EVE Online: Creating a Spaceholding Alliance

In EVE Online, the taking and holding of conquerable space by alliances in 0.0 is the closest thing to 'endgame content' available in other MMOs. Unlike raiding in WoW, which almost anyone who...

In style="font-style: italic;">EVE Online,
the taking and holding of conquerable space by alliances in 0.0 is the
closest thing to 'endgame content' available in other MMOs. Unlike
raiding in WoW, which almost anyone who plays gets a chance to try at
some point, only a tiny portion of the EVE playerbase ever makes it out
of Empire. Unlike the gradual progression of PvE dungeons leading up to
a more difficult raid, the habits and skills learned by a corporation
in Empire are essentially the opposite of what one needs to survive in
0.0. This results in a somewhat stagnant closed system in the outer
reaches of space, where roughly the same crew of alliances who 'made
it' into conquerable 0.0 endlessly battle against one another. Despite
this, the process for creating a successful spaceholding 0.0 alliance
isn't difficult, but it is almost never spelled out explicitly - until

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Suppose for the moment that you are the CEO of a corporation in Empire,
a director of such a corporation, or you'd like to become one soon. The
gameplay is getting boring - there's only so much one can produce and
mine, and the odd wardec or brief jaunt into lowsec or NPC 0.0 hardly
counts as PvP. How do you make the jump to transform your moribund
organization into something that is feared and respected throughout the
galaxy? What steps do you take?

First of all, you have to choose what sort of goals you have for your
nascent organization. A number of alliances exist in the game, as far
as the code is concerned, but they don't function as alliances; they
hold no space and exist as 'roaming PvP' entities, or they live in NPC
0.0 where there is no risk of losing assets in a conquerable station.
This is like going to Vegas and gambling with pennies amongst your
buddies in the parking lot outside of a casino; if your desire for your
alliance is to reach the endgame, you need to decide from the outset
that your organization's goal is conquerable space, lest you end up
like target="_blank">Interdiction, who spend a
tremendous amount of effort on the forums trying to convince other
alliances that they are relevant despite never taking space or
attacking a control tower.

Once the goal is clearly set towards becoming a spaceholding alliance,
you need to decide upon your governing structure - ideally this needs
to be sorted out long before you have anyone else to govern. Alliances
tend to be ruled either by the founding corporation in a near
dictatorship (Goonswarm, Against All Authorities) or conceived as a
pseudo-democracy with each member corporation having a say in the
affairs of the alliance as a whole. You need to have this sorted out
before you begin recruiting other corporations to your banner,
otherwise there will be no end to the drama if you try to impose a
dictatorial mantle on a democratically-minded crew. From a standpoint
of sheer practicality, autocracy is easily the best option for alliance
governance; many of the functions of an alliance are most secure when
centralized in a single corporation, and autocracies are able to react
much faster to unfolding events than any of the talking-shop

Now it's time to start building something beyond a gleam in your eye.
You have your goal, you have your chosen form of government, now you
commence building your alliance. You need to have a banner for people
to rally around, a shared identity that pilots will be eager to buy
into. Alliances in EVE are a dime a dozen, but most never get anywhere,
and this has a lot to do with their core identity; what is the reason
for your alliance's being, besides taking space? The most common
identity for a spaceholding alliance is an ethnic one, an aggregation
of people from one linguistic group or nationality. Other identities
involve communities from outside of EVE, such as forum groups
(Somethingawful.com, Ars Technica) or players of other games - 'Tribes'
and 'Earth and Beyond' veterans have a significant presence in 0.0.
Even if the identity is purely a gimmick or a silly in-joke, it puts
your nascent alliance at an advantage over those without a cohesive
sense of self, because a strong alliance identity is what will help you
maintain your membership in the face of the vicissitudes of war.

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Alright, you have a group of corporations ready to go! You've found a
character with MegaCorp Management 5, you've paid the billion-isk fee,
and you've recruited under the auspices of a core identity or gimmick
and everyone involved knows who and how the show is run. Time to
invade, right? Wrong - now you need income. Space is only claimed with
control towers, and those are expensive; a fully-fit large tower costs
upwards of a billion isk counting fuel and modules. The economic
structure of Empire simply doesn't have the kind of cashflow needed to
maintain an alliance for any length of time, so you're going to have to
suck it up and mine some moons - after killing and running off the
previous owners of those moons. Welcome to 0.0!

