I’m now the CEO of TNERA. Joining Convicted was my first taste of the north, before that I was in such places as DirtNap Squad, Initiative and IEGEX – So mostly the south. While these credentials are nothing particularly of note, especially to my fellow peers here, my point is that I’ve done the renter thing, I’ve done the Leet PVP thing, but I don’t have any NC or Goon lineage prior to AIF. I didn’t have that Northern Bloc baggage coming in.
EVE in the AustralianTimezone is quite a different place. Playing on the weekend, you can see the difference, and it’s stark. There’s very few targets, fewer roaming gangs in AUTZ. AUTZ numbers are low, and the fact they’re scattered across most of Eve means that activity is such a hard thing to generate, along with content.
Part of that drove me to C0nvicted. I’d been through the Atlas collapse, the WN invasion of Detorid, later the resurgence of –A- to kick Init. out of Immensea. Renting in White Noise, and later, as AAA burned White Noise’s southern holdings, I moved to Dirt Nap Squad.
Throughout it all, while each of these places had its share of good guys, I hadn’t enjoyed the game much since leaving my Australian corp (Debbie Hunter’s corp for those who care). Yes, we were terrible renters, but the thing was that we were Australian terrible renters, together.
So I joined C0nvicted as the CFC went to war in Branch. I wanted to get in on ‘the big show’ of nullsec as it was, but I didn’t want to be a goon – C0nvicted offered a good middle ground, Australian, in the CFC, but not Goons.
What I've written below is not an entire account of everything that has happened, nor is it completely unbiased. It is, however, my personal and honest view on the last year of AIF, and not a propaganda piece. I have attempted to make things as accurate as possible and crosschecked a number of facts. I'm sure people here will have their opinions, so feel free to flame away - I wouldn't be posting it here if I believed anything different would happen.
C0nvicted died when it moved to Branch. It really did. People went inactive. The space was good, but it was so far from everywhere. At the same time, a diplo from the CFC (Courthouse) attempted an internal coup of AIF, to install Bandert into the role of Alliance CEO instead of Wusti. This was ill-thought out however, and the subsequent inactivity it created in the leadership of the alliance crippled us further.
The invasion of Tenal, reclaiming RZR’s homeland was interesting, but it killed what (little) PVP there was in Branch, jammed into the northern corner of Eve, surrounded by blues. Wusti recruited new blood, but the reality of it was that C0nvicted still held a PVP culture at heart, an elitist view which arguably wasn’t deserved anymore. The glory days of AIF taking their home in Geminate or Delve or wherever were before my time, stories of 60 man AIF AUTZ fleets seemed wonderful but a little far fetched given the 5 man roaming gangs of the alliance post-Tenal reclamation.
It was this that resulted in the short stays of Quantum Horizons and CAPOZ, two corporations that were Australian in timezone but not similar to AIF in culture. In an effort to bulk up our AUTZ numbers, we brought in ‘carebear’ and industrial corps. This did not mesh well with the existing PVP core of AIF, and resulted in friction and their eventual departure.
C0nvicted tried a deployment to Curse, and like so many nullsec groups before it, got chewed up and spat out. The reason was simple – the deployment was half-thought out, moving there alone, without any real goals and an already inactive senior group was a bit of a disaster. Not on the scale of FA’s deployment to Syndicate, but a disaster in that what active members were there got a little more less active – logging on into Curse, in a hostile staging area, watched all the time by the locals meant that unless there was an active fleet happening, there was little reason for most to log in.
We had far too few active FCs, and our current alliance doctrines poorly suited the size of the fleets we were raising.
Delve was a welcome distraction. The HBC/CFC escalation of Delve was wonderful for a short time, and helped wake up our cap and super pilots. Even though Delve quickly became an unopposed grind, we ran some coalition capital ops, and we started getting more activity from our core group, with people like PANGU to fight against (and they fought well, and came out on top) we got some action and some content.
