whore

The Whore of Babylon

 

At this point I am most certainly running the risk of this article falling into the “grr” category. This is not my intent. However, I can’t very well write about lowsec and not discuss one of the most important events there the past few months: The Imperium invasion. I should point out that within EVE, I am on the opposing “side” (not that there really is one), having engaged Imperium forces since their entry into lowsec in November a number of times.

The Whore of Babylon is a mysterious character of evil told of in the Book of Revelations. She is the harlot of the Antichrist and the Beast, seeking to spread her depravity and make the world “drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Rev. 17:2). She is so shrouded in mystery that interpretations of what the Harlot represents vary wildly. Depending on who you ask throughout history, they could say that she is a representation of Jerusalem which denied the Messiah, Sodom and Gomorrah; the cities that defied God with their sins, Babylon which fraternised with the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church or indeed pagan Rome itself which persecuted Christians in the first century. The latter is one of the more popular adaptations, but the list goes on. All of these were enemies of God’s people in one way or another, in the view of one group or another.

“An abstract force of evil to be invoked when needed in order to motivate the true believers.”

It seems that no matter which – usually fundamentalist – philosophy of the Christian faith the observer subscribed to, the Harlot is not faithful to a particular view as it were, she could be – and often has been – made to fit the role of villain. Basically, she is an unfaithful idolatress, going against the commandments of God. An abstract force of evil to be invoked when needed in order to motivate the true believers.

Nowadays we’re more used to expressions like “weapons of mass destruction” and “the war on terror”, but the basic goal remains the same: motivate the people with a villain and they will gladly get in line.

Inventing the Harlot

As most of you will know, the head of the Imperium – The Mittani – held a State of the Goonion in November, prior to the Imperium invasion of Cloud Ring and lowsec. In it, he spoke at length of “his people” and the supposed threat they face from enemies who wish to corrupt their way of life and destroy all good things the Goons had laboured to create. It was stated clearly during the address that the enemy is in fact so vile and depraved that they would even destroy EVE in order to harm the Imperium.

According to the Mittani this was a real war, a concrete threat was brewing in Cloud Ring and lowsec. The rest of the galaxy was falling into ruin and chaos and the Imperium had to ensure that their “beacon of unity, discipline and victory” remained strong in the face of the barbarians at the gates, bent on “bitter and vindictive tribalism”.

When he further chose to mix in Jeff Edwards and the ill-fated Kickstarter campaign into his speech, a lot of people agreed that he unfortunately blurred the line between The Mittani Media as an out-of-game business and the Imperium as an in-game organisation of players. However, not only has this issue been discussed at length both here at CZ and elsewhere, it also has little bearing on lowsec, frankly because most people there don’t care about it beyond pulling the odd joke at the expense of the poor management and botched community relations surrounding the project. The reason it is relevant is because opposition to the project was presented as a motivational factor for the campaign that would eventually end up in lowsec.

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Basically, Imperium leadership were invoking every ill they could think of – conjuring the proverbial Whore of Babylon – in order to motivate the rank-and-file for this new campaign. Like so many had done before, the coalition’s leader was molding the Harlot after his own needs, manifesting the nebulous villain as best he could. It can be argued that the presented adversary was as fabricated as the Idolatress of Revelations, but everyone needs an enemy, right?

Setting both reality and any moral issues the reader may have aside, this was a cunning move by the coalition leader. Perceived by many as a bureaucratic, stagnating behemoth relic of times gone by and the antithesis to the very ideals from which Goons once sprang, the Imperium had been suffering from a lack of purpose for a long time and a unified cause was sorely needed.

Even those within the Imperium who saw it for the propaganda it was had no issue with going along with it. After all, why not? It’s not like anyone would be able to stand in the Imperium’s way, no matter how questionable the facts of the matter were. If the end goal is to provide content for Goons and their allies, do the means really matter? This is, after all, Imperium leadership’s primary concern, not what the rest of us might think about it. In a way, Goons have always used the criticism or downright anger people sent their way for their behaviour as a motivator. It could of course be argued that “grr Goons” back in the day is not the same thing as “grr Goons” today, the motivations being quite different, something that the former leader of Goonswarm, Darius JOHNSON, illustrated.

