Dear Abby,

I am in a 64 player game. I am the sole survivor of a trading alliance that never quite got its act together. To my immediate east and west are two mega-alliances. An empire in the western alliance was on course to wipe me out, when I managed to convince the leading empire of the eastern alliance that my collapse was not in his interest. I am now for all intents and purposes a vassal state of this player. This player and his ally have decimated one member of the western alliance, and is about 80 stars from the win. I have 45 stars, and I am a little nervous to be honest.

That is not my problem. I am happy to be alive. The leading empires of the eastern and western empires are about to engage, and this promises to be an end game for the ages. I am happy to be playing a role, however humble it may be at the moment. The following graphic displays the star count of the leading eastern (red) and western (purple) empires.

The western player who nearly annihilated me has to my surprise approached me. Without plainly saying so, I believe he is trying to assess my willingness to turn on my benefactor.

That is not my problem either. In principle I would have no qualms about backstabbing the leading player in order to forestall the win, if I thought it would be effective and I had a chance of prolonging my playing time and thus my chances to place (however remote the odds). I don’t know if that is the case in this game, but I am not losing sleep over it.

My problem is this chart:

This chart displays the star count of the four members of the western alliance. It plainly shows that three of the members are yielding stars to the leading empire in order to keep him competitive with the eastern player, and perhaps with the intent to steal the win. That this behavior is occurring has been corroborated to my satisfaction by multiple sources throughout the galaxy.

I personally believe that this is pathetic. I had described this as a “chickenshit maneuver” to @Brian_Flowers in the first team game, and I believe he adopted a gentlemen’s agreement against this behavior in the second team game. This is not a formal team game, but it is clear that in order to prosper in a regime of scan-trade limits you must have a well functioning team. This is instead a game where I believe you should play to win, yet three of those four empires are sacrificing their ability to place, let alone win, so that one of their own can steal the win. Am I overreacting?

More importantly, what should I do? Should I backstab the leading player, since clearly the odds are now higher that this tactic will be effective, and thereby help the western alliance steal the win? Should I suicide into the western alliance, and yield my stars to the leading player to counteract this poor behavior by engaging in poor behavior of my own? Should I do nothing and turtle in my pathetic little empire?

Please, Abby, help me. I am impaled on the horns of a dilemma. The pain of the impalement is causing me to lose sleep, and I am attempting to soothe the pain by increasing my Jameson intake (believe it or not). As a result I am sending large fleets in the wrong direction, shipping exorbitant tech transfer fees to the wrong players, and increasingly unable to make the damned battle calculator work properly. What should I do?

Desperately yours,
Nonplussed in NP2

I would like to think that the leader of the game is working hard to convince red and blue to turn on purple for a promise to be be supported into second place.

I would like to think that red and blue would entertain the idea.

I kind of think that there needs to be something more a large player can do for a small player to make them feel like they can get back in the game.

I think the “snowball effect” of NP2 is one of the more significant problems facing the game, more so than the other concerns brought up recently. I know that there is one game I’m currently in, and another game that I just finished, that turns into just waiting for the other players to steamroll you. It’s clear rather quickly especially in a bigger game if you’re going to be in the running to win or not. So the goal as you state Jay, should be how can a smaller player “stay in the game” in at least some capacity.

Some of this I think can be attained by the Terraforming/Banking suggestions bandied about recently.

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P.S. My dilemma resolved itself. The eastern leader attacked me, and also had his allies abandon stars to him faster than the western leader could take stars for his mates. Game over. Yuck.

So much for limits on star abandonment. Players determined to bail will bail.

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Red and Blue might have considered that, but no, the leader didn’t propose that. And it would be hard to offer 2nd to either of them when he already had his own staunch ally, possibly two. I’d like to repeat the request to allow more than the top three players to earn points for their finishing places in 64-player games. That might have provided more incentive to keep the game going. Once it’s obvious you’re not going to be in the top 3, why bother?

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I believe the points are divided by 2 for each place. That’s 7 players. Am I wrong?

I think in a 64 player game the top 10 people should be able to win some rank points. If it was a 32 player game then the top 5 people should be able to win some rank points. Anything lower should stay at the top 3 people getting rank points.

This way the chances of getting some rank points in a 64 player game would be around 15%, The chances of getting rank points in a 32 player game would be around 15%, and the chances of getting rank points in a 16 player game would be around 18%. In a normal 8 player game then a player would still have the best chances of getting some rank at around 37%. This is assuming players don’t quit so the chances of getting rank points would be a lot higher realistically in the bigger games. The small games then people usually stick around more often.


Another possibility to allow weaker players to benefit from more powerful players in large games would be some variation of "formal alliance’ whereby all players within an alliance combine their overall star count toward the win condition, and gain points according to their relative percentage of stars within their alliance. Number of stars required for victory would be necessarily higher.

So for example, in a 64 player game if the star count required to win was set at 60%, and I had a 3-way alliance in which I held 40% of the overall stars, another ally held 15% of the overall stars, and my other ally held 5% of the overall stars, our alliance would win, and I would gain 67% of the points normally awarded to a solo winner (40% of 60), my 2nd ally would gain 25% of the points normally awarded to the solo winner (25% of 60), and the third ally would recieve the remaining 8%.

If I am short of victory by a number of stars, I can convince someone to join my alliance for the win, but give up some potential VPs in doing so. Likewise, an ally could be convinced to back out of the alliance and drastically reduce my chances of winning.

Might not be a perfect solution, but some interesting possibilities to be sure.

I like where you are going with this, but I fear it might incentivize exactly the sort of behavior I described above. I wonder however if this might be adapted into a proper lord/vassal arrangement, whereby a weaker empire gains privileged access to trading, and maybe guaranteed cash flow, and in exchange the lord gets maybe 50% of the credit for the stars in the vassal’s empire toward the lord’s star count. Perhaps also increase the win condition for the 64 games to 50%. The vassal reserves the right to declare independence any time he chooses. Perhaps it is only under these conditions that two empires can trade without being in scan range.