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      Cyber Nations Forum Rules   07/03/2016

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Entries in this blog

Xiphosis

So as to not continue cluttering up the discussion of political/social factors past/present/future in the other entry I'm opening this one up strictly to core game mechanics.

The two main things that have been identified as needing change are:

  1. Foreign Aid System
  2. Nation Strength Calculation

Suggestions So Far

- Change how much tech/land contributes to NS after a certain NS point

- Remove the ability to send tech at all, and institute tech degradation where the more tech you have, the more it degrades per day (if I'm understanding Seerow's proposal correctly). Unresolved is how tech costs would scale - normally? This would certainly hurt warchests but it would also curb inflation. Also unresolved would be what to do about the nations already stacked with tech - although presumably they will lose it in time from wars and degradation [rapidly].

- Add a 'game tax' to every foreign aid transaction [some percent of the money sent - like 50%] and uncap foreign aid slots. Change DRA and FM to lower the tax by 5% for marginal gain. Allows new nations to be 'caught up' quickly but at the expense of warchests.

Xiphosis

I do love over analyzing the culture on this game (compared to NS, et al it is fascinating), so I thought I'd open up kind of an open thread for what made CN enjoyable in the past (and didn't) and similarly what does it for you now v. then. What makes you happy to play, what doesn't?

Obviously I think the political aspect is going to be a heavy part of the discussion, because (necessarily) most of the people who visit the forums get most of our entertainment out of it - and certainly we should talk about that - but let's not neglect the core game mechanics either.

Observations

It's interesting to me that wars have gotten longer the more our individual capacity to do damage has gone up. You would think it'd be the opposite, but it hasn't. Do we take from that then to mean the real purpose of war isn't to damage an opponent? Is it just fun? And what part of doing such massive scale of damage [as happens with every major war now, all around] makes it particularly fun?

Couple of explanations I can think of (agree/disagree) would be: perhaps the driving political factor for wars has changed from strategic demand to catering to our own desires and more generally, mass membership desires - wars for the sake of them. And maybe it's precisely the scale of damage that makes it more enjoyable, although with the addition of the 24 hour wait time for nukes, wars certainly seem more monotonous to me these days (a surprise nuke is a fun thing, I'm not sure what the justification was for removing it) - and the monotony of it is very, very unfun. On the other hand, squad coordination is still fun - but that was true in the old days, so this hasn't really changed.

Politically, I can't talk about the old days very objectively - rose tinted glasses come into play. I was 17 when I started on CN and the game was still pretty new, so looking back I'm always going to see it as better days. Having admitted that and gotten it out of the way, I do think there's a more pervasive negativity about the game. You see this on the forums, IRC, in private, etc.

Winning or losing, no one seems all that pleased to be here or all that excited. There's this strong current of pessimism - "The game is dieing" "Politics is stagnant" [not claimed as much anymore, but you know] "The treaty web is choking the life out of the game!" and on and on. And some of it's almost certainly valid.

Objectively, the game is losing nations, although I would contend it's kind of a false alarm considering you don't need very many nations to have a vibrant community and culture - although it certainly doesn't hurt.

And sure, the treaty web does complicate a lot of things. And even that being the case, it raises an even stranger observation - if we're all so much more interconnected, why are wars longer than when we weren't? GW2 was all of a month or two and the only tie between North/South was GGA-LUE and that tie died a fiery death.

It seems to me like we have two major reasons for wars to be shorter - the increased damage making achieving the strategic ends easier + the fact that you're almost always going to end up fighting a friend of a friend. But, again, they're not.

On the first point, it's probably to a degree that doing that scale of damage is fun [and it is]. On another point, it's probably also because we have and use warchests now, so wars drag on because you can't simply erode someones infra and call it good. They'll just buy it back. Maybe we need to push a suggestion [or two/three] through and see if Admin will take us up on it to change the mechanic on that level - increase how much aid can be sent, and increase how much infra can be bought at a time. Perhaps even a "Your nation is stagnating" factor when you tie up so much of the national wealth in savings rather than reinvestment - some incentives to not to keep warchests.

On the second point, I think there's a fairly easy explanation for it as well. We all know the mega-alliances are gone, and that by and large they fractured into the wind. And we've all mostly had experience with allying ex-members and splinters. They go and make their own political reality, and there you have every little end of the web being tied up. Easy to explain, but I have no solutions for that - it seems like a human nature thing.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. Thoughts? And back to the original question - what do you enjoy [and hate] now about being on/around/in CN versus when you started?

Xiphosis

Not A CN Post

... but kinda. It's relevant to CN, but more just something I found insightful. Link.

The eleven lessons explored in the documentary are:

  1. Empathize with your enemy
  2. Rationality will not save us
  3. There's something beyond oneself
  4. Maximize efficiency
  5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
  6. Get the data
  7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong
  8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
  9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
  10. Never say never
  11. You can't change human nature.

I have to say I have a good deal of respect for Robert McNamara, I think that's a fairly well reasoned list composed by a guy who saw and committed to a lot of heavy decisions.

Edit: There's more.

