A War In Space: The Banker Who Gambled Everything And Brought Eve’s Greatest Empire To Its Knees

A brigade of pirates, a gambling kingpin, a temperamental fleet commander and the financier who brought them all together. How one very rich man and his cartel of allies dethroned the most notorious leader in EVE Online [official site] and scattered his once-unstoppable army of ‘Goons’.

As a companion piece to this report, you can peruse the cast of characters here. Read it before, read it afterwards or use it as a reference point throughout.

Space is at war. Thousands of people have died, risen, and died again. Thousands of ships have been destroyed in fierce battles, torn apart by lasers, or blown to pieces by missiles from stealth bombers. Pilots, new and old, are rushing to join comrades on the front line, seeking adventure, glory and fame. For one side of this conflict, the war is almost over. For the other, the true war is just beginning. EVE Online is once again exploding.

A sandbox MMO that is familiar even to mainstream media for its headline-generating battles, Eve is undergoing its first great war in years. On one side, a force of players calling themselves the Imperium but often called the ‘Goons’ because of their roots in the Something Awful forums. On the other side, a band known as Moneybadger Coalition – a conglomerate of mercenaries, militiamen, pirates, corporations and private armies.

The reasons for this war are many and the grudges held across Eve’s 13-year history have played their part. But behind the historical resentment, behind the missiles and the lasers, behind the Goons and the Badgers, lie a handful of men who have done more to fuel this war than anyone else.

The bankers.

Meet Lenny

Lenny Kravitz2, banker and strategist for the Moneybadger coalition

This is Lenny. Full name: Lenny Kravitz2. It’s a strange name for an established investment banker and stockbroker. In real life, he is a defence contractor for the US Department of Defense. In Eve, he is a money man. He has been described as “obscenely rich” by some of his fellow players and although he has been trying to keep a low profile in recent weeks, he is now feeling very exposed. He has just been revealed as one of the masterminds of the new war. The ‘Goonswarm’ will soon be coming for him.

“They can’t really hurt me financially,” he says. “The worry was they would try to single me out, target me as an individual out-of-game, so we kind of kept everything under wraps.”

Lenny has shares and stocks that bring in huge sums of money on a monthly basis. He also gets a wage as a ‘banker’ for a high-profile casino called Iwantisk.com – a website where any Eve player can gamble their fictional currency on slot machines and raffles. His 8% shares in this casino alone get him 150-250 billion ISK a month, he says. He lives in ‘high-sec’ space, where an ultra-powerful computer-controlled police force watches over everything.

“I can’t really be harmed in-game,” he says.

A fleet en route to a fight

From his home in high-sec, Lenny claims to have  orchestrated one of the grandest and most ambitious moves in the game’s history. He has taken on The Mittani, an infamous spymaster and leader of the Imperium, and won. Six months ago if you told an average Eve player that Goonswarm could be defeated, they would have thought you were spewing nonsense. But six months ago Lenny knew something your average player didn’t. He knew The Mittani was slipping.

Back in October 2015, a player called Gobbins was leading a fleet of ships to a region of space called Cloud Ring. They were the Pandemic Horde – a group of relatively new players learning how to fight. Behind them every step of the way was a Goon fleet. It was a wild goose chase, one that ended in the Goons waiting 16 hours to capture a single unimportant system. Lenny kept watch from his perch in high-sec and began to think.

The Rifter, one of the Goons' traditional ships

“It was a big old troll,” he says. “What that did for me was it identified that Mittens [The Mittani] didn’t have the information control that he used to years ago. He could be given misinformation and made to react to various things. Basically, he showed weakness. We didn’t expect them to be militarily weak but we expected Mittens not to have a full grasp of what was going on with the game.”

He approached a band called Mercenary Coalition and suggested “taking on the Goons”. One of their leaders, Sabre A – a man in a leather jacket with a small 100,000 ISK bounty on his head – told him it was “impossible.” The Goons had been a force of nature within New Eden for as long as anyone could remember. Lenny rephrased his question for the mercenary. How much would it take to go after the Goons?

Sabre plucked a made-up number out of the air, thinking it didn’t matter. Something like six or seven trillion ISK, he said.

“Okay,” said Lenny, “I have that.”

The kingpin’s joke

Eep Eep, owner of the casino Iwantisk.com

The casino Lenny was working for knew nothing about any of this. The man at its head is called Eep Eep, another “obscenely wealthy” individual. This gambling kingpin, pictured above, had set up his website in 2012 and it has since evolved into a hugely successful enterprise, allowing him to hire several financiers from within New Eden to spread his investments among the interstellar market.

In December 2015, one of his best bankers came to him and to his colleague (a mega-rich Twitch personality named 1RONBANK) and told them that he was planning a war against the biggest Empire in the game. That banker was Lenny. He was going to ask them for a promise.

You see, two years previously another group had the same idea – to take on the Goons. Their name was Pandemic Legion and their campaign ended in disaster, in a battle that is now known as “the Bloodbath of B-R5RB” – a furious fight involving over 7000 players and the destruction of ships worth up to $300,000 in “estimated real-world value”.

Huge battles in Eve undergo the “time dilation effect”. Time literally slows down during the fight, to 10% of normal time, simply to allow the game servers time to process everything that is happening. This means that battles last hours as gigantic capital ships cycle their weapons and hundreds of hulking spacecraft trundle slowly towards their targets. When the Pandemic Legion lost at the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, they had to watch themselves slowly die for 21 hours.

