A Brief Look at a Bi-Polar World

For quite some time now, EVE has been something of a black-and-white affair, with maximum subjectivity. "We have lots of members who like to PvP and join our fleets, you are just blobbers." "We are a strong alliance with many friends, you try to blue everybody around you and run a NAPfest." "We're in it for good fights but you only engage when you think you can win." Etc, etc, etc.

Indeed, during the Second Great War, it wasn't exactly clear what the major distinctions were. BoB were arrogant jerks, the Goons were obnoxious jerks, both have died and been reborn by now anyways. The Goons' allies were a coalition of forces who were there only to take a bite out of BoB and settle old grudges, BoB's allies were there, pretty much, because the Goons' allies were there and the war that was going on would be the defining event (at the time) and would shape the balance of power in the southwest of New Eden.

Indeed, in the aftermath of the conflict, any illusion of solidarity among BoB's enemies dissolved as Pandemic Legion took to attacking pretty much anything that moved (or at least anything that deployed caps) and the Northern Coalition pursued their own territorial objectives while the Goons were under siege by the ascendant IT Alliance and friends.

It was a time when some thought that the situation in New Eden would be one of limited regional engagements, as the cost and effort of holding space in Dominion would make large scale "world wars" a thing of the past. They were wrong. With the end of the Second Great War, the southern regions formed what can now be identified as the Southern Coalition (not to be confused with the original Southern Coalition, a power bloc opposed to BoB). The Drone Regions, long evolving towards hegemony, solidified in an anti-NC power bloc.

In short order, the only major powers left on the galactic stage were the Northern Coalition, and the Southern Coalition (plus IT Alliance). Even the roleplayers down in Provi', those loveable Amarr Victors, were ground to dust due to a disastrously stupid campaign of conquest they launched against AAA and are now, effectively, no longer a viable 0.0 coalition.

And now the War of Southern Aggression (yeah, I like that name, so sue me) ticks over into yet another week of lag-warfare with the SC laying siege to the NC. It's certainly too early to hazard a guess as to how it will all play out, but one thing is beyond-certain: the conflict will most likely go on indefinitely barring a total morale collapse of one side or another. That, or infighting.

That really isn't all that much of a revolutionary claim to make, but its very mundane status is telling. At this point, unless members of the SC decided to fight each other, the only real game in town, the only "0.0 end-game warfare" going on is against the NC. This war was, in many ways, inevitable. Either the NC would have sooner or later encroached upon the SC's turf, or vice versa. These are not power blocs that are given to sitting quietly and carebearing (at least, not for long).

Even if the NC falls and loses it space, unless the morale of the coalition is totally shattered, it's unlikely that the SC forces will be able to maintain firm control of the space. Likewise, even if the SC is driven back by the NC, it's highly unlikely that they'll fall on each other like rabid wolves, if only because there'd be a good chance that the NC would come down south for a chance to kill some of their enemy's caps, without prejudice or distinction to who they were shooting at.

So, in many ways, Dominion simply did not achieve its objective of making 0.0 space easier to enter for small alliances and corps. If anything, the only way they can get in now is to enter into some agreement with the resident powers, as the power blocs are still strong enough to control space and set the rules within their spheres of influence and they still need the simple mass of numbers to make sov holding work in Dominion.

Even if the NC totally fail-cascades into the pages of EVE history, that would only mean that the SC would carve up the north and install their own pets to hold the space down, if they didn't simply abandon it and leave it as one corner of New Eden which wasn't aligned to one of the only two remaining poles in EVE at present. And even if the SC abandoned the space and hungry new alliances (no doubt staffed in large part by pilots from older alliances) began to fill it, the very nature of EVE means that the bigger powers would try to gobble up the valuable moons (or the valuable planets, come Tyrannis), and the various powers around the north would do their best to gobble up whatever territory they thought they could hold and profit from. In such a scenario, it's hard to see any new northern entities finding a firm footing by doing anything other than allying with each other. Or, to put a finer point on it, becoming a new Northern Coalition. However, the total atomization of the NC would at least up the potential for internal conflict within the SC without an external enemy to unify them.

It seems, at least to me, as if the near-future of EVE is destined to be organized around two poles. Whether that is the current balance of the NC vs the SC or the SC versus new northern upstarts remains to be seen, but unless something crazy happens in the Drone Regions they'll continue to be something of a galactic non-issue, since they're pretty crap.

Whether the future promises one long slog of superpower versus superpower, or the politics of empire-holding as the SC fights brush wars along its borders, or the SC fragments and cannibalizes itself, it seems unlikely that we'll have a true galactic free for all any time soon.

And, besides, those fuckers are totally blobbing.


Newsflash: Underworld Excavators closes it's doors

by Miyamoto Isoruku

Probably the biggest news out of the mercenary industry in the past week was Le Soltueur's announcement that Underworld Excavators would be closing its doors. I got the chance to get a brief statement from Solty on the closure of this prominent mercenary alliance, and where he goes from here. Where the industry goes from here is anyone's guess. Certainly, with the departure of this well-respected organization from the stage and the merger of GIS with Noir., room appears to have opened up for another middle- to heavy-weight mercenary organization. The mercenary world should be getting much more interesting in the coming weeks. - MI.

Le Soltueur: [Underworld Excavators] was a great ride. We had lots of fun, but now it's time to try other things. We'll revisit the merc world sometime in the future when it's less populated. Seems to be the FOTM to be a merc corp now.

Miyamoto Isoruku: Do you know where the former member corps headed?

