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Alliances vs. NAPs -- a review

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  • Alliances vs. NAPs -- a review

    In order to get the intended benefits out of the diplomatic aspect of this game, it's helpful if everyone is speaking the same diplomatic language. On the old site the community developed a set of standards for what certain terms and phrases meant, and it allowed us to do a lot of communicating in shorthand. It's becoming apparent that in the new larger community some kind of standards are going to have to be established, whether they be the old ones or new ones. For example, right now, when two people say "let's ally" the chances that they both mean the same thing are virtually nil.

    So here's the old Space Empires diplomatic canon, offered up for the new community's use or adaptation. (Some SE players might quibble about some of the minor details but this is the general picture.)

    NAP: Non-aggression pact. I will not attack you.

    48-hour NAP: (or 24-hour, or 72-hour, whatever.) Before I attack you, I will give you XX hours notice. Over time this came to be understood to mean XX hours notice before LAUNCHING attacks, not the arrival of those attacks.

    Note that in this minimal state, the 48-hour NAP does NOT ban spy probes. To get a ban on spy probes included, you have to say so.

    Gamelong NAP: I will not attack you during this game at any time, under any circumstances. Even if you attack an ally of mine.

    Alliance: I will work jointly with you for the duration of the game toward a common goal, sharing resources including money and information. I will communicate frequently and closely coordinate my actions with you. We will play as a team. If somebody attacks you, I will attack that person, unless I have a gamelong NAP with that person, in which case I can still help you with money and information.

    Limited alliance (this one was seen more rarely): I will work with jointly with you toward a defined goal, and when that goal is achieved, we will end the alliance and redefine the relationship.

    Unfortunately, many players are currently using the word "Ally" far too loosely. I'm getting tired of being told by people who are supposed to be allied with me that they "might be able to help me" or that they had other plans that would be inconvenienced by helping me.

    If all you want is to be assured that a player won't attack you, then a gamelong NAP is what you want, not an alliance. An alliance is so much more. Don't make false promises to somebody by using the word alliance when you don't mean it.

    I'll wait several more games to see if this situation improves, and after that I'm going to start talking about people in the player directory.
    Got any World War II vets in the family? Check out my oral history web site,

  • #2
    If you want to be a good player read this long note...

    Just some added comments - from a non SE vet, but someone who has taken the time to read old SE strategy websites (not the forums), and have now played a handful of games under my Skotos IDs...

    From the games I have been in, "dishonest play" seems to sap the fun for everyone. The games with a fair number of SE Vets in them tend to be more fun simply because they play "fair", but you have to understand what is considered "fair play" or you will run across the shoals of misunderstanding.

    I believe when the following very general rules are followed, the game is better for everyone involved, and win or lose, you get the respect and enjoyment of your partners and opponents:

    If you make an Agreement of any kind, stick to it. If you break your agreement, expect it to be pointed out after the game, that is only fair. An Agreement is a sentence in a diplomatic message that contains the words I AGREE to... or I WILL... or I WILL NOT...
    these can be small things or game-long alliances, but all should be honored.

    IF YOU DO DECIDE TO BREAK AN AGREEMENT GIVE NOTICE IN ADVANCE. Expect to receive Flames later, but sometimes you may decide it is worth it for some reason. One case would be if you feel the other player has already broken the agreement or you entered it based on false information they provided to you, and you should no longer be bound by it - but proceed with caution, as most "broken" agreements are really misunderstandings.

    Do not make agreements which conflict, such as agreeing to alliances with two other players who are enemies in that game.
    The best way to avoid this kind of thing is once you have agreed to ally with one player, DO NOT agree to ally with a second without the approval of the first.

    If you find yourself in some kind of diplomatic snafu, explain the situation to those involved without delay and without giving away information unfairly across enemy lines (i.e. about alliance secrets on either side), and ask for a mutual agreement to break one or the other alliances to end the conflict. If no one agrees, you have little choice but to suffer post-game comments, or try to find some fair way to compromize without favoring one side or the other. AVOID getting into this situation, because it can ruin games.

    A NAP is just a NAP
    Do not assume that someone who agrees to a NAP with you will cooperate with you in other ways (information sharing, etc.) Often NAP's are supplemented with agreement about a common border. Do not assume the player you have the NAP with will allow you access to stars he has taken possession of, unless you get a specific agreement first. Do not assume the player you have the NAP with will not fund other players in attacking you unless you get such an agreement. BLOCKING and INDIRECT FUNDING are accepted practices within standard NAPs. Just remember, the more additions to the agreement you ask for, the more you are likely to have to offer in return, so be careful what you ask for.

    Just echoing what Blargg said, the better players think about the global position of the combined resources of all allies as a group. Alliances where these resources are moved around in a fluid way as strategy requires are the most successful. If you have a strong player/communicator in your alliance, look to them for advice and leadership/coordination. And most of all, COMMUNICATE freely, frequently, and openly with your allies.
    If they betray the alliance, they should be shunned in the post-game.

