In a recent thread on the EVE Online official forums it was asked why the Gallente militia seem to have been spared the civil wars that have plagued the other three factions. Although simple enough a question, the answers lead the observer to interesting fundamental concepts that govern if a militia is strong or unstable. Today’s Lowlife takes a look at what makes or breaks a Faction Warfare militia.
Trial by combat
“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
– George S. Patton
Ever since the fall of Innia what has remained of the Caldari militia has been on the defensive. Recently Gallente forces have carried out operations in the north, putting pressure on the last bastions of Caldari control in the area. Although focused by sheer loss of territory the Caldari are fighting both relentless Gallente attacks and low morale.
After a long period of Minmatar dominance the Amarr / Minmatar war zone has recently seen the Amarrians pushing back. This is the result of Minmatar civil war and defections as well as a shift in Amarr militia culture.
Although seemingly unrelated the events on both fronts are driven by, and lend credence to, the two simple concepts; communication and logistics.
Talk the talk
“There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
During First World War the British tackled the U-boat threat by employing the convoy system – grouping up vessels and providing them with specialized escort. Ostensibly the German U-boats were thus rendered the EVE equivalent of solo PvP-ers trying to fight organized fleets.
Two decades and some odd years later Donitz countered the convoy strategy using the famous ‘Wolfpack’ tactic – instead of roaming alone the U-boats co-operated to take out the convoys. Much like in EVE, a solitary submarine would find targets and follow them while providing intel for the rest of the fleet, allowing it to form up and intercept. Using the Enigma coding device the Kriegsmarine had turned a group of solitary predators into one of the most influential fleets mankind had ever devised. Indeed, some argue that the outcome of the war would have been very different, had the Enigma never been decoded.
Transplanting the same ideas into EVE; it has traditionally been so that militias are either the U-boat fleet of WWI or the one of WWII. The key factor is voice communication. Speaking from personal experience; the Gallente militia has not been efficient because of brilliant complex tactics, nor by somehow just being inherently ‘better’ at everything. A major pillar in its military prowess has instead developed from something as simple as shared and easily accessible voice comms, with security concerns being addressed internally rather than externally.
Shared comms turns segregated corps and alliances that simply share a flag into a fighting force that behaves a lot more like a coalition. The synergy effect is that people create inter-alliance social bonds and identify with the militia at large, not just their own corp or alliance. New arrivals to Faction Warfare have access to plenty of open channels and can start getting involved quickly. The culture and milieu of the militia changes, common goals are found and acted upon. Threats are identified and people help each other out when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Fleets fill up and function well because the people in them know and trust each other. They feel like they are a part of something, and that is a strong driver indeed.
Walk the walk
“Logistics win wars.”
– Common military saying
This saying holds very much true in EVE. A united militia is also going to be forming larger fleets, and the only real way to make those efficient is by flying doctrines. A doctrine fleet with competent leadership can take out a kitchen sink fleet twice its size and is a powerful tool tactically speaking. Although the main strength of lowsec is that pilots are often very familiar with doing their own fitting and making their own decisions, streamlined doctrine fleets are needed to reach strategic objectives on a larger scale. The only thing of militia-wide interest you’re going to be fielding without a solid logistics backbone is impotent rage and maybe a 16 man HAC fleet once every two weeks.
There are two ways to create a doctrine fleet; either by telling people what to to bring, or by providing the ships as the fleet forms up. The latter tends to be more flexible and work a lot better, a combination of both is ideal. Fleet members are more often than not quite willing to pay for the ship and fittings and it’s a lot simpler to manage bulk logistics than encourage or enforce inter-militia doctrines.
A co-operating militia with an inclusive culture will result in fleets with extremely varying SP levels. It is good practise to provide baseline doctrine ships with a low SP threshold in bulk. The higher SP pilots are more likely to have the appropriate (or better) ships on hand or can easily retrofit the provided ones with better modules, but for the greener pilots it’s often the deciding factor between joining the fleet or going off to do their own thing. It’s the difference between undocking a handful Ishtars and some random support or 50 Vexors with proper logi. The Ishtar fleet may be a formidable guerilla force and tons of fun, but the Vexors in that scenario are serious business by lowsec standards.
“Remember, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”
– Alexander the Great
Segregation and elitism are militia death. Time and again I have seen tight-assed know-it-alls isolate themselves from the militia around them rather than embrace it with open arms and a willingness to co-operate.
Things that won’t bend break when pressure is applied. No-one is coming to save those that have let their collective corp or alliance ego come in the way of working with their militia. By the same token, those that build walls around them are willingly ignorant of militia level strategy, intel and politics. Few things get my blood boiling so much as when these people then have the audacity to whine on forums how no-one was there to save their bacon when their home system got burned to the ground.
Open up or shut up, if you burn your bridges you’re going to die on an island – it’s that simple.
Tags: lowlife, lowsec, militia, niden, pvp