Thursday, June 18, 2009

How the mighty have fallen!

For those of you that don't play Eve Online, a short primer on territory and sovereignity in New Eden, Eve Online's virtual universe. New Eden is a single shard world, meaning all pilots live in the same, single instance of it. It's divided in three areas of space, indicated by their security level: from 1.0 to 0.5 is secure space, with 1.0 being the safest; this is where new players typically enter space. This secure area is also known as 'empire space'. The second area is 0.4 - 0.1; these are lower security or 'low sec' systems, where law enforcement is almost gone (0.4) to virtually nonexistant (0.1); it's a hornets' nest of pirates. The third area is 0.0 or 'null sec'. These are lawless regions, where alliances reign.

Empire and low sec space belong to the different empires emerging from New Eden's lore: Gallente Federation, Minmatar Republic and the Amarr and Caldari empires which are all non player (npc) empires. Nullsec however is different. A player alliance, if powerful enough, can actually own systems in nullsec; and if you hold enough (or strategically important) systems in a region, you can call it your own. Some regions however are more profitable than others; they contain more rare ores to be mined, more opportunities for moon mining or more npc enemies to kill. Hence, alliances are continuously struggling over systems and regions, fighting to gain or break sovereignity. The neighbour's grass is always greener!

And this is where the big alliances come to their own. Over the past few years, a large scale war has been fought between Band of Brothers, recently renamed to KenZoKu and it's allies on one side, and GoonSwarm and the Northern Alliance on the other side. It's been an epic struggle, a back and forth of spying and betrayal, large scale fleet battles involving hundreds of pilots, strategic manoeuvering; it's been a grind of destruction, fire and mayhem. And it looks like it might be over.

KenZoKu, once New Eden's most powerful alliance with thousands of active members, has yielded their last 0.0 holdout to the combined forces of GoonSwarm and it's Northern Coalition allies, after being thorougly decimated over the past few weeks. Compare for instance this map of 2007 which prominently shows Band of Brothers (KenZoKu's original name) with this recent one; at time of writing, there's no BoB or KenZoKu to be found, anywhere. The mightiest, perhaps most smug of all, fallen! Will it recover? Who knows.. Eve's politics and alliance warfare make for some pretty interesting history, and with this great conflict coming to an end, it's going to be even more so in the coming weeks. Will KenZoKu regroup and return to 0.0? Will GoonSwarm and it's Northern Alliance remain intact without a big adversary as KenZoKu to fight? We'll see in the coming months!

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