The Strategy of World War Bee – Part 2: Proving Grounds


For some time I have wanted to explore the grand strategy of World War Bee. Due to the size and scope of the subject I quickly found it could never be contained within a single article (or the writings of a single author), so I broke my ongoing work into several pieces: “Preparations,” “Proving Grounds,” “Guerilla War,” “Invasion!” and “Conquest.” Each piece covers what I identify as a distinct phase of World War Bee.

“Proving Grounds” covers the situation from December of 2015 to January of 2016, focusing on the events surrounding the rise of Lowsec Voltron, and the first attacks on SpaceMonkey’s Alliance in Fade. This article draws heavily on correspondence with Lemba and Kyle Aparthos, as well discussions with Seraph, Boson Dubstep and previous interviews with Lenny Kravitz2 and Sabre A.

Due to the complexity and scale of the conflict, and the secret backroom dealings that were continually running in the shadows, any account by an outside observer will necessarily be woefully incomplete. Part 1 generated a great deal of commentary, and hopefully part 2 will do the same. If a reader has important information that they feel was missed, or a different perspective on an event that they feel has been misinterpreted, please feel free to contact me in game via convo or Evemail. My intent is to go back and integrate all the corrections once the series is done, and then publish a v.2, which hopefully will be a more accurate account.

December 2015 – Into Lowsec

On 19 November 2015 The Mittani ordered the Imperium to invade Cloud Ring, but that same State of the Goonion address he also made it clear that the war would not stop there. With the purge of Cloud Ring as phase one, the Imperium would then take the fight into lowsec as phase two. At the time Mittani framed this invasion as equal parts terrorizing and training. “The biggest problem we have is that we as an organization have been afraid of going to lowsec,” The Mittani told his assembled troops. He made it clear he did not expect the campaign to be easy as the Imperium’s fleets would be operating in an unfamiliar and hostile environment; “We will suffer, we will fail, we will not falter, but we are going to fuck up and faceplant repeatedly.”

The program was essentially a protection racket

Then on 30 November The Mittani announced the beginning of the Viceroy Program in an article on his site The program was essentially a protection racket in which other alliances would pay the Imperium so that the Imperium’s fleets didn’t burn down all their stuff. This mob-like analogy was made explicit in the article’s several linked videos, and the taunting challenge to the intended targets was unmistakeable. The Viceroy Program had apparently been in discussion on the Goonfleet forums for several weeks prior, and The Mittani chose to announce it just prior to the Imperium’s invasion of lowsec.

Moving on from the disappointingly content-less invasion of the “Content Ring,” Imperium fleets began pushing into the lowsec region of Black Rise to attack the various moon-mining Player Owned Stations (POS) there. On 2 December the Imperium got its first serious response at the battle of Iralaja. A combined Snuffed Out (SNUFF) and Psychotic Tendencies (TISHU) Machariel battleship fleet inflicted a one sided defeat on an Imperium dreadnought and Proteus strategic cruiser fleet. The lowsec forces killed 42 Imperium ships worth more than 25 billion ISK for no losses. On 5 December a second much larger battle broke out in the system of Nisuwa, this time against an Imperium fleet led by AUSTZ FC Lemba. Again the Imperium received by far the worst of the exchange, despite having substantially more ships engaged than the lowsec powers.

In a worrying development, Shadow Cartel (SC) the long-time enemies of SNUFF and another powerful lowsec alliance, showed up to the fight at Nisuwa. SC was present as a third party since they were not invited by SNUFF, but by their own admission they were mainly there to shoot Goons. The battle of Anchauttes on 6 December highlighted the growing collection of lowsec alliances, although the Imperium managed to secure a costly victory in that engagement by “dropping the hammer,” and bringing its supercap fleet into the battle.

By 15 December, members of the growing band of lowsec alliances, which was already starting to call itself Lowsec Voltron (LSV), were crowing on reddit about Imperium fleets fearing to engage them.


Lemba detailed the problems of fighting the lowsec powers at length: “Lowsec entities are ridiculously good at fighting with smaller numbers but with more proficiency. The Imperium’s idea of nullsec fighting is far different from what is needed for lowsec fighting. The first few times (including a fight I FC’d) we got fucking wasted. We didn’t have the Slaves [expensive cybernetic implants], the faction/DED mods, nor the ships to fight in lowsec. It doesn’t matter how many numbers you bring, if the enemy brings a fat-ass comp with perfect logi and Slaves and out plays you, there is nothing you can do but die.”

the Imperium had very a hard time figuring out how to deal with the qualitative superiority of their lowsec enemies

According to Lemba the Imperium had very a hard time figuring out how to deal with the qualitative superiority of their lowsec enemies as its nullsec tactics based on numerical superiority weren’t working. Lemba felt the solution was to improve the quality of the Imperium’s fleets. “Most of the line members wanted to get in Machs [Machariel faction battleships], but we didn’t change doctrines. We finally switched to faction battleships, but it was too little too late.” The reason for this, Lemba says, is that they were told that supply of Machariels was too low. Instead, the Imperium resorted to dropping supercaps into every fight, because it was the only way to gain the upper hand. This drove the lowsec forces from the field, but was not a true solution to winning the actual fights.

Circle-of-Two (CO2) was an Imperium member alliance with a great deal of experience fighting in lowsec over on the Lonetrek region, a skill The Mittani specifically referenced in his 17 November State of the Goonion address. Lemba had nothing but praise when asked about CO2, saying; “CO2 is fucking fantastic. They were one of the allies that had been using Machs and faction BSs before GSF and the rest of the Imperium. They saw no problem in using Machs as a doctrine for the entire coalition but GSF wasn’t hearing it.” It seems that the Imperium did not fully leverage its ally’s experience. Initially CO2 was staged at D2-HOS with the rest of the Imperium forces invading Black Rise, but tensions began to build as members of CO2 became frustrated with how the campaign was being run, and eventually the alliance returned home.

