The struggle between the Gallente Militia and the Caldari Militia has come to a close. The two main alliances in Caldari Militia are packing up and leaving, one of them disbanding entirely. The Gallente should be celebrating; they defeated their enemy! Instead, the atmosphere is melancholy. What did the victory cost? For some, everything.

The Background

How did we get to where we are today? How did Faction Warfare come to this state? Well to first understand that we must delve into the mechanics of Faction Warfare itself, for the uninitiated. If you’re already an FW expert, I suggest skipping down a couple of paragraphs.

Faction Warfare Mechanics

Faction Warfare is when you enlist in a Militia to fight for one of the four empires – Gallente, Caldari, Minmatar, and Amarr – over control of Low-Security space in designated areas, or warzones. There are two warzones in EVE, the Gallente/Caldari warzone and the Minmatar/Amarr warzone.

In each of these systems, there are combat sites which are commonly called “plexes” by the Faction Warfare community. These are viewable via the probe scanner as well as the overview (although they will not show up on the overview until someone has initially warped to it from the probe scanner). Plexes come in four different flavors: Novice, Small, Medium, and Large. All plexes but the Large have an acceleration gate that you activate to take yourself inside the plex, which is itself a deadspace pocket.

Once inside the plex, there will be an NPC rat depending on the size of the plex; a Frigate for Novices, a Destroyer for the Smalls, a Cruiser for the Mediums, and a Battlecruiser for Larges. Inside the plex, there is an outpost, and to capture the plex, you must run the timer by remaining within 30km of the outpost and clearing any enemies in its radius. It takes 10 minutes to complete Novices, 15 minutes for Smalls, and 20 minutes for both Mediums and Larges. This includes killing the NPC rat within the plex if in an enemy system.

Once the outpost is captured, LP is awarded and split evenly between all militia players in that plex. The amount of LP you get depends on several factors: firstly, the size of the plex (Large plexes give the most LP while Novices give the least). Additional factors include whether you were oplexing or deplexing. Oplexing is capturing plexes in hostile systems, while deplexing is capturing plexes in the friendly system. Deplexing gives LP based on the percentage contested of the system, which is considerably lower than the rewards given from oplexing.
Further factors such as Faction Tier have an impact. Faction tiers range from T1 to T5, which is dependent on how many “points” a Militia has. These tiers can be increased by upgrading systems via putting in LP to an iHub in a friendly system. In addition to this your standings with your respective faction will also rise by a meager amount.

Capturing a plex will raise the contested level of a system by either 0.7% or 0.8% alternating. When the system reaches 100%, the status of the system changes from ‘Contested’ to ‘Vulnerable’. While a system is in a vulnerable state, the Infrastructure Hub is can be attacked. When the iHub is damaged to the point that the Shield and Armor is destroyed, the system enters a ‘Lost’ state, at which point it flips to whichever side didn’t own it at downtime. This also gives whichever militia captured the system control of any stations that may have been in system, and locks the other militia out. Flipping the iHub also gives everyone who damaged it a large amount of LP (though usually it is split between many people).

ISK Making in Faction Warfare

In addition to this, there are also Faction Warfare missions, which are given out the same way regular missions are, from level 1-4. These missions are especially lucrative, and optimally running level 4 faction warfare missions can net you an income of about 500 million ISK worth of LP an hour. These pose an interesting situation because while they are massive ISK faucets, they do not directly impact Faction Warfare itself, and are only affected by system control because you can’t access missions if you do not own the station. Even then, there are still multiple FW Mission agents in Highsec, though all missions take place in Lowsec.

A lot of the avid Faction Warfare mission runners do not take part in the sport of Faction Warfare at all, but rather spend day in and day out farming LP, all the while remaining in the NPC Militia corp. On the one hand, I agree with Suitonia’s sentiment in his recent article that Faction Warfare Missions need to be removed, or at least changed to fit for the playstyle Faction Warfare is meant. In other words, more fighting, less farming. On the other hand, Faction Warfare missions are one of the main reasons to be in Faction Warfare and Lowsec in general, as it provides an income on par with supercarrier ratting with the right circumstances. There are few reasons to be in Lowsec these days. Removing Faction Warfare missions without providing a suitable and equally profitable replacement, and you rid the game of yet another reason to be in Lowsec.

Now we must talk about just what Faction Warfare really is. Faction Warfare, in essence, is supposed to be about the eternal struggle between the empires, now fought by their capsuleer proxies in the militia. Often news of historical system sieges between Militias finds its ways onto Eve media sites or Reddit. However it would be more accurate to say that Faction Warfare on a broader scale is an economic tug of war, and control of the warzone is based on the market itself. Generally, the control of the warzone is based on the inflation and deflation of LP values for that militia. As an example, we can look at the Gallente Militia and Caldari Militia.

