EVE Evolved: How did World War Bee start and where is it going?

Throughout the almost nine years I’ve been covering EVE Online in the gaming media, I’ve been continually amazed at the sheer scale and impact of events that happen in the sandbox. The fact that everything happens in one massive shardless universe lends events in EVE a kind of tangibility that is rarely felt in an MMO, with the effects of huge battles and record-breaking heists rippling throughout the game world and potentially affecting every player. Right now the whole New Eden cluster is ablaze with talk of the largest war ever to kick off in EVE Online or indeed gaming in general, a war that has come to be known as World War Bee.

We’ve been covering this ongoing war between EVE‘s largest military coalition (called CFC or The Imperium) and its collective enemies (known as The Allies or the Moneybadger Coalition), and so far it’s had some pretty epic twists and fights. But what actually caused World War Bee, what are the events that led to the Moneybadger Coalition coming together, and how does The Imperium plan to fight this war in the long term? With the wider gaming world peering on as EVE alliances smash huge fleets together in deep space over ideals and past grudges, now is a good opportunity to explore those questions.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the events that many in the EVE community believe are responsible for World War Bee and get an update on its progress and The Imperium’s plans.

imperiummapWas this war inevitable?

The past few years in EVE have been marred by political stagnation as just two or three mega-coalitions managed to dominate all of nullsec between them. Territorial alliances were essentially forced to either join a coalition or get stomped into the ground by one, and the coalitions themselves had various peace agreements in place. Unfortunately, politically stable peacetime in a game based on political intrigue and smashing giant fleets together proved to be extremely boring for all involved. It got so bad that people started running fleets where they killed allies and organising fake battles as manufactured content.

We always wondered what would happen when someone finally conquered EVE, and we got our answer — turns out it’s rubbish. Last August saw the release of the Aegis sovereignty overhaul that was designed to break the monopoly that massive groups had on nullsec and let smaller alliances capture and hold space. The Aegis sovereignty system sounded a death knell to monolithic organisations like the nullsec megacoalitions, and The Imperium (then called CFC) was the largest of those megacoalitions. Maintaining dominion over such a vast empire was always going to be difficult with the new game mechanics, so perhaps all-out war was inevitable from that point onward.

warimperiumTimeline of pre-war events

While there are a lot of different views in the community on what directly or indirectly led to World War Bee, it’s clear that The Imperium has collected a lot of enemies over the years and those old grudges are all coming out again. The Imperium has fended off several major wars in the past, but the scale of this war is larger than those by far with some estimates putting the Moneybadger forces at 50,000 pilots. The guys over at factionwarfare.com have put together an interesting timeline of events that they believe led up to this war, and the writers at Crossing Zebras have penned several articles on the history of the war so far.

According to both sources, the initial flashpoints for the war were likely The Mittani Media’s failed $100,000 Kickstarter campaign to produce a novel about the 2013 Fountain War, and the oppressive Viceroyalty scheme he announced shortly after the campaign began to fail. The plan for the Viceroyalty scheme was to simply declare regions of space to be under Imperium dominion and then demand tribute from all alliances living there in exchange for various benefits (principally, not being invaded by The Imperium). If that sounds a lot like a protection racket, that’s because it is. The Viceroyalty announcement did not go down well with other alliances, and The Imperium geared up for war against several alliances in low-security space that held valuable moons.

fightingState of the war: Sunday’s events

Though most MMORPG gamers have been paying close attention to this war for only the past few days, the fighting in lowsec began last December and raged on throughout January and February. Alphabet over at Crossing Zebras has documented these early days of the war, including details of major battles in Iralaja and Nisuwa and the formation of the Lowsec Voltron coalition. This is where our initial coverage of the war picked up, with EVE gambling website IWantISK hiring Pandemic Legion and opting to personally bankroll an ongoing war against The Imperium, leading to the colossal entity we’re now calling the Moneybadger Coalition.

Today has seen further fighting, with skirmishes ongoing throughout the Fade and Branch regions following Friday’s major attack on Fidelas Constans’ staging system of UQ9-3C. The successful capture of the station there on Friday put it into a freeport mode that allowed anyone to dock there, and the final battle to complete ownership of the station has just finished as I write this article. Players have been moving ships assets from the station throughout the day so that they aren’t trapped inside when the station is captured, and both the station and the system’s Territorial Claim Unit were conquered by Out of Sight alliance with very little opposition.

firesideHow has The Imperium’s position changed?

