The History of the Great Empire of EVE: An Outsider’s Perspective


Author’s Note: I have never really been part of nullsec politics. I have no access to any smoke-filled rooms, and only really knew what was going on after the fact. Using the combined information I have collected from years of watching the CFC with interest, combined with the excellent presentations by Andrew Groen, I have attempted to piece together my understanding of this culture, their strengths, weaknesses, and psychology.

Many facts may be manipulated, as history is written by the winners, or in EVE’s case, often simply the loudest narrator. Either way, I hope you enjoy this trip through the history of one of the most powerful Empires in video game history.

The Imperium of today is in jeopardy. Rome is burning as the cattle are butchered where they stand. The barbaric hordes have broken through the gates and ravaged the countryside. Those that remain loyal to the Empire sit nestled in their final bastion of Saranen, already whispering of a grand day when they will “take it all back”.

But it wasn’t always this way.

The defining psychology of the community is that there is “us” and there is “them”.

To best understand Goonswarm, you must first understand Goons. The Goons, along with other organizations such as TEST, are not native to EVE Online, but rather are a form of invasive species. The Goons come from the Something Awful forums, which is a highly insular online community whose biggest defining feature is the $10 entrance fee. The defining psychology of the community is that there is “us” and there is “them”. Non-members are inferior to members, and many Goons delight in the misery of non-members, or “pubbies”.

EVE Online is not the first game to be visited by the Goons, nor will it be the last. The Goons move like locusts between online games, establishing themselves quickly and attempting to conquer the game in order to inflict the most misery for all those not part of the swarm. Almost every major competitive online game has a clutch of Goons, deconstructing the game and their enemies.

However, in EVE they found something different. They hit a wall.

Band of Brothers (BoB) was a force of order in EVE. The expounded “space honor” and found the notion of Goonswarm abhorrent. This was a time of powerful organizations embracing RP to fuel their wars, and here was a group that was new, irreverent, and against the established order. So BoB sought to crush the menace.

This is where the strength of the community comes in. Instead of breaking apart, the Goons stuck together. Retreating from the EVE community, they looked inward for an answer and outward for an ally. An opportunistic diplomat by the name of Vile Rat was present at the Siege of C-J6MT and witnessed first-hand what the dedicated Russians could do. He reached out and secured an alliance where the Goons could provide the bodies if the Russians could provide the expertise. Red Swarm was born, its title born from the name the Goons took for themselves: Goonswarm Federation (GSF).

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The Russians had been hardened by conflict, and in losing their space had developed a cold bitterness that can only come from the unforgiving motherland. While they taught the GSF how to fight they also instilled in them the bitterness of the scorned. The combination of that spite, along with the Goons’ natural desire to see their enemies driven before them, forged a new form of Goon. No longer were they just mucking about and having fun. EVE Online was going to be a major rallying point for the Goons for years to come. Now it was personal.

Regardless of whether you believe The Mittani’s or Darius Johnson’s versions of events, what we do know was that BoB was dismantled largely from within by a BoB director who defected to Goonswarm’s side. The GSF and their allies capitalized on this collapse and secured victory over those who once tried to wipe them from space and memory.

For years the GSF fought, and soon a movement formed. Irreverence for the game and other players became a defining notion of EVE culture. Additionally, the GSF formed strong alliances, and eventually stabilized as not only a major cultural force, but a large, powerful mainstay of the political landscape.

Then they really got to work.

While this mentality has always been part of EVE’s nature, it had never been seen at this scale.

If there is anything true about Goons it is they are smart, capable, and willing to push any boundary and shatter any rule, to achieve victory. Casting honor aside, they mock those who wish to gripe about unfair tactics and dodge accusations of more game breaking activities as revealing the terrible strategies “for the good of the game.” While this mentality has always been part of EVE’s nature, it had never been seen at this scale. Eventually the GSF found common allies and as the Northern Coalition (the old one, comprised of alliances including Morsus Mihi, Mostly Harmless, and Razor Alliance, and not to be confused with contemporary powerhouse NCdot)  began to enter its waning years, the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC) was born.

