Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Analyzing The Honey Botter Expose - Blood and Sand

The next two posts(1) in the series analyzing the Eve News 24 article, "The Honey Botter Coalition – An Exposé on Botting Within Eve Online’s Biggest Coalition", will examine the charges that one of the members of the Honey Badger Coalition, Tribal Band, either tolerates or approves of botting within the alliance.  The article went further and stated that Triget, the executor of Tribal Band, has given botting corporations special dispensation from participating in alliance/coalition fleets because of the amount of ISK they contribute to the alliance.  One of the sources used by Eve News 24 claims that he received some of the information from conversations held with Triget.

When contacted for this story Triget denied all allegations of wrongdoing.  So unlike the interplay between Horus and Montolio in which the main point of dispute is whether Montolio would have turned in the ISK if he had successfully scammed Horus, we have a he said/she said situation in which all facts are up for dispute.  Who should we believe?  A closer look at the allegations leveled against the three corporations accused of botting, Blood and Sand, Fallen Nova and Infinite Covenant, may reveal some answers.  This second post of the series will examine the mainly Italian corporation Blood and Sand.

Blood and Sand [V3NGE] - The largest amount of evidence published supporting the charge of alliance leadership acceptance of large scale botting operations concerns the Italian corporation Blood and Sand.  The first piece of evidence is that many of the pilots in the corporation were also in one of Horus' former corporations, TH3 UnT0uChaBl3S.  In an article titled "Exposé: BotWalk Empire – A Th3 Untouchabl3s Insight" riverini published a list from Horus of pilots that Horus allegedly sent to CCP naming those who botted and also admitted to ISK selling.  I am not so sure that happened as doing, combined with the Eve News 24 article, would have ensured his permanent ban from Eve, assuming he wasn't already banned.

The second piece of evidence is Horus' claim that Blood and Sand is the only corporation in Tribal Band besides the Tribal Holdings corporation to own outposts.  A look at Dotlan shows this is untrue.  Of the 18 stations currently controlled by Tribal Band, 12 are held by Tribal Holdings, 2 by Blood and Sand and one each by Just For Lulz Corp [JFLC], The Fiction Factory [TFIFA], Caldari Deep Space Ventures [CDSF] and Killing Is Business [OHNO-].  JFLC has owned the station in 08S-39, except during those times when enemies have taken control, since construction on the station completed on 31 October 2012.  TFIFA has owned the station in 0A-KZ0 since construction on the station finished on 5 November 2012.  CDSF has owned the station in 48I1-X since construction completed 16 October 2012.  Finally, OHNO- was given control of the station in Z-M5A1 on 29 November 2012 by the alliance has fought enemies for the last two months trying to keep it.

However, just because Horus lied doesn't mean nothing is fishy about Blood and Sand's station ownership.  My interest was raised by the reply to my inquiry about the EN24 article from Soldarius, one of Tribal Band's diplomats.  He responded to the accusation that V3NGE owned their stations due to their financial contributions this way: "Blood and Sand owns stations because they built them (the station eggs) before they joined Tribal Band."  From my study of Tribal Band's stations, that is not true.

Blood and Sand currently owns two outposts, in systems L5D-ZL and Y-CWQY.  Both of these stations were built by Band of Brothers and completed on 27 August 2008.  I highly doubt that V3NGE was a member of BoB as Goonswarm disbanded their longtime foe in February 2009 and Blood and Sand was created on 8 July 2012.  The timeline I put together is:
  • 8 July 2012 - Blood and Sands founded.
  • 17 July 2012 - Blood and Sands joins The 99 Percent.
  • 20 July 2012 - Blood and Sands joins Tribal Band.
  • 26 July 2012 - Tribal Band conquers the outpost in system Z-M5A1 from Nulli Secunda.
  • 28 July 2012 - Control of the outpost in Z-M5A1 transferred from the holding corp to Blood and Sands.  System Z-M5A1 has a true sec of -0.92.
  • 2 September 2012 - Control of the outpost in Z-M5A1 transferred from Blood and Sands to Killing Is Business.
  • 4 September 2012 - Control of the outposts in L5D-ZL and Y-CWQY transferred from the holding corp to Blood and Sands.  System L5D-ZL has a true sec of -0.92.  System Y-CWQY has a true sec of -0.76 plus an ice belt.
I have to admit I am not inclined to believe anything that Horus says unless someone else makes a statement that lends credence to his ramblings.  But when a diplomat tells me something that isn't true(2), I start to wonder if Horus' lies did not begin with a kernel of truth.

Another piece of evidence that the EN24 story presented was a lack of fleet participation on the part of Blood and Sand in alliance operations.  The article presented a spreadsheet showing participation in HBC fleets and a pastebin document that allegedly shows that Blood and Sand's level of participation "clearly contradicts Triget’s policy in this very long analysis he wrote. In it he speaks bitterly of people not participating enough and leeching off of the benefits of belonging to the band."