The Imperium had entered lowsec with the stated goal of “figuring it out,” but its attempts to do so were sluggish and frustrating enough that they alienated both its primary AUSTZ FC, and its second most powerful alliance. Under normal conditions the Imperium might have had the time to eventually adapt and smooth any ruffled feathers, but with the accelerating pace of events it would not be granted that luxury.

Mismanaging Expectations

Executing the Viceroy Program and the lowsec invasion side by side was a PR disaster. On one hand the Imperium was confidently declaring its invincibility – and on the other it was waging a war in which its leaders had recognized from the start it would do very poorly. The end result was that the Imperium dared its opponents to resist it – and was then promptly and repeatedly smashed in the face when they did so. Since getting smashed in the face was the expected result of the lowsec campaign, it is difficult to understand exactly why The Mittani chose to set his coalition up for such public embarrassment. The full answer will likely have to wait until he is willing to speak candidly about events.


Certainly, the threat of the Viceroy Program was an important factor in the lowsec unity. Various LSV leaders and members have referenced it in terms similar to those of a glorious myth of national resistance. And indeed the narrative of the outnumbered few of lowsec, once enemies, now forced to band together as unlikely allies to save the rest of EVE from an unstoppable empire was incredibly powerful. The fact that they were actually winning several very lopsided victories made the narrative that much sweeter.

The value of a strong propaganda narrative to an alliance and a coalition is hardly unknown in EVE. The Mittani regularly talks about the value of propaganda and the narrative metagame, and wrote in a 2009 column that; “In a galaxy full of would-be space knights following e-bushido, reputation and ‘face’ are themselves resources which can be built up or destroyed. In any given war, a significant amount of attention must be paid to what keeps your pilots motivated and logging into the game, losing ships for your alliance’s banner, and maintaining a positive cultural identity so that defectors and spies are not bred.”

In the same column The Mittani presented a previous example of Goonswarm propaganda failure, recounting an event where the Goons were winning a war against the smaller and fractured NORAD alliance, until the then-leader of Goonswarm made a “laughably awful callout thread” on the official EVE forums. According to The Mittani, this thread had the unintended effect of bringing extra attention to what had previously been a little noticed conflict. The member corporations of NORAD found new unity and were able to band together and survive the Goon onslaught.

The Mittani

Yet by “calling out” his opponents with the Viceroy announcement, the Mittani made exactly the same mistake. If his intent was primarily to generate fights so the Imperium’s pilots could learn how to fight in lowsec then it certainly succeeded, but at a disastrous cost to the Imperium in reputation and “face,” while breeding a director level spy, and drawing unwanted attention to a conflict which was never destined to be one of the Imperium’s finest hours.

Although they had no hand in these events, the hidden leadership of the preMBC was delighted by them. According to Mercenary Coalition leader Sabre A, most of the preMBC’s early moves were just reactions to the Imperium’s mistakes. Sabre was worried that it would take an incredible amount of work to convince people to fight the Imperium; “And then [The Mittani] goes and declares war on the rest of EVE!” Sabre called the Viceroy program, “The single greatest gift he could have given us.” Not only would it generate several of the allies the preMBC would need, but it would be another means to cloak their coming actions.

The Brain Drain

One of the other problems revealed by the lowsec campaign was a shortage of skilled leadership on the side of the Imperium, particularly in GSF. Fleet Commanders make or break alliances in EVE, which after all is a game that is fundamentally about fighting with spaceships. FCs skilled in bloc level warfare, able to lead fleets of hundreds of members and co-ordinate with multiple alliances, are worth their weight in gold.


GSF has a well-established military hierarchy with the Skymarshal(s) at the top, the Skyteam of senior FC’s beneath them, in charge of bloc level, capital, and supercap fleets. However, by the time of the Viceroy campaign, Goonswarm had seen a great deal of turnover in these leaders. In June of 2015 the Black Omega Security corporation was kicked from Goonswarm, taking with it Shut Up And Shave (Suas), a highly respected Goon leader (and talented lounge singer) who would play a prominent role as a front commander for the MBC. In November of 2015 Vily, considered by Lemba to be GSF’s best FC, left that alliance and joined TEST Alliance Please Ignore. In fact, Lemba saw the movement of several skilled bloc-level FC’s into TEST as a warning sign that the CFC’s “ultimate ex-girlfriend” was becoming dangerous again.


On 13 December 2015 Blawrf McTaggart, Skymarshal of the Imperium, announced his departure from the Imperium over conflicts with other members of the alliance leadership. Blawrf was followed by the corporation Bat Country, which left to join Pandemic Legion. Bat Country was a small corporation, but it had been one of the cornerstones of the alliance. Bat Country took Endie with it, the former head of the Goonfleet Intelligence Agency, who was also dissatisfied with the alliance’s political leadership.

Fighting in Cloud Ring and lowsec, Lemba felt GSF’s depleted leadership keenly, and put in extended hours trying to run the campaign while feeling increasingly abandoned by those above him. Lemba would later publicly cite these frustrations as the reason he betrayed the Imperium and began leaking internal logs of its high level discussions to the public.


The lack of senior and mid-level FC’s also affected the more numerous skirmish level FCs. At the start of the lowsec invasion, junior skirmish FCs within GSF were unable to send out pings on GSF chat channels for fleets to form, and required the assent of a mid-level or higher FC. Limited numbers of high level FCs and limited timezone coverage meant that many fights were missed because a skirmish FC couldn’t get a ping to get a fleet formed. This particular issue was later fixed during a “lessons learned” overhaul of the Imperium’s FC program, but it caused problems in the early days.

