Judging discussion thread

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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Subotai45 » 22 May 2018, 23:47

Sybus

I told Cons I was doing Sybus next, because it's the strongest contrast with Mattopia. This isn't because of a "best vs worst" but because I think that Cons is the opposite of 2018 Realism - he's Pure Sci-Fi. Like Matt draws inspiration from IRL militaries, Cons uses more videogames and anime, so his military looks drastically different from modern ones, and isn't the US Army but better. This can be cool, and makes a very unique force. But while I discussed last time how I think assuming no paradigm shifts, like Matt does, might be wrong, predicting the exact set of paradigms that change (like you have to do for the more Sci-Fi based doctrines). This is one way that Cons runs into trouble, because different assumptions about paradigms - especially when they diverge from the present - are hard for judges to deal with fairly, or even necessarily understand.

One of the major paragidm-shifts Cons predicts involves the nanolathe. This is functionally a technology that renders all other manufacturing as obsolete as the industrial revolution rendered cottage industry obsolete. There are a few issues with this: one, it would be completely unbalanced if fully implemented. It's a proprietary tech, and having one country able to outproduce all others by a long shot isn't really fair. Two, the science is kind of rough. This is understandable in a game where we're trying to extrapolate two millennia in advance, and no one really has a solid grasp of how the science would actually happen at this point. But, the argument between balance and realism that we make so often is tricky here. I think we usually err on the side of balance (colonial pops, pop caps for large nations, faster tech for small countries) and that judges usually do the same here. The science isn't strong enough to justify a game-breakingly strong device. The challenge is then for judges to implement this in a way that both acknowledges the time put into nanolathes, without completely discounting them, but also makes it fair for other countries to compete, even if they're a outproduced a little.

The other major paradigm shift is away from human soldiers to robotic ones (to an extent). I think this is a much more reasonable jump, and one I've made myself in some areas. Thus, Cons's armies are highly networked together through what are called commanders. In the discord recently, he pointed out that they're fairly easy targets and he's tired of people taking them out. That is a weakness of the doctrine. Although commanders have strong defenses, they are also quite large targets and while I've talked about how the high costs of missile warfare means that a good defense makes them uneconomical, a commander is valuable enough to justify any cost, so defending them is a lot harder. They also don't really hide - they're massive. And the nuclear weapons mean that they're generally an escalating force.

On that note - Sybus is inherently geared for all-out war. Their doctrine involves getting commanders somewhere with a bare minimum of forces and mass-producing to hold the region, hopefully long enough for forces from the home front to arrive. There's relatively little provision for small, lightly-armed intervening forces. But in a large war, forces from the homeland ever getting there is not a guarantee. Sybus has invested a lot in its land forces, but comparatively little to the other services. They're ready for titanic rounds of trench warfare or relatively static fronts - as long as it stays on solid ground. Navally, they lag behind other nations.

The Sybian solution is to build on historic strengths in mecha and robotics to make up for a lack of similar investment in aviation and naval warfare. This results in designs that are designed to do several tasks at once. In my view, designs that do this always have to make a tradeoff. This is one corollary of the Common Sense Rule* that was the founding guide of CYOC when it started: strengths are balanced by weaknesses, and Sybus sometimes doesn't appreciate the trade-offs.

Nevertheless, the Sybian is a large and capable force that shows how prediction of major paradigm shifts can yield one of the more unique armies in CYOC. It relies on quantity and the adaptability of individual designs to fight in several different modes, and the ability to quickly replace losses at the front lines. I think it's probably the best-designed force for trench warfare, and would jump to a "certainly" in my book if it did a few things a little better. One, invest in naval superiority or pick battles better. The last SEA war was fairly close - and it was basically North Vietnam against Pacifica, given how blocked-off the rest of Domuia was from the main fight. Sybus either needs to protect sea transport or fight where it isn't necessary. I personally dislike the transformer-style units, but think that they're completely workable if someone's prepared to accept the trade-offs.