The recent fights in UQ9-3C and loss of key member Circle of Two have cast some doubt on The Imperium’s ability to field comparable fleet sizes to MBC. In response to overwhelming numbers, The Imperium announced a switch to more guerilla style tactics, using interceptor and bomber fleets to harass enemies while risking very little in terms of ISK.

In a fireside chat on twitch tonight (NSFW due to swearing), The Imperium confirmed that it expects to lose a lot of sovereignty to MBC and plans to then counter-attack and recapture space later. The Imperium believes that the Moneybadger Coalition doesn’t actually want to live in and defend the systems it’s capturing in the long term and that the coalition will eventually give up and split apart. At that time, The Imperium plans to return to power and get systematic revenge on all those involved in the war — to build “a pile of skulls.”

The Imperium’s immediate plans include “draining the fun” out of Moneybadger Coalition’s gameplay in order to dampen their willpower; it aims to continue to base out of the uncapturable lowsec system of Sarenen for the foreseeable future. During the fireside speech, Imperium leader The Mittani also objected to players, the media and CCP Games referring to the war as World War Bee without consulting them on the name first and suggested that CCP itself is hostile to The Imperium. The suggestion was that the war be called The War Of Sovless Aggression and that the Moneybadger Coalition should instead be referred to as Band of Backstabbers. Controlling the narrative of a war is important part of the propaganda metagame in EVE, so it’s understandable that both sides would seek to impose their own branding on this conflict.

evecaptureend

Reports indicate that Circle of Two has now joined the Moneybadger Coalition, and The Imperium believes that Circle brought with it confidential information such as the location of supercapital shipyards that are currently building titans and supercarriers.

News of this colossal war have caused many ex players to return to the game both for The Imperium and on the Moneybadger Coalition. The spike in player activity has been a welcome change for EVE, which has seen steady drops in activity over the past few years. Today’s peak concurrent player total even broke the 40,000 barrier for the first time in 11 months, and the war is just starting to heat up. If you’re a returning player or a newbie and you want to get involved in this war, check out EVE player Ned Thomas’ guide on which corporations are recruiting.

EVE Online expert Brendan ‘Nyphur’ Drain has been playing EVE for over a decade and writing the regular EVE Evolved column since 2008. The column covers everything from in-depth EVE guides and news breakdowns to game design discussions and opinion pieces. If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered, drop him a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com!

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97 Comments on "EVE Evolved: How did World War Bee start and where is it going?"

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Gavin_Lafferty
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Gavin_Lafferty

I don’t play EVE. Never have, likely never will. But when I read articles like this…I just thank god a game like EVE exists.

vulcanhacker
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vulcanhacker

Gokuofuin I have been away from Eve for a while. So, Test is in this Money Badger Qualition? Whats the status of Brave Alliance now? I had most fun playing this game when I was part of Brave. If Brave is not around, I will prolly join Test. Is Test and PL allies now in this war? Can anyone help me with info here?

VasDrakken
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VasDrakken

it is basically the people who are sick and tired of dealing with griefers fighting the griefers who coined the term carebear for anyone who wants a challenge, confused by both sides recruiting as many people to throw at the fight as possible so no notices most of the high level players get people to farm for them and then sell mats to those players cheap to pay for their time cards so they don’t have to pay for the game simply generate staggering amounts of isk… and destroy as many ships as possible to get people to keep buying new ships… anyone who can take away from their income is attacked out of game as the well known meta gaming… it’s eve… some how the avg price of 200 billion for a titan fitting means that 252,000 dollars was spent on one heck of an amusement ride, once it is over you have to buy a second ticket. though each person buys there own and titans only happen in large corps so if you want to see one blow up that is pretty much the only way to see it in person… so all we need to do is find a way to prevent the meta gaming from ruining people’s lives in the process.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

SkyyDragonn Fenryr CistaCista 
Do remember, though, that EVE is giving free time for many, perhaps most, lapsed players. So, besides the war, the current situation is akin to a free weekend.
(Nothing against what CCP is doing; it makes perfect sense, and can result in long-term gain by making some lapsed players subscribe again. But it does distort what the concurrent player numbers mean.)