LS: MCREW is going to stay in the merc pool after they train up their greenhorns. They just absorbed a corp of new players and these players need some experience under their belt. CTQ will be doing what they did in the past, I'm sure, though that's just speculation. RHINO is disbanding and I'll be forming a new corp with some friends to go try some other things. What else would you like to know?

MI: What was "the last straw", I suppose?

LS: Wasn't really a "straw" per se. I was quite ill for about 4 weeks. When I came back, things were in disarray. We had two choices - we could rebuild it, or we could disband it. If the energy to rebuild was as much as starting anew, then I preferred a fresh start.

MI: All right, thank you for your time Solty.

LS: Always a pleasure, Miya.

Learning What It's Like To Be The Alligator's Banquet

My name is Fergus McRae. I'm a member of the New Eden Regimental Navy [NERN] as a part of the Rebel Alliance of New Eden [RANE]. Today, Monday April 5th 2010 at approximately 1845z I lost an Orca, a Megathron, a Helios, a Hulk (all of which were fully fitted) and 10 +3 attribute implants. It has, essentially, wiped me out.

A little background.

NERN has a POS in a wormhole that we call Pandora. We've been there a few weeks and have been trying to make a go of it. POS life in a wormhole is POS life in a wormhole. Those of you who know what I'm talking about do, those that don't are simply going to have to take it on faith. Daily scanning for grav, ladar and WH's that will exit into Empire space and so forth. There is a constant feeling of apprehension, knowing that the next time that a WH opens that it could be a direct route to Jita, an eight-jump voyage to some bizarre lo-sec space on the opposite end of the universe from your corporate head office or a passage through to wherever that goes right through the WH space of some other corporation that's doing the same thing that we are - and wants to kill you.

Lately we've been having some hard luck. Very few grav sites, the occasional Ladar site and, but for the most part... not so much of anything. I was sitting at a Ladar site harvesting gas with my Megathron on my main account with an Orca (my alt, Connor) sitting off my port side. At approximately 1815z as I was sitting in my bachelor apartment, both clients running for my main Fergus McRae and my alt, Connor McRae, watching the screen with my feet on the desk while my girlfriend sat a dozen feet away watching The Blind Side (/snort) I turned my head back to the screen to notice a ship signature on my overview. I immediately ALT-TAB'd to my alt, Connor, who was the fleet commander and initiated the command to warp back to the POS. Too late... that one signature became many, followed by dozens of drone signatures. By the time I had even begun to align a warp disruption bubble appeared and I was screwed.

Members of the Black Aces from two WH jumps away had gotten into our system, scanned down my ships, as they were probably the only ones active in the system outside of the POSs, relayed the information, snuck in at least three or four more ships including a battleship and a tackler, warped to me, tackled both my accounts, blew up my battleship and my Orca and sent me back to empire space. Faster than you can say "All your base are belong to us".

Now, that's from my point of view. It's entirely possible that these fine young gentlemen and/or ladies from the Black Aces made all kinds of noise, but if they did, I didn't hear it. It's entirely possible that if/when they read this article they might say "That guy's nuts, we sat off his bow for 15 minutes and he didn't see us.", but I doubt it. If they do I'll grant it to them, but I was paying more attention than that. The fact remains that they got me and there was nothing I could do about it. Regardless of whether I could see them or not, the fact remains that I didn't and that's what counts.

They took it all. They blew up my Megathron and my Orca. By all standards a heavy loss, but what's worse is that stored in my Orca was my fully fitted, T2 ready Hulk, my fully fitted Helios and a shuttle, not to mention at least 75 various T2 mining crystals, a few skillbooks and a shit-load of gas harvested over the last week or so.

Did you ever see that clip of the line of water buffalo in Africa all bent over drinking at the quite, peaceful stream? It's very pastoral, very peaceful... for a few seconds. It's not long before the calm water erupts in an orgy of violence and scales as an alligator explodes from the water, latching on to the neck of the nearest buffalo and dragging him down to his certain doom. That's what these guys did to me.

I would like nothing better than to say that they're a bunch of jerks for doing it, and maybe they are, but that's not the point, not to mention a thesis to which I do not subscribe. They're probably a real nice bunch of guys, but the game is "try to blow up the other guy's stuff" and I lost. The point is that no matter how good I am, they were better. They did it because they could, and they did, and they did it well. But I think the real truth is that I'm not that good, or at least not in this instance. Part of the reason this hurt so bad was because I was careless, and pilots who are careless can hardly be described as "good" at the game.

I now face two questions; The first is whether or not I could have prevented this. Could I? Is there something that I could have done that would have prevented my being ganked? Could I have done something to make sure they didn't get me? The real answer here is, aside from staying in the POS and doing nothing, is... there really are no guarantees. Even if I had been using my directional scanner ever 90 seconds, if they were using a covert ops ship to scan me down I wouldn't have seen it. That being said, it may be that I would have seen the probes on the scanner, but I don't actually know because I've never actually seen probes on a directional scanner before. Ultimately, while I'm certainly accepting of the idea that I could have done something about it, that I could have been safer, but as to the question of whether or not, in that moment, at that time, could I have known that harvesting gas in that way, right then was safe? Really, the only truly safe thing to have done was to not be logged in in the first place, right? Aside from that I could have been camped at the POS, but then what am I accomplishing? Could I have done something to avoid having this happen to me? I guess the answer is "yes", but if it involves not actually playing the game then what's the point? Ultimately I have to face the hard reality that if you're going to play the game you're gonna get got at some point.

