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My Views on Reparations


bigwoody

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I have noticed lately a fair number of people not understanding my views on reparations in this game, and why I believe that anything more than light reps are damaging to the game OOC, and a bad tactic IC. So whether you're out to cover your own $@!, or looking out for the health of the game, listen up!

IC: The Cycle of Revenge

A primary rallying cry of the Karma War for most was to "bring an end to the era of crippling reparations." Of course, the war ended with some of the harshest reparations in history, with the claims that past actions of those alliances were justification for the "punishment." The STA, for example, has claimed that if they ever find themselves at war with Valhalla, they will impose reparations to recoup those imposed on them by Valhalla in the past, no matter the circumstances that bring them to war.

These are examples of "Revenge Reparations". Punishing an enemy now for actions you could not retaliate against before. Following their lines of reasoning, many alliance members (most notably in MK) find my claim that I wish to end this cycle inconceivable, as they themselves would not choose to do the same. They do fully expect that I would act as they do, roles reversed. My claim is thus spun as one of self-preservation, not principle.

It follows, then, that it is worth explaining why that is not the case. I fully believe, based on bountiful observed evidence, that imposing harsh reparations imbues in your defeated foes a deep-seeded hatred that may only be relieved by inflicting a similar blow upon you at a later date. Perhaps, in an IC way, not wanting to dole out any more than light reps, usually none, is good policy as it does little to inspire a drive for revenge in your beaten foes. Conversely, crippling reps doom you to the same treatment someday.

A tale from one of my favorite RPGs, Lost Odyssey, conveys this well:

Kaim spent the entire summer surrounded by a fence that towered over him.

He was trapped in a prisoner of war camp.

It was a terrible mistake - not his but the dimwitted, cowardly commander's. Kaim was a mercenary attached to the man's regiment. They were invading the enemy's main port city when the officer miscalculated at the end and the unit's line of retreat was cut off. While the troops were prepared for an all-or-nothing charge, the commander almost casually opted for surrender.

"Don't worry," he had said to his men before they were locked up.

"Whatever happens now, the ultimate victory in this war will be ours. Instead of making a stand and dying for nothing, we'll be much better off if we just quietly let them take us as prisoners of war. We'll be liberated right away in any case."

This made perfect sense.

But the officer completely misread the feelings of an enemy on the brink of defeat.

Having survived hundreds of battles, Kaim knew better than anyone how people felt towards prisoners of war after the hated enemy had taken the lives of their friends and loved ones and torched their hometowns.

To the members of his platoon at least, as they were preparing to enter the camp, he whispered,

"You'd better forget about any rosy pictures. This could be worse than the battlefield."

His words proved all too accurate.

Life in the POW camp was bitterly harsh. Day after day, the men were forced to do backbreaking labor on a diet of scraps. The sick and injured went untreated and were not even allowed to rest. To collapse on the job was to die. Indeed, several of the prisoners died not by collapsing on the job but from brutal beatings for minor infractions.

Everyone with access to the camp - both the soldiers assigned to guard duty and ordinary citizens with business there - looked upon the prisoners with hatred in their eyes. Some guards would wave swords at them and boast, "I can kill you !@#$%^&* any time I like," and certain officers slaughtered one prisoner after another, disguising the killings as accidents.

Even as they tormented the prisoners, such men were suffering the deaths of their families and friends in the war, and spending their days in fear of the coming invasion. The camp was a place ruled by hatred and revenge, but also a place shrouded in uncertainty and fear of the day when the captives would become their captors. This tense, complicated atmosphere ate away at the spirits of all, friend and foe alike.

The horror of war lay not only in the mutual killing of enemies clashing on the battlefield but even more so in places such as this that were far from the front lines.

Kaim knew this with every bone in his body.

A month passed after the platoon entered the POW camp.

The enemy troops were thoroughly exhausted.

THe fall of the capital was said to be imminent.

In spite or because of that, life in the camp was worse than ever.

The tasks assigned the prisoners were even crueler than before, and their diet, which was meager enough to begin with, fell below the level needed to sustain life.

The military guards bullied the prisoners as if for their own amusement, wounding them, and mistreating them with fatal consequences. All kinds of civilians did their part, too, hurling human waste over the fence into the camp. And even if secret stashes of food might be left for them, none of the prisoners dared eat them for fear they might be poisoned.

