Largest (simulated) space battle ever

The massive multiplayer online game EVE Online has had the largest battle ever, with apparently about 4,000 players engaged and about 2,900 of their ships destroyed in more than five hours.

The combat is fake, but the emotions are real"
By Ellis Hamburger

I don't understand some details (I was never an EVE Online player), but it appears that the alliance which was on the strategic offensive (grabbing territory) was a bit numerically superior and also vastly superior on the tactical level.

credit: shenanigans144/Imgur
The preparations of the battle included a very disadvantageous defender position because its best options for safe withdrawal were eliminated, the early attack did put the defender into a dilemma in which he chose the 2nd worst option and still early on in the battle the attackers succeeded to take down multiple crucial command and control units (players). The attackers were apparently also capable of saturating the defensive strength of the defender better than he did.
Finally, when the biggest and ridiculously expensive ships were sent into battle by the attacker, the morale of the defenders was broken and they fled, accepting horrible casualties in the process. They did nevertheless launch an unusual and excessively costly last stand counter-attack with some forces.

EVE Online is interesting because it's a "sandbox"-type game, with developers leaving many aspects to the players. As such, it's the equivalent of a free-play exercise, not of a very scripted one. It has succeeded in replicating many known elements of actual warfare (strategy and tactics), politics, diplomacy, economics and espionage this way. All groups in-game are self-organised, huge fleets have formed, gained cohesion and discipline, prepared and applied tactics, trained newcomers - all in a couple years and out of nothing. The degree of sophistication was already very high after very few years after launch of the game.

This is certainly something to keep an eye on in the long term. Such simulations may not only offer great opportunities for behaviour researchers of various fields, but they might also help to give people experience. Negotiators, leaders, trainers, planners, maybe traders could learn something about their actual job in such harmless and almost free simulations.



  1. The whole campain was lost bei TEST and their allies much earlier when the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC), which is dominated by the Goonswarm, demonstrated that they had not only money, but also the better fleet commanders and more active members. They broke the morale of their enemies, online numbers vs members is the interesting parameter. TEST lost because of severe leadership issues.

    The CFC or better the Goons traditionally excelled in the meta game and now improved in the military field too. Their leaders, The Mittani and his staff, run a very good show and
    show a very deep understanding of human behaviour. Check his analysis of the so called failcascade and his take on the structure of a successful coalition.

    The battle was only a spectacular good-bye of the TEST coalition, not more, the war in Fountain was already decided a few weeks ago.


    1. That's how it should be; decide a battle in advance, so you only have to fight it if your enemy is particularly stubborn or stupid.

  2. Well, it's a game where the destructivness of war is the driver of the entire economy so you shouldn't push the analogy very far...

  3. As long-term outside observer I get the impression, that you have in EVE a crude mixture of panem et circensis -CCP wants good press, many players are only interested in PvP, therefore, their coalitions have to stage battles or other war-like events to maintain interest- and OTOH really good hardcore strategy.

    The last battle belonged to the circus part, the strategically more interesting stuff happened IMHO a few weeks ago. :-)