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Post 11 Jul 2014, 11:17 am

Yeah, I know, GMs don't typically do an EoG. I wanted to put pen to paper this time around while the thoughts were still fresh in the mind. Typically, each run of NWO has been rather significantly different from previous rounds, as new rules and geography are introduced. It is my firm belief that this trend needs to stop; we have seen enough runs of NWO that we can have a pretty good idea of what needs to be where. It will never be perfect but we just don't have the sample size to assess the game.

To start with, many of you provided comments to me throughout the game. More often than not, I couldn't respond because I knew other details on the map or from other players that would have influenced my response. But I wanted to thank all of you who provided insightful comments and tried to keep it unbiased. I hope that when you're all looking at perceived 'problems' with the game, you remember that the vast majority of the causes for the results of the game are the players and their actions. The map and rule changes usually have little to do with it. That's why we see the same players at or near the top of the game come voting time.

North America

I think that the USA overwhelmed Russ at the start. What I saw was him either not having the time to play in all regions, or the foresight to realize how valuable each of his colonies was. As an example, it took him quite some time before he even moved Wiesbaden. But after a few years, it was good to see Russ settle in to playing what amounted to two countries, in North America and in the Pacific. He kept the American influence in the game reasonably strong and that helped the game in the end.

That all said, Russ deserves credit. I knew he would have his hands full with Ling and Fred in Canada and Mexico, respectively. It's also his first run as a big power. There is no comparable situation to playing the USA in NWO. Thousands of emails and hundreds of hours of your time if you want to play it effectively. So good on him for a good showing.

Almost ironically, it's unfortunate that Russ had a bad start because it gave further incentive for Ling to attack him; and it is precisely that attack that made Ling a target to Rob and company. I can only wonder, if Russ had just a bit stronger of a start and Ling's attack had been delayed a year or two, what the result would have been. Canada was stronger in this version than in previous versions and I have no doubt that it was a good thing. Canada had options. We can see by the end of the game that Canada would have had the ability to cross the North Pole and go into Central Asia. That's a pretty important point as it means Canada is no longer limited to being the USA's b!tch all game long. He is strong enough to either be an effective partner or have a say in attacking the USA. I actually knew Ling was going to be stabbed before it happened, so I casually asked him what his thoughts were on Canada and he included the following lines (note: this was post-stab on USA):

If this game continues to go well I suspect many will say you've made Canada too strong, I hope you don't see it that way and weaken it again, I think it would be a mistake. When I got the power and saw the map I was a bit disgruntled. It still looked pretty tough to me and it has taken a lot of dip and a couple moments of good fortune to create the conditions required to actually stab the USA.


This really reflects the reality of the North American dynamic. Tom insisted to me that simply adding a Canadian unit is enough to "force" Canada to attack the USA. I think he is wrong and Ling hit it bang on. One extra unit isn't enough. Ling needed a weakened USA and willing partners in Mexico and the UK before taking on USA.

Side note: I actually liked having the UK presence in the Caribbean. It added a very new dynamic that shook up the rather standard USA domination of the region.

Last thing on the North American region, I thought Fred played a fantastic game right up until the end. He made a grave mistake in letting Randy keep two units on the border with Lima and Bogota. It was just inviting Randy to stab. I know it's not easy making stabs but there was a very interesting finish to this game in which there was almost a limbo between the contenders (more on that later). If Fred and Randy had allied to be the two EE powers in a coalition, I think that would have worked beautifully. However, if Fred had any inkling that was not the reality, he should have stabbed Randy. Given that he ended up throwing nukes at Orang Laut, I am led to believe that he did indeed have an inkling he was on the outside looking in. So I would have preferred to see him make a desperation lunge to stab Randy and hope that either Dario or Zac joined in, rather than split up his nukes and not really do anything effectively.

South America

If you want a master class on how to run a continent, this is it. I haven't seen anyone run over South America this effectively since Zac took Brazil to glory some 8-10 years ago (has it really been that long?!?).