Hatred climbed to unseen heights.

To one prisoner who moaned "Why are you doing this to us?"

a guard spat out the answer, "It's just what your country is doing to us."

And it was true.

All the young men of the enemy country were being sent into battle, where most of them were being killed. Whole towns had been burned down and transformed into rubble.

While the soliders assigned to guard duty knew that defeat in the war itself was certain, they continued to be victors where the POWs were concerned.

And while the captured soldiers believed in the victory of their fatherland and waited for the day when their comrades would resuce them, they continued to be vanquished among victors.

The moans of the POWs could be heard throughout the camp:

"When is the war going to end?"

"The war doesn't have to end. Just let them get us out of here!"

"Have we been abandoned by the fatherland?"

Kaim kept offering the same advice to them again and again:

"Be patient," he would say, "Don't give up hope."

Kaim knew everything there was to know about war, and so he realized what was happening now. The fatherland's supreme commanders were trying to bring down the capital first and leaving the fall of this military port city for later. The POWs had, in fact, been abandoned.

The commander in chief would no doubts say, "For the sake of a great victory, we cannot let ourselves be concerned by a small set back."

And he would be right.

But precisely because he would be right, Kaim could not convey this to the prisoners, who firmly believed that their side was trying their best to rescue them.

One POW after another made plans to escape, and for every one of those there was an informant who exposed his plan to the guards.

Both types of prisoner had the same thing in mind: to save himself alone. No one could be trusted. THere were even some "informants" who made up phony escape stories about perfectlyinnocent men just to put themselves in a little better position with the guards. The only thing awaiting such traitors when the war finally ended would be the revenge of their comrades. As much as they understood this, all they could do was ingratiate themselves with the guards so as to secure their momentary safety.

The fence was not the only thing surrounding the POWs. It was not just their bodies but their minds that had been taken captive. In addition to the ones who died from illness and injury were increasing numbers of those who ended their own lives after a period of mental suffering.

Be patient.

Don't give up hope.

Kaim's word gradually ceased to make an impression on anyone.

After the men had been prisoners of war for two months, a new guard took charge of Kaim's barrack.

In place of the young warrior who had been guarding them came an old soldier.

His name was Jemii.

When he introduced himself to the men, he remarked with a grim smile,

"Things must be getting pretty desperate if they're calling up an old goat like me."

The young guard had been sent to the front lines. This probably meant that the battle for the capital had entered its final phase.

"I tell you, this war is almost over. In another month, you young fellows will be on the other side of the fence, and we'll be locked in here. Our positions will be completely reversed."

Jemii needed no prompting from the POWs, and his vocie contained none of the hate-filled agitation of the young guard's.

"All you fellows have to do is hang in there a little longer, be patient, and not give up hope."

His words were almost identical to Kaim's, which meant that Jemii, like Kaim, had experienced many a battle over the years.

"We may be in different positions, but deep down we're the same. You men are unarmed prisoners, and we'll be under your control as soon as you come to occupy the country. I'm waht you will be tomorrow, and you're what I will be tomorrow. I don't know how long we're going to go on like this, but if you stop and think about it, isn't it stupid for us to keep hating each other and snarling at each other? Let's at least try to get along."

He twisted his wrinkled face into a big grin and laughed aloud.

His smile deeply affect the mentally and physically exhausted men.

Before they knew it, they were smiling, too. THis was the first carefree smile that any of them had managed since their capture, or, rather, since their time on the battlefield.

Jemii's kindness was not limited to words. Of course, the change of a single guard was not enough to substantially improve the prisoners' treatment. The hard labor and meager food were the same as before. But Jemii would speak to them with real feeling.

"Sorry for working you so hard, but there aren't any young men left in this town to do the muscle work. We're not making you do these jobs to punish or discipline you but because the town needs your help with these constructino projects."

"I'm sorry we can't give you anything decent to eat. I really am. But everybody outside the fence is starving, too. We're all in this together, so try to put up with it."

Jemii would try to order somewhat easier jobs for prisoners who had taken ill, and he would sneak them extra food. THat is the kind of guard he was.

The prisoners started calling him "Uncle Jemii," and would even joke around with him sometimes.

