Rule 4 of empire building is The Rule of the Onion. To quote an ogre, an ogre is like an onion... well, an Eve Empire should be built like one too. An onion, not an ogre. Onions have layers and it's in these layers that an empire becomes stronger. Later in this series of articles we will be discussing the rule of three, however, there is a lot of cross over with that rule and this one, so we shall be talking about it some here.
For an empire to be successful it has to be strong in several areas, the main three being militarily, economically and politically. If an empire isn't strong in these three areas, then the chances of it remaining successful are limited, and while it may grow, it can not keep itself together in the long term. It must be political in terms of being able to use diplomacy when needed and most importantly keeping its members and corporations within the empire happy. It has to be strong economically, as it must have a way to finance itself. Lastly, it has to be strong militarily since expansion in many cases will require the ability to invade and destroy in order to advance and grow.
Other layers must exist within the empire and within the three main areas as well. It is not enough to be militarily strong in terms of experience pilots for example. Another layer in the military strength has to be in training new pilots up. The fact of the matter is, players will come and go. If you can't match pilots coming into the empire as some leave, you will be left in a weakened state. Likewise, economically it is not enough to concentrate in only a couple of technologies in the game as like the stock market, past performance is not indicative of future results.
Another way there needs to be layers is in how the empire itself is formed. An empire by its very definition needs to be in 0.0 to flourish and even be considered an empire, but it doesn't need to only be in 0.0. It needs a presence in high sec and low sec as well. Granted this presence doesn't need to be as extensive as it is in 0.0, but does need to be there. Combat pilots can learn their ropes in low sec combat, while industrialists can learn theirs in high sec. High sec is a safe place for some industrialist to make ISK and to make the things the empire needs out in 0.0. Low sec is a great training ground for future combat pilots.
Layers need to be secured, regardless of what that layer is. Assign corporations to be in charge of layers and then have other corporations as back-ups - adding yet another layer. By adding layers this way, you secure the empire by always being able to shore up if a corporation leaves or decides to join the enemy. Speaking of which, expect this to happen. If you expect it, you should plan for it. An empire may even consider the use of some corporations as spies in enemy territory. The sad fact is that there are spies everywhere in EVE, and if played to your advantage, can be very useful. As in the case of BoB a few weeks ago, a single person can be devastating to a corporation, an alliance, or an empire.
One of the chief things you can do in your empire to make it strong and to provide layers in a variety of ways is to define a role for each alliance, each corporation, and each member. I'm not talking about role as in the game mechanic, but role as in what players are held accountable for and asked to do. This should always match up to what it is the players themselves want to do. If a player is all about combat, then get them involved in combat, don't demand they spend their time mining and vice versa. By having happy members, you add a layer of security you otherwise would not have. Happy members rarely leave or go to the other side.
Since redundancy is a part of creating layers, everything in your empire should be redundant. If you have one major capital ship fleet, work on creating two. They can of course come together to form one mega capital ship fleet, but should also work independently of each other as well. Don't have just one source of economic power, have several.
Last but not least, consider an onion itself. At its core is where the base of the empire should be. Each layer beyond that should in itself be part of the empire but if peeled away, another layer revealed. Don't forget when this happens, add another layer.
Next time we will talk about the Rule of Peace.