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Post 20 Jul 2015, 1:17 pm

One thing that seems a bit lost is a zero center power most certainly can be and usually is eliminated. He retains a vote until his elimination and that voting center can be taken from him with great ease and in fact nuking centers like this can possibly help an opponent.
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Post 20 Jul 2015, 10:50 pm

Has NWO ever been tried with nukes that only temporarily remove SCs? Still destroying units it hits of course, but SCs it hits recovering in, say, a year or two.

Among other things, you wouldn't have a steadily decreasing number of units on the board. Countries being nuked en masse would open up long term opportunities for their neighbours; if the US nukes Russia to oblivion, it would have to make sure some of the benefits go to allies. Geography would be a little more important than it is now in the endgame. Eliminating far-away nations would take more coordination.

The US and China, with their large number of expansion centres, would probably be hard to suppress. Of course their nukes won't be as good as they used to be either.
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Post 21 Jul 2015, 5:31 am

No it has not been done like that before but methinks you already answered why not. A game like that could certainly work but it would have to be done on a different map, tossing changes in willy nilly can be fun but they can and usually do ruin balance in other areas. Go ahead and redraw the map and add the rule twists, honestly, it's a lot of work but great fun and rewarding when it comes together!
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Post 21 Jul 2015, 7:28 am

Yes it would expose some balance issues; after all permanent SC destruction can work as an in-game map-balancing mechanism. I would have found Argentina even harder to deal with, for example.

No, I'll leave NWO design details to others, I'm too busy procrastinating on my own designs. :)
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Post 22 Jul 2015, 8:09 pm

Admiral Corncob wrote:I'd be interested to hear the commentary of some designers like Sendric and SuperAnt who have run games, and whether they intended this to be a tactic. I can say with complete certainty that Dave knew of this tactic well before this game, going back to before he ran the last game. I think that this tactic is a result of the important rule that a nation with votes is - and must be - allowed to vote.


Dave S. is likely going to chime in here at some point, and give you a list of counters for everything you (the royal you) thinks is overpowered.

(1) Yes, I absolutely knew about it, and (2) here I am :grin:

I'm only going to touch on the "eliminated" player still getting to vote as a result of the nuked votes for now. There have been some good points on other topics but I only have time for one right now. I'll get back to geography stuff later.

So part of the problem is that even though this isn't a perfect solution, there really aren't any other viable options. What I mean is that the other possible solutions here, for when a power is nuked but votes are not captured, have their own set of problems that can cause greater problems than simply having a nation effectively be a government-in-exile.

The typical idea that people get is to eliminate the player and leave the votes neutral (that is, voting no to all coalitions). This gets into nearly the exact opposite situation from the current reality, where one power can nuke "defensively" against a coalition. In a hypothetical world, what if I, Kenya, had just continually nuked Hanoi and Rangoon? China would never have been able to capture them but Vietnam would be eliminated. The result is that I'm actually reducing the enemy's portion of the total vote count and actually reducing the number of votes that could be cast against me (i.e. for other coalitions). Fewer votes in their hands means less of a chance of a protest coalition passing, thereby increasing my chances of victory.

Like I said, this is the exact opposite situation from the current reality. The core difference is that one is being used proactively to save or earn votes while the other is being used negatively to prevent others from gaining votes, removing them from play. The preference, in my opinion, should lean towards earning votes to win.


Another factor in this situation is that the harm done is arguably quite small. This sounds like I'm saying "meh, it doesn't matter much, so why bother changing it?" but I'm not. I'm saying that since there is always going to be some sort of damage in any rule we write. Before you give me a weird look, I can promise you that there are at least a half dozen players out there who will try and use the rules to their advantage, in a legitimate way, and find loopholes in any rule.

This particular game saw one of the most extreme versions of vote saving with Sri Lanka alive with 3 votes. That's unprecedented and was merely a fluke of the diplomatic realities. The fact is, the Africans could have gained 2 of the 3 votes but since we wanted to keep Brunei in "our" hands and were going to save SL anyway, there was no point wasting units otherwise. It was only to earn one extra votes. All that to say, this will likely never happen again on the scale that it did. It required a very special set of circumstances.

