I have been having an introspective week when it comes to EVE. My alliance, the Ushra’Khan, is facing some big issues and asking itself some hard questions. This is a very long entry but through it I am going to talk about how we came to be where we are now and why we did some of the things we have done. I hope it will be an honest and open description of the Ushra’Khan and where we are at today.
This week we had to evacuate from our space in Catch, the CNC-4V system. Against All Authorities and their allies, notably Cascade Imminent, have been ramping up their sov warfare and our own allies were not in a position to assist us with the defence. As an alliance of under 500 members up against a 3,000 member alliance plus another 1,200 man alliance, our odds of putting up any meaningful defence were not exactly awesome. So we ran a major logistical effort and moved onemetrichelluvalot of stuff in short order.
So, how did we end up in that situation?
Ancient History (it’s relevant, honest!)
Well, once upon a time we were long-time BFF’s with -A- and lived together in Catch. We got to know each other when Ushra’Khan was living in Curse and shooting their roaming gangs that came by. We were a similar size or maybe just slightly larger than now but did a good job at presenting a decent fight. -A- invited us to come base out of F4R2-Q. We accepted and spent a lot of time launching raids into CVA-held Providence, taking the good fight to the slaver kings and their numerous allies. Occasionally we’d fly with -A- to support their sov warring against Goonswarm or whomever. It was a good time and many past and current U’K members look back on it with rose-tinted fondness.
I say rose-tinted, as there were plenty of tensions and frustrations back then. Some called us a pet alliance, which is easy to do. Most null-sec alliances in EVE are at least partially subservient to another, larger alliance, such is the way of the game. Some of our members had issues with that, some felt we weren’t doing enough of the RP thing, some even wanted to ditch the RP-nonsense and focus on becoming a super power null sec alliance in our own right.
We grew. We had the over-arching RP goal of toppling ‘Amarrian Providence’ (which was a roaming PVP paradise back then) and had a pretty sweet deal with -A- giving us access to good PVE ground and sov infrastructure. We grew a lot, on the weekend of Fanfest 2010 we broke the 1,000 member mark.
In order to continue progressing, we needed to get off -A-‘s couch. We took on two constellations in Catch and carried on expanding, soon breaking the 1,500 member mark. Then something funky happened. Post-Dominion, -A- had dropped sov on several systems around HED-GP to reduce their bills. One of CVA’s holder alliances, Libertas Fidelitas, snapped up these unclaimed systems. -A- considered this a hostile move and things got hot. CVA (boldly) declared their intention to remove U’K from Catch and suddenly the game had changed.
Even with 1,500 members U’K stood no chance of prosecuting a sov war alone against CVA’s power bloc, which meant that our war was un-winnable but more importantly, fun. But now -A- saw CVA as a growing threat and decided to act. There was an epic battle in D-GTMI which saw the Provi cap fleet slaughtered and resistance ended. We then spent a few months chewing our way through sov timers until the last CVA system was finally taken.
And then we had a problem. We’d just ‘won EVE’, much faster and more suddenly than expected. Now what? For most alliances, you just move on to fight another war on some other front. But we needed a target with that elusive ‘relevance’ to our roleplaying roots. Few things are as evocative as taking the fight to the slaver, and we never much wanted to replace CVA as lords of Providence. Just kill them.
In a further curve ball, our relationship with -A- started to change. They have/had a policy where every member corp gets their own slice of space. Having taken on a couple of new corps, they needed some place in Catch to put them. Reluctantly, they had to move us. It was awkward and I do believe that it was a last resort, but we ended up moving into Provi. Provi was being re-populated as a fight club/thunder-dome of loosely linked alliances with non-invasion pacts but otherwise free to pew pew each other daily. It was a pressure cooker environment and didn’t go well with ambitious neighbours not sharing a common vision of how things should work. Then -A-‘s leadership changed dramatically on the same weekend as U’K was hijacked by our new head diplomat.
Our relationship with -A- was never the same again. Where there had been a strong sense of mutual respect before, the new people in charge viewed us very much as pets. U’K was by now already in decline suffering from the lack of a clear RP-opponent, a complex diplomatic situation and the loss of rich roaming grounds all hitting activity and breeding apathy. As we were struggling to keep ourselves going in snake-nest Provi, -A- were facing a bandwagon invasion to remove them from Catch. And were apparently annoyed that we weren’t showing to defend their space despite being under attack ourselves. Go figure.
Finally we realised we were sick of both sov and Provi killing us slowly so handed our space over to an ally, 9UY4-H and our beloved Unity Station to Chribba, and left. The next year continued to be a struggle with major differences of opinion within the alliance over just about everything from which fleet doctrine to use right up to who should be running the alliance. We tried to operate as a purely roaming alliance but internal divisions and outright bickering second guessing every move made everything we tried a decidedly mixed result.
