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Case Study: RFI


Tevron

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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.
 

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Lowsten of Argent ... leads to a constriction on political dynamism.

 

The only 'dyn-' I want to hear about with relation to Argent is my dynasty and the expanding legacy around it.

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It's really interesting to see your perspective on RFI as an insider, especially for me being very much an outsider. I know it's not easy to be critical of something you've put a lot of time helping to build, especially when other people will frequently do the job of criticizing it for you lol.

 

One of the biggest things I would dare to disagree with is the idea that mergers are bad, or that RFI is somehow preventing people from leading alliances. I think both of these can be easily shown to be a symptom of the lack of an active player base left in the game, and in fact are the only things keeping the game from really imploding. Running any alliance is hard, and running one with several dozen+ to a hundred members takes a lot of time and patience, which is a luxury that very few people have, much less are willing to give to this game of all things. It is in fact extremely easy to be allowed to lead almost any alliance except maybe the top 5 or 10ish; most alliances are just kind of existing, and if you fit in with the community (this is actually very important but not so much for the point I'm making), most people are more than happy to hand the reigns to someone willing to actually do the work of running things these days. To that end, I think folks like you, Canik, Lowsten, and others who have been dedicated to keeping their communities alive and well for several years is actually a good thing and even admirable. These people are providing a home that isn't crumbling for those who still feel sentimentally attached to this game but don't have time to do much except log in and chat with friends, which is more than I think 95% of the player base can say.

 

The same train of thought goes for mergers: being able to have a strong community that others will help manage is extremely desirable for most people these days. The political world isn't becoming stagnant because alliances are merging, but because the game is dying and simply can't support dozens of alliances worth of people who actually want to spend time managing trade circles and tech programs and recruiting messages and discord servers and...all the other things that a functioning alliance needs to manage. Mergers these days give communities the opportunity to stay alive while having those things managed for it, which prevents the game from collapsing.

 

All this isn't to say you're wrong that these political dynasties aren't preventing global politics from being more dynamic. I agree that someone who has led the same alliance for over half a decade is going to have much more rigid opinions about politics than a newer leader, and having an entire bloc full of alliances set up this way is going to struggle to shake things up very often. I really liked your other points too, especially the last one that RFI is sort of a victim of its own success in not having any way to prove that it's actually a successful bloc because of the way it's managed political relationships. I would just posit that, unlike your evaluation of Oculus, there maybe wasn't enough credit given to the positive or desirable aspects that have led RFI to have the influence it has on the political world.

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On 8/13/2020 at 2:29 AM, lilweirdward said:

It's really interesting to see your perspective on RFI as an insider, especially for me being very much an outsider. I know it's not easy to be critical of something you've put a lot of time helping to build, especially when other people will frequently do the job of criticizing it for you lol.

 

One of the biggest things I would dare to disagree with is the idea that mergers are bad, or that RFI is somehow preventing people from leading alliances. I think both of these can be easily shown to be a symptom of the lack of an active player base left in the game, and in fact are the only things keeping the game from really imploding. Running any alliance is hard, and running one with several dozen+ to a hundred members takes a lot of time and patience, which is a luxury that very few people have, much less are willing to give to this game of all things. It is in fact extremely easy to be allowed to lead almost any alliance except maybe the top 5 or 10ish; most alliances are just kind of existing, and if you fit in with the community (this is actually very important but not so much for the point I'm making), most people are more than happy to hand the reigns to someone willing to actually do the work of running things these days. To that end, I think folks like you, Canik, Lowsten, and others who have been dedicated to keeping their communities alive and well for several years is actually a good thing and even admirable. These people are providing a home that isn't crumbling for those who still feel sentimentally attached to this game but don't have time to do much except log in and chat with friends, which is more than I think 95% of the player base can say.

 

The same train of thought goes for mergers: being able to have a strong community that others will help manage is extremely desirable for most people these days. The political world isn't becoming stagnant because alliances are merging, but because the game is dying and simply can't support dozens of alliances worth of people who actually want to spend time managing trade circles and tech programs and recruiting messages and discord servers and...all the other things that a functioning alliance needs to manage. Mergers these days give communities the opportunity to stay alive while having those things managed for it, which prevents the game from collapsing.