You should also keep in mind that this is only a slightly more drastic version of the tactic which involves saving someone's unit so the "enemy" doesn't gain control of their vote. That's why Saudi Arabia ended the game basking on the Australian beaches.

Now, the worst damage from this scenario is that a 0 SC power wins the game. This has happened. Is it fair? Perhaps not. The fact would remain that that power managed to convince enough people to vote for his/her victory despite owning zero SCs. I always liken the voting portion of this game to Survivor. That show has seen undeserving winners but, if the theoretical favourite to win did not do enough to earn the votes necessary to win the game, perhaps they actually deserve to lose?

This game comes down to two different levels: winning votes through muscle and winning votes through hearts. If that 35 SC power who has 14 votes alienated the entire board and couldn't earn more votes than the 0 SC power hanging on by a thread, I would argue the 35 SC power deserves to lose.

To summarize, the rule as is has only a minor impact on the game and, arguably, is an impact that a player is earning rather than being penalized for.


Finally, I need to touch on the game's simplicity, or lack thereof. This is an incredibly difficult game to learn. Well, to be accurate, it's easy to learn and very hard to become good at. There are so many intricacies that you need to pick up - and that's if you already have a background in diplomacy! So the goal when creating rules is to try and keep it simple and straightforward. Easy to understand.

The rule is, as it currently stands, very simple in its approach: Red votes do not transfer unless there is another power's unit in the territory during the winter. Gold votes do not transfer unless there is another power's unit in the territory during the winter and the power is eliminated.

Straightforward, two sentences, very easy to comprehend. Once you start adding ifs, ands or buts, you end up confusing new players and spending a stupidly large amount of time explaining the game to these players. Yes, you can run into some bizarre situations like a 0 SC power that is not yet eliminated. However, there is a very tangible value in keeping the rule as concise and clear as possible.
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Post 22 Jul 2015, 8:48 pm

zurn wrote:
Sassenach wrote:What you're saying is that if the right diplomatic circumstances occur then anything can happen. I get that, but it could apply to any nation. It doesn't automatically follow that the game is correctly balanced as a result.

This is a very important point. Pointing at a variety of results doesn't mean that the tactical positions are balanced.

(I also suspect the sample size here is quite small, but that's a separate point.)

I lied in the post above, I feel like doing one more post on an overarching point.

Actually, I'm not entirely saying that "if the right diplomatic circumstances occur then anything can happen." You aren't far off though, I was approaching that point.

What I am trying to say is that if the power, as designed purely on the map, is capable of having the full range of results, we are as close to balanced as we can get for that power. There are a couple of huge asterisks beside that comment. First of all, the fact is that you have several dozen powers on the board, all of which have varying degrees of (1) size, (2) isolation, (3) proximity to large powers, (4) geographical oddities, and (5) game-specific rules such as nuclear technology. Secondly, we simply don't have the time to playtest this map 1000 times. Each game takes 4-6 months. So we have the 15 runs or so that we have done and that's as good as we can get.

Given all of this, truly "balancing" this game is a mere fantasy. Tinkering can be done, absolutely. The problem is that tinkering with one power always affects the neighbours, which in turn affects their neighbours. So when we get into a situation where a power actually has a reasonable ability to succeed and it is dependent, primarily, on the diplomatic and tactical efforts of the player without being forced to such a decision by the geography, we can and should consider that power in relative balance.

You must also keep in mind that there is value in stability. People develop strategies and learn the ins and outs of this game. If you sit back and think about it, there are certain people who either win this game or are in serious contention much more often than anyone else. I would put forward that one of the biggest reasons why this is the reality is that they sit down and think through the rules more than some players think through the entire game. Old rules, yes, but especially the new rules. This goes for geography too. I can list off a half dozen people who spend 10+ hours per week simply looking at the map and wondering, thinking, evaluating options. Constantly tinkering with the map gives an extra advantage to those who want to sit and consider all the ramifications of each change.