Eventually it was decided that the current game mechanics were working against us and our lack of sov was hampering recruitment, both of which meant that we were depressingly out blobbed all the sodding time. With effectively no blues we were going it alone and struggling to find fights we could be competitive in other than the odd opportunist gank. There’s nothing wrong with opportunistic ganks mind you, but we wanted to move back up a gear. We decided to get back into the sov game and try to kick start things with a fresh sense of direction and focus.
Looking around most of the offers we got were poor at best. High rents for crap space. The best of a not so good bunch, surprisingly, came from -A-. But it still wasn’t all that. Then we were contacted by Imperial 0rder, who were former allies from Provi now living in Omist. We got an offer to go live on their couch in AXDX-F and rented a token system from -A- for more than it was worth in exchange for standings. It was very much a ‘pet’ offer on -A-‘s part but such is null sec. Our objective was to rebuild our alliance with an eye towards going for round 217 with CVA who were rebuilding their position in Provi. I0 were also interested in that long-term so we had found common cause. We picked up some non-station sov and started rebuilding. We went through a schism about then where a chunk of the old roaming vets and one corp in particular split off to form a new alliance. That took a chunk of our PVP’ers away but did end the divisive arguments and repeated leadership challenges. It wasn’t pretty but I think both groups are happier for it.
Time for another curve ball. I0 were abruptly disbanded and ceased to exist. They were not to reform. The DRF had been battling with -A- for some time and were gaining the upper hand. We had for awhile been turning up to -A-‘s defensive CTA’s and seeing that there were repeatedly more U’K pilots in system than there were -A-. It was well known that -A- had already evacuated their stuff to NPC Stain well before this and now were just going through the motions of defending while their allies put more effort into the defence of -A- space than they were. As Omist fell in one night -A- ordered all allies to pull back to Stain or be reset.
It was at this point that a diplomat of TCU, a then member of DRF, made contact. Turns out this guy knew us from Curse earlier in the year and we had managed to make a positive impression. Which was cool. We then received a very good offer for some very good space; free, but we had to fight for it. And of course, it meant switching sides.
Some have criticised us, understandably, for ‘back-stabbing treachery’ and our apparent willingness to jump ship. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but we did have to make it swiftly. All our stuff was locked in a station, we were a long, long way from any allies all of a sudden and the clock was ticking on the offer. We thought carefully about who it was that we owed loyalty or obligation to. It was Imperial 0rder who had opened their door to us and who connected us to -A-‘s coalition. Imperial 0rder no longer existed. Our relationship with -A- was based on ISK. We gave them ISK, we received standings. That system we were renting? They had already decided to give that to someone else and did not bother to ask us about it first. -A- were not defending their own sov and had demanded that we move to Stain or be reset.
So what was there left to be loyal to? We had fulfilled every part of our bargain, they clearly viewed us pets, distant vassals, and absolutely nothing more. DRF on the other hand were showing us respect, and an opportunity. We were wary, it wasn’t what we had planned, but we adapted to the moment and accepted.
That saw our frosty relationship with -A- become red, and we moved into the front line in Catch. I have been told that we were ‘blind’, ‘short-sighted’ and naive to accept, but I for one understood that we were taking a risk and that we could well fail. Or, we could succeed and come out of it much stronger. Only one way to find out….
Return to Catch
We took part in capturing CNC4-V in mid-September and claimed sov from -A- on the 20th. Soon after we secured a couple other non-station systems in the constellation but not FAT-6P next door. FAT is within jump range of -A-‘s staging systems and the DRF had turned its gaze elsewhere rather than going all out to take FAT. -A- clearly placed a lot of strategic value on keeping their Catch beach head. For the past three months Ushra’Khan has lived right on the front line working hard to keep up the fight and push forward. Several times -A- tried (hard) to re-take CNC but were beaten back.
I think we did a pretty good job in that situation. We kept the fight going and -A- at least a little distracted in trying to dislodge us or countering our pushes. I was never under the delusion that we would be able to go it solo or that our position was entirely secure. We were dependent on allied support to defend against a serious sov push. Our killboard average for Catch is not exactly glowing, but then killboards do not tell the whole story. We’ve had some very fun fights, and a lot of hard fought fights. Station repping might be tedious and we’ve done a lot of it, but I think I’ve had more fun out of CNC than I’ve had in some time from EVE.
It was always possible that -A- might regroup and regain the upper hand, which they seem now to be doing. It was a risk, and I’m glad we tried.
The Ushra’Khan now faces a new round of re-evaluation. We found that Omist was too remote and that Catch was too hot to really accomplish our goals of expanding the membership. We’ve lost some disaffected old players longing for those memories of the F4R days on -A-‘s couch and roaming Provi. But we have gained new people too. On balance I think we have evened out in terms of manpower, with our growth offset.
The atmosphere is much better these days though, as I follow the current discussions I’m very pleased by the tone of them. What will we do next? Is holding sov our answer? Is there an alternative? Where does that RP history of ours fit in with the EVE of today? There are a lot of questions, but I’m very pleased to say that we are at last spending more time looking forwards than back.
It will be interesting indeed to see what the new year brings.
P.S. Thanks for reading this far! 😉