I don't think there was anything I could have done to make sure that I didn't get got. But, I think it's important to note that even if I couldn't have prevented getting ganked harvesting gas in my Megathron, isn't it possible that I could have at least minimized the damage? Yah, there is... I coulda had my Orca at the POS. I could have had my auxiliary ships at the POS instead of in my Orca. I could have had everything at the POS except my Megathron, with which I was mining. Even if you accept the idea that I couldn't have prevented the attack and the loss of my battleship, the fact remains that I could have minimized it. I didn't, ‘cause I was careless, and I paid for it. I may not be responsible for those guys flying in and blowing my shit up, but I'm certainly responsible for being a target.

The second question I have to face is; Can I recover from this? Well, the good news is that after insurance payouts and such, I'm actually fairly liquid. Not REAL liquid, but some. In fact, can it really be said that if you lose everything, I mean everything, are you really hopeless? Even if all you have is a T1 beginner frigate and no cash... you're not done. We all had to work up to something at the beginning anyway, right? I'm hardly destitute... I have some cash, I have a corporation who likes me and with whom I get along. I'll be able to replace the ships, implants and so forth that I lost and slowly build myself back up. I'll recover... and more importantly, the gentlemen and/or ladies from Black Aces squadron haven't broken my spirit. I may have been slightly delayed in my progress, but my character is still learning skills, I still have some assets left over in my home system, I still have both accounts and I'm still a capable miner.

To the Black Aces; Well done. You showed me what it's really like to get tackled and have my throat cut. It's a good lesson and I thank you for the teaching of it. My hat is off, sirs. More importantly you reminded me of my own rule, which is to never present yourself as a target.

This kinda sucks... but, y'know... I think everything's gonna be okay. I think it'll turn out just fine.

My name is Fergus McRae, and I'm an EVE Online player.

-Fergus Mcrae
New Eden Regimental Navy
Rebel Alliance of New Eden

The Guardian of Truth

An Interview with Lord Aralis
by Miyamoto Isoruku

Last week I got the chance to sit down with Lord Aralis, executor of Curatores Veritatis Alliance, to discuss recent events in Providence and the state of roleplaying in EVE. This interview was conducted before my interview with Ushra'Khan's zoolkhan.

Miyamoto Isoruku: First, can you tell our readers what your official position within CVA is?

Lord Aralis: I am the executor again and in charge.

MI: Now, this conflict started a few months ago when CVA and the Providence Holders extended Operation Deliverance to Northern Catch. Why was that decision made?

LA: Well first that's not strictly true.  CVA and AAA have been in conflict for as long as we have been in contact. However to answer your specific questions about the offensive in January a number of reasons. The most significant was AAA giving stations to Ushra'Khan on our border. That couldn't be tolerated and was obvious proof that war with AAA was inevitable anyway.

MI: Was that new? UK has been operating out of -A- space for years now. 

LA: The stations were fairly new.  Our invasion didn't follow on immediately. You have to understand that we are aware that an alliance like Ushra'khan cannot be destroyed anymore than CVA can.  Some things are just facts you have to accept.  But them having bases on our border wasn't something we could ignore.

MI: What was the difference between UK simply operating out of -A- space and UK having their own stations? Tactically/strategically speaking it seems like a fairly minor distance. Or was it specifically the location of their stations?

LA: Several things.  It amounted to a declaration of war by AAA giving them on our border.  It gave UK bases to raid us.  And it gave us a target we could expect to be able to do something about.

MI: You stated that CVA and -A- have been hostile for a long time before this. Yet -A- had never made a push to actually take Providence. Did you feel this was evidence that such a push was coming?

LA: Certainly made it look likely but far from certain.  A appeared to have their hands full at the time.  What it did was make it clear that AAA were our enemies rather than just another bunch of pirates. I actually think AAA didn't want to remove us.  They liked having us provide a place where easy kills could be found frankly from all the neutrals in our space.

MI: An interesting point--we'll come back to that later. What role did -A-'s involvement in the opening stages of what would have been Delve War III, with GoonSwarm, play in your calculations?

LA: Very little really. Was handy to have AAA busy but you never know how things will last and we didn't put a lot of weight on it.

MI: You realize that to a cynical outside observer it appears as though CVA was striking a long-time neighbor who now happened to be otherwise occupied, and got burned when that diversion disappeared?

LA: Sure.  I don't see why you need to be cynical or even why that would be unreasonable.  AAA were and always had been our enemies.

MI: Fairly soon after GoonSwarm imploded, it seems fair to say that things started to go south for CVA and the Holders, as -A- brought their full weight to bear. However, my understanding is that -A- offered a peace deal that was essentially status quo antebellum. Why did CVA reject that deal?

LA: Oh accepting that deal would have been the worst thing that could have happened to CVA. It would have been abandoning everything CVA stands for.

MI: Worse than losing providence?

LA: Much.

MI: How so?

LA: CVA stands for two things:  loyalty to the Empire, and NRDS. Such an agreement would have required us not to attack the Ushra'khan, and to cooperate in the farming of neutrals in Providence by AAA. Furthermore there is also the somewhat practical consideration that AAA have a history as bad allies.  It shouldn't be forgotten about them allying IAC and giving them space.  And then wiping out IAC when the war was over.

MI: Some would argue that it would be better to accept the truce, build your forces and come back when you were in a stronger position.

LA: Some are not CVA.  Our standards are higher.

MI: How so?

LA: We will not make dishonorable deals for temporary advantage.  Nor when we make deals will we break them - as your suggestion of going away to build forces implies.

MI: A man of honor in a den of thieves. That tends to end poorly for the man of honor. You realize that the Empire itself has made such deals? That is why the Minmatar have an independent state today, ramshackle though it is.