Eventually, the CFC began leveraging everything that their home regions had to offer. They maximized profits by controlling the market for the goods they could provide, most notably through the ice interdictions and OTEC. OTEC was a cartel of alliances, built around an agreement between the CFC and Pandemic Legion, who sought to control the vast majority of the supply of Technetium in the game. While Technetium is used in almost all T2 production, the supply easily kept up with demand. However, OTEC was able to artificially control the price. This provided some things the Goons had not truly had before: boundless wealth and comfort.

Over time the CFC went from power block to superpower. This journey culminated in the battle of  B-R. Up until that point everyone had mostly agreed that the CFC numbers could destroy any subcap defenses they set their mind to, but that their Supercap forces were no match for the combined efforts of N3 and PL. However, due to the slipup in B-R the CFC decided to strike and ultimately to put that assumption to the test. The victory of the CFC in B-R echoed in the psyche of New Eden. The CFC was unstoppable.


Something else had happened just a year prior, though. A new developer, and former PL member, CCP Fozzie decided to make a name for himself early by taking OTEC on directly. His solution was simple: create an alchemy reaction for Technetium that was well above the normal expected price of Tech, but far below the asking price of OTEC. In the end this had the desired effect and OTECH was dissolved.

With the military strength demonstrated at B-R, the CFC reinforced the image that they were unstoppable, and people flocked to the winners.

It became clear to the CFC that they must find different ways to secure the financing they had now become accustomed to. Prior to this the CFC, as well at other members of OTEC, mocked those who had “renter empires”, but it turned out that what was good for the goose was in fact good for the gander. Ultimately they seized Fountain from their former ally TEST, sealing an already growing animosity between the two organizations. Once the property was secured they began fattening themselves up. With the military strength demonstrated at B-R, the CFC reinforced the image that they were unstoppable, and people flocked to the winners. More and more of the CFC’s renowned organizational skills improved infrastructure and created what is likely to be the most complex and robust player organization that gaming has ever seen, or likely will see for years to come. Soon after, the new agreement with Pandemic Legion was formed protecting their renter empires, B0TLRD was born.

Eventually the question of “what next” settled in combined with a bit of hubris from years of winning and controlling both the in game politics and out of game narrative and feedback channels, such as the CSM. Finally they rolled out their answer, a rebranding of their organization under the new, more intimidating persona of “The Imperium”.  This was coupled with the advancement of the media group started with the TMC. The goal was to lay the foundation of a publishing company, culminating in a lucrative book deal celebrating the defeat of TEST Alliance in Fountain.

This is the point that most people become very familiar with the story and how the dominos fall. The community mocked the project and the true weakness of the Goons started to show. The Mittani and other leaders were incapable of accepting the mistakes that were made, and proceeded to blame others and become increasingly isolated from the “community” that had turned on them.

At their core, the Goons harbor an “us vs. them” mentality everywhere they go.

Knowing what we know about the Goons and Something Awful, this makes sense. At their core, the Goons harbor an “us vs. them” mentality everywhere they go. They operate as aliens in a foreign land, only there to harass the natives that they are clearly better than. Although these decisions were likely not in the best interest of the Empire that had now grown like a soft shell around the hard core of the Goons, the operating forces within this monolithic organization was one of destruction. Soon the cognitive dissonance of the chaotic Goon and the ordered Imperium fragmented the order. Eventually accusations of “true goons”, “old guard”, and “traitors” resulted as long allies caved to the pressure of an overwhelming enemy.

However, this is not the end of the Goons’ journey.

Loss in a game, especially a game they have invested in, is not something Goons take well even on the best of days. Additionally, Goonswarm has the bitterness of the early Russians coursing in their psyche. The Mittani doesn’t see himself as losing his people, as his people are not the ones leaving. The MBC and others are sandblasting away the soft shell, but the hard core remains. Not only that, but this core has been fattening up for years, and likely has more than enough to bridge the gap until they can resecure lost ground.    

The “true goons” have no reason to quit, and every reason to stay.

The Mittani is confident in the face of disaster not because he is delusional, but because he sees how pointless the effort truly is. The “true goons” have no reason to quit, and every reason to stay. They have something they haven’t had in years: a purpose, and on top of that they have a war chest the likes of which they have never had before.

