the Imperium knows who I am.  And if you tackle my jump freighter, you can be sure I’ll mention that I know Asher Elias.

We don’t know how long he will remain in charge, though he did say in an interview on Theta Thursday that he wasn’t going to stick around for a dozen year like The Mittani did.

Related:

Text of Asher’s speech after the cut:

Hi friends. I haven’t come up here to read you a typical talk about the alliance and what it needs this week, I don’t have an itemized list from each department with bullet points to hit. Instead, I have come to talk to you about Eve Online. I think every one of us can think of another game that if you want to have fun for 60 minutes easily blows Eve Online out of the water. But if I asked you about a Halo match you had 5 years ago you couldn’t tell me a single thing about it. However if you get some Eve nerds sitting around the digital fireside you can bet that they will start waxing poetical about a fight that happened, 5 or even 10 years ago. They will fondly remember their FC and call out the time that they saved the day by landing that scram or the time their titan died and they reshipped into another titan and jumped back into the same fight. I’m an Eve romantic because of those chats around the fireside. There may be a million other games that are better to play but there none that are better to experience. Eve is the game that we tell stories about. Eve is the game where we fondly remember our comrades that we fought with and hope they are doing well, wherever they are in life.

But as time goes by we started getting bitter. It’s easy to start building up anger at this game and at our enemies. We’ve seen how the sausage is made. Everyone here has an idea for how to improve things and we’ve all been frustrated when what we would like to see change doesn’t happen. But, we have also been part of the problem. There’s a problem in video game design where if you let the player sit around and build up their walls and their weapons they will do it in such a way that they will never attack until they have no chance of failure. Until they’ve optimized every last bit of fun out of the game. How many of you here who played Age of Empires or Starcraft can say you didn’t do exactly that. When the game let you, you made your army so big that by the time you finally attacked your CPU foe they had absolutely no chance. And after you did that there was this brief, tiny moment of happiness as you watched the enemy fall so swiftly. But it’s like playing Grand Theft Auto with all the cheats on, it’s fun for about an hour then you get bored.

In our last war, World War Bee, we fought in M2- and we did what every player seeks to do. We utterly destroyed the enemy. We had their titan fleet trapped, we had their morale destroyed. And did we take advantage of that? No, we decided that instead of threatening their keepstar exit route we would sit in that same system for months ineffectually camping them in. Our intel after the war told us that our enemies were shocked at this, they were ready to crumble and they thought we would surely attack their keepstar in NPC Delve and they knew that once we did – they would have to leave.

But we didn’t do that, we let them rebuild their shattered morale. And a war that should have been over in weeks took another 6 months. I was specifically told I was not allowed to attack, that all I could do was camp. Because even though we had one of the greatest moments in the history of wars in Eve Online there was a still a 5% chance of failure. And that 5% chance of failure was too much of a risk to lose our merchandising and our subscribers. The goal was not to win, it was only never to fail.

And to me that was a betrayal. The amount of time that everyone had put into the war was immense. People made sacrifices of their friendships, their money, and their personal lives. I remember friends inviting me to see a movie on Friday night but I would turn it down because I needed to be within sprinting distance of my PC at all times in case the enemy attacked. And when I was told that we couldn’t finish the war it spoke volumes to me about what was more valued, the time and lives of the people who run it or the smallest of chances of failure of the empire. It wasn’t right. But I stayed on, I finished the war at great personal cost, and I didn’t say anything negative. I just told people I was taking a break because I didn’t want to threaten to tear apart the group that I care about, so I just waited for the right time.

And now that time is here, this is our time. It’s time for things to change. If you joined Goons because you wanted to have a totally safe titan until the day you quit the game of boredom then this is no longer the place for you. It was easy in the past to sit behind our player erected walls and have our leader insult our enemies based on the things they did out of game, based on who they were. The policy, unspoken but ever-present, was to make them so angry at us out of the game that they had to attack us in the game. This is corrosive, and it’s no way to run an alliance.

From now on we will make people dislike us because we evicted them from their space. Because we made them move three times. They will want revenge because we fought them not because we made fun of how their leader looks. You will get the chance to be part of the stories that people tell about this game. You will have the chance of incredible victory or the chance to experience failure. It’s time we start pushing in the chips that we’ve gathered. You bought a super? You built a titan? It’s time you had a chance to use those not to shoot an undefended fort but to shoot their guns in anger. To become the story.

In Eve you can’t vote for an alliance executor. But there is a truly powerful way you can show your endorsement of a leader. You vote with your feet. And I’m going to ask you to vote for me. Eve Online is a game that delivers greater experiences than any other game but it also demands more sacrifices. And when you are staying up that extra hour late even though you’d rather be sleeping because you work tomorrow your alliance leader won’t be missing it because he’s got other things to do. He will be right next to you in fleet.

So if this is the future you want for Goons, the future you want for the Imperium, I want your endorsement. I want you to resub that capital account. I want you to show up to fleets in greater and greater numbers. Be there next to me – we will create those memories, those stories together. There was a time when every one of you was a romantic about this game but slowly you lost it. You took on the title “bittervet” and you bore it proudly like armour so that no one could accuse you of loving it and make a fool of you for liking it like you once did. If you ask me if I’m bitter about Eve Online, about Goons and the Imperium. No, no I’m not. I’ve fought with every one of you and all I remember are the good memories. How can you not be romantic about Eve Online? So I thank you for the trust you’ve given me, and I ask you to be a romantic about Eve Online, about Goons, and the Imperium again with me. I’ll see you in fleet.

5 thoughts on “Asher Ascendant and the New Age of Risk for the Imperium

  1. PCRedbeard

    I think something is missing in the post, right after this:

    Asher, while he has his own Twitch channel, is probably better known there and on YouTube for his League of Legends videos. He is mild of temper and

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SynCaine

    I’ve always really like Asher, so this seems like a good thing for the Alliance. A focus on more war and higher stakes sounds like a good thing overall for EVE.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Quitting EVE Online – For real this time (question mark?) – Mailvaltar

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