Xiphosis

I was talking to a couple of people last night about something that happened back in 07 and in the course of retrieving the threads involved so we could all have a laugh about it, I noticed something; everyone in the thread was mostly being cool to each other. There was some nastiness, but it was subtle.

It reminded me of when LUE disbanded, and NPO gov turned out to hail them and remark on how the fighting had brought them closer. Seems to me you just don't see that anymore, and it's a shame, because it makes for a good forum atmosphere and good playing experience.

Makes you wonder what changed, and how to go about fixing it.

Xiphosis

To say holy crap I give no !@#$ about the Casey Anthony trial and don't understand why any of you do. The kid was irrelevant to humanity and so is her mom. More relevant and useful people died today, and will have died tomorrow, and no one is crying about that.

:gag:

Xiphosis

Casual Nonsense

I love the 4th of July - it's right up there with Halloween tied for first in my list of favorite holidays. Guns, fireworks, BBQ, more fireworks, more guns, racing... all to celebrate a glorious and bloody revolution against an absolute monarch that overstepped his reach. What's not to love?

But perhaps more than usual, you hear the passive assertion that the military is "protecting our freedoms" around this time of year. It's always bugged me though, it seems to be based on a false premise - which is that our freedoms are being challenged at all.

They really aren't. The Taliban can't threaten your freedom, or mine, or even the freedom our government has in enforcing it's will around the globe. They're not potent, strong or widespread enough to do so. The military is simply doing their job - to conduct the wars the President and/or Congress orders them to conduct. It has nothing to do with the freedom of us as Americans. Taliban aside, Al Queda can't and in no conceivable scenario ever could, threaten your individual freedom or the freedom of our state in it's choices. This seems obvious when you consider they have no air force, navy, and are outnumbered simply by gun-owning Americans by some incredibly large ratio. They couldn't occupy Topeka, much less NYC or another large metro. All of which is, of course, obvious.

I simply can't see why this is such a common refrain and why it's said so often - our freedoms haven't been threatened since the revolution, and we already won that one folks.

Xiphosis

Bin Laden deserved to die. He deserved no trial, nor anything else. He invoked war to describe his struggle with the West and he was treated as a combatant; which is to say, he was shot in the head. On this point, I don't think many will disagree. But our reaction here in the U.S. last night left me with some serious disquiet, watching the crowds grow in DC, NYC and elsewhere.

The cheering and chanting didn't inspire me, it reminded me of Damascus, Tripoli, Kabul and the countless rallies since the US invasion of Afghanistan wherein crowds in cities such as those burned American flags and chanted Death to America. All the people in DC and NYC were missing were some Pakistani flags, and it would've been a scene familiar to most of us.

When it mattered, we were no better. We showed no more dignity, nothing. We stooped and we cheered as we heard that our soldiers had shot an unarmed man. And tomorrow, if there are celebrations at the death of American soldiers, we will watch in annoyance and incomprehension.

Murder should not be greeted with celebration; regardless of who or where it's done. It should be treated with seriousness and sobriety. Osama deserved the bullet he got; murder can be justified, I'll never argue otherwise, but if you're going to do it - show a little class. Respect the gravity of what you're doing. Understand that you are destroying an immensely valuable, and to some family somewhere, beloved person forever. And pull the trigger. And let that be the end of it.

It's an animal that rejoices in the slaughter of another, and yesterday my nation shamed generations. It isn't the first time, and it won't be the last.

Xiphosis

GATO/UPN War Stats

This is limited because I didn't really have the time to check multiple times. Everything is dated and taken straight from in-game:

Nation Strength

Starting:

GATO: 7,730,229

UPN: 3,995,145

GOD: 4,617,109

Jan 21:

GATO: 7,703,992 (-26,237)

UPN: 3,760,436 (-234,709)

GOD: 4,619,225 (+2,116)

Jan 22:

GATO: 7,524,693 (-179,299)

UPN: 3,423,459 (-336,977)

GOD: 4,504,958 (-114,267)

Jan 23:

GATO: 7,215,171 (-309,522)

UPN: 3,283,435 (-140,024)

GOD: 4,457,702 (-47,256)

Jan 24:

GATO: 7,026,450 (-188,721)

UPN: 3,115,503 (-167,932)

GOD: 4,411,310 (-46,392)

Jan 25:

GATO: 6,963,465 (-62,985)

UPN: 3,026,433 (-89,070)

GOD: 4,323,187 (-88,123)

Jan 26:

GATO: 6,691,195 (-272,270)

UPN: 2,873,608 (-152,825)

GOD: 4,250,266 (-72,921)

Jan 27:

GATO: 6,321,562 (-369,633)

UPN: 2,790,132 (-83,476)

GOD: 4,184,876 (-65,390)

Jan 28:

GATO: 6,048,698 (-272,864)

UPN: 2,718,274 (-71,858)

GOD: 4,166,934 (-17,942)

Jan 29:

GATO: 5,826,721 (-221,977)

UPN: 2,667,979 (-50,295)

GOD: 4,165,997 (-937)

Jan 30:

GATO: 5,622,939 (-203,782)

UPN: 2,619,192 (-48,787)

GOD: 4,155,087 (-10,910)

The winding down in damage is due to a lack of targets and opponents who surrendered, particularly in the upper tiers.

