In the past week a series of alliance announcements from TEST and Fatal Ascension (FA) have ratcheted up a level of rhetoric that goes from petty passive aggressiveness on one end of the continuum towards outright hostility on the other. While the CFC and HBC are strategic allies, many individual alliances within each coalition are neutral towards their counterparts; FA and TEST are not blue, and have occasionally come to 'friendly' blows in the past.
To understand the upcoming drama, you need to know that to preserve a state of pseudo-peace between the coalitions, the HBC and CFC have agreed upon ground rules governing behavior of HBC/CFC entities who do not have standings towards one another; mostly this is stuff like 'Don't camp blue stations' or 'Don't camp blue jump bridges'. Both TEST and FA accuse each other's pilots of violating these rules.
Without further ado, the TEST post which started it all; apparently FA took umbrage with the side-swipe about 'shitty alliances in the CFC'.
TEST alliance of today is very different from the TEST that it was a year ago when we decided to go balls deep into Vale of the Silent. Back then we idled around 5300 members and had almost nothing but a USTZ presence. We also had interesting allies like Elite Space Guild and BDEAL, who have now passed into the void of space to the graveyard for shitty alliance known as every other alliance in the CFC. These days dreddit itself has exceeded 5300 members all on its own. Our alliance has added around 23 new full membercorps in that time. We have everything from the newest additions of La Megadita and Dropbear Preservation Society, a small group of funny Italians and a group of convicts from down under respectively, to larger corps like German powerhouse EADS and the multicultural and ever so interesting Enlightened Industries.
With our growth, our alliance has become one of the most diverse alliances in the entire game. We have also become the largest alliance, at one point held more sov than any other alliance in Eve. As you can probably imagine, this wasn't exactly a smooth and easy experience, but we've managed to get through it all. We have come so far from the alliance that ran into the Raiden supercap wall repeatedly then formed up to do it again the following night. We now sit blue with many people who a year ago we were shooting at, including Raiden. We have grown to cover almost every timezone, we've helped create what is now the Honeybadger Coalition as something more than just something we did to make Goons mad. We found a way to make a large amount of isk without having to fight for icky techmoons so that we can reimburse things like lokis and Navy Apocs.
Now we are tearing ourselves apart.
Our alliance, famous for shitting on people, has now turned all of its efforts inward. Instead of focusing on getting banned for calling ev0ke Nazi's or calling Makalu a buttbutt, we are shitting over our own Euros, going far enough to pay to have their mumble ticker changed to something funny yet inflamitory. We have deemed it ok to shit on our allies because they might have a 15 year old FC who made a mistake or because they don't want to share their ratting space that none of us use anyways. We jump on the bandwagon to shit on lower sp and newer members to our cap group who don't have JDC 5 on their carrier pilot. If there is a reason to shit on someone that we are blue to, someone who is a member of OUR alliance, we will do it simply because we can.
The unwritten rule of TEST and the HBC is to not be dicks to each other. We are now incapable of this it seems. This isn't even at the basic member level alone. This exceeds DurrHurrDurr and Tarithell's usual posting and broadcasts. I've watched as diplos shit all over the IT people who put in long hours trying to make sure all the stuff stays running. I've watched as the IT folks then make less then stellar responses which just continue the problems. I've seen corp ceos deem it ok to shit all over other corp ceos because they just might be interested in getting an office in one of the systems where we have the supercap upgrade. There are threads where people literally shit on members of our alliance because they can with the excuse "Its boring at work" or "I'm posting just to post." Its disgusting, its counter productive, and it is tearing our alliance apart Lisa style from the very top all the way down.
So this is my one personal appeal to you, my alliance, the people who I put in far too much time for.
Stop being dicks to each other. Just get the fuck along. Stop making me want to karttoon the alliance.
Mostly an inoffensive 'Stop Causing Drama' post with a few sharp elbows tossed in. However, this provoked the following public missive from Fatal Ascension, posted to their official and public forums
You've likely all noticed that TEST has been camping our systems over the past several weeks. As a reminder, our current policy with respect to TEST is as follows:
• Do not attack structures owned by HBC member alliances
• Do not afk cloak in systems owned by HBC member alliances
• Do not camp the stations or jump bridges owned by HBC member alliances
Some of our members may be disappointed with TEST's lack of adherence to these terms. These blatant provocations have particularly affected our ratters, miners and industrialists. We hear you and have this to say:
Shut the fuck up.
