Some thoughts as a first time player

Yea, story of my life. I swear, every game I’m in nowadays has drama in it.

I do not fully know how @JayKyburz controls the RNG.

@JayKyburz designed NP to be Diplomacy in SPace … pace … ace … ce …

So everything goes & everything is negotiable. New players are thrown together with the veterans. MUHAHAHAHA !!! And RNG the stars . . . NP emulates very much like historical warfare.

As mentioned about the layout of Circular Maps, it really sucks when players don’t have any reasonable path to the middle.

I’ve suggested this a few times, but what would be really cool is an option (or the default!) to seed another player “position” dead center in the map (along with all the stars and a core star (but not built up) in the middle) … but NOBODY owns those stars. This way, you can “fill” the center … which should provide reasonable paths for most/all players to go there … with a core star in the middle to fight over in a “King of the Hill” type game - heck, maybe make it a resource 100 star! :wink:

I’m not in that game, but it does sound like @VinegarStrokes worked the diplomacy angle well (especially an “enemy of yours is an enemy of mine”) and he’s right that the the middle is a “poisoned chalice” as it truly is the HOT SEAT … but it’s a ton of fun trying to pull off a win from there.

I remember one game where I had the easy path to the middle and nobody else did … so I basically had over 2X the stars (and everything else plus Weapons advantage) of everyone else and was rocking it. And then the whole board when “SMASH the HULK” against me … so ships were flying at me from all directions. Even getting ANGRY didn’t help as I went down hard and fast.

If you see me in a future galaxy @Ericus1 (I play as HULK - green color if possible!), send me a PM and if the geometry of the board is such it makes sense to align/work together, then lets SMASH! :wink:

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Greetings, ‘Fnord’ here - the player who took the centre in the game under discussion. Just thought I would give my perspective (which might be long and rambling…). Yeah, I’m a ‘newbie’ (to this game) who found this site as the Covid-19 shutdown was starting to bite. I’ve played similar games before, and lots of board games (inc. Diplomacy - IMHO probably the most accurately named game ever), and even designed a game or two, so I got a grip on the mechanics readily enough.

After playing 4-5 8-player games, and doing quite well (won two, 2nd in another) I felt it was time to try my hand at a 32-plyr map. The whole ring with an initially-untouchable core thing look enticing. This is my third such game. So this is what I have observed about trying to take the middle (and the good and bad about the game in general):

In my first 32-plyr game, I had essentially no access to the centre (much like Ericus1 in this game). Nevertheless I had a nice looking start - which ended up spoilt by a jealous neighbour who made (in my mind) a thoroughly unreasonable demand, and promptly worked to screw me over for as long as they lasted in the game when I rejected it. I could see one position that only needed HRange-4 to get to the centre (no HR-3 access at all that game - which at the time I thought was the standard) and thought they should have it made, but they AFK’d. The player two positions North of them headed down there, but was not dedicated to the cause and by the time they started dominating the centre, they already had to share a good chunk with another player, with a third nipping at their heels. None of them won, or, IIRC, were even in the winning alliance.

In my 2nd game, I had the sh*ttiest start position I’ve seen for any player in any game I’ve been in. Squashed close on two sides with access to a thin dribble of 3-4 poor worlds which gave me the only option I could see. If not for that option I would have quit promptly. That option was to ally on one side, bluff on the other, send almost all my ships around the dribble to the inside worlds of the player North of me, threaten them with my force there to get them to back off and let me pass - and shoot for the centre via the only route in the game that just needed HRange-3. That required racing to cut past two other positions (managed that), then charge inwards before another player got to the lynchpin world that held the key to the entire centre. They beat me by 9 hrs, but with either a lone ship or maybe 10 ships (I don’t recall now). I had 30+ ships so still thought I might win out, but that world was a res 45+ world and they had saved up enough to dump 6 Ind on it, which churned enough ships to beat me by literally one ship. I congratulated them and - having an otherwise completely unviable position, moved on. I signed off to them with “Now: don’t disappoint me - win the game from here :wink:”. While they are part of the winning 4-player alliance, I am a little disappointed that they are last out of those 4, with another member having done a massive steamroll around the ring to end up with more worlds than the rest of their allies combined.

