James315 recently put together a great piece over on TMC entitled “Did the CFC just win EVE?” If you haven’t read it yet, I’d highly recommend it. In it he discusses the current nullsec situation of apparent CFC dominance, but rebuts those who have publically stated that the Halloween War is likely EVE’s “last war”. I will try not to tread over the same points that James makes, but instead focus on why I think many people refuse to stand up or join forces against the CFC. Answers which reply to progodlegend’s quote below:
“You know what I find amusing? So many people seem concerned about goons becoming the dominant force in EVE, yet so few of you were ever willing to line up against them and fight them. The reason goons are so dominant is because EVE is full of risk averse pussies, that’s the beginning and the end of it. You have no one to blame but yourselves.”
Lack of Functional Assets
For many of the “neutral parties”, putting together a 100-man fleet is a herculean effort. Getting that many warm bodies online, active, and participating at the same time simply isn’t easy. More so when you consider that many of those pilots may or may not have the ability to fly top-of-the-line doctrine ships that anti-CFC members are utilizing. These groups look at the CFC’s ability to field 750+ T2 fitted Megathrons over, and over, and over again in fear.
The lack of manpower, coupled with a dearth of high SP pilots, leads to the “Well, we wouldn’t contribute that much anyway…” thought process. If we can only field 10% or 20% of what the CFC can throw together “at the drop of a hat” (perception, not necessarily reality), then we’re useless. This of course plays right into the CFC’s hands. They want people thinking only one of two things: “How can I join the CFC?” or “Hell no, we can’t stand against them.” By relegating every minor power into one of those two camps, they perpetuate the aura of invincibility surrounding their Coalition.
What the minor power leaders correctly understand is that, yes, they’re useless as individual entities. Individual alliances standing tall, proud, and independent are a thing of the past. We’re in an era of Coalition-level conflict in EVE. The CFC stands as such an intimidating force because they learned years ago that “united we stand, divided we fall.”
Some might argue that other groups first paved the way for Coalition or Bloc style conquest and holdings. They’d point to the Band of Brothers, and their area of influence years ago. Those people are both completely right and irredeemably wrong at the same time in drawing comparisons between the two groups. The GBC (Greater BoB Community) and the CFC have both everything and nothing in common at the same time.
Let’s start with what they have in common:
- Large member base consisting of primary alliance members, and their coalition allies. On the GBC side we had groups like Executive Outcomes, Firmus Ixion, Veritas Immortalis, Xelas, Atlas, and others. On the CFC side membership includes RAZOR, TNT, FA, GENTS, CO2 and others.
- Ability to field large numbers of doctrine-specific ships and replace them almost at-will.
- Aura of invincibility
There are a multitude of differences between the GBC and the CFC, but only one bears mentioning: how they treat their allies. BoB often treated their allies like shit. Most alliances were, in fact, renters. They paid money to utilize the space and exist as a meatshield against incursions into BoB-held space. Xelas. Firmus Ixion. Others. I speak from personal experience here. I was an FC in one of the (major) alliances that BoB deemed worthy to call “ally”. Of course, that privilege came at the cost of many, many billions a month to keep our space and defend Fortress Delve from enemy incursions.
Not so with the CFC. Say what you will about the Goons and others that make up that Coalition, they treat each other with respect. I say this not as a CFC lickspittle but as someone who has, almost from the beginning, fought against the Goons. When the Goons were still in Syndicate, flying Rifters around, I warned against the danger. “They may be flying frigates now, but just wait two years until they are all in Dreadnoughts. You will not be able to stop them.” I fought against them in the South, in the East, and in the North. On our side, allies were ordered into the fight with no control over their own destiny. Pets don’t get a choice. Second-class citizens don’t get a say. Papa BoB says jump and how high, we don’t have the opportunity to ask.