It is not like this is the first time we've dealt with AFK cloakers hunting our ratters. A big part of why we're still around is because of accepting and adapting to undesired events, and this is barely a bump in the road compared to the rollercoaster we've been on in the past.
Let's put this seemingly irrational agression into context. Reach inner peace through seeing and understanding the big picture, so to speak.
TEST prides itself on callous trolling, always have and always will. Their core membership stems from reddit, 4chan and 9gag where the social norm is circlejerking and one-upping each other. In Eve, where social consequences are minimal, this means that for every rule or agreement set down, members will go out of their way to push the limits and see how many toes they can step on before someone snaps or they get clubbed down by the leadership. Whoever proves most successful is crowned king for a day. They do it to themselves and they do it to other alliances.
With that in mind, there are a number of reasons why TEST are poking at us:
TEST have explicitly stated that they want to go it alone without the training wheels and the support of our coalition. They are now at the head of the katamari-like Honeybadger Coalition and as such they are looked to as a source of content and direction for their coalition members. Many of their partners are openly hostile towards our coalition since we've had a hand in booting them (and rightfully so) out of our neighboring regions, and as a consequence there are calls for blood. Our blood. This puts the leadership of TEST between a rock and a hard place. Instead of maintaining a firm stance regarding the CFC and telling the loudest critics in the HBC to sit the fuck down and deal with it, we now have this situation which is both a conflict and not a conflict at the same time. It is neither fowl nor fish. Their failure to act consistently has brought about this nonsense.
However, they lack the courage to reset Goonswarm Federation, their last lifeline to the Clusterfuck and their only safe harbor to return to if the HBC were to implode somewhere in the future. Therefore they require a scapegoat for a reset and a war, someone to point to and say "We tried to coexist with you until X started this war, but we hope we can still be bros after all this because it is only X we are really mad at. Fuck X".
Essentially, they wish to provoke a war while keeping their best possible friend and worst possible enemy on the opposite side on relatively good terms. Their worst fear going down this path is us just sitting on our hands and watching them dig their own grave diplomatically as they come up with inventive ways to overstep their boundaries and goad us into doing what we are most proficient at: Shooting first.
At the same time they are terrified of giving us the soft treatment and honoring our agreement, with a desire to look upright and independent in the face of their blues who hate us. Going easy on us and backing down would in their partners' eyes confirm the memetic stigma of "Goon pet" that gets thrown around. Although we understand their predicament, we as an alliance are disappointed in TESTs inability to rise above such banalities.
As of now, their leaders are becoming fed up with the internal drama created by their own culture, since their diplos, IT crew, CEOs and other important people are becoming more and more the focus of this endless torrent of mean-spirited behavior and they need an external point to focus towards now that -A- has ran away. The recursive nature of the problem is only made worse by prominent trolls having a different set of rules apply to them, blurring the line on who you can and cannot have a go at, depending on who you are.
TEST is desperate. Their recent practice is that of indiscriminately absorbing when they should be showing restraint and consolidating. This is putting stress on them internally as an alliance and externally as the head of a coalition. Failing to account for the abyssal chasms of culture and standards between their alliance corps and coalition partners is turning the daily lives of their leadership into a pressure cooker, and the pressure must be relieved, lest it tears them apart.
In short, they need an alliance like FA to pester and infuriate in order to not turn on themselves. They badly need to project their bad impulses elsewhere and we're the closest neutral entity to them, with a solid track record of gunboat diplomacy.
The relationship between TEST and FA at the grunt level has always been a fairly good one, and our unorthodox methods of resolving our conflicts when they spiral out of hand is a bright example of intra-coalition realpolitik combined with solid fun. Therefore it is saddening to see their leaders trying to sweeten the pill pushed from the rest of the HBC, selling the narrative that we are now someone to be loathed, embezzling our shared history, past burdens and successes. They have nothing we want, but we have never thought less of them for it.
We as an alliance have always been good at adapting to changing paradigms, and this is one of the strengths of FA. Allies come and go, and getting poked at by former blues is nothing new. Now is the time for pragmatism and adaptation. Let the TESTies rage at their leaders while we continue to keep our heads in the right place.