"We'd be way better off if the other guards were like you, Uncle Jemii,"

said one prisoner, to which Jemii nodded sadly.

"I'll tell you what, Uncle Jemii," said another prisoner. "If I had known that there were people like you in this country, I never would have volunteered. I'm not forgetting my place as a POW, but let me shake you hand once."

Jemii allowed himself the faintest of smiles at this and gave the man his hand.

"You know something, Kaim..." Jemii said, sitting down beside Kaim during a break in the heavy lifting.

It was a clear, beautiful day, but the sunlight pouring down on them had lost its midsummer glare. The season was shifting to autumn.

"I'd say you're a little different from these other young prisoners."

"Am I?"

"I know you've seen your share of battles. I can smell it on you."

Kaim's only reply to Jemii was a strained smile. Jemii seemed to have known what Kaim's response to his remark would be, and he wore the same kind of smile as he carried on the conversation.

"Why haven't you escaped?" It would be easy for a man like you to break through the flimsy security they have here."

"You give me too much credit."

"You could make it by yourself, but taking everybody with you would be tough. Is that why you stayed?"

Kaim gave him another strained smile, saying nothing.

Jemii was right. If he decided to escape on his own, it would be easy for him to climb over the fence. If, however, he manged to gain his freedom, the prisoners he left behind would be punished or, at the very least, would have to live with increasingly harsh security measures. The young soldiers abandoned in the camp would feel only despair.

If he was going to escape, it would have to mean getting everyone over the fence. Most of the others, however, were so wasted away that they were beginning to lose even the strength to go on living. Men like that could only be a draf on his own flight to freedom.

"You're a kind-hearted fellow, aren't you?" Jemii said.

"And you're a smart one, too, I'll bet."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Any soldier with as much experience as you has already seen the handwriting on the wall. The war is over. Another three days, maybe a week, and our side is going to announce a total surrender. Right now, we're just making our last stand out of sheer stubbornness. The second the war ends, you prisoners will go free, and we'll take youplace."

"Yes. And?"

"It'll just be a little longer. Really, all you have to do is hold on a little longer. You must know that as well as I do. So you're probably not even thinking of making the effort to escape."

When Kaim nodded, Jemii smiled and said, "That's fine. I'm just as fed up as you are with all the pointless fighting and hatred."

He looked up at the autumn sky, his profile marked by a number of deep wrinkles. On closer inspection, Kaim realized that some of those wrinkles were scars left by sword cuts.

"Let me tell you something, Kaim."

"All right."

"Our country doesn't have the strength left to make it through another hard winter. I knew that when summer was still here."

"I see..."

"I just wish we had given up sooner. Then there wouldn't have been so many young men killed in battle, and so many towns burned."

Jemii released a deep sigh and added, "When this war is over, we're going to have to do whatever your country tells us to do. We can't complain if we're enslaved or tortured to death by the young men who are now our prisoners of war."

Kaim could not assure him that would never happen.

As a mercenary, he would just go off seeking new employment when this war ended, but this was not true of the other prisoners of war. As the conquerors, they would now have peace. They would return to the lives they led before. But how many among them would be able to treat the vanquished people with kindness and respect?

"I think you'll know what I mean, Kaim, when I say you can be as cruel as you like to us old folks when the fighting ends, but please, I'm begging you, be decent to the young men and to the women and to the children. Don't do anything to them that will make them hate your country. Otherwise, there'll just be another war sometime in the future. Ten years, twenty years, thirty years, maybe even a hundred years from now. I don't want any more of this. Countries fighting each other, people hating each other..."

It happened that very moment.

The violent ringing of a bell began to echo throughout the camp. It was the bell in the watchtower, signaling an emergency meeting of the guards.

"Oh, well, gotta go," Jemii said, standing up. "Don't bother going back to work right away. Tell the other fellows everybody can have a little break."

He took a few steps before turning to say to Kaim with a smile, "You know, if we weren't enemies, I would've liked to have a drink with you sometime."

That was the last Kaim saw of Jemii as a guard.

The sun was overhead when Jemii left, but he did not come back even after it had begun sinking in the west.

The next time someone came into the enclosure it was to the cheers of the POWs welcoming the arrival of their countrymen.

"You're going to be all right now, men! The war is over!

It's a huge victory for our side!"

Jemii's country had agreed to a total surrender.

The guards assembled in the tower were stripped of their weapons, and anyone who resisted was killed on the spot.

"Get a move on there! Hurry up!"

The soldiers who, until a short time ago, had ruled the camp were herded into the enclosure with whips and under the threat of drawn swords.

The POWs, who until only moments ago had been under their rule, now lined up to stare at their former guards, and before anyone knew it, the guards were being cursed and stoned.

Hands tied, the soldiers could not ward off the stones, and before long they were drenched in blood.

Jemii was among them.

He started at Kaim, blood gushing from his forehead. His eyes showed no hatred or resentment. He simply gave Kaim a little nod, looking straight at him as if to say, Remember what I asked you to do.

Kaim shouted to the men surrounding these new prisoners,

"Stop it! Stop it! They've surrendered! Leave them alone!"

But, liberated from the fear of death and from days of humiliation, his young comrades, wild-eyed and screaming like animals, went on stoning their former guards.

"Can't you see who this is? It's Uncle Jemii! Stop it!"

One of the soldiers gave him a contemptuous snort and all but spit out the words, "The old !@#$%^& was just sucking up to us for when our side won."

Another soldier - the young man who had asked to shake Jemii's hand that day - shouted, "He might act like a good guy, but an enemy's an enemy! And besides, he's just some old geezer from a country we pounded into the dirt." He threw another stone at Jemii.

Kaim's shouts did no good.He started grabbing hands that were readying to hurl stones and smashing people in the face, but no one would listen to him.

The commander of the troops that had galloped to the rescue just grinned and said, "Good! Good! Get it out of your system!" and he handed swords to the unarmed men.

"Kill them all, and raise some victory cries while you're at it! Think of the humilation you endured as prisoners. Now's the time to get even!"

"No, stop it!" Kaim shouted. "The war is over!"

"Wait, I know you. You're a mercenary.

You're just spouting a lot of nonsense. A few good sword thrusts could shut that mouth of yours!"

The commander's aides took this as a signal to surround Kaim.

"Don't waste your time on him, men! Warriors of our beloved fatherland! Kill these soldiers first, and then we can attack the town. Set fires! Take the women! We won this war! This town, this country, everything belongs to us now!"

The commander laughed aloud, but in the next moment, his smile turned into a grimace. His aides were falling to the ground. Kaim had grabbed a sword from one of them, and now it flashed in his hand.

"Traitor! Somebody take him down!"

Kaim swung around and started for Jemii.

But it was too late.

The soldiers were already slashing wildly at the former guards, who had no means to defend themselves.

Standing amid the hellish scene of human butchery, Kaim saw it happen.

The old soldier, who had been kind because he knew all too well the link between war and hatred, fell to the ground without uttering a word, a hateful blade thrust into his back.

Kaim made a break for the camp gate.

He ran for all he was worth, a soundless roar reverberating inside him.

Why did people have to hate each other so?

Why did people have to fight each other so?

And why was it impossible for people to stop fighting and stop hating?

He did not know the answers to these questions.

Saddened and frustrated by his own incomprehension, Kaim ran at full speed through the rubble of the town.

A hundred years pass by.

"This is it, Kaim," the commander says with a smile. "I am enormously grateful for the magnificent job you've done. You can name your own reard when this war is over."

The last great offensive is about to begin.

This should bring the war to a close.

It has taken a hundred years.

After all these long, long years as a vassal state, the country that lost the war the year Kaim was a prisoner has raised its banner against the ruling power under which it endured such suffering in the last war.

The defeated country has spent a hundred years nurturing its hatred for the ruling power, passing the hatred down from parent to child to grandchild. The country that won the war a hundred years ago was too filled with a ruler's arrogance and insensitivity to notice what was happening. The only things that it has handed down from parent to child to grandchild are the scorn and contemptfor the "inferiour country" under its sway.

This war ends with almost disappointing ease.

The results are the exact opposite of the war a hundred years earlier.

No one knows on which side the goddess of victoryw ill smile if yet another war occurs a hundred years from now.

"All right, Kaim, name your reward."

Kaim answers the commander's question softly: "I don't need a thing."

"Why not? It's true that you're a mercenary, but you far outdid the regular troops. Our country wants to show its appreciation for your efforts."

"If that's how you really feel, I'd like you to promise me one thing."

"What's that?"

"Don't make your enemy hate you."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about treating the people of the defeated country with kindness and respect."

A shocked expression on his face, the commander laughs and says,

"Aren't you the softhearted one!"

Kaim, however, is deadly serious.

"This is the legacy an old man from your own country left me a hundred years ago."

"Enough," says the commander, still looking shocked. "Dismissed."

Kaim himself has no hope that Jemii's legacy will be fulfilled. The hundred-year journey he has taken since that fateful day in the camp has shown him only the selfishness and stupidity of the human race. It will be the same from her on out as well. Indeed, nothing has changed since long before he met Jemii.

And yet.

Back at his post, Kaim grips his sword and holds his breath.

It will change someday.

They will see someday.

I want to believe that.

Unless I believe it, I can't go on with my endless journey.

You know what I mean, don't you, Uncle Jemii?

Eyes closed, he can see Jemii's face smiling sadly.

The order goes out to the entire assembled force: "Charge!"

Within the rising clouds of dust, Kaim grips his sword and starts to run.

Think about it.

OOC: Lower Reps = More Wars

This is simpler. If you believe that war is good for the game (if you don't you are wrong), it stands to reason you should encourage it. Light reparations let us stretch our war legs far more often, while still encouraging political work to make yourself a winner (recovering would be actually harder with frequent wars). Further, much of the schoolboy emotional crying over this game seems to be a result of community destruction resulting from wars of elimination. Conversely, you have those who demand a pound of flesh to satisfy their own egos and self-importance. I assert that more frequent, less crippling wars will be healthier for the community at large. This is up for debate between reasonable minds, but I believe it.

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I have no strong opinion one way or the other on you as a person, but I tend to agree with what you're saying. However, I think most people who have been arguing with you about this were not confused about your purported stance, but were saying that you'd changed your opinion over the past months.

Whether that is true or not, I couldn't say.

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Seems to me that complete genocide would have been the best option for the conquering nation in that story you quoted.

They can't hate you if they're all dead.

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I have no strong opinion one way or the other on you as a person, but I tend to agree with what you're saying. However, I think most people who have been arguing with you about this were not confused about your purported stance, but were saying that you'd changed your opinion over the past months.

Whether that is true or not, I couldn't say.

For clarity, the implication was that my views were directly proportional to my power at any given moment. And given that this stance of mine has been around since the WoTC...this is not a recent thing.

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i agree with you Big W... I think that paying reps for more than 2-3 rounds... STUPID.. I've never thought Heavy reps were good.. I'd get bored and quit the game and just hang on IRC if that were the case...

I know you have been one for light reps / white peace for some time.

Our alliances may not be best buds in game.. but you and I are good and I respect your opinion on these things :)

oo/

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i have to also agree with this. i have never been a fan of harsh terms. in my opinion, the only alliance(s) who deserves to hand out any kind of terms are the actual victims (CnG in this case). everyone else should just give white peace. period. i honestly don't care how much damage others take, only the victims deserve reps. ever. and even then, light reps are far preferable to crippling reps.

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Seems to me that complete genocide would have been the best option for the conquering nation in that story you quoted.

They can't hate you if they're all dead.

Doesn't work to well in CN. Same with the real world :|

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In my mind, there are two ways to go about it. One, is to crush the enemy totally. Drive them from existence so you never have to worry about them coming up behind you again. A brutal tenet, but one that stands the test of time as a survival tactic. However, in most cases, and especially in CN (where immortality is actually a choice), it's better to go by the second way and treat those who you've conquered with a light touch.

To quote Sun Tzu:

"Treat the prisoners of war well, and care for them. This is called "winning a battle and becoming stronger.""

In fact, Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han used that same tactic against Meng Huo. Praising his captured soldiers and allowing them to return home unharmed. In the end, those soldiers captured Meng Huo at one point and turned him over to Zhuge Liang in memory of the compassion showed to them. In short, Zhuge won the hearts and minds of his enemies by treating them well.

Likewise, when Abe Lincoln was confronted by an adamant Unionist woman for speaking about mercy for the south, he responded:

"But madam, don't I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

'Nuff said.

Nice post, Big Woody.

