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Post 27 Jul 2015, 8:59 am

I make no bones about my play in the game or my demise; and what I'm writing here has no direct bearing that I know of on my last participation.

But I do want to add my opinion that metagaming is not good - if it is happening - nor is making alliance deals before the game starts. Coming into a game (even Standard) with an agreed-upon alliance corrupts the very basis of the game, be it Standard or Variant. It makes all negotiations phony and turns the game into trench warfare, at best. But not diplomacy. In my circle of gamers, we used to call this suck-d**k diplomacy.

For a fact, I do not know if this situation occurred in GOTWD. I do know that alliances were made early on and kept throughout the game. That is fine and quite normal. And reputations often precede us, as Sassenach noted to Steve. But that is not meta-gaming, per se, unless it becomes an automatic response by other players. No matter how I've been treated by a player, if I run into that player in another game, I'll be cautious but give them the benefit of a doubt. I think most players work this way.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 10:19 am

I didn't notice any evidence of metagaming in my region. I came into the game off the back of having had a major spat with Randy in the last game and with every reason to suspect that working with him would prove to be impossible, but in reality both of us just shrugged and got on with it and the relationship worked out very well. By contrast, I might have had reason to expect that Russia would have been open to working with me since the two of us were part of an unbreakable game-long alliance in the game before, but in the event he barely spoke to me all game this time round and clearly had no interest in me at all.

I honestly don't think there's any metagaming here, other than the obvious fact that we mostly know each other very well and make decisions based on our perception of the quality of the player, which is unavoidable. I don't see how anonymising it could ever be made to work, and I wouldn't want that to happen anyway. I like the interaction I have with the players here.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 10:28 am

Yeah I doubt there was anything seriously bad going on. Metagaming can mean a lot of things, and it's a sliding scale from "inevitable things you see in semi-social gaming" to "real money bribes".

I don't think metagaming is what caused the UK's troubles.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 10:55 am

I agree my defeat can't be blamed on metagaming and perhaps metagaming isn't the right word, but to give an example, France stated in his EOG that he wasn't particularly interested in allying with me because he saw me as aggressive in our last game.

For the record, my defeat was sealed the moment Brazil died, but I also found out that my words are quickly taken as aggressive in this crowd, so I certainly learned from that, especially since I didn't mean to be aggressive but to the point. I also simply played a bad game in general, I was totally unable to make a decent time investment, just didn't expect that I guess. This game also takes some getting used to, for obvious reasons. I can't say I was playing the same game when I was Japan, either.
I also really didn't want UK and was in fact praying for China :-)

Anyway, this isn't about me.

I think it is indeed a matter of reputation rather than pre-agreed upon alliances, but because of the way the game is designed, something entirely different happens compared to normal: people pick good players over bad ones, giving the establishment an advantage. Presumably this is in part because of coalition-voting: people pick at least two people with whom they think they can achieve victory.

I think that is why the game would get much more competitive, also for new players, if voting was for countries rather than coalitions.

I never meant to imply evil intent or anything, not in the case of aforementioned France either, I just think the game would go a big step forward if people don't have a strong interest in allying with strong players to take a win.

So, I noticed no one reacted to my actual idea of having only one winner, so does anyone have arguments against that?
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 11:03 am

One winner wouldn't really work. Think about it for a second, how could that be arranged ? Either you still base it on voting or you have a system where one power needs to control a majority of the voting centres to win. Either is problematic. In the first case you'd have a rather counterproductive situation where nobody has any incentive to vote for the holder of the most stars, meaning that the eventual winner would be the guy who can convince enough players to vote for him to spite the big bully. I don't see this as an improvement. In the latter case you'd rapidly find that the game would become virtually unwinnable. The sort of global reach required to secure personal control over a clear majority of the stars means the game would take a lot longer to end, and in reality you'd often find that any player who looked even vaguely like having a shot at it would just be nuked into oblivion by everybody else.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 11:19 am

Diplomacy has the possibility of solo vs draw wins. Solo wins are of course seen as far better, but draws are more common due to the difficulty of achieving a solo win. That kind of tension is nice: draw partners might try to shoot for the moon and abandon their alliance in order to achieve the "greater" victory. That tension keeps alliance members on their toes, suspicious and greedy, while the offer of a draw gives incentive to cooperate, or something to offer others.

There might as well be a solo victory condition, even if it's very hard to achieve. There should still be draw/coalition possibilities, as with regular Diplomacy. Given the size of the game, maybe adding more options in the coalition/draw win-space is the solution. Right now it's as if only 3-way draws are allowed (although it's actually fuzzier than that). It's not terrible; it's as if forming a unit of three countries is the way to get the game's "solo victory" option. But there's no "draw" option then in that case, for better or for worse. It really depends how you look at it.