Let me address the pastebin first.  When I read Triget's words I was left with the impression that he did not like people who boasted of their PvP prowess but when the time for fighting arrived those same people preferred to remain in their Drakes ratting.  I think the following passage is the real reason that one corp was kicked from Tribal Band:
"This 'pvp' corp talked of their merits, and pointed fingers at others. While they talked of pvp and hotdropping and the like, they ratted. While our best pilots were on deployment, they ratted. While our FCs lead fleets, they posted about how spais and awoxers were ruining their ability to rat. This from a pvp corp. Our diplos and leaders were flooded with accusations of spais, with reports of asteroid stealing. For months they did this, their leaders would go afk and noone [sic] would notice because their leaders didn't lead. They would return with promises to 'whip things into action' and promptly lead their heroic fleets against Arkonor and Blood Popes."
As for the levels of participation, Soldarius explained that the spreadsheet provided was a very crude beginning attempt to track fleet participation in coalition operations and that the purpose was to help track reimbursable losses and not alliance level activities such as home defense fleets.  Soldarius even provided a link to their new website showing an improved participation tracking system.  But I think Triget's explanation was simpler to follow.  Blood and Sand is an Italian corp, which I took to mean that because they don't speak English or very poor English they have a hard time following the commands of an English-speaking FC so they are asked to do other things instead.

When evaluating this evidence, I don't place any value in it indicating whether Blood and Sand is botting.  In fact, the source gets a downgrade for spinning the intelligence with personal bias.  Of course, without the grudge the source would not have approached EN24 in the first place.

The next allegation is that Blood and Sand is funding Tribal Band.  This allegation comes from both Horus and from the unnamed source who apparently talks often with Triget.  The unnamed source actually gets a credibility boost from the denial issued by Blood and Sand's Gummi Worm in response to the EN24 story.  Gummi Worm confirmed that V3NGE was giving the alliance 10 billion ISK per month.  The only difference in stories is that Gummi Worm claims that the payments only lasted for three months.

So is Tribal Band running on botted ISK?  According to Soldarius, "The secret to Tribal Band's funding is no secret at all. Our home region of Period Basis is rich with cobalt moons. We use the new platinum technite alchemy reaction to make nanotransistors."  Soldarius also supplied a link to a spreadsheet showing Tribal Band's finances and it shows that Nanotransitors make up 92% of Tribal Band's monthly income.  Unless the financial folks are cooking the books I don't see where the alliance needs botting operations to sustain itself.  The only caveat to that statement is that the capital ship expenses are not listed in the spreadsheet, but I am guessing that all alliances keep that information under wraps.

Finally comes the allegation that Blood and Sand's Gummi Worm is the Questor developer bbday.  Could Horus actually know the Eve identity of bbday?  Yes, although I consider this unlikely.  Based on information in an EN24 article written by Bagehi in March I was able to track down Horus' Questor forum name.

Horus tears best tears?
I received further confirmation by looking up the TH3 UnT0uChaBl3S information page.

As of 13 January 2013
Of course this only means that Horus knows the names of the Questor developers and not necessarily the name of the dev's Eve characters.  The posting of character names is discouraged on botting forums, but if Horus is a big enough customer then he may know more than the average bot user.  Let's face it, 80 licenses is a lot.

The two conversations posted in the EN24 article, one in game and one in IRC, were interesting.  In his response to the article Gummi Worm wrote that the conversation in game occurred but the ones in
IRC were forged.  The time stamps published in the article initially made me suspicious but after contacting riverini he shared additional logs so I now believe that the probability is extremely high that Gummi Worm is the person in the IRC chat.  However, just because the person talking about Questor is knowledgeable does not make him a Questor dev.  I would wager, however, the person does know his way around a bot.

So what's the final verdict on Blood and Sand?  I don't think that the corporation is jam packed with botters.  According to Soldarius many of the players in Blood and Sands from Sheeps in Space after Horus' coup attempt to take over Tribal Band failed.  That attempt was mentioned in Montolio's conversation with riverini.  Also, those players may not realize they harbor botters in their midst as any botters would probably not use their mains and use alts running level 4 missions in high sec.  Especially if those botters keep their ISK for personal use.  As for the allegations against Gummi Worm the conversations published were not really conclusive one way or the other to me and only the additional information I was shown is pushing me to believe that Gummi Worm participated in the IRC chat.  I'm still not convinced that he is a Questor dev.

This second post of the series will probably please no one.  I'm not really happy myself.  The next post will address the remaining allegations against Tribal Band and perhaps I'll have a more definitive conclusion to present.


(1) - Originally I was going to cover the allegations against Tribal Band in one post but I needed to split it into two posts due to the amount of information about Blood and Sands.

(2) - I do not want to say that Soldarius lied because his response was very helpful and I believe he was trying to help me to the best of his ability.  I just think someone gave him bad information about the stations.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for covering this info. RMT and bots hurt Eve. Keep up the good work.