Michael Bonnet is better known as Siaka Stevens in EVE Online. He's part of the corporation 'I'm Fine And You' in the Goonswarm Federation alliance, and regularly writes for EVE news site themittani.com.
EVE Online is famous for its colossal wars and battles, in which thousands of players fight, destroying ships worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if converted to real money value. The last truly huge battle I reported on was the battle in Y-MPWL in which two rival Russian groups duked it out over a moon. That war is long over, Red Menace Coalition having been defeated. Since then, much has changed. Here’s how one of Eve’s biggest wars of recent years got started.
At EVE Vegas 2015, the largest EVE event outside of the main convention in Iceland, CCP announced that there would be a Kickstarter campaign to support Jeff Edwards, a sci-fi/military fiction writer, in his endeavor to write a fictionalized account of the Fountain War, in which the iconic Battle of 6VDT-H took place. One catch, though—the Kickstarter would be managed by and the book published by The Mittani Media, run by Alexander Gianturco (The Mittani in EVE), leader of the old CFC (now rebranded as the Imperium), the winning side in that war.
The losing side in the war was headed by Test Alliance Please Ignore (TEST), a massive Reddit-based alliance. Though it has since rebuilt much of its strength, in the aftermath of that war, TEST collapsed and lost a few additional regions. Many members and member corporations (think guilds in other games) left for other alliances or left the game, but the animosity remained. The numbers TEST used to have permeated most every corner of the game, a diaspora of sorts.
The Imperium’s NATO was met by a Warsaw Pact in the N3 Coalition, made to form a deterrent to the Imperium expanding any further or attacking and destroying its enemies. They clashed in two major wars—the Halloween War in which the iconic Bloodbath of B-R5RB happened, and the less widely publicized Fountain War 2015. In this most recent Fountain War, N3 decided to wage one last major attack before the new system of attacking and holding sovereignty was implemented. The assault failed to take more than border systems, and upon the retreat of N3, the Imperium decided to attack. Soon the massive empire that N3 had built was in shambles and the coalition disbanded. Some of the N3 alliances died, some merged into others, some continued on. Animosity towards the Imperium grew.
This brings us back to October 2015, at the announcement of the Kickstarter. The diaspora of N3 and TEST cried out at the idea, believing that the book was a money grab by The Mittani and would be biased towards the Imperium in painting a picture of the war. Furthermore, the diaspora was outraged that anyone would attempt to make money off of their war and called out the CFC (aka the Clusterfuck Coalition, a name it used for years at that point) for rebranding itself as the Imperium to make the name more marketable for The Mittani Media. So, they refused to support the Kickstarter. The initiative reached just over a third of its $150,000 goal.
The Mittani, angered by all this, declared war upon nearby low-sec regions that contained the perceived enemies of the Kickstarter, and perhaps to him, the game. Space in EVE is divided into three areas: high-sec, in which PvP is met with lethal NPC police response, null-sec, in which most large battles happen and space can be conquered, and low-sec between the two, where only unsanctioned aggression away from stations and stargates is allowed. The Imperium began a campaign against the valuable moons held by these entities in an attempt to punish them. The brief conflict produced a few large fights but was largely unfruitful, the Imperium being almost consistently defeated. Then, a fateful decision was made.
Until it was banned in the aftermath of this war, gambling with your ISK (money) in EVE wasn't necessarily condoned by the EULA but was generally ignored. One website did this and made quite a pretty penny doing so: IWantIsk (IWI). A member alliance of the Imperium, SpaceMonkey’s Alliance, pissed off IWI by accusing them of real money trading with their ISK, a strictly forbidden practice. IWI, with its massive money reserves, hired two alliances called Pandemic Horde and Psychotic Tendencies to assault SpaceMonkey’s home region of Fade. Psychotic Tendencies was paid 1.2 trillion ISK to do so, according to its leader—around $23,000 real dollar value. The region had been under assault for months, and had not shown many cracks, but the continued pressure caused a loss of over 1,000 members for SpaceMonkey’s Alliance. The assault warranted a wider coalition response, resulting in a few very large fights. Seeing the success, IWI began to hire more and more alliances to assault Imperium borders both in Fade and in another region, Vale of the Silent.