LA: One such deal and I do not approve. And I disagree.  I think in the long run men of honor win out. Your honor is one of the most valuable things you have.  No sensible person would distrust our word. Who would trust AAA or Ushra'khan?

MI: No one [to clarify, I was referring specifically to AAA - MI]. But some would argue that no sensible person would trust the word of CVA. For years, there have been reports that CVA has shot neutrals within Providence. That corps and alliances are set red for no reason.

LA: Of course.  Pirates tell all sorts of lies to cover their tracks.  But there is no truth in those stories and any investigation would show that.

MI: Alekseyev Karrde of Noir. has alleged that CVA has sponsored coups within Holder alliances.

LA: One once.  I tried to get a change in the LFA leadership when it was acting against us.

MI: I ask you: Is CVA as honorable as it claims?

LA: Yes it is. :) I am very proud to be a member of CVA.

MI: Let's take another tack: You believe in serving the Empire. How does making decisions that arguably cost Her Majesty an entire region on her southern border further that goal?

LA: LOL. I believe in trying to serve Her Majesty but she has made it very clear she has no interest in Providence so I can't feel bad on that account.

MI: Fair enough, but surely it was better for the Empire to have Ushra'Khan based in Catch than to have them based in Providence.

LA: A deal with AAA of the sort they proposed would have made us part of AAA space not the Empire. UK are a gnat to the Empire.  I really don't 'think it cares where they base or what they do.

MI: For so long as you chose to abide by it. Diplomatic treaties in this galaxy are not blood oaths; they are constantly renegotiated and discarded when they cease to hold value. the Empire itself does so. Why not CVA?

LA: The Empire is not supposed to do such things.  If individuals have failed in their honour and their service to God that is their failing not an excuse for others to do so.

MI: I see. Then why not agree to a renewable temporary truce, say three months in length? That would allow you to abandon it with honor when you felt it had served its purpose. Even within the confines of honor craftiness is possible.

LA: The offer was not acceptable for one minute.

MI: I see. Alright, switching gears for the moment. GoonSwarm's spymaster, the Mittani, has criticized CVA for refusing to engage in espionage or "the more ruthless sorts of diplomatic negotiations". How would you respond? (source: http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/82876

LA: A broadly similar question.  Metagamers are scum.

MI: Why?

LA: Heavens.  How scary you should need to ask such a question. Metagaming is cheating.

MI: By whose rules? God's?

LA: *chuckle* You're just being silly.  Don't you have serious questions?

MI: I only wish to get a good understanding of CVA for our readers. But let's switch gears. Would it be fair to say that CVA is unlikely to hold space in Providence by the end of the month?

LA: Oh I think that's very fair yes. Nothing of consequence remains.

MI: All right. Given that, may I ask what your plans for the future are? Though obviously I imagine some of that information is privileged.

LA: Not really.  We've told everyone what we would do years ago - literally. Providence is ours and we will fight for it and harass those squatting in our stations.

MI: Yours? CONCORD might disagree with you.

LA: CONCORD's opinion is of no interest.

MI: You built it, so it's yours?

LA: Providence is ours. Regardless of who built what.

MI: Why? I mean, I can say that Uedama is mine. I certainly treat it that way. But that doesn't mean the galaxy is expected to recognize my claim.

LA: I don't expect the galaxy to recognize our claim. Clearly as yet it does not.

MI: So, this seems to be a fairly important philosophical point for understanding CVA. Why do you state that Providence is yours?

LA: Because we say it is.  We believe - despite the absence of orders I admit - that it belongs to the Empire and have decided to claim it until we receive orders.

MI: Doesn't the Empire claim that all space in the New Eden cluster rightly belongs to it? Isn't that the point of the Reclamation?

LA: Yes. However we also recognize the limits to our power and others will have to claim the rest of the galaxy for the Empire. We are servants of God not God himself.  :)

MI: What are your thoughts on the Holder Alliances? Some have been driven out of Providence; some have evidently struck deals with -A-.

LA: I have no proof that LFA have struck any deals. Mostly they have been loyal and performed admirably.

MI: What's the story with Paxton? They still have a substantial block of space in providence. Are they simply hard to kill, or have they made a deal?

LA: They have not made a deal. AAA have said publicly that they don't intend to remove Paxton because they like them - whether that is true I have no idea I take anything AAA say with a pinch of salt. But in any event AAA have generally attacked whole sections at a time so not surprising that Paxton remain intact even if they were to be AAA's next target.

MI: Interesting. Will any of the Holders be joining CVA in fighting to reclaim Providence?

LA: Yes, most of them.

MI: Right - NRDS. Will CVA be abandoning NRDS in Provi?

LA: No, of course not.

MI: Will you be setting all of Providence's new inhabitants red, then? My understanding is that -A- intends to have that space open for neutrals, although they will not be enforcing NRDS there.

LA: Anyone who owns a station in Providence or has a pos down without our permission is obviously red as they would always have been.

MI: But not those who are benefiting from stations and POSes owned without your permission without themselves owning one?

LA: Some details are open to discussion internally on this. Certainly not anyone conducting independent business in Providence no. If they are clearly servants of the enemy then yes.

MI: All right. Why has CVA eschewed alliances with the great powers?

LA: You already asked me that.  Because they would not agree to our rules. In fact now Morsus Mihi have done so and we naturally favor them in the ongoing war up north.

MI: MM has declared NRDS? that's interesting.

LA: No and that was never a requirement. They have agreed to NRDS in the Amarr Empire and Providence.

