In the wake of the Battle of 9-4RP2 (Known as the “Million Dollar Battle” thanks to TEST leader progodlegend), I began to get the itch of playing EVE Online again. After much deliberation, I settled on a corporation inside of Test Alliance Please Ignore called Brand Newbros (NWFLT). At the helm was corporation founder Smokes McPot. Although he is now retired as CEO of Brand Newbros, Smokes can still be found in corporation discord, and from time to time he is known to log in for a little pew pew action. I sat down with him back at the end of December in between Tarkov matches to learn some of the history of NWFLT and what it takes to develop a successful newbro friendly corporation.
Origins and Early Days
Odinskraal: Thanks for sitting down with me Smokes, lets start with a little backstory about how you got into EVE Online.
Smokes McPot: I was interested since the day I first heard about it. One day, I found out a friend from another game played and he ended up showing me the ropes initially. Played for some time, then put the game down for a bit. Awhile later, I came back to it and played pretty consistently until early 2020.
O: When you came back, what was the hook that got you to stay?
SM: I found a good group of PVP people to learn with in the small but skilled alliance that I joined. The first time I tried Eve I spent too much time doing non-PVP activities and I got bored eventually. Eve is not known for the quality of its PVE.
O: That makes sense. EVE has its exciting moments, but for the grind it is a notoriously boring game. Why did you decide to strike out on your own and start Brand Newbros?
SM: I originally started Brand Newbros because the alliance that I was in was dying due to members winning Eve over time and I wanted to bring in some new blood. I based the corp in an area with high/low/Syndicate access that was close to the alliance’s HQ. We provided numbers to their fleets and they provided us extra content and larger fleets for my members. We were very small at this point, maybe 10 actual people.
O: I see, and which alliance were you in at the time?
SM: Clockwork Pineapple.
O: In the early days of the corp, what was the hardest aspect of getting [things] going?
SM: Forming the “core” of the corp can be extremely difficult. The “core” are the early leaders and line members that keep things going when you sleep or take a day off. They are the ones that set the culture, answer newbros’ questions in real time, teach, fuel things (dammit Drakyll!), and make the corp special. And if you start a corp as an unknown pilot in Eve that hasn’t accomplished anything yet as I did, they are the ones that believe in you and stick around to make things work.
O: Who are some of the original core members of Brand Newbros?
SM: One that comes to mind is Sir Enders. He pops in from time to time when he picks EVE back up. He was one of the first people that joined that I didn’t already know beforehand when we started. I remembered killing Fintarue’s wingman with him in crappy ships back in the day, and the killmail confirms that it was in the first month of Brand Newbros history. Here is the killmail.
O: Not a bad little dunk there!
Growing Pains and Finding a Home
Delving further into the conversation, we talked about some of the growing pains of Brand Newbros, and especially finding a home where the corp could blossom.
O: You’ve already stated the importance of surrounding yourself with a solid core of players to build the corp. Have you made the mistake of trusting someone you maybe shouldn’t have? Has Brand Newbros ever been subject to a large scale robbery of corp assets?
SM: In the early days of Brand Newbros, I had a solid month of internet issues where Eve wasn’t playable. The person that I made temporary CEO did not willingly give the role back once I returned. Fortunately, I understood how the system worked, he did not, and I owned all of the shares. I gave him another chance before I called the CEO vote, reinstated myself as CEO, and removed him.
We have definitely had some corp thefts, but never anything that we weren’t prepared to lose. AWOX losses have been worse than theft by a large margin over the years, haha.
O: Very lucky it seems. Looking at the corp’s alliance history, you never kept the corp in an alliance for longer than about six months. Were they just not good fits, or less than advertised? And ultimately, what made you settle on TEST?
SM: We were quite happy in J4LP until Goons decided to install a “viceroy” in Cloud Ring. After we were removed, J4LP decided to head to low sec faction warfare and we were interested in sov null. We parted ways on good terms and I still played with a lot of them afterwards.
We decided to join Phoebe Freeport Republic after that for the PVP content. Things were good for a little bit, and then the leader of PFR made one of the more questionable decisions that I have seen from a leader in EVE. Within minutes of the email announcing the decision, the alliance was self-imploding and rogue corps had hijacked the recruitment chat.
We went to TEST after that because we had fun PVP’ing against them while in PFR. They were the closest option that checked the boxes, and at the time, TEST was a bit of an underdog. I approached Dran from TEST and they gave us a shot. From what Dran told me later, it was a close decision.
O: What happened with Phoebe Freeport Republic?
SM: FR gave up all space and went to live in a single system in a region with Horde/BRAVE/etc. They were never relevant again.
O: Big oof on that one, yikes.
(Smokes also stated that I should look into the rise and fall of Phoebe Freeport Republic as it would make an interesting story, something I look forward to sharing with you readers)
Culture and Growth under the TEST banner
O: When I joined NWFLT in early 2018, the corp was already established within TEST. One of the things that endeared me to the corp was the culture. While every once in awhile we would get a bad apple, how important was corp culture to the success of NWFLT? There were alot of memes in the corp, one of my favorites being we were all alts of yours, and of course the corp mascot, Draykll Shadowdancer.
SM: Culture really was the key to our success. We were very fortunate to have so many high character leaders and line members, like the one and only Drakyll Shadowdancer. People always enjoyed helping each other in game and out. Our HR volunteers like Leo did a great job welcoming new members and setting the tone as the first people that new recruits would meet. When a bad apple presented itself, it generally got picked quickly, and yeeted out of the corp and Discord.
I had been in less welcoming corps/alliances and it was always important to me that we would be better.