I personally don't love the Sybian doctrine, but I think that recent reversals have more to do with the circumstances of the conflict (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, tech) rather than an inherent weakness in the Sybian doctrine, which I'm going to term "Quantity Sci-Fi." Quantity Sci-Fi is as far from Matt's Double-M Realism (Mobile+Missile) as you can get, and pretty much everyone fits between Mattopia and Sybus on those two axes (which might not be the most useful given how one is basically just philosophy and the other might not even be the most important attribute of an army, but it's what I'm using and you all are welcome to come up with radically different metrics).

*I have a lot to say about the rules and - especially important for me, "norm" - growth over the past few years. I think it's utterly fantastic.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby mat.gopack » 23 May 2018, 00:04

There's one point you neglected to mention, and that's the heavy (very heavy) defenses my nation has.

The philosophy evolved from very simple beginnings, actually - Mattopia was very spread out, and I had a small army. To defend my nation, I decided to adopt the following:

Very long range firepower, that would allow for support over extended areas (eg - the longest ranged missile launchers in Arabia could support Germany)
An elite army, as mobile and as firepower heavy as I could make it (that's where repulsors come in)
And super heavy border defenses, to slow and halt the enemy, while allowing time for my forces to come in + my long range fire to knock them out.

As for the navy, I would argue that most of my naval ships are *better* than the competitors, not worse - except, that part of that comes from having fewer. In total, my equivalent of a wet navy consists of 10 battleships, 10 carriers, 100 cruisers, 10 skimmer carriers, and ~200 subs. In comparison, Mobius has 34 Leviathans, ~500 subs, 118 battleships, and 670 screening ships - about 6-10x my navy's size.

Mobius' is probably more powerful, but in a one on one fight, I would argue that my ships would come out ahead.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Subotai45 » 23 May 2018, 00:37

Maybe, you do love quality. Don't think I said they were bad, per say, really not a huge fan of the flight though.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby mat.gopack » 23 May 2018, 00:45

Subotai45 wrote:Maybe, you do love quality. Don't think I said they were bad, per say, really not a huge fan of the flight though.

Oh, the flight is more of the mobility (flying is faster than being on the ocean) and versatility (able to go over land). They should definitely be less efficient than a non-flying one - I was just arguing that in specifics, one of mine would still be of higher quality than one of another nation, even if in the aggregate that wasn't the case.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Zander » 23 May 2018, 01:22

mat.gopack wrote:There's one point you neglected to mention, and that's the heavy (very heavy) defenses my nation has.

The philosophy evolved from very simple beginnings, actually - Mattopia was very spread out, and I had a small army. To defend my nation, I decided to adopt the following:

Very long range firepower, that would allow for support over extended areas (eg - the longest ranged missile launchers in Arabia could support Germany)
An elite army, as mobile and as firepower heavy as I could make it (that's where repulsors come in)
And super heavy border defenses, to slow and halt the enemy, while allowing time for my forces to come in + my long range fire to knock them out.

As for the navy, I would argue that most of my naval ships are *better* than the competitors, not worse - except, that part of that comes from having fewer. In total, my equivalent of a wet navy consists of 10 battleships, 10 carriers, 100 cruisers, 10 skimmer carriers, and ~200 subs. In comparison, Mobius has 34 Leviathans, ~500 subs, 118 battleships, and 670 screening ships - about 6-10x my navy's size.

Mobius' is probably more powerful, but in a one on one fight, I would argue that my ships would come out ahead.