First of all, when someone quite literally dominates a continent, it scares me because I worry that future GMs will severely handcuff that power. It has happened time and time again. Doing that to Argentina would be so incredibly disrespectful to the game Randy played, I would be offended for him. The only mapping change I would want to see is having Chile back in the mix, although that is dependent on the number of players we get.

Brian (Brazil) gave an effort but it wasn't enough to match Randy's efforts. When Randy started getting traction with the other South American powers to take out Brazil, not to mention having a willing partner in the UK, that was the end of the game for Brian and, in effect, all of South America. Sergio (Ecuador) had a pretty good start and should be proud of that. But he really threw his own game in the mid-stages. He just didn't seem to care enough to put in the time needed to excel at NWO.

As an aside, I never had confirmation that Dag was the fake France email sender although it is my strong belief that Dario was right, it was Dag. Quite frankly, I am 100% in favour of people trying to impersonate others. It happened all the time in real life. It is also incredibly hard to do correctly and the risks are enormous. If you get caught, you're in trouble, as Dag found out.
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Post 11 Jul 2014, 11:17 am

Europe

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Rob learn this game. It actually scared me that he found Zac and Randy as willing tutors because it was just a recipe for disaster - for the rest of the board anyway. Note: I don't mean to say that Rob was the lackey of Zac and Randy, his questions and commentary to me were always well-thought out and it was clear he was thinking about the game on his own accord.

Unfortunately for Rob, he fell victim to the 'oh my god, look how big that country got!' syndrome. The big power in year ~4 always gets the target. The question is whether or not the attack happens. Well, this time it did. In a way, it felt like Rob was trying to dictate the board play at this point in the game anyway. I could see a clash of titans coming and it was pretty clear that a BBB coalition between UK-France-China was not going to happen. So I do believe that Dario and Sendric absolutely made the correct move. I think that they didn't anticipate that both Zac and Randy would end up protecting the UK post-stab as much as they did.

Credit to Dario for what can arguably be called a 4th place showing. I was very impressed with his game throughout. I thought aligning with China was the perfect move. Actually, after I realized they allied, I looked at the map from that perspective and realized that it would be incredibly difficult to stop a China-France alliance. Between the two, there is a very strong chain of colonies from Europe, down through Africa and into the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It almost rivals the natural USA-UK alliance that can form. That will probably need to change, just as I tried to break up the natural USA-UK alliance. I certainly do not have a problem if China-France or USA-UK ally, that is up to the players in the game. What I would like to prevent, however, is creating the conditions for which an alliance is effectively a given.

I don't really think that Dario made a mis-step this game. Particularly in Europe, it seemed like he was tip-toeing perfectly. What could possibly be considered a mistake was holding out hope that he would be accepted as a leading contender. I don't know if this was a mistake. At a certain point, you have to decide between hoping and making something happen. Dario certainly did try and make something happen but he never followed it up. More on that later.

I am impressed with George's game. He was the only F power to have any sort of success this game. F powers don't usually get mopped up this efficiently. Oh, a lot of them get eliminated, there is no question there. But this is the first time I have ever seen all but one F power be reduced to rubble. George took the slow and steady approach and never really offended anyone. I'm not sure if he realized that no one, and I mean no one, on the board cared if Russia lived or died. If he did, and that's what made him attack Russia, then kudos to him. He certainly worked his way through the region quite effectively and being in control of Moscow by the end of the game says a lot. He was quite fortunate to be the only F power with clout, as that virtually guarantees him a chair in the final coalition talks. But again, congrats on the win, it was well deserved.

I was content with Germany and Italy's game. It felt a little too waffle-y at the start. They didn't really seem to have an idea where to go. I think that stems from allying with each other. It's very difficult alliance to maintain because you have UK and France on one side and Russia on the other. I think they both made a good effort to attack France but for no explicable reason, just stopped short after a season or two. If you're going for the stab, aim for the heart!

