Good posts Kal.
Clearing up some specifics.
You kept your paperless ties/protected them from a possible nuke bloc hit. Yet in the same breath, you're out claiming you want to encourage mini-sphere wars and small scale conflict?
We were willing to protect those alliances from a nuke bloc hit because upper tier fighting each other without an IQ split will only give them more leverage not to split "why leave when our enemies are fighting each other, we can just grow". EMC has already split and the divisions are real. Anyone looking from the outside in should be able to tell that by now. What will not help is if during negotiations one side gets everything thing they want without concessions. So, we were willing to step in. The end goal is of course smaller scale wars and smaller spheres, but we obviously consider the smaller spheres part to be the gatehouse to smaller wars. The split of the mega-spheres has been a long term goal of ours for a while now, this is known. Nuke bloc kicking down the barn door before we can even get the mid tier consolidation addressed is premature. Which is why we were willing to discourage it.
You speak of mini spheres, yet in the same breath are trying to talk to/ally various top 5 alliances?
We're not attempting to sign a mini-hegemony (tm) we're attempting to create an environment where IQ can be split and it so happens a number of relevant IQ alliances are top 10. Its well known we have talked to these alliances in an effort to get them to split. At the moment IQ as a sphere will control everything below 17 cities if they exist as is. In order to bring some sort of significant competition to those tiers, splitting up relevant IQ alliances is a must.
And talking to these alliances isn't cozying up to them or at least not the connotation of it. We're not talking to these alliances at the expense of our former allies. It is in pursuit of getting them to believe the changes we have made and feeling comfortable enough to take part in it. Not even necessarily with us. If they want to strike out and form their own thing, that is just as well. It just so happens that the most other alliance on the web are so hypersensitive to the idea of working with an IQ alliance (gross, I know), that it seems no one else has even approached them in order to help facilitate this. So we suffer the rain of criticism while certain keyboard warriors sit on their hands (and type with their epeen).
If we wanted to keep or aim for hegemony, we would have stayed with EMC. Double down on the sphere by consolidating, encourage growth by funding all of the smaller alliances in the sphere and building enough of a lower tier threat to overwhelm IQ in all tiers. But a hegemony isn't what we wanted then and its not now despite what some prominent posters would have you believe. We did not cut those ties for nothing anyone who knew the state of our relationship with those alliances we parted from should know this and it certainly would not have been done just so we can form another hegemony with folks we haven't been chilling with since our inception. Keep recycling your narrative though cause I'm sure there is not a better use of your efforts.
You speak of small scale conflict yet in the same breath actively discourage elements like JEst, Arrgh etc. from engaging in such warfare?
Small scale conflict is eventually the goal but wars such as JEst's and Arrgh's actively discourage the actual viability of a world post IQ mid tier supremacy by continuously antagonizing them and creating a game environment that encourages them to continue to stay together. This is of course, against our vision and preferred outcome so of course we would disagree with those actions and take steps against them. In JEst's example, we cut our protectorate that ghosted them. For Arrgh well, Arrgh was just a chance for us to show that we were willing to work with IQ alliances in pursuit of a goal (In order to give credence to our stated direction, not as pre-application ( see you typing there)). No, we don't think Arrgh is the evil of all evils, and neither is JEst but you guys are going about this the wrong way. Aggressive action will always be met with a defensive response and persecuting those IQ alliances will only make it more likely that they stay together. So, if your goal really is to have more fun in a world with multiple poles so you can swim in all of the intrigue, stop fricking it up for those of us actually working towards that goal.