Total:

GOD:

Nation Strength: -283,498

Score: -1.01

Infrastructure: -86,239

Technology: -7,413

Nukes: -223

Members: -1

UPN:

Nation Strength: -1,613,966

Score: -5.68

Infrastructure: -304,753

Technology: -61,125

Nukes: -453

Members: -13

GATO:

Nation Strength: -2,092,870

Score: -7.54

Infrastructure: -396,446

Technology: -75,683

Nukes: -827

Members: -23

Numbers courtesy of CptGodzilla. Interpret at will.

Xiphosis

I think the point that was originally behind the "War = Good" equation has been lost. I mean, I really do. What makes war on CN good? There's nothing inherently good or fun about doing the same battery of attacks day after day. So why is it commonly accepted that it's good?

Well, for one thing there's political upheaval, and that is fun. Rearranging sides like LEGOs and such is a blast to do and to watch, but all change isn't exactly good. UJW rearranged the sides - into BLEU and Q - and that wasn't positive long-or-short term for the game. The initial fun didn't outweigh how little was possible in the years that followed, would be the bullet point here, or more broadly - you can't ascribe abstract things like War = Good to CN in any real way.

Some wars are good, some wars are bad, objectively. Obviously, UJW = good or bad depends on your side or perspective, but if you assigned mathematical values to it and added it up, you could show that on the whole the game suffered more for it in the aftermath than we gained in amusement during it - which is what I mean when I say objectively.

I think this again comes down to motives. I've said it before and I'll say it again, motives make or break practically every aspect of this game - and that's for one simple reality - the game takes no real skill to play. Not even FA, necessarily. I have seen many, many simpleminded idiots pass through the game that had no tact, no skill whatsoever with FA but they were motivated by unbending loyalty for their allies and they succeeded because that came across - it's all they needed.

But more than just individual success, the game succeeds most when the sides operate on solid motives that people can get fired up about. Righteous anger goes far when you want a truly "Great" War. We can still have big wars - Karma, BiPolar, this one, but they lack the thrill if people are just hitting buttons and don't really care for the reasons. When people care, and are worked up, you see the game truly blossom into epic stuff.

And I don't mean the OWF crowd, which gets stupider and more disconnected from reality with every year, I mean the people behind the scenes - the leaderships, that are tasked with rallying their own alliances and allies for wars. If you want to see this game burn itself down and have everyone really enjoy/take great pleasure in doing so, give each side an equally valid motive/reason to go balls out and stand back. Just don't expect much if we keep having these big battles over nothing.

Xiphosis

Myths and Modern CN

The title is broad and you could probably write a decent sized paperback on it if you took the time, so I'm only going to address a few that crop up fairly often. They're the assumptions, generally commonly accepted things that are - in my opinion - founded on bull.

1) Disbandment. Might as well start with the big one.

The myth generally goes as follows; disbandment is immoral, because it's what Q did and it's done when you gang bang alliances with vastly superior numbers, and it serves no purpose other than killing the game.

The reality is, disbandment was around before Q and - usually - reserved for larger alliances that constituted more of a continuing threat [like NAAC, for example]. It was a legitimate war tactic up until Q got a monopoly on using it and pushed it on several AA's that could put up no legitimate fight; this sullied it in most peoples eyes as a bully tactic used by cowards.

The other big myth about disbandment is that it kills the game - not really true. A culture of kiss-ass-or-die did a lot more damage than disbandment ever did - this is a case of two things happening roughly at the same time in great volume, and thus being linked, even when they were unrelated. The two things, in this case, being the degradation of politics/leadership quality around the same time the use of disbandment increased rapidly.

It's important to make clear the two are not linked, though. The majority of uses of disbandment during the "Q Era" were done, not for the security of the alliances involved as beforehand, but for personal thrills. When you do anything for shallow reasons, it makes the entire process devoid of any point or legitimacy.

The decrease in leadership quality/general comes from the aforementioned kiss-ass-or-die culture that got held in place for a long time, along with a lot of old guard ending up apathetic [this is still going on] and not teaching newer generations of players what standards should be - although, not necessarily what they were. What's a good CB now is not what it would've been in 2006 and that's, despite what many would think, not the end of the world. Even then leadership looked for reasons to go to war and CBs were still their excuses to do it - as the game evolves, so do the excuses.

If disbandment eliminates a continuing and routine threat to your alliance - regardless of side, creed, etc. then you have every right in the world to eliminate the threat. "But it kills the game!" I can already hear, and not so. How many of you did time in prior alliances? I'd guess the majority. How many of the alliances you were in sucked? Total shells of inactivity and poor leadership?

We have roughly 140 alliances. There is no harm in weeding out a lot of them. Will some of their members quit? Sure - but the good ones, the ones who make for good members and good leaders will move on. And they will better the alliances they join. It has a positive domino effect. More than that, it means that leaderships have to actually take their jobs and decisions a lot more seriously - right now, there's a general assumption that the losing side gets white peace. I doubt that would be the case if the situations were reversed - I certainly don't think most of the Karma, BiPolar or PB sides would've gotten white peace had we lost, but it's become the 'standard.' But there's consequences to that being the case, namely, there's no incentive to think anything through. DoW whoever you want, for whatever reason you want - what's it matter if you lose? You'll walk away without a slap on the wrist. The really crap leaders never get their ass handed to them on a platter anymore, and we see a lot more of them as a consequence. Disbandment has it's upsides.