One of the reasons we had such an issue with activity was that a senior group of players really didn’t like being in the CFC. This culture of demanding more of our pilots, of not fitting ships for the lowest denominator coupled with the general Australian distaste for bureaucracy grated against Goon Culture. So towards the end of Delve, AIF started thinking seriously about leaving. We were seeing what was happening with the HBC, the influence of PL, and the way they were organising the war. Wusti was thinking hard about moving south to join the HBC proper - reinvigorating the ties from AIF’s previous tenure in Fountain and Delve, but the lure of tech was an ever present issue.
In the end, as AIF was becoming more and more amiable to the idea of dropping our Branch sov and moving south permanently, NC. broke its OTEC agreement and started reinforcing AIF Venal moons.
At the start of the Venal campaign, I was amazed to see what size fleets were being drawn on in AUTZ. 150+ fleets appeared as people, starved for decent fights from Delve continued to log in and shoot at folks. This was short lived however. There were, at the time, no bloc-level FCs for AUTZ, we relied on folks like Vily, and Inter, and DBRB alarm clocking. Vee fleets on the weekend were a rare pleasure.
As these things go, DBRB inevitably welped a few fleets of drakes into what was becoming a very highly effective NC. + BL Zealot Firewall doctrine. This was around the same time as famous statements such as ‘bring explosive, zealots have an explosive hole’ were quoted by the Boat. These fleets did not go well, but DBRB welps fleets, no big deal, “tech tech tech already replaced”.
Except, goons hate losing. They publically laugh and don’t care about welping fleets, because shit, they’re terrible, right? Except internally, they hate it. They hate losing fleets as much as anyone else. The reaction to welping some DBRB fleets that were run in AUTZ?
They shut down AUTZ.
Suddenly, there were no fleets in AUTZ. Timers were punted. While still staging from QPO, they outlawed roaming in hostile space, FCs big and small were not allowed to ‘feed NC. Kills’,. The large AU fleets of previous weeks dispersed. People hung around for a bit, but they started going elsewhere in small groups...back to Fade, to Syndicate, where ever they could find content.
The very few times they tried to chase an AU timer, drakes were taken out and generally dumpstered, and fleet numbers were poor. What fleets were allowed were confined to Drakefleet, or Drakefleet. With the enemy already having a well experienced hard counter to drakes, combined with spies in CFC communications, the drakefleets got massacred and only reinforced further that AUTZ needed to be starved of fights.
It was around this time that rumblings began both within and towards AIF. AIF are supposed to be an AUTZ powerhouse, right? WTF are they doing? Why weren’t they smashing these timers? Why weren’t we winning in AUTZ? Meanwhile within AIF (already somewhat regretting not switching to HBC earlier) people grated against the arbitrary shutting down of the timezone, the insistence on using bad doctrines and losing the same fleets over and over. With our 2 tech moons (the other 2 being pretty constantly in reinforce for the first part of Venal) leadership was saying louder and louder ‘stop flying drakes, drakes are stupid’.
As UMI-KK fell to CFC, an AIF titan belonging to Seymore Graves (TNERA CEO) came out of build. Once out of build, Seymore (largely inactive at this point), disgruntled both with Wusti’s leadership and the state of AIF within the CFC took most of the senior TNERAn members - which also constituted much of the Alliance leadership, including AIF’s head logistics, diplomat, IT administrator, HR Administrator, and warfare director - , along with 3 Titans, several supers and a over half of the active members of TNERA and left to form Interkosmos. This group would become more active and then join Tribal Band, later becoming part of the SCRAP alliance.
Recovering from this blow was not easy. It essentially reduced AIF to one AUTZ corporation - Violent Alternatives, who took a lot of the load on to run the alliance. AIF now had a small USTZ (EXOP, M.CE and IRTN) and a larger EUTZ (H4CE) but neither were particularly effective yet on their own, and much of the alliance was still run in AUTZ.