I really don't have much to say about Russia's game. It was a bit of a disappointment. I actually asked Leif if he was prepared to take on the work required to play Russia and he had said yes. I heard several comments from several players that this wasn't the case. I know Leif had a lot of real life pressures taking up his time. I don't judge him for that. I tried to get some new players into the big power role this game, since we usually see the same people play the big powers over and over again. I suppose this is just a fair warning to anyone else. Playing a big power is fun. A lot of fun. But it is an incredible amount of time and effort required. Whenever big powers excel in this game, even when they don't win, you really need to hand it to the player and give him the credit deserved. Just because they have more SCs and nuke abilities, that doesn't mean they will do well.


Africa

Africa was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the game for many people. I think that a lot of people unfairly pointed to China's colony as the sole reason for the imbalance. This doesn't mean I agree or disagree with putting a Chinese colony in Africa, that's not my point. My point is that people were incorrectly assuming that simply because China is a strong power, that somehow threw off the balance in Africa. I mentioned that blaming geography in South America would be insulting to Randy's play - I also think that blaming the simple existence of the colony in the first place would be a tremendous insult to Sendric and, by extension, to Dario. There was no serious organization from any of the other African powers. In the last run of this game, the Africans united into an actual alliance, an incredibly strong alliance, and managed to have one of them in the winners' circle. This time around, Sendric and Dario managed to isolate Zimbabwe as a friend, keep Egypt relegated to the north of Africa, and roped Nigeria into his West African side of the continent. That had little to do with Europe or Asia, it was because they played the game well.

Chinese and French success is not what made Africa a disappointment. Quite the contrary, their success actually made the game that much more interesting because China (for once) had the ability to affect matters around the world. I'll come back to China in a global sense later in the Asia section. What was a disappointment, however, was that none of the other players in Africa really put the time or effort in as much as China and France. Marcel (Zimbabwe) did a reasonably good job, Greg (Nigeria) warmed up as the game moved along - at least until he was stabbed! - and Ben (South Africa) never really got on his feet. I think that Mark (Tunisia) was the most ambitious but he was swatted with the unfortunate luck of not having the right allies and was torn apart.

I know, I'm missing Egypt in all of that, but I'll talk more about him in the Middle East section, it seems more appropriate.

In any case, I think that Africa, in this game, proved better than any other game that it is the players who control their own destiny more than the geography. In the last game, we had a united Africa that was able to successfully repel all foreign invasion and they had a winner in the victorious coalition. This game, we saw a disjointed, leaderless and haggard group of African powers that ultimately succumbed to the foreign devils and left zero African players on the board (again, putting Egypt in a different region). I think that was the disappointing part. I will say, however, that having China in Angola made for some really interesting dynamics by the time the late game stages came around!

Middle East and Asia

To the Egypt-Turkey-Israel triumvirate, congratulations. I haven't seen a coordinated alliance in that region in a while. It was almost too bad that you didn't manage to do better because I don't recall seeing any of those three powers have a reasonably good chance at winning the game, which you all did. From an outsider's perspective, though, there was one fault in your strategy. You didn't have the external partners necessary to continue on with your expansion. Maybe (likely) there is something I don't know. Maybe you tried to find someone like China but he was too closely linked to France to agree to do it. I don't know. In a way, you should still take pride in the fact that you were targeted for destruction by an outside alliance. It's a mark that you were doing well for yourselves.

Over in Central Asia, I was quite happy with the play of Kazakhstan. Ok, Alex didn't do anything particularly special or impressive. He grew comfortably, attracted attention, and faced the sword as a result. That's the usual dynamic for a lot of F powers. What I definitely liked was Alex's enthusiasm. I certainly hope you come back.

Pakistan and India...well...

Gareth, I hope everything is ok with you. You had a good start and then disappeared.

Tom, I'm not even sure what to say. For years, people have been heaping praise on you as the developer of this game. I think all that praise has gone to your head and inflated your ego way too much. I seriously hope that those people reconsider their positions after this run. What you did to this game was despicable. Forget the fact that you NMR'd. That happens to almost everyone. You actually took it a step further. You outright attempted to sabotage this game. You actually took your units and moved them out of the way so others could take your SCs. I suppose, in an ironic way, it is good that you played this game so poorly - you couldn't even eliminate yourself properly.