So the Imperium did what they always do, leveraging their main strength: numbers. Seeing the writing on the wall, the inhabitants of Cloud Ring evacuated and before long the previously content-rich and exciting region was paved over by Imperium forces, proverbially turning a Thunderdome into a parking lot. This can be clearly seen in the statistics, with the number of kills dropping to less than a third of what they had been during the previous months. Op success?

From the lowsec perspective, definitely not. Cloud Ring was the main siren’s call for lowsec people to try out nullsec fights, and those who lived in the area seemed to be enjoying more content than null had seen for a long time, giving birth to the name “Content Ring”. Looks like someone called the cops, party’s over.

As planned, the Imperium then moved on to lowsec. An entirely different kettle of fish.

This is Lowsec

There seems to be a principal difference between the average lowsec dweller and a line member in the Imperium. To illustrate that, let’s look at some numbers.

Looking at zKillboard for December, the average kills per member in Goonswarm Federation was about 0.8, with a points efficiency of about 31%. Lowsec’s favorite new punching bag, Fidelas Constans, managed 1.6 kills per member and a points efficiency of about 36%, while The Bastion clocked in at 1.4 kills and around 38% points efficiency. It takes about 1.25 dead Goons to score one kill, that figure being 1 for FCON and about 0.6 for BASTN.

Let’s compare that to some of the alliances the Imperium has been going up against in lowsec. Snuffed Out killed 5.2 ships per member and have an average points efficiency of about 67%. Psychotic Tendencies killed 5.1 per member, at roughly 60% points efficiency. My own alliance, GMVA, averaged 9.1 kills per member with a points efficiency of around 59%. It takes 0.3 dead Snuff to score a kill, 0.38 for TISHU, and 0.5 for GMVA.

But those are just my caveman-level gatherings from zKillboard stats and are heavily influenced by inactives, alts, highsec ganking and that sort of thing. Perhaps they speak more of the sheer amount of dead weight within the Imperium when it comes to PvP prowess than anything else. So let’s look at what a more thorough (although somewhat controversial) report has to say.

The statistics aggregated by Danmal in his PvP rankings report for the latter half of 2015 do not a paint a pretty picture of the Imperium, it’s alliances more often than not ending up in the worst ranking. According to Danmal’s analysis, Goonswarm Federation, for instance, is only exceeded by Executive Outcomes in being the worst PvPers in EVE, and the rest of the “worst” list is richly populated with other Imperium alliances.

You might consider his attempt to measure fun subjective, but there again, it doesn’t look great for the Imperium. What these statistics suggest is that the Imperium solves issues with just having more numbers, rather than skill. Doing “less with more”, rather than “more with less”. Going by Danmal’s analysis, the Imperium is home to some of the least skilled, least efficient and least active PvPers in EVE today.

Unsurprisingly, the “best of” lists are heavily populated by lowsec alliances, boasting some of the most active, skilled and efficient PvPers EVE has to offer. Again, assuming you subscribe to Danmal’s analysis.

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It would be remiss however, not to point out that within the Imperium ranks there are SIGs with far better track records and a considerably higher level of PvP skill. It is also worth mentioning that the motivations of GSF and the Imperium are quite different from those of most lowsec entities, but let me get to that later. The beauty of EVE is that none of us have the right to say how you “should” or “shouldn’t” play. Indeed, many Imperium members couldn’t care less about statistics, while some lowsec entities could be characterised as elitist (or “elitist pricks”, depending on who you ask).

Now, these numbers are of course influenced by a number of different factors and I am undoubtedly going to get criticized for mentioning them. It should also be pointed out that any statistics which attempt to describe a complex reality are always going to be a simplification, and by that process also a misrepresentation of said reality.