And even then, part of the "freezing" aspect I keep going back to was that there were *two* alliances here, that refused to backstab each other. In essence it's as if the two groups went for a two-way draw. So having a solo win condition doesn't necessarily encourage them to backstab each other any more than having 3-country coalitions does. If this is the natural end state of NWO games, and if people want to change it, there would need to be a big change in the mechanics to change the dynamic.

Stephan, I think your brusque tone was less a concern for me than your factually crippling early-game 1BB/turn demand. There's no softening that with words.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 12:43 pm

Sassenach wrote:One winner wouldn't really work. Think about it for a second, how could that be arranged ? Either you still base it on voting or you have a system where one power needs to control a majority of the voting centres to win. Either is problematic. In the first case you'd have a rather counterproductive situation where nobody has any incentive to vote for the holder of the most stars, meaning that the eventual winner would be the guy who can convince enough players to vote for him to spite the big bully. I don't see this as an improvement. In the latter case you'd rapidly find that the game would become virtually unwinnable. The sort of global reach required to secure personal control over a clear majority of the stars means the game would take a lot longer to end, and in reality you'd often find that any player who looked even vaguely like having a shot at it would just be nuked into oblivion by everybody else.


I'm suggesting the first case. I think it would work. Why would people vote for you? For the same reasons they do now. You trade votes, perhaps you make it a case of 'vote for me or I'll tske your votes'..

There's a bunch of reasons.

If not the voting way but simply getting the stars, it wouldn't be a majority needed I'd say, although that could be fun too.
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Post 27 Jul 2015, 11:45 pm

Also, if you want the ability for more people to win, I'd say that if there are more people reaching their respective amounts of votes needed, you could call them all winners.

I think it's less arbitrary than this forced 3-country coalition.
The other option in my mind is flexible sizes, but I think the votes needed for each of the countries in the coalition should be accumulated for the amount needed for the coalition.

So if USA needs 20 votes and Vietnam needs 12, they could vote for a coalition between them that needs 32 votes to win.

I think I actually like this idea better. Partly inspired by zurn.
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Post 28 Jul 2015, 7:25 am

Here's the thing about this particular variant and how I came up with the voting idea.
The game is HUGE and it is imbalanced

The sheer size (number of players) demanded it have more people take part in the win
1 of 7 will win a standard game (under 15%)
NWO has what 50 players? (if all are filled) so having only 3 players take part in a win equals only 6% chance of winning. You could make a strong argument to increase the number of winners but seeing as how so many are rapidly eliminated , 3 "felt right".

The imbalance of the game also gives reason to have a coalition win.
If we had but one winner, would a small power have any shot at all? It might take a million plays until we got that one example of a small power winning a solo? It just isn't going to happen. So how do we get people to play small powers? How do we even the odds for small, medium and large powers? It was this power class table that brought the wildly imbalanced game back to a nice balance. And the results over many many plays tend to prove this all somehow works. The results have shown games where we have almost any and every possibility happen, looking at ONE game and saying this always happens simply is not true, we have had almost every possible outcome actually play out.

The thing about such voting is frowned upon by some (maybe even most?) it's just not "Diplomacy" and I understand that but this game really isn't "Diplomacy" either is it? It's a game based upon Dip but that's it, it deviates from there and requires many different rules, the end game vote is just one of those exceptions. It also brings to the table something many fail to fully grasp, the end game vote is strategic in itself! This is a game within the game and for those who ignore that aspect of the game will likely fail to win. Embrace this political aspect of the game and just about anything can happen!?

History shows us the vote works very well as it is and probably does not need any changes, that being said, tweaks are part of the ongoing process and can be fun. Nobody is saying it MUST stay as it is, but do learn from history that it does seem to work, even in these games with new rules that may not have worked as planned, the vote portion of the game still worked fairly well???
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Post 28 Jul 2015, 10:24 am

So can we unfix the amount of countries needed for a coalition?
It is rather arbitrary, you'll have to admit. You say this game isn't Diplomacy anyway, but I think the set number of 3 is the one thing really keeping it from being 'Diplomacy but then better'. It forces a certain playstyle on you: you NEED two powerful allies.

We can make it so that winning with other countries isn't even neccessarily less of a win, since it also significantly increases the votes needed. You would just have to decide which way of winning would work best for you in your current situation. You'd have choices.

So I understand how the 3 country coalitions came to be, but how would you feel about giving players the freedom to make their coalitions however they like?

