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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #51: Painful Lessons - Goonswarm Implodes

Updated Thu, Sep 02, 2010 by The Mittani

The next topic in our ‘Painful Lessons’ series hits a little closer to home; if I’m going to be writing about the catastrophic and stupid screw-up’s that have rocked nullsec politics over the past few years, I can’t escape the lurching, derelict implosion of my own alliance, Goonswarm. In these articles we’re taking a deeper look at things which went hellishly wrong in EVE in hopes of learning from the mistakes of others and improving the quality of alliance gameplay.

The Great War

Background
After the end of the Great War in 2009, Goonswarm was riding high. It had thoroughly defeated its ancient enemy, Band of Brothers, and taken up squatting in the home of its former foe. Life was good in Delve, easy PvP was near at hand, and according to every metric (stations, sov, membership and riches) the Swarm was the #1 alliance in the game. Yet as the months went by, a creeping malaise began to spread within the alliance.

Beginning in July of 2006, when BoB first invaded the small constellation in Syndicate which Goonswarm called home, the Swarm had a singular purpose and a massive grudge: survive long enough to destroy Band of Brothers, and until that do everything possible ruin the game for them. This overarching purpose helped forge the culture of EVE into two great blocs, lining up on BoB or GS’s side. When BoB was disbanded by Haargoth Agamar in February 2009 and Delve subsequently conquered, the reason to play EVE vanished for many of the veterans in Goonswarm. The ancient enemy had been defeated, the war was over, time to go play something else.

Eventually, the core corporations of Band of Brothers did reform into a new alliance (IT Alliance) but the core culture of that organization was unrecognizable from the BoB enemy the Swarm once fought. Where the conceit of BoB was that they were the elite of the game, IT Alliance explicitly recruited as many member corporations as would join it, bloating to a massive size.

Reflecting on Past Mistakes

After Dominion was released, IT began to invade Fountain, the region bordering Delve which was held by Pandemic Legion. PL had seized the mantle of the ‘most elite’ alliance from Band of Brothers, but their pilots had little interest in actually holding territory, preferring to focus on harvesting killmails and griefing. Fountain began to fall rapidly to IT’s incursion, and Pandemic Legion announced that they literally ‘didn’t want that region anyway’ and vowed to become a completely non-territorial roaming alliance.

With the fall of Fountain in January 2010, IT began making attacks on Goonswarm assets in Delve. Despite the numbers of the attackers, Fortress Delve held strong for weeks, seemingly impregnable. Yet inside of a matter of days Goonswarm not only ceased to hold Delve, but ceased to exist as an alliance, laid low not by external enemies, but by a culmination of internal failures and gross negligence.

The Crisis
On January 26th, sovereignty bills came due for more than thirty systems owned by Goonswarm. These were the ‘Dominion Legacy’ systems which had a TCU created automatically once the Dominion expansion was released. The bills began to pull isk from the wallet of the executor corporation, but there wasn’t enough isk there; suddenly sov dropped across the core of Swarm space, rendering it completely vulnerable. The Swarm wasn’t the only alliance affected, with sov dropping for Wildly Inappropriate and Legion of Death at the same moment; because of the widespread impact of the Legacy bills, it was initially believed to be one of the many expansion-related bugs.

Finally having the break in the defenses they needed, IT Alliance and their allies Against All Authorities immediately assaulted Delve and Querious. Goonswarm was able to hold onto some of its lost systems, but not all; the capital of Delve where most alliance members lived was lost, as was the primary capital ship staging point. With most of their assets trapped any war-fighting ability was lost, and the order to evacuate was given.

Compounding the crisis was the fact that the leader of Goonswarm, Karttoon, was away on vacation at the time of the sov loss. When he returned a few days afterwards, he faced a storm of rage from the membership, who overwhelmingly blamed him for the collapse. Rather than heeding calls for his resignation, Karttoon stole the alliance wallet and kicked every corporation out of the alliance. Goonswarm had gone from being the most puissant alliance in the game to being utterly destroyed in less than a week.

How did such a spectacular collapse happen?

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