Let's be absolutely clear about what you did: You had a suck attack because you had a concept, pirates, introduced near you that you had no idea how to handle. Everyone else knew to use the namesake of this game, diplomacy, to try and control their own fate. Instead, you spent every moment imaginable whining and complaining and spewing horribly flawed arguments to anyone who would listen, and even to those who wouldn't. The facts speak for themselves, I've seen the correspondence and we all saw the orders you submitted, or didn't submit, as the case may be. I hope people can judge for themselves.

Ok, back on the game. China. This was quite interesting. China benefited hugely from the non-existent Russian player. I can't fault Sendric for that, he played quite a good game. However, as Russia and China traditionally clash for supremacy in Asia, it was a bit anticlimactic With Zac putting pressure on Javelin in Vietnam, and the odd merry-go-round action going on in the Pacific, it created a nice power vacuum which you waltzed into. I'm a bit disappointed for you that you ended up taking the brunt of the attack post-UK stab. I think you actually still had a shot. There were just too many contenders and no one wanted to step up with you.

Stephan, great showing for your first run of NWO. I heard a few rumours through the game that you may have got a bit too big for your britches after you met with some success. Perhaps that isn't true but it was what I heard. Regardless, Japan is a great example of someone who can scratch and claw their way to success in the first 6 years, only to find out that it's the next 4 years of the game which are really hard.
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Post 11 Jul 2014, 11:35 am

One last little thing on Asia: Patrick, you gave it a good shot. It's hard being the little power, particularly when two medium powers are urging you to go in opposite directions. I think that perhaps your better move would have been to go with the stronger player in Orang Laut than with India, but Javelin did that and look where it got him, so what do I know.

Pirates

Alright, I'm sure many of you have strong opinions one way or the other on pirates already. First of all, thank you to Mike, Kal and Zac for taking on the challenge. I saw two major problems right off the bat but I highly doubt they are the same problems most others were seeing. The first problem is that I picked three very strong and veteran players to play the pirate positions. It's almost guaranteeing that even if one of them falters, the other two will make strong showings and doom the pirate concept to the depths of the ocean. Sure enough, all three players played good games and spent the time and energy to understand their rules - significantly more time and energy than their neighbors did. That advantage showed time and time again.

The second problem was the intimidation factor. It was simply too much for players to digest and understand that the first reaction was "holy hell, what the heck do I do other than bend to the wishes of the pirate!?"

What people didn't seem to realize is that all three players wanted to win. They weren't out to just cause random havoc across the board. They were out to manipulate everyone else and, like everyone one, could be manipulated themselves. Even after Kal was taken 'out of the game' in the third game year, he still was playing the game and trying to find a way back into contention. It's that strategy that few people seemed to realize the pirates were taking.

On the spawnlings, I actually think they worked fairly well. I am disappointed in myself that i left open the chance for Indonesia to be eliminated in year 1. That wasn't intentional. But otherwise, I liked the use of spawnlings. I was actually more impressed with the gradual shift from being aggressive unit to a defensive one. The building cities ability was used as I pretty much expected. It helped the pirates gain some traction on the board in the middle stages of the game. However, the pirates realized that it wasn't worth their time or effort to focus on building new cities.

Mike (Atlantic Pirate) played a slow and cautious game. I actually think that's what did him in. Particularly after the UK was stabbed, I think that his caution just stalled any chance of victory. His stab in the last game year was 100% correct and I'm disappointed he didn't do it earlier. Although he actually had an opportunity at the end of the game to use the spawnling ability to take votes from Argentina. If he had worked with Fred, or if Fred had reached out to Mike, at just the right time, this could have been a very different ending.

Kal (Indian Ocean) - had a difficult time getting going. I think that this was in part due to Tom's immediate and unwavering anti-pirate attitude, but it was clear that you weren't getting many friends elsewhere. Actually, it's a good thing that you nearly won, even though your country wasn't that big. It proves to those doubters out there that you can change the geography, you can change the rules, this game is about diplomacy. If you play your cards right, you can win this game from any position. Good effort.

