As Niden mentioned in his last Lowlife column, CCP plans to break up the Faction Warfare alliances between Gallente and Minmatar, as well as Caldari and Amarr. As a Faction Warfare player myself, I find that an interesting prospect, and as a student of the game’s lore I can not help but speculate how those alliances would break apart. In this article, I will draw on the backstory of EVE to identify the potentially political reasons for this change. This will not only be an article on lore, but how this change will also impact the way Faction Warfare participants play the game. Thus, in the third part of this piece, I will provide a few thoughts on how that might develop.
Extremism and Justice
The case for hostilities between the Gallente Federation and the Minmatar Republic is easily made. The relations between these long-term allies have taken a turn for the worse after events in YC115 (2013). In that year, the former Matari Prime Minister and Sebiestor chief Karin Midular suffered a critical head-injury during an extremist attack at the Federal Tribes Festival of Community and Culture in Caille on Gallente Prime. This tragic incident claimed the lives of 59 people and left hundreds injured, and was followed by a diplomatic row that escalated quickly.
Initially, the Gallente refused to transfer Midular into Minmatar care because her condition was too critical, so tribal forces mobilised to demand her release, and the extradition of the lone radical Gerne Broteau who had caused the bloodbath in Caille. With the help of capsuleers and CONCORD, this situation was defused before shots were fired and eventually Karin Midular was released into Matari care. The terrorist, however, remained in Gallente custody, and when Karin Midular died from the aftereffects of her injury, Minmatar insistence on his extradition increased.
If Karin Midular had just been a much respected politician and tribal chief, sentiments among the Minmatar to punish her murderer would already have been strong, but this woman had been much more. During the ritual Voluval tattoo ceremony every Matari undergoes, Karin Midular manifested the auspicious Ray of Matar marking which indicates an almost mythical destiny for greatness, and that made her a symbol for all the people in the Republic.To them, killing her would be one of the worst crimes imaginable. The Federation authorities ignored these concerns and insisted that as a Federation citizen, Gerne Broteau would face Gallente justice and nothing else.
Proud and culturally orthodox as the Minmatar are, they did not take kindly to what they saw as contemptuous Gallente arrogance. Authorised by the Tribal Council, Admiral Leralduin Olf intruded on Federation space with a fleet of 15 Republic Fleet dreadnaughts to demand the extradition of Gerne Broteau through a display of force. When the Federation Navy intercepted the Matari fleet, the encounter ended in violence and the complete destruction of the incursion force but with heavy Gallente losses. Tens of thousands died in the regrettable incident and relationships between the Gallente and Minmatar were damaged significantly.
Since that year, discrimination against Federation citizens with Minmatar heritage has increased and ethnic violence has been reported on both sides. The Federation attempted to mend the situation by allowing Sebiestor observers to attend the trial of Gerne Broteau, and when the man was found guilty of all charges, the decision was made to extradite him to the Republic. There he faced another trial which sentenced him to death, but that would not be the end of the soured political climate between the two nations. Leading Gallente citizens have criticised the proceedings harshly, calling the extradition an appeasement of a belligerent foreign power, and the execution a revenge killing.
The worst appeared to be over, but a rift now exists between the Federation and the Republic as well as the ethnic Gallente and Minmatar in both nations. This tension could develop into open conflict at any time if another major incident acts as a catalyst.
But what about the Amarr and Caldari?
Gold And Steel
The alliance between the Empire and the State is based more on political pragmatism than any actual affinity. Culturally, there is little that would unite the Caldari and Amarr people, but that has also kept the diplomatic relations between them remarkably sober.
One opportunity for increased tension between them came and went with the last Gallente presidential election. If Shailee Ramnev had won the race, her presidency might have resulted in closer relations between Caldari and Gallente. The Amarr would probably have stepped in to prevent this from happening, lest they face three powers who could potentially unite against them.
There are, however, other seeds of conflict between the State’s megacorporations and the Empire’s authorities.
The fact that the alliance between the two nations is so superficial also makes it tenuous. The main link between Amarr and Caldari is the Caldari-Amarr Economic Stimulus Agreement, which was ratified by Empress Jamyl and Tibus Heth during the second Caldari-Gallente war. It granted massive loans to the Providence Directorate from the houses Sarum and Tash-Murkon. Now the Provists have fallen, and Tibus Heth is missing, presumed dead. Considering the economic difficulties the Caldari State has been struggling with ever since the Provist takeover, it is questionable whether those loans can be repaid or even provide a good return on investment. With some likelihood, the Corporate Council might even refuse to honour an agreement made by a man who had his citizenship stripped from him.