2) Karma. Hot point of reference as far as propaganda goes these days - "Guess we see what you're all really like when you get a little power" is a fairly common refrain now, and has been since the war ended to be honest - long before PB. There's a general sense that Karma stood for white peace, and changing how the game operated, and such. The thing is, people forget how many alliances were involved on the Karma side. 103, for the curious. Ascribing any one or two beliefs to 103 alliances is impossible - you can't assign a general belief set to most blocs, much less 73% of CN. I wouldn't even bother addressing this if I didn't think below the propaganda some people really felt this was the case - that Karma really did stand for those things, and that the actions since constitute hypocrisy or a betrayal of it.

For that crowd, you need to realize a few things about how the coalition operated - for one thing, it didn't. It was a fairly out of control beast, and most every thread Archon posted on the OWF [or LM, or whoever] was at best proofread/commented on by maybe 13 people before it went up. We had coalition forums; most people were either too busy, or too sick of arguing, to actually use them. And you couldn't keep up with every thread that went up anyway. Cram even 50 alliances onto one board in the middle of a gigantic life-or-death war and 'active' becomes a major understatement.

For another thing, there were a lot of disparate groups brought together in that side. The cultures weren't even remotely the same a lot of the time; much less the beliefs and policies every individual AA held to. Faces were unfamiliar, as well, for the majority. Archon was not the Overmind, nor was LM, they were just shepherds trying really hard to give some sort of direction to point an unprecedentedly large coalition in.

Now, I'm not saying it wasn't about 'changing the way CN works' for a lot of people involved - I certainly heard and saw it said plenty during the war, both in public and in the coalition chans. And I don't doubt the sincerity of those involved. All I'm trying to illustrate is that to take the loudest or most memorable ideology espoused by part of a group and apply it to all involved is disingenous - if you have 5 people in a room and 3 are Christian, you don't assume the other two are as well.

We all have different ideas of what's appropriate, justified, etc. and in Karma's case we had ~ 105 separate ones. People showed up to pile on Q while they could, and the one time they felt they had a chance of driving the last nail into the coffin, that is the only central motive/idea that can be accurately and honestly assigned to the Karma side.

Side-Note: As I'm often left defending disbandment to fellow leaders/allies/etc, it's often suggested that instead either harsh reps ought to be imposed, or otherwise all terms should be dropped because wouldn't it be fun to encourage more wars? It seems obvious. But I find it really disagreeable - I've paid reps before, it's a pretty shameful process - and ours only lasted one month or so. NPO's lasted, I think, a little over a year.

That's a long, humiliating thing to put any alliance through. Sadistic, to be honest. But at the time of deciding NPO's terms, that was deemed by the majority to be the more moral course of action - that disbandment was some unforgivable thing. And this confuses me, because it seems more honorable to give your enemy a viking funeral than torture/enslave them for a prolonged period of time.

I don't think no terms is the answer, though. There's a certain underlying arrogance in the suggestion that alliances - regardless of CB, regardless of conduct - should be given no terms that I find bothersome. It's the assumption that next time, you'll win. That because your opponents suck now, and are on the backfoot now - that they'll always be. Maybe there's a notion that a change from crap to quality coalition-wise happens over several wars - that you'll see the change coming, and adjust, but for now there's no danger.

This ignores a pretty fundamental feature of CN, though - randomness. So many actions that happen every minute of every day on this game are utterly unpredictable, even moreso when it comes down to alliance-wise decisions. There's no saying that an intelligent reformer doesn't take over your most vitriolic opponent and whip them into shape - no telling where the next FA genius comes from, or any other important variables.

But there's more arrogance, and short-sightedness, at work in that kind of thinking. Say you're hit by the same alliance in three separate wars. Each time that alliance hits you citing either a PIAT or even, nothing. You issue white peace every time, considering it 'good enough' that you've won, and happy for the chance to repeat the war. The fourth time, however, they put you on the backfoot - and they don't show any mercy as you've done. Here you have failed at the primary job of any alliance leader, or any alliance council - security.

Alliances exist as a means of communal defense, leadership exists to see to the construction of defenses [this is why we build nations and teach people how/when to fight, after all, as well as sign treaties]. If you allow arrogance to betray your alliances security, then you have failed at the premise your job is based on - in my opinion. That's why I've said a lot over the years that if I consider an action necessary to the long-term security of me/my allies, then I will do that action, no matter how horrific or abnormal it is for the period of CN it's done in, and sleep soundly having done my job. CN is full of humans and humans are not logical - nor is our culture the majority of the time. The right, logical, smart actions will not always - or even most of the time - be the actions that are most popular with the general public.

Xiphosis

I will start by assuming two things I think will hold true against any counter-argument, that is:

  • That all players play by a personally-defined, subjective code of morality.
  • That their actions are motivated by and justified under this code.

