Thursday, March 26, 2009

U-turn if you want to

Well it seems the huge display of outrage at the BoB/KenZoku renaming has persuaded CCP to take another look at their 'alliance naming' policies.

This led to this statement here:

GM Grimmi

We appreciate the feedback from everyone. After reviewing all of these very valid concerns, we were compelled to go back over the information we’d collected in this case and carefully weighed it again against the precedents set in the past. Ultimately, we felt we had no other recourse than to reverse the name change, the key factor being that during this re-investigation we learned that the KenZoku alliance was created several months before the BoB alliance leadership switched hands. That being the case, the name change request was not submitted within a timely manner, as it had been in the legacy cases we were holding up as examples.

We will be contacting the CSM for input regarding our naming policies.


It's now quite clear that CCP did not really have a clear policy on 'alliance naming/renaming' issues (at least if they had a policy it wasn't properly applied), but surely they should have known that the BoB/Ken renaming would have enflamed such huge passions - particularly as it was perceived as a major part of Goons orginal 'victory'? In the two months since BoB was disbanded and Goons stole the name you would have thought that CCP GM's would have made sure their actions were watertight - but apparently not!

While many on the BoB/KenZoku side are claiming that CCP has simply buckled under pressure of a Goons 'threadnaught' the fact is that it wasn't only Goons that were outraged by this 'perceived' favouritism.

It is completely understandable that BoB wanted to reclaim their old name (or a name similar to it) and it's not really their fault that CCP's GM's mislead them on what was and wasn't allowed within the rules!

Despite the fact that BoB/KenZoku are as much victims in this as anyone else there is no doubt that Goonswarm and its allies will be chalking this up as yet another victory against their #1 enemy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rebranding - Reloaded

As mentioned in my last blog, the alliance formerly known as Band of Brothers (BoB) and then briefly as KenZoku (or Kenny to its many detractors) has had its name formally changed to Band of Brothers Reloaded. This follows the incident when a Band of Brothers Director switched allegiance to Goonswarm and in the process disbanded the old BoB alliance. In the immediate aftermath Goons created an 'alt' alliance with the Band of Brother's name, preventing Band of Brother's from officially reclaiming the name.

The Band of Brothers Reloaded rebrand has caused quite an uproar in the world of EVE as GM's have in the past been extremely reticent in allowing alliances to change name (or even change parts of their names). In this particular case a number of the rules which have been applied to prevent name changes in the past were apparently put aside by the GM's. This has led to calls for the alliance to be disbanded!

Now as followers of the world of EVE may recall CCP (the game's developer) was embroiled in a bit of a scandal a few years ago when it turned out one of the development team (who was playing the game) spawned a number of rare items for his alliance at the time - which just so happened to be Band of Brothers.

This latest incident of apparent official support/favouritism for an ingame alliance has therefore stirred gigantic emotions - even if the ingame consequences of the alliance name change has no significant ingame effect on anyone playing EVE.

CCP did issue a statement:

GM Grimmi

Yesterday we changed the name of the alliance KenZoku to Band of Brothers Reloaded as the result of a petition by their leadership. It has come to our attention that this was not a popular decision among some of our players and we’d like to take this opportunity to address those issues.

We have previously changed names provided a petition was created within a reasonable timeframe and the situation warranted such action. The leadership of KenZoku/Band of Brothers did petition us immediately after they were disbanded and their name was taken. While we worked on the petition for about two months we do not feel that they should suffer because of that. Having them disband and lose sovereignty again was not deemed appropriate in this case.

This action was limited to changing their name, as we have done before for others - we did not assist them in regaining their sovereignty after the Band of Brothers alliance was disbanded, nor did we assist with that now. Any other corporation or alliance finding themselves in the same situation would get the same treatment.

GM Grimmi
Lead Game Master

Many are disputing this CCP statement and have quoted historical examples where other alliances have not enjoyed the same treatment that BoBR seem to have received in this instance. Clearly the accusations that CCP favours BoBR over other ingame alliances has only been strengthened by this latest incident!