That chance is increased by the fact that the Ishukone corporation has significantly gained influence both economically—with the development of Intaki—and also politically when they brokered the agreement on the Luminaire demilitarized zone. Ishukone is known for the liberal leanings of its corporate leadership, and is culturally opposed to the Amarr Empire. Notably, Ishukone is the producer of Insorum, an antidote to the Amarr drug Vitoc which is used to keep slaves under control.
The liberals are not the only faction who could cause a rift, though. If the Amarr insisted on collecting their loans, Lai Dai could also leverage their investments in Carthum Conglomerate and Viziam as a counter in an economic conflict. As a strongly patriotic corporation they would resist any form of financial extortion from the Amarr Empire that could threaten the State as a whole. If Patriots and Liberals in the Corporate Council find common ground, they can practically determine the foreign policy of the Caldari State.
The wildcard here is Empress Jamyl herself. Since she is partially under the control of The Other, her actions can change in unexpected ways, and as she does hold absolute rulership over the Amarr, that can have massive consequences. Since the Drifters appearance, a situation has developed that could drive the intruder in Jamyl’s head to act in ways which appear extreme or even crazy to an outside observer. Acts of this nature could break the Amarr-Caldari alliance.
Everyone Against Everyone
If the currently existing alliances break, Factional Warfare will change significantly as the members of three opposing militias become viable targets for every Factional Warfare player. That also means access to highsec becomes even more limited for militia members. Today, a Federal Defense Union affiliate has to use an alt or other service to purchase goods from Amarr or Jita; in the future, they will face the same difficulty when they want to trade in Hek or Rens. Of course, access to highsec trade-hubs is not the only thing affected by this. Low standings with all opposing factions mean that the number of stations where jump-clones can be installed will drop significantly.(*) In total, a character in Factional Warfare will become more restricted in their use of facilities even beyond the period of their affiliation. The negative standings they retain from their time in Factional Warfare would haunt them for much longer, if they want to make use of any service that is part of a particular NPC nation other than their own.
Concerns like that could serve to detract farmers who may not want to grind standings for their characters after gaining faction loyalty points. On the other hand, offensive plexing opportunities increase. It will be interesting to see if that impacts the prices of faction modules and ammunition in a significant way. Ideally, it would increase the value of loyalty points for the remaining Factional Warfare players who mostly finance their PvP expenses by converting their LP into ISK, but not to a level where extensive farming becomes viable again.
The PvP-minded Factional Warfare players welcome the change, of course. More targets to shoot means more fun in the game after all. It also creates new potential for temporary fighting alliances, particularly when an RP element enters into the equation. Gallente extremists who resent the Minmatar could ally with the Amarr in a campaign to punish Tribal Liberation Front forces. Caldari liberals could seek the support of Matari or Federation forces against Amarr slavers. In the lowsec environment of today, the outlaw and pirate corporations already form temporary alliances for major fights. As a recent example shows, when Shadow Cartel and Overload Everything engage in a fight, other parties join in and choose one side or the other. Similar things happen on the FW side. For example, in the past Caldari and Gallente militia fleets have joined forces against major contingents of Snuff Box or Waffles.
There is one final aspect of that change which I would expect to have an effect. The further restriction on FW players to access the highsec markets creates a potential opening for traders and industrialists. Of course, many FW players have their own trading, hauling and producing alts, but there may still be enough of an opportunity for the full-time marketeers to capitalise on the situation, especially if the value of faction items changes as a result.
In the end, I expect Faction Warfare to become more tense and aggressive, while opening new opportunities for gameplay at the same time; and as far as I am concerned, there is nothing bad to be said here.
(*) Thanks to MarioneTTe-Doll for reminding me that faction standings only override corp standings if they are higher
Tags: Factional Warfare, lore, lowsec, tarek
Former nullsec spy (no not under that name of course) and current failure at lowsec solo PVP, Tarek spends his time not logging in to the game as much as he keeps thinking about its social and metagame nature and sharing some of those thoughts with the CZ readers.