MI: Because you're now a thorn in the side of the south.

LA: Indeed no doubt that has a lot to do with it.

MI: All right, what is your opinion of the Amarr-Caldari alliance?

LA: It's purely a feature of the balance necessary created by the Gallente-Minmatar alliance.

MI: What is CVA's current relationship with the Amarr militia?

LA: Surprisingly poor.  Too many pirates in there.  It is something I hope to fix.

MI: and with PIE?

LA: PIE are of course our ancient and noble allies.

MI: Roughly translated, Curatores Veritatis means "The Guardians of Truth". Correct?

LA: Correct.

MI: A famous scrap of ancient Terran scriptures says "Truth: what is truth?" What truth are you guarding? How do you know what is truth?

LA: Oh dear oh dear. You know what truth is. Sometimes we don't kow what the truth of any given situation may be I grant. Human error is always possible.  But we try to defend the Empire and thus the truth. We stand for honor and good and the word of God.

MI: How do you know what is the truth?

LA: Sometimes we don't.  We do our best to investigate. We ourselves speak the truth. Which is not to be confused with always being right.

MI: Do you have anything else you would like to add for our readers?

LA: I find it interesting that you have avoided the main issues of the day.

MI: What do you believe those to be?

LA: The corruption of CONCORD and the interference by "CCP Engineering Alliance" in Concord.   Concord expanding its authority over all of New Eden.

MI: ... go on

LA: Those seem to me the main issues and are certainly the main issues in the fall of Providence.

MI: Could you explain how CONCORD is expanding its authority, and your claim that it is corrupt?

LA: Heavens I should have thought these things self evident. CONCORD is demanding fees off people to reside outside Empire space.

MI: It always has.

LA: No it didn't. What fees did it charge before the "Dominion" changes?

MI: I believe there was a flat fee per system was there not? [While there wasn't a flat fee paid to CONCORD, there was always a cost of upkeep to maintain sov. In point of fact, it scaled with how hotly contested a system was (or was expected to be). Alliances always paid for POS fuels, now they pay CONCORD - Ed]

LA: No.

MI: I see. And you believe this is an infringement upon the rights of sovereign alliances?

LA: Most certainly. Further it drastically alters the balance of power. Only the largest groups of alliances can now hope to survive in 0.0 as sovereignty holding entities.

MI: By making it difficult and expensive to hold large swathes of heavily upgraded space, yes?

LA: That's part of it.

MI: The spatial anomalies they appear to be causing are also... problematic.

LA: Indeed. And so is CCP Engineering Alliance manipulating them to change the outcome of battles. They are trying to take over New Eden.

MI: Some would argue they already have.

LA: Well indeed that seems a realistic danger.

MI: What is your personal opinion of -A- and UK?

LA: That's a rather vague question. UK are pirates masquerading as freedom fighters.  A common problem for rebels.: AAA are a pretty standard 0.0 alliance really - larger than most of course.

MI: What can the rest of the galaxy learn from CVA?

LA: Honour, the way of God, service to the Empire?

MI: Fair enough. Out of character: what can CCP do to support the RP community in EVE?

LA: Work on making their background make sense?  Stop introducing random changes to the game for no reason.

MI: Would you like to see more background/canonical information?

LA: If it was redone to create a sensible background.  As it is it's full of nonsense like the Tony G stuff and we're better off without it.

MI: Not a fan of Empyrean Age I take it?

LA: No indeed not!

MI: Haven't read it myself tbh... but from what I've heard it seems a little... over the top.

LA: Just the sort of absurd nonsense one fears introducing as many overpowered things as one can.

MI: Even for a book about internet spaceships.

LA: It's laughably bad. The Eve background could easily be made excellent with just some mild tweaking.

MI: You like what Abraxas has been up to?

LA: I generally avoid reading their background stuff these days; it's just depressing.

MI: Would you like to see more in game RP events?

LA: If the background problems were sorted first. As things stand I'd just rather see as little of CCP as possible.

MI: I see.

LA: I'm afraid I need to go rather urgently.

MI: Me too. Thanks for your time.

They come for their people

An Interview with zoolkhan of Ushra'Khan
by Miyamoto Isoruku

Last week I got the chance to sit down with zoolkhan, a high-ranking veteran of Ushra'Khan, to discuss recent events in Providence and the state of roleplaying in EVE. This interview was conducted after my interview with CVA's Lord Aralis.

MI: I'm talking to zoolkhan of Ushra'Khan. Zoolkhan, can you explain to our readers what your role in U'K is?

ZK: These days I am nothing more than a humble member of the "Council" one of the few still surviving warriors that 6 or so years ago formed this alliance. Beyond that I manage the special unit, known as "KHAI".

MI: So UK is governed by a ruling council then?

ZK: Decisions are made by a dictator; the council consists of the CEOs of the Alliance Member Corporations. I am one of them and CEO of Mikur Draug'tyr (dark ghosts) -  The executor and his 2nd in command has the required trust, and the empowerment to make decisions on our behalf. But we usually get the chance to provide advice and feedback - as well as express concerns.  In short, the council isn't as bloody place as the senate of the old  "Roman Empire" I learned about from the history books of the pre-New Eden times.

MI: Who is the executor?

ZK: Our Commander is Sapphrine, his 2nd in command is Karn mithralia.

MI: UK have often been accused of being -A- vassals. What is UK's relationship with -A-?

ZK: Real friendship is what springs to my mind. Our relationship started with shooting each other. Out of that grew some mutual warriors' respect. At one point we started to cooperate, instead viewing each other as "training targets".