These events combined with the AUTZ being shut down during the Venal and Tribute war meant that our AUTZ participation was not so good, with mostly EU propping us up, around the same time that CFC announced itself as a ‘premier EUTZ alliance’, good timing indeed. However stats do not lie, and the (soon to be) heavy reliance on the CFC's new PAP Link internal fleet metrics system did not account for skyteam decisions or timezone considerations.
Stuck in AUTZ in an ailing alliance, with Tribute starting to become timed into AUTZ, there were still eyes on AIF from within the CFC, and pressure there to put the blame for the failing AUTZ coordination onto AIF’s shoulders. Wusti, being Wusti, was no shrinking violet. Around this time, reading into some comments from Mittani’s CEO updates, we were bracing for a boot, deserved or not.
LeoniaTavira, the head FC of AIF, and a to-the-bone goons hater released a document detailing some of the coalition level issues with CFC AUTZ and some steps on rectifying it. With no central AUTZ General to rally behind, and what AUTZ CFC had scattered across all the difference alliances, AUTZ needed to fight better. It was in AUTZ that we were, at best, even numbered (often outnumbered), but as the war had ground on our numbers had suffered. Continuously taking ill-suited fleets out had hurt participation, AIF internal issues notwithstanding. CFC AUTZ needed better doctrines, more FC support, and the ability to escalate to capitals.
This was picked up in earnest by the CFC, and held as some sort of revelation, although in my eyes much of this sort of thing written was pretty obvious. The creation of a SIG was settled upon...seen by some as falling rather short. Discussions on new coalition doctrines were had, but never amounted to anything. Fawlty7 from GSF AU started forming the group, and it was coming together, until the Goon leadership came back from Eve Vegas.
Instead of a unified group, we got asshole squad and pleasexplain.
Hijacked and then named by Mittens in combination with the infamous (amongst AUTZ) ‘Plankton and bombers’ speech, it drove whatever will was left to try and save AUTZ out of the AIF military group, myself included. Fawlty7 had been trying hard, and AUTZ fleet numbers had been on the increase, the use of tornado fleets were becoming more effective at achieving some strategic goals. Except Fawlty7 was under threat of being yelled at for even partial welps, doctrines were not approved for use, and we still had no cap FCs. And now, everything but bomber fleets were outlawed. We were not even expected to attempt engaging on any timers or hostile fleets. With so many AUTZ disgruntled, the group quickly filled with spies and double agents.
The Pleasexplain AUTZ leadership channel was formed at the same time, nominally as a way for AUTZ military people to co-ordinate. It was headed up by Courthouse who was, as I mentioned earlier, infamous amongst AIF members as the person who had tried to start a coup within AIF. In my personal experience as one of the first people invited into this new group (having not met Courthouse prior), I can say without a doubt that Courthouse is one of the most self-righteous, manipulating jerks I have had the displeasure of meeting. Aggressive, threatening, abusive and hateful, not only was it a wonder why he was put in charge of AUTZ, it was wondered how he was a diplomat at all.
It became obvious to me that pleasexplain was not a tool for AUTZ to work together and improve, but as a method of monitoring and control from Goons leadership. The message was received loud and clear, despite all the praise for Leo’s previous document, AUTZ was to do what the fuck we were told from Goons, when we were told to do it, and any dissent, any effort to try and kill NC. Fleets, and deviation from ‘no fights, bombers only’ was met with threats of expulsion or removal of war spoils. Courthouse was the only one in his mind that could shape AUTZ properly, and he was happy to tell us this.
The heavy handed nature of this channel was most keenly felt by me and Fawlty, as essentially the only two people in the room actively trying to figure out how to kill NC. in AUTZ and compete for timers. Every discussion on this was met with hostility. Most other people in the room were largely inactive.
This room became an abject failure for AUTZ integration until it was later handed over to Powers after the purge of Vale, who while not AUTZ, was at least active in our TZ, knew us, let us speak, seemed to want us to succeed and wasn’t a complete flaming cunt.