Less seriously, it turns out that when Band of Brothers Reloaded is turned into an acronym it becomes BOBR. While this may not seem that amusing to English speakers it turns out that bobr = beaver in Russian (and EVE has a large Russian player base). As a result Band of Brothers Reloaded is already being called the 'Beaver' alliance by many of its numerous detractors.

Others have also pointed out that the 'Reloaded' in the name is a clear reference to the Matrix sequels - sequels which have been widely condemned as being a lot worse than the original!

I don't think this 'rebrand' is likely to win any marketing awards in the near future!

For more commentary on this check out the following two blogs:

Casiella's - Controversy Reloaded

Kirith Kodachi’s - What’s In A Name

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A hole in the dike?

According to this CAOD thread -
- some cracks are starting to appear in the anti -A- / BoBR (will explain the new name later) block.

(EDIT this Scrapheap thread has some interesting snippets too:

According to the thread Intrepid Crossing (known as IRC) and Etheral Dawn (known as ED) have teamed up with The F0undation to launch an attack on Red Alliance holdings in Innsmother.

Red Alliance are one of Goons oldest allies but were (according to general consensus) much weakened by the 'Russian civil war' which saw a Against all Authorites (-A-) and other Russian groups move into the BoBR camp.

This perceived weakness, combined with the fact that Goons have pretty much abandoned their old holdings bordering Red Alliance space may have presented ED/IRC with a 'land grab' opportunity which was just too good to miss!

According to the thread Goons have now reset their standings with ED and IRC and are publicly talking up their intention of assisting Red Alliance. The main problem that Goons face is that they are currently engaged against -A- and BoBR in Querious and may not have the capacity (at least in the short term) to assist Red Alliance.

Obviously there are many other alliances which could assist Red Alliance. The other Drone Region alliances (who are also nominally part of the Goon block) may feel pressured to assist Red Alliance. Whilst the Northern Coalition (NC) may also lend the Russians a hand. Certainly the French Tau Ceti Federation (TCF) (a major NC member) has historic ties with Red Alliance.

However, as I am not an expert on Drone Region politics, I have no idea what relationships IRC/ED/Foundation have developed as well, nor any clue on how strong all those 'historic' ties actually are post the Russian civil war! There could be any number of interesting permutations. Some could even argue that the Red Alliance contribution to the Goon block has declined so significantly that it wouldn't really make a difference to the anti -A-/BoBR block if they did lose their space anyway!

From my 'neutral' perspective the decision by IRC/ED to attack Red Alliance is certainly a 'welp' moment for them - which could either result in them expanding their territories signifcantly - or being wiped off the 0.0 map completely! Obviously their leadership felt it was the right move but they will be judged by history!

While IRC/ED may not have been the most active members of the Goon block (at least that is what Goons are saying now) they certainly weren't putting any obstacles in the path of those focused on the decimation of the -A- / BoBR block. The fact that they could 'potentially' distract forces from other front does represent a small hole in the dike.

It will be interesting to see if the hole is plugged rapidly - or whether this war indicates a new phase of localised territory wars as alliances take their eye off the big picture and put the needs of their own alliances ahead of a continued campaigning against -A-/BoBR forces...

Time will tell...

ps. If you are involved in this war and you want to enlighten me with any insights feel free to email me at

Monday, March 23, 2009

Did you think it was over? EVE's 'Great War' rumbles on...

The weekend just past saw some gigantic confrontations between Goonswarm (and their allies) and the Against All Authorities (-A-) & BoB/KenZoku block in Querious.

-A- and their allies (Systematic Chaos, Stain Empire, Red Overlord and Coven) had been slowly but surely pushing Goons backwards (working alongside the BoB Coalition) during the early part of the year after BoB ended its MAX campaign in late 2008 and refocused on the South.