Lenny asked Eep Eep and 1RONBANK: if the worst came to the worst, and his forces suffered a similar catastrophic defeat, could he rely on them for support? They looked at his plans and said yes.

The money for a long war was therefore secured. But the casino was still not directly involved. Eep and 1RONBANK were only back-up financiers, an insurance policy. They were still busy with their own work – and their own problems.

The Zombie heist

For the kingpin Eep, the problem was a group called Space Monkeys Alliance. One of his bankers had just been ripped off by this group to the tune of 200 billion ISK, via an elaborate scam. Eep approached the the Space Monkeys and asked them to give his employee back his money. They laughed in his face. When he threatened that there would be consequences, they laughed even harder.

“They thought it was a joke,” says Lenny.

Widget Zombie, left, and her husband Binary Zombie

The relationship between the casino and the Space Monkeys was about to get even worse. A husband and wife duo that Eep considered friends and partners were part of the Monkey’s clan – they were called Binary Zombie and Widget Zombie. This pair weren’t just recent acquaintances – they had helped him build his gambling empire. She, Widget, had invested in the casino and now owned shares netting 40 billion ISK a month in dividends. The husband, Binary, had helped Eep set up the server for his website and even did some administrative duties. But the Zombies were loyal to their Monkey overlords and because of the tensions between the two groups they were ordered to betray their old friend.

By the time Eep looked at the machinery of his website and noticed the “irregular activity”, it was too late. The Zombies had hacked the casino. He banned Binary from his admin access but a ‘back door’ had already been installed. Eep found it and bricked it up, but hundreds of billions of ISK had already disappeared, transferred directly to the Zombies’ bank accounts, as well as the bank accounts of their fellow Monkeys.

This was a “separate event completely”, says Lenny. But it was hugely advantageous to him. Eep was now personally invested in punishing the alliance that had wronged him. He went straight to Lenny.

“He was pretty pissed off about the situation,” says Lenny. “He basically told me: ‘I know that you’re doing something. Can you hire mercs to kill Space Monkey Alliance?”

Lucky for him, Lenny already had someone in mind. He hired a mercenary group for 105 billion ISK a week to harass the Monkeys to death. The first shots of World War Bee were being fired and most of the citizens of EVE did not even know it.

On the next page, an old foe of the Goons rises from the grave

From this site

102 Comments

  1. Vinas_Solamnus_TUPP says:

    Incredible story telling. Thank you for these write ups. As many others have stated, despite only playing briefly years ago, just reading these stories are a fun and thrilling ride. This is the best account of a conflict I have read so far.

    Excellent!!

  2. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    It looks like all the ‘regards’ Mittens has sent out over the years are all coming back to roost.

  3. Viral Frog says:

    This just made me want to reactivate my account. Very well written. Far better than the jumbled mess of false information that they posted over at PC Gamer. I might go reactivate my accounts and get in on the action.

  4. dongsweep says:

    Well written and a fun read, thank you!

  5. Harvey says:

    Ah, Eve Online. The greatest game I will never play.

  6. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I got half way through this and activated an EVE trial.

    • mavu says:

      Welcome to the most “new player friendly” game on earth.

      No, just kidding. But if you want to jump directly into the action, join Pandemic Horde, recruitment info is on reddit, just google it.

      Pandemic horde is very new player friendly, and currently very very active.

      Join up, and in a day or 2 you will be flying in exactly those battles you read about above.

      • Alfius says:

        Sure, join Horde and ask about where all the Merc contract money is going.

        Alternatively, consider KarmaFleet and fight for freedom, civilisation and all that is right and good in the world. Glory to the Imperium.

        • Daemoroth says:

          Yeah, and fight for Mittens… The same human being who shared the details of someone whilst telling everyone at fanfest “Incidentally, if you want to make the guy kill himself, his name is …, he has his own corp, find him”.

          And if you read all the leaks/just general posts and attitude of Mitsy, you get a clear view of its personality.

          I can never fathom why anyone could willingly follow a creature like that.

          • Alfius says:

            Mittens’ behaviour was indefensible, even if what he said wasn’t intended to be taken seriously. He apologised profusely both in public and in private to the individual involved, he was forced to resign from the CSM and handed over his entire in-game wealth in partial restitution. The issue has been closed for years and yet his detractors keep dragging it up as if it still has the power to hurt him. It’s insulting for you to pretend to give a shit about the incident when really all you want is a stick to hit Mittens with.

            Mittens is arrogant, loud and very good at what he does. We love him for it, and you hate him for the same reason. I’m not sure it makes him any worse than PGL or any of the other larger than life figures who make Eve so special.

        • Zappity says:

          Karmafleet just lost their home system. It is now called “Join Horde to Evac”. The clue is in the name :)

  7. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Lol, investment brokerage meets space battles seems way to complicated (and time-consuming) for me but I love reading those pieces with the explanations here.
    It also seems all those guys are sometimes in high places in real life and have a second life there most notoriously that US ambassador (lybia?) who got killed.

  8. Blackcompany says:

    Excellent write up. I wish EVE were consistently this exciting over time. Alas, it simulates life so well, that getting to these moments takes very real work.

    Still, wish I had time for a game like EVE. Maybe again one day.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Well, even so, the story that is presented here is an exciting read, but you have to keep in mind that a lot of it is spread out over weeks of seperate events and coincidences.

