PAPI’s Silk Road Offer, A Titan’s Way Out- Trustworthy or Not?

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On March 28, 2021, PAPI leadership announced an official set of procedures for Imperium members wishing to leave the war to get access to their Keepstar chain for the safest possible supercapital extraction route. The procedure is to contact a specific list of names (alliance executors and senior leadership) to be added to access lists for the Keepstar chain, leave their corporation and relog after the first cyno to avoid any issues with showing up as Imperium on people’s overviews, and continue following instructions for additional cynos. While the additional instructions are secret, presumably they will bring the pilot as far away from the war as possible. The immediate response of Imperium members was to insist that this was an untrustworthy and that it would most likely result in supers getting killed on their way out of Delve. This resembles parole, a practice of many historical wars in which prisoners of war were released under the condition that they swore not to return to the fight.

The Imperium’s response is logical from their perspective. The other ways of bringing supercapitals out of Delve would require defecting directly to PAPI, taking dangerous regional gates, or paying a substantial asset safety fee which is likely to rise with the recently announced changes. In other words, this is the only practical way out of Delve, and an Imperium member who does not trust this offer therefore assumes that he has no way out of Delve. The Imperium benefits from its members thinking that they have no way out of Delve because that means that they are more motivated to fight for 1DQ. This principle has been observed by military theorists for thousands of years, such as Sun Tzu’s observation “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape and they will prefer death to flight” from The Art of War. As long as an Imperium member thinks that there is no way to get his super out of Delve, he has no reason not to lose it in the final stand that Imperium leadership insists upon. As long as there exists another viable option, the possibility of doubt will remain and members who primarily stay with the Imperium because of the difficulty of moving their stuff elsewhere will have an opportunity to leave. Due to the Imperium’s policy against exporting supercapitals, there is a substantial likelihood that people who take this offer will be blacklisted and unable to return to the Imperium after the war, but people tend to be less concerned about this sort of thing when they are on the losing side, as the Imperium currently is, than when they are on the winning side.

PAPI gains from this offer that anyone who takes the offer will be at least one less supercapital defending 1DQ when the eventual assault on 1DQ happens. Due to the current build costs, it is impractical for anyone on either side of the war to build supercapitals. Every super that will be available to defend 1DQ is currently docked in 1DQ because of this problem combined with the fact that there is no practical way in. Each supercapital which gets extracted from Delve is functionally defeated with regard to its ability to defend Delve, even if it does not get destroyed. Another of Sun Tzu’s famous observations was that “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting,” and this would apply to such an extraction.

While the Imperium wants to assert that the offer is untrustworthy as part of their standard propaganda narrative that they are the most trustworthy group in New Eden and their opponents are a bunch of liars and backstabbers, this does not hold up to critical thinking. No successful alliance or coalition will ever make a habit of violating its agreements. This includes the Imperium (though they are not nearly as consistent about this as they want people to believe), as well as PanFam and Legacy. Reputation is the most valuable currency among the capsuleers of New Eden. If someone loses all of his ISK, that can be replaced. It is much more difficult to regain a good reputation after becoming known as a liar and backstabber. The most successful alliance to have a reputation for backstabbing, Snuffed Out, would not be nearly as successful if they were trying to build the sort of empire that PanFam and Legacy try to build. Every representative of alliance leadership who is named in the offer, as well as Gobbins and others who made public announcements of the offer, has staked reputation on making sure that its terms get upheld. If this agreement gets broken, each of those people loses reputation as an alliance leader. Not only will it be unlikely that anyone else takes the offer after it gets broken, but people will be less willing to make deals with them in the future.

Some of PAPI’s leaders have publicly talked about how people have already been making this arrangement. One example which has been mentioned a few times is a former member of Goonswarm who brought a Komodo and some other expensive ships out of Delve. This example was brought up as the sort of misunderstanding which they are attempting to avoid, since apparently, miscommunication and a lack of established procedures resulted in the Komodo almost being killed. If there was any target worth breaking the agreement to kill, it would be a faction titan such as a Komodo. In my personal opinion, the fact that they are addressing the miscommunications by staking more of their reputation on a public statement indicates that they intend to keep their word with regard to this.


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