 

All this isn't to say you're wrong that these political dynasties aren't preventing global politics from being more dynamic. I agree that someone who has led the same alliance for over half a decade is going to have much more rigid opinions about politics than a newer leader, and having an entire bloc full of alliances set up this way is going to struggle to shake things up very often. I really liked your other points too, especially the last one that RFI is sort of a victim of its own success in not having any way to prove that it's actually a successful bloc because of the way it's managed political relationships. I would just posit that, unlike your evaluation of Oculus, there maybe wasn't enough credit given to the positive or desirable aspects that have led RFI to have the influence it has on the political world.

 

I'm happy that you've joined the discussion! I disagree with your point about mergers though. I think mergers have genuinely never been all too successful in the history of CN. CLAWS & FTW might be the exceptions, (And to some extent GATO) but if that's true, then they are the only exceptions in the history of Cyber Nations. Many many merger alliances have come and gone including AI, my own ally TLR, CoTM, Last Call, Non Grata, my former alliance Atlas, and the list goes on. In all cases, the initial peaks of activity were quickly eroded because there were not enough positions of activity for such active communities. Mergers always centralize power and reduce the number of people total that govern over its constituent bodies. So, you get less active players in key roles AND there are less active players in other alliances to do exciting things. Credit on the last point to James Spanier (Lowsten). 

I didn't feel like singing praises to a bloc that's so near to my heart. It would probably come off as a bit too biased but maybe I over-corrected a little.

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Yeah that's a fair point I suppose. I mean, I would argue that if 2 of the 5 most powerful alliances in the game are essentially a complete result of mergers, then the concept can't be universally bad. You are right that mergers centralize power, and that certainly does make the game less politically diverse, although I guess I'm suggesting that that's not necessarily always a bad thing, at least not to the people who are giving up some or most of their power in order to centralize it. Also, plenty of alliances have failed and died whether they merged with other alliances or not, so I'm not sure how useful of an indicator that is.

 

Regardless, I definitely understand not wanting to seem biased to your own bloc. The whole point of the series seems to be about how each power center in the game has contributed to the political stagnation that we see today, which doesn't exactly suggest a ton of compliments for anyone lol. Your last post though suggested that you were going to not just be criticizing people, but trying to help figure out and explain why the problems came about and what positive or negative forces are preventing the situation from changing. In the case of Oculus, it was the desire and ability to win and continue winning that was leading them to help control and stagnate the world to the point we see it at today. I'm just saying that the same thing maybe could have been done here for RFI, especially for issues such as high numbers of treaties and tendency towards mergers and political dynasties, which must have happened and are still being maintained because of some positive and/or negative force that is keeping them in place and disincentivizing change.

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11 hours ago, lilweirdward said:

if 2 of the 5 most powerful alliances in the game are essentially a complete result of mergers, then the concept can't be universally bad.

These blog posts aren't about whether or not merger alliances can be powerful though. If it were I would talk about some of the positives, such as expanding the influence of the individual constituent alliances into something much more real, creating better tierage, etc. But when it comes to politics, mergers tend to be a bad thing for the overall health of the world.

 

11 hours ago, lilweirdward said:

Also, plenty of alliances have failed and died whether they merged with other alliances or not, so I'm not sure how useful of an indicator that is.

It's a useful indicator when we consider political roles. There has never been a world leading or factional leading merger alliance, because almost all of them broke up due to infighting or were paper tigers since they had no standardized milcom. These historical realities are why they are indicators. Certainly history isn't predictive, but it's better than nothing.

 

11 hours ago, lilweirdward said:

'm just saying that the same thing maybe could have been done here for RFI, especially for issues such as high numbers of treaties and tendency towards mergers and political dynasties, which must have happened and are still being maintained because of some positive and/or negative force that is keeping them in place and disincentivizing change.

I do think there are some positives here, but I would suggest they are mainly tied to security. RFI alliances don't live in the seeming fear of a permanent dogpile that most alliances did since the formation of Oculus. All these treaties create a precarious balance which does prevent global wars to some degree, but only ones that are horrendously unbalanced. If we consider the last time NADC was rolled, we can see that RFI functioned as a bloc since the war wrapped up rather quickly, it did not explode into a rolling of the entire ex-moralist sphere, and that was entirely due to their tie to Argent. So yeah, I agree that there are areas that could be highlighted as positive or not, but talking about the positives from an insider perspective is also a lot more sensitive since I know a lot more about what the bloc is doing/thinking etc.

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