A warning; this post contains a lot of words, and not so many jokes and quips. Also, no pictures.
A second word of warning. The following words are purely speculative, and my interpretation (and opinion) of the limited information I see. I don't profess to be an expert, but I do have a fair amount of knowledge of how the meta politics of Eve work. I'm also not particularly anti-Goon anymore either, although I admit I am rooting on the TEMP side for this war, rather than the CFC so I can't claim to be impartial (who can?).
I've been involved or on the sidelines of every major war in Eve for the past three to four years. This time, I'm at the back of the spectator stand in the cheap seats. I've got the programmes from previous games on my lap and I'm looking through them. From what I'm seeing, I can make a valid prediction of how this war is going to end.
The CFC is losing right now.
How do I conclude this? Well, they are playing a number of cards I've seen them play before in every major conflict, but instead of playing them out strategically, they seem to be putting them on the table in fairly quick succession.
So what have I seen that leads me to this conclusion?
Well, working from most recent:
Highlighting a single character and launching a campaign of slander - This time it's Baki Yuki with a smatter of Aerallo, previous to that it was Montolio, or Viktor Villiance, or Makalu Zayra. The tactic is exactly the same each time. In fact I think it's even been Baki before. A number of dreads went "missing" when Test started to dissolve, and it's widely known that it was probably Baki that did it. Most of Test didn't really know this at the time and it was kept fairly quiet. To be fair, nobody really cared either as they were a personal donation to the Alliance and Test were on the losing end of a war, losing all their sov and most of their cap pilots were being poached anyway. If it wasn't Baki, it likely would have been someone else. This tactic relies on focusing on some kind of popular leadership charater and defaming them. It reduces confidence of the people they lead and increase pressure on the person themselves.
Capital Victories - Every time the CFC wins a cap battle, it's major news. OMG WE KILLED 17 DREADS AND SOME CARRIERS GUYS WE ARE WINNING LOOK AT ALL OUR SMUG. Where's the same amount of news distribution when the CFC themselves lose caps? This is pretty obvious one-sided reporting, designed to be used as a morale booster to CFC forces. The exact same thing happened in Fountain in the summer, and I'm sure you'll see it again.
Moving Supers - The CFC is known to have a rather large supercapital fleet, possibly one of the biggest, and yet it's also one of the dustiest. It's very rare to see a CFC supercap fleet out and about, and even rarer to see it shooting anything other than structures. It's my opinion that this capital fleet is largely a bit of smoke and mirrors. People who fly supercaps are generally old players, and old players generally get a bit bored of not using a ship, or a character and stop logging in. I would wager that the CFC super fleet is nowhere near as large as people suspect it to be. Sure they have the pilots and the ships, but I think most of the pilots are inactive which effectively means a smaller super fleet. The CFC made a reasonably big, public show of moving these supers down to the deployment area at the weekend, When else have they done this? Down to Fountain and down to Delve/Querious. They are a pretty big deterrant and one can liken them to the nuclear threat in real world politics. Will they ever be dropped? Only if it is an absolute 100% guanteed safe win.
Sov Drops - This could be completely coincidental, and to be fair with the most recent sov drop, there wasn't a lot of evidence that the CFC was invovled, but the trends are there so it's worth mentioning. Whenever the CFC gets involved in a war, and they start to go on a defensive backing, some sov somewhere drops. Is it ever CFC allied sov? Of course not. Occasionally, the CFC will claim it was them outright, but then just as often, it's only revealed after the war has been sewn up.
A Shiny New Tactic - This is a valid thing in any war, and the CFC do it very well. This time there have been two in close succession. The first is the Naglfar doctrine, designed to counter the TEMP carrier circlejerk. A big announcement, throw some pretty statistics and some glitter in there and voila. You've given your allies a new purpose and direction, you've distracted your opponent so they have to come up with a counter-counter and have also taken a small morale hit. In the most recent war, this was countered very quickly, fairly publicly and quite effectively by TEMP and sudddenly, all talk Naglfars seems to die off. In Fountain, this was Fuck You Fleet and Seige Fleet (Damping Celestis and DPS Bombers, respectively). In Delve/Querious, this was NApocs and Rokhs as a counter to Tengus. The second tactic to be announced is "Waterboarding", which is the act of perma bubbling part of the enemy cap fleet whilst the other part is engaged. This worked rather well yesterday, but as far as I can see, is pretty easy to counter by switching up mids a little bit. It also probably relies on some spy intel letting CFC know where the mid points are so that bubblers can be moved into position.
Squad Deployment - I've seen this one a number of times first. CFC announces that one of the SIGs (Special Interest Groups) is deploying somewhere, but it's only a squad, so it's ok. My opinion is that this is more smoke and mirrors. The CFC SIGs are open to all, so what they are effectively doing is saying "anyone interested in PVP, deploy here". Obviously, that means the majority of the CFC active PVP pilots, which is not just a squad deployment. When they start to lose is when it's announced as a "real war" and the rest of the coalition is "asked" to deploy. In other terms, the ratters and semi-active people that were previously content to stay out the PVP and sit in CFC sov and shoot rats etc. In my eyes, this could be directly compared to subscription, as the "real war" pilots are viewed only as "pilots in ships; more pilots = more win".
Here are some cards I haven't yet seen in this war, but that I'm predicting will happen fairly soon.
The Timer Grind - This is basically a race to see who burns out first. The CFC starts putting everything they can into reinforce, despite knowing they can't contest everything. It puts them on the aggressing foot as TEMP now have to respond to the CFC. More and more timers means more and more work for the leadership, who will eventually burn out or make mistakes or both. I think this will be a later player in this this war as both sides are very capable of this tactic and it could easily back fire.
The TZ Switch - Like the above point, this tactic relies on throwing everything they have at a TZ that they feel they are stronger than the enemy in, in order to accelerate or trigger burn out. Once a single TZ is burnt out, gaps start opening else where as other TZs start alarm clocking.
Spin - If you throw enough shit at a wall, some of it will stick. Eventually, CFC will find someone within TEMP leadership to focus on politically destroying and it will stick. As mentioned in the very first part of this blog, this process is ongoing and at some point will stick.
Division - This is happening right now to some extent, and it's happening on both sides. CFC are trying to drive a wedge between Test (who have recently entered the battlefield) and EMP (who are mostly ex-Test). TEMP are trying to drive the wedge between the CFC and RUS, who are known to be unhappy about allying with CFC for this war (the consider it the lesser of two evils)
Economic - This is probably happening on a small scale already, but as the war grows older, this tactic will ramp up. TEMP, as far as I can see, doesn't have a particularly strong income source which means whatever income they do have can be disrupted fairly easily. N3 and PL rely mostly on rental income, and it's a very well established system and not quite as easy to disrupt. The CFC has also started renting, but the difference is that their renters form a buffer between CFC sov and hostile sov, whereas N3/PL renters are protected by the N3/PL sov space. It's a subtle difference, but as the war goes back and forth, whose renters will feel more at risk? I see the CFC constantly state that their moon goo income is no longer their primary source of income, but I don't believe them, and obviously, those are not stats they are going to publish.
That concludes what I have to say about the that. I'm absolutely sure that I'll be told I'm wrong. Someone will pick a particular point that I've stated and disprove it, thusly invalidating the rest of my points. That's how an internet argument work apparently. Maybe I'm so close to the mark that they'll go for the personal attack, bringing up something from my Test days, or calling me toxic. Maybe they'll take the "so much bullshit let's all point and laugh" approach. It actually doesn't matter to me. I'm sat on the sidelines, wrapped up warm and drinking my beer, not slogging around in the wind and rain down on the battlefield.