I would also like to add how the defensive and missile policies mix together. Mattopian production may be smaller then similarly aged powers, but it is enormously defended (much of it is even buried). So if Matt wants to fight someone long term, his early war goal isn't necessarily to straight up win, its only to win enough so that the enemy cant outproduce his safe industry.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Zander » 23 May 2018, 01:23

Meanwhile, you cant missile or bombard him (easily) because half of his stuff is underground!
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Subotai45 » 23 May 2018, 15:35

However, what you said about Matt's industry is true, it's not just a function of GDP, so it'll take even more blowing up factories to have them producing the same amount of combat power, for lack of a better word, than I think you're appreciating. It's a lot easier for you to crank out the Z-squad than it is for Matt to custom-make a suit for every soldier. He has to destroy a lot of factories to avoid his soldiers getting swamped. It's not impossible of course. Matt's missiles are a terrific force-multiplier and the custom suits do provide a significant advantage, but I'm not sure if, in a full-scale war against Mobius, it would be enough to overcome the masses.

It seems to me is also a place where Matt's perhaps made a significant reduction in his own power in order to maintain doctrinal and moral consistancy. Unlike Venus, which is a relatively autocratic state, he does have a quite strong democracy with concerns for the lives of its citizens, so the "throw them in the meat grinder" model (or even a more moderate doctrine, with decently-armed but more numberous and slightly worse units) doesn't fit his concern with the lives of his workers as well, IMO.

In my opinion, the Mattibean factory-killing will be less effective than you think it will be. Most major powers have some mixture of underground, fortified factories, and more standard pieces in industrial areas. Matt's morals typically come into play here again - in judging his orders, he's typically quite concerned with collateral damage and takes significant efforts to avoid killing civilians even if it makes his operations trickier. I don't know if this concern will loosen if fighting escalates to this point (similarly with the custom suits: Matt may elect to start mass-production of more standardized units if he's loosing too many men to keep up the original method) but it's certainly something to consider.

Yeah, I forgot the defenses. Considering you've been the aggressor every time since I've arrived, like all communists, it fell through the cracks. In some ways, I think it works quite nicely, but it does seem to be almost a completely separate branch of thought than the rest of the military. You've simultaneously created the most developed set of static border defenses, and also the most mobile army by far. The significant investment in mobility, to me, doesn't make as much sense if the goal is to defend a set line of defenses. It definitely makes strategic sense to guard the borders well, given your comparative lack of land, but to be honest, Overkill does fly in the face of my (perhaps inaccurate) impression of Mattibea's flying columns of missile tanks zooming around all over the place.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Subotai45 » 23 May 2018, 16:20

How I Will Judge Large Wars in the Future
(a PS but this comes first: I realized this is kinda long but shows my reasoning. There's a TLDR at the bottom)

So I think that CYOC does have an issue with judging long conflicts. We essentially have a two-round, three-round soft limit, because by that point the random twists of life either steal someone, or we just kind of get bored, and it grinds to a halt. This is not really important to read unless you're looking to use me as a judge, and also sorry for all the text walls recently.

I've been experimenting with different ways to try and combat this. In Brazil and on Venus, I tried to adapt the looser roleplaying format by basically just processing everything as fast as it comes in. I like this in an ideal world - the simultaneous-resolution system of rounds can give some situations of mutual invasion which I think is kind of unrealistic and also not really as fun. But fatigue doesn't happen any slower in the no-round system, and people just forget without strong deadlines. I recommend having round deadlines, but also processing anything small as it comes in, and always processing early. That is what I'll be doing from now on. I get that it perhaps favors people who are here a lot to spam orders, but I honestly don't see it being that big a deal, because in the next paragraph I talk about how time will be more important in my judgings, and also I have no issue with more active players getting a little boost.

That's one way to fix the problem of CYOC having an issue judging not large, but long wars. We're very good at tens of millions fighting for a month, very bad at tens of thousands fighting for years. One solution I've done is basically just refuse to acknowledge the very idea of time, at least the long-term calendar kind (no one probably knows how long Brazil and Venus went on). This is a bad idea, as you probably thought ignoring something like time might be. Won't intentionally do this again. I think in the later rounds of the SEA War, Matt and I did give designated time lengths for order schedules, and I think that's the way to go. The fixed round deadlines should be for a specific length of time that all combatants know.