So with this, my 3rd game, I found myself with a decent start, but quick limits on expanding further without warring with at least one neighbour, and I was already friendly with one, and heading that way with the other (VSS). I felt that war with either would likely have led to a pyrrhic victory at best (who knows? would have been a completely different game), so instead I sort-of repeated my previous game actions, and used something a bit like stand-over tactics to ‘encourage’ VSS to cooperate with my mad plan to go for the centre again :smile: I reckon it worked out as a good call for all of us.

I wouldn’t call it a poisoned chalice as VSS puts it, but I knew going in that gunning for the centre wouldn’t be trivial, and would certainly be an interesting challenge - which is exactly what I was looking for. While I enjoy a win as much as the next guy, a win or a competative loss against tough odds or an interesting set-up is much more satisfying. When another player started down the only other HRange-3 route to the centre, I did a lot of planning on how best to meet and contain them, in order to claim as much of the centre as possible. In the end, as Ericus1 noted, that player backed off (possibly because they were too pressed by their neighbour). It has been close, though, and so far I have been happy with how quickly I spread out and took the centre, and with (so far) holding off against two other sizable players throwing thousands of ships my way. Win or lose I’m certainly enjoying playing against the challenge I wanted!

I can attest that VSS did indeed get 2-3 Weapons tech levels in quick succession - and I’m reasonably certain that happened before they had much - even any? - interaction with Boothole. They said at the time that they got lucky with experiment boosting that one tech multiple times, and that matched the evidence I could see concerning when they gained the tech levels. I saw no unethical or unreasonable play on their part, and don’t believe there was anything prearranged with Boothole (I agree that behaviour like that would turn me off this game fast). The latter player then behaved in a way that is, in my experience, not only fairly common in this game, but in many conflict-centred games: they turned ‘Kingmaker’. More specifically, though, and casting a more respectable light on their actions, they decided they would rather lose their stuff to the new arrival than the bitter enemy they were already engaged with. That is a quite understandable if unfortunate tendency on the part of many otherwise perfectly fair and even-handed players. Ultimately I believe it comes down to the fact that this is only a game, and you don’t lose everything by abandoning a position that way and moving on, whereas the poor virtual denizens of one’s erstwhile empire would make different decisions, were they able… As such I think it is better not to drag that sort of thing out for long, and just quit and leave the AI to deal with the situation more ‘fairly’ (the AI relationship mechanism is quite nnice there, I think, although could be improved on). I’d like to find (or design) a game that includes specific mechanisms to deal with that sort of problem in-game, as I don’t think human nature is likely to change anytime soon!

So what’s my take on the whole unequal-access to the centre issue? I actualy like it! While it seems like there will often be only one or two ways in that don’t require HRange-4+, there will usually be a couple more ways to get in with HRange-4, and so on for each subsequent HRange level. That means getting to the centre and being left alone there for long enough to take the vast majority of it is no mean feat, and takes dedication and careful planning, and typically a good dose of diplomacy and politicking with your neighbours/allies. A dose of luck doesn’t hurt either, but then, that’s true of almost any situation in this game.

Even then, you have to spend a fortune to develop the centre, all while fending off Johnny-come-latelies from all directions. As such, it is one strategy amongst many, not dominant, but not terrible either, making for a richer game overall. Which strategy you choose will depend a lot on luck, which is perhaps not so good, but missing out on the centre-run because of an unaccommodating start just means you should be picking another strategy - and there is skill in understanding your start set-up and playing to it. Having played that strategy in this game and enjoyed it, even if I don’t win, I’d be hoping for a set up that gives me a different opportunity next time, and not counting my game lost from the start if I can’t immediately contest the centre.