Dysprosium and promethium are 'Rarity 64' (r64) moon minerals, and they
are the foundation of an alliance economy. Compared to the other
classes of harvestable moon mineral, they're stupendously valuable -
the raw output of one dysprosium moon nets about 11 billion isk per
month at current prices, promethium between 6 and 8 billion. By
contrast, the next most valuable mineral, cadmium, brings in perhaps
400m isk per month before reactions. It is the conquest of these moons
that will be the first test of whether your alliance can 'hack it' in
lawless space.

To begin with, pick a region with r64s which you think you might be
able to handle - ideally speaking not a fully conquerable region yet,
as you don't have the income for a sovereignty war. Use the Dotlan
service to choose a lowsec or NPC 0.0 territory and begin scouting the
moons listed there to find a likely target; using href="http://evemaps.dotlan.net/region/Outer_Ring/moons"
target="_blank">Outer Ring as an example, you'd
send a pilot in a cloaking ship to scout each of the promethium and
dysprosium moons to choose one that is relatively lightly defended and
held by an organization you think your alliance might be able to handle.

When you have selected a target, it's time for your first real test:
engaging your capital fleet, sieging the target r64, destroying it,
replacing it with your own mining tower, and then defending it. This
is, in microcosm, every major skill an alliance needs to survive in
conquerable 0.0, with the exception of running a cynojammer takedown.
The process of trying to capture r64s will teach you where your
weaknesses are as an organization and give you valuable practice in
setting up and managing towers. If you succeed, you'll soon be rolling
in isk; take this money and keep it secure, ideally in the wallet of
the alliance leader, and begin saving it for a 'tower fund' - this is
your warchest.

Continue fighting for and seizing r64 moons until your organization is
ready for the next step. In the time between your first conquered r64
and the next few, you should be busy implementing programs for your
growing alliance and using your successes as a recruitment tool. Two
high-priority programs should be an alliance-level reimbursement for
battleship losses and for capital ship losses; this kind of subsidy
will keep your pilots in the ships you need to win consistently.
Reimbursement programs typically result in a lot of arguing during
their formation, because one needs to determine which sorts of fittings
qualify for reimbursement, such that the alliance isn't subsidizing the
guy who puts blasters on his Typhoon. Perhaps more importantly, you
need to work out with your logisticians which sort of towers and
fittings you will be using for your upcoming invasion; all too often, a
would-be alliance runs into a brick wall of confusion regarding POS
mechanics because they didn't do their homework until it was time to
drop towers. With a standardized set of tower fittings, you make any
conquest that much easier.

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You have towers, you have a warchest, you have a steady stream of r64
income, and by god your identity is cohesive. Now you need someone to
kill. Ideally speaking you should choose a target region that isn't
that valuable for your first target. The valuable regions are held by
massive entities connected to each other with a Byzantine entanglement
of diplomacy and mutual defense pacts; the less valuable regions are
often ignored or discarded by these entities. Look at the href="http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/Verite/influence.png"
target="_blank">map and watch to see which regions
change hands on a regular basis and have a less desirable truesec.
Places like Cloud Ring, Geminate, Vale of the Silent and anywhere in
the Drone Regions have historically been easier conquests.

Once your target is selected, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/66069" target="_blank">infiltrate
them with spies. Unless you've telegraphed your intentions
(for god's sakes, don't - aim for a surprise attack) your target should
have no idea that you have designs on their region, so getting agents
into their ranks should be a snap. This will give you a good idea of
their defenses from the inside, and may give you the edge you need to
succeed. Your agents need to report to you about the diplomatic
situation - who are your targets allies? When you invade, who can you
expect to show up to help defend your new enemy? Infiltrate those guys,
too. Will your invasion impact on some other war?

A good example of an invasion mangled by poor intelligence occurred
very recently in Etherium Reach, where Intrepid Crossing (IRC) and
Etheral Dawn (ED) invaded Red Alliance in the Insmother region. They
didn't do their homework, and didn't realize that Red Alliance was
aiding Legion of xXDeathXx in a fight many regions away against Against
All Authorities in Tenerifis - or that this Tenerifis battle was part
of a second front in the KenZoku/-A- vs Goonswarm throwdown in
Querious. Though they had absolutely no intention to do so, IRC/ED had
jumped into the mire of the Great War, and suddenly found themselves
reset to neutral by most of their long-time allies. While the
soap-opera level of drama and politics of the Great War has entranced
the playerbase for years now, it's hardly the best environment for an
alliance just breaking into 0.0; you're probably better off finding an
alliance no one particularly cares about in an uninvolved region and
annihilating them.

Invasion day. Your final hurdle will be using a fleet of battleships
and logistics ships to take down an armed and gunned cynojammer. If you
can accomplish this, jump in your capitals and commence sieging and
spamming. Welcome to the big leagues!

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