On the other hand, those FC’s who were active worked tirelessly to try and achieve the invasion’s goals. Lemba has particular praise for Sothrasil, an under-appreciated mid-level FC who was always on to hit towers and conduct operations, and often covered for Lemba in the early EUTZ. He also has praise for his second in command, Tiberizzle, who was on at all hours of the day, and ran the super fleet when Lemba was doing subcap ops. In fact, while running the super fleet, Tiberizzle scored a significant victory over an attempted ambush by OSS dreadnoughts in Placid on 29 December.

A military truism is that no one is irreplaceable. General Colin Powell famously had an American Civil War quote by President Lincoln framed and hung over his desk, recounting an exchange between Lincoln and a telegraph operator after a battle in which the Union lost a brigadier general and a hundred horses. Lincoln bemoaned the loss of the horses, but when the telegraph operator asked “Mr. President, what about the brigadier general?” Lincoln replied, “I can make a brigadier general in five minutes, but it is not easy to replace one hundred horses.”

Lincoln’s quip aside, it does take time to train new commanders, and skilled bloc level commanders do not grow on trees. Given time, a coalition as large as the Imperium should have been able to find and train up new leaders, and grow others into their new roles. Unfortunately for them the war came at the unhappy midpoint between the departure of much of the old leadership, and while the new leadership was still finding their feet.

As an aside, the corollary to this – for those dismissive of the Imperium’s performance in World War Bee – is that the Imperium has had several months and a large war in which to train up new leaders and give its existing ones more experience. Along with the Goons general preference for attack over defense, the MBC may find that GSF is a very different beast when it finally launches a serious offensive.

Early January 2016 – Lex Wants His Monkey Scalps!

Throughout December a feud had been bubbling up between the online casino I Want ISK (IWI) and the SpaceMonkey’s Alliance (SMA). IWI accused SMA members of stealing large quantities of ISK from the casino, which SMA was disinclined to force them to repay. SMA in turn accused the IWI bankers of real money trading or RMT, a practice banned by EVE’s terms of service. By January of 2016 this feud had boiled over with IWI banker Eep providing a list of demands which SMA director Winet dismissively refused. The story is that Eep then hired TISHU to target SMA in their home region of Fade, with the mercenaries going to work in the second week of January.

Lenny had pre-selected SMA as the MBC’s “jumping off point”

In fact, TISHU was under contract with Lenny to attack SMA. Lenny had pre-selected SMA as the MBC’s “jumping off point,” with D-Day set for some time in late January or early February. The explosion of the Viceroy/Voltron affair moved the timetable up. In the short term, SMA was seen as a large but vulnerable and “low-risk” target to attack (as per general guidance from Manfred Sideous or “Manny” – more on his input in part 3). In the long term, it guarded on one of the gateways to Deklein and had to be weakened so that it could eventually be removed.

According to then-TISHU fixer, Boson Dubstep, the initial plan had been to hide the fact that TISHU was under contract and just play the attack as part of the ongoing lowsec war, but with a 1.2 trillion ISK contract (at the time one of the most lucrative in EVE history) the details quickly leaked. The preMBC conspirators then came up with a hasty cover story and convinced the other IWI bankers to go along with it. In this cover story the ISK and the motive for the war came from Eep, with Lenny only acting as a “mysterious broker” to put the parties in touch with each other.

TISHU was an alliance of just over 800 pilots, while SMA was at the time the second largest Imperium alliance with over 5,000 members. However, events would show Lenny had picked the perfect band of psychopaths for the task. Despite the mismatch in numbers, TISHU diplomat Seraph IX Basarab says the campaign was never a contest; “TISHU are not builders or industrialists. I know it sounds cheesy but we’re very much pirates, in that we play to break things. And when that sort of mentality hits an entity like SMA which is basically playing Farmsville in space…”

Rather than target SMA’s space (which they had nowhere near the manpower to hold), TISHU targeted SMA’s members. They conducted a ferocious “blopsing” or black ops campaign where multiple cloaked special operations battleships would drop in suddenly on lone SMA players. They also established roving gatecamp ambushes at chokepoints, and infiltrated large numbers of alts into SMA, conducting regular insider attacks known as “awoxing.” These attacks wreaked havoc on SMA members attempting to make ISK throughout Fade by ratting (killing PvE pirates for their bounties) and mining. In a call out to Tarantino, TISHU’s leader, Lex Arson, offered his pilots a 500 million ISK bounty for the first 100 frozen SMA corpses delivered, which quickly caught the imagination of the /r/eve subreddit. Aside from the ISK being paid to the alliance, many TISHU pilots also made a great deal of money.

TISHU likely required no additional incentive to shitpost on reddit, but Lenny specifically asked Lex to make his invasion as loud and obnoxious as possible. The intent was to draw as much attention as possible onto Fade, while distracting from developments on other fronts, including Venal and Lonetrek (which will be discussed further in part 3).

According Seraph, the thing that hurt SMA the most was the infiltration, the awoxing, and the continual leaks of internal SMA coms, which were then posted on reddit where they were then subjected to merciless mockery. “Killing a ship is only the first step in breaking someone in this game. You have to grow and cultivate that little seed into them crumbling,” Seraph said with some relish. “They actually compared us to terrorists. And I guess to a certain extent that’s fair. But it’s also fair to remind them that the CFC invaded lowsec first, so deal with the consequences.”

The TISHU blopsing campaign had an immediate effect on SMA’s member activity, while the SMA leadership posted confused and often contradictory directives on how to handle the attacks. By 17 January SMA leader River was publically calling the campaign “a war,” and resolved to get serious about dealing with it, but by then a great deal of damage had already been done. According to Suas’ assessment, the Imperium was large but, “incredibly flabby,” and SMA was likely one of the main alliances Suas was thinking of when he made that statement. By the time the TISHU campaign concluded three weeks later, the attacks had pared away some of this flab, and over a thousand of SMA’s pilots departed the alliance. Luckily for SMA, TISHU ended its contract after it found it had “over fished” in Fade, and was running low on targets.