I'm writing this in part to collect my thoughts on what makes CNers tick, and what is appropriate (morally) considering the nature of CN.

On Hivemind and False Thought

The first thing I'd like to address is something I feel is evident in the nature of what some are referring to as the "Moralists" on CN, which is the effect of hivemind. By hivemind I simply mean that in bouncing their ideas and feelings off of similar individuals, ideas and ideologies within CN define themselves and become entrenched and are not subjected to rational argument.

The reason I bring up Moralists is not to single them out; certainly this holds true with all views, given that we are all alliance members, and beyond that, sphere members, and beyond that coalition members and at some degree there will be common-thought which will be reinforced by that association regardless of it's validity.

The reason I bring them up is because I feel the Moralists, as it stand, are the only grouping in CN that feels it is just to impose their beliefs on those who do not share them. Consider the beginning of the Bipolar War, specifically the declaration of war by the New Polar Order. I think it is fair to them to say their motivation was that they felt an unspoken line had been crossed, and that it was morally imperative that action be taken to correct the injustice.

The problem is that this unspoken line was not created, or set in stone, by a majority of the community. It was defined, in their minds, by themselves and their allies and those of common thought.

Morality cannot be objective on Cyber Nations simply because there is no unbiased arbiter to enforce that moral standard, and I would assert that enforcing your personal morality on the community at large constitutes an immoral tyranny. I think the distinction between war and crusades is neglected, especially considering the Bipolar War, and it shouldn't be.

A crusade is, in CN terms, force used to either eradicate or subjugate a particular belief through force and coercion. A war is at it's root motivated by the desire to make even two alliances, one party feeling directly grieved; not to eradicate ideas.

I contest that in order for there to exist a morality that is enforced with the blessing of all CNers, and without dispute, there would need to exist a United Alliances-type organization that had the full support and participation of every alliance in CN, including neutrals and independents, and that it would require the military support of all signatories to enforce whatever standards were agreed upon.

Given that this is a wildly unpopular idea, owing to it's stifling nature, all crusades will boil down to one minority trying to assert moral dominance over the community and in so doing, constitute immoral action in-and-of itself.

Xiphosis

Specifically I'd like to address the misunderstanding about "Bastion" as well as "The Hangout." Bastion was an effort that began when ochocinco, then Umbrella, myself and Delta1212 ran into each other while trying to establish a bloc to defend Gre from what we felt was an imminent attack by NPO. The ties between Citadel and SF were minimal - through FARK only - and it would've hindered our options in entering significantly, as well as made communication and organization that much harder.

The bloc we nearly made was referred to as Bastion. It compromised of Sparta, FOK, Umbrella, Gre, RnR, RIA, GOD, FARK and for a moment, MHA. The bloc was stymied for quite some time, initially. We were informed Gre and MHA would not be signing if the other didn't, but neither would take the initiative to do so first. We were informed [with regret] by Umbrella that without another Citadel signatory, the odds of it passing a vote with their Guard were next to nothing.

Around a month in MHA was removed from the bloc. To be curt about it, they invited NPO. They were thus cut off and the channels moved. When Electron Sponge leaked the contents of the bloc as well as the signatories to the public, TOP became aware of it's existence and lobbied extensively within Umbrella and Gremlins - often times through 'friendly' members in the alliances - to have it defeated. They single-handedly guaranteed the bloc didn't pass.

Shortly thereafter they tried to create a different bloc, compromised of all the originals except with all SF excluded but FARK. It was referred to as The Hangout. It was felt by TOP that FARK was more in line with their prick behavior than the other SF, and thus more amiable. In addition some other names were added, I'm not aware of the full roster. That bloc failed as well.

I'm posting this as many people conflate Bastion and The Hangout and I'm not a little sick of explaining the whole backstory. TOP, with the firm belief that they alone [with their amazing political skills] could keep Citadel and Q at peace, did knowingly sabotage three months worth of work to strengthen Citadel-SF ties and lay infrastructure before NPO did what we knew was coming; attack.

Edit: Also, the "Bastion" that was signed between VE, RIA and RoK was a treaty they had already signed and were going to announce. It was suggested that they rename it to Bastion to throw people off [after ES's leak].

Xiphosis

I've long been a believer in the mantra that leadership should be distinct from the Average Joe; that the people running politics - big and small and in between - should have class, civility, and respectability. If you think these are just buzzwords, you're part of the group I sincerely hate.

I joke a fair bit that there should be a test before you become an alliance leader judging your ability to stop and think out what you have to say before you say it but it's not a joke. People bemoan how far the forums have fallen since the days where leadership had semi-reasonable and calm arguments on things in full view of the public, but no one is willing to own their own role in this descent.

If you're an alliance leader, your members take their cue from you. They might stray pretty far from the standard you set, but they will subconsciously tether themselves to it. They will evaluate the things, views, and opinions they post based on it. More generally, they'll follow the majority of their alliance, and the majority will follow you. It's why you're the leader.

Having said that, you have an obligation not to be a tool. Leadership is a white-collar job and you should assume that you're meant to show up in a suit, not dressed and dancing like a clown for cheap laughs.

