Some thoughts as a first time player

I gave this game a try after a friend asked me to join a game with him. While initially it was an interesting and fun concept, I have to say that overall the experience was mostly one of disappointment.

To start with, the map was wildly, ridiculously unbalanced. I don’t know if this is typical of the maps in the game, or particular to this game alone, but it was literally game-breaking. It was a 32 player ring, with a dense, initially unreachable core of stars. The ring was fine, the problem was that there were two player positions could reach the core at range 3, while most couldn’t until at least 6. I couldn’t even get to it until range 7 - and this was true even at the point where I controlled close to a quarter of the ring and still had no access. This led to a single player completely occupying the entire core because the other decided - for some reason I can’t begin to fathom - to stop his advancement into the core and suicide in a war against his neighbor.

I’ve read the frequent response to this kind of unbalance is to “ally up” against them but, to put it frankly, that’s bullshit. This player had of course formed an alliance with both his neighbors, so each went a different direction (either direction on the ring and the core). When you are completely unable to act much beyond your immediate vicinity, especially early on, there is literally nothing you can do about it when a SINGLE player gets unfettered access to 60+ stars for more than 2 weeks that early in the game. If it had been an issue of just one range tech difference or so for all player positions, so that it could have been a strategic choice to try to contest core, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But four levels of tech difference is terrible map design.

Next, and I understand this is an acknowledged problem, but there was a very large number of afks/quitters at start which completely upend starting game position. Some players had extremely easy initial expansion because of this; in a game that is entirely about the snowball that’s a serious problem. However, what I was exceptionally bothered by was the number of “premium players” I saw that basically didn’t like their initial position and so chose instead to basically sit in game and do nothing but act as spoilers. Some openly admitted to doing this in diplo messages, others made it obvious that’s what they were doing simply through their actions, but given so much of this game is about interaction with your neighbors all did a disservice to the game with their blithe disinterest.

Worst of all however (or perhaps it’s what some of those “players” were intended to be all along) I was also thoroughly disgusted by what I can only classify as a “feeder player”. While it would be hard to prove it was explicit cheating, the dominant player in our game benefited from another premium player that did very little the entire game beyond initial expansion and building of infrastructure. Then, once the dominant player in the game reached them, they gave the “feeder” 7 levels of weapons tech (but nothing else) and the “feeder” fed their developed stars to said player while sending their entire fleet to suicide/weaken the next player down, opening the way for the dominant player. This dominant player was already in an alliance with the same player that took the entire core as well as the player to the other side of him, so it was patently clear the “feeder” player would not get any kind of win or position in the overall game and was acting only to snowball the dominant player. I was not playing close enough attention throughout the early game, so don’t know if he had benefited from earlier “feeders” that helped his rise, but it was readily apparent in the case I observed. Frankly, even if it’s just collusion and not actual “cheating”, it’s IMO shitty sportsmanship and completely antithetical to the spirit of the game. And once again, all these players are premium players, so they know exactly what they are doing.

Everything else: players being stupid or selfish, making short sighted decisions, fighting amongst themselves instead of banding up against obvious threats - those are all forgivable and just the nature of having human players (and I will readily admit that I reaped the benefit of those players myself). But the issues I first described are structural problems that ruin the game. It was disappointing in the extreme to spend weeks investing time in this just to have absolutely no chance of winning because of them. I don’t need to win, but I need the game to have an element of fairness - and each of these contributed to the feeling from start to finish that it was anything but.

Overall, I came away with the impression that there is a very strong undercurrent of veteran player behavior that is cliquish, unethical, and against the spirit of the game. I realize that it’s inapt to draw these kind of conclusions from a single game and do want to give it another try, if for no other reason than to see if a less broken map changes the game dynamic. But this first one left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I wanted to express my thoughts about it to see if this is a typical experience. Some thoughts as a first time player.

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Sorry to hear that your first game was a drag. It sounds like you got into a 32 player ultra game which definitely can be skewed and difficult to negotiate, especially as a first timer. I would recommend just a standard game… Those are usually pretty balanced. There are always incongruities in terms of starting positions. That is part of the fun… But also a drag. Especially when players quit because the position sucks. The bigger the map and the more players potentially increases the likelihood of this, so keep it small at first. Because such a big part of this game is diplomacy, it is important to keep a pulse on what everyone else is doing and act accordingly. If one player or a couple of players working together get out to a big lead, you HAVE to take actions and get everyone you can on board with teaming up to stop them. That is the nature of the game. It probably will happen in just about every game at some point. I particularly don’t like the ring style maps because of what you mentioned and won’t play those ones.I hope you can give it another try because you sound like what we need more of here. Someone who is considerate and willing to call out bad behavior. Not all of us are bad. :slight_smile:

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Sorry to hear your first game was bad. The current 32 player games are (in my opinion) unbalanced and those advantages of being able to control the middle first does create quite a large advantage that makes it hard to ever come back.