      If it’s just action you want, there’s always something going on somewhere, but not massive 2000 vs 2000 engagements (Which are no fun either, since you’ll either get called as a target, meaning that the whole enemy fleet will turn their turrets on you, a doomsday goes off or the time dillation will turn it into a 8-hour slow motion slogfest).

  9. DiscountWizard says:

    I liked the article as well as some others that have been written in the past regarding the state of EVE. I would be interested in reading something about how all of this affects the average player. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a “casual” EVE player, but if there is I think it would be interesting to hear some anecdotes about how the Big Players affect the little guys.

    • Cropduster says:

      For the average player it basically means content; regular fleets across all time zones where the outcomes have real ramifications for pvpers, while the less kill hungry can make big money from the war as huge amounts of ships, equipment and materials explode all over the north. The logi guys fuel starbases, diplomats spin the spin, and everyone watches as ye olde king of space makes increasingly passionate (+desperate) speeches over twitch.

      There are still plenty of players, like those in wormholes or grinding missions/asteroids in high security space who aren’t directly affected, but so much of this stuff is public via propaganda and chest-beating that just watching from the sidelines is pretty great right now, and basically everyone who’s been playing a while has a horse in this race.

      Embarrassing textlog leaks winkled out of secure alliance channels by spies are appearing on a daily basis, and a constant barrage of posts, blogs and bad memes from both sides means that even if you’re not in a warring party there’s plenty for anyone who’s engaged in the eve community right now. We’re at drama factor 5 and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

      Wartime in Eve really is the good times <3

      • SomeDuder says:

        What I like is that for some players, these wars are masssively stressfull (Assets at risk in a certain station, player-owned structures needing defense and refueling at certain times and dates, attending operations in ships of all sizes, etc), while for others, life goes on – they are just exploring some wormholes, or doing their boring NPC-issued missions and are able to feel the effects of these massive wars on the marketplace or an increase in traffic at certain low-security nodes.

        Eve Online really is a MASSIVE game, not just from the acronym of the genre, but the scale in which you can DO stuff in New Eden – whether you’re just shooting NPCs, margin-trading on the player-operated market or participating in 0.0 conquests, there’s so much to DO.

        I’ve quit the game after 4 years of play, having experienced the broad spectrum it has to offer and massively enjoying the time of our little alliance interacting with all big boys (During the time of BoB, Goonswarm and the second Great War) and seeing all this stuff happen around me, but this game’s end-game (0.0 conquests, as I see it) can only be appreciated by the unoccupied or collegefolk. It simply requires too much participation at irregular times to be able to play it when you have actual responsibilities.

      • Rindan says:

        I am appalled that you would think the merchant class would be excited for war. Everyone knows that the 35th Rule of Acquisition is: “Peace is good for business.”

        • mpb says:

          As opposed to the 34th rule of acquisition, which is: “War is good for business.”

  10. FLoJ says:

    As a current Eve player – Fantastic write-up, thanks!

  11. Zankman says:

    So… Surely by this point Mittani knows who is actually behind this war, right?

    If I understood the “plot” correctly, a bunch of alliances, coalitions, mercenaries and pirates randomly (from the PoV of Mittani) joined together to wage war against the Imperium.

    I wonder what his reaction was when he finally found out that it was a sole Banker and his casino-running allies financing this “hellwar” against him.

  12. zsd says:

    A fascinating read.

    Also, Lenny is straight up terrifying. Someone who, at the end of the day, gets up from his desk as a DoD contractor and says, “That was not enough powerbrokering. What other powerbrokering is there to do? I will devote the remainder of my day to that.”

    • Jediben says:

      Yeah its really disturbing that some one like that has enough free time to even bother with this puppet show. Real world consequences aren’t enough so he spends down time (or more likely Did time) fluffing up an artificial bank balance. And then using that bank balance to ruin other people’s equally pointless free time. I’m all for playing games but this thing doesn’t seem to be fun at all – just some very twisted individuals getting invested in something that really doesn’t matter to the nth degree and allowing it to become part of their psyche. Sociopaths and Little Hitler all in one big put.

      • Jediben says:

        *DoD *pit.

      • horrorgasm says:

        Yeah! When did video games stop being fun and start being all about the accumulation of virtual wealth in order to more efficiently murder virtual people and/or anonymous online people for entertainment purposes?

        • FLoJ says:

          Eve is a sandbox.

          For many of us, that means enjoying the ship vs ship pvp/pve.

          For others it’s the joy of mining up some minerals and using them to build things.

          For a very small percent it’s Crusader Kings with real people in a fictional spaceship world.

          • mavu says:

            Or in lennys case, just being the richest dude of them all.

            Nothing wrong with that, and thats the real power of a true sandbox game like eve, you really can and have to set your own goal. Whatever it may be.

          • FLoJ says:

            TBH I don’t know lenny in-game…probably he also does other things with that isk – or maybe it is just a way for him to keep score.

            He’s definitely not the richest though since Eep is the guy above him in IWI – and I’m semi-sure that some of the richest market traders will be on similar net asset values (no I didn’t know this term before I played Eve either).

            But yeah I guess isk value is just another metric for keeping score in your particular part of the sandbox – other players will use their killboards (again a meaningless metric for the majority of players) – and others will use the number of players at their command (like Mittani).