These deadlines need to be long - we have people geared for years of war, but there's no way we can do that if each deadline covers a month and we'd need to get through fifty of them to get through four years. I like six months as a round number, that still gives some control, if we know the war is going to be drag-down brutal and really long. But I don't think that there needs to be a standard, where for every judging, it's the same number. If Matt were to invade West Africa, for example, I'd be open to much shorter windows. I'd likely do a Sybus-Mobius war at six months a deadline though, but for all these situations, it would be a discussion between the players and judge to determine an appropriate range. If the war would last less than the window, then it ends in a round. Easy-peasy.

That's not enough to really give people the control they want over the opening of the conflict, while also modelling the long drawn-out wars we want (if that's what the two sides agree to fighting and are expecting especially). So at some point, which can vary, but honestly I'd often ending up doing it as R3 or R4, I'm going to start using what I'll call "Venusian Civil War Endings." For those of you not involved, the war basically got messy and large and we had a lot of fatigue. So I had everyone send in orders for the entire rest of the conflict, and I just extrapolated. They had best and worst-case scenarios and I just went through it until it was over. This way, you can have say, 1.5 years with tight control, and 5 with loose control in the VCW Ending, in just four rounds of judging (which is pretty good IMO). I'd also consider a period of longer orders, say, one year over six months, to allow some control, but also lengthen the time it covers IG. Just make sure everyone really knows about the change if you choose to implement variable time spans like that.

Now, handing over complete control to the judge for six months can be scary enough, and an indefinite amount of time is terrifying. I get it, what if you find your nation in a radioactive mess after I started the VCWE, and you would have given up half your country to keep the other half if you knew it would come to this? There are two things that need to happen to avoid situations like this.

1. A discussion between the two players beforehand. Yeah, this might seem a little gamey and not natural, but I prefer to think of it as continuing the collaborative roleplay aspect into the most competitive aspects of the game. Talk about what you want, and what you'd give up, to make sure you've got a similar idea of the where the conflict goes, best and worst-case scenarios. I'd also advise disucssing not just outlines of eventual peace terms, but also at which points you say uncle. Is it when you're forced out of the contested territory? When you lose your capital? When every last man, woman, and child is dead? I don't advise the last, but make sure both of you know whether this is a border skirmish or to the pain. And make sure the judge knows (probably have him around to moderate the convo), so if you agreed to stop when your capital is out, and the VCWE has you lose your capital within three months of the ending, he doesn't need to judge the part where you turn into radiactive sludge. Make it clear which weapons are off-limits (Carthage, orbital bombardment from Hadrian, Red Death, whatever) so we don't have messes like last time.

Sometimes, you can't come to an agreement. That's... ok. Wars in anger aren't the most fun to judge. And I think it's considerate to the judges, when they're taking on a project, to let them know how large and long it will be, and how full of angst. I love all of you but I'm imagining it's a lot less stressful for Zander to be judging my calm, negotiated war with Matt, than Kingpie judging my grumpy rampage against Liberation. And if you can't find a judge because they think it's going to be too much of a mess, then we lose the possibility for a cool war. Talk before shooting people.

2. Judges, especially in the VCWE, should avoid a single giant text block. Post as you write - it gives people a chance to say uncle if they realize it's much worse for them then they thought.

Finally, this is literally just what I'll be doing. If other people want to adopt elements of the style, that's great. I think that, from my experience in judging, this would be good and work pretty well. But I also haven't tried all of this at once yet in a full-scale war, so it is, as of now, somewhat unproven. But it gives a method of modelling long wars with a minimum of frustration and a maxiumum of fun and control - in my opinion. Feel free to discuss possible flaws in the plan/whatever.