Then Goons managed to disband BoB (in the process destroying the alliance's sovereignty based advantages in Delve) and launched a full scale offensive to evict BoB/KenZoku from Delve and Querious. Initially, BoB resisted the attack, but the sheer scale of attacking forces and the PR-8CA debacle (most of BoB's capital fleet was trapped in an NPC station in the PR-8CA system and couldn't escape) allowed the Goon coalition a relatively free hand in claiming BoB's former home territories.

During this process however a lot of people questioned the commitment of -A- and their allies to BoB/KenZoku as they did not appear to deploy any of their significant forces in the defence of Delve and Querious. Some proposed that -A- had abandoned their ally. Certainly -A- and friends took advantage of the situation to sieze several abandoned Goon regions and as a result now control much of Southern 0.0 space.

Two weeks ago -A- finally hit back directly against the Goon coalition. The first thing they did was break the month long Goon coalition blockade of PR-8CA - the system in which many BoB/KenZoku, pilots and capital ships were trapped. This allowed BoB/KenZoku to evacuate many of their assets which had been under siege - giving the alliance back some of its teeth.

Then last Thursday -A-, backed up by their allies and BoB/KenZoku, launched a signifcant attack on 49-U6U - a Goon system in Querious. 49-U6U is important to -A- as it has a stargate connection to the Catch region (an area controlled by -A-) and could be used as a stepping stone by Goons and allies in any invasion of -A- homespace.

Over the course of the weekend gigantic numbers of pilots (1,500+) have been fighting for superiority in the system with -A- playing a leading role.

These two Youtube videos have been sped up by 750% and compress several hours action into a more reasonable timeframe. They depict a -A-/KenZoku attack on a Goon POS. (if you are not an EVE player bear in mind that these views are zoomed out from the individual ships in order to reduce lag)

Part 1:
Part 2:

Obviously with so many people crammed into one solar system lag was signifcant. It is fair to say that just 2 years ago any fight involving over 200 people would probably have crashed the server so kudos for CCP for making great strided in this area.

Due to lag, the number of kills for both sides was lower than you would expect for several hours of heavy fighting in front of a POS - neverthless these are the largest fights EVE has seen to date! However, from what I can tell, the fighting seems to have been pretty inconclusive so far!

With -A- now seemingly committed to the anti-Goon fight and with BoB/KenZoku having got their ships back (but more importantly retaining +3,000 members despite losing all their space) it looks like 'The Great War' is back on!

Here is a quick Paint map I made up of current state of play in the Southern regions of EVE:

Alliances within the green lines are -A- and BoB/KenZoku aligned. Alliances behind the yellow lines are Goon oriented. Of course this is a bit general and doesn't really convey the nuances of EVE politics - but it should give a basic understanding of how (at least territory wise) the front lines are looking!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Internet spaceships are serious business

The Mittani is the 'chief spymaster' in Goonswarm - the most populous alliance in EVE with +5,000 members which is currently riding high after their eviction of BoB/KenZoku from Delve.

Anyway he has been authoring a series of articles for the Tentonhammer website which have been quite interesting.

Here is his latest article. It is slightly OTT but nevertheless does convey some of EVE's unique 'atmosphere'. Serious business indeed!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A very basic explanation of EVE's 'Sovereignty' system

One of EVE's key differentiators (and one of the reason the politics of the game is so interesting) is that territory can claimed, held and then lost by alliances.

The mechanic for claiming 0.0 space is based on the game's 'Sovereignty' system which you will probably see me refer to from time to time. Unless you play EVE you will probably have no idea what I am wittering on about when I refer to Sovereignty so here is a quick guide to how Sovereignty in EVE 'currently' works.

Every solar system in EVE has a number of planets and moons.

Players are able to erect two main structures in space. These are Player Owned Stations (POSes) and Outposts (a form of space station).