            Personally I score my Eve career in fun/hr :)

          • ohminus says:

            So it’s ok when Mittens plays Crusader Kings, but if someone spits into his soop, it’s boo-boo?

        • Sabbatai says:

          It’s pretty easy really. For some people what you described IS fun.

          Other people like racing around in karts throwing turtle shells at their opponents.

          Why is this so confusing for some people?

      • sosolidshoe says:

        Agreed, but…OK, think of it this way: Both Batman and the Joker are clearly fucked-up sociopaths, and Batman is actually a pretty despicable character when you think about it, choosing to “fight crime” by beating up socially-deprived mooks and occasionally engaging in big setpiece battles with other sociopaths in costumes, rather than actually trying to fix things the way his parents did. But he’s still better than Joker.

        Basically what I’m saying is in order to be worse than Goons, you have to stoop so low you could touch the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Probably the same reason people become hedge fund managers

      • Rizlar says:

        Re: ‘ruin other people’s fun’, you mustn’t have read the bit at the end of the article that says:

        The goal wasn’t simply to “balkanise the north” and destroy the Imperium’s super-coalition, he [Lenny] says, but to fuel a war that would last a long time and bring some excitement to New Eden, as well as new players.

        From what little I know of EVE there has long been talk of the political landscape being stagnant due to the Imperium’s continued dominance. For years and years people have been talking about ways to mix things up a bit.

        Furthermore, everyone involved seems to be loving it. The guy who is most vocal about loving it in the article is the Goonswarm dude in the refugee camp.

        • SomeDuder says:

          Yea, problem is (or was, I don’t know the current situation) that it’s too easy for these gigantic powerblocs to form (North vs south, east vs north, etc). What CCP would like is smaller scale stuff – corporation vs corporation, alliance vs alliance, but not 2000 vs 2000 shitfests where people spend hours upon hours waiting on a stargate or inside a POS’s shieldbubble.

          I think I read somewhere that jumpranges have been massively nerfed, to make it harder to get to the other side of the galaxy and try to encourage more local conflicts, but I’ve no idea how effective that was. Plus the fact that it’s human nature to just get more people when it’s an “us vs them” situation…

      • Sabbatai says:

        That’s a ridiculous point of view. That these people are all sociopaths or “little Hitlers.” Some of the most ruthless people in Eve are… shockingly just as ruthless in real life.

        Yet there are also some pretty awesome people who would give you the shirt off their back in real life and steal everything you “own” in Eve.

        Some of the biggest scammers in Eve ripped one of their own a new butthole when they found out he scammed people out of real money. After he bragged about it, he tried to back pedal but they weren’t having it. They were all about it when he shared stories of how he scammed new players out of millions of ISK but would have none of it when he started talking about setting up a donation link on his site and convincing new players to donate toward outfitting them all in better ships and moving up in the Eve universe.

        These folks aren’t as black and white as you want to paint them.

      • flashlight_eyes says:

        quite the moral high ground you are taking there. In sand box games SOMEONE has to play the villain. We want a villain to play against, everyone wants a bad guy. Why is that bad that he is playing a GAME and enhancing everyones good time by being a super villain?

      • Kala says:

        “And then using that bank balance to ruin other people’s equally pointless free time. I’m all for playing games but this thing doesn’t seem to be fun at all – just some very twisted individuals getting invested in something that really doesn’t matter to the nth degree and allowing it to become part of their psyche.”

        Well, it’s not for everyone but…have you tried it?

        Because for me, I probably would have agreed with a lot of you (and others) points re: ‘fun’ before playing it (and sometimes during) – is it ‘fun’ to have the ship you’ve worked for destroyed by someone else? Is it ‘fun’ to destroy somebody elses?

        But after playing it (for me) the answer was well, yes. In a sense, it is. Kind of a yin-yan thing; one defines the other – the lows are lower but the highs are higher. You’re more invested knowing there’s more to lose; the threat is tense and exciting. The friendships you make are stronger depending on the camaraderie of your group, the leadership of your FCs and CEOs. The betrayals more keen. And (I suspect) that scales.

        So no: I don’t think anyone who enjoys that kind of gameplay is automatically a sociopath. It’s still escapism. But having more on the line makes for a more immersive experience.

    • SammyF007 says:

      Personally, I have neither the time nor the inclination for this sort of game after spending a decade in political strategy. But EVE appeals to a ton of folks who work in government or international affairs. Lest he be forgotten, recall that one of the U.S. State Department officials killed in the Benghazi consulate attack, Sean Smith, was a GoonSwarm member. I gather he knew Mittens both online and off.

      • JarinArenos says:

        Went by the handle “vile rat” in game. Goonswarm’s Spymaster and Chief Diplomat.

        • kondor999 says:

          I’m ex-AFISRA. If any of our current intel people are wasting their time on this juvenile pantomime of real ops, then it’s little wonder we’re getting our clocks cleaned by chess players like SVR. Christ.

          • ohminus says:

            Quite the contrary. The reason why you’re getting duped is because you’re crudgy, set in your ways and believe your own hype instead of challenging yourself with out-of-the-box situations. Good thing you’re ex-*. Because living in the past is about the most idiotic and incompetent thing an intelligence agency can do. Welcome to the 21st century. Don’t like it? Tough shit.