SkyyDragonn
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SkyyDragonn

Fenryr CistaCista EVE show current concurrent user count in the launcher. it was averaging 20-25k in the weeks before the war started getting press coverage. Since then concurrent player count has been in the 35-40k during USTZ hours fairly steadily.

StClair
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StClair

Armsbend GrathTelkin That said, there <i>is</i> a tiny grain of truth in counting the total numbers; see the semi-classic saying about tactics, strategy, and logistics.

StClair
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StClair

SallyBowls1 breetoplay CistaCista So edgelords, wow.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

SallyBowls1 Ket_Viliano alexjwillis  Lulz, I do not currently have access to my registered email acct :P
I hate email clients, and do not yet want to bother with calling to get the password reset, and then trolling through three years of spam, using a trash email client, just to get a few free days that I am more than willing to pay full price for. So, yea, .99 is a bargain to avoid all that. F’it.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Ket_Viliano alexjwillis  99 cents?  No wonder the world is disintegrating with people overpaying like that.  My free ten days in March email was followed up with an extension to April 3.  It worked on the 4th.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Boardwalker Valhalla Awaits Armsbend  There are actual numbers available at eve-offline.net

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay CistaCista  IIRC, they were the ones last decade that named their stations after concentration camps until CCP made them change it. Anyway, they are extremely comfortable with “not cute”

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Nyphur Oskiee schmidtcapela 
“Weaponised  boredom” my…
(breath in, breath out…)

Well, by now you’ve certainly read what SallyBowls1 posted before me. Mittatni and the Goons don’t do boredom; they go for pure, unashamed, outright griefing. Finding the most effective way to make others lose any and all joy they could get from the game and give up on even playing it.
It’s something allowed in EVE, of course. Which I consider a very dumb policy — as it empowers players to drive away others just for fun, and in so doing causes CCP to lose more revenue from the lost subscriptions than the players doing the griefing bring — but since it’s CCP’s game, they get to set the rules.

Midgetsnowman 
Yep, it’s indeed a valid, and important, tactic in real world wars, as well as in many other confrontational situations, such as hostage situations. Destroying the opponent’s morale (and preserving your own troop’s morale) is essential, and can even cause the other side to flee or surrender. There is a reason the police will do everything in their power to make life hell for anyone holding hostages, even at the cost of making the experience even worse for the hostage, as causing the criminal to surrender can save lives.

That, though, is real life. EVE is a game, an activity that is supposed to be done for fun, for enjoyment. There’s an inherent contradiction in employing tactics custom-tailored to kill all the joy while playing something that is supposed to be enjoyable.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Ket_Viliano SallyBowls1 Nyphur schmidtcapela  Yup

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Armsbend mmonerd  This war is between RMT ISK sites versus someone whose income is making money from his members. At least here, I just can’t accept the canard that pixels have no value.   RL$ and RL businesses are involved here.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

Gokuofuin  Build a WAR and make EVE great a again! :P

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

SallyBowls1 Nyphur schmidtcapela  The thing is, these tactics cut both ways…

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

Nyphur Ket_Viliano rottenrotny  The really good loot will not drop yet. Wait for the big ships to come out. And, learn to raid mobile depots. I gotta see what really happens when one gets blown up, what drops, etc.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

Robert80 Nordavind  867-5309 :P

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

alexjwillis  Resub is .99 cents for 10 days, you can’t go wrong for that.

Gokuofuin
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Gokuofuin

Join EVE for World War Bee! -> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BVFYNjJkcOg

Nyphur
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Nyphur

alexjwillis There are some groups third partying on the war, killing both sides and ignoring the sov. Maybe you could join one of them, from what I could see in Branch last night there were some great small fleet actions and some BIG gank opportunities. There were interceptor, t3d and cruiser fleets, and a few people had their carriers out that could have made for tasty kills if someone had been there to scramble them.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

schmidtcapela Thats actually a valid war tactic in the real world too. You simply wait for the will to fight to be sapped out of your opponents due to political concerns back home while fighting a guerrilla war.

alexjwillis
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alexjwillis

Great article, Brendan.
I was a former renter from the CFC (now The Imperium) in what is now the highly-contested area of the Vale of the Silent. Part of me would love to dive back in to kick my former landlords in the teeth, but the thought of teaming up with anybody affiliated with Pandemic Legion and Shadow Cartel is enough to turn my stomach. I have too many memories of getting supercap-dropped in lowsec by PL (and too many years of POCO domination by SC) to ever, ever team up with them — even if it is to take down the Goons. 
I will definitely admit, the war has piqued my interest. Maybe I should take my dusty battleships out of mothballs and go hunt both sides on the sidelines.

