New Faustian Man
I wrote an article on this topic before.
But here's another go.
First off, a summary. This article is about the problem (as I see it) with the massive imbalance inherent in this game because many of the strongest countries have no reason NOT to form alliances with each other, which at its root is a problem due to the skewed manner ‘resources’ are distributed throughout the map (ignoring for the moment the disparity in populations ofcourse).
Resources are the lifeblood of a nations economy. In many wars they’re the deciding factor. Yet in Erepublik they’re pretty abundant, they’re easily had no matter where you are in the world, irrespective of continent, country etc. This means the strongest countries on the whole DO NOT COMPETE for resources in any meaningful sense, on the contrary – and were this game differs from the real world – the top countries can get all they need regionally, resulting in zero global or even continental strategy, so we don't get US-Soviet-style or US-China-style standoffs with both pillaging and fighting over the Middle East (for e.g.) for resources, instead we get the super powers, i.e. Poland-Serbia, working together and backing each other as they hoover up regional resources, and because their aims don't conflict: allying with each other and establishing a super-bloc that its impossible to compete with militarily.
The circumstances were the top two or three countries are able to ally each other without this effecting their respective economies illustrates there’s something wrong at the core of this game.
What would make things interesting is if resources where a deciding factor in WHY countries determined to ally or make war upon each other.
-- £££s Vs. Active Citizens
The graphic below shows the final Damage statistics in the 10th round of the campaign on Day 1,936 in Southern Netherlands between Netherlands and Poland [http://www.erepublik.com/en/military/battlefield/39167].
The disparity between the damage either Top 5 have put up is absolutely huge – the obvious and only advantage on the Dutch side is the exorbitant amount of extra tanking EDEN-allied citizens are willing to put up in order to establish some sort of parity between their own side (EDEN) and CoTWO.
This is a poor way of drawing some balance between 'our side' and the 'enemy'. basically it requires dumping 100s of £££ on single battles.
-- An Alliance Cap as a Means to Balance?
I've stated elsewhere that creating alliances based on a combination of population size/monthly Damage, is the best way to go. My idea was introduce Egov-style Damage stats to the game then set a limit on the countries you can MPP based on something like a 4-month average of the Damage they do, so that all countries would have a rating [a numerical value] and each country could only MPP a certain amount of countries and not go beyond a limit, a limit which would be the same for everyone. This would bring balance to the game and make EVERY SINGLE COUNTY relevant instead of having about 6 valid countries and 20 failed states, which is what we have now. It would finally put a stop to the 'super alliance' problem that we've had since ONE was founded. This is admittedly a drastic solution though, and is sure to upset a lot of people. So I really don't see any hope for it unfortunately.
There are other potential fixes though.
-- The Problem is the Natural Environment
Another cure for this kind of imbalance is creating a natural environment that effectively pits the top countries against each other, this is easily done in two ways:
a) Making valuable natural resources much more scarce;
by giving countries that contain sought-after natural resources more scope to protect their economic advantage other than just on the battlefield. In other words, things should operate pretty much like they do in a real world environment.
The way resources are distributed encourages invasion. The best way to gain another country's resources is by invading - pure and simple. There is no other in-game means for governments to trade huge quantities of produce, no means to import or export, and thus ultimately invasions and conquering one's neighbour becomes the only real option.
The population imbalances in Erepublik mean some countries are always going to find retention incredibly difficult. No one fresh to the game is going to continue to waste their time and/or RL cash in their e-country if its suffering regular wipes or is unable to have any kind of meaningful impact on the battlefield. So adding to the armoury of smaller countries in terms of Trade Agreements etc. is a definite means to empower smaller countries, basically pretty much anything which WON’T involve an actual NE and invasion would help with stabilizing countries and ensuring a smaller country has more worth intact (or partially intact) than wiped to its larger neighbour.
-- Trade Agreements/Oil Pipe Lines etc.
The simplest way of doing this is through the introduction of Trade Agreements, whereby one country trades a certain amount of Raw Material/Weapons/Food/CC/Gold on a specified date each month with another country for a specified amount of Raw Material/Weapons/Food/CC/Gold, the details of which can get thrashed out then inputted into a new congressional law.
Adding something like if a country is invaded a certain natural resource disappears [ i.e. the means of production is disrupted ], thus giving an incentive to those trading with it to help defend it in lieu of an attack. In something like this it could play out that a county with all its original regions produces a certain natural resource, but if all or some of its regions are lost – this resource disappears completely, thus forcing larger nations into an active defence of its neighbour in order to protect its Trade Agreement.
Adding a feature whereby some resources are only available to original owners of a region thus making the region worthless to an invader but precious if it was a commodity they required and could trade for, would also devalue the invasion-for-invasions sake approach practised by many countries.
In the example of pipelines it could work that a country with a core oil region negotiates with another country to pipe oil to them, which requires every country in-between agree to allow this “virtual pipe” run through the country (for which they're paid) -- however a condition for its continuing operation being that should any of the respective regions from each country through which the pipe is laid become involved in a war - the pipeline is neutralized, and all parties lose out. Pipelines would mean a country could get an oil bonus without having to invade, even a country on the other side of the world with no natural access to oil could get an oil bonus in this kind of scheme. This one's a longshot admittedly, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at: that introducing regional trading strategy would have a knock-on effect in why wars are fought and not fought. And ultimately make for much more interesting wars, and perhaps even see alliances form between trading partners.
Admins should be introducing changes that pit bigger countries against eachother, whether this involves making resources more scarce or making their transit dependent on regional peace, w/e, as long as it works.
What we have now is populations, e.g. France, Netherlands etc, dying off because they’re unequipped with the tools to deal with the military imbalance in the game, and so its either win out on the battlefield against a numerically superior nation (an impossible ask tbh) or force being subjugated permanently without any possibility of liberation.
Surely there should be a third way? That ensures a country is more valuable intact than wiped.
"He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors." Thomas Jefferson
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