    • Twirrim says:

      gets up from his desk as a DoD contractor and says, “That was not enough powerbrokering. What other powerbrokering is there to do? I will devote the remainder of my day to that.”

      I think you have a somewhat glorified notion of what a DoD contractor is. You can make significant amounts of money on DoD contracts as even simple network admins, if you’ve got Top Secret SCI clearance (think $200-300k+ as a starting point, 150-200k sort of ball park for standard security clearance).

      There are sizeable chunks of the US in which you could buy large houses outright within a few years on that kind of money.

      Combine that with straight forward conservative investing and simple financial discipline and it’s possible to get to what people might often classify as “obscenely rich” by your mid 30s without trying hard, sooner if you’re prepared to really make your money work.

      On a separate note, maybe you don’t play Eve, but this war really will be fun for the participants. Fighting is fun. Taking on big challenges is fun. Outsmarting players is fun. Daily going out and grinding on rats, or firing up your mining alt, is utterly boring in comparison (though a good source of funds to support the fun stuff).

      Yes there are going to be some “fair-weather friends” that are probably throwing their rattles out of their prams, rage quitting or whatever, but to hell with them. Space in Eve belongs to those prepared to fight for it.

      • zsd says:

        That’s fair. I think I mistook “defense contractor” for “defense contract manager.”

        And I never meant to diminish the satisfaction EVE players derive from EVE. It just made me think of that episode of The Office where Dwight has a Second Life character who’s also a paper salesman.

    • lordcooper says:

      Lenny is actually a really nice guy. He poured ridiculous amounts of money into keeping a newbie focused corp afloat and does cool stuff like this: link to reddit.com

  13. Sleepery says:

    “The worry was they would try to single me out, target me as an individual out-of-game”

    Scary.

    • Jediben says:

      I have no idea why anyone would offer any real information about themselves in an mmo environment. There are a lot of people (the whole population of eve) with tome to waste and suspect grasps of reality that could easily take offence psst the point of rage quit.

      • Jediben says:

        *time *past
        Fucking autocorrect.

      • lordcooper says:

        Oh do shut up.

        When I play Eve I log in, blow shit up and log out. Exactly the same as when I play Quake.

  14. zachdidit says:

    As a current player who’s in the thick of the war on a nightly basis, flying the Pandemic Horde banner, I have to say this is one of the best write ups I’ve seen from a media outlet. Kudos on keeping the facts straight and still being able to weave a compelling story!

  15. rexx.sabotage says:

    Awwwwwwwww, good for EVE ♥ –She gets a bit angst-y when there is not enough:

    SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE DRAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  16. Premium User Badge

    Skabooga says:

    This is the best soap opera (space opera?) I’ve read in ages. You’re at the top of your craft, Brendan!

  17. P.Funk says:

    I find the Mittani’s grandiose rhetoric tiresome and I’ve only been reading it for 15 minutes. How could anyone have put up with this buffoon for 10 years?

    • ThornEel says:

      If History is any indication, surprisingly many people. The trick is, grandiose rhetoric is all about context when hearing it (and using a lot of it).
      Good thing this one demagogue is using his talents for evil in a relatively insulated universe where it won’t actually cause too much damage – and where it gives a fascinating glimpse of how some RL demagogues work.

      • kondor999 says:

        This Mittani guy comparing himself to Putin is beyond amusing. I suspect Putin would eat his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti IRL.

    • Alfius says:

      I’ve never come across anyone with the passion and energy that Mittens has for Eve. He’s a divisive figure, for sure, but his drive and commitment to the welfare of his people is unparalleled.

      • P.Funk says:

        Yes that all may be true, but specifically his rhetoric annoys me. XD

        Maybe its because I came to my own political awakening during the tumultuous years of 9/11 and the 2003 Iraq invasion and I find that language fetid and aggravating to my sensibilities.

        I wanna slow clap to his passion as I back toward the door with an odious scowl on my face. I’d probably have great fun joining on the side attacking his shitpatrol faction.

      • wraithgr says:

        Didn’t we just read an article about how he let some of his most trusted allies out to dry?

        • Alfius says:

          You might want to read my post below. Yes I’m partisan, but trust me, CO2 were never left out to dry. On the contrary, CO2 were the greatest recipient of military assistance from the coalition in few months running up to Easter, we fought for their moons at the expense of leaving SMA to manage their own defence more than they should have had to.

          For some light background reading, I’d suggest having a skim through the CO2 diplomatic logs (link to pastebin.com), even if you account for Corps Diplo cherry picking the best stuff you’ll still come away with a clear picture of the sort of people you’re dealing with. Whether it affects how you interpret what they have to say about the war is up to you.

  18. Marblecake says:

    Hey Brendan, how about starting a KS for your own book about EVE? I’m loving your write-ups, this one was the best yet!

  19. Alfius says:

    Great write up, easily the best non-Eve source so far to cover the war.

    Just a couple of factual gripes; CO2’s titan losses were cause by their super pilots warping to their staging POS at zero rather than to properly assigned station keeping points within the bubble. As a result three titans and a super carrier bounced outside of the protective force field and were destroyed. The Imperium cannot be blamed for CO2’s failure to properly coordinate warp-ins at their staging POS.

