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Post 04 Aug 2015, 8:12 am

GMTom wrote:in the WW4 game you could certainly remove voting, no doubt. That's really not an option in NWO.
Zurn, The more you talk, the more it becomes apparent your idea will not work as desired. Go ahead and dismiss what I have said and learn for yourself. My statements are based on a lot of history and tweaking of the game well over a decade now, yours are based on "feeling" only. Nothing wrong with that, this is how change is begun! But if you refuse to learn from history, then you have a lot more trial and error to work through. Have at it, host your game with your rules but do me a favor and call it something else. If you want a totally different game, then please distance yourself from the original and put your own stamp on it.


You can feel free to explain in detail why you think my ideas won't "work as desired". I've given plenty of examples. That you're confusing my proposals and Stephan's ideas probably doesn't help. I've very much learned from history, I see how the game plays out; I just wouldn't call it as satisfying as it could be. You refuse to even acknowledge kingmaking as an issue, so I think we probably have very different design objectives. I don't think you should feel so threatened by suggestions and criticism. I really don't care about making my own NWO variant, but I do like talking about game design. And if my suggestions help address some of what I think are issues in NWO, than that would be nice as I'd be more excited to play it again.
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 8:37 am

You have seen the game played out and do not like the outcome. But this is based on how many games? The last two games had changed the rules and the setup drastically. Basing any such outcomes on these past two games is not fair. No kidding those outcomes were not satisfying, they used experimental rules that may well be fun but need tweaking to work to a decent end-game, they also had some drastic changes to power numbers and balances.

We can not discuss NWO end-game design if you want to discuss these past two games.
Let's say we played Poker and changed the rules so that 2's, 3's and 4's were all wild. We also deal each player 6 cards instead of 5. We play this game two times and then discuss how much poker sucks. Poker has too many wild cards, poker has too much chance at having a "perfect" hand, etc.
We really are not discussing Poker now are we? Is it fair to say Poker is too easy if we are discussing these different rules? The poker variant is too easy maybe but not poker. same here, NWO is one game, trying to talk about the problems with the end game while using as your base these games that were so different is not apt now is it?

Is the base NWO game perfect?
Absolutely not!!!!
But is it fairly well balanced and time-tested to the point we have a game that is satisfying to most? certainly!

The base game not being perfect can be discussed, the new game ideas can be discussed, but we can't lump them together as one, that is my problem. If you want to argue the base game should have different end-game rules and use base game examples as your reasoning, then please do so! That game was never perfect and due to the imbalance probably never will be. But please do not use examples from a different game to support your opinions.
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 8:47 am

You asked for an example
You stated
The 3-coalition-win limit is at odds with the way the players really think of the game; why not have a victory system that actually reflects the state of the game?

I take issue with that statement
First off this is YOUR opinion of how players feel about the game. This is Diplomacy at heart and in Dip we make and break alliances all the time, alliances are not supposed to be unbreakable and ever-lasting. You can make a very good argument that having such coalition wins where a pact could be held the entire game is counter to the entire concept and I could agree with that. The problem is we have no other way to give all players a fair shot at an end game win unless we do some sort of vote based on size. Having one winner simply can not happen in this particular variant of incredible imbalance.

If players fail to grasp the end game procedures, then they are not playing the game correctly, if they think they can win by anything different than the rules spell out, then why do we worry about them? Fools should not be catered to.

The "state of the game" is one where we have an end game vote of three powers. If we allow more, then we lose balance, if we allow more, then we lose balance. If we allow different possibilities, then we have players all playing a different game with different goals. It should be clear what the end result is to be, adding more or less powers to that mix only muddies the waters. To claim people are playing it a different way, that's 1) not true and 2) not relevant if you have a handful of morons you want to cater to.
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 9:54 am

GMTom wrote:You have seen the game played out and do not like the outcome. But this is based on how many games? The last two games had changed the rules and the setup drastically.


