Are allies a help or a hindrance?

Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

I'm doing a minor rewrite of my how-to-play strategy guide. One thing I
wonder about increasingly is, are allies really a good idea? Below, is
some draft text from the new document. But I don't want to give newbies
bad information, so I'd like to debate the point on this newsgroup to
see if I am right.

--- extract follows ---

Experienced players can usually be spotted by the fact that they rapidly
form alliances. So what? I've long had my doubts about the usefulness of
very close alliances. In my experience, they get grossly complicated
really quickly. Conventional Planets wisdom is that alliances always win
- but this is not true. Of late, I have become quite convinced that
close alliances with other players usually dilutes your strength and
reduces your flexibility.
The main reasons alliances win a lot, are: firstly - that two or more
players pool their resources; and economy is a big part of the game. But
due to tying up ships and other resources you're sharing, it's an
inefficient way to boost your economy. Lone players can strike it rich -
for example by acquiring lots of Amorphs, successfully manipulating the
contraband market, or (for some races) capturing lots of prisoners. When
this happens, I've seen them steamroller alliances. The other reasons
alliances win, are because it is easier for them to attack from two
directions, or they pool their "unique" abilities such as chunnelling.
But most of these abilities depend on hull devices - and hull plans can
be Spied, traded for, or captured.
There is another reason that people in alliances often seem to win.
That's because they're better diplomats - better manipulators. They
instinctively understand that socialising with the other players gives
them immense leverage.

<There follows some stuff about how alliances can be used to give you
diplomatic leverage in the game, but I'll cut that for the sake of
brevity... I finish up by saying:>

Some other points about alliances

* Uneccessary alliances sap your time and strength.
* An "alliance" doesn't need to be military. It could be a group of
players who all agree to manipulate the contraband market in sync,
perhaps to the detriment of another.
* When, whether and how to ally is clearly the most important choice
you make in a game, since no choice will be perfect, you are likely to
get dragged into new theatres of conflict, etc.

Any comments? Particularly on whether alliances are Fool's Gold?
--
Paul Honigmann
14 answers Last reply
More about allies hindrance
  1. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Paul you are reaching the next level of this game.
    Indeed why bother with an alliance?
    In my games of past an alliance only served
    to scare other players into ending a game early
    because they THOUGHT they had no chance against
    an alliance. Mear hyp IMHO.
    I always had to teach others how to play before
    an alliance ever reached effectiveness.
    Even then the shear amount of e-mails and coordination
    is a whole additional level of workload almost like
    playing 2 games istead of one.
    But for players trying to learn new tricks in this game
    an alliance can improve their game play a lot if they
    ally with one of the great players of the game.

    If you always play in a game in which hull plans are not
    restricted then you are better off without an alliance.

    If you play in a game in which hull plans are restricted then
    either go it alone while playing the privs or play a different
    race and then you will need an ally. I consider these games
    training games for newbies.

    KlingonKommand wrote:
    > I'm doing a minor rewrite of my how-to-play strategy guide. One thing
    I
    > wonder about increasingly is, are allies really a good idea? Below,
    is
    > some draft text from the new document. But I don't want to give
    newbies
    > bad information, so I'd like to debate the point on this newsgroup to

    > see if I am right.
    >
    > --- extract follows ---
    >
    > Experienced players can usually be spotted by the fact that they
    rapidly
    > form alliances. So what? I've long had my doubts about the usefulness
    of
    > very close alliances. In my experience, they get grossly complicated
    > really quickly. Conventional Planets wisdom is that alliances always
    win
    > - but this is not true. Of late, I have become quite convinced that
    > close alliances with other players usually dilutes your strength and
    > reduces your flexibility.
    > The main reasons alliances win a lot, are: firstly - that two or more

    > players pool their resources; and economy is a big part of the game.
    But
    > due to tying up ships and other resources you're sharing, it's an
    > inefficient way to boost your economy. Lone players can strike it
    rich -
    > for example by acquiring lots of Amorphs, successfully manipulating
    the
    > contraband market, or (for some races) capturing lots of prisoners.
    When
    > this happens, I've seen them steamroller alliances. The other reasons