Case in point: how many of you sat there and really thought through the ramifications of Sendric's shift from voting in year 8 to year 10? Seems trivial, no? Hah! I'll get into that debate later...

So where am I going with this, specific to Brazil? Well, when I redesigned the map, I looked at each power through three lights but it all comes down to one point: viability.

1) Does the power have reasonable access to SCs to start the game?

2) Does the power have multiple diplomatic and tactical options to start the game? Note: This is because limiting options also limits a power's viability due to others being able to exploit the limited options. Also note that this includes having fluid tactical options to continue realistic growth in several potential directions.

3) Does the power have access to votes in the medium and long term?

As an aside, the 3 1/2th major plank I tried to address was facilitating cross-continent battles as the map originally made that quite difficult. This isn't really a 4th major plank because it's really just a medium/long term extension of #2.

Back on topic, one of the major red flags I see when I look at a power's viability is a limit in the range of strategies are plausible. Mongolia used to exist between Russia and China. It definitely had some merit in causing friction in the Russia-China border. The problem? It had exactly two options: attack Russia or attack China. It was otherwise completely enveloped by the two.

If we look at powers like Cuba or Zambia, believe it or not, they were on my hit list for major renovations. Why? There appear to be multiple options for each player but no one could seem to actually pull it off. Now, Zac and Rob are gifted players and that has to be taken into account. But the fact remains that each power does have multiple options and this is proven as a possible success. So maybe there is just enough there to keep them as is.

Specifically on Brazil now, Brazil actually has it pretty good. They have access to a ton of SCs. They have access to votes in medium and long term. They definitely have many diplomatic and tactical options. Here's what I would do, though. I would look at either creating another neutral vote or moving an existing one into northeastern South America (i.e. Guyana) or in the mid-Atlantic. Why? This would give Brazil a bit more fluidity in moving north. There is a bit of a push to head southeast towards the bulk of votes there.

I don't mind having Brazil's capital in Sao Paolo. Why? Because it makes it slightly easier to capture. It isn't buried somewhere that would require a half dozen units to capture. Through fluke of other capital locations, we don't have that problem with anyone on the map of any size. The other reason is that it provides a bit more incentive for Africa to cross the Atlantic to invade.

That's really all for now. I'll be back tomorrow or Friday for other geographical stuff.
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Post 22 Jul 2015, 9:44 pm

It's the comparison to Argentina's situation that makes Brazil come up short. You can't analyze it in isolation.

Here's South America with the SCs a little more prominent:

Argentina's expansion can walk through a number of SC provinces without a break in the chain to 6 additional SCs. All 8 of these SCs will be in one connected blob, which makes it far easier to defend.

Brazil, meanwhile, has three SCs (one starting with a Wing), each of which connects to one other SC in three isolated islands. Brasilia doesn't even have the good graces to be connected to anything at all, nor Guyana. 5 separate SC islands, to get to the 8 contiguous SCs Argentina has. And Argentina's even an edge power...

Which is to say, denying there's issues with Brazil seems odd. And saying Sao Paolo is fine because it's more vulnerable is kind of going in the wrong direction, no?

Now, if you include Chile, then maybe it's balanced, I don't know. It makes a big difference.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 8:03 am

I put my suggestions/ in the thread in the variant lab thread for this variant, I think they're worth a read. It's also a bit uncomfortable that we have 2 threads which effectively discuss the same now.
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Post 29 Jul 2015, 7:13 am

For those interested, I have re-formatted the rules of the game in a way that will hopefully be more clear. I have posted those rules to my site here:

Note that I have not changed any of the basic rules of the game. That was not my intent. The intention here is simply to try making the existing rules easier to understand. If you feel like taking a look at it, please feel free to do so and if you have any comments regarding the format I would like to hear them.

For those of you interested (or not as the case may be) in the Hidden Units rules, I have included them as an optional rule, and made a few changes. I also added a spot for a second optional rule that's been kicking around in my head. I haven't yet fleshed it out, but I will probably need to do so soon just so my head doesn't explode. If it never gets used, so be it. I just want to have a spot to put it in case anyone else thinks it would be fun.