What were the drastic changes in GotWD? Wasn't it just terrorists, which had hardly any effect?

GMTom wrote:You asked for an example
You stated
The 3-coalition-win limit is at odds with the way the players really think of the game; why not have a victory system that actually reflects the state of the game?

I take issue with that statement
First off this is YOUR opinion of how players feel about the game. This is Diplomacy at heart and in Dip we make and break alliances all the time, alliances are not supposed to be unbreakable and ever-lasting. You can make a very good argument that having such coalition wins where a pact could be held the entire game is counter to the entire concept and I could agree with that. The problem is we have no other way to give all players a fair shot at an end game win unless we do some sort of vote based on size. Having one winner simply can not happen in this particular variant of incredible imbalance.


Using the point system I laid out addresses these concerns. A one-nation win, regardless of the power class, would be incredibly hard and unlikely, even if you're the US, who would need 32 votes in my last proposal, all on its own; the higher difficulty is the balancing factor, an E power only needs 22, and only adds 2 to a multi-player win compared to 12 for the US, making it more likely it'll be invited to help with a win. Advantages to the E power, disadvantages for the A power.

And as I explained multiple times, having a game end in a vote that simply awards whoever's roughly in the top 3 will *discourage* the breaking of alliances, which we both want. In the current system, you have a better shot if you just stay nice with as many people as possible (which you can only really do if you're already winning), hoping you *might* get the votes in the end. How does this encourage the breaking of alliances, which you supposedly want? 11 nations voted for the last winning coalition, including the 7-power alliance that in no way broke up to do so. They all just hoped for the best and stuck to the alliance, and some combination of 3 of them won. And really they thought of it as a team win anyways (which is fine).

I actually think you *don't* want to encourage breaking alliances; you keep talking about people being upset when there are backstabs, and people not feeling good and that being terrible for the game. If you want to minimize that, sure, stick to a system that discourages turmoil in the endgame and just ends with a sudden vote.

GMTom wrote:If players fail to grasp the end game procedures, then they are not playing the game correctly, if they think they can win by anything different than the rules spell out, then why do we worry about them? Fools should not be catered to.


OK, so just so we're clear, you think people who vote for others to win, or allow themselves to be kept alive as a 1-vote power just so they can vote for someone else, are fools. Good, I'm glad you think so, I agree. Although it's interesting that you consider the exploitation of such fools a key and *positive* part of the current design (your example above where you mentioned keeping someone alive in Brazil). Really? The design you favour counts on there being fools to exploit in order to work to your satisfaction?

GMTom wrote:The "state of the game" is one where we have an end game vote of three powers. If we allow more, then we lose balance, if we allow more, then we lose balance. If we allow different possibilities, then we have players all playing a different game with different goals. It should be clear what the end result is to be, adding more or less powers to that mix only muddies the waters. To claim people are playing it a different way, that's 1) not true and 2) not relevant if you have a handful of morons you want to cater to.


You're not really saying much here other than "3 is a magic number".
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 11:26 am

zurn wrote:Using the point system I laid out addresses these concerns. A one-nation win, regardless of the power class, would be incredibly hard and unlikely, even if you're the US, who would need 32 votes in my last proposal, all on its own; the higher difficulty is the balancing factor, an E power only needs 22, and only adds 2 to a multi-player win compared to 12 for the US, making it more likely it'll be invited to help with a win. Advantages to the E power, disadvantages for the A power.


While I am intrigued by the idea of allowing a solo victory, particularly one which would be extremely difficult to achieve, I disagree with the notion that we need to grant more advantages to the E nations. We've played the game many times now and we have seen a wide variety of coalitions and nations achieve victory. This would seem to indicate that we have a pretty well-balanced mechanism for winning already in place.

zurn wrote:And as I explained multiple times, having a game end in a vote that simply awards whoever's roughly in the top 3 will *discourage* the breaking of alliances, which we both want. In the current system, you have a better shot if you just stay nice with as many people as possible (which you can only really do if you're already winning), hoping you *might* get the votes in the end. How does this encourage the breaking of alliances, which you supposedly want? 11 nations voted for the last winning coalition, including the 7-power alliance that in no way broke up to do so. They all just hoped for the best and stuck to the alliance, and some combination of 3 of them won. And really they thought of it as a team win anyways (which is fine).