PS Any thoughts on giving NK two armies?
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Post 28 Jul 2015, 11:37 am

steephie22 wrote:So can we unfix the amount of countries needed for a coalition?
It is rather arbitrary, you'll have to admit. You say this game isn't Diplomacy anyway, but I think the set number of 3 is the one thing really keeping it from being 'Diplomacy but then better'. It forces a certain playstyle on you: you NEED two powerful allies.

We can make it so that winning with other countries isn't even neccessarily less of a win, since it also significantly increases the votes needed. You would just have to decide which way of winning would work best for you in your current situation. You'd have choices.

So I understand how the 3 country coalitions came to be, but how would you feel about giving players the freedom to make their coalitions however they like?

PS Any thoughts on giving NK two armies?


Steve
You might be looking at this from only one point of view, if I'm reading you correctly (a possible issue on my part). Bigger powers need to find smaller powers to achieve a coalition victory, because the victory count for multiple major powers is larger than when your coalition is a mix of large-, mid-, and small-size powers. The table on the map shows that, as you know. So it isn't just the need of small powers having to find big powers. They need us, too.

Now, there are more smaller powers than large powers, but by the time a coalition vote comes up, a lot of the smaller powers are already gone. As Tom says, the action of determining coalitions is a whole process in itself; probably what we would call the End Game in Standard. And your diplomatic skills may be more important here than they were when you were trying to build up your starting position at the start of the game.

Sure, number of coalition participants is arbitrary, but all rules are arbitrary. Too many players and the victory becomes kind of pointless, like a 4- or 5-way Draw in a Standard game.

To me, whether you call it a Dip Variant is not that important. NWO has certainly transmogrified from the old days of WWIV.
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Post 28 Jul 2015, 11:53 am

Well, with 40 players or so, the equivalent of a 5 way Dip draw would be 28 players, so I don't think anyone's thinking of that big a coalition.

40*1/7=6 players, so seeing 6 players band together for a "solo victory" in NWO isn't out of line. And hey, the NA+Africa alliance was 7 players...

Increasing the size of the coalition might even increase competition for getting into the winning batch, since the delineation between those that do and don't gets sharper. And people won't settle as easily for being "represented".

Having flexible sizes might also introduce interesting tension when people want to reduce the size of the winner's circle.
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Post 28 Jul 2015, 12:41 pm

First off, let me state I have zero problem with ideas being bounced around and trying new things can always be done! But that being said, let me share why I don't care for the suggestion myself...

First off, as stated 3 player groups has worked VERY well in the past and I am in the "if it aint broke don't fix it" camp. When devising this whole scheme I seemed to achieve what i was looking for, a game where we can possibly see almost any group of powers be able to win.
I don't think we ever had three huge powers group together but that's actually good in my eyes as well, that SHOULD be very hard to do or the guys with all the power could walk over the others in every single game. And they still COULD as it is, it just isn't very practical.
So we have had 2 large and a small emerge. The small helping those big boys reduce the number of votes needed. We have had 3 mid size powers, we have had three little guys round up enough votes (and that was poor play on the part of the big guys not paying attention to votes that they did not wrap up) we have had most possible outcomes emerge but almost always we had at least one big power and one tiny power among the winners. I think that has shown how the game ends up in a delicate balance quite well.

To add more players to a group makes it easier to win. Adding even ONE more power throws the existing balance out the window. While 6% is a really tiny number, it's nowhere near this in the end, if you manage to survive, your chances are MUCH better at that point. It is my opinion that this coalition win is and should be difficult to take part of. Some think its stupid and not Diplomacy and it cheapens their win. It does not cheapen the win when you see how difficult it really is and once again, the vote, it simply MUST be part of such an unbalanced game. Try playing this game as it is unbalanced while having no vote, having but one winner. Why would anyone waste their time playing Sri Lanka or Cuba or Serbia or any small power? The vote works for this game and three works as well. 6 players in a coalition win? That completely destroys the entire concept. Think about it, the larger players would almost never win such a game. Who would vote for the big bully in that situation? Votes would be far easier to come by, I think it would fail miserably in the end!
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Post 28 Jul 2015, 1:04 pm

GMTom wrote:6 players in a coalition win? That completely destroys the entire concept.


What is the concept being destroyed?

GMTom wrote:Think about it, the larger players would almost never win such a game. Who would vote for the big bully in that situation? Votes would be far easier to come by, I think it would fail miserably in the end!