However, if you give them any credence as a broad indicator of fighting prowess and skill, it can be surmised that lowsec residents simply have more experience and skill in fighting per capita. It strikes a chord with the idea that it is their bread and butter, it’s why they play EVE, and that it is very much tied to the martial lifestyle of lowsec culture.

It should be no surprise then that lowsec has turned into a bit of a Vietnam for the Imperium. This is a territory they are not familiar with and alliances within the coalition have repeatedly seen defeat.

That does not mean that the Imperium mission statement isn’t followed however. As promised, the coalition has burned down the money moons of lowsec powerhouses such as Snuff Box using overwhelming numbers as a deterrent.

Lowsec FCs will simply avoid their 150-man blobs, which are slow, predictable, and make every intel channel you can think of light up like a christmas tree. Essentially, roaming with fleets of this size in lowsec is a great way to not get fights. So in order to force fights, the Imperium has attacked the money moons under the motto “denying resources to our enemies”, which reads a lot like “getting content” to me at least. As we discussed on the JEFFRAIDER Show, most lowsec alliances have perfectly viable sources of income outside of money moons – a precarious resource in lowsec for most to begin with. However, it cannot be denied that the Imperium campaign against Snuff for instance, must have put a respectable dent in their central income.

“We Form Voltron”

The above is not to say there haven’t been any large fleet engagements over important moons. What happened when the Imperium came to lowsec is that some of the larger entities banded together temporarily in order to be able to form for some of the bigger fights. Most notably, Snuffed Out and Psychotic Tendencies have blued up repeatedly to face the invader, but it has certainly not been limited to them – many “temp blues” are arranged in order to be able to engage. It’s not really “lowsec vs. the Imperium”, but the tendencies are there. That is to say that while old rivalries remain in between lowsec groups, everyone wants to kill Imperium, so people are willing to stretch their temp blues a bit further than usual.

As you might expect, the Imperium has had a rather tough time of it in lowsec in general, when it comes to actual fighting at least (as opposed to the POS campaign). Recently however, the coalition enjoyed substantial success in a battle over a Snuff Box moon in Ikoskio. Despite a numbers advantage, according to eyewitnesses things were going poorly for Goons & Co initially. That got turned around thanks to brilliant use of the new Command Destroyers (lead by Asher Elias, a particularly skilled Goonswarm FC) against Snuff and their allies (along with a PL ‘Petes fleet) to the tune of 76 billion ISK, the Imperium only losing 28 billion.

However, Ikoskio was a rare event. Overall, Imperium forces have done little to improve their PvP performance while deployed in lowsec.

mission accomplished banner 23423423

Mission Accomplished?

The question remains how long the Imperium will stay in lowsec and how the official narrative will be told. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the coalition’s skilled propaganda machine will attempt to put a positive spin on the whole campaign. It can be argued that anyone who thinks there are specific, actual goals to be met with this deployment are kidding themselves. Ridiculous propaganda aside, they came for the content, and everyone knows lowsec has plenty of it.

As Sarin Blackfist (Karmafleet, GSF) pointed out in his excellent piece The Conditions of Success, and as I mentioned earlier, the motivations of the Imperium are quite different from most lowsec groups. For many long-time lowsec dwellers, the only real currency in EVE is good fights, dank frags and the killboard stats that come with it – all else is firmly sat in the back seat as the means to that end. The Imperium on the other hand, is a firmly goal-driven organisation at heart – in the complete opposite direction (again, certain SIGs operating independently and with other MOs). In essence, it doesn’t matter how horrible their killboard stats are, how low their efficiency is; “it’s already been replaced” – what matters is meeting the objectives. Take space, secure moons, build infrastructure, secure strategic allies (read: buffer states). Goons even have their infamous “weaponised boredom” strategy, all in the name of meeting the objectives – something that’s absolute anathema to lowsec culture and mindset.

“In essence this is a metagame-heavy, narrative-driven culture, complete with PAP-links and propaganda, versus a conflict- and content-driven one.”