    I would add that excessive SPENDING without checking with your allies for things like SPEED, RANGE, FACTORIES, and DP's or DS's is a poor practice and likely to win disapproval of your allies. Poor communication at boundaries or in attacking common stars can lead to collisions and very unhappy allies.

    Also, hold your CASH for building factories until close to production time. If you spend it all as soon as you get it, you may rob your alliance of an important opportunity that day. This is a common newbie mistake.


    IF YOU *MUST* DROP-OUT OF A GAME EARLY, GIVE YOUR ALLIES NOTICE... and do what you can to distribute your resources. The new semi-automatic standing orders which will be added soon may be a good idea to set as well.


    It gains little and tends to ruin the game for everyone. If you are not happy with your allies for any reason, I suggest you let them know why, then after they have a chance to reply, write an honest assessment after the game, and just do not ally with them again. Just remember, players can improve given encouragement and a chance to, so do not be too heavy-handed unless it is really called for. But if a negative comment is called for, give it.

    I would add to this that misrepresenting your strength, position, or prior agreements in order to get someone to agree to an Alliance with you, and then expecting them to honor that alliance, is a form of dishonest play. It is better to reveal as little as possible than to lie.

    If someone shares information with you, do not assume any commitment beyond that. Blaming someone for being friendly and then attacking you in the game is a common misunderstanding I have seen. Do not assume you have an agreement of any kind unless it is stated. The vets understand this, and exchange information often in order to try to get a few hints in return, but do not get upset about being attacked fairly.

    If someone makes an Agreement with you and they break it, send them a diplomatic message before game end explaining why you think they broke the agreement. Often it is a misunderstanding of some kind. If they cannot explain, then do make a post-game comment. This will reduce dishonest play and make the games better for everyone.

    If being attacked offends you, then you are going to have a tough time enjoying a game designed around battles and taking territory.

    Do not be offended if another player tries to convince the player near you to attack you, etc. Active diplomacy is a big part of the game. At the same time, if a player is not willing to agree to do what you wish them to, you have no grounds for complaint against them. Remember that they may not be able to explain their point of view to you without revealing information they cannot or do not wish to. They may not think the same way you do. Of course, if they agree to do something, you should hold them to that agreement. But do not lie to get an agreement, if you do, then you have no valid complaint if the agreement is not honored.

    Sorry for the length, I hope some players find this advice useful (and if someone wants to boil it down, it is pretty obvious I need an editor )


    • #3
      Just gotta say I really appreciate the little tidbits of wisdom from you two. I'd like to think I play pretty fair (as fair as you can in a war/diplomacy game ) but I definitely learned something from these posts and I'll do my best to stick to these definitions and ideals IG.

      As far as added comments go I don't think I need to waste your time with more of my thoughts. You guys more than summed it up. Kudos.

      Oh, and Quigg. I still haven't had the pleasure of stomping around a galaxy in big boots with ya. I'll keep an eye out for you so we can have a jolly stomping fest together one of these games.

      Just plain cute,
      "Enjoy Life. There's plenty of time to be dead."


      • #4
        I've gotta say Blargg and Quigg pretty much covered everything.

        Excellent job!

        Any chance of making this a 'sticky' for a while?
        Captains' Log - Where the Captains termites live


        • #5
          Thank you for posting a lot of clarifications. Its much appreciation. Sticky this for a while, or post it in the FAQ or Rules section of the help files, please, Shannon?
          I went to a 7-11 and asked the clerk for five dollars worth of gas. She farted and handed me a receipt.

          Originally posted by kamikazehiker
          Or. . .
          We can all acknowledge that Jolee is right, get over it, and shut up.

          A thief burst into a Florida bank one day wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun. Aiming his gun at the guard, the thief yelled, "FREEZE, MOTHER-STICKERS, THIS IS A ****-UP!"

          Unwary: "Jolee rocks!"

          "Of course she does, she's related to me. "



          • #6
            I agree with Blarrg, this is am important topic. However, remenber that a NAP OLNY applies to you and that player.

            In game 077, Laudio, with whom I had a NAP, allowed anouther player to cross his territory to attack me. Is this a breach of agreement?
            Shade: General, remaind me to send flowers to [insert current SE enemy here] for the death of his son

            Rhodan: The one you had murdered?

            Shade: Yes, thats the fellow



            • #7
              This is a good, if sticky, question; a spirit- versus letter-of the-agreement question.

              My best answer: no, it doesn't break a NAP, unless there is a 'rider' attached to a NAP specifically denying granting passage.

              A NAP only guarantees the actions of the players you've NAPped with. If another player chooses to go through their space--with or without their consent--that doesn't break a NAP. They may not be in a position of control, and it's unreasonable to expect a NAP partner to guarantee the actions of another player.

              If it's without consent, the person being attacked likely will have an ally (instead of a NAP partner) soon. If it's with consent, you'll know soon enough as you'll likely quickly get notice of the end of your NAP. Timed NAPs are meant to expire should situations change...that's why they are timed--and a third party going through a NAPper is usually a significant indicator of change.

