Home Conflict Analysis Interview: Capqu, co-CEO of skill urself, on bringing down the Drone Region...

Interview: Capqu, co-CEO of skill urself, on bringing down the Drone Region Federation

The alliance skill urself has been the single most unpredictable factor of EVE nullsec politics in 2017/2018. For many months, their continued warfare against the Drone Region Federation barely entered public consciousness. Other than as a supercapital hunting group killing high-value ratting ships in their Revenants, the group never made headlines until it was too late to stop them.

Meanwhile, skill urself came to form a coalition known as the ‘Holy League’, whose relentless campaigning during springtime led to the disbanding of the English-speaking part of the DRF. The historic Russian-led megacoalition then continued to lose all Dronelands sovereignty and stations, having held it for six years.

As part of a series of articles tracing the fall of the Drone Region Federation, New Eden Report’s Venus brings you an interview with the alliance co-CEO of skill urself, capqu. Given the sensitive nature of the interview’s raw logs, capqu preferred them not to be published.

NEW EDEN REPORT
How did the alliance ‘skill urself’ come to be?

capqu
When we started, we created the alliance for the sole purpose of taking part in the Alliance Tournament because we were all bored out our minds. Most of the original boys go a long way back, to alliances such as Confederation of xXPIZZAXx and Play Hard Pray Harder. After the AT finished, we got bored again and looked for something else to do. I returned to PL at first, but then skill urself got offered a contract from Legion of Death [XIX] to harass and attack Triumvirate [TRI] so we decided to go for it as a group.

NER
You were first hired by Drone Region Federation diplomat Jay Maricadie. In August, you began to engage on one of the many fronts that the DRF had to contend with at the time. This was also when you actively started using your infamous Revenants? How did Jay approach you, and what were the initial terms offered?

capqu
Jay knew one of our xXPIZZAXx diplomats, Lucia Denniard, and got in touch with us through her. We used those Revenants quite a bit, yes. They are basically the best supercarrier in the game if you don’t intend to fight people who fight back.

NER
When you attacked TRI and their coalition in Insmother and Wicked Creek, you used a combination of Nyxes and Revenants to kill their supers because you actually expected resistance? This supercarrier killmail for example.

capqu
In cases like the killmail you just linked, we would not have been able to break the enemy supercarrier in time if we had only used Revenants. It’s not that the Nyxes were better, it’s just that we did not have enough Revenants for this particular kill. Nor did we encourage people to acquire more Revenants, given that they lose their main advantage after a critical mass is reached. In comparison with the Nyx, the Revenant is not designed for ‘real’ combat, only for ganking idiots and being a slippery ship that is hard to tackle down effectively.

NER
Is that why you came to heavily rely on Nyx fleets with a Loki support wing for the later part of your campaign against the DRF? (That is, when you were not using both simultaneously in different locations.)

capqu
Against the DRF, we eventually came to a point where we had similar super numbers to theirs, but superior knowledge of and a will to actually use them. In any situation where we actually have to engage, a Nyx is far superior to a Revenant due to its ability to work with the best ship in the game – the Apostle. It has the added bonus of being extremely cheap and plentiful in an area from which renters are fleeing.

NER
When did you finally realise you wouldn’t be paid by the DRF? When exactly did you decide you’d have to make a change of policy and start attacking DRF players? Was this towards the end of November, when Jay Maricadie was relieved of his diplomatic duties for the DRF?

capqu
I don’t have exact dates, as I wasn’t the one directly dealing with Jay, but our payment for the previous month had come very late and after a lot of asking. A couple days after not being paid by Jay and hearing he had been fired, we contacted others and from what I understand Karer [Editor’s note: Russian DRF leadership] agreed to pay us. The day we were promised to be paid by Karer, we still hadn’t received anything and so after this series of non-payments and our perception of being messed around with, we basically said fuck it and approached TRI.

I talked to Fafer [Editor’s note: English DRF leadership] a while after that to clear the air, and I’m under the impression that initially everyone on the DRF side seemed to think we had already been paid by other parties. The reason Karer never paid us himself was due to a badly timed absence due to IRL issues, unbeknownst to us at the time.

NER
Karer has credibly and publicly described serious real-life health issues in his family throughout the last year or so. Would you therefore essentially characterise these exchanges and communications as a miscommunication? Would you ascribe malicious intent to any of the parties involved, including yourself?

capqu
I would say what we dealt with was probably down to miscommunication within their leadership, and the whole Jay thing, yes. As we didn’t know it at the time, we felt slighted so we brought out the :dagger:.