MI: how long have UK and -A- been allies?

ZK: Roughly 2 yrs maybe. I am not exactly sure. we were in our exile in curse.

MI: How has that impacted your campaign against cva?

ZK: Well, obviously... and bluntly... and admittedly.  Without AAA we would not be where we are today.

MI: why has -A- offered you such support?

ZK: CVA have been doing the mistake to openly provoke A in a territorial assault. CVA made a few mistakes, by assaulting .-a- space.. and camping their empire pipe. technically, we were supporting AAA. It just happened to be the correct enemy... our long term arch enemy. But we would have supported AAA against anyone else as well.

ZK: Having said that, our fleet numbers and the motivation of our warriors ...are influenced by the fact. This is the old enemy that spanked us out 3 years ago from our rightfully claimed patch in providence. These are the slavers we have sworn to fight - those who have declared that they want to extend the Amarr empire throughout Providence and beyond, which brings along the customs of the Amarr people, such as slavery. For AAA the matter is simply, they could no longer rely on a calm frontier to CVA - they faced a possible two-front war.

MI: How does -A- feel about the Minmatar struggle?

ZK: I could not make a statement about their feelings, I only communicate via fleet comms with our allies in which they're very professional.

MI: I see.

ZK: I feel that many of them sympathize with us, but their involvement in warfare is rather pragmatic than emotional.

MI: I see. Now this conflict began when cva attempted to seize northern catch from -A-. they claim that this is because they granted UNITY stations there. Is that your opinion as well?

ZK: The above claim would make most sense to me, but I was not involved in the deal making. Ultimately, I was just happy to see this kind of support, and eager to lend them my sword in order to pay back the favor.

MI: All right, in the initial phases of the fighting CVA appeared to be enjoying some considerable successes against -A- and UK. what changed?

ZK: I am not sure what you do view as initial phase of teh conflict.

MI: CVA's initial attack on north catch. obviously CVA and UK's conflict goes back years.

ZK: The current campaign which just ends, has never seen CVA having the upper hand. what initially happened, is, that CVA grabbed land, that was perceived as AAA territory, although not formerly concord registered. AAA was not amused, but also not angry enough to take it serious. They already had a front if I recall right, I remember that UNITY accompanied AAA in military operations against Goons. So there were just skirmishes, minor clashes with CVA forces initially.

ZK: At that stage, it was not CVA - it was the "Providence bloc" we were facing, with a total number theoretically close to AAA and our size, and they were in the process of claiming sovereignty in North Catch. Ushra'Khan alone was not able to field fleets large enough to keep them in check. LFA attacked -a- space with CVA led gangs, that is what started to turn our "Russian bear" angry.

MI: What was the final straw, then?

ZK: I think my last sentence ... and the invasions of systems next to HED, sv5, f9x. Here is the AAA statement. There was an unwritten rule: no sov war between CVA and -a- would take place. That rule has been broken. Also there were rumors of cooperation between CVA and elements in the NC, but this is gossip.

MI: Which would obviously be unacceptable to -A-

ZK: We have no proof of that. and this alone was certainly not the reason.

MI: Now, at that point -A-, along with its allies, proceeded to launch a full-scale invasion of providence.

ZK: yes indeed, and our hearts were beating high, this was the chance we worked towards for three years Needless to say, we committed 110%.

MI: How would you describe the effectiveness of the Providence bloc's resistance?

ZK: Overall, poor. The battle of d-g, which is known to have broken their spirit, saw some fatal decisions rooted in inexperience with these scale of fleet warfare, lag, node deaths grid-fu. I know CVA as skilled and effective and intelligent opponents. They only engage in battles they can win, which is smart strategy, not fun - but smart.

MI: How many ships did CVA lose at d-g?

ZK: I seem to remember they lost hundreds of capitals in d-g, maybe 110 capitals.

MI: So a pretty severe defeat.

ZK: Yes, and all military experts on AAA and our side are saying, this fight could have been much different if certain FC mistakes on CVA's side had not been made. Aralis is known to have replaced the entire cap losses... he seem to be a rather wealthy slaver, but yet we did not see that fleet to return. At this point all is possible, CVA is bound by ideology - a bit similar to UK, they will not break apart because of this. We will hear from them again, no doubt.

MI: Why do you believe that CVA rejected the truce offered by -A-?

ZK: Perhaps they didn't foresee the goon collapse. I honestly have trouble understanding this move. We have asked ourselves the question over and over again. You may want to interview CVA on that question.  Perhaps bypass Aralis, speak to .. maybe GRR.

MI: Who?

ZK: Grr. He has my respect as warrior, and I know he thinks before he speaks.

MI: In fact I've already spoken with Aralis... his interview will run alongside yours. Aralis claims that, essentially, to accept the truce would have made CVA a vassal of -A-. What are your thoughts on that claim?

ZK: Sounds like a weak excuse to justify the ruin of his alliance. When the truce was made [I believe ZK meant "offered" - MI], I was already expecting the war to be stopped in its tracks. Of course I was hoping they would not accept. It was a fair offer, and it would have gone w/o loss of reputation or face on any side. Never would I have dreamed that Aralis would be riding principles over the dead bodies of his own alliance wingmen.

MI: Here's his exact quote: "CVA stands for two things:  loyalty to the Empire, and NRDS. Such an agreement would have required us not to attack the Ushra'khan, and to cooperate in the farming of neutrals in Providence by AAA."