Former senior SMA diplomat Kyle Aparthos agreed that the TISHU campaign hit SMA very hard. In fact, SMA’s losses were so heavy that there has since been some controversy over why no help was provided to them by other Imperium alliances. Some have blamed the Goons for being slow to assist an ally in need, but – at least regarding the events in January – Kyle Aparthos laid most of the blame on SMA’s own leadership; “When it was just TISHU blopsing us, SMA never actually sent out any formal requests for aid, although Theta Squad (GSF’s carrier ratting/bait dropping SIG) did offer assistance, which we accepted… As for why we didn’t, that would be a more complicated answer and one that’s outside my purview. If I had to take a stab at it, maybe a touch of hubris, mixed with not realizing how seriously the situation would escalate.”

On the Sidelines

But the actual reasons why SMA faced TISHU’s onslaught alone were perhaps less important than how the campaign was perceived by the Imperium’s enemies. Although the fighting in Fade was publicly seen as a localized feud between SMA and IWI, Sabre felt that it was extremely useful both in showing that individual Imperium alliances could be subjected to extended attack without triggering a coalition-wide response, and in keeping a great deal of GSF’s attention fixed firmly on Fade (despite their low level of physical involvement), where it would regularly return in the coming months.

On the other hand, the campaign against SMA did have some unintended negative effects on the forces fighting against the Imperium in Black Rise. The deployment of TISHU into Fade removed a powerful member of the lowsec coalition, and with the Imperium “dropping the hammer” more and more often, the remaining lowsec alliances found themselves increasingly on the back foot, forced to surrender moon after moon to supercap forces they could not match. Although the moons were not considered vital by the lowsec alliances, the inability to contest the Imperium supercaps was wearing on LSV morale. According to CZ writer Alphabet morale was becoming strained enough that there were worries that the fledgling coalition might break up.

drawing the interest of others willing to take a shot at the Imperium

Luckily, the battles in the proving grounds of Fade and Black Rise had caught the attention of at several other alliances. In particular, Lenny believes that TISHU’s propaganda did much to “grease the wheels,” increasing the visibility of the campaign, and drawing the interest of others willing to take a shot at the Imperium. One of the new groups that Lenny reached an agreement with was The Culture, a Fountain-based nullsec alliance. The Culture agreed to hit Imperium possessions in Cloud Ring, and while they did not want to be bound by a full contract, they were offered financial assistance and capital SRP if required.

Although they were not yet on contract with Lenny, the “heavy hitters,” Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition. were also active in Imperium space, through the magic of wormholes. On 8 January wormholers from WE FORM VOLTA, part of a group called the “Therabois,” caught a Ragnarok titan from Imperium ally Fidelis Constans (FCON) in the Branch region. Fleets from PL, NC., OSS, and HAX. as well as several other alliances were called to help. After over an hour of fighting the Titan was finally destroyed, along with a large number of FCON ships which had attempted to rescue it. A day later the Therabois conducted another wormhole raid into Goonswarm’s home region of Deklein, and with the assistance of PL, OSS and HAX destroyed a large fleet of ratting carriers. Whenever a fabulously expensive Titan dies in EVE it is news, and in these two battles the wormholers had actually destroyed more ISK in Imperium ships than those lost in all the major battles reported during the past month of lowsec fighting. The success of these attacks raised more doubts about the Imperium’s military power, as well as some public musing by reddit posters about how great it might be if all these forces would really work together and seriously attack the Imperium. This was music to the ears of the preMBC plotters.

The Reddit Factor

A vital factor in the fighting in December and January was how it played out in the forums of public opinion, particularly on the /r/eve subreddit. EVE Online has its own game forums, as do many alliances, but the largest single place where EVE players congregate is /r/eve. LSV and TISHU made good use of /r/eve to trumpet their victories and mock their opponents, and Lenny and Sabre considered the reddit PR offensive a key part of the preMBC’s strategy. That said, at that point in time getting /r/eve riled up against the Goons was not a particularly difficult task. After the Fountain War Kickstarter debacle, hostility towards the Imperium became particularly marked on the EVE subreddit – an attitude often summarized as “Grrr Goons,” to indicate a reflexive opposition to all things Goonswarm.

“/r/eve is not a community.”

This attitude was not helped by an article titled “Community Matters” on TMC by GSF’s top diplomat, Sion Kumitomo, which included the inflammatory line, “/r/eve is not a community.” Writing in response to the turbulent Cloud Ring and post-Kickstarter furor, Sion labelled the anti-Goon attitude on reddit as stemming from a naked political play by the Imperium’s enemies, and called out unnamed /r/eve “badposters” for attempting to use exclusionary tactics against GSF and the Imperium. At the same time he explicitly set the Imperium apart from /r/eve as a distinct community, and painted the posters of the EVE subreddit with his own broad brush. In the end, he dismissed the subreddit with the words; “The greatest trick /r/eve ever played was convincing people its opinion mattered.”

The problem for the Imperium was that /r/eve had a large number of participants – over 60,000 subscribers, and some 460,000 unique visitors in the month of December – and posts on /r/eve influenced the opinions a large number of EVE Online’s players, including many of those newly arriving to the game. Regardless of their veracity or honesty, the opinions posted on /r/eve certainly mattered. If Sion truly thought that the enemies of the Imperium were making a political play for this platform, then he had hardly done anything to stop their advance. In fact, with his own words he had effectively surrendered it to them.

Kyle Aparthos, a respected poster on the EVE subreddit, considers this kind of thinking flawed; “Several individuals within the Imperium (including friends of mine in SMA) expressed the idea that r/eve was somehow akin to a territory that was ‘controlled’ by the enemy, rather than a platform which was nothing more than the rough sum value of its participants.” Unfortunately for the Imperium, in early 2016 those participants did not include many of its members.