NER
If Jay were to head another alliance or coalition in 2018, would you go :dagger: after them?

capqu
Not deliberately, we’ve already won. Of course if there were content to be had, I can’t say for sure we wouldn’t.

NER
From that day onwards, how long did it take for your project of revenge explicitly to materialise? How long did it take for that plan to then transform into a full-scale, multi-regional assault on the DRF as a geo-political entity?

capqu
Basically, we contacted TRI, told them to mutually set blue standings, and promised them we’d swap to harassing XIX and all their pets and renters. In the end, we went through with this plan, dropped a staging Fortizar in D-OJEZ and told Guardians of the Galaxy to form in the north while it onlined. XIX took the bait and formed in the north to counter GotG, where they both sat looking at one another. Meanwhile, our staging Fortizar onlined safely.

XIX were preoccupied with the GotG invasion at the time our initial attack. Therefore, we just began farming their renters and pets for kills. After a while, we realised that in order to beat the DRF, we could simply kill off their alliances one by one. The small ones to begin with, such as Hooligans, who we chased off to NC., then alliances like RAZOR and Badfellas Inc.

NER
The ‘skill urself’ project took off for real once both Zero Fun and Half Empty had joined the alliance, and you had been hired and scorned as mercenaries. Would you say skill urself reached critical mass when Parroto, Ostmark and Greenswarm joined, allowing it to make a real difference against the DRF in terms of numbers and firepower?

capqu
At the beginning, Zero Fun was essentially the only corp in the alliance, since Half Empty had initially only been my alt corp. Zero Fun always was a corp that only people we already knew would join. We realised we would need more people than our tiny club – and that’s when I opened my doors and recruited every autist I could find. We sounded the horn for people we flew with in the past, got them back in and said – “it’s EVE time boys, one last round.” Parroto, Ostmark and Greenswarm have all been excellent additions, both culturally and EVE-ability wise, so we got pretty lucky in that regard.

NER
When did V0LTA come in, and how much of a difference did they make? Did both your alliances make equal speed when it came to acquiring supers and titans and injecting the necessary alts for it? The first major killmail where you collaborated with V0LTA is this one, though in terms of supercarriers we see mostly Russian Thunder Squad from V0LTA at that point.

capqu
Initally, RTSQ were indeed a big part of V0LTA’s initial supers, though they ended up leaving pretty early on. V0LTA as a corp, however, was invaluable. They had very impressive T3C numbers coming through from Thera, and when they saw us using supercarriers a lot, they got into supers very quickly and bought them at a pretty good rate. This is how they became the supercapital force they are today.

NER
It just started one day with an innocuous batphone to Thera?

capqu
Yes, I suppose so. Then we started calling them a lot for different timers, various fights and the odd super and titan killmail. V0LTA are top lads.

eve online news and media new eden report razorien
Thera is the busiest wormhole-accessible system, and home to many PVP groups. Its numerous shifting connections allow for many combat opportunities.

NER
How would you characterise the transformation of skill urself as an entity from a ‘nomadic mercenary alliance’ into the spearhead of the coalition now known as ‘The Holy League’ – working closely with v0lta, Hard Knocks and other alliances?

capqu
We needed to become strong to win, so we became strong.

NER
So to what extent is or was your alliance model contingent upon the Drone Regions being underpopulated, with no real power base or entity able to field a super fleet comparable in size, projection ability and skill to yours?

capqu
A lot of our strategy and tactics worked because XIX made the decision to deploy and contain our operations far too late, allowing us to grow big and their numbers to shrink once they learned the result of any fleet headed north. They half-finished their Immensea campaign before they came back to challenge us in our area of operation. Every day they were deployed in Immensea meant another day of us creating timers for their Sotiyos and Azbels in their Dronelands holdings.

Initially I can only assume XIX didn’t think we were a real threat, so they told the English-speaking part of the DRF, DCU, to deal with us. After a couple of weeks of battle reports with 90+% efficiency on our side, however, I suppose DCU just stopped trying alone having realised they couldn’t do anything without XIX. A lot of what we did relied on knowing exactly how any given fight would go and only taking the ones where we’d win, slowly breaking enemy morale. All the members see is blue-balled fleets, camped systems and dead ratting supers. Eventually they stop logging in to do XIX’s bidding, and can you blame them?

DCU leadership was not innocent in their losses either however, as they would form their dudes for hours at a time, doing nothing and eventually still get destroyed. An early example of this would be their attempt at securing the RXA border Infrastructure Hub, when they killed ours and anchored a new one. We then dropped Revenants on them, killed their entosis fax and stole their new Infrastructure Hub for ourselves. Being willing to use supers while outnumbered lets you do a lot of things. It only works while your enemy is a total coward, but luckily that applied to DCU in spades.