ZK: Obviously he is trying to rally the friends of NRDS bahind him with that sentence. But Ushra'Khan has stated long ago that we only do NBSI in providence, because every pilot that docks and trades at a slaver station is feeding the slaver pockets. With the slavers removed, providence will be free again...  and we will allow neutrals to exist.  With one difference: we will not be a law enforcement agency like CVA tried to be.

MI: UK is NRDS elsewhere, correct?

ZK: Yes, UK is NRDS except in war zones, catch and providence - until now. Providence policy is now under review, and we will likely drop NBSI there.

MI: What kind of territorial ambitions does UK have in Providence?

ZK: We are not thinking territorially.

MI: Surely you have specific stations and systems you intend to keep?

ZK: We grab as much we need to feed the war machine, and everything else will be distributed to others who want to start the great 0.0 experiment. certainly we will keep Unity station. I am not allowed to speak about any further details. Stations may still be handed over to others.

MI: Alekseyev Karrde discussed this experiment with me in an interview last week. -A- will be enforcing no sov warfare, and other than that it's a free for all yes?

ZK: I expect the situation to become clear over the next months.

MI: What is UK and -A-'s vision for the new Providence?

ZK: It will become the place, where smaller alliances can try to create something without the threat of being steamrolled by one of the big power houses in New Eden. Let's face it, a small alliance could not survive anywhere on its own, without constant fear of being wiped from the map next day, by one of the big boys. -A- & UK are committed to keeping sovereignty assaults on the small "startup" alliances away. A sandbox. Within that sandbox everything is subject to regional diplomacy. I don't think it will be a "napfest" initially... maybe one day... maybe never.

MI: How so?

ZK: Alliances settling there maintain their own standings list. We don't dictate to them whom to set blue. They might even be red to us.

MI: And what is your vision for Ushra'Khan now that you have essentially switched places with CVA.

ZK: I think UK has hands full atm organizing in providence. We are fully aware that with the eviction of CVA, the matter of slavery is not yet resolved.

MI: How so? Obviously slavery persists in the empire.

ZK: we have a war declaration with PIE. For those who don't know, PIE is an Amarr loyalist corporation known for its "golden fleets" and key to the foundation of CVA 6 yrs ago. Committed slavers.

MI: How exactly does UK hope to stop slavery?

ZK: Realistically, it's an eternal struggle. Sometimes we are joined by unexpected allies.  Like The great fleet of Karishal Muritor, the "Defiants". Compared to the empires we are a tiny faction. We cannot outmatch concord. We see our mission outside of CONCORD controlled space, despite the empire war declarations that we pursue. We receive intel from all over New Eden, and we choose carefully our next target.  Unless of course it chooses us (*laughs*). What I don't see us doing, is to attack targets that are "innocent". We don't fight for the fighting's sake - we fight the only war that has to be: the war for freedom.

MI: What is your opinion of piracy in Providence? do you care if others pirate in Providence?

ZK: Yes, if the pirates hit our supply lines ;) The new settlers of providence, will have to fight for themselves. Of course, if an attacked unit is blue to us, we might send a squadron their way to assist.

MI: How do you intend to deal with the guerrila war that cva will doubtless be launching?

ZK: We will embrace it, and we are curious to see how much theyve learned from us.

MI: What is your opinion of Aralis in particular?

ZK: He is a slaver, he needs to die. There was no private encounter between us two.. so I cannot really say much more.  The chain of incompetent decisions and rather lousy justifications in public statements doesn't add much of respect.  I do however, respect other warriors in CVA a lot. "Don't fight future fights previously in your head", my wise martial arts instructor on northern matar once told me before I became a pod pilot. It can be interpreted as - I will adapt to the situation, to the future - when it is there.

MI: So let's discuss UK's views of the wider galaxy. What is your opinion of the Minmatar militia?

ZK: They are doing important work, although... command structure and discipline could be better. The TLF has been send out on a difficult mission, but the republic has failed in regards to establishment of a clear command structure. And rumor has it that other militias are in the same sorry state.

MI: What is your opinion of where UK fits into the current War of Southern Aggression?

ZK: To be honest, Ushra'Khan feels as strong friendship to AAA, ultimately... if they need us, I doubt we would let them down. We owe them so much, in fact - the Minmatar people owe them so much... What does that mean in practice? I don't know.  As I said before, don't fight in your head before the situation confronts you with a battle. I think we will keep the "home frontier" clean for now, and what happens then will be dictated by circumstances.

MI: I see. Obviously you are no friends of the Amarr Empire. What specifically are your goals with respect to the Empire, besides the abolition of slavery?

ZK: I started out as a young idealist, the goal was extinction of slavery, not extinction of the Amarr race. Were there, let's say, an internal revolution, and a young generation of Amarr got rid of the vitoc, and this horrible custom... then I could retire. Return to matar, to my master and friend... run a small farm maybe.

MI: What are your thoughts on Shakor's leadership of the Republic?

ZK: Maleatu, he is a good chap - certainly a great improvement to Karin Midular. He made the TLF possible and liberated many, many of my kin. I only wish he would slam his fist onto the table more often. it has become very silent in the politic arena of the Republic.... too silent.

MI: And your thoughts on the State and the Federation?

ZK: Clearly the state is lead by a mad man - it surprises me that the Gallente federation shows so much tolerance towards them. After all, the federation has the superior war machine, and a more stable society. But their idealistic, "humane" approach, i.e., careful avoidance of collateral damage... respect to all kind of treatys and so on, is just delaying the inevitable.

MI: OK, if we can switch to out of character...

ZK: Sure.

MI: What are your thoughts on the recent Dominion changes?