Endie, a former contributor to TMC, disagreed with Sion’s approach. In a private discussion about TMC and the Fountain War Kickstarter, Endie said, “The thing I hope nobody tells [Sion and The Mittani] – the thing I would have opened my dumb mouth and told them if still in there – is that they need to swallow their fucking pride and gall and seduce r/eve.” Endie was in no doubt about the relevance of the subreddit, adding, “There is one major Eve community – r/eve – which large numbers of players frequent and which shapes opinion.”

The Imperium could perhaps have maintained a presence on /r/eve with a concerted effort, but Kyle believes that this would not have addressed the fundamental problem. “The fact that we even have to speak in terms of ‘a concerted effort to be present on public forums such as r/eve’ suggests that, deliberately or no, a cultural rift occurred between the Imperium, specifically GSF, and the rest of EVE. This is also reflected in statements publicly made by some GSF members about how ‘Goons are pariahs and we play the game our own way separate from the pubbies.’ “


Goons Alone

Talk of a “cultural rift” between players in a computer game, with many of the players hailing from the same real-world nations, may seem a bit strange on the surface. Certainly the list of cultural grievances between the Goons and other EVE players seem rather minor to an outsider, with the alleged targeting of players outside of the game being perhaps the only really serious issue (and one blamed more on individuals rather than the whole alliance). The claim that “Goons are assholes,” hardly makes them unique in a game where TISHU gleefully accepted the title of “terrorists,” and won applause from the Goon’s enemies for collecting scalps. Perhaps the Goons biggest crime was their overbearing pride and smugness; well earned perhaps, but there’s still nothing people like more than bringing down the prideful.

once someone sets themselves apart and above, there will always be others willing to tear them down

The reality is that people are quite quick to categorize each other and actively set themselves apart, even when the actual differences may be quite minor. And of course, once someone sets themselves apart and above, there will always be others willing to tear them down. The Mittani laid out this Goons vs EVE position in a “hurfpost” on the Goonfleet forums on 15 December, citing the their intrinsic civilized superiority over their “barbarous,” opponents.

The Imperium’s leaders accepted and embraced Goonswarm’s position as outsiders, apart from, and superior to, the “upvote-hungry mob,” but the problem with being a cultural outsider is that outsiders are very easy targets to whip the mob up against. In his hurfpost The Mittani wrote, “Our enemies would cross the galaxy in a heartbeat if they thought for a second they could end us,” This is exactly what would happen in only a couple of months, but predicting the future is not the same as preventing it. Perhaps The Mittani did not realize just how many enemies he had, how existing enemies were growing in power, or how close they were to thinking they could, indeed, end the Imperium.

In the past, the Imperium might have had the strength to defeat all likely attackers by its lonesome, but by early 2016 the political landscape of New Eden was changing. As warned by Lemba, TEST Alliance had rebuilt itself and was a different and dangerous beast, while the Pandemic Family’s new player alliance Pandemic Horde was quickly establishing itself, providing PanFam with access to the large subcapital fleets it had lacked in the past. The addition of the previously fractured lowsec alliances to the Imperium’s list of enemies threatened to further tip the balance against it, to say nothing of the hidden binding force of IWI’s exceedingly deep pockets.

The potential forces these rising powers could add to the fleets of the Imperium’s already established enemies suggests a more conciliatory and less zero sum diplomatic strategy by the Imperium was warranted. Whether such a strategy could have succeeded is an open question. Certainly it is hard to see how an attempted rapprochement or secret deals with PL, NC. or TEST would have prevented them from taking advantage of any moment of weakness by the Imperium, although it is not hard to imagine that pre-Viceroy the Imperium could have driven a wedge between the lowsec powers with a little diplomatic finesse. But even if a conciliatory approach failed, the results could hardly have been worse than those that came from the Imperium’s chosen course of coercive gangland diplomacy.

By early 2016 the Imperium had entered a very dangerous period of political isolation, partly through its own actions, and one that its enemies could now capitalize upon.


Summary of Proving Grounds

In December 2015 and the first half of January 2016 the Imperium had the initiative, while the preMBC was still mostly reactive. But despite initiating the lowsec campaign, and going on the diplomatic offensive against the EVE subreddit, Imperium actions were largely counter-productive, serving to unify additional enemies against it. The territorial gains made by the Imperium in this period in Cloud Ring and Black Rise were overshadowed by the weaknesses the military campaign revealed to the Imperium’s enemies, and its growing public isolation.

While they had not been acting as part of the preMBC, the lowsec forces had accomplished some of its initial goals and helpfully advanced its timetable. Voltron proved that smaller, qualitatively superior fleets could face the Imperium in lowsec and win. In Fade, TISHU proved that serious and prolonged attacks could be conducted against an Imperium member without triggering a coalition-wide response. Although these were hardly new revelations, they were a timely emphasis for those arguing to convince the necessary alliances of the viability of attacking the Imperium. All of these developments were amplified to the wider EVE community by a flurry of posts on the /r/eve subreddit, on which the Imperium no longer maintained a serious presence to contest the narrative. In turn, this control of the public narrative made it much easier for Lenny_Kravitz2 to recruit additional alliances to the cause.

The preMBC now had the forces and the public support it needed to take things to the next level.


Continued in Part 3 – Guerilla War.

Tags: history, Melos Exelion, strategy, World War Bee

About the author

Melos Exelion

A retired Canadian Forces member and amateur historian who decided it was time to stop being scared of spaceships and spreadsheets and take the plunge. Joined Pandemic Horde for the war, and is now drowning in karaoke and local spam.

  • Kamar Raimo

    Amazingly well constructed article.

    There are a few things i’d like to comment about.