So what are the objectives in this instance? Well, if you believe in my Whore of Babylon theory, they don’t actually exist in the traditional sense. The milieu the Imperium method was created by is nullsec. Lowsec operates under different principles, both mechanically and culturally, with little interest in narrative – something that is so essential in the Imperium that they seldom seem make a move without it. In essence this is a metagame-heavy, narrative-driven culture, complete with PAP-links and propaganda, versus a conflict- and content-driven one. The difference is that the latter is in its natural habitat and the former is kind of like forcing a square shape into a round hole.

But that’s not the important thing here. What counts and is very much real is if quality content and value is being provided to Imperium members and the players they fight in lowsec. That has to be the ultimate goal for everyone involved. Perhaps the Imperium are learning to fight in lowsec, flying with smaller, more nimble fleets, cultivating individual skill, and working with engageability. One can only hope that this is what’s going on.

Unfortunately, the negative effect the Imperium presence has had on small gang fighting cannot be ignored. The coalition’s overall tendency to band together into large numbers rather than split up and embrace small gang has resulted in a harsh environment for this playstyle, which many consider one of the most vital aspects of lowsec. Lowsec people have been forced to group up more in order to scare off the gate camps and engage the Imperium fleets that roam in the area. This presents a significant problem for smaller organisations that thrive on small gang fighting as well as more casual players. Even if they are more experienced and know how to scout and consolidate intelligence, their natural prey have been severely diminished due to the changed habitat.

In the end, lowsec is split between those that enjoy having the Imperium around because it provides more targets, and those that want them to “go back to rot in Deklin” because they despise everything that the Imperium stands for and the playstyle their very presence promotes.

In conclusion

Ultimately, one might hope that smaller alliances, or even SIGs within the Imperium decide they like the lowsec thing so much that they decide to stay, even break off from the Imperium in order to pursue the lowsec lifestyle. Unfortunately, that’s probably not happening any time soon (although we have seen some splintering for other reasons). From most lowsec players perspective, the Imperium is a near-mindless lumbering blob, with an odd star here and there, thrashing about lowsec with a mentality most players there find anything from repulsive to comic. Perhaps, given time, this perspective will change. But then again, that’s not likely either.

 

Tags: lowsec, niden, The Imperium

About the author

Niden

Perpetrator of thuggery in low security space, artist, and known as “The Stalin of Crossing Zebras” - Niden is the Editor-in-Chief of CZ.

  • GrouchyOldGamer

    Grrr Whores ….. oh wait

    Really interesting read

    • Niden

      lol 🙂

  • FatBelwas

    Great piece.

    • Niden

      Cheers.

  • Psychic Kicks

    This is a really good piece

    • Niden

      Thanks.

  • Fat Elvis

    Well written and a real joy to read. thankyou

    • Niden

      Thank you.

  • Tao BeiFun

    Chellas,

    well written and i realy need to login more to fight this blob XD.
    Thank you for this piece of art. o7

    • Cloakycamper

      If you want to PVP in easy mode go to Goon space. If you really want to challenge yourself go to the east or even Provi. I heard even test pilots are a challenge these days.

      • Niden

        It was a long time ago I was in Provi, but I hear good things.

  • JZ909

    Good read, and not really too grr Goons either. It just highlighted the differences in organizational philosophies, without assigning specific value to them.

    • Niden

      Indeed. I mean I get the idea, it’s a pretty grand story. But it is just that: a story.

    • Minty

      It’s not too far off as an analogy too – the barbarians were great single or small group fighters but suffered when put against the highly organised roman legion, who, as generally mediocre single combatants but pretty well trained and lead in large groups, tended to do pretty well.

      One thing I’ve found as a ex-lowsec solo/micro/smallgang PVPer and currently a Goon is that many lowsec entities completely underestimate the power of combined and well coordinated EWAR, DPS, logi and tackle wings/fleets. Many lowsec entities, once allied up just bring DPS and logi with a small amount of EWAR for their own fleets without looking at the bigger picture of what they have when combined on the field.