    The idea that GSF and the rest of the coalition left CO2 out to dry during big fights is patently false. I’m not sure who your source is within CO2 but they’re making this shit up. The coalition spent months defending CO2 assets in low sec and Venal, usually in the face of CO2 pulling their typical special snowflake ‘I don’t want to properly coordinate with my allies because I’m better than the rest of you’ crap. We bled for them and they repaid us with treason. They’re done in Eve, even the Money Badgers won’t work with them after this was is over, they’ve shown themselves to be contemptible opportunists and the idea that they had some special relationship with Lawn/Bastion is insulting. I was, until recently, an FC with Lawn and I spent two consecutive 10 hour days running interference fleets in defence of the Vale prior to the pull out order followed by several more days of evac supervision and pipe cleaning. CO2 wasn’t anywhere to be seen outside of their one constellation. I personally watched a timer in northern Vale tick down knowing I could’ve stopped the hackers if only the CO2 Rupture fleet that was only 10 jumps away would come and lend a hand. Suffice it to say, they never showed so I threw my fleet into the meat grinder just to make a point. Two days later they turned their coats after we threw almost two thousand men into one of the largest fights in online gaming history to defend their home system.

    Fuck CO2.

    But yeah, awesome article.

    • Halk says:

      Right. “Factual gripes” from someone clearly biased (and involved with) the Imperium. As opposed to…I dunno, maybe an impartial journalist?

      • P.Funk says:

        Impartial journalists are only as good as their sources and their own objectivity. We have no idea how truly impartial this journalist is. Even the most impartial of journos in real life often misreport or are subject to the manipulations of one or another perspective and have to refine or apologise or be countered by others.

        This isn’t to say that our man here raising the objections is any more objective. He’s by his own admission in a position where everything he says ought to be seen as prejudiced, even if he believes what he says.

        This is why many say that history can only be written many many years after the fact. The issue with Eve is how does one go about finding the kind of documentation that real historians rely on? I’m not sure you’ll find nearly as much useful stuff in Eve as you’d find in real life.

        • Alfius says:

          Well put. At some point it all becomes a bit of a ‘he said, she said’, but the first step to the underlying truth is surely to listen to what he and she actually have to say.

          • P.Funk says:

            Yes, though with people being so conscious of propaganda not just for useful reasons but because its a gas to just BS your way through the conversation its hard to imagine you get as much good info out of just listening to them talk.

            It did occur to me though that this kind of conflict, the online multiplayer type, really seems to ask for that classic Thucydides style of historiography, penetrating events with exhaustive interviews and relying heavily on first hand accounts and one’s own participation. The issue is, who would we be able to trust to be a Thucydides?

  20. Premium User Badge

    harvb says:

    I can’t fathom of a game that has this much background and politics behind it, it’s incredible to think it’s going on all the while. Fascinating read.

  21. JcDent says:

    Mitani… is strange, for a goon. As far as I know, SA and goons have some nihilist, “nothing matters” themes going, which also includes making fun of people who get too much into a game or a hobby. I guess if they really don’t care that much, it’s easier to bounce back from defeat.

    As long as you loudly declare how much you don’t care about manchild spess ship gaems.

    • Sound says:

      In the context of Eve, that evolution from ‘no fux given’ toward SpaceSerious makes a lot of sense. Eve is incredibly competitive, so to ‘win’ you generally need to be more organized, put in more effort. Especially compared to… well, any other game. Inevitably, lots of people actually want to attempt winning, so over time, the need for seriousness increases. Ultimately, The Mittani is doing what he thinks is the most effective way to manage an organization composed of thousands of fickle gamers, whose time could be spent on something more instant-gratification.
      For anyone in that circumstance, the pressure is on.

      • April March says:

        Yeah, this is what I always say: EVE is troll-proof, because in order to be a troll you need to be uninvested, but in order to pull of the kind of intereference you need to troll in EVE you need to be invested. The fact that SA came to EVE to troll and became essentially the evil empire of a space opera shows how effective it is.

  22. Verbal says:

    Very good article. Would love to know what happens. Please keep us informed.

  23. dorobo says:

    Interesting write up. Im pretty sure i was in a same corporation and flew in same fleets with this banker dude loong time ago :) I think i even got kicked by him out of the corp because i had not enough isk to buy better ships.

  24. rb207 says:

    Really great stories, loved the previous installment too. Makes me wish I played this game. Maybe if it was more like a flight sim I would. They are great stories because they involve real personalities.

    I have only half read this so far but it seems like having built up an empire based on making war it falls apart without a constant stream of targets or enemies. Its also interesting looking at the causes of war.

  25. jezcentral says:

    Great write up.

    P.S. It’s a war of attrition, not contrition, which is something Mittens doesn’t know anything about.

  26. Janichsan says:

    EVE Online – the only game in existence that is more interesting to read about than to actually play…

  27. tnc123 says:

    Great write up, factually correct and not too biased unlike most press articles about this game.

  28. Acosta says:

    Magnificent chronicle, this is the kind of stuff I really love from RPS. Loved reading it.

    Awesome work Brendan, thanks for the effort.

  29. dioaloke says:

    I always find those EVE stories fascinating. They show how crazy virtual worlds can be, how complex and intermingled with real life. My reaction is always: “I wish I could witness this in person!”, but I really don’t have the dedication most of these games require. Hell, I dropped Elite Dangerous because it took me so long to get from A to B.

    I wonder if someday MMOs will be so important those virtual wars will spill into reality and cause some real damage.