I barely have to discuss Zac's game. It was very well played as usual. If you don't know, Zac spends a couple dozen hours a week thinking about the game. He lives and breathes this game from start to finish. This victory was a long time coming for him and it showed. Randy will hate me for this, but I actually think Orang Laut's better move in the end game stages was to work against Argentina. Why? I wouldn't have liked seeing three E/F powers having too much control over the game. With all due respect to George, he didn't seem to be able to garner worldwide support until the end. The same with Fred. Randy knows how to play the game and if he had gone for the EEF victory, he would have got it passed. But I think what this really showed was the difficulty of the last stage of the game...

The Battle of the Contenders

This game was unique. In the seventh game year or so, there were realistically only 6 players who had a chance at victory. Nearly every single F power had been eliminated, so there was no real worry of an FFF coalition stealing the show. Ok, others like UK, Germany and Turkey had outside chances of working their way into a coalition but there were 6 who you could almost predict would take at least two of three coalition spots: Mexico, Argentina, Sweden, France, China and Orang Laut. Add in the medium powers who were stalemated from any significant advance - UK, Germany and Turkey - and you had this very odd dynamic going on. No one really wanted to make a move on the other. It was the ultimate showdown at high noon.

This is where alliances are strained beyond belief. Would it have been correct for Dario to ditch China and throw his lot in with Orang Laut and Argentina? Should OL and Argentina ditch the UK and send Rob to bed without any supper? What about Fred, should he have made the first effort against Argentina? I could actually feel the tension in players' orders, it was fantastic. I hope that those of you who participated in the circus can step back and appreciate it, it was worth the price of admission.

GMing this behemoth

I hope that we can find a few people willing to put the time and effort in to GM the game. Unfortunately, it takes a special set of circumstances to do. It's actually less work than playing the game. It's just that there are specific time pressures on you for several months. It's about a 5-6 hour cumulative commitment each week. Like I said, the time required isn't bad. It's just that 3-4 of those hours are always spent on the same day each week.

I'm actually more than willing to walk someone through the basics of how I run the game and little shortcuts I've found. If others find more shortcuts, even better. The slowest adjudication I had was around 4 hours total. The fastest was 1 1/2 hours.

I'd like to thank all of you for making the effort to do the little things like changing your order subject line. It's these little things that add up to make the GM's job easier and reduces the stress on us. For the most part, players were understanding of the fact that there are hundreds of moving parts in this game and mistakes are bound to happen. People tend to remember the bad seasons over the good ones. I won't be GMing again anytime soon, it's too much of a strain on my schedule, so I say this for the sake of future GMs: take note of the good seasons too. If you focus only on the bad ones, you end up missing the fact that the number of mistakes isn't really that high.

Some of you struggled with the 48-hour concept. This was the first run of that concept and I understand the difficulty in adjusting. Since the NWO community rarely changes, I seriously hope that the next GM uses the 48-hour rule and players make more of an effort to take five little minutes earlier in the week and check the results. This game is too large for GMs to ensure complete accuracy and anyone who expects is being unrealistic. GMs should not have to spend countless hours ensuring every tiny part of the game is correct. Oh, do your best to get the adjudication right in the first place (I finished the game with a perfect season!), but they shouldn't have to spend 8 hours on it. The 48-hour rule saved me a lot of time and effort, even though it ended up causing some difficulty halfway in the game.

The suggestion I have is to change the rule to say that players must publicly post the changes to a forum. That should make everything easier.


I think those are all of my thoughts. I think it goes without saying that I didn't have all of the facts or information on various players or the plays they made. It's a bird's eye view with a compilation of information from many players. Happy to discuss or debate any points I made. It's the one joy I get out of GMing!