    > alliances win, are because it is easier for them to attack from two
    > directions, or they pool their "unique" abilities such as
    chunnelling.
    > But most of these abilities depend on hull devices - and hull plans
    can
    > be Spied, traded for, or captured.
    > There is another reason that people in alliances often seem to win.
    > That's because they're better diplomats - better manipulators. They
    > instinctively understand that socialising with the other players
    gives
    > them immense leverage.
    >
    > <There follows some stuff about how alliances can be used to give you

    > diplomatic leverage in the game, but I'll cut that for the sake of
    > brevity... I finish up by saying:>
    >
    > Some other points about alliances
    >
    > * Uneccessary alliances sap your time and strength.
    > * An "alliance" doesn't need to be military. It could be a group
    of
    > players who all agree to manipulate the contraband market in sync,
    > perhaps to the detriment of another.
    > * When, whether and how to ally is clearly the most important
    choice
    > you make in a game, since no choice will be perfect, you are likely
    to
    > get dragged into new theatres of conflict, etc.
    >
    > Any comments? Particularly on whether alliances are Fool's Gold?
    > --
    > Paul Honigmann
  2. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Close aliances eat a lot of time.
    If you have this time and are willing to invest it and even succeed in doing
    so, a close alliance is usually unbeatable by a single player with an equal
    empire.

    The fact that alliances usually win is that players who invest enough time
    into alliances automatically are very involved with the game and invest
    enough time into micromanagement and general strategic thoughts.

    Lordfire


    "KlingonKommand" <Paul@nurk.fnord> wrote in message
    news:EFkQX9G4a9TCFw74@furfur.demon.co.uk...
    > I'm doing a minor rewrite of my how-to-play strategy guide. One thing I
    > wonder about increasingly is, are allies really a good idea? Below, is
    > some draft text from the new document. But I don't want to give newbies
    > bad information, so I'd like to debate the point on this newsgroup to see
    > if I am right.
    >
    > --- extract follows ---
    >
    > Experienced players can usually be spotted by the fact that they rapidly
    > form alliances. So what? I've long had my doubts about the usefulness of
    > very close alliances. In my experience, they get grossly complicated
    > really quickly. Conventional Planets wisdom is that alliances always win -
    > but this is not true. Of late, I have become quite convinced that close
    > alliances with other players usually dilutes your strength and reduces
    > your flexibility.
    > The main reasons alliances win a lot, are: firstly - that two or more
    > players pool their resources; and economy is a big part of the game. But
    > due to tying up ships and other resources you're sharing, it's an
    > inefficient way to boost your economy. Lone players can strike it rich -
    > for example by acquiring lots of Amorphs, successfully manipulating the
    > contraband market, or (for some races) capturing lots of prisoners. When
    > this happens, I've seen them steamroller alliances. The other reasons
    > alliances win, are because it is easier for them to attack from two
    > directions, or they pool their "unique" abilities such as chunnelling. But
    > most of these abilities depend on hull devices - and hull plans can be
    > Spied, traded for, or captured.
    > There is another reason that people in alliances often seem to win. That's
    > because they're better diplomats - better manipulators. They instinctively
    > understand that socialising with the other players gives them immense
    > leverage.
    >
    > <There follows some stuff about how alliances can be used to give you
    > diplomatic leverage in the game, but I'll cut that for the sake of
    > brevity... I finish up by saying:>
    >
    > Some other points about alliances
    >
    > * Uneccessary alliances sap your time and strength.
    > * An "alliance" doesn't need to be military. It could be a group of
    > players who all agree to manipulate the contraband market in sync, perhaps
    > to the detriment of another.
    > * When, whether and how to ally is clearly the most important choice
    > you make in a game, since no choice will be perfect, you are likely to get
    > dragged into new theatres of conflict, etc.
    >
    > Any comments? Particularly on whether alliances are Fool's Gold?
    > --
    > Paul Honigmann
  3. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Lordfire wrote:
    > Close aliances eat a lot of time.
    > If you have this time and are willing to invest it and even succeed in doing
    > so, a close alliance is usually unbeatable by a single player with an equal
    > empire.
    >
    > The fact that alliances usually win is that players who invest enough time
    > into alliances automatically are very involved with the game and invest
    > enough time into micromanagement and general strategic thoughts.
    >
    > Lordfire

    Fully agree.