The CFC is different. For all that individual members might be sperglords on the public forums or within in-game chat channels, allies are well-treated. Individual groups are catered to, and made to feel important from the moment they join the Coalition. Individual groups are left to govern themselves, without a heavy-handed influence at the back of the room driving their purpose or intent. When people ask for help, it is given freely. You are made to feel like you belong. The more you contribute, the more you are rewarded. There is a sense of community, and a power comes from that. This is different from what it meant to be a member of the Greater BoB Community. There, while publically united, you always dreaded that what you brought to the table would no longer be valued by Sir Molle. When you acted together, you acted out of fear, hoping to keep your not-so-autonomous existence going for another day…another week. The Overlords were always watching, and one step out of line could mean an abrupt end to the “good thing” you had going.
Camaraderie vs. fear. Honor and respect vs. a pet status. While both groups fielded fleets of doctrine-specific ships, both groups held large swaths of space, both have renters, both have/had an aura of invincibility…the two are really nothing alike. The CFC’s strength is in its collective whole, a group of friends and allies who like each other, respect each other, and gladly fight for each other. BoB’s strength came through fear, and when the power of that fear vanished, so did they.
But back to manpower: every individual entity that stands aside in conflicts against the CFC is an unwitting CFC ally. You rob the strength of an anti-CFC coalition by remaining on the sidelines. Yes, your numbers individually are insignificant. No, your numbers by themselves will not turn the course of a war. But you are not the only group standing apart. You are in the company of dozens of similar groups, all thinking the same thing: “Our numbers don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.”
That is a lie, there’s no two other ways to say it. Collectively, your numbers have the ability to affect the balance of a conflict. Give N3PL another thousand active pilots, and the course of the Halloween War might still be going. Give N3PL another five thousand active pilots and the fortunes of war may have been completely revered. Separate, you are weak. Together? Where do you think the strength of the CFC comes from? From their togetherness. Sometimes, to fight the enemy you must become them. The CFC learned this. How do you fight supercaps? By training and building them in greater numbers than your enemies have, not by complaining about them to CCP in hopes that the ships get fixed. How do you fight numbers? By bringing collective numbers of your own, unified in a common purpose, and bound by respect. Out-CFC the CFC. This does not mean to give up who you are. RAZOR has not given up what makes them unique. CO2? TNT? They will, to a man, tell you that they are what they make for themselves. That membership in the CFC is in addition to what makes them who they are, it does not solely define them.
Manpower isn’t the only function requirement holding people back from jumping on the anti-CFC bandwagon. For many, the thought of replacing a full fleet of Battleships or T3’s repeatedly, let alone Capitals, is mind boggling. Look at TEST, before the thefts. Their SRP was weeks or months behind. This from the alliance that controlled more space than any other single group. This from the alliance that had more money moons than they could shake a stick at. But they struggled to replace their losses from major engagements.
This is ever more evident with smaller alliances. I’ve served as alliance leader for a two thousand member group in the past. There were hundreds of alliance-level expenses, but they paled in comparison to what we needed to set aside monthly for a SRP. Not because losses were always high, but because losses could be high at any given moment. Without stockpiling billions upon billions of ISK in the peaceful months, a full war could easily bankrupt you in the blink of an eye.
We had money moons at a time when money moons were the equivalent of liquid gold. Moon goo was king. Now? Not so much. Renters are where the money is at. Sure, money moons help, but they aren’t in-space oil derricks during a boom anymore. So how does a small-scale alliance fund an SRP? How do they set aside adequate funds to cover not just the first fleet fight losses, or the second, or the third, but the one hundredth engagement, two hundredth, and three hundredth. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m sure the dedicated economists in EVE could tell you, but that’s never been my strength.
That is, of course, in addition to any rental agreements that your group has had to strike to simply live in 0.0 space. A billion ISK a month for a low quality, un-upgraded system. Substantially more if you want good belts, more moons, or access to an Outpost. All of this eats into the budget of a small alliance, before ever considering the additional cost of war against a huge power that has tens of thousands of members, a large rental alliance channeling money into their coffers, and a substantial supply of moon goo to supplement their income.
On the other side, you face the gargantuan economic machine that is the CFC. With the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere now in full swing, what is the CFC’s monthly income measured in? Hundreds of billions? Trillions? Tens of trillions? More? Suffice to say, more income flows into the CFC war chest on a daily basis than many individual alliances see in months or longer. Fleet whelps (see DBRB on more occasions that one can list here) are replaced in a timely fashion. Individual losses get replaced in a day or two, while large fleet losses are taken care of even quicker. The caps lost in B-R? Replaced mid-fight or within 1-3 hours.
