False Allies

Field of Glory: Empires is a grand strategy game in which you will have to move in an intricate and living tapestry of nations and tribes, each one with their distinctive culture.
Set in Europe and in the Mediterranean Area during the Classical Age, experience what truly means to manage an Empire.

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Chaosbadger
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False Allies

Post by Chaosbadger » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:54 am

I'm currently playing ten PBEM games of FOGE, some of which I have been really enjoying. However, in three of these games, I have been opportunistically attacked by allies, and this has spoiled my fun. For no apparent reason, these alliances were broken and I was attacked (when I was committed elsewhere). This makes the whole concept of an alliance utterly pointless. Pretending to be someone's ally and then attacking them is just trickery (and poor sportsmanship) rather than strategy. It's not what I play games like this for and, to be honest, not what I'd expect from what I'd have thought to be a more mature community. I have no problem with the idea of an alliance breaking down over time, e.g. based on some dispute, and the two nations ultimately ending up at war. However, calling yourself an ally so that another player leaves vulnerable borders and then declaring a snap war on them is just exploitative.

To avoid future frustration, I will probably restrict myself to single player from now on.

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Re: False Allies

Post by Yaitz331 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:56 am

The problem is that, in PBEM games, wars are really the only way to reliably transfer regions between allies, meaning that you need to break alliances, quickly go to war, make peace, wait ten turns, and re-ally with them.

devoncop
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Re: False Allies

Post by devoncop » Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:10 am

What players must realise is that the whole raison d'etre of the game is to win by achieving the highest legacy score.

If an ally is amassing a commanding lead in legacy it makes zero sense to remain allied with that player in anything other than the short term. You are merely playing the part of the "useful idiot" :D

I am second in one game I am in behind the Seleucids where I am the hideously weak client of their's Bactria.

I will be crushed if I try and rebel alone but am hoping the Seleucids get into a challenging war in the West so I can at least try to cause some problems.


I realise players participate for different reasons but trying to win would surely not be an unusual aim ?

Chaosbadger
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Re: False Allies

Post by Chaosbadger » Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:54 am

devoncop wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:10 am
What players must realise is that the whole raison d'etre of the game is to win by achieving the highest legacy score.

If an ally is amassing a commanding lead in legacy it makes zero sense to remain allied with that player in anything other than the short term. You are merely playing the part of the "useful idiot" :D

I am second in one game I am in behind the Seleucids where I am the hideously weak client of their's Bactria.

I will be crushed if I try and rebel alone but am hoping the Seleucids get into a challenging war in the West so I can at least try to cause some problems.


I realise players participate for different reasons but trying to win would surely not be an unusual aim ?
I play games like this for enjoyment, and I sometimes do a bit of role playing. For example, in one game I devoted considerable efforts to save Syracuse from being wiped out by Carthage, when it was clearly not in my long term interest to do so. In another game, I started out role playing as a very aggressive leader even though it was far from a good strategy. The ultimate goal may be to win, but not to win at any cost, and certainly not in a way that exploits game mechanics or that stops the game from being fun for everyone.

If I was concerned that another nation was amassing a lead, I may take measures to stop them, but I wouldn't try to trick them. After all, if an alliance means "don't attack the other nation unless you stand to gain from doing so", then it means nothing at all.

When you sign a peace treaty with another nation, you can't attack them for a number of turns (10 I think). I think there should be a similar mechanic in the game after breaking an alliance.

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Re: False Allies

Post by pnoff » Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:04 am

Chaosbadger wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:54 am
When you sign a peace treaty with another nation, you can't attack them for a number of turns (10 I think). I think there should be a similar mechanic in the game after breaking an alliance.
Totally agree with that, I think this is very inconsistent currently. Either have 10 turn timer on both or don't have timer at all.

In my view in-game alliances are very expendable and should be supported by private communication and public announcements. Lack of private chat in-game does not help :)

devoncop
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Re: False Allies

Post by devoncop » Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:22 am

The idea of a cooldown on an Alliance after it is broken before an attack can be made is a good one.

The only exception should be if an ally attacks the ally of a second nation. That second nation, despite being allied to the aggressor should not be prevented from defending their ally by declaring war on their aggressive ally.

Lysimachos
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Re: False Allies

Post by Lysimachos » Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:10 pm

Chaosbadger wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:54 am
When you sign a peace treaty with another nation, you can't attack them for a number of turns (10 I think). I think there should be a similar mechanic in the game after breaking an alliance.
pnoff wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:04 am
Alliances are very expendable and should be supported by private communication and public announcements. Lack of private chat in-game does not help
Totally agree with both these statement :!:
"Audentis fortuna iuvat"
- Virgilius

(Good luck favours the brave)

devoncop
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Re: False Allies

Post by devoncop » Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:35 pm

One other issue with this is that it is pretty unrealistic as Greek States were notorious for continually switching sides and allies in one war would very rapidly become enemies in the next.