Great game to all of you, it was an absolute pleasure.
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Post 13 Jul 2014, 8:26 am

While I take on board what you say about the pirates, I do feel that they were a little overpowered. I wasn't personally affected until right at the very end so it wasn't a big deal for me, but nevertheless there are some obvious issues with the way the rules are set up for them. The spawnling ability is simply too powerful. At one stage towards the end I lost a centre to a pirate attack which spawned in a territory that I owned. I was really puzzled by this until Dave pointed out that I hadn't read the rules properly and in fact pirates could spawn not just in their designated seazones but in any unoccupied neighbouring non-sc province no matter who owns it. There was no point in moaning about it, after all the rules were clearly written down and I hadn't read them closely enough to pick up on the implications, but I still feel this is completely ridiculous. The potential for pirates to use this ability creatively is just too much for their neighbours to deal with and I personally think it's a little unfair, especially when you consider that the pirates bordered a lot of E and F class powers at the start of the game.

I also think that it's not simply the skill of the players which ensured there were no pirates eliminated in this game, although obviously you can't take anything away from those guys. Fact is that with the spawnling potential offering them a chance to pop up over such a wide area pirates are extraordinarily difficult to kill. It would have taken a coordinated effort by multiple powers acting in concert to finish them off, and there isn't any incentive for the neighbouring powers to do that because the gains to be made are fairly meagre in targeting the pirates (at least for the first few years, after which the pirates are going to be well nigh unkillable anyway if played sensibly). Pirates were a nice idea and worth experimenting with, but IMO it's an innovation that should not be continued when we play again.

I'm less sure about the Chinese colony in Africa, which had obvious drawbacks but at the same time has potential to make the game more interesting. In theory I don't think it's too bad, but I didn't like the positioning of it. Having China pop up in Sudan at game start is too much of a constraint on Egypt and Kenya. A better place would be maybe Zambia, with Zimbabwe removed from the game. China would then face a stiffer challenge from South Africa at the beginning, which would make for better balance I feel.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 5:12 am

Sassenach wrote:While I take on board what you say about the pirates, I do feel that they were a little overpowered. I wasn't personally affected until right at the very end so it wasn't a big deal for me, but nevertheless there are some obvious issues with the way the rules are set up for them. The spawnling ability is simply too powerful. At one stage towards the end I lost a centre to a pirate attack which spawned in a territory that I owned. I was really puzzled by this until Dave pointed out that I hadn't read the rules properly and in fact pirates could spawn not just in their designated seazones but in any unoccupied neighbouring non-sc province no matter who owns it. There was no point in moaning about it, after all the rules were clearly written down and I hadn't read them closely enough to pick up on the implications, but I still feel this is completely ridiculous. The potential for pirates to use this ability creatively is just too much for their neighbours to deal with and I personally think it's a little unfair, especially when you consider that the pirates bordered a lot of E and F class powers at the start of the game.


I agree. Even though I had nothing to do with the pirates all game, they did appear to be overpowered. Consider that only one F power survived the game and that F power was the one furthest away from the pirates.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 6:37 am

I have to admit it was the rule I like the least and I do hope it is not used again. THere are plenty of powers without the need for the pirates. It just did not work for me and I had the unique perspective of dealing with all three.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 11:10 am

My EOG is on its way, but in the mean time I want to get some thoughts in here before the anti-Pirate posts pile too high without any alternative points being made.

geojanes wrote:I agree. Even though I had nothing to do with the pirates all game, they did appear to be overpowered. Consider that only one F power survived the game and that F power was the one furthest away from the pirates.


That's an interesting correlation, but I think it's mostly meaningless. Of 18 F nations, 17 were eliminated. Of those 17, pirates played a strong role in removing Venezuela, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam (and Indonesia, I don't recall what rank they were), and minor roles in removing Ecuador, Kenya, Kazakhstan and Philippines (when I say minor, I mean that these nations were dominated by other nations, and a pirate did something to help after the writing was on the wall - which also means that they were eliminated later in the game, when the extra abilities of pirates were largely obsolete). So even if you weight these equally, it's 7-8 out of 17-18 eliminated F nations, or less than half. That's actually a bit surprising to me given the breadth of our influence from the start of the game.

