Case Study: RFI
The second blog post of case studies to discuss why the political game is/has been dead. This time I will spotlight my own bloc, Roll For Initiative (RFI). RFI consists of GATO, Legion, CLAWS, FTW & Argent. What makes this scattering of alliances at all responsible for the political scenario we find ourselves in? Well, I’m glad you read my rhetorical question and thus were forced to literally ask.
First and foremost, the criticism against RFI that is most often levied is related to their propensity for treaties. If you count the individual nation treaties (before the bloc’s existence) GATO has eleven currently. If you compare that to some alliances, even those within Oculus, that might seem like a lot. But why is having a lot of treaties a bad thing? First we have to consider why treaties are signed.
Typically, and most commonly, treaties are signed for two clear benefits: The military relationship and the political one. Sometimes these relationships are more political in nature (Argent-GATO) and sometimes they are more militaristic (GATO-Legion). Historically, these are often interconnected to some degree as well, and the majority of treaties that persist into these later stages of the game seem to not be related directly to either political or military benefits. (In our own case, arguably with MHA). These benefits are just one reason why an alliance signs a treaty though, more often than not, there’s also the element of friendship to consider (GATO-UCR). If we consider that an alliance may sign alliances for military benefits, for political benefits, or for reasons of friendship (because these alliances want to be on the same side in conflicts), then it automatically creates a lot of treaty ties. This generally does add to the security of a given alliance. If GATO were attacked tomorrow by UPN, there are quite a few allies who could come to the defense of GATO, and it would be easy to build a central coalition to defend the alliance.
In the case of the majority of RFI alliances, one could argue that they have too many treaties – not because they do not work but rather because they do. It is probably very difficult to roll an alliance like GATO because of its eleven treaties: Even coalition building is difficult because of pesky intelligence clauses. This also has a compounding effect once a bloc is signed. Any single treaty to the bloc (Argent-PPO), (Legion-Invicta), (CLAWS-TTK) also directly impacts all of the potential that could be exerted in attacks toward those alliances, creating a further paralytic state when it comes to military politics. When one considers the various Oculus connections to RFI (NPO-GATO, IRON-GATO, IRON-FTW, NpO-Legion, NPO-CLAWS, NPO-Argent, IRON-Argent) it becomes apparent how the treaty web in its current state can also act as a way of even further defending periphery allies. If TLR is attacked, one is at risk of both war from Oculus (NPO-TLR) but also RFI (GATO-TLR). And that’s just one example.
Treaty bloat and compounding issues that occur due to the nature of blocs are hardly the only applicable points of criticism though. Another problem (which is generally applicable abroad but very noticeable in RFI) is the perpetuation of the ‘old guard’. I don’t mean an old guard as in dating back to the origins of planet Bob, but rather to the same set of faces that have dominated these and similar alliances since at least 2014. Lowsten of Argent, Canik of FTW, Me, WANA and Kiloist in GATO, White Chocolate, Jazzy, Claude and Al in CLAWS. These are not new faces to governance. A lack of ‘fresh’ leadership and faces at the most top positions leads to a constriction on political dynamism. It is more difficult to change my mind about the value of, say, ODN after GATO & ODN drifted apart from my perspective because Osravan and I already know each other fairly well. We both know how the other person works and the other alliances, and for that very reason – Should those judgments lead to believing that a relationship is not fruitful, there will be no further development of it. In addition, the overall knowledge and relationships between various members results in a more cautious and pragmatic politics. When Argent was hit by the literal leader of GLoF just recently, Lowsten was diplomatic and arguably cautious in his approach to the scenario, which prevented a possible global war. One can levy complaints of a jaded leadership more broadly against a variety of alliances (Consider my friends in NpO, NPO or IRON as examples), but it is evident to me as I work within RFI most closely.
The next issue stems primarily from a combination of the two. RFI does not exist as an independent sphere outside of its direct members. There are very few alliances that could be considered to be part of an RFI sphere at this time. Any attempt to make such a list would be comprising alliances that are already inhabiting one pre-existing sphere. Part of that can be blamed on the lack of alliances, especially dynamic ones, but an equal or even greater share of the blame can fall on the lack of start-up protectorates that build into real alliances. One obvious barrier to this is the health of the overall game, but that hasn’t stopped some alliances from rising and falling over the past few years nonetheless.
Oh and speaking of the death of diverse alliances and how that creates one of the reasons that RFI helps perpetuate the current political system: They have too many merger AAs. It could be argued that the alliances that make-up FTW, CLAWS and even GATO (in its current active membership) should have stayed split apart. Bringing together active players only killed more diversity in the game and got rid of additional alliances that may have appealed to new or other players that already existed on the various AAs. It’s hard to say how much of a factor this is, but I recognize that it may also be a contributor to flattening politics, since it objectively decreases the amount of “active” political players.
The last and perhaps most obvious criticism of RFI in the political landscape is that it is an entirely untested sphere. It’s only conflict was the Snake Eyes War (as of yet) and that was only a test to the lower tier of the alliance. Most nations in RFI are in the mid and upper tiers, so it’s impossible to speculate on the military capacities of the bloc. As such, their political power is also unclear. The solution for determining RFI’s strength or weakness falls on fighting in a large scale war, but the only large scale war that can exist at this stage are against the ex-moralist sphere, their own allies (either via Polarsphere or Oculus-sphere). As such, that is simply unlikely to happen. RFI is not an overly aggressive sphere, and generally seeks diplomatic outcomes to situations rather than allowing them to escalate. The ex-moralists behave primarily defensively and would not create such situations. Oculus (and by extension Polarsphere) have both been content with the state of the game as elaborated on in the first case study. RFI is fundamentally unable to be tested without a stark change to the system. As a result, they are another force of momentum that paralyzes external foreign politics. Next up, it's Cobrasphere.