dragonwhimsy
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dragonwhimsy

ForgotPants dragonwhimsy It’s still an interstellar conflict, so even the term “World War” makes no sense.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

rottenrotny  I bet a 10x Time dilation is quite boring to watch. OTOH, I don’t eSport but find EVE’s Alliance Tournaments to be quite fascinating.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Nyphur schmidtcapela  In SoaSS#57, the Mittatni wrote the below.  I am conflicted, it is an amazing and deep conflict that is going on. OTOH, I question the wisdom or at least downside of a gaming company making the best strategy for some group be to make another group not want to play the game.

Ruin the Gameplay of Enemy Pilots

When choosing your stratagems, think about what impact they will have on the common grunt in the enemy fleet. Your enemy is not the hostile leadership, but their grunts. Your job is to make him decide to play another game rather than fight against your alliance, which means making life for that grunt as hard as possible. Snapping jump bridges doesn’t have much strategic impact in bloc warfare because for major ops Titans can provide jump bridges, but jump bridges are a massive boost to the quality of life of the humble pilot in his day-to-day affairs. Bridges should be snapped, jump beacons camped, and major pipes should be ruined with cloaking gankers. If you can scam, grief or humiliate the common grunt (via local smack, awoxing or forum wars) so much the better.

What will ruin the gameplay for the enemy can depend upon the culture and purpose of the enemy organization. While certain tactics impact just about everyone (cloaking gankers, bridge hits), your particular foe might have an Achilles heel. Some examples:  ‘Elite PvP’ organizations are typically populated by thin-skinned pilots who are particularly vulnerable to mockery in local or on the forums.

Organizations with a history of abandoning their allies can be pilloried at the diplomatic level to turn their current allies away from them. Pilots in renter organizations should be reminded that they are paying for the privilege of fighting for their landlords. ‘Honorable’ or roleplayer organizations can be shocked into submission by openly flaunting your willingness to use tactics they frown upon. The important thing is that when you find that a certain attack that hits a nerve, you twist the knife and don’t stop until they break.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

schmidtcapela Tenthyr  While knowing he was being videotaped. IMO, being stupid on camera is another level of stupid as politicians and police demonstrate repeatedly.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

schmidtcapela Armsbend Akami Oh… it will be… it will be.   Just takes time.

Robert80
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Robert80

Nordavind Robert80  I’m waiting for them to have ‘World War for a good time call…’

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Nyphur breetoplay CistaCista  A Goonswarm logo

Nyphur
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Nyphur

breetoplay CistaCista So they are naming their war after a sectarian euphemism used by a losing side in a war who practice historical revisionism to downplay the loss? Maybe it IS the perfect name!
As to why it’s called World War Bee and why they are annoyed at the name, it’s a bit more complicated. World War Bee is probably a play on World War Z, and then the bee comes from the logo of Goonswarm, who are the lead alliance in The Imperium. The objection was because he says the war isn’t against Goonswarm but the whole Imperium, but that’s in dispute as many the opposing forces have said they are specifically aiming for the destruction of Goonswarm.
The name was also reportedly discussed and agreed on in CSM channels and there were no objections even from the Imperium members.

CistaCista
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CistaCista

breetoplay CistaCista Fenryr ForgotPants Well I am in the game and I have seen max concurrence numbers reach around 30K in the past year. Back when EVE was largest, max concurrencies were around 40K players. 50K players were online on very rare occasions only. 
So it’s not been in huge decline, to me the game is the same melting pot as always, and this war is good for everybody.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

breetoplay CistaCista 
Yeah, I remember seeing the US Civil War called that (or, rather, a rendition in my native language) during high school. But then, we study your Civil War only in the context of the global efforts towards ending slavery and racism, as studying (and debunking) the arguments used to legitimize slavery and racism, both here and in other countries, are among the main history topics we study.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

I find detailed accounts of EVE to be absolutely fascinating.  Playing the game is entirely not for me, but I love hearing about it and what is going on in the game, and it gives me a bit of a sense of awe that it’s so ‘grand and complex’ (your Rush quote of the day).
Reminds me of a boy I knew who was big into Marvel comics. I never much cared for reading the comic books, but hearing him excitedly tell the tales with wide eyes about the titan Thanos and how he kicked the collective arses of the heroes with his magical gauntlet actually entertained me.  His passion for it made it seem much more important and meaningful as he talked about it.
I get the same feeling hearing Marty Robbins sing.  His voice has a quiet dignity that makes what he’s singing about seem very, very important.
Sometimes it’s not so bad to just sit and listen.