If you look more in depth at each of these eliminations, you see that it wasn't just a pirate eliminating a nation, but a pirate allied to A and B nations. Indonesia was removed with the help of UK, Sri Lanka with the help of USA,UK and Vietnam, Vietnam with the help of USA,China and India, Venezuela with the help of France. Same story for the nations pirates played a minor role in eliminating. In general, if you take a C-ranked nation aligned with A- and B-ranked nations, they will remove whoever they want. Additionally, it was a specific goal of many players, not just the pirates and A/B nations, to remove as many F nations as possible.

Pirates aligned themselves very closely with the strongest nations in the game, and the mutually beneficial relationships formed played a hand in both pirates and their AB allies prosperity. If there's any argument to be made that pirates are overpowered, it'd be that our early game abilities made it easier for us to convince big powers to work with us and not against us. That argument might have some truth in it, but I think if you added in other factors like the players running those nations (Mike, Kal and myself typically align with big powers regardless of what nation we're playing), I'd say that it likely affected the game little whether we had pirates or standard 2-unit, 1-vote starting C nations in their place.

That said, pirates were fun for a game, but I agree that they should probably not be revisited. Not because they're inherently overpowered, but because NWO is so complex and there are so many options in the base game that pirates, by comparison, don't add too much, especially when measured against the added complexity they bring along.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 11:40 am

All nations end up being eliminated by a combination of two or more other nations. That's pretty much a constant of all Diplomacy variants. I still think it's inherently unfair that the likes of Venezuela, Sri Lanka etc have to begin with such a horrible disadvantage relative to their pirate neighbour. Quite apart from the obvious fact that having a neighbour who can add in a magic new unit right across the front that you can't plan for in advance is crippling to you tactically if you're playing one of those small nations, it's also a major handicap strategically as well because the pirate is always going to be a more attractive option as an ally for the bigger players who you might otherwise be able to fo a deal with. Granted, NWO is an unequal game to begin with, but still...

I'd question your assertion that the spawnling units become redundant later in the game too. Sure, they aren't quite so important later as they are in the beginning, but it's by no means redundant to have a brand new unit that you can throw into whatever theatre you like and weild as a surprise weapon to help make a breakthrough every single year.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 2:50 pm

Admiral Corncob wrote:That said, pirates were fun for a game, but I agree that they should probably not be revisited. Not because they're inherently overpowered, but because NWO is so complex and there are so many options in the base game that pirates, by comparison, don't add too much, especially when measured against the added complexity they bring along.


Agreed. It was fun, but ultimately should be dropped for complexity's sake.

Sassenach wrote:I'd question your assertion that the spawnling units become redundant later in the game too. Sure, they aren't quite so important later as they are in the beginning, but it's by no means redundant to have a brand new unit that you can throw into whatever theatre you like and weild as a surprise weapon to help make a breakthrough every single year.


For Zac it largely was redundant because he was so large. Because I was behind both he and Mike - and was the only one not dominant in my region - I think I was the only one able to pull the maneuver in Shiraz off at that stage in the game. However, a convenient and unexpected convoy or bounce is still effective, even if it may not take a supply center.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 3:34 pm

I'm the first to say take out the pirates but only for the reason I listed in my EOG: that they are too intimidating for new players. NWO is not a widely known variant, the Redscape community is small and we are working to attract new players so that NWO can continue to run. New players already have to absorb wings, nukes, votes and coalitions. It's a lot to ask of them to learn the rules for pirates as well.

Bear in mind that I'm only talking about intimidating new players. I should also probably mention that we have a pretty sizable group of veterans who have difficulty reading the rules too. I say that tongue-in-cheek re: Rob's comment above, in that we were more than 9 years into the game and he still didn't understand the spawnling concept. At least Rob had limited exposure to pirates. A much better example is around 4-5 game years in: Tom, who theoretically had the most exposure to pirates, sent me a very aggressive email yelling at me because pirates were immune from being nuked. Yes, that's right, Tom somehow thought that pirates could not be nuked. Turns out, he was just having difficulty looking at a map. There was obviously nothing in the rules about pirates being safe from nukes.

This just goes to show that even players who are not strangers to NWO can have difficulty with new concepts. A lot of people had difficulty had difficulty figuring out how to handle the curveball that pirates represented. The major complaints were actually things that already exist in NWO:

- Units that can create breakthroughs? So do nukes.

