Sins of a Solar Spymaster #38: Self-Immolation for Fun and Profit
The saga of GoonSwarm could only end in two ways.
The first was the way 90% of alliances die, a tale so humdrum that it draws preemptive yawns as soon as someone begins launching into it: yet another tale of failure cascade woes. External enemies at the gates, gradually declining participation, corps abruptly leaving and evacuating assets, and a final miserable defeat resulting in dissolution and recrimination. That wasn't going to happen to the Swarm. We opted for something different: catastrophic self-immolation, setting off a storm of drama, idiocy and negligence which would forever reshape the balance of power in New Eden.
It started out innocuously enough. We were at the outset of what could have become another Great War, defending successfully against the efforts of our various enemies to seize territory from us in Querious. After the dramatic win in 49-U, GoonSwarm was feeling pretty confident. Everyone was focused on the conflict, and no one was focused on our director of finances, Niart Epar. Or rather the absence of said director, who had been increasingly less active in the game.
While the leader of the alliance (Karttoon) was away from the game for a 1.5 week honeymoon, Niart was left in charge of the alliance wallet. Given the way the Dominion sovereignty system works now - as a gigantic isk sink - this was a Big Deal; if periodic bills are not paid by the alliance executor out of the correct wallet division, sov is abruptly lost in the unpaid system. You can see where this is headed.
At 4:00 evetime on January 27th, sov bills came due all across New Eden. These were for every 'legacy' sov structures held over from pre-Dominion, for which CCP spawned TCUs for the territories held at the time of the patch. For GoonSwarm, that meant the vast majority of the alliance's holdings, which had remained mostly unchanged for a year.
Whoosh. Sov drops in most of GoonSwarm territory. Not only us, but Legion of Xdeath and Wildly Inappropriate. At first the assumption was that this was a bug, given how efficient and well-coded Dominion is. However, it turned out that all of these alliances had suffered a case of high-level idiotic neglect, and that we were all Probably Screwed.
Rather than bother giving our enemies a chance to brag about winning a war, GoonSwarm immediately pulled the plug on our territorial holdings and commenced evacuating assets to Syndicate. We considered this to be the most prickish thing to do under the circumstances, and indeed the leaders of our oldest foes began calling for a grace period for the Swarm to get our sov back such that we could have an 'honorable war'. No chance of that. With GoonSwarm out of the Galactic southeast, the glue uniting a disparate coalition of our foes is gone; only chaos can come of it.
But we were not done; merely losing the most valuable territory in the game due to an act of catastrophic, unprecedented stupidity wasn't enough for GoonSwarm. Mere days later, Karttoon came back from his vacation only to discover that not only had his alliance exploded, but that he was being blamed for it.
To say that the Swarm forums were sort of in torches-and-pitchforks mode would be like saying 'Iceland is somewhat insolvent'. Like proper goons, the alliance membership had initially blamed Niart for his negligence and gotten his resignation (and his quitting the game entirely). But Karttoon had structured the alliance hierarchy in such a way that the alliance wallet could only be accessed by himself and Niart, meaning that the rest of the directorate was unable to step in and fix the situation while he was away.
Worse for him, in the past several months many in the Swarm had grown tired of his absentee style of leadership; much of the strategic management of the organization in warfighting had been devolved to myself, Xttz and the Fleet Commanders. As the creator of Jihadswarm, Karttoon was increasingly seen as a roleplayer and a gimmick, neither of which is acceptable in our culture.
So upon his return, Karttoon found that the alliance was howling for his blood. A poll showed that over 70% of the Swarm wanted him to resign. But as anyone could predict, that wasn't going to happen - there was going to be drama, drama which would eclipse the mere negligence of Niart, the sort of highly flammable farce that would give Sophocles a fit of the giggles.
At 11:30pm on February 2nd, Karttoon disbanded GoonSwarm and began kicking out directors. War broke out between the rogue CEO and the loyalists. Karttoon was banned from the forums and jabber, and a race between Karttoon and the directors began to secure the alliance assets before Karttoon could find and strip their roles. Karttoon could only do one thing at a time, while there were many directors working against him. Regardless, he made off with the alliance wallet (some 150b, down from 500b at the outset of Dominion due to runaway sov costs in an overbuilt region) and the alliance dreadnaught cache, some fifty hulls stashed in lowsec.
But there was hope. Having anticipated the risk of Karttoon going 'screw goons', Darius Johnson, our former CEO, returned to service while Karttoon was away from the game. When GoonSwarm disbanded, Darius was ready and stepped into the breach; he had reactivated Goonwaffe, a corporation which used to house 'overflow' Goonfleet membership in the 2006 era of EVE before the skill allowing more than 1000 members in a corp was seeded. Goonwaffe already had substantial assets stashed in Syndicate in 'caches' from that era, and the membership simply moved to that corporation, all the while participating in the frenzied drama that the alliance forums had descended into.
So now Goonfleet is held hostage by a rogue CEO and GoonSwarm is gone. We're temporarily 'WhatFleet?' while we bask in the afterglow of the most ferocious cycle of alliance-level suicide in the history of EVE. We were going to go invade Cloud Ring, but our prospective enemies there (Ev0ke) already evacuated the region before we arrived, so our short-term goals all appear to revolve around bitter arguments about what to name our new alliance; Colony Collapse Disorder [BILLS] was tempting, but would probably get old after a week or two. Whatever happens now, only one thing is certain: there will be drama.