      Brute force using top of the range ships with high SP players and slave pods will only get you so far when against a coordinated combined arms approach, hence the rather nasty losses the lowsec entities have taken as opposed to the fairly superficial and replaceable losses The Imperium has taken. IMO, I think they would do better by hiring a fairly large low-sp entity (or recruiting the pilots into their own alliance) to support them with EWAR and tackle to be ordered by one of the lowsec entities’ FCs.

      • JZ909

        Maybe. I’m just not convinced that low-sec entities can go toe to toe with the Goons in a large fleet battle. Even if they did the same thing, the Goons know it better, and could probably adapt more quickly.

        Personally, I would probably focus on ambush tactics: MJD away a chunk of a fleet while it’s landing at a gate into a waiting max-DPS brawling fleet, or do hit and runs with Tornado blap fleets.

  • Jarhead

    i am not very experienced in eve so this might be a bit nieve. how hard would it be for the annoyed lowsec residents to take their prefered playstyle deep into CFC held territory and become a thorn in the beasts underbelly?

    • AFK

      Those 5 billion isk pods won’t last long in 0.0 so I’m guessing very hard.

      • Niden

        Yep. Expensive pods is the only thing holding lowsec back from totally invading the Imperium. Eh.

        • Joe

          IMO bubbles holding pods is in fact a big negative of null sec. Implants add to the complexity of fits and that is entirely missing from null sec doctrines.

    • JZ909

      From a gameplay mechanic standpoint, probably not very difficult. People have to rat, mine, and run sites to make the machine work. A dozen small covert ops fleets entering through wormholes could make these activities near-suicidal. Their mere presence (known due to local), would be enough to cause economic activity to grind to a halt. If economic activity is halted, you’re winning.

      However, from a practical standpoint, it’s incredibly difficult. You have to motivate people to go sit in space for hours at a time doing nothing at all for most of the time, and, given the lowsec mindset that Niden just described, lowsec dwellers are not likely to do that outside of the most extreme circumstances.

      • Kamar Raimo

        Exactly. There are of course people in lowsec who will camp a gate for hours every day, but my experience is, that people will go looking for fights that suit them rather than troll around for the sake of scaring people who wont fight anyway. It’s fun for five minutes of smacktalk and then people want to get some real action.

        Sov nullsec has long involved a paradigm where structures are put into place to keep the local peace and then go have wars elsewhere, preferrably far away. In lowsec people live for undocking directly into a warzone of dank frags.

    • Kickkarmafleet

      Low sec is easy mode with no bombs or bubbles, you can always disengage. You can’t do that in null.

      • Rob Kaichin

        “Easy mode”.

        I do wonder why AoE mechanics are in some cases supported, and yet in others vilified. AoE DD’s were meta-shifting in the same way that Bombs are (In fact, less so), but Bombs are considered an acceptable mechanic. In the same way, Bubbles, which encourage kiting (widely agreed to be a pretty un-fun fleet dynamic) are considered ‘good’.

        I think Eve would be far more interesting if AoE mechanics were very much limited, probably to smartbombs only.

    • Niden

      First of all there is no lowsec coalition big enough, not by a long shot. Hell there isn’t an organisation big enough in all of EVE. The Imperium can easily throw endless numbers and ISK at any problem. Second of all, no one really wants to, most people are quite content to leave them to rot in Deklein – there are no real incentives to mount that kind of massive operation, the sheer amount of people you’d have to get to work together is staggering.

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  • Dermeisen

    Soloing/small gang in say a fast kitey frigates, cruisers to pick up rapid kills, it happens all the time but to become a thorn in the side of the beast, no I guess not. This is the life style of the Therabois after all. The whole easy mode thing is simply a troll the two are incommensurable in terms of objectives and approach. In my view lowsec is all about getting an adrenaline hit getting a new ship or not and repeating the deal, but that’s my narrow perspective.

  • Sieveboy

    The day low sec residents start taking their blingiest battleship doctrines deep into null sec, deep into the Imperium territory, and they start fighting and winning there, is the day this article will be a valid and accurate portrayal of the true skill sets of both opposing forces.