The problem right now, is that due to this coronavirus pandemic, there is a huge wave of new players who came across NP and are now playing this game. However, these players have never played this kind of game before and doesn’t take this as seriously as most of the veterans here. Back when I used to play 64 player maps, there were maybe 1 or 2 AFK people, but never more. The maps were also more balanced and not too skewed for a couple players. I suggest you don’t play 32 player games at the start. These games are after you have developed a strong knowledge of the different mechanics, rules, and factors of the game. Even veterans have hard times in 32 player games. You should definitely practice in 8 player games before you join a 32 player.

As for the behaviors of the people who play NP. Most veterans don’t act like that. You probably came across a very unlucky server filled with new, or semi new players.

Jay had a few 64 player games that everyone started in small groups of 4 players that were close together. then as you got range it branched out 3 other groups of 4 for a total of 16 players. which reached out again into the 4 sectors of the galaxy. each sector with 16 players.

personally I thought those maps were the best. you had 3 players near you at the start well within range. you either teamed up or fought it out. then by the time you were done (or not) you could reach the next set of players (or they could reach you). would love to see those games again.

Ah yes, I loved those butterfly maps.

Just to mention, I was actually one of the top game leaders for most of the game, and realistically was the number 2 player when I resigned, but knowing the alliance of three that included the number 1, 3, and 4 players who were just snowballing their tech lead I realized I had no chance. So my issues weren’t really with getting the game mechanics down as I was actually quite successful. My issues came a lot more about how the afks/abandoners skew the game, and the late(r) game actions of veteran players that I felt were very much against the spirit of the game. I appreciate the feedback from those of you that have commented.

Are all the 32 player maps like the one I played? I did notice that the map “label” in the game settings is a different map in the new 32 player game than the one I was previously in.

Did you completely finish your first 32 player game?

Like did the first place person accept victory?

No, I resigned the game yesterday before an official victory had occurred, as I had saw no point in continuing. The main alliance’s victory was a given, and the number 1 player was just pulling further and further ahead of me. No one else came anywhere close to being able to compete with him.

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After you QUIT, did your empire finish in 2nd or 3rd place ? In a 32 player game, 2nd place player earns 16 rank, and 3rd place player earns 8 rank. All remaining non-AFK players earn 1 rank.

As another relatively new player I agree with most of this, but think you’ve probably hit one of the more extreme ends of the scale. There’s definitely a dice toss that can make victory impossible. It helps if your can be satisfied helping your allies win even if you don’t rank, knowing that they might return the favor in a later game. There’s also a lot of satisfaction in being a pain in the ass when you’re obviously going to die!

The circular map is without doubt the most unbalanced, due to the range issue. Normally it’s a 1-2 tech advantage for 1 or two players, but occasionally it’s more. Also the first to the middle doesn’t necessarily keep it (I think it’s been held by the first taker in about 2 out of 5 circle games I’ve been in). Having defended it in one of those, I can assure you that defending all sides is hard even with the planet boost.

One thing I’d note is that the diplomacy aspect of the game is by far the most important I’m in 32p games, which smooths out the imbalances a little (awarding rank only to top 3 diminishes this imho)

As to feeders and afk players… Yup, 100% hard agree. I’m also very disappointed that there are plenty of longer term players guilty of these behaviours.

The game is still going, AFAIK.

Is there a game link you can send for us to see?

https://np.ironhelmet.com/game/6464604780363776

I would say, that you guys quit too early. Fnord, only had 12000 ships and had full control of the middle. Yellow Triangle, pink triangle, blue hex, green square, all could invade the middle without having to worry about their flanks if you guys all allied together. If that happened Fnord wouldve fallen instantly.

Doesn’t even look like he was first place. Seems like it was pink and purple hex vs all. Definitely a winnable game. Sure it would be difficult to plan out, but I literally just had a game where it was 3 people who were dominating, and I formed a 12 person alliance to shut them down.

