Though the constantly shifting alliances and politicking can seem at first to be dazzlingly complicated there are nine distinct phases that are marked by important shifts in the factions involved. As some alliances lasted longer than others some phases lasted longer than others. The main powers that dictated the switch from one shift to another were:-
The phases are commonly agreed to begin and end with the following events.
Phase One - At the outset of the Orbital Wars the primary conflict was between the Terrans and the East Rim Consortium. Both sides immediately made a play for allies but due to the lengthy time it took for diplomatic ships to reach other systems they are considered the only participants in the first phase. The second phase is considered to have begun with the involvement of the Jatok.
Phase Two - The Jatok are persuaded to join the war on the side of the Terrans. Their intervention shifts the balance of power in favour of the Terran alliance. However their involvement brings some anti-AI extremists in to the conflict on the side of the East Rim Consortium.
Phase Three - The Kingdom of Atholl declares war on the Jatok, starting the third phase of the war. This is closely followed by the involvement of the Kelvod, helping both sides when it suits themselves. The attack on Earth by the Atholl Royal Marines ends the third phase, with the Terran's withdrawal from the war.
Phase Four - The Jatok start phase four of the war alone. However help from the Kelvod keeps them active, long enough for the Terrans to re-enter the war at the Battle for Oubliette 2 (now under the name of New Unified Terrans). However a spectacular blunder severs the alliance with the Jatok who continue the war on their own. The severing of the Terran/Jatok Alliance signals the end of the fourth phase of the war.
Phase Five - With the end of the Terran/Jatok Alliance the Kingdom of Atholl decides to switch sides in favour of their more natural allies, the Terrans. They continue to lobby Klein Brittan to join in and the announcement that Klein Brittan will join the fight against the East Rim Consortium is the point at which most historians date the start of the sixth phase.
Phase Six - Following the Yggdrasil Campaign the East Rim Consortium is forced to withdraw from the Orbital Wars, preferring to concentrate on profiteering and arms sales to all sides. Their withdrawal marks the beginning of phase seven, as does the rising increase in Kelvod involvement.
Phase Seven - This phase is notable for the only known alliance between the Kelvod and the Kingdom of Atholl. It also sees the alliance between the New Unified Terrans and the Jatok to destroy the Durvii Battalion. The destruction of the Durvii marks the transition to the eighth phase.
Phase Eight - As the wars dragged on it was becoming clear that they were lasting beyond the capacity for some of its participants to fight them. It saw the withdrawal of the Kingdom of Atholl, the end of Klein Brittan and the disappearance of the Jatok. The last of those signalled the start of phase nine.
Phase Nine - With only the New Unified Terrans, the Kelvod, and what few allies they could muster still fighting it was clear the Wars were coming to an end. The Union began flexing its muscles again (thanks to the Union Reform Movement) and the Wars were dragged to a close with the Crylla Treaty.
Though this list shows the major participants and the majority of their alliances it is not inclusive. Indeed it is believed that only Haze ibn Haze's masterwork, Shifting Sides of the Orbital Wars, covers every alliance that was formed in those times. In addition, though the phases show when alliances were agreed to by their governments, due to the Belated History Effect there were occasions when forces would continue to fight for the wrong side until the news reached them. Indeed the Thermopylae Incident in the fifth phase of the war saw warships belonging to the Kingdom of Atholl fighting on both sides as those who knew of the new alliance with the New Unified Terrans fighting against those who thought they were still allied to the East Rim Consortium.