    In lowsec – especially among the residents of Black Rise and Placid – Goons and their allies were never taken very seriously. RZR had in the prior year declared war on all of the Gallente Militia and were soundly beaten by “those lowsec scrubs”. The viceroy program was a more public and more large-scale repetition of the same. Particularly after following the attack on Providence there was even less awe of the GSF/Imperium war machine. This psychological effect emboldened the lowsec alliances that were hit.

    One of the major problems large blocs such as the Imperium faced when operating in lowsec is that they consider “skirmish FCs” people of lower importance. You mention that, but only implicitly. Lowsec is all about the prominence of the “skirmish FC”. The Imperium simply had very few people with authority to operate on the strategic level that their opponents were most proficient with. In lowsec, where alliances are smaller and tighter knit, the strategic synergy of several proficient “skirmish FCs” working together was much more powerful than any single bloc level FC could ever be. The Imperium are recently trying to change that, but it is too little too late.

    As a final note, I still think you are giving way too much credit to the planning of “The MBC” in their efforts to engineer a major strategic war against the Imperium. I am personally convinced it was much more based on opportunism and beneficial circumstances than what you make it out to be.

    Also, I lament the fact that you never mention the departure of the alliances who formed Chaos Theory which was a major weakening of SMA that meant a lot during the phase you are describing.

    • The Nigerian

      It was definitely a combination of opportunism and also part of the strategy to get LSV involved. We needed Goons to have a sound defeat in lowsec followed quickly with pressing their territory to not give them a break. Since the Viceroy program was going on in lowsec it was the logical choice to support them and ask them to help us add pressure as the battle lines shifted.

      The Chaos Theory guys should get mentioned soon. They did a lot for the MBC and deserve that recognition.

      • t3hWarrior

        hey, my shitposting did get an indirect mention in that 117 Propaganda picture

        • The Nigerian

          That is pretty boss dude

  • Cabon Scout

    Bravo Sir! A well written and very interesting article. I can’t wait for part 3.

  • Provi Miner

    So what……. you all act like this “NEW SHIT” it t’aint. ooooh no one ever stopped them before…… blah blah hurf hurf. Let me point out how goons were not only stopped cold but defeated in many tactical and strategic ops in the burn provi campaign. This is like re writing history: “no one ever stopped goon……. ” well except YF who didn’t lose a single timer to goons, well except those 20 CF pilots that forced goon to drop the hammer after denying them for 3 days. except for this or that time. Truth is by the time the goons invaded cloud ring the writing was on the wall. I have heard someone say “oh we don’t read that blog” and that’s fine but dotlan and Zkill board for the Burn provi would have show exactly how weak the goons were in general. I suspect next someone is going to tell me “hey we came up with this nifty idea blah blah all by ourselves” Ok so to believe the MBC narrative the following has to happen High level players (sabre A, and many others like oh I don’t a guy who writes articles repeatedly) have to A: never read a gobs grrr goon article or one of his monthly kill reports (I remind you that most of his stuff was posted en 24 and reddit as well so it isn’t like they “had” to read his blog). B: refuse to look at dotlan for the last 4 years in regards to goons nor ZKill. In fact lets take that writer type for EN 24 in order for the mbc narrative to be true He would have to write pure fiction more than a few of his articles involved goons. More than a few of the responses he personally responded to linked goblins points and keys to which he openly admitted to reading. As I recall he mentioned in one of his articles the defeats in burn provi showed decided issues that might be exploited by others. LOL I think I will look for that story that would make the Entire MBC narrative a joke and lie.
    So nice write up pure ass fiction now if you had said “as a reinforcement of proven successful anti goon efforts” then it becomes reasonable.

    • Fred Flintstone

      Wow, take a breath. Breathe. Relax. You don’t agree with this huge wall of text so you try to make your own wall. Trump’s answer, is not the answer to everything.

      • The Nigerian

        Gevlon is just very very bitter unfortunately. I asked someone I trusted to poke him and see if he was the real deal and if so, to see if he was interested in helping with funding. He promptly told her to fuck off and was not interest in talking to me (though at the time she didn’t use my in game name…not that it really matters).

        • Provi Miner

          I actually find goblins response to the whole issue the most “social” he has ever appeared.

    • Kamar Raimo

      To be fair, yes Provi did repel the Imperium invasion, but they did not take the fight back to the attackers like LSV and the MBC did.

    • phuzz

      When was the last time someone stopped the CFC *and* took all their sov? This time they came much closer to fail-cascading than at any time in the past.

      • Kamar Raimo

        Probably when D&D and BoB purged them from Cloud Ring and hellcamped them in Syndicate in 2006

      • Mark Artreides

        They never came close to failcascadingor are they now. They aren’t going to be retaking and holding anything anytime soon either. Most line members are fine with what is going on, it is just that most of the leadership is retiring, leaving, flipping sides etc which pretty much means the CFC is pretty close to being a rotting shell. The militairy strategies and tactics currently being used are a bit….strange too.

    • [TLOS]Moebeus

      I read your shit posting all the time and honestly i wish you would remove the provi from your tag. you are a blowhard who merely sounds off on things you really know nothing about. yes goons came to provi and did not achieve the ‘burn provi’ goals they had set but ffs stop acting like provi is the end all to everything. i mean, ffs, everyone knows provi doesnt even have caps……. go back to mining and stop embarrassing us or put down the bottle or crack pipe or whatever it is that makes you blow the walls off the posts here with your wall-of-text psychosis.