- Powers you can't eliminate? It's rare for any A or B nation to be eliminated; none were eliminated this game.

- Retribution if you attack them? I point you to USA's EOG in which he said he refused to vote for anyone who took out his colony.

- Unpredictable? I would argue that Mike, Kal and Zac are three of the most predictable players on the board. All it takes is some diplomacy. There are at least a dozen players on board who can testify that they knew where a spawnling would go at some point in the game. If you weren't one of them, ask yourself if you made an effort to find out.

From an objective standpoint, I do not agree in the slightest that they were too strong. I think the evidence is there to say that they were almost perfectly set for power. Zac played a near perfect game. His growth planning was impeccable, he made the right moves at the right time, he evaded the traps he could have fallen into, and his gameplay and results combination was rivalled by only one other person: Argentina. It's no surprise that the two of them were included in nearly every coalition in every voting stage. Contrast that to Mike, who played a solid but not stellar game. He had about as much of a chance to win as Turkey or Mexico. Then you had Kal, who had several slip ups. The only reason Kal even came close to winning is that he played a different game from nearly everyone else: he played the voting game. I was lucky enough to see the planning he and Zac did to try and win the game in the first voting season. They came damn close too. That win would not only have been deserved, it would have been one of the best of all time because of the way they would have pulled it off. Aside from that, Kal didn't have a snowball's hope in hell of winning.

If all three had good games and weren't even close to winning, the pirates would have been too weak. If all three played terrible games but swept the board, they would have been too strong. The fact that we had a range of results that almost directly correlate to the success the pirates had on the board, as well as correlate to the results of other players on the board, tells me that they were more or less categorized at the right level. That all said, it's such a ridiculously small sample size that it's impossible for anyone to make a proper assessment. To me, this is almost an irrelevant debate, since it would be in our best interest as a community to reel NWO back in to a standardized version that can attract new players.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 3:34 pm

I'd like to take conversation about China's colony over to sendric's EOG so that it can be separated from any pirate discussion.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 4:02 pm

I suppose the things I did not like was the spawnlings coming in every year and how close the Indian and Pacific pirates were. I think I would have prefered if they had a couple of locations on the map to choose from and the first turn declare a Pirate city in an unoccupied location not next to a countries sc or capitol and that they had to be a certain number of spaces from any other pirate. . Just a thought.
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 4:51 pm

I think the debate, at least for me, on whether the pirates were too powerful comes down to expectations. What are the expectations for pirate powers? Should pirates actually be allowed to have voting rights in the UN? Of course, if they don't, they can't really win in this game. To me, pirates should be an element that adds chaos to the game, and from my perspective, there wasn't much of that. Maybe I just wasn't close enough to them to see it, but I treated them all as just another nation. Sure, they had those spawnlings which certainly added a new element, but I didn't feel it was enough to make them "pirates" per se.

One idea I had recently was to do away with the separate pirate powers, and instead give a select number of E or F powers the ability to control a single pirate unit. This could also extend into terrorism (land-based piracy if you will). The identity of these powers would be kept secret, and treated as separate powers in the orders. For example, let's say Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Ecuador were selected as having pirate/terrorist units. There would be designated zones in which their units could spawn, just as there is now. However, instead of being able to capture supply centers, they would instead have the ability to "surprise attack" units or lay siege to a city (much like a wing does). This could result in forcing a unit to stay in place or wiping out a support order. The unit would de-spawn after the fall season, just as they do now, but clearly the potential is there to incite chaos into the world.

I only just thought of this, and I like the potential here, but certainly some details would need to be ironed out. That said, I also understand why Dave wants to reduce the complexity of the game.

Anyway, I have clearly gone off the rails here, so to get back to my original point, I think the idea of them being "over-powered" is a matter of perspective. I don't think most people expected them to have the capability of a "C" power, though clearly they were marked as such. They were labeled as pirates, which gave everyone something of a pre-conceived notion of what they should be, but in reality they were really just regular powers with a special rule. A very interesting idea, but something that needs some work, in my opinion.