Zennie
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Zennie

EVE is dyeing again?

Zennie
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Zennie

Go play on test server then?

breetoplay
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breetoplay

CistaCista Fenryr ForgotPants I don’t think we should make that claim in the wake of EVE’s decline over the past few years.

EVE Evolved: How many subscriptions does EVE have?

Fenryr
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Fenryr

CistaCista Fenryr From a business standpoint probably not, if  you can trust the subscription numbers flying around in the web, but the average log-in numbers tell you a completely different story. I can only assume people are keeping up their sub so they can train their skills. Now it is going up again til the war / fun ends and it’s back on 20k-25k on average tendency down.

Considering Wow, yes they fucked it up completely, wonder how legion is going to change things. Probably a similar impact like the war now in eve: people are coming back just too leave again. The question is how soon ;)

Fenryr
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Fenryr

Armsbend I give this back to you Mr. 90% of my comments are doom and gloom ;-)

breetoplay
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breetoplay

CistaCista breetoplay Haha. Nah, according to wikipedia, it was invented in the ’50s: “The name arose in the 1950s during the Jim Crow era, when it was coined by segregationists who tried to equivocate contemporary efforts to end segregation to 19th century efforts to abolish slavery.”
Brendan’s said the Imperium’s sigil is a bee, which explains that term (and why Mittens is mad about it). :D

CistaCista
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CistaCista

Armsbend mmonerd Not that those rare ships is what will be used, but titans are still around 150-200 bn each I think (?), so 2000 USD every time one pops. Which could be a lot.

CistaCista
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CistaCista

Fenryr ForgotPants Nothing went wrong with EVE really. Now that WoW has seen its subscriptions halved, EVE is the game with the most succesful trajectory over such a long streak.

CistaCista
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CistaCista

Armsbend mmonerd The ships they lose do not necessarily have enormous value, because they have been using subcaps. In the battle that led to the alliance Circle of Two leaving the Imperium it was mentioned that they had lost 250 bn ISK and the leaving alliance had lost 50 bn of those 250.  How much is that in USD? Not much, something like that alliance lost 500 USD out of 2500 USD. Divide that over hundreds if not thousands of players and it is really nothing – YET.
Also compare it to the really rare ships that have values above 1 TRILLION ISK.

CistaCista
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CistaCista

breetoplay CistaCista
I see! So mostly used by southeners over the age of 160.
Actually I don’t get why it’s called World War Bee either lol

Armsbend
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Armsbend

Fenryr ForgotPants https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6cxNR9ML8k

Armsbend
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Armsbend

mmonerd To know that you’d have to determine the uptick in PLEX minus the ragular purchase rate and even then it would be imperfect.  So none.  PLEX and ships have no real world value.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

CistaCista breetoplay Southerners use it as a euphemism for the American Civil War. Rather I should say, some southerners, of a certain age and political persuasion, who prefer to see themselves as the aggrieved party in said war. I didn’t hear the term until college, and then being used sarcastically by a history professor in a teaching moment, but then I’m from the North. So if you’re younger than I am or not from the US at all, it’d be easy to have never heard it.
Their adopting the reference isn’t cute, is what I’m saying.

Zennie
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Zennie

EVE cannot have dogfighting fleets of the size of hundreds people. Fleets don’t really work like that, but there is enough stuff going on during the massive fight to completely capture your attention.
Except when in TiDi but that’s inevitable :-)

Fenryr
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Fenryr

ForgotPants Fenryr Your comment was a personal attack. neigter did it invalidate nor validate my comment it directly attacked me. Sarcasm is an attack btw.

ForgotPants
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ForgotPants

Fenryr ForgotPants Actually polemic is a verbal attack. And nothing I really said was a verbal attack. What I used was sarcasm.

Also, like you said, you stated your personal conditions and since it was a on public commenting system, someone replied to it. If you don’t want to hear someone else’s opinion then you shouldn’t post your own publicly either :)

wpDiscuz