Why We Left The ImperiumMainDrain
Fourteen days ago the news was broken to members of Applied Anarchy and Souls of Steel that they would be leaving SMA – leaving the Imperium – to go it alone somewhere else in nullsec.
Chaos Theory. was formed, an alliance with the main goal to bring the sense of fun and accomplishment back to its members.
The majority of members joined the new alliance on Monday last week. Since then they have moved out of Fade, and invaded a Fountain constellation where they claimed ten systems and four stations so far.
I took the time to approach long standing member of Applied Anarchy and of SMA, t3hWarrior, to produce a first-person piece, giving his insight into what living in an Imperium member alliance is like, how changes introduced to sovereignty mechanics by CCP have changed the game for normal members and why he felt moving away from the safety and structure of SMA and Imperium was the best move for him.
I will start by saying without shame that up until a few months ago, I was proud being a member of SMA: a carebear alliance known for being utter shit. Being trashed talked on reddit and across other alliance forums never felt better. Because we had our shit together. We were focused on combat. We were a force to be reckoned with.
We would form ~100 man HAC and T3 fleets on deployments, in Fade against Tri, Delve, Paragon Soul, Venal and Immensia, and even the Halloween war and the Provi deployment. We were operating independent of the CFC. We had our own fleets and were taking care of our own objectives, and with great success. The FC team, which I was a part of, was operating like a well-oiled machine.
But then some internal politics happened and our FC and SkyTeam has changed. SMA reinvented itself, we adapted to the Aegis sovereignty system and quite well might I add. Fade is a haven for ratting, while we do lose some ratting ships, it is one of the safest places to earn easy ISK.
SMA has redesigned itself from the ground up, and did it well, maybe even too well…
First, the performance based reward system was trashed, and was replaced by a ‘bare minimum’ standard.
The focus has changed from keeping our space by force to ratting in near total safety to boost the ADM multipliers.
As an alliance SMA started recruiting. A lot. We would recruit from renters like Shadow of Death, from fail-cascading alliances, like Gclub and Brave, but mostly from highsec. Goons created the [Section 8] renting program. SMA simply absorbed them into the alliance itself.
Numbers swelled from less than 2500 to over 5500. Average alliance chat numbers went from 200 in a good day, to over 450.
ADM Fleets became a real thing. There were times when a stratop was called for a carrier fleet. After we joined it turned out to be a strategic ratting fleet, to raise the index level in an isolated pure blind pocket. Honestly, living in nullsec for me and others in ANR-K has begun to seem more like a job. They jammed 3000 carebears on top of the 2500 that were already in SMA, into a region with 25 systems, and expected them to spread, mine and rat the entire region. And it worked, to an extent. You can only imagine the amount of whining and drama over PVE.
Despite all this, the average fleet numbers hardly changed, jumping from ~90 to ~120. Fleet compositions like skilled HAC/T3 doctrines with T2 logistics and dedicated support frigates used to be our go-to doctrine. With the increased numbers this instead became 30 Drakes, 10 Scimitars and 80 frigates.
Yes, it has changed for the better in recent weeks. NC. helped pummel our carebears into shape when they roamed throughout Cloud Ring and Fade causing fleet sizes to grow to about 200 pilots, but the core doctrine remained Drakes.
Originally, Applied Anarchy formed from the merger of the four most active corporations within SMA. It was by far the best choice that any of us have made in our game. It also resulted in a big chunk of alliance leadership personal, from FCs, JF pilots, and almost all of the alliance skyteam becoming a member of our corporation. It worked well for us, we have a strong leadership. Most importantly, burnout is kept under control.
Initially there were no issues with this move, but as time went on it began to create friction between us and the alliance directorate. Our goal was never to fuck up the alliance, but to be the best corporation we could.
And we were.
We were more often than not providing the majority of all fleet members during alliance fleets, we were performing well as a group and, the most important thing for us, we were having a really good time.
The only thing we really lacked was a culture of our own. We were completely dependent and heavily integrated within SMA and its operation, and to a great extent, the alliance in ours.
But things were starting to change.
