We covered World War Bee heavily at the time, following its political twists and decisive battles as The Imperium was forcibly evicted from its home regions in the north. The coalition vowed revenge, annexed space in the south of the map, and began farming hard to rebuild its supercapital fleets in preparation for the day when they would take the fight back to the enemy. That day may have finally arrived, but are both sides afraid to commit?
The revenge war that never was
Last August it looked like that revenge was at hand when The Imperium moved 1,000 capital ships across the map to the north of New Eden overnight and teamed up with massive TEST alliance forces. After several unsuccessful attempts to establish a beachhead in enemy space and a lot of ISK in ships destroyed, the war eventually lost a lot of momentum. The Imperium declared its strategic objectives met and went home to the south, where it continued to farm and rebuild its supercapital fleet to massive proportions.
That leads us to today, when a seemingly routine border skirmish has reportedly caused The Imperium and its ancient rivals to lock horns again. Having now rebuilt its supercapital fleet to massive proportions, The Imperium is poised to commit so many resources to this battle that player progodlegend estimates a fully escalated battle could result in over $1,000,000 US equivalent in destruction. There’s a catch, though — For the battle to reach this scale will require that both sides decide to commit their full force to the war effort, and that’s a tall ask.
Escalation point and the reluctance to fight
Territorial battles in EVE normally start out at reasonable scales and escalate as each side commits more expensive capital and supercapital ships to maintain superiority on the field and win whatever objective is being fought over. At the scale of thousands of pilots, the decision to escalate is made by fleet commanders and each battle is as much a game of poker as space-chess. In his reddit thread on the war, progodlegend suggests that leaders on both sides of this conflict are abject cowards, that they will refuse to fight and then blame the game mechanics for making escalation unfavourable.
“They will then each make up a bunch of excuses, declare the other side as ‘cowardly’ for not directly charging into their defensive position, and tell everyone to log off from the game” – progodlegend
EVE historian Andrew Groen agreed that “There’s a lot of worry that the opposing fleet commanders may be too timid to commit, because the risk/cost is so high” but highlighted that “the community is goading them into it.” Keep your eyes peeled because the next big story coming out of EVE Online may very well be about a million dollars’ worth of ships going up in smoke.