I do, however, share Ericus1’s annoyance with elements of luck in the game - particularly one’s starting set-up. I think more thought should be put into the game initialisation routines to make starts fairer and more balanced. Not in terms of centre access, but in terms of numbers and resource ratings of near-by worlds, and the degree of overlap they have with your neighbouring positions, along with whether or not you have a whole or partial HRange-2 gulf between yourself and your neighbour. Evening this out would likely give more options to choose from on how to develop, and reduce the chance of leaving some really horrible positions that will likely just be abandoned and serve to provide an easy ramp-up for their neighbours.

I don’t feel there were that many from-the-start AFK positions in this game - maybe 4-5 out of 32 players. I think, though, that the game would be improved by turning them over to AI much faster. I suggest have it as another setting - but make it aggressive by default: do something in the first 4-5 ticks or you’re out - with the first tick running for several hours (even a whole day?) after game start so everyone has a chance to log in and take stock, regardless of sleep/work cycle. Maybe ease off after that.

Also: experimentation. I know it works differently in the premium version of the game (I haven’t bitten the bullet and gone premium yet - two games at a time is about my limit anyway! - so I haven’t had a chance to try it out), and that way seems fine (if a bit boring and mechanical). I like the idea of experimentation, though, so I would keep it, but tweak it - maybe split the amount between two different techs, or reduce/remove the chance of boosting the same tech twice in a row. That was possibly the biggest luck factor that contributed to VSS achieving the lead position they have (along with their considerable skill - I’m not implying luck alone can win you this game!). Also, luck with that experiment boost is less important after the early cycles.

So those are my thoughts: I don’t think VSS did anything wrong (although, being part of the relevant alliance, I can understand that there might be a perception of bias), and I actually now think the limited centre access makes for a more interesting game, not a hugely unbalanced one. I do agree there are luck problems with the game, but think that shows up in other ways, and has other remedies. I also think 'AFK’s and abandoned (but not quitted) positions can be a significant issue, and think they should be weeded out faster and more aggressively. I am not sure the mechanics of the game will hold my attention for that long, but so far I have enjoyed the challenges I’ve had (fighting 6 AIs almost single-handedly in an 8 plyr game, or my other current 8-plyr game, where my start was so strung out two of my start worlds were out of HRange-1 from the rest of my worlds!), and will continue to play so long as that is the case (or I find something else compelling to distract me :wink:)


they had that before. not sure why jay took it away. the core star was worth 60 though. not necessarily a king of the hill type of game, but you had to have a lot of range to get to the core star.

I like the idea of a king of the hill game. take and hold the core star for 48 hours to win.

Welcome @Shadowlands.

To be clear, I meant that e.g. if I’m the weakest person in an alliance of 4, I take satisfaction in the alliance winning even if I don’t rank myself, and I know that most good allies will do the same if the situation was reversed.

There are a bunch of players I ally with when I can. I have also fought against virtually all of them at some point.

I realise that it came across very differently in the context of the other issues mentioned!

It seems to me that the easy fix to circular galaxies is to increase the starting HR level by 2 or 3. Surely Jay can do that without too much trouble.

My hazy recollection is that hex galaxies give edge players an advantage over the center, so circular galaxies were considered fairer from that perspective. I guess that was the appeal of the fancier butterfly setup, that it contained elements of both.

Yep, I figured that’s what you meant. Just wanted to clarify for ericus :slight_smile:

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FYI that my comment about putting a “player position” in the middle means not just the corestar … but others around it … but these are not occupied … although I guess could be by the AI … but it tends to be stupid and could unfairly shift the balance.

This will have the effect of filling in the middle and providing reasonable routes from most/all players … so there is not only more competition early on, but the HOT SEAT gets even HOTTER! :wink:

Good post @Shadowlands

I second that, I would make a feature request to add that game mode, but Jay doesn’t seem to reply to anything nowadays