You keep citing the results from the last game as to why certain things should change. This sort of thing has been discussed in the past. In Fire and Blood, we introduced a Chinese colony in Africa. China went on to dominate most of Africa in that game (until getting nuked), and afterwards there were suggestions that the colony made China too powerful. Since the opinion was based on only one game I chose to keep the colony when I ran GotWD, and the results were quite the opposite. The Chinese colonial unit was kicked out of Africa altogether and relegated to a small portion of the Middle East. The point is this, the results of one game do not necessarily indicate whether a new or existing rule is out of balance.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that you are suggesting that by allowing larger coalitions a chance for victory, we would be encouraging the breaking of alliances. I don't really agree with this assessment, and I'm not really clear on why it would really make a difference. You keep citing the last game, so let's use that as an example. If the game played out exactly the same as the last one, but with the ability to have larger coalitions, wouldn't it just have been a slightly larger coalition within that alliance that won instead of the results we got? If we added Congo to that winning coalition, wouldn't it have still won? If your beef is with that 11-nation alliance out-voting everyone else, what's the difference between Cuba-Kenya-Zambia vs Congo-Cuba-Kenya-Zambia? I'm very curious about how you think it would have played out had this rule been in effect. Personally, I don't think it would have made much of a difference.

You also seem to be saying that by having a 3-nation coalition, we are going to just vote for "whoever's roughly in the top 3". Wouldn't expanding the coalition to 4 nations just make it so that we are voting for "whoever's roughly in the top 4"? That doesn't seem like it really makes much of a difference other than we're allowing an extra player to win, which is nice, but is it actually better?
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 12:13 pm

Sendric wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that you are suggesting that by allowing larger coalitions a chance for victory, we would be encouraging the breaking of alliances. I don't really agree with this assessment, and I'm not really clear on why it would really make a difference. You keep citing the last game, so let's use that as an example. If the game played out exactly the same as the last one, but with the ability to have larger coalitions, wouldn't it just have been a slightly larger coalition within that alliance that won instead of the results we got? If we added Congo to that winning coalition, wouldn't it have still won? If your beef is with that 11-nation alliance out-voting everyone else, what's the difference between Cuba-Kenya-Zambia vs Congo-Cuba-Kenya-Zambia? I'm very curious about how you think it would have played out had this rule been in effect. Personally, I don't think it would have made much of a difference.


Here's what I wrote last time regarding various combos, keeping in mind the thresholds I used were calculated assuming you can't vote for coalitions that don't include you (raise them otherwise):

---
The last game's Afr+NA team would have needed 48 votes to get all 7 into a winning coalition, they had 42. If only the E's banded together (Cuba+Afr) they would have had 27, one shy of the 28 needed for a 4-E victory. Adding Mexico would change the target to 31, and they'd have 32 votes. Adding Canada would change the target to 36, and they'd have 37 votes...
---

3 E's would need 26 votes, but the actual winning coalition only had 20 on their own at game end.

I actually do not have a favoured outcome from this point in the game, that's not my point. All 7 want to stick together and take the victory together? Fine, great, they deserve it, make it official (although their opponents will have a little more time to try and fight it). Or maybe a subset wants to grab a smaller (and therefore greater) coalition victory, then maybe the others get upset and do something about it, maybe getting lured by unsatisfied opponents outside the alliance. Exciting, that's good too; it's like reducing the draw size in Diplomacy.