POSes (also known as 'towers' or 'starbases') come in 3 sizes (small, medium and large) and range in cost dependent on the type of POS and the modules which are associated with it. They can only be erected at Moons and they need to be refueled regularly in order to stay operational.

POSes can serve either an industrial or a military function which is dependent on the modules with which the player equips it. The larger the POS the more modules can be attached. In industrial mode a POS will collect and process various rare moon materials and players will collect these intermittently for use in EVE's manufacturing processes. The more rare the materials the more profitable the POS. Some POSes can also be equiped with laboratories and space factories and shipyards. POSes in military mode will be equipped with a variety of weapons designed to inflict maximum damage on any hostile forces attacking the POS.

Large POSes have an additional ability - they can claim 'Sovereignty' in 0.0 solar systems.

Sovereignty provides POS owners with a number of advantages which accrue over time. At Level 1 Sovereignty the fuel usage of the POS is reduced making it cheaper and more convenient to run. Basically the fuel stored in the POS lasts longer - meaning that the Sov holders do not have to refuel the tower quite as frequently - a nice logistical perk.

The longer an alliance uses POSes to successfully claim a system without challenge the higher the Sov level they achieve (up to level 4). Other alliances can challenge by erecting more (if they can) POSes of their own in the system or destroying their opponents'. To cancel the Sov claim of an alliance the opponent needs at least 1 more large POS claiming Sovereignty in a solar system than the opponent. With some systems having 80+ moons this can lead to massive logistical battles and so called 'POS-spam' particularly if one side is finding it difficult to kill their opponent's POSes.

Higher Sov levels provides the holding alliance with significant defence advantages such as jump bridges (which provide travel shortcuts - massive logistical and defence advantages) or cyno jammers (preventing enemy capital ships from jumping into a system until the cynojammer is disabled by conventional ships). It can take 3 months for a system to go from basic level 1 Sov to level 4 Sov (assuming Sov isnt challenged or reset by hostile action).

It is fair to say that many of the major battles in EVE are fought over POSes - either for one side to claim particularly profitable moons/resources for their own industrialists or simply to challenge/remove the Sovereignty of an incumbent alliance.

Military POSes which have been set up purely to claim Sovereignty or to protect other assets such as jumpbridges or cynojammers are often known as 'Deathstars' and are formidable targets which can inflict huge losses on attackers - particularly if coordinated with a friendly fleet.

Players (with the right skills) have the options to take over and operate gun modules (which are usually automated) on POS towers and use this to concentrate firepower and coordinate with 'tacklers' to try and maximise hostile losses. This is known as POS gunning.

While Sovereignty/POS warfare does give signifcant advantages to the 'defenders' in EVE 0.0 warfare this was done specifcally to ensure that there is a risk vs reward balance.

The construction of POS/Sov infrastructure is very expensive and needs to constantly maintained/refueled. The problem in a 23/7 global MMO like EVE is that very few alliances would actually build 0.0 infrastructure and develop 0.0 empires if all their efforts could be destroyed at will by large blobs with strengths in different timezones. As a result the destruction of a POS is a two step process.

The initial stage is called 'reinforcement'. When a hostile alliance attacks a POS they can shoot the shields of the POS down to 25%. At this stage the POS enters 'reinforced mode'. By altering the stock of a particular fuel in the POS the defenders have the opportunity to time when the tower comes out of reinforced and should (in theory) time it to come out when they are at their strongest. This gives them time to gather forces and plan a defensive strategy.

When a POS tower comes out of reinforced the attacker has a small window of opportunity to destroy the rest of the shields and armour - destroying the POS. If they miss this opportunity then the POS shields will naturally recharge (or be repaired) - and once they reach 50% the defender can refill the tower with fuel - which moves everything back to square one.

If the attacker is particularly determined they will try and 'lockdown' the system so that the defenders cannot congregate to defend the tower when it comes out of reinforced. This will include disabling any jump bridges in the system and camping the main travel gates into the system, but as POSes can contain enough fuel to stay in reinforced for up to 48hrs, not all alliances have the patience to maintain lockdown for that entire period.