O: It was something that was very infectious I have to say. Rarely did I ever find someone who wasn’t willing to help in comms or on Discord, and because of that, I personally found myself offering to help newbros in anyway I could. A special shout out has to go to Leonidas Caesar. That man was an HR machine.
SM: Ya Leo is awesome, even if he spelled “Caesar” wrong in his pilots name.
O: So once you moved NWFLT into TEST, how did that help with the growth of the corp? If I remember correctly, our numbers started to get up pretty high. I believe eclipsing the 1K mark. Also what were some of the positive/negative aspects of belonging to a large alliance like TEST? From a corp standpoint at least.
SM: Brand Newbros definitely thrived in TEST. When we joined, we had a solid group of PVP pilots and we were extremely active for our size. TEST gave us a lot of the things that we lacked like large scale PVP content, 24/7 fleets, and maybe most importantly, IT infrastructure for recruitment and corp management. Add in a successful spy campaign where I ended up poaching an indy division from Space Monkeys and we were a complete corp with high growth.
Joining TEST also had negatives associated with it. A lot of TEST corps were not very welcoming of us at first. Some were outright hostile. Corp culture clashed with TEST culture in a lot of ways. Joining TEST also meant that people started applying to Brand Newbros that just wanted to get into the alliance which made recruiting a little more complicated. We became a target for spies/AWOXers. I didn’t always agree with the actions of the alliance and had no real input on the alliance’s direction. We had to go further to get content because of blue lists. Many times we were prevented from going as hard on Goons as we wanted to because of diplos. Mittens and at least one well known Goon FC tried to stop our Delve raiding fleets by going to the diplos at one point as an example.
O: I remember the days of running fleets out of 319, got my first solo kill out there as well. I know that Mittens mentioning us on The Meta Show turned into a nice little meme as well.
SM: The Mittens video from the Meta Show was definitely a highlight and was the result of some great work by Branditos pilots over a long period of time. It also felt good to contribute as much as we did to TEST’s success over the years because Dran took a chance on us when we weren’t a sure thing. I personally got satisfaction whenever we passed one of those corps on the TEST all time leader board that were such assholes to us when we joined the alliance.
O: What are some of the stand out names that have held the NWFLT ticker? I know guys like Murray Rothbardo, Gackel MDC, and Lord Rahvin stand out during my time there.
SM: I’d be afraid to list people because I’d for sure forget some.
O: Understandable for sure.
Striking Out into the Wilderness and Retirement
O: So after four years of being apart of TEST, What made you decide to leave TEST?
SM: The TEST we left was not the TEST that we joined at the end of the day. When we joined they had a little over 4,000 characters and were no superpower. When we left, they were one of the biggest alliances in Eve and we were the 2nd largest corp in TEST. When we joined, there were fights to be had nearby. When we left, we had to go several regions away for content because super pilots would drop on everything that moved. When we joined, TEST had challenging goals to accomplish as an alliance. When we left, the only goal remaining to accomplish from my perspective was to challenge the Goons and I started to think it would never happen.
O: So Brand Newbros packed up their belongings and moved up to Vale of the Silent. Wasn’t this around the time that Goons were glassing the North?
SM: Ya, roughly the same time. We saw an opportunity to grab some decent space for our play style and quietly took it while we prepared to leave TEST. For awhile we ran our own alliance (FAM), but it’s a lot of work and the pandemic meant that some key players were too busy for it. I was personally burnt out on EVE at the time. We decided to merge into the BOOM alliance, the neighboring alliance in Vale that we often worked with.
O: You guys seem to have found some success being apart of BOOM, I’m assuming that the lessons learnt while in TEST have served you well in your new alliance? I also noticed that a lot of former NWFLT members have joined Dog Fort, what is the association between the two Corps?
SM: Since I went AFK around when we joined BOOM you would probably want to ask Xrea (Xrea Nefarious, current NWFLT CEO) about recent history. Brand Newbros is in another era now.
O: Speaking of you stepping down, what went into that decision?
SM: I was extremely burnt out on EVE after so many years. I started to get in the way as CEO because I didn’t have the energy to do what needed to be done in game for us to remain successful. It was a tough decision.
O: Are you fully AFK from EVE?
SM: Ya, been AFK from EVE for a bit. I needed a break. One day I will probably come back to PVP and take some fleets out. I do not see myself taking on a leadership role in EVE again.
O: So what do you find yourself up to these days?
SM: My current focus is on Brand Newbros as a Discord community. Brand Newbros Discord is a place for people to socialize, game, network, have discussions, share media, and help each other out when possible. All are welcome that fit our culture.
I’m going back to school to finish my bachelor’s after 10+ years. I want a job in sales or something related so I’ve been learning what I can about it. Waiting to hear back from a family friend about potential volunteer fundraising roles with her charity to build some career skills and help out. Should keep me busy in 2021.
O: That’s great to hear! Well, I wish you the utmost success in your endeavors in Real Life and the continued success of Brand Newbros both in and out of EVE. Do you have have shout outs that you would like to make? And lastly, were you one of the lucky few to have King name one of his cows after?
SM: I don’t think I ever got a cow named after me. =( I assume censorship. I’d like to think everyone that made Brand Newbros special for myself and others over the years. Shout out to the East Bost Soup Kitchen founded by a close family friend. https://www.ebkitchen.org/
A few weeks after I sat down with Smokes, I found myself hanging around the corp’s public discord more and more. I’ve since rejoined NWFLT, and while some of the faces of the past have since moved on, either by winning EVE or joining new corps, the culture developed by Smokes McPot and ultimately all members of NWFLT past and present still remains as strong and vibrant as ever. Brand Newbros has since moved on from Vale of the Silent and currently find themselves residing in Providence as members of Rekking Crew. If you’d like to become a part of the growing Brand Newbros community, come and join us on Discord.