Almighty Grub, as much as I absolutely detest his grand standing for public appeal, does this. In fact a great example of being professional is that we're both willing to admit that we just don't like one another, without going "LOL YOUR MOTHER AND YOU'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE WORLDS PROBLEMS." There's a freaking huge line between the two.

But it goes beyond how you present yourself. You can dress a chimp up in a suit, it doesn't make him a banker (albeit he'd be the cutest banker ever). You have to actually know !@#$ to do this job.

If all you know about anything is what a MDP is and how to sign your name, you have no grounds to be an alliance leader. Having good quips doesn't qualify you to run a McDonalds, much less an alliance where real people depend on you to keep the world from smashing their faces in and undoing quite a bit of work.

If you're met with someone irrational, it's far and away appropriate to respond with an endless hail of nukes. I'm not saying we should all be Buddha and run around playing the unshakably reasonable and complacent.

I'm saying you've been tasked with a job by your membership. You have an obligation to ensure you, and by extension your alliance, do not act like tools. You have an obligation to be reasonable and agreeable, even with those who absolutely hate you to your DNA, before deciding to turn it into a blood feud.

Not even trying will turn this game ever more quickly into a gigantic pile of !@#$.

Xiphosis

An Upstarts Guide

As apparently I'm the new ELITE I feel it's high time I wrote a bit about starting an alliance, and some general things you ought to keep in mind. I'll start by talking a bit about mindset, as that's really important.

First off, never do this unless you plan to enjoy yourself. This is a game. Games are meant to be enjoyed. If it becomes a chore, fark around until it's a game and fun again. The politics can be really grating, you'll learn to deal with it, it's better to know beforehand though.

Second off, standards. Never ever let someone into your alliance you, personally, do not like. If they cause trouble, get rid of them. You want to be surrounded by good, smart people. Don't accept anything less - I've been in alliances with hundreds of members, it's not worth it and not all it's made out to be.

Third, do not fark around when it comes to ideals. Just because you're a good little citizen of democracy in real life does not mean it's the best thing around for CN. Alliances exist as a means of collective protection, and little more. Anything that detracts from the ability of the alliance to maneuver and act in a timely fashion should be viewed with contempt. You're not here to make a perfect little democratic utopia, or 'hang about with friends' - you can do that any day of the week without having the same AA. You're here to do things by and for yourself, and if you want to be successful, you won't be setting up Congress's.

Fourth, do not have an elected leader. Just don't. This never ends well. Someone has to be the keeper of keys. All forums have a root admin - that needs to be the leader. All channels need someone to be registered to - that's your leader. When this is split up or "assumed" it will be passed on to the next guy who gets elected, stuff gets complicated and a good alliance can go down in flames. I've seen it happen.

Fifth, do not screw around with members who refuse to contribute. If they have grievances and refuse to suggest alternatives, or want everything their way, boot the mother. Your alliance is your army, do not mess around when it comes to discipline. Similarly, keep your ears open to good ideas. You'll have plenty coming your way with a good membership.

Six, peace is the time when alliances prepare for the next war. Nothing. More. It doesn't matter how small, insignificant, or unconnected you are. I started with no allies period - I was at war by the end of the week. You need to be constantly streamlining, constantly preparing.

Seven, think before you speak (in public). If you can't anticipate how people will react to something you say, DON'T SAY IT. You're representing more than just yourself, and you need to watch what you say. Big alliances have gone down because of incompetent leaders running off at the mouth and turning the public against them.

Eight, and probably one of the more important ones, get yourself some friends. Allies are important, but they aren't farkall if they're not friends. A friend should be someone you can say anything to, and not offend them. A friend should be someone you can scream to the high heavens in front of - kick and scream and cry bloody murder - and not be uncomfortable with it. You will be doing a lot of that sorta thing if you get into this game, and friends are invaluable.

Ninth, do not only sign up with big names. The best allies are the unknowns, not people everyone knows and has an opinion about. Shop around - find others who're starting out, pop over, say hi.

Tenth, record everything. When members sign up, record their ruler name so you can mass PM them. When you have official discussions with foreign diplomats, save the conversation. When you do aid deals with other alliances, screenshot it (Prnt Screen -> MS Paint -> Edit -> Paste -> Save As). Make sure you can prove everything and you'll never be caught flat footed.

Eleventh, do not take this game too seriously. It's easy to do. The analogy that most helps me is to think of this as a gigantic game of Pokemon. I wouldn't be bummed IRL if I lost a trainer battle - so too don't be bummed if you hit setbacks.

Twelve, and last, aid always. You should be borderline communist for at least your first three months. You aid up your members, they aid up the next guy, so on and so forth. Never stop. People have been building their nations since 2006 - you have a lot of catch up to do, keep that in mind.

That's about it. Hope it helps.

Xiphosis

I have never, and I never will, apologize for my part in GW4 on the side of the Unjust Path. I stood with my allies in the face of poor odds and a great deal of propaganda because they were my allies, irregardless. That said, it's been noted more than a few times how quick most of us survivors let the war go and just moved on with life after the fact, and I'd like to explain why that was.