      • Provi Miner

        I see this often, it used to make me laugh. Now it just makes me sad. I have flown through most of null there are things that leap out at me. even when concentrated Goons, and other null holders the places were mostly empty. Can’t say that about provi. I know you will lie through your teeth cause to admit the truth would mean well that the common idea of null is stupid but I will ask anyways. If you were new to eve and wanted to see what was up with null without all the hassel, or if you just wanted to enjoy null, or be an unsuspecting pirate in null. Were would you go? where would you like to go? Choice A: someplace where if they don’t know you they just shoot you (the rest of null) Or Choice B: where you can enter with low risk check things out set up your plan (good or evil) and make a well thought out choice from there (provi). People say provi is X but when you talk about what eve should be to the new players provi is pretty much what people mean (without saying it). When you talk about content on demand Provi is about it. sure we don’t play the boring “right click, jump anchor (go watch a movie while tidi kicks in)” high end oh so fun (not I would rather win eve then play in tidi cause I am L33T). Yeah I have to pilot my ship, yeah I have to make my own choices, yeah I actually have to play eve when I log in personally I don’t see how that’s a bad way to play. I mean just cause your watching a movie waiting for your timer to wind down so you can hit F1 again, while on another screen your afk ratter is just sitting there while making is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong if that’s your PRO concept of eve have at it. I tend to like to actually play the game and yeah provi “makes” you play when you undock.

    • Seraph IX Basarab

      You’re embarrassing yourself and everyone in provi you know that right?

      • Provi Miner

        there is the man let him answer himself: As a main cog in the machine were you totally 100% devoid of any knowledge of the past two years regarding goblins grr goons? Additionally were you 100% unaware of the weakness displayed by goons in various campaigns? I ask this simply because the narrative being spun is that NO ONE knew anything about “goons being weak”. I would suggest you be careful about your answer your past articles are still searchable.
        To remind those that may wonder, an answer in the positive would mean the whole MBC narrative is either greatly exaggerated or made up of whole cloth.

        • Seraph IX Basarab

          I’ve certainly been aware of their weaknesses…however Gevlon had pretty much nothing to do with any of that. As much as I personally have a soft spot for Gevlon, the CFC did not come crumbling down because of 15 man destroyer/stealth bomber fleets.

          • Provi Miner

            No is refuting the idea that unlimited SRP Zero Risk PVP is what did the trick. What is being refuted (by me and gevlon) is that it wasn’t a new idea, that it came from nowhere, that no one knew. You were a part of the MBC and you admit you knew of their “issues”. That’s the whole point.

          • Owen Wells

            Issues which werent caused by Gevlon or by MoA. Very few people knew any details of what Gevlon was doing beyond ‘hes a rich dude who hates goons and paid some guys to go shoot their ratters’ and of those that did the vast majority were too busy laughing at his insane blog posts to care. You have highend former Imperium members who have no reason to protect goons good name anymore flatly stating that MoA had minimal if any effect. Fuck even MOAs own members have admitted that before the MBC they basically achieved nothing strategically significant and theyre the only people in this game who actually like Gevlon.

          • Provi Miner

            rich dude is who again gob or lenny? both paid people to shoot goons who did it first?
            minimal effect? agreed why? cause gobs wouldn’t pay without performance huge difference between opening up the war chest like lenny did ( which I freely admit was what changed the tune comepletely)

          • Seraph IX Basarab

            “Zero Risk unlimited SRP?” WTH are you talking about. Gevlon didn’t come up with anything new so what are you talking about?

  • Melos

    Several people have commented on the inaccuracy of calling Tiberizzle Lemba’s second in command. The error is mine rather than Lemba’s – going through my notes he never said that himself, and I misinterpreted the relationship between them. I’ll see if a correction can be made.

  • Samsa

    This was an outstanding read. I normally don’t read wall of texts about Eve, since pixels, but it really caught me early.
    It even seems to be quite accurate from an Goon linemember perspective.

    But cringe kicked in as soon as Seraph was quoted. I don’t know why he is quoted/interviewed about the whole process.
    Not only is he a “nobody” according to Boson, but also is he calling himself a pirate and terrorist. In nullsec. Where everybody knows what could happen to them at all times.

    Other than that nice job. Looking forward for part 3.

    • Seraph IX Basarab

      If you actually learned to read you would see that that is what SMA called us…I didn’t call “us” that. I was merely repeating what SMA were sperging about.


      Literally who?

      • iwonderiwonder

        TISHU diplomat Seraph IX Basarab says the campaign was never a contest;
        “TISHU are not builders or industrialists. I know it sounds cheesy but
        we’re very much pirates, in that we play to break things. And when that
        sort of mentality hits an entity like SMA which is basically playing
        Farmsville in space…”

        I guess he can read just fine. Got me all cringed to. Nullsec pirates…

        • Urdum

          Holy fuck you are dumb.

          • zaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap

            Yeah holy fuck he’s dumb. Holy. Hoooly fuck dumbooo dumbooo dumb dumb

        • Seraph IX Basarab

          If you were informed on the subject you would know those are SMA’s words which from the context of the actual conversation I had with the writer fits. So keep wondering since you haven’t figured out yet how to know.

          • iwonderiwonder

            A really bad way point out SMA’s words then. Why would I inform myself when this article piece suggests to cover it all?

          • Seraph IX Basarab

            “Why educate myself when this one thing should suffice.”

            Okay. Sounds reasonable…

          • iwonderiwonder

            Wow, this sarcasm. Burned. You make up all you want and it still won’t change the fact that it reads like your words. Regardless of whatever information I might be missing since I’m not educated by the Seraph standards on, well, your person. lol on you if you think people will gather more information about someones quote.

          • Seraph IX Basarab

            I just think it’s funny that instead of enjoying a good article and informing yourself, you decided to sperg about me.

            Who hurt you? 🙁

      • Samsa

        I won’t be dragged into one of your Seraph mudfestivals, but just to put things straight: This is not me, but it doesn’t matter since I’m not important at all. I’m just reading.

        • Seraph IX Basarab

          I mean you start things and then when you actually get a reply you scurry under a rock.

          Also nobody is really important. Just a mass of particles hurling through space. Don’t take it so personally.