Now jumping back to the start I mentioned that there are two main types of 0.0 structure that can be constructed by players in 0.0. The second type is Outposts.

Outposts = Large player built space stations the alliance holds in 0.0 space. These are a major investment (25 billion ISK+ major logistical work) to build. They can only be built at planets and only 1 can be built per solar system. When 3 'Outposts' have been erected in a 'Constellation' (a group of 7 solar systems) then the Sov holding alliance can nominate a 'Capital'.

Capitals = Solar systems which are invulnerable to attack due to the fortification of surrounding solar systems. They can only be attacked if the holding alliance lose Sovereignty in the surrounding Outpost systems. Most alliances uses their 'Capitals' for their major Capital ship production. It can take up to six weeks (and gigantic amounts of resources) for an orbital POS shipyard to produce a Titan class 'ship which makes them extremely attractive and vulnerable targets so alliances do their utmost to protect them from random raids.

While the mechanics of 'Sov' warfare are currently being looked at by CCP in order to make them more 'fun', it is important that they recognise that a 'risk vs reward' balance in 0.0 is needed. EVE 0.0 politics (and history) is rich and entertaining precisely because it is such a challenge to oust the incumbents and as such the sapping of the opponent's will to fight is almost as important as inspace victories.

If it is made too easy to topple alliances in 0.0 then the willingness of alliances to invest in the development of infrastructure and alternative forms of governance will be eroded as will their willingness to put heart and soul into the protection of their territory. EVE 0.0 will no longer be about the development of rival civilisations but could devolve into a wasteland dominated by Mongol style tribes whose only differentiating factor will be the number of warriors they can field at any one time!

While the Sov warfare system can be improved and steps should be taken to make it more 'enjoyable' we need to remember that the current system has not resulted in a static position as many of its detractors allege. A quick look at some of the historical EVE maps and the current position demonstrates that EVE 0.0 is dynamic!

I just hope that CCP, doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Small is beautiful

I made this post on EVE's infamous Corporation, Alliance and Organisation (CAOD) forums about a week ago and thought I would share it here. It is slightly out of date now, primarily because things can change very rapidly - especially for smaller organisations - in the EVE universe.

Was looking at the Alliance Ranking thingy - - and as I have seen some debates recently about how 'big' an alliance has to be to claim some 0.0 decided to investigate the lower reaches of the table.

This is what I have found:

Smallest Sov Holding Alliances
1) Coded Arms Alliance - 1 sov system - 28 members
2) Crimson Dawn Alliance - 2 sov systems - 44 members
3) Blind Aces - 7 sov systems - 47 members
4) Gay4Life - 1 sov system - 55 members
5) Slammers Republic - 1 sov system - 57 members
6) Felony 13 - 2 sov systems - 59 members
7) Sparta - 2 sov systems - 64 members
8) Uni****- 1 sov system - 66 members
9) Immortalis Inc. Alliance - 2 sov systems - 69 members
10) Sex Drugs And Rock'N'Roll - 2 sov systems - 81 members

Smallest Outpost Holders
1) Event Horizon - 11 sov systems - 1 Outpost - 135 members
2) Soviet Mercenary - 12 sov systems - 1 Outpost - 172 members
3) BeachBoys - 5 sov systems - 1 Outpost - 207 members
4) INTERDICTION - 1 sov system - 1 Outpost - 262 members
5) RED.Overlord - 68 sov systems - 13 Outposts - 373 members
6) Cold Steel Alliance - 6 sov systems - 3 Outposts - 406 members
7) Stain Empire - 18 sov systems - 5 Outposts - 444 members
8) Aegis Militia - 6 sov systems - 2 Outposts - 446 members
9) Kraftwerk - 22 sov systems - 4 Outposts - 485 members
10) Legion of xXDEATHXx - 82 sov systems - 14 Outposts - 528 members