Faction Warfare is an economic struggle, a relationship between the value of LP and the ease of access of LP. When Gallente is at a high point in their Faction Tier, the price of Vexor Navy Issues goes down dramatically, and as such their LP value is devalued. This causes farmers to switch sides from Gallente to Caldari, and the pendulum swings in the opposite direction. Likewise when Gallente is at a low point in their Faction Tier, the price of Vexor Navy Issues skyrockets, causing mass upsets around New Eden, with people on Reddit asking “Why are VNIs so expensive?” and suchlike. This is when farmers sell the LP that they have accumulated while Gallente were in a high tier level. Using this strategy you can quite literally make tens of billions of ISK – if not more – per swing. Just like before, now the farmers will hop from the Caldari side and once again farm Gallente LP due to the high value of their LP. The Gallente and Caldari warzone is also in a unique position because of Vexor Navy Issues, the most commonly used ratting ship by Nullsec empires in the game. Due to the value of this ship, the farmers spend much more time farming Gallente LP, and much less time farming Caldari LP. This is the chief reason why Gallente is usually in a high tier for the majority of the time, and why it is so rare for Caldari to be in a high tier.

The decline of the Caldari Militia, which eventually led to its partial death, started with the decline of Faction Warfare and Lowsec in general. It began on April 27th 2016, with the EVE Online: Citadel patch. This update changed the face of Lowsec and Faction Warfare as we knew it, suddenly system ownership grew meaningless, as you didn’t need to own a system to dock in it. All that was needed was just to put down a couple of Astrahuses, and even around Lowsec you can find many freeport citadels.

The citadel expansion also created a unique new kind of Faction Warfare siege. Whereas previously a Militia would either have to stage from a nearby system or a POS within a system that is heavily contested, they can now merely place a citadel, and not only stage from within the system they are attempting to take, but also make ships at the same time. The Gallente Militia used this strategy to a great extent in both sieges of Oicx and Eha, which were Calmil home systems.

Then another blow was dealt to Lowsec on October 24th 2017, with the Lifeblood expansion. Previous to Lifeblood, Lowsec alliances were provided with a reasonably good, passive income with Moon Mining, and not only did it provide income, but it also provided a content generator as alliances would fight for these moons. With the deletion of this passive income, non-FW alliances such as Shadow Cartel and Escalating Entropy were hurt severely, and the new Moon Refineries were not a suitable replacement for the previous passive income, as these Lowsec alliances were made of PVPers, not miners.

Some alliances saw the writing on the wall and made sure to diversify their income, such as Snuffed Out, Salt Farmers, and several Gallente Militia alliances as well. The era of large purely Lowsec alliances was over. You can see the eventual decline of all these Lowsec alliances, the death of Escalating Entropy, as well as of Shadow Cartel, which was, for the most part, dead, though they are in a rebuilding attempt.

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The Age of Galmil

To talk about the death of Calmil, we must first talk about the rising of strong Galmil alliances which now dominate the current warzone, so much to the point that many have taken over Nullsec sovereignty due to a content drought in Lowsec.

The result of the Galmil civil war (information on the civil war can be found here)  was a stronger union than ever between Gallente Militia alliances, who now have ties with Snuffed Out, who would later go on to join the Imperium. These ties would later extrapolate upon themselves with Galmilistan’s establishment or Galmil Nullsec sovereignty in Cloud Ring.

After the Galmil civil war, a new alliance was formed, Federation Uprising, composed of several well-established previously existing Gallente Militia corps. During the civil war, the Caldari took advantage of the dissonance between Galmil groups and captured swathes of previously Gallente-owned systems. With this new alliance, and other Gallente Militia groups, Galmil was able to take back most of their lost territory, and not only take it back but utterly crushed any opposition. The original reason for Cloud Ring’s invasion was due to a lack of content in the Gallente/Caldari warzone, which was a byproduct of the Galmil counterattack.

This alliance found itself in a particularly interesting platform, as one of the key alliances in Galmil’s invasion of Cloud Ring. Since then, FEDUP, more than any other Galmil alliance, took the full brunt of any attempts made into their Cloud Ring territory, whereas the sovereignty in the more southern constellations was mostly stable, save for brief skirmishes between neutral entities and Villlore Accords (another Galmil alliance). In particular, FEDUP found itself assaulted by Northern allied forces, such as Rebel Alliance of New Eden, Cascade Imminent, as well as even Black Legion and Psychotic Tendencies (though at this point TISHU has no formal ties with the North).

This drew The Imperium’s attention, who would offer their help to the beleaguered FEDUP against the forces of the North. In two times of great importance, Imperium offered their assistance in the form of allied fleets. The first was the defense of FEDUP’s central staging Fortizar’s armor timer, which saw a substantial engagement take place between TISHU/BL forces and Galmilistan/Imperium forces. Galmilistan/Imperium forces, with numerical superiority, were able to successfully defend the structure with no real danger to the citadel itself. The second engagement took place over a second different FEDUP Fortizar, also an armor timer. In this engagement, TISHU/BL was once again the primary aggressors, but this time they called Guardians of the Galaxy and Pandemic Horde’s support.

