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!

Complete coverage of EVE Online’s World War Bee

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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