    Until then, the CFC not really winning or losing on the low sec home turf is only somewhat reflective of the differences. I might note the CO2 seems to be getting the upper hand in it’s big fleet fights in the area of Hakonen and Nalvula.

    Finally, in the overwhelming sum of my experience I find most “elite PVP” denizens of low sec to be little more than 1 or 2 trick ponies camping gates in armor svipuls or hot dropping 50 blops on a single cruiser. Sure they get lots of kills, but that just doesn’t seem like skill to me.

    • Niden

      I see your perspective, but I really can’t agree. As things stand, lowsec entities could never invade the Imperium due to sheer numbers. It doesn’t matter if your troops suck if you have a shitload more of them, ask the Red Army, it’s how they do business, it’s how Goons & co have always done business. Hell, ask a Goon. What you’re saying is that 10 Imperium beat 2 lowsec dudes, yeah I can’t argue with that. What I’m saying is that the stats and my personal experience suggest is that _per capita_ lowsec people are more experienced with PvP.

      Suggesting that the fact that lowsec use better ships is somehow unfair is frankly preposterous. You can’t seriously be arguing poverty for the Imperium.

      CO2 are sort of part of the Imperium, but not really. They’ve always done their own thing. And yes, they understand lowsec better.

      If you think gatecamping in Svipuls or dropping 50 blops on people is what most of lowsec is about I daresay you’ve not spent enough time in lowsec.

      • Sieveboy

        The Nazi’s losing to the red army had a lot more to do with Winter than the fact the Russians love using living ammo. Likewise, if you think goons win because of numbers then I can tell you freely: you do not understand why goons win.

        My statement on the lowsec entities taking their best doctrines to null was more nuanced than you give it credit. That bling fleet of machariels, would most likely die to a single DBRB wing of bombers bombing run effort. Not so elite after that. But even more so, they don’t take that doctrine into null because most low sec denizens are risk averse, more risk averse than the average goon.

        Carrying on, low sec is better at low sec pvp, but take them to null and they suddenly roll out the coward doctrines, nullified interceptor gangs or fast kitty cruisers, all because they are now avoiding fights and trying to gank ratters. They avoid big fights because of blobs and some other chest beating rubbish, the simple reality is they cannot match the null sec fleet on home turf, yet they are now losing to null sec fleets on their home turf.

        You can blame the blob, but when numbers aren’t that different like CO2 last week in lonetrek… Does that suggest the elite aren’t as good as null in 1 part of PVP? It does to me.

  • Samahiel

    “Unfortunately, the negative effect the Imperium presence has had on small gang fighting cannot be ignored. […] This presents a significant problem for
    smaller organisations that thrive on small gang fighting as well as more
    casual players.”
    That sounds an awful lot like Goons are winning the game on their terms.

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  • Joe

    The 2 are just different. Lots of null sec entities need to have their alts in the alliance so the alts can dock and do things like pi. They also do things like mine.

    There is really no reason why a low sec pvp corp should have non pvp alts in it. and many don’t allow alts in. This is no doubt why many of the statistics look very good for low sec corps compared to null sec corps.

    Both have their risk adverse aspects. In my experience Null tends to blob and hotdrop allot more than low sec. But the ogb disease in low sec is an epidemic. Ganking noobs in godmode frigates is not very impressive. But of course it makes your killboard look great since the booster alt doesn’t show up on the kill.

    Adding bubbles and bombers both change the meta quite a bit. I give the goon fcs credit for adapting. And of course there have been plenty of low sec pvpers who have adapted to null sec.

    I agree that the goals of sov null alliances and low sec alliances are very different. When I was in low sec I just cared about getting fights. Sure I would amass wealth as well but it was just to fuel fights. But with null sec there is a sense that you are trying to build something and claim something.

    What you are building and why has always been somewhat fuzzy in this sandbox game.

  • callduron

    Just at the moment I think a lot of the better Goon pvpers have left Black Rise for Khanid so things may die down a bit vis-a-vis the CFC invasion of lowsec.

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