Looking at actual measures to take, it will be easier to flush out their hotdrop gangs from NPC Pure Blind now that we are moving everything to 3V8. Encouraging people in fade to rat in groups will help make the whole situtation more of a non-issue. Talk to your FCs, set up counter drops, login traps etc. Keep on doing what you always do, but adapt accordingly.
This, in turn, provoked Montolio to issue the following memo to TEST regarding FA, likewise a public airing of grievances:
Many of you saw the mad-ass forum thread Fatal Ascension made about us. I wanted to address it. The post is pretty glorious though and it is truly the drama we've been missing since the collapse of Against All Authorities and IT Alliance.
The post was riddled with accusations of TEST pilots forgoing the NIP agreements between the HBC and CFC. This is completely untrue, as we've handled every violation of the agreement (of which there have been few) promptly on our side and paid damages whenever a violation occurs. The majority of the Fatal Ascension anger stems from a black ops team in Pure Blind. I assure you, killing Fatal Ascension ratters and fleets with black ops drops is completely within the scope of our NIP. On the other hand, Fatal Ascension pilots have frequently been caught violating the NIP in our space by afk cloaking, camping bridges, camping stations... if it is listed in the NIP, Fatal Ascension has violated it. Nothing is preventing Fatal Ascension from doing black ops work in Fountain or Delve, especially as both regions have an NPC core much like Pure Blind. Instead of fighting back fairly, Fatal Ascension pilots have taken it upon themselves to push the boundaries of our NIP and see how much underhanded rulebreaking our diplomatic corps will let them get away with.
We aren't blue with the CFC, but we are blue with a few select alliances, most notably RAZOR and Goonswarm Federation. We have these alliances blue because we like them and because we have historically had a good working relationship or strong ties with them. We used to have an outstanding relationship with Fatal Ascension - we advocated for them, gave them a couch to crash on, and supported them militarily and strategically. When the drama with Raven Shadows was stirring up I support Zagdul 100% and sung his praises across GF Allies. However - since Test Alliance tried to take some independent action with minimal or no CFC support (Vale, Geminate, Delve) Fatal Ascension has been scrambling to occupy the #2 position in the coalition TEST arguably held. I'm okay with this, I wish them the best - but it might be difficult as Fatal Ascension's only notable achievement is successfully living in Fade.
Letting off Steam
I have proposed multiple times to Zagdul that we conduct friendly controlled war games or we loosen the NIP between Fatal Ascension and TEST only. My offers have been declined or deflected every time I've brought the topic up. They are aren't willing to fight us unless the entire coalition backs them, yet a very small selection of TEST pilots are causing Fatal Ascension unbelievable amounts of frustration and pain. Even more embarrassing for Zagdul, loosening the NIP would at best even the playing field between our pilots and childish FA rulebreakers, and save the diplomats in each alliance countless hours of reading through trivial FA pilot drivel. Fortunately for us, the tension in our relationship seems almost entirely one-sided, and Fatal Ascension is clearly in need of an outlet for their frustration. After all, TEST is still deployed to HED fighting local pubbies while Fatal Ascension has just moved their main staging system to a mere 2 jumps from NPC Pure Blind, with the intent of defending their space against the transgressions of Sperg Squad blockade runners on their way to rendezvous with a Panther and Loki in Fade.
That's up to Fatal Ascension. I'd love for them to return to bro-status again. That isn't going to be accomplished by passive aggressive posts and people getting panties twisted about ratting losses. The Fatal Ascension we used to know would have laughed at ratters dumb enough to be caught by TEST pilots. They would have engaged in fun war games and planned fights with us. Our pilots should continue to abide by the NIP and feel free to do active warfare as we have been - within the bounds of the NIP.
Happy new years.
My take: It's no secret that Montolio has often looked for ways to shoot the CFC in a controlled way; some see this as a method of blowing off steam during times of peace, while others view it as a nefarious sign of a future reset (I'm in the former camp, for the record). This drama, while seemingly petty, does call into question the viability of pseudo-NRDS restrictions on camping and bridge-ganking; both FA and TEST accuse one another of being more often in violation of the CFC/HBC rules of engagement, causing headaches for diplomats on both sides.
I'm not sure if it's fair to criticize FA for not going 'mano a mano' with TEST, who are five times FA's size, in some kind of CFC/HBC deathmatch, but 'controlled resets' have worked out well in the past, including previous FA/TEST pseudo-wars.
Mostly, this is just nullsec popcorn; as we come out of the holiday season, the game is heating up again.