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.
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.
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?