Once again, the combined Galmilistan/Imperium forces, though numerically evenly matched, were able to push off the invaders, and made them pay the price for the attack quite heavily. The full BR for this battle can be found here. In return for this assistance, FEDUP would occasionally send some small skirmish fleets to the North, likewise help the Imperium on small-scale operations, nothing on the scale currently seen now.

Once the threat of TISHU/Black Legion was dealt with, FEDUP returned to the warzone and went straight for the strategically valuable systems of Oicx and Eha, home to The Bloc, a major Caldari Militia alliance. Over a long struggle of two weeks, these systems were eventually taken, and in addition to this, all but The Bloc’s home Fortizar were destroyed. This dealt a severe fiscal blow, as well as a blow to Calmil morale, especially that of The Bloc.

What FEDUP hoped would be a couple of months of content fighting the Caldari turned out to be just three weeks before all of Calmil gave up any large-scale resistance on their part. In fact, during these three weeks not only did Oicx and Eha fall but while the majority of Calmil was occupied with the FEDUP incursion, multiple systems fell one after another to other Galmil alliances uncontested. And not only did all but one Calmil structure die in Oicx and Eha, but many other Calmil structures were destroyed all across the warzone during this period. Galmil pushed too hard, and Calmil was not able to react on a competitive level, especially considering Galmil’s superior numbers, tactics, and the Imperium being seen as one of their escalation options.

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The Death of Calmil

Shortly after Oicx and Eha were taken, the war started up in full force in the North, with the Imperium secretly dropping a Keepstar in 6RCQ-V, a Federation Uprising system. With content having driven up in Lowsec, it gave FEDUP the opportunity to once again deploy to Nullsec, where they set a temporary relationship with the Imperium, assisting them in their efforts. This also gave FEDUP a chance for revenge, as the Northern alliances had also been aggressors of them.

It came as a shock when, The Bloc alliance announced that they were leaving the Caldari Militia, and even as more of a shock when it was revealed they would be joining Shadow Cartel. There were many fears within Galmil that even more Calmil would pack their bags and leave. A PVP group can not exist without an enemy to fight. Those fears were realized very quickly.

Very shortly after The Bloc’s announcement, Templis CALSF, one of the largest and oldest alliances in the Caldari Militia, announced that while they would not be officially leaving the Caldari Militia, they would, however, be leaving the area, and they moved to Great Wildlands for sure of content there.

These two entities gave much the same reason for this departure. In a joint statement, the Caldari Militia Coalition had this to say: “Although an unfortunate turn of events, the current state of the Faction Warfare meta and it’s mechanics has led to these decisions being made by the leadership of both entities in the interest of their respective memberships.”

The “meta” that the spokesperson refers to can be assumed to be a number of things, though the obvious answer is the shift towards structure bashing, in which Galmil can easily outmatch their counterparts through numbers alone. FEDUP itself is twice as large as the largest Calmil alliance and larger than the two largest Calmil alliances combined. Also, there have been many allusions that one of the reasons these two alliances moved out is the perceived “blueing” of Imperium by the Gallente Militia. Several days before this, FEDUP had decided to deploy back to Null once more with the onset of war and set up a temporary blue agreement with the entirety of Imperium. In addition to this, Pen Is Out to have maintained a very close relationship with Snuffed Out for the past couple years (though it is worthy to note that Pen Is Out is not blue with the rest of Imperium, and actually killed two Goonswarm Nyxes the other day). Rumors circulated that Calmil leaders were fearful of Galmil bringing Imperium to Lowsec to clear out everyone who is not friendly to Imperium.

There would be some truth that several Calmil alliances, on the other hand, were friendly with entities such as Northern Coalition, Pandemic Horde, Pandemic Legion, Black Legion, etc. and have indeed called upon them on a numbered amount of battles. It is also true that the Gallente Militia rarely if ever called for their allies’ help in significant battles, except for a handful of times Snuffed Out made an appearance. Calmil, however, had no formal blue arrangement with any of these entities, unlike the case for some Galmil alliances. The mere threat of the Imperium stomping down on Lowsec again was enough to make more than an impact.

And so, even though we have the news of the “Death” of Calmil”, there are still many loyal Calmil fighting, though not anywhere near the numbers of what the Gallente Militia puts on the field. Namely, the Heiian Conglomerate, United Fleet, and Armored Business Calmil groups have fought fiercely for their last few systems and even managed to capture a Gallente system a couple of days ago.

In the aftermath, Galmil alliances have had a difference of opinion on what action, if any should be taken. Some alliances have felt that now is the time to attack the structures of the Calmil alliances that have left since they will most likely be undefended. Others think the best course of action is to leave them be as they have already inflicted enough damage on Calmil with the structures that had been destroyed up to this point, in the hopes that they will return in a stronger state that can more suitably fight them evenly.

One thing can be sure, these events mark an end of an era for both the Gallente/Caldari warzone as well as for the Caldari Militia. One can only speculate at what the future is for these two things, as well as for the Gallente Militia, considering that a large portion of their main enemy has now left the area. In conclusion, the warzone is changed, lowsec alliances, either faction warfare or not, must now adapt, or die.

 

Featured image credit: Razorien

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