So, TEST Alliance has dropped out of the Honeybadger Coalition (HBC). So what? And why should anyone care?
It all depends on what TEST decides to do with their newly independent status. As for me, I'm hoping that this is a prelude to war in nullsec. And everyone should care, because war in 0.0 is good for business in EVE Online, no matter where you reside in New Eden.
Even with the anticipated expansion of industrial capabilities of outposts and the enhancement of nullsec ores, both coming in the Odyssey expansion in June, manufacturing will still be challenging in null security space. The announced changes will make it easier, but most nullsec alliances are likely to continue using jump freighters to import many tech II and large manufactured items from Jita and empire space.
For small-scale tech II inventors and manufacturers like me, based mostly in high sec space, this has been a wonderful opportunity. It provides an eager market for our items - but only if they need to be replaced regularly by our consumers. And that has not been as significant a factor in EVE markets as it could be.
A mild disclaimer here: I spend very little time in 0.0 space, so I am far from an expert on the complex politics there, but even I can see from my comparatively sheltered vantage point that most of the leaders in nullsec seem reluctant to pursue any grandiose plans of galactic domination - at least, not for the present.
Yes, we hear about the occasional battle and border skirmish in nullsec, but nothing on a grand scale of interstellar conflict that could be happening there. The three largest nullsec coalitions, including HBC, have been content mostly to sit in their own sovereign spaces, and agree not to attack each others' valuable infrastructure. For many months now, only one nullsec alliance leader was willing to risk losing valuable 0.0 real estate in a broad war of conquest - and he ended up resigning. The sitting nullsec leaders intone correctly that "sov grinding is boring and no fun", but I suspect that the real reason we have not see a battle of Asakai every week has been simple political inertia, borne in maintaining a comfortable status quo.
This means that for the majority of nullsec residents, finding meaningful targets is not as easy as it should be. It's ironic that null security space, which is supposed to be a wild lawless frontier, has become relatively settled - and in some respects, dull.
CCP receives the majority of blame for the state of nullsec, and rightly so. They set up the sovereignty system, the distribution of moon minerals, and the alchemy of component construction, which has led to the current situation. CCP Unifex agreed in a recent interview that fixing nullsec sovereignty is currently the biggest issue for EVE Online - CSM8 will need to bring all the ideas and fresh thinking they can to keep CCP focused on this issue.
As a manufacturing-oriented player, it is a potentially good thing that HBC has split, if it leads to real conflict. Conflict leads to battles, accelerating destruction, creating huge markets, providing opportunity for manufacturers everywhere in New Eden to fill the needs of the hungry nullsec war machines. It's a wonderful thing, with many profits to be enjoyed.
What is more likely, however, is that TEST will retreat to their own smaller space, and quickly establish a new equilibrium in nullsec. And that will lead us back to where we are today - relatively boring, unprofitable stability.
That may not last long, however. Odyssey will change and redistribute minerals and tech II component production, providing renewed reasons for the nullsec blocs to compete with each other. Perhaps TEST's latest move is in anticipation of these changes, to consolidate their forces before the storm breaks.
We manufacturers of New Eden anticipate that possible storm with great hope - may it be an epic one. Our wallets eagerly await its arrival.
Fly safe! o7