But yea, based on star count, ship count, empire development, and the status of the other players, you definitely quit way too early. You’re the only major empire who quit while everyone else is still fighting. You should’ve tried to form an allliance with the rest of the people instead of ragequitting because the map was unbalanced. That only makes it even more unbalanced for the others who are playing the game, and you don’t even get any rank because they will just take all your stars.

You made some good points @Ericus1 about how some maps (especially circular) can be really unfair … and that AFK/QUIT’s are definitely the scourge of NP. No easy solution to those … although if you play Premium-Only, the quality of play goes up and AFK/QUIT’s go down.

BTW, while I agree that veteran players will seek out alliances, rest assured we still duke it out … and like nothing else better than to SMASH them … as I have been on the receiving end many times.

In fact, the first time I played against @Solfyre, I went after him early on in the game (which I recall was a crazy 24-tick jump game) … and while he ended up helping me in that game, he “returned the favor” in the next time we ended up in the same game as he led a coalition to SMASH the HULK.

Fnord (purple hex) wasn’t the issue, VSS (pink hex) was. He was by far the dominant player in the game. The issue was that pink hex, purple hex, and pink square were all in an alliance, and had multiple levels of tech advantage in all techs over all other players, and were simply snowballing their lead. Blue hex was the idiot who was the only other player with easy access to mid that decided instead to spend most of the game fighting green square. Pink and yellow triangle had been fighting in mid for over a week and made absolutely no progress. I was going to have to fight pink hex alone after orange square suicided his fleet against my orange triangle ally, fed his systems to pink hex, and then immediately resigned.

I’m VSS in that game.

I haven’t cheated. I’m not unethical or cliquish. I’ve played the game a lot. I gave Fnord the middle and told him it’s a tough run out there. In exchange I got my entire back sheltered by my alliance. As far as I know, Fnord is a new player who actively wanted to have some fun out in the middle. I knew it was a poisoned chalice - I think Kaine is the only one I’ve seen win from there. Suited me.

I then rolled 6 weapon bumps in a row. Sounds ridiculous but it’s how it happened and it meant I didn’t need to deal with anyone, I was 2 or 3 levels up on each engagement. Then I just started moving South and rolling player after player. Some of them quit too early and some, like Boothole, asked me for weapons and help on the basis they could exact some revenge on the players attacking them. This is what I received from Boothole:

"*I am getting creamed by 3HR Giger who is working on behalf of 2Ericus1 and has loots of weapons.

Any chance we can work together and share weapons tech so that I can hold off 3HR Giger

We can attack the guy between us that is AI now."

So I did the deal, gave him weapons and he launched on you guys. For the avoidance of doubt, I would have rolled him anyway but I used his request to help me out. I was likely going to roll you if you stayed in the game. But, my alliance was dwindling, Bluurg is being attacked from the North by Deepsix and Fnord is struggling in the middle. If I had to fight you as well, I would have been spread pretty thin trying to get a 3 man alliance up.

Anyway, sometimes you get a bit lucky combined with some decent diplomacy and you can just steam roll a map. Happens. It wasn’t cheating.

Ahaha I was actually about to say that. I knew VSS was familiar, and your rank and badges were something I remember seeing often. However, you weren’t using your usual character so I didn’t mention it.

Ericus, I think you just got an unlucky game where the people who weren’t doing so well decided to fight each other instead of working together to fight the larger threat. It happens often when new players are the majority of the game. But I can vouch for Vinegar, he’s a man of his word, and if he says he didn’t cheat, then he didn’t cheat.

Vinegar is a very tough opponent nevertheless. Don’t be salty you got crushed by him. Many of us experience that from him all the time, and he does it without cheating.

mate - I’ve only been back in this game for a few months but the drama!

Play another one Ericus - sometimes you get smashed - I took a beating from Kaine and Hallos a few weeks ago, it’s good for the soul.

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In response to your initial point about the range required to reach center, definitely agree that the disparity is an annoyance that makes circular maps the least fun variant. I wish they were the last resort game map but for some reason they seem to be the first choice. @xjhdexter do you know why that is?

With that said, the situation of 3 or 4 levels range difference required to reach center is a rarity.

@Kaine , I’m not sure that the “let someone else win, so they can let you win in a later game” is a very reassuring thing to comment in response to some of his issues in regard to veterans preferring each and making deals that don’t necessarily benefit them in that game… I think it’s important to try and treat each galaxy as a fresh start. Obviously you get to know some players and trust comes along with that, but like @HULK said you gotta ally sometimes and smash sometimes :smiley: