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Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Talk about regional management and politics, raider/defender gameplay, and other game-related matters.
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Naivetry
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Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:48 pm

About This Thread

This thread is meant as an explanation of the military game in NationStates (NS) - the one based in the game code, not in Role Play (RP). There are many excellent threads on how to RP wars - this is not one of them. This is about the phenomenon known as region crashing or invading. It covers the distinction between raiders and defenders, how they each work within the game code to accomplish their goals, and what difference this makes for the players who care about this side of the game.

For RP, you can try reading the stickies here: viewforum.php?f=4 (NS) or the very helpful list here: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=12342 (II)


Index

A. Quick Review of the FAQ
B. Definitions
C. Mechanics
    1) Regional Control
    2) Influence
    3) Founders
    4) Update
    5) The Numbers Game
D. Tactics
    1) Time is of the Essence
    2) Switchers
    3) Puppets
    4) Mobility
    5) Intel
E. What's the Big Deal?
    1) Raiders
    2) Defenders
    3) The Origins of Complexity
    4) Politics
(The Perspective of this Thread)
Last edited by Naivetry on Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:48 pm

A. Quick Review of the FAQ

There are two important FAQ documents you can look to for further information:

1) The FAQ linked from the game sidebar: http://www.nationstates.net/page=faq
Contains very basic information, such as how to endorse someone.

2) The New Tech [and Mod] Forum FAQ (esp. the sections on the WA and Regions): viewtopic.php?f=15&t=286
Gives answers to some vexing questions, such as "What happens when there is a tie for the WA delegate position?". The sections on the WA and on Regions are particularly helpful.

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:49 pm

B. Definitions

1. Invasion - nations moving into a region in order to control the WA Delegacy
2. Liberation - an invasion that aims to return the WA Delegacy to the "natives"
3. Raider - someone who invades in order to exert their own control over a region
4. Defender - someone who invades in order to preserve or return "native" control
5. Native - someone who resides in a region and considers it home (highly contested definition)

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:50 pm

C. Mechanics

1. Regional Control - So why do people want to be the WA Delegate? It's simple. Unless the region has a Founder who has disabled this feature, Delegates can access a page called Regional Control. Regional Control allows you to set the World Factbook Entry (WFE), password-protect the region, and eject troublemakers.1 However, because the game cannot tell the difference between troublemakers and any other nation, this allows the Delegate to eject almost anyone, regardless of whether they have done anything wrong. If this power is misused, the mods will not interfere:
FAQ wrote:My region's WA Delegate is an evil dictator who ejects nations for no reason! Make him stop!
Delegates are elected: if you don't like yours, it's up to you to get him/her unelected. While in power, Delegates can use or abuse their powers as they see fit.

This means that whoever can access Regional Control has absolute control over the region.

2. Influence - The Delegate's power is absolute, but not entirely limitless. Each WA Delegate has an amount of Influence to spend in order to use Regional Control. This amount is represented by the descriptive "Regional Influence" label on his or her nation. Influence allows you to eject or banject (eject and ban) nations, and to institute or change the regional password. All nations gain Influence, but only WA Delegates can spend it in this way.

Influence is gained primarily by gathering endorsements, and secondarily by remaining in the same region for a long time. Nations gather Influence much more slowly in a large region than in a small region. Furthermore, if you move to a new region, you will very quickly lose all of the Influence you had accumulated in your old region.

Influence costs are mysterious, but the following is generally known:
  • It costs the Delegate more Influence to eject a nation the more Influence that nation has.
  • It costs the Delegate more Influence to banject nations than simply to eject them.
  • It costs more Influence to set an invisible password than to set one that is visible to nations in the region.
Once the Delegate runs out of Influence, he is out of Influence until after the next update. If an attack is launched on the region while the Delegate is out of Influence, the Delegate will not be able to eject the incoming nations, and therefore will not be able to do anything to stop the invasion.

3. Founders - Any region is safe so long as it has an active Founder. Founders can use Regional Control with no cost. They can also access Regional Control even if their nation is not actually in the region. In addition, the Founder of the region can block the WA Delegate's access to Regional Control. For as long as its Founder remains in existence and alert, then, no community is ever in danger of total annihilation.

