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Goonswarm is an allience on the popular Space Opera type MMO Eve Online. It was originally created by and centered around users of Something Awful, but eventually spread outside those borders.
Background / Origin
EVE Online is a popular Space Opera type MMO with a large, team based, PvP system. In this system, player Corporations can war for territory, using player-build structures to harvest resources, defend themselves, and construct powerful warships. Corporations can enter into larger organizations called Alliances. These Alliances allow for even further benefits to be gained from controlling territory, as well as forcing members to uphold their agreements with other members. This structure encourages alliances to war with each other concerning territory. Over time, Alliances have become nearly entirely war-oriented, to the extent that cross-alliance espionage is considered a serious issue.
On July 6th, 2006, members of the site Something Awful created the organization Goonswarm. This alliance was mainly centered around Something Awful users, but eventually grew to incorporate a large amount of other players.
Goonswarm immediately gained a reputation as an aggressive and reckless group. At the same time, the large amount of players they gained allowed them to rapidly grow, and they began several aggressive wars. After toppling several alliances, and after a change of management, they began to be viewed as a threat by the at the time dominant alliance in the game, Band of Brothers (BoB).
The Two Great Wars
The First Great War
BoB evicted the Goonswarm from their territories near the dawn of 2007, in response to the Goons aggressive war towards a BoB-friendly alliance called the Lokta Volterra. Which resulted in the first Titan, the most powerful ship in EVE and valued at 4000 US dollars in real life, being destroyed before its completion. The Goons promptly began forging pacts with several other persecuted alliances, prompting BoB to look for assistance. This was noticed by the Northern Coalition, a group of alliances banded together against BoB expansion, who began preparing independently for war.
Outbreak and the Defense of 9-980U
These escalated tensions erupted when the Greater BoB Coalition (GBC) invaded and seized the still disputed ex-Lokta Volterra territories. The Northerners, already worried that BoB had too much power, declared war and joined with the already aggressive Goonswarm and Company.
North Coalition space fell quickly to the GBC fleet, due to the lateness of its mobilization and poor organization of defense against the numerically-superior BoB. With only a few pockets or resistance remaining in the territory to harass their economic activities, GBC turned its attention to the Goon’s forces.
The attack against the Goons was initially successful until the Allies, using numerous raid accounts in starter ships to rush GBC fortifications, managed to grab the key system of 9-980U from GCB. The previously unstoppable war machine of the GBC was unable to retake the system from the Goons, but remained capable of repelling any further Goon attacks without difficulty. The war ground to a stalemate.
The Titan & Resolution of the First War
Following this shift south, the few corporations remaining independent of BoB in the north were able to begin rebuilding their fleets. Surprised that their raids began gaining them territory, these groups formed the Second Northern Coalition. The North had been left defenseless by the stalemate at 9-980U, and it was retaken almost 6 months after the beginning of the war.
In addition to this, an update by the owners of EVE online allowing Titans to be located much easier caught BoB off guard. One of their two Titans was discovered traveling without escort by the Goons, and despite GBC attempts to rescue it, the Goons managed to destroy the first Titan ever in actual combat. This allowed the Goons, bolstered by thousands of raiders, to begin pushing into GBC territory for the first time. After two weeks of this situation, the GBC retreated to more heavily fortified space and effectively cut itself off from the rest of the game. The first Great War drew to an uneasy close.
The Second Great War
BoB Resumes Hostilities
After failed attempts by the Goons to defeat BoB once and for all in the disasterous Delve War, BoB once again gained allies and footholds outside of their home territories. The Second GBC was created for the purposes of defeating the Goons once and for all, and the conflict arose anew. This war progressed slowly, as both sides were relatively even in strength.
The Fall of BoB
However, Haargoth Agamar, formerly chairman of BoB, defected to the Goonswarm, because “he liked the group dynamic better”. Before his defection, he dissolved BoB. This disrupted GBC communications and prevented their fleet from properly maneuvering. As a result, Goonswarm managed to push them back to their home territories in the Delve, which were promptly besieged.
The situation in the Delve continued, until Something Awful members hacked into BoB’s previously private forums and made them viewable by the public. BoB’s secret policies alienated many of its allies, leading to the breakup of the GBC. BoB itself fell soon after in 2009, ending the longest running PvP battle in internet history.
Coverage and Impact
The Great EVE Wars were the longest running PvP battles in internet history, in addition to destroying the most property and having the most participants. This was reported on by various new sites, including Rock, Paper, Shotgun, due to its massive size and cost. Both wars were also covered on the Eve Wiki.
Goonswarm went on to become a significant if disliked part of the EVE online community, with its chairman becoming head of the official body intended to keep EVE employees in check. It was dissolved due to internal tensions in 2010. Its successor, Goonwaffe, lives on.
The war remains notorious in the MMO gaming community and Something Awful forums.