ZK: The new sov mechanics have removed the impenetrable fortresses. That's a good thing. War has become more dynamic, and big fleet participants are now rewarded for their efforts

MI: But they also seem to have made it even harder for small alliances to survive independently in nullsec, barring a large protector like AAA.

ZK: Maybe, maybe not. Now, you just anchor a TCU. Back then, we had to anchor 25 death stars and keep them running in a single station system (9uy - unity station: 55 moons).

MI: True. The end of pos warfare is certainly welcome.

ZK: So we can argue, which small alliance could have afforded doing that, Let alone a whole constellation, which was required to get "fortress" status (if I am not mistaken). Naturally there is ups and downs in dominion

MI: The lag, for instance.

ZK: lag has always been there, hasn't it? Has it really changed to the worse?

MI: everything I've heard is that it has, considerably. Well, it's become asymmetric. Instead of everyone crashing, only the people who jump in crash.

ZK: All I know is, the defender has the advantage of being already on grid. This has always been the case. In the past you required insane amount of numbers to bring down a jammer deathstar. Not good for performance.

MI: How well do you feel CCP supports the RP community?

ZK: Not too well anymore I am afraid, I see a decline in "care" for that aspect - they closed down Polaris, which was a huge mistake. They never completed a story they began, except in the case of Karishal Muritor and his Defiants, they arranged an assassination to end his story.

ZK: You remember, Ushra'Khan is the only player alliance officially in possession of the Vitoc antidote? "Insorum" - the story has been spun by ccp and ushrakhan to that stage that we got the only sample of Insorum. Now we have sat on that sample for years, and had no chance to develop it into any direction. We would require help from the Minmatar Republic, to turn one sample into a huge vaccination campaign or something. But that story is just not being told to the end. It stopped, like a TV series ending on a cliffhanger, with the next season cancelled because of a lack of funds or because the director died.

MI: What are your thoughts on the recent additions to backstory?

ZK: Not sure what you refer to, I have missed out a lot of stories and chronicles lately due to RL priorities

MI: The novels, the chronicles, etc?

ZK: Yeah, the last one I really was digging into was the paperback that described the happenings around the mothership crashing into the station, Tibus Heth and so on. I liked that very much, how EVE got even darker in the backstory atmosphere.

MI: Empyrean Age?

ZK: Yes... the appearance of the thukker fleet... very nice. Also the trailer material was outstanding, but since then .-... we are being left alone with this far-from perfect militia construction, an everlasting capture the flag construction.

MI: so would you like to see CCP bring back roleplaying events?

ZK: I would like to see Polaris reintroduced, I would like to see tin foil hats that are hysteric about CCP employees piloting spaceships in their own game ignored.

ZK: For me that is just quality assurance at its finest. I would like to see the occasional Jovian showing up at major event sites. That would promote roleplay a bit, w/o making the game worse to those who think RP is douchebagism. Once I tried to run for player council because of these things.

MI: Any thoughts on how to improve faction warfare?

ZK: Allow alliances to join it, as a whole. Introduce CONCORD blessed "coalitions". Provide framework for effective establishment of a chain of command structure: (i.e. with the help of a small voting system or so). These are ad hoc ideas, took me 30 seconds.

MI: How about rewards and significance?

ZK: there are already rewards... I think. But significance is a tough one. What is significant to me is nothing to someone else.

MI: True.

ZK: Right now it looks  too much like capture the flag. only that the unreal tournament variant provided more adrenaline. But how can we turn it into something better? I would not really know. Perhaps make a system valuable to the owner, i.e. high end minerals become accessible, or something like that while its under your flag. But that would only be roleplay compliant if the benefits could also be reaped to some extent by non-combatants of the same faction.

MI: makes sense. All right, zoolkhan, do you have anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

ZK: My spelling is going down... its 01:00 here... time for bed.

MI: All right, thanks very much for your time zoolkhan. Fly safe, sir.

ZK: Thank you, sir. Fly free.

Contest, Contest, Contest!

The Eve Tribune is running a contest to synch up with the release of Tyrannis release and we have $200.00 in prizes donated by CCP to give away to the winners. It's not straight up cash dollars, but it spends just like cash on anything you want from the EVE store.

It works a little bit like this: winners will be determined by the EVE Tribune editors based on our own personal selection criteria. Everybody is eligible to run except for those editors (damnit) and the editors' judgment will be final. Winning submissions will be posted on the Tribune's website and by entering the contest, you're consenting to have your stuff published.

The deadline is Sunday, May 16th, and the winning submissions will be published and an announced in the issue we publish immediately following that.

Anyway, onwards!

Grand Prize of $75.00 - given out to the person who submits the best machinima about alliances fighting over a planet and landing ground troops on it.

Major Prize of $50.00 - given to the writer who submits the best story describing an event in Eve that they were present for. A little artistic license is allowed but the event must have really happened and you must have been present. Stories will be marked for interest and entertainment value.

Three Standard Prizes of $25.00 - given to those people who submit the most amusing/entertaining/just-plain-cool captioned screenshots. The screenshots themselves don't have to be taken by the pilots who use them but the images must be public domain or the copyright holder must have given permission for them to be submitted to and potentially published by Eve Tribune.

It goes without saying that all work must be original.
Submissions should be sent to editor.evetribune@gmail.com
Winning story writers will be asked to verify their in-game identity by sending an EVEMail to our editor FinnAgain Zero.

Alternate Rule: If we do not receive a machinima by the submission date, then the best work of fiction will take the Grand Prize and the second best will take the Major Prize currently slated for the best story submission.

© The Eve Tribune 2006-2011