4. Update - Rather than continually checking to see who has the most endorsements in each region, NS only checks to see who should become the WA Delegate at "update." At update, three things happen that are important for military purposes:
    1) Nations that have been inactive for 28 days (or 60 days if they're on Vacation Mode) Cease to Exist (CTE)
    2) Remaining nations gain Influence
    3) Endorsement totals are checked and updated, and a new Delegate is installed if necessary
NS updates twice during the day. The updates start 12 hours apart, beginning at approximately 04:00 and 16:00 GMT. Since these are the only times when the WA Delegacy changes, all military activity leads up to these hours. Not all regions update at the same time, however, because it takes the server about an hour to get through the whole list of regions. If your nation has already updated in one region, it will not update again if you move to a region that hasn't gone through the update yet.

5. The Numbers Game - Who controls the WA Delegacy is determined only by who has the most endorsements at update. This is the biggest reason why WA multying (having more than one nation in the WA at a time) is illegal. Because WA multying is illegal, success in the military game depends upon cooperation, planning, and coordination. Well-developed military organizations have complete ranking systems, a chain of command, special awards and conditions of promotion, training materials, scheduling, and division of labor within the army itself. Even given these elements, the essential thing is, in the end, simply to outnumber your opponent.
Last edited by Naivetry on Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:51 pm

D. Tactics

1. Time is of the Essence - If you are a raider, you will have the greatest chance of not being spotted and prevented from taking a region if you move into a region very close to update. If you are a defender, you will have the greatest chance of succeeding in a liberation if you move into a region very close to update. If the raider delegate is awake during update, he will be watching for movement into the region and will banject new nations before their endorsements can be counted.

2. Switchers - Because of the possibility of being banned by an active raider delegate, defenders have developed a tactic that allows them to switch between WA nations almost instantaneously (rather than waiting for 24 hours), without ever having more than one in the WA at the same time. This is a vital tactic for defenders who are attempting to liberate a region, so that they can have a second chance during the same night if their first attempt to liberate a region fails.

3. Puppets - Defenders quickly figured out that raids could be spotted and prevented by tracking raider nations. Raiders responded by creating dozens of "puppets" and using them as "clean," disposable nations. Once a puppet nation has participated in a raid, it is "dirty," and is typically not used again. These puppets drop WA status (so that WA status may be shifted to another puppet) and are normally left to CTE. Some may, in fact, never be used.

4. Mobility - Due to a desire to conceal one's identity as a raider or defender from the other side, the vast majority of raider/defender WA nations never reside in their home regions. Raider organizations sometimes retain ties to on-site regions, and sometimes they do not. It should be stressed that, aside from advertising their organization more easily, there is no real reason why raiders should base themselves out of a region at all.

5. Intel - Because of this deadlock over tactics on-site, a complicated spy-game developed. Since the advent of Influence and the drastic depopulation of the military gameplay community, this Intelligence (Intel) game is not quite dead, but greatly diminished. From the defender side, it consisted of multiple levels - anything from tracking suspected raider puppets to adopting a false identity under which to join a raider forum. Once defender agents had worked themselves into positions of trust within the raider hierarchy, the organization's raids could be subtly undermined, their members identified in any attempts to counter-infiltrate, and eventually the whole raiding group might be dismantled.

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:51 pm

E. What's the Big Deal?

1. Raiders - I assume raiders enjoy raiding for the thrill of transgression/power, the challenge, and the bragging rights. A raid that is not advertised on the World Factbook Entry (WFE) is pointless. A raid conducted where no one else cares to control the region is also pointless. And finally, a raid that doesn't have the potential to shock is pointless... in fact, the bigger the shock value, the better. Raiding pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable; raids are about seeing what you can get away with. This is why Influence crippled the raiding game - it said that anything raiders could do, they would now by default get away with. And so many of the raiders who liked the momentary thrill of transgression left, and the griefers - the people who played for permanent control and the total destruction of regions - remained.