A few weeks after pleasexplain and asshole squad was formed, the NC./BL/Evoke resistance collapsed. In the AIF, we were somewhat relieved – this war had been atrocious from our standpoint, painful to be in, and with Goons looking over our shoulder, worse to not be in. However, we knew that the goons hadn’t learned anything from this – in their view, the murdering of their own AUTZ was a successful way to win the current war, and justified their methods. Already, we were looking at the Tribute campaign, and comparing it to what was being amassed south in the HBC, the combination of numbers, doctrines and experienced combat super pilots was concerning.
AIF quickly began pushing for a new home – giving up Branch, seen as a dead end for an alliance in its last throes, and getting new space on the border of CFC space. Vale was seen as quite good – bordering Bricksquad and the drone lands, it offered decent PVP against mid-tier alliances that would offer fights we could take, close to lowsec, it would become a small gang and small fleet pvp heaven. We had just brought in a new group, Emerald Empire, who seemed to have quite a bit of potential, and lost our only full member US corp (EXOP), who wanted to stay in Branch with FCON.
Nominal approval was given via CFC Corps Diplo for a move, and we started to grind Vale. GENTS space, being closest to Tribute, was claimed first. EVOKE space was bought. Then everyone said good job, and went home for a much needed break.
Except of course, AIF, who were left with the mammoth task of grinding out the rest of Vale alone, including NC. capital systems G5ED and JZV, both of which had been used as NC. staging systems in the war. In an unspoken deal, NC. had set all their timers to a time that was good for the CFC and left. Except every other alliance had gone home (congratulating themselves and posting on Kugu) leaving only AIF there to grind the sov, and despite our AUTZ being gutted over the last 6 months, our largest supercap and capital presence was still in AUTZ - and none of the timers were.
Requests for aid were met with general silence, barring a single CFC fleet run by DBRB. Talk of how to set up the JB network were met with abusive threats from Courthouse, who demanded we not speak of anything post-Vale until we had finished claiming the last system in the name of the CFC, despite providing no help whatsoever to do it. A certain distaste for CFC within AIF, and the GSF in particular, was peaking at this time. Although the grind was unopposed for the most part, the sheer volume of station systems and ihubs was a daunting task. Admirably, we purged Vale faster than the DRF had during the collapse of the NC, a testament to the dedication of the pilots across our small alliance.
And so began “wretched peace”. Off on the edge of the CFC, we were now free to do our own thing. Asshole squad deployed to our capital system, and we ran regular fleets, and although most of the squad never came, the few that did (Powers and Fawlty included) seemed to have a good time. We managed to bring PKME back into AIF (from Fatal Ascension), which more than doubled our AUTZ presence. Brick offered little in the way of fights, but it was still many times better than Branch, and we began a campaign of taking their money moons from them.
We developed our doctrines further, following through on the document penned by Leo, pushing armour. In another recruitment coup, we picked up Trigun, who were brought in with the express mandate to push us into new armour doctrines and help us become effective at fighting in small fleets of 30-50. Unfortunately, in my view, Wusti’s only failing here was to not put Trigun in charge of the USTZ immediately, preferring to defer that decision until both INK and 3GUN were out of trial status.
INK and 3GUN have very different corporate cultures and methodology for fights. Trigun are a corporation that thrives on set-piece battles, demanding highly skilled individuals and expensive ships. INK were more casual, eschewing timers and major fleets, preferring roams and not minding to lose ships in the chase of ‘good fights’. Individual pilots took little responsibility for their fits, and any comments such as ‘wtf is this?’ were met with cries of bullying. Trigun, on the other hand, hated losing ships, every loss being analysed, most fights being recorded for later.
AUTZ as a whole made its choice, that 3Gun were the future of how AIF wanted and needed to be, especially in AUTZ where the CFC’s standard ‘clog their guns with our wrecks’ policy was untenable. Trigun and Emerald Empire did not get along at all, and the deepening rift was allowed to fester while Wusti tried to get everyone on the same page, and get INK to change their ways rather than choose one corp over the other.