TLDR
Long wars are hard and I want them to be easier.
Fixed, explicit, long time spans for each major order to cover. Smaller orders can be sent whenever.
A final order set that covers an indeterminate time and essentially conludes the war.
Negotiation between players beforehand on all the boundaries of the war.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby Zander » 23 May 2018, 22:26

Yeah, I forgot the defenses. Considering you've been the aggressor every time since I've arrived, like all communists, it fell through the cracks. In some ways, I think it works quite nicely, but it does seem to be almost a completely separate branch of thought than the rest of the military. You've simultaneously created the most developed set of static border defenses, and also the most mobile army by far. The significant investment in mobility, to me, doesn't make as much sense if the goal is to defend a set line of defenses. It definitely makes strategic sense to guard the borders well, given your comparative lack of land, but to be honest, Overkill does fly in the face of my (perhaps inaccurate) impression of Mattibea's flying columns of missile tanks zooming around all over the place.


It makes more sense when you realise Matt is French. All he wants to do is sortie with his valiant knights out of his gleaming communist castles.
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Re: Judging discussion thread

Postby mat.gopack » 23 May 2018, 22:54

Subotai45 wrote:However, what you said about Matt's industry is true, it's not just a function of GDP, so it'll take even more blowing up factories to have them producing the same amount of combat power, for lack of a better word, than I think you're appreciating. It's a lot easier for you to crank out the Z-squad than it is for Matt to custom-make a suit for every soldier. He has to destroy a lot of factories to avoid his soldiers getting swamped. It's not impossible of course. Matt's missiles are a terrific force-multiplier and the custom suits do provide a significant advantage, but I'm not sure if, in a full-scale war against Mobius, it would be enough to overcome the masses.

It seems to me is also a place where Matt's perhaps made a significant reduction in his own power in order to maintain doctrinal and moral consistancy. Unlike Venus, which is a relatively autocratic state, he does have a quite strong democracy with concerns for the lives of its citizens, so the "throw them in the meat grinder" model (or even a more moderate doctrine, with decently-armed but more numberous and slightly worse units) doesn't fit his concern with the lives of his workers as well, IMO.

In my opinion, the Mattibean factory-killing will be less effective than you think it will be. Most major powers have some mixture of underground, fortified factories, and more standard pieces in industrial areas. Matt's morals typically come into play here again - in judging his orders, he's typically quite concerned with collateral damage and takes significant efforts to avoid killing civilians even if it makes his operations trickier. I don't know if this concern will loosen if fighting escalates to this point (similarly with the custom suits: Matt may elect to start mass-production of more standardized units if he's loosing too many men to keep up the original method) but it's certainly something to consider.

Yeah, I forgot the defenses. Considering you've been the aggressor every time since I've arrived, like all communists, it fell through the cracks. In some ways, I think it works quite nicely, but it does seem to be almost a completely separate branch of thought than the rest of the military. You've simultaneously created the most developed set of static border defenses, and also the most mobile army by far. The significant investment in mobility, to me, doesn't make as much sense if the goal is to defend a set line of defenses. It definitely makes strategic sense to guard the borders well, given your comparative lack of land, but to be honest, Overkill does fly in the face of my (perhaps inaccurate) impression of Mattibea's flying columns of missile tanks zooming around all over the place.


Well, the proper comparison isn't my suits vs (Mobian reincarnation/clones/Sybus droid production) - that's obviously never going to be in my favor. Each of my suits is designed individually to some extent (the requirements for the neural monitoring that I need), and the training required to perform at a high level would take at least 6 months to a year.

For production, it's more likely to be my missile production vs their stuff - as in, can my sustained rate of destruction using missiles outpace their production. And that's a much tougher one to explore!

As for the defenses, keep in mind how small my army is and how widespread my territory is. I need something to block attacks, even with overwhelming firepower - and the defenses can house that overwhelming firepower, protect it, and generally allow them to do their work and destroy the enemy. Plus, one of the things I enjoy describing/designing in game are those wildly over-intricate defensive networks, so...
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