My esteemed colleague and alliance mate over at Emergent Patroller has stirred up some controversy over the way wars are fought and won in EVE Online. In effect, she is revisiting the age old problem of warfare – how to take ground and claim resources – which is of course what wars are all about. Ideally, armies can be either fast, furious and nimble or pack massive firepower and logistics – never both. In theory, the fast troops are ideally used to take ground, the slow troops to claim and hold it.
This of course is too simplistic and certainly does not hold true in all circumstances. Bufford’s defense at Gettysburg is a clear example that a dismounted cavalry can be effective – for a while at least – as a defensive blocking force. The reverse is of course also true. Heavily armored infantry or tanks can – under the right leadership – be extremely nimble and still reach their objective. Whilst very risky, success in these off-text-book deployments is always due to superior leadership and communication.
In EVE Online, the game where ground can be conquered and held indefinitely (unlike other MMORPGs where all gain is wiped out at some point) and where ground holds strategic advantage due to its location or resource, taking and holding is a prime objective of the nullsec warfaring parties. Mme Thalys describes different ways of doing it. Either with superior skills and agility or a mounted cavalry charge or with massive numbers and the slow grind of a tank division.
I think the preference for one over the other is needlessly polarizing. I belong to the 50% of people who are “outcome” oriented. This means, don’t actually care how a job is done as long as it is done well. Whether the goons take systems with massive drake fleets and loose hundreds of ships or some smart special force achieves the same goal with the loss of none is irrelevant. Relevant is that the objective is accomplished. Sure, each commander has its mindset, each strategy has its advantages and risks but in the end, both can work well when leadership and communication is executed sufficiently. The advantage of the massive fleets is of course that each fighter does not have to be trained as well. I realized that when I flew for a few weeks with RvB – my only ever encounter with blob fights. The chatter in fleet channel was inane and ripe with total lack of understanding of how the game works. The FC held it together and fun was had, objectives were accomplished but man, there are some idiots out there playing EVE. Leading such a force to victory is no small feat and I salute the Goons for bringing the strategy to the game. They have and use the advantage of their out-of-game community and social media to coalesce an unruly mob of semi-trained trolls into a highly effective fighting force. My hat is and stays off for that achievement – it speaks of their leadership skills and deep understanding of organizational structure.
The opposing view is that of the small gang of Wormhole fighters, we too need to claim and hold ground but the mechanics of WH life hinder or prohibit the blob tactics of nullsec. In a direct confrontation, we would stand no chance but the terrain – so to speak – favors the small, nimble and stealthy team with superior training, weapons and tactics. Leadership is important but reliance is more on each fighter’s situational awareness than an established chain of command and control. Our challenges are numbers, we never get enough for a real fight and resources – we are sometimes even limited by the amount of ammunition we can carry.
The beauty of EVE online is that it allows both styles of fights, just pick and choose one – there is no single way to win as there are many objectives to achieve that require different tactics, strategies, logistics and training. The discussions on the relative merits of one side over the other puzzle me as they are not actually relevant. We chose our path and fight our battles the way we want. In the meantime, we learn, we adapt and hone our skills.
Life and let die.