In the end, INK were asked to leave. What began as a somewhat amicable departure quickly devolved into a spamming of nasty comments from both sides, on the killboard and in alliance chat. INK and M.CE left to Fatal Ascension. Happy to see them go, we dusted ourselves off and got ready to get back to the job of finding fights to gain experience with our new doctrines. We didn't know it at the time, but what was the right decision for AIF in the removal of a disruptive corporation would become the trigger for our removal from the CFC.
Shortly after, Wusti was contacted by Sion, the head of CFC diplomacy, for a chat. Concerned, Wusti talked to me, and I mentioned to our GSF diplo, Powers, who told me that nothing untoward was happening, and Wusti worried too much. 12 hours later, Sion and Wusti had that chat and we were asked to leave the CFC.
The immediate reaction for a large number of people was anger, the previous 6 months of dealing with goons boiled over and many wanted to immediately switch all the timers to AUTZ and tell goons to ‘come at us, bros.’ In TNERA, who had recently doubled its active player base, even the new people and the people drawn from other CFC alliances wanted to burn Vale behind us. Not a single person in the corporation meeting wanted anything to do with a goons merger, an option that senior GSF directors were pushing to our leadership.
Wusti argued, successfully, for a peaceful transition – VLA had a titan in build, due out a week from the announcement, and this was the chief concern. We had no ability to hold Vale, and the OTEC agreement assumed that Pandemic Legion would immediately move in and remove our Tech from us. While we doubted the CFC’s ability to take our space effectively in AUTZ (With FA and RZR deployed, EXE and GSF tied up in Fountain, SMA and FCON having their hands full with SCRAP and 401K), we knew that we would lose the tech moons to a combined OTEC campaign and then goons could simply let the cost of maintaining the sov in Vale crush us.
On the CFC side of things, they clearly didn’t want to grind sov in AUTZ, and it became increasingly apparent that the main, unspoken reason was to get rid of ‘AIFs shortsighted, terrible leadership’ and combine the core of the AIF AU into GSF, so it was in their interest to keep a smooth transition happening as well. They wanted AUTZ, until that point spread across the CFC, firmly centred in and directed from GSF.
What Goon’s Illuminati group had misjudged, however, was the structure of AIF. The ‘good guys’ that they wanted to form the core of an AUTZ was the very leadership they hated and were trying to headshot. In a conversation with Mynas, one of the GSF directors, it became obvious to me: our belief that GSF (outside of a few people) did not have a clue about AUTZ or AIF was correct. Wusti wasn’t a dictator as was assumed, and most of the people that GSF liked the look of hated the goons and hated their methods. No one wanted to go into an alliance which would disallow us flying our improved doctrines, refuse to let us use our capitals.
No one wanted to go back to AUTZ grinding sov in T1 cruisers, no matter how nice Vee’s new caracal fleet was. As a small timezone, we needed every tool available us to be effective. The leadership of VLA were ex-Rote, ex-Syndicate, anti-goon, and the other major corporation, PKME, were one of the corporations assimilated into FA during the nasty collapse and subsequent cannabilising of BlackMark. PKME’s leadership had no intention of going through it again after remembering what it was like to be in control of your own destiny once more. 3Gun, meanwhile, wouldn’t touch goons with a ten foot pole.
It was ironic in the end that the people that GSF most wanted to keep by killing off AIF and offering a ‘soft landing’ into GSF were the ones they did the most to alienate.
Now with its core group still intact, VLA, TNERA, PKME and 3GUN, C0nvicted is going to try something new. This may or may not work, but at least it will succeed or fail on AIF’s merits, not someone in Goon leadership dictating. Goons had continually shown a lack of understaning of AIF and the Australian cultural mindset, and failed to listen to those in their organisation who did.