The important point is that *capping* it at 3 takes all the tension out of it, especially since the vote is likely to be final. Best strategy is to not rock the boat and hope somehow you end up in the winning coalition. Rather than struggling for it, fighting for it, or negotiating a larger coalition and being a part of that.

And by doing that, by adding flexibility, you make being part of the winning coalition so much more meaningful. And so hopefully people will fight more over it, rather than just hoping for the best at election time.

A 7 player alliance, with 4 helpers, anointing 3 winners? That's less satisfactory. The line between winner and loser is clearly blurred. But maybe you want that. I feel it makes the game less competitive, and therefore less interesting than it could be.

Regarding different versions of the game, I did see the previous game's results and factored it into my thinking as best I could; I know it had a weird pirate faction that was controversial. I don't have results from any other instances, so if you can point me to those or email me the details that could be interesting!

There is an additional factor that slows end-game fighting though, the emptying out of the board from nukes which tends to lock up the game. That's why I included making nuke SC damage temporary in my last proposal.
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 12:37 pm

zurn wrote:Here's what I wrote last time regarding various combos, keeping in mind the thresholds I used were calculated assuming you can't vote for coalitions that don't include you (raise them otherwise):

---
The last game's Afr+NA team would have needed 48 votes to get all 7 into a winning coalition, they had 42. If only the E's banded together (Cuba+Afr) they would have had 27, one shy of the 28 needed for a 4-E victory. Adding Mexico would change the target to 31, and they'd have 32 votes. Adding Canada would change the target to 36, and they'd have 37 votes...
---

3 E's would need 26 votes, but the actual winning coalition only had 20 on their own at game end.


Fair enough, but it's not difficult to imagine a scenario where if these rules were in place, the 3 E's could have garnered an extra center before the voting season, and giving us the same result.

zurn wrote:The important point is that *capping* it at 3 takes all the tension out of it, especially since the vote is likely to be final. Best strategy is to not rock the boat and hope somehow you end up in the winning coalition. Rather than struggling for it, fighting for it, or negotiating a larger coalition and being a part of that.


What makes you say this is the best strategy? The people who won fought quite hard to get those votes. They didn't just sit back and hope for the best. They grew militarily, and used diplomacy to gather enough votes to win.

Here's what I think you are missing in all of this. What happened at the end of last game can be summarized as such: Congo, Kenya, and Zambia were an alliance all game long. Cuba, Mexico, USA, and Canada were an alliance all game long. Near the end, it became apparent to Kenya and Zambia that they would not have enough votes to win, so they approached Cuba to make him the third and cut out Congo. Cuba agreed, and used his connection with the other North American nations to push the winning coalition of Cuba-Kenya-Zambia to the front. This was a hard-fought victory that did not rely on "not rocking the boat". Kenya and Zambia, in fact, did rock the boat by cutting out their game-long ally in Congo. Likewise, Cuba took advantage of the offer to join Kenya and Zambia, effectively leaving his game-long allies twisting in the wind. Personally, if I were one of Canada, Mexico or Congo I would have been pretty annoyed. Even USA could have had a reason to be upset. For whatever reason, it would appear they were satisfied with how the game ended.

I'm not saying that your method wouldn't be an improvement on the game. Perhaps it would be. I'm just not sure that the problem you are trying to fix actually exists.

I'm also against the idea that you can only vote for coalitions you are in. What's the point of voting then? Once a coalition gets enough voting centers, we could just name them the winners.

zurn wrote:There is an additional factor that slows end-game fighting though, the emptying out of the board from nukes which tends to lock up the game. That's why I included making nuke SC damage temporary in my last proposal.


A nice idea, but that's a pain in the ass for the GM. In any case, we've discussed and tried so many different iterations of ideas for how nukes work, and we always come back to the same place. At this point, I'd just as soon leave things as is for nukes.
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 12:42 pm

and I can not recall any game that simply voted for the top three powers. I can not say for certainty it never happened (because just about anything CAN happen the way things are set up) but no, that does not happen. I mentioned these past two games being run with vastly different rules and number of powers and starting positions, etc. yet still Zurn sticks to these as his examples and says terrorism "hardly" made any difference. Any difference tumbles like dominoes but even if that rule change had little effect, what about the number of nations that played? What about where they started? Those changes are HUGE yet you fail to discuss their impact.