As the new anti-Imperium coalition formed (named The Good Guys by its citizens and the Moneybadger Coalition by its leaders), huge fights began. Duels over a few valuable moons in the Hakonen system led to the Battles of Hakonen, costing 1.1 trillion in game currency, or over $20,000, including three Titans. The real tipping point came when TEST, rejuvenated and rebuilt, was hired to join the fray. Leaving behind their holdings in the south, their 4,400 members moved north to assault Vale of the Silent. Soon afterwards, the fighting came to a head in 2DWM-2, a system in which the Imperium alliance Get Off My Lawn was building supercapitals—Titans and Supercarriers, the backbone of any serious military fleet. Here the Imperium suffered a crushing defeat, the unfinished supercapitals abandoned and their fleets in tatters. The Mittani announced that due to the distance from the capital of the coalition and wanting to avoid over-extension in the war, Vale of the Silent was to be abandoned, its two inhabiting alliances retreating to the coalition staging system of Saranen.
Then we come to the events of March 28, 2016. The capital system of Imperium member alliance Circle-of-Two, M-OEE8, was under attack. Both sides campaigned hard for massive numbers to contest the system and the developers at CCP allocated extra server hamsters on wheels to the area in which the fighting would occur. Finally the time came, and thousands had formed into many different fleets to decide the fate of one of two main structures in the system, the Infrastructure Hub. Loss of the Infrastructure Hub would make the defense of the system’s station much more difficult. When the time came, over 5,800 players were ready with guns loaded—the largest of any fight in the game ever at that time, save for the Bloodbath of B-R5RB. Fleets of battleships, cruisers, battlecruisers, and frigates were all ready to deploy.
As fighting broke out across the constellation, a Moneybadger bomber fleet managed to destroy a Hurricane- and Sleipnir-class Imperium fleet in a highly successful bombing run, taking care of one combatant group. As the chess pieces began to place themselves, it became evident that not every system in the constellation had extra hamsters allocated and so fighting became extremely slow and laggy. The Imperium’s roughly 1,600 pilots were taking heavy fire from the Moneybadger’s roughly 3,800, and so the Imperium sought to sow discord by ‘headshotting’ the enemy fleet, or killing their commander, progodlegend. In retaliation, two of the main Imperium commanders were likewise headshot, Jay Amazingness of one of the battleship fleets and Asher Elias of one of the cruiser fleets.
The time dilation feature of EVE that slows down time to compensate for massive server load was crippling as things happened at less than 10% speed. Hoping to take advantage of this, the capital powers of Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion decided to drop carriers into the constellation to secure capture points. At the time, Carriers in EVE could fit a special device called a triage module that turns them into a kind of 'super-priest' with colossal healing abilities both for themselves and others. The logic was that due to the time dilation being lighter in these other systems, the Imperium fleets would be unable to bring down these carriers before help arrived. Though the attempt was made, the Imperium was unsuccessful, and the Infrastructure Hub was destroyed amidst a fire that destroyed some $8,600 worth of ships.
Immediately following the fall of M-OEE8, the announcement came that the former owners of the system, Circle-of-Two, were leaving the coalition and presumably switching sides. The leadership cited a list of grievances that can be found in this Reddit thread. The Mittani responded by saying that this was blatant betrayal; it was later revealed that the decision to leave the coalition had been made in the morning of the 28th, to be executed following the Battle for M-OEE8, regardless of outcome. It was never confirmed if this led to certain steps not being taken that could have prevented the use of triaged carriers to destroy the Infrastructure Hub, but this is an accusation leveled by The Mittani. Accusations of setting a trap to tackle and engage allied supercapitals, thereby sparking a second supercapital bloodbath, were also leveled. Regardless of the validity of these accusations, the loss for the Imperium was as immense as it was important—constituting the loss of 3,100 players as well as a sizable portion of the Imperium supercapital fleet and a section of the entire region of Tribute. Since Vale of the Silent had already fallen and Tribute and Fade were to be on their way out, an assault on Pure Blind was next, the last region before the Goonswarm Federation’s mother country of Deklein.
Though a full assault on Deklein had not yet begun, another bordering region, Branch, was under attack. The capital system for the Imperium alliances living in Tenal, Branch, and Vale was soon after attacked in a fight that topped 3,500 players. The Infrastructure Hub was saved but the station was pushed to its final timer. The station fell at 22:41 on April 3rd. But that was only the beginning.
Now, years later, EVE Online remembers this opening chapter not as The Easter War, as CCP tried calling it, or the Casino War, as The Imperium calls it. It is World War Bee—the conflict that saw almost the entirety of EVE Online uniting against The Imperium to invade its northern territory of Deklein and burn everything it owned to the ground. In the aftermath, The Imperium was exiled and, for a time, it seemed that the kings of EVE Online had lost their throne. But in the true spirit of CCP's sandbox MMO, the story doesn't end there.
The Imperium might still be a shade of its former self, but they have a way of getting revenge.