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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #50: Painful Lessons - Atlas Routed

Posted Wed, Aug 25, 2010 by The Mittani

The essence of wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. It’s one thing to hurt yourself and learn not to do the same thing again, it’s a far superior thing to determine what to do/not to do based off the travails of others, without having to make their costly errors yourself. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing a series of columns about painful lessons in EVE, case studies of catastrophe and gross negligence. Contrary to the incessant propaganda that surrounds the dramas of the game, the demise of an alliance has manifold causes; there’s not one single thing that goes wrong, but a whole compilation of mistakes and errors in judgment leading up to a failure cascade. Our first example will be Atlas Alliance, who has recently suffered a whole range of setbacks as their territory is invaded and capital systems fall.

Atlas Alliance Setbacks

Background
Atlas has a fairly lengthy history which isn’t relevant to their current situation. Their modern form began after Goonswarm abandoned its southeastern holdings after disbanding Band of Brothers; as soon as the invasion of Delve in the Second Great War began, seven regions of formerly Swarm-held territory opened up in a massive power vacuum. Atlas moved in and set up shop, largely unopposed. Its primary regional base was Detorid, Tenerifis and Omist.

As is common for major alliances, Atlas installed a number of lesser pet entities in its border regions to the north, such as Gentlemen’s Club, Honourable Templum of Alcedonia, Cult of War and Primary between Scalding Pass, Wicked Creek and Insmother. These pets were the buffer between Atlas and its major bloc-level foes in Red Alliance, Legion of Death, and Solar Fleet, the Russian-speaking overlords of the Drone Regions.

With the exception of attacks from Insmother and the Drone Russians, Atlas was viewed as almost impregnable in its security; its western flank was guarded by another bloc-level alliance, Against All Authorities in Catch. While individually -A- or Atlas could find themselves vulnerable; together they were more than a match for any bloc.

Crisis in EVE

The Crisis
The roots of today’s crisis began in the summer of 2009, when Atlas, flush from their seizure of Omist, Detorid and Tenerifis, began to contest Insmother, homeland of both Red Alliance and the ‘spiritual home’ of all the Russian-speaking alliances of EVE. The leadership of Red Alliance was in disarray, and the famous capital system of C-J6 began to trade hands, eventually falling securely under Atlas’s hold, but at the price of the burning enmity of every Drone-region Russian. The insult of C-J6 being held by a non-Russian was enough to unite the fractious and somewhat complacent factions to Atlas’s north.

In June 2010, a coalition of alliances such as Goonswarm, TEST, Pandemic Legion and Cursed moved into the Curse region and began attacking the pets Atlas had seeded into the border regions of Scalding Pass, Wicked Creek and Insmother. Though the attacks were purely against assets and not followed by any sovereignty contests, the alliances in Atlas’s buffer zone disintegrated rapidly, particularly after the destruction of a Cult of War supercarrier CSAA. Sovereignty Blockade Units which were onlined only to provoke a reaction became ‘real’ SBUs when the defending pets didn’t muster a sufficient response; it was in this fashion that HTA began to fall and chunks of Insmother and Scalding Pass ended up in the hands of their inadvertent conquerors.

Surprisingly, Atlas did nothing substantial to support its buffer-zone pets as they fell into cascade. Sensing weakness, a combination of Drone Russians and Pandemic Legion (who announced that they had been hired on a mercenary contract to do so) commenced an all-out assault on Insmother, retaking C-J6 and pushing deep into formerly secure Atlas territory. Now, the capital of Atlas space has fallen, and hostile activity is on the rise even in ‘safe’ Omist. Compounding the danger, the head of Atlas has abruptly resigned to ‘take a break from the game’.

The Causes
The rapidity of Atlas’ fall has been astonishing, even to the most jaded onlookers. How did it come to this, and what can we learn from it?

Leadership Structure: The upper level of Atlas revolves entirely around Bobby Atlas, the alliance leader. Bobby is notorious for micromanaging and avoids delegating responsibilities whenever possible. Having an engaged dictatorship works fairly well as long as the dictator is around to ensure everything is running; however, Bobby began to become increasingly scarce in the past few months, rarely logging into EVE. This meant that there was no real leadership structure to manage the alliance in his absence, leaving Atlas singularly unprepared to make strategic responses to the invasion.

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