Another example from later in the war, of them on their way home after one of several failed OPs to reinforce our citadels. This time they just lost their whole fleet to bosons (and incompetence). As you can imagine, constant “fights” like this are how you kill alliances. The whole time a campaign like this continues, our side grows bigger and theirs smaller. Had XIX taken us seriously at the start or actually risked their supers even once, they could have at least killed our stagings with minimal effort. As time went on, it became harder until we reached a point where we realised we could do more than just harass, we could actually win “real” fights at this point, and I guess the rest is history.

NER
Why have you never lost a super or titan yet, despite not appearing to possess a significant number of FAX alts?

capqu
We don’t have FAX alts?

NER
So yours is not a strategy that would have succeeded anywhere but the deep Drone Regions? Would it have worked had you not concluded a mutual non-aggression pact with NC. in the form of its renter alliance B0T?

capqu
Where NC. is concerned, yes, in hindsight. At the time, it was a pretty hard sell to the boys. They were understandably not overly enthusiastic about blue-ing all of B0T (which remains to this day) but it was definitely worth it in the end.

NER
Why was LadyScarlet famously able to strike a deal in less than 15 minutes, where the DCU had been trying to solve the same problem for months?

capqu
Probably because I went to LadyScarlet and asked for a deal, and LadyScarlet is the most pleasant diplomatic experience you can have in EVE. NC. knew it was in their best interest, too. Even though it was initially extortion to leave B0T alone – if you are NC., you do not want to have to deploy your entire alliance to the Dronelands to crush skill urself, who will simply crawl into the walls and wait until you leave and do it again. From their point of view it made sense, and in the end they also got more renters out of the deal since we were exclusively killing XIX renters and B0T space was a safe haven. From our point of view it helped that we secured some ISK to fund our growing supers numbers, and NC. dreads were out of the picture so we could better focus on our war.

NER
Paying off aggressors and hiring mercenaries has historically been the XIX approach. Having been scorned by XIX, would you have accepted to be paid off by the DCU?

capqu
Perhaps we would have at the beginning, when we were still small. If the ISK had been up-front, we would probably have taken it. The DRF, however, was very proud, and they were slow learners. Once we were at the point where we could kill Keepstars, there was unlikely to be a deal.

NER
When did the ‘Holy League’ come up as the coalition name for skill urself/v0lta/Hard Knocks? Who else has been a mainstay of that coalition from where you stand? And what’s the historical reference of that coalition name?

capqu
The presence of Hard Knocks helped a lot, just the threat of their involvement is a very strong card to have in your coalition. Their contribution to our victory is less obvious, but still very much decisive. As for the Holy League, we all play Europa Universalis a lot, and everyone here is a good Christian.

NER
Is the skill urself alliance culture going to change now that you are holding sov, involved in the project of having taken stations and establishing renters? Are you ‘the new BADI in the East’?

capqu
That entirely depends on who’s asking. If it’s prospective renters, then yes, we’re here to stay forever. skill urself will defend the rental lands until our death. This is our new target. :dagger: :fox:

NER
Do you intend to work together with v0lta, who will inherit about 1T in faction Fortizars, and Hard Knocks, who will inherit about 800b in faction Fortizars on June 5th? Is there a possibility of the actual Holy League coalition itself falling apart following a similar pattern to today’s Holy League renter super kill by LUMPY? What if v0lta or HK cash out and decide they’ve had enough of being sov holders and sell their sov & renter alliance to someone else?

capqu
Those are all great questions, but I have an answer for you: who cares? We’re getting more than we ever dreamed we would, we crushed one of the biggest and longest-living alliances in the game. Out of nowhere, within a year, we’ve become 3rd in the list of alliances holding outposts. Whatever comes next I’ll take it.

NER
Yeah. Using a conservative estimate of about double the price for faction Fortizars, what does the alliance intend to do with the approx. 1.5T in anchorable assets you will have acquired on June 5th?

capqu
We will reward the members who conquered them. For almost everything we try to re-invest most of our alliance income, whether it’s super subsidies, fuel or FAX caches. We are not like XIX, where 6 years of rental ISK disappears and no-one seems to know where. Transparancy is pretty big around here, uncomfortably so sometimes.

NER
Would you mind if we edited your responses to have proper punctuation and capitalisation?

capqu
no

 

Secondary featured image credit: Razorien

Leave a Reply