Small alliance leaders look at the ability for CFC to instantly replace horrendous losses and ask themselves, “How do we compete against that?” Any anti-CFC coalition coming together has to ask themselves, “How do we put a similar plan in place to take care of those parties who can not, by themselves, replace ship after ship after ship over the course of a protracted war?”
Content with their Fiefdom
Controlling a few systems, constellations, or an entire region is enough for some. Maybe the CFC has not troubled them beyond roaming gangs previously. Maybe they are content enough with the status quo, not having dreams of ever-larger swaths of land.
Getting involved means painting a target square on the systems the alliance calls home, should the CFC prove successful elsewhere. Should your anti-CFC alliance fail, the individual groups within are likely to be dashed to pieces. Not everyone is as “well off” politically as PL, able to negotiate favorable terms of surrender. Better not to be known and content with what you have that sitting on a pile of nothing (see: TEST).
But failure of an anti-CFC coalition shouldn’t be people’s only fear. What happens if they succeed and evict the CFC from their northern holdings? History has shown over and over again that defeated alliances relocate to another part of null and begin things again. The victors, weary from an extended conflict, are content to let this happen as long as their own space is not the loser’s destination. PL, N3, or others are strong enough to enforce the eviction notice in their own territory…but what about the myriad of smaller powers that contributed to the overall victory? Now that their “big hitters” have stood down, they are vulnerable, and facing an angry host who would love to seek even a small amount of revenge.
Thus, many of the small powers that stand aside are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. Join in and fail? CFC has a long memory and delights in getting even. Join in an succeed? Your territory might be the CFC’s new home when your allies are recuperating.
Here’s the kicker: the post-CFC world might not be any better. The CFC is a known quantity. They hold the power and the reins on 0.0 politics. Love them or hate them, you know what to expect (relatively speaking).
Is anyone to say that a PL, or N3, or TEST, or RUS dominated 0.0 would be any better than what we have right now? Would any of those groups make it more bearable for the “little guy”? Could they guarantee an end to Coalition-level conflicts? Or would they simply be the next “big bad” to troll the space ways. History points to the latter.
This is coming from a person that has actively fought against the Goons in just about every alliance I’ve been in. I’ve been anti-Goons from the beginning, middle, and relative-end of my EVE playing career. And yet I sit here writing and honestly ask myself, “Why the hate? Why the angst? Given their historic length of cooperation and mutual appreciation for other members of their Coalition, are we better off with them dominating 0.0 than groups like N3PL, RUS, or others? If a “big bad” is forced upon us, and in the era of Coalitions that is an invariable certainty, why not someone from whom we know exactly what to expect?
The CFC won the Halloween War because, in the end, they could field superior numbers of pilots on an every day basis. Subcap supremacy? Check. Supercap supremacy? B-R5RB proved that as well. Why are they able to maintain numerical supremacy despite the “overwhelming” public sentiment against them? Because, as progodlegend pointed out, “so few of you were ever willing to line up against them and fight them.” But why? The reasons will differ from alliance to alliance, from coalition to coalition, but we identified a small handful here. Many individual groups lack the manpower and/or ISK to contribute effectively. Others haven’t been bothered by the CFC in the past, or are loathe to paint a target on their back should their side lose (or win). Finally, some are willing to ask themselves whether another dominant power in New Eden would be any better than the one that we currently have.
If history holds, new dominant powers will eventually rise in New Eden. Where is The Forsaken Empire, The Five, Ascendant Frontier, D2, or BoB these days? Gone, with little trace. So will it be with the CFC. But those groups fell because others were willing to put it all on the line, partner in ways that people had not previously seen, and forge a future together rather than go back to the way things were before. Solving the four problems above is no easy task. It will take a herculean effort to pull together a CFC-like entity that can challenge the status quo. A small vanguard of committed “elite PvPers” will no longer be able to dislodge an entrenched power. Coalitions now have too many members with too many assets that are too easily replaced. To beat the enemy, people will have to be willing to become the enemy. And that, folks, will take a radical shift in many people’s thinking.