2. Defenders - Until the advent of Influence, defenders almost universally saw themselves as the protectors of NationStates in a very black-and-white world. Raiders took away a nation's right to live in peace, and a region's right to self-determination. This was morally unacceptable, and raiders were often ostracized from the larger political world where peace was the primary desire. Still today, defenders fight because raiders fight first. They have no raison d'etre except to prevent raiders from wielding power over others. Defenders do not, and never have, fought competitively with raiders as if conflict were an end in itself. They fight as protectors. They fight for ideals. Therefore, it is impossible to maintain the raiding/defending game in a designated "war is okay here" area - witness the epic failure of the warzones. If war is okay, the defenders have no motivation to stop it (and then the raiders have no reason to raid if they're not going to get a rise out of people, and so on in a vicious cycle). This is why Influence crippled the defending game - it declared the moral argument meaningless. Might makes right in NS. The defenders still around are simply in denial of the very clear game rules, that anything you can do to a region, goes.

3. The Origins of Complexity - Region crashing/invading was not included in the original design concept of NS. Invasions were an invention of the players, who discovered that by moving their nations from one region to another, they could, in effect, make war on another region. Because other players objected to being invaded, they teamed up in order to retaliate, to defend their home region, or to protect other regions. Over time, this led to the development of many "off-site" regional forums, created and controlled by the players, so that they could better organize their activities. Governments, embassies, and alliances sprang up between these regional forums, and very soon a large portion of the NS world consisted of a far more complicated political simulation than anyone could have anticipated. This is the world referred to as "Gameplay."

4. Politics - At the most basic level, politics between regions are conducted with the threat of military force or promise of military aid in the background. Most regions, regardless of their "defender" or "raider" stance, reserve for themselves the right to participate in war with other regions. In the age of the major military alliances, formally announced declarations of war were considered a separate phenomenon from the ordinary background of raiding and defending. So, for example, the ADN (Alliance Defense Network), back in the very early days, declared war on Ireland after Ireland invaded one of their member regions, and presumably would've invaded had a peace treaty not been signed.* Defenders usually recognized official declarations of war between regions, and would take sides according to their political commitments rather than in their capacity as "defenders"... or would spin what they were doing as a defense or liberation, and not a raid at all (as in the ADN vs. The Pacific). Modern day defenders have gotten into trouble politically for not showing similar discrimination.

In those days, if you participated in any military offensive aside from one that had been justified by political spin or by a declaration of war, you were considered a raider. That meant that the most hardcore defenders considered any group that "switched" between raiding and defending to be raiders, pure and simple. Defenders were/are ideologically divided about whether or not it was okay for "defenders" to raid raider home regions, as TITO is in the habit of doing with DEN. The answer to that question might depend on whether or not you consider yourself as a defender to have a standing declaration of war against raiders.

In-game politics become far more complex, but the potential for military action, direct or indirect, still underlies every major conflict; this can be seen especially in the various conflicts over the WA Delegacy in the feeders. For a variety of reasons, the feeders have become and will always remain the biggest political stage in NS; but that's a story for another post.

The President of the ADN, Vazquez, ended up invading anyway with nations from Alcatraz after the peace treaty was signed; Prosecutor General Westwind investigated and found evidence of the planning on the ADN boards; Vazquez resigned, Vice President Democratic Donkeys revealed he was an invader spy, and shortly afterward Pope Hope declared Martial Law to break a gridlock in the House and Senate and inaugurated the ADN Reloaded. As they say, those were the days...

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:52 pm

The Perspective of This Thread - A Disclaimer

I am speaking as someone with command experience in the NS military as a defender, although it is not my primary focus in the game. I am a proponent of preserving the military element because it was the origin and remains the underlying source for all NationStates power politics - by which I mean the rise and fall and interrelationship of regional communities, not the passage of World Assembly (WA) legislation. These, then, are the basics, and they are absolutely foundational to military and political life in the sphere of Gameplay. I hope that this overview will serve not only to inform, but to help to remove some of the fundamental misunderstandings and misleading assumptions about the military game that generally plague people who have not participated in it themselves.

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Unibot » Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:20 pm

A new dimension of Gameplay is loitering Kandarin's spotlight page fledgling, *cough* the WA Security Council *cough*, some definitions might need tweaking (Liberation), and a few mentions here and there might be noteworthy for it. Password Raiding might need a mention too, if your going to mention the Liberation Category.

