Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-- Robert Frost
On April 28 and 29, the first great test for CCP in 2012 begins.
I said yesterday that Mittens and CCP are stepping gingerly around each other. But that's not how it started, and that's not how it's likely to end. It began in fire, and may well end in ice.
When Mittens recorded the State of the Goonion on March 29, a couple of hours after being kicked off the CSM, he was as angry as I've ever heard him. Hell, Mittens comes off so in control most of the time that I'm not sure he gets angry.(1) But he was angry on March 29. Oh my, yes. "We must see... we must wait and see, when I am unbanned," he said, "whether EVE is still the EVE we love." How are the Goons going to check? They're going to do their level best to drive a sword into the heart of the game... just to see what happens.
Just to see how CCP responds.
On April 28, after Mittens is unbanned, their plan is "burn Jita to the ground" and "go to the beating heart of EVE Online and... stab it repeatedly. If CCP is still the old CCP, this will be heralded as an amazing in-game event, a 'Free Mittani' event... and everything will be fine."
In his post the same day to the GSF forums, Mittens was even more direct: "the rabble" is trying to "turn EVE into Hello Kitty Online. It’s a shame that I have to do this." I said earlier today that third wave companies don't use phrases like HTFU. That's OK, because Mittens is clearly getting ready to shout it in the direction of Reyk. Loudly.
"If there is some kind of crack-down or reaction to Goonswarm being Goonswarm, then we will have more information and can make an informed decision as to how we proceed," he said in the SOTG. "We will destroy Jita and we will see where things go." And hell, that isn't even the fun part.
The fun part is that Mittens apparently spent a good deal of time at Fanfest convincing residents of other null sec alliances to join in the fun. Expect "Jita will burn!" to be the rallying cry for that whole weekend. So that's the fire. What about the ice?
A lot of people said something interesting right after the Alliance Panel debacle. They essentially said that CCP was damned if they do, damned if they don't when it came to reacting to Mittens's actions. It was quite a dilemma, and both choices were bad. Make no mistake: the situation in Jita the weekend of April 28 is the same. CCP has no good choices here. If you're reading this, you are a well-informed individual. You no doubt read my blog, other blogs, EVE News 24, follow forums on Failheap or kugu, and generally take advantage of the news sources available to you.
You are the minority when it comes to EVE players. Make no mistake about this, either: April 28 and 29 are going to come as a total stunning surprise to the vast bulk of EVE Online players, who will nearly immediately begin screaming for explanations and calling for someone's blood. How does CCP respond? How can they respond?
The funniest part of this of all is that it is entirely possible that Goonswarm is preparing the greatest bait-and-switch in gaming history. What do I mean? "1800 Tornados," Mittens says, is what the Goons are preparing for use in Jita. It sounds enormous. It's four times as many Tornados as there are for sale, total, in Jita as I type this. It's an investment easily exceeding 200 billion ISK.
A freighter, though, has about 200,000 effective hit-points and Jita is a 0.9 system. I find it difficult to believe that the Tornados will get two volleys, but I know next to nothing about suicide-ganking freighters. Let's suppose they do get two volleys off each. A single Tornado volley is good for about 11000 EHP of damage. That means it'll take nine Tornados to gank a single freighter. That means that 1800 Tornados can gank about 200 freighters. Do you have any clue how many freighters and jump freighters go through Jita?
Here is the least busy time I could find, watching freighters make their way around the Jita system for one hour. This is Tuesday night USTZ, traditionally the least busy time in EVE, from 0000 to 0100 EVE time. I was able to lock 105 freighters in one hour. If you're on that list, bang, you lost a freighter or JF.
But weekends are a hell of a lot busier. Last Sunday afternoon, I passed counting 100 freighters after 20 minutes. Snapcount informs me very reliably that there are an average of 7000 more people logged in on Saturday than on a weekday. The Goons have to know this. Which means that even if everything goes perfectly for them, they'll exhaust their Tornados in about 90 minutes... tops. It'll be a blip. An amazing blip and an orgy of destruction, to be sure, but shorter than an Incursion Live Event. It might very well be over before you could get there to watch, even if you knew exactly what time it was going to start.
As a result, I can think of only two possibilities here: one, a few dozen freighters and jump freighters fall as they enter Jita space, and from there, the word spreads and so terrifies everyone that Jita is essentially blockaded to freighters. That's certainly one possibility. It's not what I think of when I think "burn Jita to the ground", though. Another possibility occurs to me that does fit the mental image.
The Goons could shoot everything except freighters. Say they collectively shipped in a couple thousand gank Catalysts and Brutixes left over from the Gallente ice interdiction to join the Tornados. The Goons could effectively blockade Jita. Any frigate that jumps in or undocks, caught and killed by a Gankalyst. Cruisers and haulers, caught and killed by the Brutixes. Bigger ships, Tornados. Additional null-sec alliances bring their own stuff, or just buy out the Jita market of Canes and Thrashers and join in the fun. Anyone stupid enough to think a cloak will save them will quickly find the gates are so saturated by CONCORD ships, wrecks, drones, and cans that the gates may as well be mined. Cloaking in that would be a miracle.
Can you imagine the chaos? Those 1800 Tornados could kill every man, woman, and child trying to enter or leave Jita for the entire day! They could kill hundreds of ships... thousands of ships with destroyer support. The freighters would stay out, terrified of even coming close to Jita, ironically not realizing that they might be the safest ships of all.
And most of EVE Online wouldn't know about it until they jumped into Jita and it was happening to them.
Yeah, CCP is in a very, very bad spot. Because 10 minutes after the carnage starts, the GMs are going to find themselves having the worst day of their lives. Does CCP ignore it? If so, the vast silent bulk of their player base is suddenly going to become not-so-silent. They will be screaming absolute bloody murder. Does CCP quietly ask the Goons not to do it, and in so doing, completely validate and justify "angry Mittens"? Also not tempting. Do they crack down on it? That's a horrible choice, particularly since the day this happens is likely to be the very same weekend that the Fanfest attendees and the gaming press get their first access to DUST 514 from their homes!
What do you suppose those Fanfest attendees will be doing? What do you suppose the gaming press will be writing about?
Oh my yes, CCP is in a very bad spot.
And in the center of it all will be Mittens, cool as ice and watching every move they make... and planning his next move as the newly unshackled-from-the-need-to-be-a-nice-guy head of Goonswarm.
I did say that bad pennies always turn up, right? You heard me say that? How does CCP respond? How can they respond?
(1) This is one of the many things that Mittens and I have in common, interestingly enough, but that's a subject for another post.