Smallest Constellation (Sov Lvl 4) Holders

1) Cold Steel Alliance - 1 Const - 406 members
2) Kraftwerk - 1 Const - 485 members
3) Legion of xXDEATHXx - 1 Const -528 members
4) C0VEN - 1 Const - 549 members
5) Paxton Federation - 1 Const - 632 members
6) SOLAR FLEET - 1 Const - 721 members
7) KIA Alliance - 2 Const - 788 members
8) Sylph Alliance - 1 Const - 813 members
9) The Initiative. - 1 Const - 918 members
10) Sev3rance - 1 Const - 1047 members

And finally... a largest list...

Largest alliances with no sov claims whatsoever
1) Ivy league - 1079 members
2) Dead Mans Hand - 685 members
3) Veritas Immortalis - 655 members
4) Minor Threat. - 641 members
5) Axiom Empire - 598 members
6) OWN Alliance - 550 members
7) New Eden Research - 525 members
8) Alternative Realities - 511 members
9) Eradictation Alliance - 475 members
10) The Council. - 471 members

I think this clearly demonstrates that the ability to obtain and hold sov is just as dependent on the ability of an alliance's leadership to work politically/diplomatically with other organisations as it is to simply have large numbers or military capability.

Of course large numbers and military capability does provide negotiating leverage - but that is not always necessary!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Great War - Goonswarm vs Band of Brothers

Way back in December 2007 I started a thread on the Total PC Gaming Forums about EVE's 'Great War' between Band of Brothers (BoB) (and friends) and Goonswarm (and friends), which had already been raging for over a year by that stage.

I have since updated the thread on a relatively frequent basis as the war has progressed and as such it is a relatively accurate and objective 'history' of the Great War written from a 'neutral' perspective.

It will have some inaccuracies and distortions as I did have to rely on third party forums for much of the material and deliberate misinformation for strategic and propoganda purposes is as much part of EVE warfare as it is in the real world. Nevertheless it is possible to sift much of this and while some details may be slightly off it should provide a reasonably solid 'big picture' overview of the conflict and its roots.

One area which is not covered well in the thread is BoB's 'MAX Damage' Campaign against the Northern Coalition after the initial 'failed' assault on Delve. This coincided with a period of relative EVE inactivity on my part.

As the MAX campaign is generally perceived to have failed its impact in the grand scheme was relatively limited, apart from the fact that it helped unite the Northern Alliances and gave them a new determination to assist Goons in seeking BoB's destruction.

Similarly, the pact between BoB and Against All Authorities (-A-) in late 2008 is not mentioned, nor the fact that until Goons 'disbandment' coup (as written about by the BBC here) BoB, and allies had been pushing Goons remorselessly backward with Goon activity and participation tailing off.

With KenZoku (the BoB successor) now pretty much eliminated from any sovereignty responsibilities in 0.0 many people are claiming that the 'Great War' is over. Certainly the picture is very bleak for them. But with over 3,500 veteran pilots on its roster I believe talk of the Great War's conclusion may be slightly premature - particularly as -A- and other BoB allies still maintain significant 0.0 holdings (much of which were taken off the Goons or Goon allies).

Will the Empire strike back?


Welcome to my first real attempt at creating a 'blog'. I did create one for Council of Stellar Management (CSM) elections last year but that doesn't really count as I stopped updating it as soon as my time on the CSM was up.

As a blog 'noob' I welcome any constructive criticism and advice from battle scarred blogging veterans. I am pretty sure that I know what I want to achieve with this blog and have the posting capacity to keep it interesting - but feel free to nag me if you think I am slacking.

Similarly, do not hesitate to get in touch ( if you think that I am overlooking certain aspects of EVE politics, if you think that I am being biaised (unwittingly or not), or simply want to point me at juicy little stories or bits of info that I may have missed!