The "Halloween War" took a sharp turn when CFC/RUS triumphed over N3PL in the great titan clash of B-R. The battle was quickly followed by evacuations and retreats by N3PL forces. This led many EVE players to ponder the question of whether anyone can pose a threat to the CFC anymore. Some observers suggest that the CFC's supremacy in nullsec will continue indefinitely, if not permanently.
The theory is that the only counterweight to the CFC's vast population was the formerly-great N3PL supercapital fleet. Then, in B-R, the CFC proved itself capable of fielding (along with RUS) an even bigger supercap fleet. N3PL's prized supercaps were shattered, leaving them with no way to stop the CFC.
That's the theory, anyway. And judging by the chatter on EVE-related blogs and forums, it has a lot of proponents. In a post entitled "The Last War", Jester's Trek wrote:
"But this war is over. And get ready to yell at me: I hope you enjoyed it because it's probably the last that EVE is gonna see for a long while. Additionally, it's a good bet that B-R5RB is not only the costliest battle EVE Online has ever seen, it's the costliest battle EVE Online will ever see... [I]t also feels to me like a loss of the large number of CFC pilots needed to make the fall of the CFC happen (if thousands of them decided to switch to Star Citizen, say) would also be an existential threat to EVE Online itself... So to CCP, I suggest you guys make hay while the sun shines. B-R5RB is a fantastic marketing opportunity! But it's never going to come again."
N3 leader progodlegend seemed to agree. In a comment replying to the Jester's Trek post, progodlegend wrote a bitter epitaph for the anti-Goon forces in EVE:
"You know what I find amusing? So many people seem concerned about goons becoming the dominant force in EVE, yet so few of you were ever willing to line up against them and fight them. The reason goons are so dominant is because EVE is full of risk averse pussies, that's the beginning and the end of it. You have no one to blame but yourselves."
Countless other writers remarked along the same lines. If they're right, then it's game over for nullsec, and the great story of EVE has reached its conclusion. As for me, I strongly disagree with their assessment. In this article, I'll explain why.
THE IMPACT OF B-R
The battle of B-R did have serious consequences. In the short-term, the loss of trillions of isk forced PL to abandon its allies and withdraw from the war. Evacuations by N3 alliances followed. B-R proved that no alliance or coalition in EVE is capable of shrugging off the loss of a supercap fleet. Supercaps are absurdly expensive. If you lose a supercap fleet, you're pretty much out of the war. This was one of the criticisms I made in my earlier editorial on supercaps. Despite all the bluff and bluster about replacing supercaps (which continued even after the battle was over), this criticism proved to be well-founded. A few days after B-R, PL leader Grath Telkin announced PL's retreat, explaining:
"That said, my corp, my fucking corp, took a hit of around 1.5 trillion isk. My alliance as a whole took a shot to the nuts somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 trillion isk. Those numbers are beyond staggering in nature and dwarf the amount of money more than half the alliances in EVE will ever see, much less recover from."
As a side note, other of criticisms of the current supercap mechanics were also supported by what happened at B-R. The battle was decided entirely by titans, since the only counter to a supercap fleet is an even bigger supercap fleet. Which is to say that supercaps don't have a counter--in spite of the CFC's endless quest to find one.
Meanwhile, sub-capital fleets, which counter neither capital nor supercap fleets, were confirmed to be deadweight. CFC/RUS actually ordered their sizable sub-cap fleets to leave the B-R system, as they contributed more lag than firepower. The sub-caps were directed to remain in other systems and intercept enemy reinforcements. Some argued that this was what sub-caps should always do. Personally, I doubt CCP intended for the vast majority of ship classes in EVE to be consigned to the role of station-camping in other systems while the caps and supercaps do the fighting.
The battle of B-R also had significant long-term effects. The reputation of PL's fleet commanders took a major hit. It's difficult to describe the kind of mystique and level of respect that PL's FCs enjoyed prior to B-R. One way of illustrating it is to point to the fear that CFC and PL have always had of each other. This mutual fear has resulted in numerous pacts and a persistent "frenemy" relationship. The difference is that PL has feared the CFC because the CFC outnumbers them by a ridiculous margin; the CFC has feared PL because of PL's FCs (and supercaps).
Prior to B-R, there was always a sense that if a major capital/supercap engagement occurred, the CFC was destined to lose because somehow PL's FCs would pull a rabbit out of a hat. This didn't happen in B-R. More importantly, it was discovered that N3PL's loss was due in large part to the mistakes made by PL's FCs (especially fleet commander Manfred Sideous) during the battle. N3PL was outnumbered, but they were also outclassed.
The image of PL's line members also suffered as a result of what happened during the battle. As the engagement in B-R unfolded, PL put its faith in its U.S. time zone (USTZ) titan pilots. Because PL had a strong advantage in that time zone--very late hours for CFC's RUS allies--it was hoped that sufficient reinforcements could jump in and turn the tide of the battle.