In ancient times Thebes was notorious for continually switching sides, fighting both for and against the Persians and other states did the same.

Some players may not like this in terms of what they are looking for from a game but it is behaviour that can be justified historically.

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Re: False Allies

Post by SpeedyCM » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:51 am

History is replete with instances of one ally breaking an alliance and attacking the other.

As the game stands it takes two turns to break an alliance and then declare war, in my view this is plenty of warning.

devoncop
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Re: False Allies

Post by devoncop » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:22 am

SpeedyCM wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:51 am
History is replete with instances of one ally breaking an alliance and attacking the other.

As the game stands it takes two turns to break an alliance and then declare war, in my view this is plenty of warning.

+100

Agree completely.

Lysimachos
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Re: False Allies

Post by Lysimachos » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:41 am

devoncop wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:35 pm
One other issue with this is that it is pretty unrealistic as Greek States were notorious for continually switching sides and allies in one war would very rapidly become enemies in the next.

In ancient times Thebes was notorious for continually switching sides, fighting both for and against the Persians and other states did the same.

Some players may not like this in terms of what they are looking for from a game but it is behaviour that can be justified historically.
What we are discussing here is not the obvious possibility of changing alliances, it is only the way it should work in a more historical manner.
Changing side abruptly is not so easy in reality, given all the economical and political ties that an alliance brings with it.
It can cause grave financial and trading problems to the same nations that decides to break the pact as well as stirring furious resentment in a part, at least, of his citizens, strongly impacting the internal stability of the country.
To this point, Europa Universalis treats the subject in a much more sensible fashion foreseeing a great decrease in the nation stability when attacking an ally.
Not to say that the examples recalled to sustain the different opinion are reallyy few, related to a very small and particular area of operation and quite never regarding such a quick change of alliances that in two years ex allies confronted each other as enemies.

But, aside from these considerations, what an alliance should mean if it has substantially no effect and is so easy to break it?
Why then have it in the game at all?
And, to a wider extent, why have a diplomatic level of play if nothing of what you're doing here has a real impact on the game, where players can disregard without any penalty every effect of cooperation or alliances?
Do you really think this is in any way historical or maybe it just resembles the (inexistent) subtleties of a Risiko game?
Don't you think that giving the players a complete array of diplomatic instruments, really encouraging the players to think in a strategic manner, would enrich the fun of playing, adding a new layer of speculation in building your nation?
Though FoG Empire has up till now dedicated quite few efforts on the diplomatic side of the game, I still remain convinced that a strong push in this direction could only enhance the already great value of this title ...
"Audentis fortuna iuvat"
- Virgilius

(Good luck favours the brave)

devoncop
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Re: False Allies

Post by devoncop » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:26 am

Changing sides abruptly in reality has few consequences in real life providing it is planned for.

Think the Germans in WW2 in their treatment of the Soviets.

Some armies even changed sides only when arriving on the battlefield. The Earl of Warwick amongst others did this during the Wars of the Roses.

It is inconvenient and evidently annoying for some players and you may have play balance reasons to oppose the current system but it is anything but unjustified by history.

Changing sides was not common but it happened. Then again it is not ( in my experience) common in game either.

There are in fact multiple advantages to being in an Alliance, contrary to your statement that there are not, including full visibility of the strengths and position of your ally's forces to aid co-ordinated attacks, being able to draw supply from their lands, safe passage through them as well as the existence of an ally will often deter the AI from attacking you.

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Re: False Allies

Post by SpeedyCM » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:37 am

For starters the game already models economic repercussions of going to war as all trading between belligerents stops.
As for furious resentment of the citizenry, nope I'm not seeing this in the ancient world - this is not the modern world of nationalism and instant global communications, the average person of the ancient world isn't going to care a bit about global politics.

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Re: False Allies

Post by Lysimachos » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:54 pm

SpeedyCM wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:37 am
For starters the game already models economic repercussions of going to war as all trading between belligerents stops.
As for furious resentment of the citizenry, nope I'm not seeing this in the ancient world - this is not the modern world of nationalism and instant global communications, the average person of the ancient world isn't going to care a bit about global politics.
That's not really true.
In Republics like that of Rome or in democracies like that of the Greek city states the population voiced overtly its position about foreign affairs.
In monarchies kings had to take care about the opinion of the "nobiliores" who had their means to make feel their resentment, sometimes also stirring up and controlling revolts among their direct subjects.
"Audentis fortuna iuvat"
- Virgilius