No war machine runs forever, and the Goons really need the Imperium to still bring in as much as they can possibly get away with, on territory secured by the Goon rage. If all goes according to Imperial plans, the symbiotic relationship between the citizenship of the Imperials and the war machine of the Goons will be an interesting one. We have already seen arguments that leaving the head of Goons as the head of all of the Empire causes more problems than it solves. We will have to wait and see what the Imperium have in mind for their next move, but make no mistake, there will be a next move.

Tags: b-r5rb, cfc, eve, goons, worldwarbee

About the author


Ashterothi has spent the last five years learning and teaching EVE Online. He is a host on the highly successful High Drag and Hydrostatic Podcast.

  • Really interesting article, Ash. Do you think the goons will be able to ride this out and push back, or will they have alienated to many people to successfully form an alliance again? Would they need a new alliance to retake “their” space? Will the goon’s warchest really outclass the resources of those who want to destroy them?

    • Mark Artreides

      Look at Dotlan. Look at all the people NOT leaving condi. Sure, we are losing the war and quite possibly all our sov. I know everybody will go GRR GOON but we are actually looking forward to rebuilding/retaking. We have content next door again, we can’t just blob the shit out of our enemies anymore. We are being challenged again to be creative in how we operate. For me, as a terrible FC and Squad Leader, these are glorious times pvp wise.

      I also agree and am also somewhat concerned about our leadership their course. But these people also led us in our glorious days and did that quite good. Some will probably burn out now and new ones will step up. Maybe we will find a new direction everybody agrees upon. With the current speed we are losing our last strucutres in 1-2 weeks. But that again gives us the possibility to focus on one region or target instead of having to be all over the place to put fires out. Which is really fucking terrible under the current sov system. What also does not help is that we have been doing wars for a full year now. And the first two ones, Cloud ring (twice actually) and Low sec, were fucking dumb and nobody really wanted to do that besides the gudfites that the lowsec one created. But before we could close those down and move one, shit reported in at our doorstep. Basically most of the line members had enough of it, most FCs stopped caring and on top of that we were actually getting outblobbed which is pretty funny in an ironic way.

      What most of you will not believe is that after B-R EVE became boring for me, and I think most goons. Then the new sov system combined with the fatigue system killed off most things we had left to entertain ourselves. No more deploying to a random region for gudfites, no more hotdropping on everything that moved into our regions and most certainly no more unlimited use of a fantastic JB network. Basically we had to travel through 2 friendly regions in any direction before getting into hostile space. Fuck travelling 30 minutes just to get a fight or none at all. For me that killed EVE more quickly then anything else. It also explains the absolute fuckton of jewing going on and the slow decline of the CFC.

      So yeah, with all the above, I welcome the death of the CFC/Imperium so we can start doing fun things again. Fighting outnumbered, content in all directions within 5 minutes travelling and actually learning again. For me EVE is coming home after a day at the office, login in, form a fleet and shoot shit while drinking beer and having fun with my friends (both IRL and space) over comms. I just wish the entire dumb sov lazoring thing would get adjusted. I disagree a lot with what mittens is lately hurf blurfing (the IWI shit really made me disassiocate more then I liked) but I do agree that the defender/attacker balance is way off. The forming of a mega alliance will probably not work, most alliance and their leadership are way too invested into their own identities, and rightfully so. We are also on an interesting turning point where the ‘pubbies’ in our alliance/coalition are worth more and doing more then the “OG” or “inner core”. Maybe this is a reason why the OG are leaving by the day because they are becoming bitter as fuck. Maybe the people calling for a leadership change are right, I don’t know. I have enough confidence in their abilities, I am having less faith in them being reasonable. But at least I can speak my mind (in my case mostly sperging like a fucktard) and yet I am still allowed to stay and lead my Space Violence dudes. I am not sure if that would be the same for any other alliance in this game. So yeah, Goons are actually pretty decent people and I will stick with them untill I quite the game. For the fourth time 😛

      • Thanks for the reply dude, that was very detailed. Good luck to you!

      • James

        Of course they will be fine, just like Test was fine when they lost their space, and how CVA is not only fine after losing their space multiable times, but perhaps stronger then they have ever been. The same cam be said for countless others. In fact I already know six months from now Mittani will host a SOTA and claim it was his plan to lose sov. the moment Fozzisov became a thing, and how comical it is it took so long for a war to be waged on them. Anyone that has been playing this game for the last five or so years already knows Mittani will spin this war to “we didn’t lose, and here’s why”, and all his followers will be all to happy to parrot whatever he says.