              If it was a gamelong NAP, that, at least to me, implies a greater level of've essentially stated you won't go to war with that player for the whole game...but if it came down to it, still less than an alliance. This would be a real grey area. If it was a gamelong NAP, and you know the passage was granted willingly, I think you'd have a right to be aggrieved because you wouldn't have much recourse--someone could attack you through a NAPped territory that you couldn't attack back through. Particularly if the player you're NAPping with reclaims the passage system right after them, and claims you can't attack back through there because they hold the territory, and you therefore can't launch back at your enemy. If it's THAT blatant, you certainly have a case, in my humble opinion--although it's not a launch at you, it's certainly aggression, just more passive. In fact, I've been flaming mad about that kind of situation happening to me.

              That being said, on a personal note, I've known Laudio since my first days at SE. I've allied with him and played against him, and he's never behaved dishonorably--either against me, or, as allies, against an enemy when breaking an agreement would have been greatly to his (or my) advantage. This is not to say that you are wrong; I just don't have the same level of experience with you. If I can facilitate mediating any disagreement between you, you may consider me...

              At your service,

              Last edited by Peraspera; 06-03-2002, 12:29 PM.


              • #8
                I thought Kazak stated things well, except for the part regarding gamelong NAPs (where he said he thought allowing a third party to attack through your territory was a grey area...)

                Calling it a grey area as Kazak has done is not helpful as it leads to more misunderstanding. Far better to establish a common understanding, which is the purpose of this thread.

                So, with no greater authority than my own opinion (and collected wisdom from other players more experienced than I)... I will restate:

                A NAP is just a NAP
                It does not imply any restrictions or limitations on allowing passage to other players. It does not prevent BLOCKING or RETAKING as stated above. If you wish these kind of additional agreements, you should state them, otherwise you have no cause for complaint. Remember, these issues are reciprocal. And if your NAP has a notification time specified for cancellation, if you are attacked as described above, you have the option to give notice and retaliate. Also, the moment a world in the NAP partner's territory is taken over by a third party, you should feel free to launch at that star (and give notice to your NAP partner to back off, as you have ships in flight). Just be sure to check your latest messages BEFORE lauching - if your NAP partner beats you to it, you are too late and should not launch.... this all assumes you did not already have a border agreement regarding the star in question, in which case you must apply the notification time prior to launch.

                A GAMELONG NAP is just a GAMELONG NAP
                That is, a NAP with no possibility of giving notice and breaking it. It can be used for BLOCKING, ALLOWING ENEMIES THROUGH, INDIRECT FUNDING, etc. just as any other NAP.

                This all sounds complicated, but the point is, do not assume agreements extend further than stated. Do not assume that NAPs will not be used against you in some ways - they are not purely beneficial agreements. But they should be reciprocal.

                If you are in a BLIND game, you might consider asking for special terms to go with NAPs to avoid being BLIND SIDED through a NAP neighbor.

                My 2 cents again.
                Last edited by Quigg; 06-03-2002, 07:29 PM.


                • #9
                  The best thing is to go with the letter of the agreement. Specify exactly what you don't want to be allowed. I've seen some NAP agreements as long as your arm.

                  Getting too legalistic isn't much fun, though. Keep your agreements simple. If you think a player tends to bend those agreements almost to the breaking point, then complain about it on the boards and in the player directory. Peer pressure may eventually convince that player to honor the spirit of agreements.
                  Got any World War II vets in the family? Check out my oral history web site,


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Blargg
                    The best thing is to go with the letter of the agreement. Specify exactly what you don't want to be allowed. I've seen some NAP agreements as long as your arm.

                    Getting too legalistic isn't much fun, though. Keep your agreements simple. If you think a player tends to bend those agreements almost to the breaking point, then complain about it on the boards and in the player directory. Peer pressure may eventually convince that player to honor the spirit of agreements.
                    Strongly seconded. Meaning no disrespect to anyone of the legal profession (I know several lawyers personally, and like them all), I find making long, complicated NAPs a tedious and painful process that spoils my enjoyment of the game. I have to deal with that enough in real life; dragging that into a game destroys it as an enjoyable pastime.

                    And a lot of the complicated agreements depend on things that aren't particularly verifiable, like "no money transfers." The real issue is one of trust.

                    Someone that's abused a NAP or an alliance with me is will go on a list of people I don't make agreements with. Outright traitors go on my kill-on-sight list.

                    It's worked for me.

                    At your service,



                    • #11
                      I have always resisted the idea of a "standardized" understanding of terms, etc. As I (and Goose) have said many times before, say what you mean and mean what you say. Of course, there are always situations that come up that test the boundaries; that's why it's fun.
                      Bite me.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KidFrey
                        I have always resisted the idea of a "standardized" understanding of terms, etc.

                        Heh... so when I ask you if you want a NAP, do you think I'm asking if you're sleepy?
                        Got any World War II vets in the family? Check out my oral history web site,


                        • #13
                          Kid'd have to be sleepy to agree to an NAP
                          Captains' Log - Where the Captains termites live


                          • #14
                            whatever happened to goose... is he under a new name here... if so what is it


                            • #15
                              Yes, he's here No, he's not me.
                              Captains' Log - Where the Captains termites live



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