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Re: False Allies

Post by Lysimachos » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:05 pm

devoncop wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:26 am
Think the Germans in WW2 in their treatment of the Soviets.
The Germans and Soviets never sealed an alliance but just a pact of non aggression, being clear to them that their respective spheres of influence were going to collide in a few years and both had concentrated their forces on that theatre of war to annihilate Poland before and to confront each othere then.
devoncop wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:26 am
Changing sides was not common but it happened.
When you say that changing side wasn't common is exactly what I'm arguing for.
If the statement is true the game must try to replicate the historical situation giving reasonable penalties when someone tries to force a complete turnaround of the alliances in two moves.
This, in turn, would also encourage everyone to think in strategical terms making the game much more subtle and challenging and, moreover, would remove the great advantages that nations on the edge of the map have against other countries, having only one flank to guard, while giving countries surrounded by many states the chance of building up a diplomatic pattern adequate to safeguard a bit more their exposed position ...
"Audentis fortuna iuvat"
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Re: False Allies

Post by SpeedyCM » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:18 pm

Lysimachos wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:54 pm
SpeedyCM wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:37 am
For starters the game already models economic repercussions of going to war as all trading between belligerents stops.
As for furious resentment of the citizenry, nope I'm not seeing this in the ancient world - this is not the modern world of nationalism and instant global communications, the average person of the ancient world isn't going to care a bit about global politics.
That's not really true.
In Republics like that of Rome or in democracies like that of the Greek city states the population voiced overtly its position about foreign affairs.
In monarchies kings had to take care about the opinion of the "nobiliores" who had their means to make feel their resentment, sometimes also stirring up and controlling revolts among their direct subjects.
The vast majority of the population of Republican Rome and the Greek city states had very little political power and what little they did have was as pawns of the ruling classes.

devoncop
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Re: False Allies

Post by devoncop » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:03 pm

I think we shall have to agree to disagree on this one Lysimachos.

Interesting discussion though.

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Re: False Allies

Post by 13obo » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:08 pm

Btw i agree with devoncop on how alliances should work. Just like everything in our society, they are only a verbal/written contract and are only as reliable as the person you sign them with.

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Re: False Allies

Post by Chaosbadger » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:00 pm

It's certainly an interesting discussion. I would say that you not only have to answer the question of whether it's historically realistic but also whether it makes for a fun and interesting game to play. There's a balance to be struck in these things. I'd say that, if an alliance has no specific meaning, then that lowers the number of strategic possibilities, and it's certainly not fun to lose a game because an opponent has exploited an alliance that you've respected. I want to lose games because my opponent has used strategic thinking to outsmart me, not because they've exploited my good nature!

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Re: False Allies

Post by ledo » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:05 am

I think things generally work pretty well in terms of backstabbing getting its just desserts except at the beginning and end of a game. Generally when dealing with other people diplomatically in real life you're operating in a continuum where there will be long-term consequences for your behaviour, not hard-coded ones but diplomatic ones. This continuum gets a bit fuzzy in games at the beginning and at the end, particularly when playing with new players.

At the beginning of a game with new players you have a complete lack of awareness of what everyone's character is. This is a situation that is completely outside the bounds of any real-life diplomatic situation. It's effectively as if there was a nuclear holocaust and all the nations are meeting each other for the first time. There's no awareness of whether a person can be trusted, what type of ally they are, whether they are an aggressive or a patient player etc. This is further hindered by the lack of actual real life contact, and only a limited number of cases of action to study, so it takes significant time to work out a players true character and often you'll only realise too late. This might be fine for one nation at a time, but the situation a game of new players finds itself in, of not knowing anyone and not really having the tools to work it out is a bit harsh and can lead to a bit of a luck factor in diplomatic dealings (i.e. if you get placed or randomly choose to ally with the trustworthy character you got lucky, if not that sucks. The amount of information we have will often make seeing the difference between the two almost impossible).

At the end of the game it gets even more problematic. That continuum that occurs in real-life diplomacy is even less present, since the game is about to end and some win condition is going to mean that your actions now will never matter. If a country betrays all their allies on the last turn and takes their capitals to win the game, there are no real consequences, and that's pretty unrealistic.

Both of these things can be ameliorated by playing with the same group consistently. Although it might seem poor form to carry grudges or suspicions between games, I feel it actually makes the politics a bit more realistic (and is frankly unavoidable, the question is just to what degree it occurs). At the beginning of the game you have enough information to both make wise decisions and punish players for actions at the end of the last game (thus discouraging such future behaviour). At the end of the game, the threat that in the next game no one will trust you or relations will be soured creates a credible risk for you to weigh when trying to win. I don't think anyone should give up the victory because its 'wrong' (because I don't think it is wrong) but I do think it should be a difficult decision, and I don't think its a bad thing for players to be conflicted and look for any other option other than stabbing their ally in the back.

I always try to avoid stabbing any ally in the back. I think you have a better shot at winning with an ally. And if you are an unimpeachably trustworthy ally, even if you win multiple games in a row, people will still line up to ally with you (rather than see you as a threat and gang up against you), because good, trustworthy allies that are willing to make sacrifices on your behalf increase your odds of success and are hard to find.

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