      • MordenGeist

        Good post bro: lucid and thought invoking as well as personal feeling without getting out of hand.

        This is how I wish everyone would post. Dreams, I know.

  • Viktor Fel

    Glad you were kind enough to let me have an advanced read. Good article

  • Xavi Bastanold

    This makes sense for an org that exists outside EVE. Of course they will be back, and in fact will never leave. That is no different from a few other extra-game orgs here. There are lots of ways to run such an organization it just depends on what the focus is. Obviously Goons shifted a lot in that regard and are now finding the current dynamic unpalatable. That they accelerated the situation is almost beside the point (‘power corrupts’ with a dash of insularity is a common endpoint in human history). Goons re-titled themselves ‘The Imperium’ and that brings to mind the Imperium Romanum of ancient history, but frankly I think a more accurate analogy would be the Ottoman or late Byzantine or even Mandarin Dynasty. They have turned into the ‘Sick Man of New Eden’ and while rich beyond compare have also grown decadent and lost their way. But, yes, they will return. Look at the PRC now after all. But for now, they will burn and reap what they have sown. I guess they can find solace in that as they dream of better days to come.

  • Jack Jomar

    Several factual/research errors which I’ve stumbled over myself.

    First – GSF wasn’t who goons were when they joined up with Red Alliance. If you read Groen’s work closely, you’ll note that it was Goonswarm (or Goonfleet) who joined Red Alliance, and Tau Ceti Federation (a french group) to create a triumvirate of RedSwarm Federation (a conglomeration of the three names).

    Next, all goons are SA members, not all SA members are goons (in EVE or any game for that matter) and not all EVE goons are other goons (see MWO goons where some are from EVE and some are not – watch the forum interplay for details). Making this mistake is understandable, but shouldn’t be repeated. As I’ve said in my personal blog, it’s like suggesting that all reddit members are r/eve members, or that all reddit mambers are r/upskirt members. Patently false, and equally mockable.

    Third, that $10 paywall is for an internet comedy forum (the comedy bit is the actual defining feature) and is there to keep out young trolls (and trolls in general) or at least reduce their impact on the forum while subsidizing the running of the tech used for the website as a whole. It’s also a way of punishing permabanned trolls who eventually realise (in most cases) that burning $10 US a time is a really dumb idea just for the sake of a few shitposts that on reddit would be downvoted into the basement. Not eveyone (preencleve) figures this out, but most do. Or they stop being trolls and start being positive members of their given community (again, not everyone manages this).

    The rest of the article reads reasonably well though, and is a fair summation of events from another angle. It’ll be interesting to see where EVEGoons go from here now that they’ve run into their first situation like this in half a decade (the last time was ’09-’11 according to Groen).

  • Punky260

    Actually, TEST get moved from fountain first. THEN B-R happened. It’s a bit confusing.
    Over all a good article to describe the way of the goons without getting biased – I like that.

    But we can argue about the end. As an FCON pilots, I was looking for the “old goon to come out” and for our old big scale fights where hundreds of goons show up and crash the enemy. As far as I can tell, that has not come yet – and I doubt it will. If you shit on your allies like they do atm, you will loose them. And noone, not even Goons, can stand in EVE without friends.

  • shayneo

    Bob where not a “force for order” lol. They where a self important group of egotists who regularly invaded and destroyed other 0.0 entities for nothing more than gameplay. Where ASCN, largely a well loved carebare organization deserving of being destroyed merely for the crime of building the first Titan? That invasion was straight out griefing. When Band of brothers declared their jihad on the goons we where a corp with about 4 members total who could fly a cap, and our battleships where comically underskilled and fitted with rat rubbish because we didnt have the skillpoints or money to do any better. And so in our first naive adventure out of syndicate, one of the members makes a bad taste joke (That even most goons agree was unwarranted and completely tone deaf) BOB decides to destroy a group of month old newbies in syndicate. Is that “order”? No, it was straight out newbie griefing. Bob ultimately failed because that sort of behavior is doomed to repercussions if the worst happens and those newbie grow up, and when push came to shove, 3/4 of the rest of nullsec agreed that Bob needed to be stopped.
    Source: I was actually there.