As we've been watching the EVE galaxy performing its Darwinian reshuffle, it came to our surprise that GoonSwarm, the game's biggest territorial alliance, had been disbanded. In the early hours of Wednesday 3rd February 2010, GoonSwarm CEO "karttoon" kicked almost every corp from the alliance, effectively disbanding it. There's more to this story than meets the eye and in this investigative piece, I delve into the thick of it to discover just what's going on with this troubled alliance.
Who are GoonSwarm?:
GoonSwarm is an alliance forged from an out-of-game community. The members, called "goons", are almost all from the Something Awful forum and the main corp GoonFleet was set up as a way for forum members to play EVE with each other. They quickly became a dominant force in nullsec territorial warfare and are famed for their suicide-ganking antics as JihadSwarm.
Goonswarm is perhaps best known for their all-out war against the Band of Brothers alliance as part of a coalition of territorial alliances. This time last year, they succeeded in destroying Band of Brothers using dubious but acceptable spying tactics. When a new recruit turned out to be a character owned by a current Band of Brothers director, Goonswarm spymaster "The Mittani" lept on the chance to deal the alliance a crippling blow from the inside. On 4th February 2009, the Band of Brothers alliance was disbanded by their new director-level spy. As if to rub salt in the wound, the goons then registered a new corporation with the name "Band of Brothers" to prevent the name being reclaimed.
When the story broke of Goonswarm's disbandment, rumours began to circulate on whether or not the act was malicious. Did the alliance plan all of this as part of a restructuring effort or had they fallen victim to the same vile crime they had perpertrated exactly one year ago? The fact that most corps were unaware of their impending dismissal and that the alliance wallets were emptied lends credibility to the theory that this was a malicious attack. In the moments following the ejection of corps from the alliance, standings issues even caused a SuperCarrier to be ejected from the force field of its staging starbase in 31-MLU. The pilot managed to evade the enemy for some time but the ship was eventually found and destroyed.
Massively caught up with Ex-CEO and previous CSM representative Darius JOHNSON to get his take on the whole situation.
Massively: Do you consider the alliance effectively hijacked or had this been planned for a while?
Darius: Firstly I don't believe for a second it was "planned for a while". The organizational structure of Goonfleet is such that the CEO wields supreme power. Therefore the CEO has the capability to choose to or not to disband at any time. Kartton was a terrible CEO. He made some bad decisions. Goons called him on those decisions and he chose to be a giant baby and "punish" them by disbanding the alliance.
Darius: Really there was a loss of assets, but the space had already been lost due to his lack of management ability. So the assets and corp name were in essence just water under the bridge that goons couldn't access because he was an absentee. A withdrawal [from Delve] began the day the bills were not paid and the sov dropped, allowing IT to take major stations within 10 hours of the change in status.
Massively: Any idea what they're doing with the whole BoB name thing?
Darius: The BoB name was originally claimed by me when we shut them down. When I retired I entrusted it to Karttoon, who I imagine will keep it.
Massively: Is the old Goonfleet corp still functional at all? Do you think that karttoon might be still planning to run the alliance?
Darius: Goonfleet the corp will not be functional at all. Karttoon has full control and will simply squat it. He has no intention of establishing any form of alliance whatsoever. Firstly he lacks the chops. He was handed a giant and quite complete package.
Massively: What direction are you planning to take with GoonWaffe?
Darius: Waffe has returned to the Goon's ancestral home in Syndicate. The Goonfleet members are taking their time switching over to the new corporation. There's the matter of roles which adds 24 hours to the process, so we won't see a huge boost until today. Goonwaffe will serve much the same role as Goonfleet did albeit with better leadership and a somewhat altered mission.
Massively: Do you expect to lose members due to this event?
Darius: I don't expect [we] will lose anyone to this. We've always been united by a common external community [...]. A simple alliance dissolution in game cannot come between us [...].
What went wrong?:
Evidently, the story of GoonSwarm's disbanding goes back to the appointment of karttoon as CEO. Because of their dictatorial political structure, the CEO was in a position of complete authority within the alliance. He was the only person allowed access to the corp wallet and so the only person capable of paying upkeep bills on system sovereignty. Last week on 26th January 2010, upkeep for GoonSwarm's sovereignty-keeping structures lapsed and the alliance lost their defensive infrastructure. With cynosural jammers and jump bridges down, enemies "IT Alliance" and "Against All Authorities" began to overrun Delve. This comes with the added sting that Delve was the former home of Band of Brothers and that several key corps from Band of Brothers are now in the attacking IT Alliance, fighting to reclaim their lost home.
In a post on the Something Awful forums, karttoon stated that the upkeep had accidentally lapsed while he was on a long holiday. He suggested that he had previously planned to destroy the alliance and simply took this opportunity to carry out his plan. After emptying the alliance wallet and taking billions of ISK in ship reserves from his corp's strategic ship depot, karttoon proceeded to boot every major corp from the alliance. As a final act of defiance, he moved the primary goon corp "GoonFleet" into the "Band of Brothers" holding alliance they had set up after dismantling BoB last year. Having suspected that karttoon might do something like this, Darius had ensured that the secondary goon corp "GoonWaffe" was kept under his command. He now urges goons to reunite under the GoonWaffe banner and return to their roots in Syndicate region.
The words "GoonSwarm is dead" are a cause to rejoice for many pilots but the reality is much less dramatic. As the alliance is based around a community outside the game, perhaps "GoonSwarm" was essentially just a name. Time will tell how many ex-goons will reform into GoonWaffe and what their new place in EVE's political landscape will be but at this stage, the goons appear to be far from dead. Strange things are afoot in EVE Online, but aren't they always?