EVE Online political betrayal results in record-breaking theft

The EVE Online twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a political twist so enormous that it’s become the largest recorded theft of in-game assets in the game’s history. In the middle of the night and without warning, major EVE military alliance Circle of Two (or CO2 for short) was betrayed by its diplomatic officer, a player with the ominous name of The Judge. In addition to cleaning out the alliance war funds and assets to the tune of over a trillion ISK, The Judge also transferred ownership of CO2’s 300 billion ISK keepstar citadel in its capital star system of 68FT-6 to a holding corporation, effectively stealing the alliance’s home space station.

News of The Judge’s betrayal trickled out of EVE all through the night, and it wasn’t long before the full extent of the incident was known. The 68FT-6 keepstar was sold to enemy alliance Goonswarm Federation, while CO2’s smaller citadels throughout Impass are now in the hands of TEST Alliance. The theft combined with the value of the citadels is estimated at over 1.5 trillion ISK, easily beating the 2011 trillion ISK Phaser Inc scam to become the highest-value theft in EVE‘s history. The actual damage done is even more extensive, injecting a huge dose of chaos into CO2 alliance and throwing fuel on the fire of the southern war.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of last night’s record-breaking theft, the reasons behind the betrayal, and the political situation that led us here.

A tale of two villains

In an open letter to Circle of Two on Reddit last night, The Judge attempted to justify his betrayal to the EVE community. He claimed that his counterpart gigX had grown to hate the development direction CCP was taking EVE in, and thinks that “gigX needs to let CO2 die and move on with his life.” He also admitted that the theft was partly done because he’d put so much into CO2 over the years and wanted “to leave with something to show for it.”

The Judge claims that he plans to use his ill-gotten gains to now help CO2 line members directly harmed by his theft, but that will be of little comfort to the thousands of players who have logged in to find their home stations in the hands of the enemy.

On the other side of the incident, gigX himself went into something of a rage when he logged in to find the theft had taken place. He was permanently banned today for trying to find The Judge’s real life home address and threatening to seriously harm him in real life. Before being banned, gigX removed the Balkan Mafia corp that both he and The Judge were members of from the CO2 alliance. This was probably a response to The Judge streaming the alliance chat live to twitch, but some of the threats made against him had already been seen by hundreds of players and reported to CCP.

The politics of theft

This betrayal came as a surprise to most of EVE, but it may actually have had its roots in the massive World War Bee conflict we reported on last year. Circle of Two severed ties with The Imperium quite early in the war with accusations that ally Goonswarm Federation was just using CO2 as a meatshield. The Judge claims that several key leadership members left after the war and others went inactive, but also admits that he himself has been spending more time on CSM duties lately.

It’s quite messy then that this theft was reportedly planned with assistance from Goonswarm. Goonswarm has now joined forces with TEST Alliance, who severed diplomatic ties with CO2 last month, to take advantage of the situation. The group has set up a hell camp with warp disruption bubbles around the 68FT-6 keepstar and is killing any members of CO2 who undock.

While stories of political intrigue are a big part of what makes EVE special, many nullsec players are actually furious with this situation. The war in the south was shaping up to be some great PvP content and a real conclusive test of citadel warfare in the absence of serious metagaming, and the fight over the 68FT-6 keepstar could have been amazing.

What does this mean for CO2?

Circle of Two is still currently one of the largest military alliances in the game, with just under 4,000 members and sizeable territory in the Impass region in the south of EVE. Membership dropped a little this morning when several corporations left following the theft and could fall further as individual corporations react. This betrayal could be either the start of a death spiral for the alliance or the rallying cry that gets the remaining line members to pull together, but it certainly spells disaster for the alliance’s immediate war ambitions.

It now seems certain that CO2 will lose its territory in Impass and Catch and will have to rebuild even if it survives as an alliance. Not only is the alliance’s war fund gone, but alliance members’ own assets are now locked down in stations they can’t access any more. Their choices are to conduct a firesale of their assets to the station’s new owners or manually activate the citadel’s Asset Safety system to automatically evacuate their stuff.

Asset safety would deliver everything to the nearest station in low-security space risk-free, but it takes five days to complete and costs 15% of the value of the assets being transported. That’s a hell of a financial hit for those in CO2 who have been using the citadel as their main home in EVE, and those with assets in legacy outposts don’t even have an asset safety system to fall back on.

For more information, be sure to check out Jin’taan’s expert analysis of the incident, which includes details of how it affects the ongoing war in the south of EVE and interviews with both The Judge and CO2 fleet commander Beppe:

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