No, the two games recently played were NWO flavored games, they may have tasted similar and heck, you could have even enjoyed them more but they are not the same and making such drastic decisions based on your variation games is a bit foolhardy, he wishes us to ignore history and go with the goof poker game I mentioned.
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 12:51 pm

The important point is that *capping* it at 3 takes all the tension out of it...

So by capping coalitions, we "take tension out"? and adding a fourth or fifth member I guess adds tension? That's just the opposite of reality. Add more nations to the end game vote and you have less tension, simple as that! In what world does 4 or 5 have more tension than only 3?

Again, I would agree that adding options for FEWER could increase tension further (a good thing) but then you lose out on balance and the middle sized powers are screwed like never before. in my opinion, the larger guys have plenty of benefits already, the smaller guys have plenty of benefits (if they can make it past the first several years), it's the middle powers who have it the toughest and this discussion of helping the E's or harming/helping the big guys is nonsense. Look to help the mid sized powers and you may be on to something but these ideas do nothing but make life miserable for them. funny how the base game seems to have all power sizes find ways to reach a win but you want to "fix" it???
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 1:01 pm

Sendric wrote:Fair enough, but it's not difficult to imagine a scenario where if these rules were in place, the 3 E's could have garnered an extra center before the voting season, and giving us the same result.


The top 3 E's were 4 short, not 1 (African Es were 6 short). 4 E's were one short.

Sendric wrote:What makes you say this is the best strategy? The people who won fought quite hard to get those votes. They didn't just sit back and hope for the best. They grew militarily, and used diplomacy to gather enough votes to win.


I meant best for those not in the top 3-ish. Those that were in the top 3-ish did indeed fight hard to get there, no argument.

Sendric wrote:Here's what I think you are missing in all of this. What happened at the end of last game can be summarized as such: Congo, Kenya, and Zambia were an alliance all game long. Cuba, Mexico, USA, and Canada were an alliance all game long. Near the end, it became apparent to Kenya and Zambia that they would not have enough votes to win, so they approached Cuba to make him the third and cut out Congo. Cuba agreed, and used his connection with the other North American nations to push the winning coalition of Cuba-Kenya-Zambia to the front. This was a hard-fought victory that did not rely on "not rocking the boat". Kenya and Zambia, in fact, did rock the boat by cutting out their game-long ally in Congo. Likewise, Cuba took advantage of the offer to join Kenya and Zambia, effectively leaving his game-long allies twisting in the wind. Personally, if I were one of Canada, Mexico or Congo I would have been pretty annoyed. Even USA could have had a reason to be upset. For whatever reason, it would appear they were satisfied with how the game ended.


Well, I think this blurring of the victory lines contributes to this attitude. What if Cuba's allies could have demanded that they be included in a large coalition with the African countries? And hold back their votes for any smaller one? With 3 being the max, and not being in the top 3, they figured they were out regardless

Good point about Congo; too bad the game was over before he could realize he'd been "vote-stabbed" (although technically Zambia and Kenya did vote vote the 3 African coalition, but maybe they knew it would fail).

Sendric wrote:I'm also against the idea that you can only vote for coalitions you are in. What's the point of voting then? Once a coalition gets enough voting centers, we could just name them the winners.


They're like special victory point objectives, distributed with a view to balancing against power class disparity. Like I said, you could just raise the numbers in my proposals and allow free voting as normal. It's kingmaking, but whatever, people seem to like being kingmakers (that of course by definition can't win). It might be ending games prematurely though, and makes it more prone to metagaming, in addition to kingmaking being an undesirable game effect to begin with.