The Skyteam structure was overhauled. Two of our founding members and directors were promoted in the alliance ranks, but their promotion had its cost: they had to leave Anarchy and join the alliance executor corp: EXPCS. It is standard within SMA to have high-ranking alliance officers within the executor corporation. As you can imagine, most people in alliance leadership positions are also CEOs and Directors in their own corporations. It creates a situation where groups essentially become shells, their leadership now a part of the alliance machine – replaced in their corporation by people who are less competent leaders, who aren’t as dominant as the old leadership.
Corporations split, some disbanded, hundreds were absorbed by HOTDM (a 900 character corporation that is considered the “Anchor corporation” for SMA). But Anarchy endured. Our original merger meant that we had enough people who were still capable of strong focused leadership.
A change to the participation (PAP) metric used by the alliance meant we no longer needed to go on every fleet called by FCs. The required participation levels dropped to quarter of what they used to be We didn’t even have to join strat ops, we maintained our bare minimum standard, barely, by going on deployment fleets and random fleets. Nobody had to join any alliance fleets if they didn’t want to and we were somehow managing to get by.
However, our activity levels as part of the alliance began to plummet. We needed to adapt, we made our own doctrines and fleets. To ensure we obeyed the POP rules we invited another corp to to come with us on our fleets and our roams. One of them, Souls of Steel, became our Space Bros, eventually leaving SMA with us to become our partners in the making of our new alliance.
Suddenly, we had our own culture. Our own fleets. Our own fights. We deployed ourselves to Providence, we even considered Thera for a little while. We fought MOA, more specifically a spanish corp named YUHU. Good dudes, they would always bring a fight and we respected them for that. We fought roamers that were coming to fade like Culture, Camel and Therabois. We often slightly outnumbered them, but they are better than us so it’s all good. We even fought some Russians. Recently we started roaming Cloud Ring and had fights against Brave (BE-FR) and Horde.
The roaming gangs in Fade is where things became tricky. If a gang of anywhere between 10 to 20 ships would come to Fade, we would flash-form our own fleet to counter, most of the time matching their numbers and composition. That’s when the race began, the race to engage the gang before a wild 50-man Caracal blob would appear.
We would usually have around 10 minutes to get our fight before the main SMA fleet formed. If the fight was still going as the SMA fleet arrived, we would simply exchange GFs and disengage. The fight would simply be over for us. The rest of SMA would chase the neutral fleet around until they either somehow managed to welp their own fleet, or until the enemy simply left or logged off.
At the beginning, Fozziesov worked for us. It worked great! Gangs were everywhere, trolling sov to get fights – and they were getting them. But sadly, as awareness of the Caracal blob grew, the roaming gangs became scarce and our races to get a fight before the SMA fleet arrived on grid became more frequent.
Slowly, we became frustrated, MOA was providing us with less and less content. So we started to roam down to Cloud Ring, but it was far from our staging and took time and investment from our members. Activity levels started to go down again.
About a month ago, we realized that something drastic needed to be done. We started planning our future and realized what needed to be done in order to prevent the slow stagnation and eventual death of both Applied Anarchy and Souls of Steel.
This sums up what led us to pack up our gear and leave SMA, to leave The Imperium and to leave our homes in Fade.
I do believe that the process that we’ve went through reflects what’s going on in the rest of Imperium space, but in smaller scale.
The Imperium is a really big entity. They’ve, for the most part, got their shit together. They are rooted in place and are not going anywhere soon. I very much believe they will still be in New Eden a year from now. But if they keep on the path they are following now, the old bittervets will “Win Eve”, the new blood will become bitter and the influx of new players from highsec won’t be enough to replace them. The Imperium will suffer that slow stagnation and eventual death we feared for our own corporations.
Yeah, it sounds alot like I’m saying “EVE is dying”, but I’m not. Eve is not a passive thing that can just die of old age. Eve is the sum of its players and if it ever dies, it will be because the player base will have actively committed a very long and boring (in-game) suicide.
The mega-coalitions can’t last forever as they are now. The days of 20,000 strong groups are numbered, the future of Eve is 500-2000-man groups with far more social interaction, a little less camping down in one pocket day in day out and, most importantly, much more fun.
We are much healthier now. Our corporations have never been more active. Everyone is logging on to play the game they fell in love with. Our members are once again having fun, both in-game and in interacting with others in our group – after all this is why most people play games like this, to have fun and interact socially with others who share our passion.