  30. Napalm Sushi says:

    So today I learned that there’s a lengthy Wikipedia article on the Bloodbath of B-R5RB.

    …Written in the format of an actual historical battle article. With a proper conflict infobox and everything.

    …While over 500 articles about tangible, lethal military engagements remain stubs.

    OK then, world.

    • Jediben says:

      Real military actions tend to require secrecy, plausible deniability and anonymity for fear of repercussions. Especially when acting on behalf of Big Business.

      • whodafug says:

        That a sweeping statement if ever I saw one. What wars have been fought “on behalf of” Big Business?

      • Napalm Sushi says:

        Oh, I get that as a recent online spectacle whose every moment was digitally logged by multiple public actors, it’s going to be a lot more readily sourced than any real military conflict. It was just a bit of a “so… I guess it’s the future now?” moment.

  31. brulleks says:

    I’ve never played Eve, ad probably never will, but this is a captivating account of the story possibilities for an in-game world.

    And now I’m wondering what Mittens has planned for when everyone else is at Fanfest…

  32. coldvvvave says:

    Interesting but utterly disgusting, almost as bad as real world.

    • Sound says:

      The common denominator: People. No other game leverages people’s nature as well as Eve.

  33. Player1 says:

    A brilliant, gripping piece of storytelling. I’ve never played Eve Online, just seen videos of it being played. But reading this has got me clenching my coffee cup for endless minutes without taking a single sip. I would be happy to read more of it.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Ericusson says:

    I got some amazing time in Eve for 2 years and some very boring ship spinning and pre TD lag fests.
    As much as the article is an interesting piece, I am so glad I can’t play anymore ! The game can bring some good but being about people hiding behind screens for the most part, it mostly brings the worst of people’s behaviour at all kinds of scales.

    And we already have reality bringing all kinds of shit to the world for that.

  35. Monggerel says:

    “Man buys victory; cynic remains unsurprised.”

  36. llamadave says:

    Tremendous piece, keep them coming!

  37. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    Great write up, thanks! Will be interesting to see what actually happens in the next few weeks / months.

  38. fearandloathing says:

    Wow I really have no interest in EVE or other MMO’s, but these were quite delightful to read, kudos

  39. Sound says:

    I think it’s worth noting that the article might greatly mis-represent the progress of the war, depending on what you define as winning or losing. This sounds pedantic but it actually matters.

    Looking at Imperium territory lost as a benchmark for progress is highly misleading. Reason being, in the current gameplay mechanics, territory-holding defenders are greatly, greatly disadvantaged. Further, it’s possible for an attacker to set themselves up in such a way that it’s impossible to counter-attack their holdings. They can throw punches without fear of getting hit back. These are the sad circumstances of the current war.

    For the Imperium, or anyone else defending territory against large numbers, holding ground is about as effective as trying to hold back the tide. Territory loss was a foregone conclusion early on, and contesting it in most cases would be strategically nonsensical. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs, within the game mechanics.

    On the other hand, organizational cohesion is a great benchmark. Imperium’s taken some big hits there, but the attackers’ cohesion isn’t great to begin with. Territory loss be damned, this war has only begun, and unshackling the Imperium from their territory obligations has some major benefits.

  40. Iluvatar says:

    This Mittens guy sounds like pure embodied cancer — the exact type of self righteous, arrogant asshole that is often attracted to MMOs. I’ve known many like him. He’s the kind that will blatantly lose to you over and over in a 1v1 and still assert he’s better; which is exactly what he’s doing in a meta-game sense right now. Going on about “summer children” (umm, yes, it was very obvious that you stole that term from game of thrones) like as though we’re talking about real life here; like as though he’s a veteran soldier and not someone who simply plays video games all day. A pathetic embarrassment to gamers.

    • Hobbes says:

      Careful, something you should remember is that Mittens the persona of EVE is likely a very different entity from the person in real life. EVE is fascinating precisely because it turns people into these strange, warped, vicarious versions of themselves. It’s a good experiment in what happens when you effectively try to have the internet self regulate the laws of the land without things like real names and real consequences to go along with their actions. I don’t mix with the Goonsquad because I don’t share their values, but I don’t make value judgments about them either, EVE would give rise to something akin to Goonsquad or their equivalents regardless.

    • Sound says:

      I think you’ve got him wrong.
      He’s performing a role for the sake of his organization. His job is focusing and driving thousands of people in one direction, and preventing the horde from fraying of falling asleep. If he doesn’t make exaggerated, entertaining public statements, then he’s missing an opportunity to help animate the group. It’s rather separate from whatever he personally thinks.

      He’s not cancer, he’s an invaluable personality performing a critical role with top-notch expertise, and Eve would be far less interesting without him. You don’t have to like him(you’re not supposed to), you only need to react to him.

      Also: The game of thrones reference was supposed to be entirely blatant, not sneaky.

      • Josh W says:

        I’m not sure that “he’s not actually an arsehole, he’s merely pretending to be one for the game” makes much difference really; whether he would do it or not in real life (now), he’s still doing it in his game persona, just as with all those people who’ve been being arseholes in games down through history.

        Probably more interesting is the idea that he’s doing what he has to do, rather than settling into a certain style that suits him, do leaders of game factions need to be like that? Is there some strategic or diplomatic advantage being gained?