Sendric wrote:
zurn wrote:There is an additional factor that slows end-game fighting though, the emptying out of the board from nukes which tends to lock up the game. That's why I included making nuke SC damage temporary in my last proposal.


A nice idea, but that's a pain in the ass for the GM. In any case, we've discussed and tried so many different iterations of ideas for how nukes work, and we always come back to the same place. At this point, I'd just as soon leave things as is for nukes.


Perhaps you're right then if you've tried. I'm curious, what did you try exactly?
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Post 04 Aug 2015, 11:16 pm

Again, I would agree that adding options for FEWER could increase tension further (a good thing) but then you lose out on balance and the middle sized powers are screwed like never before.


I think we're in agreement, Tom!
Middle-sized powers could be treated more like small powers to give them a better fighting chance as far as voting is concerned, with a combination of reducing the votes they need and increasing the votes which the other powers need, or just one of those.

Do you agree with adding the option of smaller draws, though? Exact numbers can be discussed then, you probably know better than me how much of a boost the middle powers need. I guess I don't really care about whether there's a hardcap at 3 or more is technically possible but much harder.

Edit: I also wonder if middle-sized powers are perhaps treated wrong by their players. Most of them don't seem to really accept that they start out inferior to A/B powers.

I had a great thing going with Brazil, but then he was replaced. I think C powers ought to consider *themselves* D or E powers in a way, not overestimating their own strength. They only have one more center, after all.

Long story short: I'm not entirely certain whether the poor performance can be blamed entirely on imbalance rather than a wrong approach to them, but I agree C powers are at least at a slight disadvantage. Reduce their relative votes needed or perhaps give them an extra SC and I think the problem is mostly solved.
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Post 05 Aug 2015, 5:25 am

You can not treat mid sized guys like small guys or then their power is too great, we would have no reason to work with the tiny powers, it's all about balance. Add more powers to the mix or take one away and you get that balance out of whack. Again, every example for allowing more or less in the end game vote have been using games where the rules and powers have been changed.

Now you start talking about giving C's better vote requirements or giving them another center. It seems to me you are trying to change the game to fit your vote idea. The base game is not broken as so many are arguing here. C's finish in the win quite often! It' these past two games that are being discussed, these had different rules that affected the games but ALSO had fewer players and different balance right from the start!
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Post 05 Aug 2015, 7:00 am

GMTom wrote:It's these past two games that are being discussed, these had different rules that affected the games but ALSO had fewer players and different balance right from the start!


For the record, and in the interest of fairness, I just want to be on record as saying that the new rules introduced in the last game really didn't impact the outcome all that much. Of the two things, I would say the fewer players had more impact, but even that is marginalizing how the game played out. The three winners were Kenya, Zambia, and Cuba, none of whom were significantly impacted by the total number of players. In fact, I would argue that the only nation who was significantly impacted was Argentina, whose early growth in the last two games has been largely uncontested due, at least in part, to a missing Chile nation. As for the Hidden Unit rules, only four nations had them, and of those four, only one played a significant role in the end-game: Zambia. Even then, the impact was limited because he established himself as a strong nation before making use of that unit to further his position.
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Post 05 Aug 2015, 7:15 am

steephie22 wrote:I had a great thing going with Brazil, but then he was replaced. I think C powers ought to consider *themselves* D or E powers in a way, not overestimating their own strength. They only have one more center, after all.


EDIT: Misread the post, deleted irrelevant info. Who overestimated their strength?

Don't worry, you wouldn't have fared better with the old Brazil around... he would have been even weaker due to you sucking 1BB out of him every year, remember? And I don't see how it would have fixed your relations with everyone else.
Last edited by zurn on 05 Aug 2015, 8:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post 05 Aug 2015, 7:35 am

Seriously, Tom, was temporary nuke SC damage ever tried? Wouldn't mind seeing how that turned out. If not, whatever, maybe it'll be tried someday...