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I understand where you're coming from and agree with most of it, but I wouldn't say that demanding back past reps contributes to the spiral of violence. By the very nature of the extreme inflation in tech, money, etc. that takes place in the Cyberverse over time, past reps will become increasingly insignificant amounts. Far more insignificant than they were when originally taken. But regardless, simply demanding the reps back does not perpetuate the cycle of violence because you're keeping the amount constant. First of all, it doesn't lead to ever rising reps, and second of all the alliance who originally took said reps has no real justification for taking reps should they be on the winning end of a future war.

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I understand where you're coming from and agree with most of it, but I wouldn't say that demanding back past reps contributes to the spiral of violence. By the very nature of the extreme inflation in tech, money, etc. that takes place in the Cyberverse over time, past reps will become increasingly insignificant amounts. Far more insignificant than they were when originally taken. But regardless, simply demanding the reps back does not perpetuate the cycle of violence because you're keeping the amount constant. First of all, it doesn't lead to ever rising reps, and second of all the alliance who originally took said reps has no real justification for taking reps should they be on the winning end of a future war.

If alliances were to stay the same for yours, that will be true. But if you realize that most alliances change quite a lot in terms of membership, even leadership, structure, in a course of a year, you will end up starting a new cycle, even if the numerical amount was the same.

A cycle of revenge hardly ever ends when one side did exactly as much wrong to the other as that side did to the one side. It will likely be one of many cycles of revenge until one side finally either ceases to demand retribution for a past wrong, or one side kills of the other once and for all.

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People have been saying this for months and even years, and they've all been right. They've also all been ignored.

I guess when it comes to the crunch (and leaders actually get in the position to make demands of another alliance) the thrill of being in a strong position takes over and short-term personal greed thrives, whilst the self-preservation instincts and the principled stands are shoved out onto the back step.

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Yep. I have some pretty strong feelings about you IC, but even my character would agree with this post.

The OOC part is easy and obvious.

Not for everyone, Aimee. Some people have resisted the urge to come to the trough.

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People have been saying this for months and even years, and they've all been right. They've also all been ignored.

I guess when it comes to the crunch (and leaders actually get in the position to make demands of another alliance) the thrill of being in a strong position takes over and short-term personal greed thrives, whilst the self-preservation instincts and the principled stands are shoved out onto the back step.

That is true of many alliances. Sparta comes to mind as an alliance that tries to impose reps to try and appear strong, Ramlins may be acting with similar egotistical motivations.

The other drive is some view reps as a "threat elimination" tool (CnG comes to mind at present, NPO in the past). Ironically, it is very much the opposite.

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Pretty much agreed here. Reps are for those who have been attacked, not for those who declare war.

I should note that the idea of magnanimity in victory is one that is relatively new to many of us, myself included. In my case it came from the reps imposed on various BLEU alliances (who were pre-emptively attacked) in the noCB war.

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If alliances were to stay the same for yours, that will be true. But if you realize that most alliances change quite a lot in terms of membership, even leadership, structure, in a course of a year, you will end up starting a new cycle, even if the numerical amount was the same.

A cycle of revenge hardly ever ends when one side did exactly as much wrong to the other as that side did to the one side. It will likely be one of many cycles of revenge until one side finally either ceases to demand retribution for a past wrong, or one side kills of the other once and for all.

well not only this but what about the alliances who were once strong but have lost members and/or NS? this also typically means they will have less in terms of tech/or cash. then there is the question of "zombie" alliances. what about them? VE was once part of WUT, as was Nordreich. do either incarnation of them deserve to be punished because a past incarnation was associated with WUT?

this whole issue of seeking reps back is a more difficult situation. i can easily see the justification but at the same time, can also see how it could easily perpetuate the revenge cycle of reps.

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i think people just get too caught up in things and forget this is a game. your family didn't die, u weren't tortured, u just sent a batch of tech/money out. that being said, this reminds me of a game we used to play wen i was a kid with a soccer ball. one person was in the middle and if we could pass the ball 31 times without him intercepting it, every1 would get a good clean punch at his shoulder. the catch was, that he would be the one picking who would be in the middle next. some people would take the quacker way and not punch at all, i used to get a punch in, but i would always have 3-4 people who gave harder punches than me. i always got to punch, but i would never get chosen to go in next. morale of the story is, dont be afraid to take wat u can, but never take enough for ur opponent to remember u

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