        It’s probably not enough to say “well obviously, he’s heading the currently largest faction”, because their advantages may be due to things entirely unrelated to the self-parodying aggressive style. There’s also path dependence too; you get entertainers who start off doing some funny persona, then it kind of hangs around, the old people get used to it, and it becomes a familiarity thing, and it becomes impossible to explain to their kids why this person is doing this weird stuff, or why it’s good. I’m thinking Ken Dodd probably had a similar trajectory. Never understood the appeal of that guy.

        • Sound says:

          I see what you’re saying, and it’s a good point.
          However, his style does have a very specific purpose that’s entirely applicable: in-group/out-group definition.

          In Eve, the only way to REALLY lose is to lose membership, either via disillusionment or boredom. One thing that’s been driven home strongly within Eve is that the most resilient groups(in terms of membership) and partnerships stick with their corp/alliance/coalition via strong social bonds. When you know your allies well, when you’ve spent a lot of time with them, or feel a strong personal connection with the group character, you’re gonna stick around, and you’ll also probably be more prone to log in, to be with the group.

          That’s pretty well understood, and isn’t specific to Eve, but what about when you want to foster this kind of investment at *large scale*, with hundreds, or thousands of people? Tens of thousands? The leaders cannot interface with everyone at the personal level to help that bond. So instead they have to use an intermediary tool: Culture. You create policies, memes, taboos, traditions, etc, and you foster the hell out of those. You try to design them in a way to not only sucks in a newcomer that you’ve never met; you also ensure that this culture is different enough that when someone invests in YOUR culture, it pulls them farther from the culture of everyone else, and keeps them from feeling like your culture is interchangeable with someone else’s.

          This is how you rise above the rest of the game, filled with more casual groups and leaders, who do not strongly define themselves, and really are interchangable.

          The Mittani’s alliance is NOT interchangable. When you join his alliance, Goonswarm Federation, this strategy becomes very apparent. And it works extremely well. They had an accidental headstart on this strategy by virtue of being from the Something Awful forums, but they’ve built on it very effectively.

          When it comes to his somewhat douchey statements and grandstanding, these instances are mainly rooted either in cultural traditions, or as a way to try to be flashy and interest-making, or as a way of reinforcing the group character(“you and me are the bad guys of Eve, so we’re in this together”), or as a way of alienating and other-izing the other groups relative to your group. It’s smart politics, in my opinion.

          And if the ‘seriousness’ of it bothers you, bare in mind that this is sort of a non-traditional spin on roleplaying that all these alliance players are taking part of. It’s the sort of voluntary self-sorting that you see happen in sports team rivalries: Clearly petty and meaningless, but fun, competitive, and an interesting, optional way to define yourself, separate from real life.

          And also like sports, Eve is not so much a game as it is *a hobby,* something happening in the background of peoples’ lives over the long term. That distinction has a lot of subtle implications that are also important here… But that would mean more word-count than one post warrants.

          So yeah, I get what you’re saying, but within the context of Eve, his actions and persona does make some decent amount of sense, mostly.

          • Josh W says:

            That’s a pretty clever answer, so when building the culture of your faction, you want it to be accessible, but not too accessible; you explicitly want to turn some people off, so that you create contrasts with the people you want to fight?

            Because I suppose if people outside want to rip off your style, then there’s not much you can do to stop them really, so maintaining difference from another faction is a matter of engineering some kind of self-sorting cultural phase transition with them, where you each distinguish yourselves from each other by enjoying and emphasising what the other people despise, while pretending that you’re just doing your own thing.

            Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I suppose it’s another layer of the “eve is pretty evil, but in a fun way”; people rob and scam people, wage wars and blow up each other’s stuff, and they stereotype each other and build furious tribal rivalries from nothing, because if it builds into the equivalent of a football pitch fight, there’s no actual problem, because it’s all ships in a game.

            I’d probably say then that this just makes me “not a goon”, (by taste/humour etc. even though I’m not actually in the game) because the MBC posts I’ve been reading are hilarious, and way better than the imperium stuff.

            It’d be really interesting to see if they loose, retain coherence as “the guys everyone hates”, and end up retaining a persistent smaller status on the edges.

            It also makes me wonder if the imperium was designed as a fix for the cultural problem of “being the guys everyone hates” but still trying to form alliances; use old fashioned hierarchical structures, and see if you can get people to buy into the idea of an evil empire, space pope etc. so that people can have multi-layer identities, keep their group in coherence, work together, and still think of the people on top as the dodgy ones.

            Be interesting to see what comes next.

  41. Scott says:

    I’m a bit late, but just popping in to say this was a brilliant piece of reporting. Very fun read, even for an EVE outsider.

  42. Kala says:

    “Recently, a Moneybadger pilot thought the Goons “could use a care package”. He flew into Saranen, the Imperium’s new home, in a diplomatic shuttle and got himself blown up. When the Goons picked over the ship’s corpse, they discovered a cargo hold full of skill books – 441 copies of “Leadership”, 10 copies of “Corporation Management” and 1 copy of “Empire Control”.”

    Teehee.

    Sick burn.

  43. skabb155 says:

    Typical. “lets put a$$holes in the spotlight and praise them for ruining someones day.” This is what is wrong with the world. This is why young dipsh!ts go and join ISIS. Because in videogames we are “allowed” to be sociopaths who take pleasure in others misery and douchebag publications like RPS and IGN go and pat the sociopaths on the back for being the best greedy, backstabbing, murdering pieces of sh!t out there.