A war is raging on one of the longest-running servers in Minecraft, 2b2t. Some of the battle is fought with diamond swords and lava buckets, as you might expect, but the rest of it unfolds with racist memes, shocking gore and porn, as well as monstrous contraptions designed to make the server literally unplayable. It's not just a war for imaginary space: it's a war for what kind of server 2b2t wants to be.
Illustration: Sam Woolley
Warning: the pictures in this post contains content that readers may find objectionable.
While some know 2b2t — short for 2 builders 2 tools — as one of the oldest servers in Minecraft, 2b2t's own denizens insist that there are older servers out there. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that 2b2t might be the server that's gone the longest without a reset, meaning that the world has structures that are at least five years old.
2b2t is simultaneously a desolate wasteland, and a monument to builders past. Inside 2b2t, you can find time-consuming builds erected by players come and gone, or you can walk through the ruins of a base that has been 'griefed' or destroyed by vengeful vandals. It's at once both beautiful and kind of horrifying.
What makes 2b2t unique (and what most veteran citizens are most proud of) is that 2b2t is known as the worst server in Minecraft. According to redditor and 2b2t legend, Sato, all the other stuff — the history, the lore, the amazing builds — is "just a bonus for the people to find out if they played long enough."
Not only are there are no moderators on 2b2t, the admin, Hausmaster, is mysterious and hands-off, doing only what is required to keep the server running (and sometimes barely that.) There are rules to prevent players from unleashing disruptive hacks, but modded clients and cheats are almost mandatory if you want to stay alive for long (I stubbornly refused to use one and it took me an entire day to successfully escape spawn.)
As for etiquette, if you can build it, it's yours, and if you see someone, you can kill them. Some of the builds are wondrous and awe-inspiring. Others contain large swastikas, phalluses, burning crucifixes, and other delights. One player, for example, built a whole village called Hitlerville.
2b2t's chat is a mess of 4chan-style edgelordiness, trolling, shit-talking, and general chatter. When I played, the chat was mostly obnoxious spam and weirdness, but from what other visitors have said, it can get much worse. People gleefully try to trick you to do things like click on links to gross porn and screamer videos. It's not uncommon for players to lie to you, with the intent of sending you to traps or terrible locations. At the very least, you're likely to get insulted by other players just for existing.
For a long time, the server rolled along, mostly uninterrupted, for almost six years. Every now and then there would be an infusion of new players when 2b2t came to the attention of a new group of people, either through an article or through word of mouth, but for the most part, the community stayed small. By some accounts, there were only 30 or so dedicated users in early 2016.
In early June of this year, however, something happened that would shake 2b2t to its core. A YouTuber called The Camping Rusher learned of the existence of 2b2t, and subsequently made a video of his breathless exploration of the world he found there:
TCR has almost a million subscribers, and that video now has over two million views. 2b2t's playerbase, even at the best of times, only numbered a few dozen — so as soon as that video went live, the worst server in Minecraft started to get inundated with new players. Most of these players were of course fans of TCR, meaning they considered themselves 'Rushers,' not shitlords or trolls.
At first, these newcomers were mostly tourists, taking in the same breathtaking and bizarre sights that TCR had so gleefully exposed in his video. But really, conflict with 2b2t veterans was inevitable. The server buckled under the strain of so many players — even a tiny fraction of Rusher's fanbase could completely overwhelm 2b2t's hardware and make it unplayable. And if the server managed to survive the overload, most of its roster was filled by Rushers, not veterans.
Long-timers of 2b2t are usually hostile to most newcomers (which they call 'newfags'), so they took to killing Rushers whenever possible. Rushers, who outnumber the original players heavily, responded by destroying bases, resources caches and dismantling large monuments that had stood peacefully for years. This prompted veteran players to start treating Rushers more seriously, as much as giving a shit about anything went against the spirit of the server.
FitMC, a self-proclaimed veteran leader and popular YouTuber, has lead some of the most successful responses to Rusher aggression, calling Rushers "clowns" and "punks" and generally mocking their playing ability.
The Camping Rusher, to his credit, seems to want to preserve the server: he has discouraged his fans from destroying cool builds or from being too disruptive. He even donated a large chunk of money to 2b2t to offset the effect of his fans overwhelming the server's hardware.
Still, the newcomers were not a good fit with the existing culture of the server: they have tried to make certain areas 'friendlier', and often treat the server as a loose Factions-style map. Nothing The Camping Rusher could do would make 2b2t's veterans respect the presence of newbies, and they have even taken to calling Rusher a 'Jewtuber' in retaliation.
Eventually, to deal with the server strain, a queue was set up that could manage the constant influx. That queue gives veterans priority over newcomers, though you can pay a $US20 ($26) monthly fee to access a separate queue. This has cooled tempers somewhat, but the original denizens of 2b2t aren't backing down. They have formed a loose coalition of veteran players that exist only to oppose Rusher and his followers. Some pretty epic content has resulted from this conflict, such as fights with real stakes.
A lot of bases have griefed and a lot of caches have been destroyed, but in terms of in-game resources it's essentially a stalemate — Rushers have a significant numbers advantage, but vets have had years to build up resources and defences, with stores of diamond, ender pearls, and food to draw from even if they die.
Unable to deter the Rushers with simple murder and destruction, some veterans of the server have resorted to more devious means of attack. The denizens have worked to make spawn completely uninhabitable. To wit, when I tried to play, it took me three tries after my most recent death to find anything but barren rock before I starved to death.
Veterans have also begun construction of massive resource-eating machines that lag the server, hoping to make the server unusable for TCR and his fans. One recent strategy involves placing objectionable content, like genitalia and loli paintings, around spawn points and the major thoroughfares in an attempt to get TCR's videos taken down. At the very least, the lewd content makes it hard for new YouTubers to continue publicizing 2b2t, since nudity puts videos at-risk of violating YouTube's terms of service.
Of course, the problem with an 'anarchy' server is that, well, there aren't any rules. Even some of the old-timers, though they have no fondness for Rushers, disagree with the suggestion that there's a war, or that there are even sides.
To them, it's always been 'everyone for themselves,' and banding together at all violates the spirit of 2b2t. Most players will at least agree that something has changed with the onset of the Rushers, and that the result is less than good — they're raging against the morphing of a 4chan subcommunity that's coming into conflict with a much larger YouTuber fanclub.
To some degree, it feels like writing is on the wall: The Camping Rusher recently started university, where presumably he'll have less time to mess around on 2b2t. The queue is onerous, and escaping spawn is a chore.
Veterans are wearing down the enthusiasm of the Rushers, thanks to a huge homefield advantage. In the process, the experience is creating entirely new 2b2t-ers out of Rushers, because any fan who sticks around long enough is bound to have a tolerance for profanity, lack of rules, and general edgelording. 2b2t might be at war, but when the dust settles, 2b2t will have recruited more people to keep the spirit of the worst server on Minecraft alive for years to come.