And because Newbies might be using this, it might be nice to create a small category just for warzones in the essay, talk about why the zones were drastic failures in detail as you did in the Defender write-up. Then link the warzones to the essay, so they can see for themselves how pathetic they are. The reason I say link them is because they're forgotten now, in two years I don't believe many noobs could even find them. Its important for them to know "Warzones = Fail" because you can learn a lot of about the fundamentals of Gameplay from it.

Also I believe Banning a nation requires half of the victim's influence as an influence cost. No? (I heard that somewhere)

Safalra's list of Influence Descriptors in order, could be useful too...
1.Hermit
2.Hegemony
3.Dominator
4.Superpower
5.Power
6.Powerbroker
7.Eminence Grise
8.Enforcer
9.Dealmaker
10.Instigator
11.Contender
11.Negotiator
12.Auxiliary
13.Ambassador
14.Diplomat
15.Envoy
16.Duckspeaker
17.Handshaker
18.Truckler
19.Vassal
20.Minnow


Other than that, very good.

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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Naivetry » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:30 pm

Unibot wrote:A new dimension of Gameplay is loitering Kandarin's spotlight page fledgling, *cough* the WA Security Council *cough*, some definitions might need tweaking (Liberation), and a few mentions here and there might be noteworthy for it. Password Raiding might need a mention too, if your going to mention the Liberation Category.


I'd prefer not to change the definition of liberation, because using that name for the SC category is confusing and somewhat controversial (I'm kind of hoping we can change it), and the SC version is not an actual military operation. I might footnote it to the Tactics post and a new SC section.

I didn't mention password grabbing, region hawking, or anything else along those lines, because it's not central to the raiding game. Password grabbing, in particular, is a perversion of the Influence rules, and I don't think a step-by-step of how to grief regions belongs in a primer.

On the SC... I'll add a section in under Tactics once I figure out how it's being used. The "Liberation" category does need an blurb because it isn't (as far as I can see) explained elsewhere what exactly it does.

And because Newbies might be using this, it might be nice to create a small category just for warzones in the essay, talk about why the zones were drastic failures in detail as you did in the Defender write-up.

Do you mean separate that part out into a new section? Because there's really nothing else to add about the warzones.

Also I believe Banning a nation requires half of the victim's influence as an influence cost. No? (I heard that somewhere)

Banning yourself takes "about half" of your Influence, so that would seem to be the correct conclusion. However, see below.

Safalra's list of Influence Descriptors in order, could be useful too...

It was already linked, here:
2. Influence - The Delegate's power is absolute, but not entirely limitless. Each WA Delegate has an amount of Influence to spend in order to use Regional Control. This amount is represented by the descriptive "Regional Influence" label on his or her nation. Influence allows you to eject or banject (eject and ban) nations, and to institute or change the regional password. All nations gain Influence, but only WA Delegates can spend it in this way.


The list would take up more space, but is pretty useless for military purposes. The little titles don't tell you what you can do; only Regional Control does. Because not all Minnows (or anything else) are equal.

There does seem to be a set level for setting passwords, but as an update defender I haven't had cause to keep track of it (someone tells me it's "Power", but it would be a pain in the neck to spend the time getting there just to confirm). You can't control Influence, you can't predict Influence, you can't plan around Influence, you can only sit there and wait for update to tick over to see if you have enough. That's one of the things we hate about it.

What I could do is add an appendix for all the random lists. Stick it in above the disclaimer, I guess.

Thanks for the input.
Last edited by Naivetry on Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unibot
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Re: Military Gameplay: A Basic Guide to Raiding and Defending

Postby Unibot » Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:31 am

Links die, Naivetry. See all of the old stickies for reference - they're ridden with bad links.

I'd use a spoiler tag if you're worried about space,
1.Hermit
2.Hegemony
3.Dominator
4.Superpower
5.Power
6.Powerbroker
7.Eminence Grise
8.Enforcer
9.Dealmaker
10.Instigator
11.Contender
11.Negotiator
12.Auxiliary
13.Ambassador
14.Diplomat
15.Envoy
16.Duckspeaker
17.Handshaker
18.Truckler
19.Vassal
20.Minnow

Just make sure you give Safalra credit! :D


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