You'd vote for the big bully+small guys coalition if you were in that coalition with him, of course (such as the NA+Africa coalition recently; the USA was part of it). And I certainly think the vote system should stay. Obviously the vote targets would have to change, and might depend on the number of players in the coalition. It introduces possibilities like 10 tiny nations banding together against a huge foe because of the belief that they might share in a victory. And if that 10-nation alliance gets powerful, perhaps 5 or 6 of them will get greedy and want to split off for a "greater" win. Cooperation, greed, betrayal, shifting alliances... the stuff of Diplomacy.

I don't think you should just look at end results; the dynamic of the game during play is also important. I think it could be better, that's why I'm suggesting things (or commenting on other peoples' suggestions).

I'll grant they're big changes though. Maybe not worth risking the current stability found after several iterations.
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Post 29 Jul 2015, 12:27 am

georgeatkins wrote:
steephie22 wrote:So can we unfix the amount of countries needed for a coalition?
It is rather arbitrary, you'll have to admit. You say this game isn't Diplomacy anyway, but I think the set number of 3 is the one thing really keeping it from being 'Diplomacy but then better'. It forces a certain playstyle on you: you NEED two powerful allies.

We can make it so that winning with other countries isn't even neccessarily less of a win, since it also significantly increases the votes needed. You would just have to decide which way of winning would work best for you in your current situation. You'd have choices.

So I understand how the 3 country coalitions came to be, but how would you feel about giving players the freedom to make their coalitions however they like?

PS Any thoughts on giving NK two armies?


Steve
You might be looking at this from only one point of view, if I'm reading you correctly (a possible issue on my part). Bigger powers need to find smaller powers to achieve a coalition victory, because the victory count for multiple major powers is larger than when your coalition is a mix of large-, mid-, and small-size powers. The table on the map shows that, as you know. So it isn't just the need of small powers having to find big powers. They need us, too.

Now, there are more smaller powers than large powers, but by the time a coalition vote comes up, a lot of the smaller powers are already gone. As Tom says, the action of determining coalitions is a whole process in itself; probably what we would call the End Game in Standard. And your diplomatic skills may be more important here than they were when you were trying to build up your starting position at the start of the game.

Sure, number of coalition participants is arbitrary, but all rules are arbitrary. Too many players and the victory becomes kind of pointless, like a 4- or 5-way Draw in a Standard game.

To me, whether you call it a Dip Variant is not that important. NWO has certainly transmogrified from the old days of WWIV.


Too many players and the victory is impossible, actually. Since the target vote increases per player (the amount it increases with depends on the class of course) and there's a set amount of votes available in the world, you can create some huge coalition if you want, but it still wouldn't be enough if the entire world votes for you.

I don't really think 'drawing' with other players would be less of a victory in this case. For example, one B power would need X votes and 2 B powers would need 2X votes to win. Is either one easier? Very much depends on the situation. Maybe being in a coalition together and trying to win together is the only thing preventing them from shooting eachother to pieces, making it a powerful diplomatic tool, but this alliance COULD be betrayed if one ally deems it an easier way to win. The betrayal wouldn't even necessarily involve a nuke strike; if you have enough voting support, you just propose the 'coalition' with just you in it and take the win. You'd need enough voting support though.

In it's current state, the 2 B powers would likely just be wrapping up their certain victory while everyone else eagerly tries to get that third spot.

The methods for winning should improve gameplay, ideally. As I illustrated, this way, there's only one point when you can say with confidence you're going to win: when you've won. Everything can happen from start to end. As the game stands now, a lot of people already know they've lost come voting season.

By far the most important reason though, is that while Georgeatkins is right that all rules are arbitrary, the current coalition rule isn't just arbitrary, it creates arbitrary mindsets, arbitrary gameplay.

In Fire&Blood, we created Fight Club: a group of minors around the globe who simply looked for ways to help eachother out in secrecy, sharing extremely useful intel about to-be stabbers, amongst other things. No one else knew, but a bunch of us just kept growing larger.

Then I realised Fight Club couldn't win because a coalition is three countries, so I effectively went batshit crazy in an effort to get me in the winning coalition, because I knew that right now, I wasn't going to be in one.

I went all or nothing, and got nothing, because there was no other option: no possible 4way draw to get into, no reason for the coalition heading for the win to compete with eachother..

All because of the arbitrary number 3, Fight Club was bound to fail and my country effectively committed suicide.


The arbitrary number 3 does a lot with people's mindsets. People who play to win even when a win is impossible face almost certain doom, while those who choose to go for a survive instead cowardly wait for the game to end.

Not to mention what I said before: fixed alliances. You'd get rid of all of that and create a much more dynamic rather than static game if the arbitrary number 3 is removed.