Part of it was fear - without a doubt. Most of us figured ES & BLEU would be happy to get rid of us permanently and logs that got leaked to us certainly did nothing to dispel this. A lot of us didn't even re-ally because we thought it'd likely prompt an attack we couldn't handle in the midst of paying off reps.

Another part of our silence was realization of what it was like to lose a war. I won't lie that a lot of us were responsible for some harsh terms and general jerk behavior prior to that war, and few of us had sympathy for 'the vanquished' - but the war taught us what it was like to be on the other side of the gun, and to have your fate in the hands of an opponent. You have to realize - going into that war, few if any of us had ever actually suffered a defeat. GOD certainly hadn't.

We were always on the winning side, and frankly, it made us obnoxious. Some might call it power-tripping :P. Though, the same was true for the ~ side, as became incredibly evident after the war was over - both with the witch hunt and the emergence and extreme escalation of public apologies, among other asinine demands, over trivial behavior, and minor insults uttered in private back channels.

It's really hard to put into words what it's like to surrender, especially to people who despise you pretty fiercely. I will confess I was against surrendering whatsoever, even as the rest of our side did so. We had, in all actuality, sent our orders to flip into peace mode and start turtling if you'd been staggered, before we approached NoV for terms. What changed? Well, two of my Triumvirs (Nuke Winter and Big Z) offered to see to getting and implementing the terms, knowing I couldn't stomach it, and I left it in their hands.

It's also pretty hard to describe what it's like to think you're done, and that all your aid for a month + has been divvied up among your opponents, only to have another alliance (around 8 total hit us in that war) pop up demanding their share of the pie. And after all that, we ended up with a grand total of one ally surviving of the 3 that brought us into the war. GOONS were disbanded, as were \m/, but MK got by, as did we.

So, around late September, early October, we were essentially friendless and under pretty harsh terms (195 mil* doesn't sound like a lot these days - but it was massive back then, I think I was like 5,000 infra and Top 5 in GOD - the only way we could pay it as quick as we did was because we had experience aiding on a large scale on a semi-normal basis) ... not to mention we'd eaten quite a few nukes.

Luckily, RIA invited us to SuperFriends, and VE reallied us without a second thought. I don't think GOD would be alive right now if it wasn't for either of them. The war also taught us a lot... for one, none of us went into it with warchests - which hurt us pretty bad once NoV started dropping nukes on us - and we realized that nukes were pretty important if you expect someone to uphold a No First Strike Nuclear Attacks agreement.

We had... 50 104 nukes? In that war, in a couple of nations. We also learned that even with pretty powerful allies, you always have to rely on yourself for your own defense. Luckily, admin implemented Wonders not long after the war - and more importantly, Manhattan Projects. The lessons learned in UJW were the reason both MK, and us, stocked up on those.

We never wanted to be caught with our pants down ever again, and we haven't been. It's true - no amount of nukes will stop someone determined to wipe you out - but it certainly forces them to have a really good reason to. Combine a lot of nukes and good manners, and you could be pretty comfortable on CN - independent or allied into the Web.

But yeah, on the whole, the main thing about it was perspective. It gave all of us a major douse of cold water on what we'd been putting others through, and though I can't speak for my ex-comrades, I know it's something I've kept firmly in mind when handing out terms since. It's one of those things that just effects you.

Anyway, thought it'd make for some intriguing reading, so there it is. ;)

*It should be noted that The Order of Halsa, despite not taking up arms in the war, did pay out about 15 mil on our behalf in the reps for that war. :wub: Also, thanks to Cpt for correcting the nuke figure and Z the rep figure. My memory continues to suck.

Xiphosis

For a change of pace, I'm going to talk about something from real life instead of CN. I'm an American, and one of the many issues that came up in our elections was the idea of talks without preconditions. I hadn't even heard of the idea prior to this, so it was news to me that there were people that actually supported it.

Preconditions before talks is exactly what it sounds like - before we talk to a country, we demand they meet so and so conditions. Before we even talk. The excuse given is that if Obama talks to Ahmadinejad without forcing him to follow terms, we're going to be 'legitimizing' his 'regime'. While it's true Iran's nowhere close to a true representative democracy, both because the religious factions have superior authority to the elected one, and because they have limited ballots, it doesn't mean it's on the U.S.'s shoulders to legitimize governments.

That's true arrogance to me. It's the equivalent of if someone was elected in FARK and no one considered it legit until someone else acknowledged it. No one has the authority to legitimize a government but the people living under that government. I look at Iran as someone who believes in consent in the governed, and I don't see massive riots and demonstrations in the streets calling for revolution. You know when Iran saw that? When the U.S. had a puppet in charge of the country.

I guess my point is this - the U.S. will never regain our respect internationally if we continue along with a failed standard operating procedure, which "preconditions" is very much a part of, and that it's arrogant to state our opinion means spit when it comes to someone else's government. We're like the meddling old man, except we're not old.

Xiphosis

Class Isn't Underrated

"I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness... and by what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not. "

"A king may move a man, a father may claim a son. But remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice. Remember that."

