Logistics and shipping routes aren’t things that typically come to mind when people think of video games, outside of the Trucking Simulator series anyway. But in EVE Online they are a way of life: Ship components, weapons, ammunition, and all other manner of trade goods have to be loaded into massive cargo vessels and painstakingly moved from one place to another. Over the last few days, players have made this a great deal more difficult by siding with the game’s invading alien forces. They’ve effectively cut the galaxy in half, completely severing one of the game’s busiest trade routes.
Unlike many MMORPGs, where items can condense into minuscule size and fit into players’ pockets, in EVE Online, trade goods, commodities and spaceship parts all take up a good deal of space. Getting your items from one spot to another can require the use of massive, vulnerable freighter vessels. These freighters avoid anything but the relative safety of EVE’s “High Security” space, systems where the game’s NPC Police force, CONCORD, will exact a fatal retributive strike on any piracy occurring in the area.
Generally you can find your way between different High Security, or Hisec, systems without having to delve into the more dangerous star systems in the galaxy. This is the case between two of the largest trade hubs in the game: Jita, the game’s primary market hub where most commerce happens, and Amarr, the second largest hub. The trade route between the two star systems only requires players to pass through nine different systems, which can be done in under an hour even in a slow-moving freighter.
On Monday, the Triglavian NPC faction attacked a system called Niarja in the middle of this trade route and began attempts to conquer it, as it has to many other systems in the past few months. Almost immediately, the EVE community began to speculate about what would happen if the Triglavian NPCs scored a victory in Niarja. Triglavian-aligned players, who call themselves Kybernauts, began recruiting players to help take over the system. Players on the other side, aligned with the EDENCOM NPC faction, began doing the same.
Why is Niarja important enough to cause the kind of player fighting that hasn’t been seen since the beginning of the Triglavian invasion? If Niarja fell to the invading aliens, it would be converted to the Triglavian faction’s control. Automated anti-piracy guns would be replaced with Triglavian-aligned weapon systems, and the CONCORD NPC faction police would abandon the system, changing it from a protected High Security system to a lawless null security region. The vast majority of freighter pilots would want to actively avoid any such system, since with no protection against piracy, their ships, along with their goods, would be forfeit to almost any pirate vessel that spotted them. The only option to continue the trade route would be to go around Niarja, which would add 36 additional star systems to navigate through, nearly quadrupling the time it would take to complete the journey.
The battle for Niarja is getting serious. Several hours into the first stage of the fight, one of the massive player controlled empires got wind of things and realised the eventual downstream cost that letting the system fall would have on their operations. The Legacy coalition mobilized their members to help sway the fate of Niarja towards an EDENCOM victory. Players from several different groups inside of Legacy swarmed into the system to fight to save it from Triglavian control and began to claw back some of the progress that had been made by the Kybernauts.
Unfortunately for EDENCOM loyalists, when one nullsec empire gets involved in a plan, so do others. Legacy and its allies are currently involved in an all-out war with The Imperium coalition, who, like most nullsec empires, have not been involved in the Triglavian Invasion, since it is largely confined to Hisec. Once the leadership of The Imperium became aware of the plan to save Niarja from the Triglavians and the reasons that Legacy had joined the fight, the decision to intervene became an easy one. Players aligned to the Imperium joined the fight a few hours after players on the Legacy side, and over the course of roughly 17 hours, non-stop battles consumed the system.
Thousands of player-controlled ships and over 30,000 NPC-controlled vessels were destroyed during the course of the battle for Niarja. When the dust finally settled, the Triglavian forces declared victory. Niarja is now under what seems to be permanent Triglavian control, effectively severing the galaxy’s most travelled trade route in half and creating a great deal of havoc.
The overall impact of the Triglavian invasion is yet to be fully revealed, but the storyline is rapidly coming to a conclusion. A major battle seems to be looming in the future. Niarja is likely the most important system to fall to the marauding NPC invasion, but it will not be the last. Several players have pointed out that Jita, the game’s main trade hub, has the exact type of star that seems to attract the Triglavians to attack. The main space station in Jita has been undergoing upgrades and massive construction to its looks over the last few months, making many players speculate that the finale of the invasion will be an assault on Jita itself.