May 14, 2016

Mercenary Coalition: One Year Challenge Coin


A month or so ago Seleene posted to the Mercenary Coalition forums that these coins were going to be created, celebrating Mercenary Coalition's one year anniversary. They are surprisingly affordable, provided you have at least 50 or so people who want one. I got mine in this week and am very pleased with its quality.

It's very hefty, probably weighing as much as my Nexus 5x and is pretty large. I've put it next to a quarter as you can see to the right. The front of the coin has the alliance logo and the back has all the corps who were in the alliance at the time the coin was created (sorry ANZA). It's not elaborate, but I really like the idea of the challenge coin. Seleene got the idea because they did it in Pandemic Legion every now and then. Rooks and Kings also create challenge coins for memorable events. I'm sure we'll continue to make a few more in the future for really cool things, and I hope I can keep adding to my collection. Maybe once I get a few I'll frame them. For now, this one sits on my desk.

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May 8, 2016

The End of an Era: Noir. has a New CEO

Sorry for the different aspect ratios

I've been in Noir. in one form or another since early 2011. Over that time I've been the CEO of Noir. Academy for two years, acting as a director in Noir. itself for part of my duties. I've seen ups and downs of which there have been many. Over the years Noir. has become part of my own identity. I even moved across the country to take a job in Silicon Valley after being referred by the CEO of Noir., Alekeseyev Karrde. To me, Noir. is more than just an in-game group. Some very real friends are members of Noir.

When I first joined Noir. we were in the alliance Noir. Mercenary Group. Since then, we've been a part of Black Legion., Suddenly Spaceships, a very brief stint in the horribly named alliance Disinterested Reptile Cartel, the redemptive No Not Believing, and now we're in the legendary Mercenary Coalition.

Part of being a mercenary means being willing to move and move frequently. In the olden days, we'd deploy dozens of carriers stuffed full of ships for a deployment and do it all over again in a week or two. Now we deploy for longer times, but we still move. Movement is sometimes defined as progress. For us moving means a new contract, and I guess that's progress for a mercenary.

But moving from alliance to alliance wasn't always about progress. I believe Noir. moved alliances so often because of an obstacle, one that held the corporation back. Sometimes more than it helped it. And, as is sometimes the case, that obstacle - what held Noir. back on occasion - was also one of its biggest, most dependable strengths: Alekseyev Karrde.

Alek, as he's known by most people, formed Noir. in 2008 with the purpose of being able to make money PvPing, paid by others. That makes you a mercenary by default. But he wanted more than that, he wanted to create the most effective mercenary force New Eden had seen. And that's not an easy task, especially at the time, with Mercenary Coalition recently folding. I'm sure the Guiding Hand Social Club stories still echoed in every pilot's mind.

But despite the overwhelming odds and huge shoes to fill, he succeeded in creating - in my honest opinion - the most effective small-gang mercenaries EVE has ever seen.

Mercenary Coalition was the first.

Pandemic Legion was and is the biggest.

Black Legion. was the shortest lived.

But only Noir. means mercenary.

Noir. has people who fear it, envy it, despise it, people who think it's washed up, useless, overrated, and I'm sure many other things. But when I meet another EVE player and say I'm in Noir., their eyes widen and they tell me a story about how they read about us, heard about us, died to us. They ask what it's really like being a mercenary. Noir. has earned its reputation one successful contract after another over the last 8 years.

Alekseyev Karrde forged that reputation, often single-handed. Alek and Noir. are inseparable in most people's minds. Their legends were built together and on top of one another. If you've spent any length of time with Alek in game you've heard of his love for ponies and yelling at people for making mistakes. We'll ignore the ponies, they're fucking weird. The rage that Alek would unleash on people made those who could endure it better pilots. We all knew that we didn't have to be there or put up with it if we didn't want to (many didn't) but our desire to fly tighter and be mercenaries overrode our apathy at being yelled at for a video game.

In truth, he's not an angry person in real life. As I mentioned, we work together. His desk is 10 feet away from mine as I type this. However when he's in game, he casts off weakness like a watershed. Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan's legendary basketball coach, said of Jordan, "It wasn't about how great a star was himself, it was about how great he made the players around him."

Another anecdote Jackson shared about Jordan is that he wouldn't accept anything less than perfection. If a player was on the court and wasn't playing up to Jordan's standard, he would look at Phil Jackson and Jackson would know it meant, "Get this guy off the fucking court,"

Alek, like Jordan, forced those around him to be better, and if you wouldn't put out the effort required, you were gone. This type of attitude lends itself well to leading a small, elite military force in EVE. Unfortunately, it also causes lots and lots of friction when dealing with equals in an alliance.

There are many instances in Noir.'s alliance history where we kicked corps or left alliances because of personality clashes. Over the years, it became all too familiar to the leadership. To my dismay, it happened again in Mercenary Coalition. Alek approached the directorship about leaving Mercenary Coalition multiple times informally but was always rebuffed. Finally, having had enough, Alek formally approached the leadership to propose leaving MC. We even chatted about it at lunch once and I immediately said I wouldn't want to go anywhere. The entire directorate decided to stay in Mercenary Coalition.

I won't go into all of the details, but as you can see from Psianh's corp history, I did leave Noir. to join Apogee. - the new corp Noir. leadership founded together. We realized that our time in Noir. was coming to an end. I drew out the decision tree for one of the other directors:

  1. Alek changes his mentality and works with the alliance leaders effectively
  2. Alek steps down as CEO of Noir.
  3. We stay with Noir. and leave Mercenary Coalition
  4. We form our own corporation and stay in Mercenary Coalition while Noir. goes its own way 
It seemed clear to us that options 1 and 2 were impossible. We didn't want option 3. Alek eventually backed down on leaving the alliance at the current time but none of us felt it was a permanent stance or was a true mental shift. If it had been, option 1 would be fulfilled and things would have worked out well. Alek wanted us all to stay together, but I don't think he realized how exhausted the alliance leadership was. Staying in the alliance without a total change on Alek's part just wasn't in the cards.

I think Alek needed to see how serious we were about staying in Mercenary Coalition and how much we were exhausted by the general trend of bickering at the alliance leadership level - however justified he sometimes is. So we all left and formed our own corporation with the intent of staying there indefinitely, a member of Mercenary Coalition that continued the values of Noir.

In the end, Alek realized that he didn't have the time in real life to dedicate to rebuilding Noir. and I think he didn't really want to do that without the leadership team - and friends - that had been in place for so many years. In his view, the only option to save Noir. was for Alek to leave the corp and let his long-time XO, Deletor, become CEO. To be clear, this was his idea. We never considered it as an option and never presented it to him as a solution. I can't imagine how much it pained him to not only consider it, but decide on it.

So we've joined Noir. again, prodigal sons now tasked with carrying on the torch, making sure it burns ever bright, and avoid burning ourselves. We don't take it lightly, and we hope to make Alek proud, but we do believe the future is bright, illuminated as it is by the legend of Noir.

Alekseyev Karrde and Noir. are synonymous. He's been the CEO since its inception, held it firmly and grew it over two CSM terms. He's led the corporation with a steady hand, allowed us to fly with some of the best players in EVE Online. His focus, determination, hard work, and drive means that Noir.'s name can live on without him. Noir. is more than one person.

But there will always be a hole that won't be filled.

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