Kingdom of Heaven

Class is, far and away, the most valuable quality an alliance leader can have. It doesn't matter if you have horrific, vulgar, or downright stupid views if you can act classy and handle situations with respect - there will always be someone at your back.

We live, now, in an age of micro-alliances, blocs, and massive amounts of protectorates. The crappy byproduct of this is typical; some newb leader with no respect for the status quo or precedent invariably spouts off with threats his own alliance could never dream to actually enforce, and their protector is (willingly or not) forced to back it up if not for the protectorate's reputation, then for their own since they've put it on the line. This does nothing but foster bad karma and a complete disdain for the parties in question, across the board.

Levelheadedness, humility, and above all classiness will get you the respect of your protectors and the world at large. No one in their right mind would, or should underrate this - Opethian's been riding his PR wave since the second Great War and it's saved his hide more times then I care to count.

Disbandment, harsh terms, and all the other things people in general don't like (whether they say it or not) wouldn't be necessary without the spite and disrespect that's been thrown around since the fourth Great War. The fact is, when spite comes into play what's a fist fight becomes a blood feud, and you end up with no choice but to cripple them severely - be it disbandment, or harsh terms. Even despite, even if your opponent could never hope to match you on equal terms, they could still wait and hit you when your weak, or when they've got a lot of nukes, and what's the point in worrying about that?

Why bother when all it takes to avoid it is a non-hostile conversation? I understand spite well. I won't deny it's been the motivation for much of what I've done on CN and I've made no bones about that. I consider myself a repenting alcoholic of sorts, though. I'm experimenting with different approaches and seeing how it pans out.

Those reading this may be familiar with our recent war with the Christian Coalition of Countries, and this is a good example. In any other war we would've been blunt, cold, and given them crippling terms or flat out disbanded them. That's standard protocol, since we generally don't go to war unless we really don't like you and it's usually never pretty.

CCC provided a good opportunity to experiment some, though. Both sides made sure no one trolled, we kept in touch and more or less kept it polite, we didn't make them bend over backwards with crappy terms, and the war was kept short and to the point.

I liked it, it beat the crap out of all the trolling in GW3 and the downright spite in and after GW4. I don't have to really have to worry about a CCC bandwagon in the future because it's not real likely, as it was with any of the other situations.

I guess my point can be summed up pretty simply - act right and you'll probably get treated right, or as various bibles put it, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

If you don't want to be approached by irrational blowhards hitting above their pay grade, don't do it yourself. If you don't want to pay 200 mil in reparations along with never be able to vote in the senate or take a leak without supervision don't force others to do it.

Cyber-Nations is what we all make of it, ultimately.

Xiphosis

Treaties

Let's talk about treaties - the bread and butter of politics, as it stands, second-only to IRC in terms of importance if you care to be relevant or "plugged in" at all.

It strikes me as amazing to see how times have changed since I started out here. By way of example - when we started our alliance, you could still get by without getting raided or rolled without treaties. We were offered a protectorate by VE, but actually turned it down, it just wasn't necessary and the idea of having a Big Brother politically bothered me a lot (I later conceded because we got our $@! kicked for picking a fight, and VE turned out to be offering nothing more then a one-sided MDP, but I digress haha). There was no real danger in going on your own so long as you had a decent diplomatic team - hell, IRON stayed independent of either 'side' of the web for a good long while and never got bothered much, as did GPA.

What we've seen happen more and more, though, is that people have signed treaties for poor reasons. Alliances world-wide sign treaties with people they don't trust, people they don't like, and people who do things and help people they find completely repulsive. It's kind of absurd when you think about it, but people like being able to list all their allies and thump their chest with pride at what an excellent amount of NS has their back, or they're "friends" with, even if it's nothing but paper.

Every leader on CN, right now, has a mental list of who he can trust to have his back and who he can't if it really hits the fan hard, and this more or less epitomizes the problem. In a decent world people would have the strength of character to man up and cancel on alliances when the relationship fails; and so often it does long before we ever see the treaty disappear in AP. Do a mental checklist with me real quick - when the last time you talked to each ally you have? Did you enjoy the conversation? Are you comfortable around them or do you hold back? Do you still agree with what they're doing, if you ever did? Are they allied to people you can't stand?

Last point that needs to be made is about the cancellation trend - the unfortunate by-product of cowardice and poor ally selection. This is so Kindergarten-level politics that it fries my brain that people still don't get it, but listen up - if you sign a Mutual Defense Pact, guess what? You just agreed to defend them. Period. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you can't handle that, you need to drop out of the political game, now. Seriously, go write up your resignation, I'll wait. People have been doing this more and more to save face and infra for a while now, and you know what? You wouldn't have to if you didn't ally scumbags. It's that simple.

Ultimately, this is what it comes down to. As the old saying goes, "Pick your battles well." If you ally someone, you should be well, well prepared to stick it out with them.

Edit: Darnit. One more thing - stop naming every treaty you sign. In fact, pick one, and don't name the rest - all it does it make us care less. Also, your puns aren't funny. Seriously.*

* I realize the irony (hypocrisy) in me, of all people, criticizing this. I blame Z.

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