      • fiddy


        Literally who?”

        what a little and sad man you are seraph something baso-somthing

      • lolz

        Wait a second, Seraph do you think anyone thinks your important or something? The only thing you are know for, is washing out of Noir’s newbro corp. You are a nobody, and you are asking who the neck other people are, as if you are some important dude in EVE?

        • Seraph IX Basarab

          Did I say I thought I was important or are you just projecting your own insecurities now rando throw away alt name

  • JZ909

    Great article! One of the best of its kind. For me, the Viceroy system announcement was the turning point. It reeked of so much arrogance that it turned me against the Imperium, while previously I had been fairly neutral, and even somewhat interested of the Imperium political experiment. It’s great to read an article like this and understand where my own change of heart played into the greater picture of the most significant EVE war in years.

    • Q Sertorius

      The Viceroy announcement seriously pissed me off too. I was one of the few who protested against it in the GSF forum thread. After reading it, I had absolutely no desire to take part in any of the low sec fights. Just as I had no desire to go burn Providence the previous summer. I liked the image of the Cluster Fuck Coalition, not being a member of the evil empire. A bunch of lovable miscreants who somehow manage to win is a much more appealing image than an overextended, out-of-touch empire.

  • Pingback: So we’re still doing this then | Jack Jomar()

  • Kinis Deren

    Excellent read – thank you! Lots of fond memories from those days in /r/eve & in game too. Wow, how odd to think of relatively recent events as part of EVE history now.

  • Bozo

    Let me get the most important part out of the way first: that was a very good article.

    Now for some nitpicking.

    First; regarding the lowsec campaign, you claim the Imperium’s numbers weren’t a factor. Well, yes and no. The Imperium did push LSV out of its money moons, which was the objective. The plan was to get a few bloody noses, but plow on regardless and steamroll the opposition, all the while getting some content for the masses. And at the operational level, it worked: the Imperium did gain control of almost all the money moons. That it had to use supers instead of blobs doesn’t really change the result.
    What The Mittani hadn’t anticipated were too things. Although lowsec residents had claimed they didn’t need the moons, this was probably regarded as a bluff, but it ended out being true (did IWI pick up the slack?). The second, and more important, unanticipated factor was lack of participation. One major objective of that campaign was to generate content, preferably enjoyable content. The lack of command flexibility within the Imperium, along with the fact that the lowsec dwellers knew the ground and were far better at small-gang pvp combined to make the war unenjoyable for the Imperium rank and file.
    Mittani’s troopers could either fly alone or in small gangs and get slaughtered (not fun), or spend hours waiting to be Titan bridged to a POS bash in a large fleet (not fun, though it did generate killmails) in pursuit of an objective no-one considered vital. As a result, participation was fairly low, which is why Imperium FCs couldn’t rely on le blob and had to use supers so much.

    My second beef with this otherwise very good article is that you don’t take into account the Imperium perspective at all. Backtracking a bit, by mid-2015 The MIttani had created the Eve Online version of the USA: the richest, most powerful area in the world. Unlike the real life USA, however, making ISK at home and having all the wars take place in faraway places is NOT fun.
    The Imperium had been so successful that it was considered unassailable. For all the signs of weakness that you – correctly – identify, the overwhelming consensus was that the Imperium position was extremely strong. Aegis sov had not broken it up, it had even made it stronger (or so it seemed at the time).
    As a result, the Imperium’s number one problem was player retention. The Mittani’s rhetoric, that you quoted, was that the Imperium way of life was the best there was in Eve. So people would farm dank ISK in Deklein (which grows old super quickly, so boring is PVE in this game), they would whore on multiple killmails with 110% SRP during stratops (which is not the most fun form of pvp either) and then, convinced that they had experienced the best that EVE had to offer, they moved on to other games, or other things.

    The Mittani had tried to branch out and leverage his player base into other games (e.g. H1Z1), but it didn’t work, and neither did the Kickstarter. So by late 2015, the Imperium simply had to score win in EVE – the game itself.

    Now, The Mittani’s narrative had for years focused on being a besieged fortress, on being hated and unfairly picked upon by all those jealous pubbies from the rest of New Eden. He just needed barbarians to storm the gates, the better for his own players to bash them. His problem was that so many barbarians had had their heads handed to them that they were leaving the Imperium alone, and Imperium players were unsubscribing.
    That’s why he went for the viceroy program. Antagonizing a bunch of people might whip up enough resentment that a lot of pubbies might try to storm the walls. Being pubbies, they would invariably be uncoordinated and easily defeated, thus providing much-needed entertainment to the troops. The late summer deployment to Providence had failed to reach its stated goals (not all Provi had burned), but it was too early to call it a failure since no-one knew if those goals were realistic in Aegis sov. What it had proved was that the Imperium could flash form to the other side of the galaxy, burn over half of a very well-defended region to the ground, fight off the locals and a rag tag assortment of fleets come to 3rd party or bash Goons, and have tremendous fun.

    The Viceroy program therefore appeared like a win-win situation: it would either generate a war that the Imperium would win, or the rest of New Eden would accept to become renters, which would pretty much mean the death of the game but at least with “our people” on top.

    And for all its flaws, for all that Mittani underestimated how badly out of shape his coalition’s war machine was, what were the alternatives? Leaving lowsec alone would have dragged on the confrontation, but an alliance like C02 was pulling at the bit to expand, and time wasn’t on the Imperium’s side since it was bleeding active, useful, members. Pulling back to a smaller perimeter and hoping to rebuild would be construed as an admission of weakness and done nothing to stop the loss of committed people.

    Note that the Goons have stared to hit back recently, so The Mittani’s plan might work eventually, if at a far greater cost than he had anticipated.

    TL-DR: the viceroy program was horribly mismanaged, but the general idea, at a grand strategic level, was sound.

    Sorry for the wall of text.

  • Adam

    So when is part 3? I am enjoying these articles and this author so keen to see the next installment