    By a "full alliance" (with no backstabber) you save some time and
    strength too.
    First you must not fear the allies nor prepare to defend / fight them.
    Second you may become secure boarders.

    Bye-Bye JoSch.
  4. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Nice question, though I suspect there will be some long answers :-)

    Alliances in my view (after thinking over the question) are really only
    useful if trading, sharing and protecting a border. In attack they are
    hampered because of communication time constraints. The more allies
    joining an offensive with you I think the worse it gets. In one game I
    saw five allies attack another player, they failed miserably because
    they were disorganised and didn't know the left hand from the right
    hand. Now if the game only had one turn a week, then an alliance may be
    able to get its act together. This all said, I have had and do have
    currrantly good alliances.

    Robert

    minime-hammer wrote:
    > Paul you are reaching the next level of this game.
    > Indeed why bother with an alliance?
    > In my games of past an alliance only served
    > to scare other players into ending a game early
    > because they THOUGHT they had no chance against
    > an alliance. Mear hyp IMHO.
    > I always had to teach others how to play before
    > an alliance ever reached effectiveness.
    > Even then the shear amount of e-mails and coordination
    > is a whole additional level of workload almost like
    > playing 2 games istead of one.
    > But for players trying to learn new tricks in this game
    > an alliance can improve their game play a lot if they
    > ally with one of the great players of the game.
    >
    > If you always play in a game in which hull plans are not
    > restricted then you are better off without an alliance.
    >
    > If you play in a game in which hull plans are restricted then
    > either go it alone while playing the privs or play a different
    > race and then you will need an ally. I consider these games
    > training games for newbies.
    >
    > KlingonKommand wrote:
    > > I'm doing a minor rewrite of my how-to-play strategy guide. One
    thing
    > I
    > > wonder about increasingly is, are allies really a good idea? Below,
    > is
    > > some draft text from the new document. But I don't want to give
    > newbies
    > > bad information, so I'd like to debate the point on this newsgroup
    to
    >
    > > see if I am right.
    > >
    > > --- extract follows ---
    > >
    > > Experienced players can usually be spotted by the fact that they
    > rapidly
    > > form alliances. So what? I've long had my doubts about the
    usefulness
    > of
    > > very close alliances. In my experience, they get grossly
    complicated
    > > really quickly. Conventional Planets wisdom is that alliances
    always
    > win
    > > - but this is not true. Of late, I have become quite convinced that
    > > close alliances with other players usually dilutes your strength
    and
    > > reduces your flexibility.
    > > The main reasons alliances win a lot, are: firstly - that two or
    more
    >
    > > players pool their resources; and economy is a big part of the
    game.
    > But
    > > due to tying up ships and other resources you're sharing, it's an
    > > inefficient way to boost your economy. Lone players can strike it
    > rich -
    > > for example by acquiring lots of Amorphs, successfully manipulating
    > the
    > > contraband market, or (for some races) capturing lots of prisoners.
    > When
    > > this happens, I've seen them steamroller alliances. The other
    reasons
    >
    > > alliances win, are because it is easier for them to attack from
    two
    > > directions, or they pool their "unique" abilities such as
    > chunnelling.
    > > But most of these abilities depend on hull devices - and hull plans
    > can
    > > be Spied, traded for, or captured.
    > > There is another reason that people in alliances often seem to win.
    > > That's because they're better diplomats - better manipulators. They
    > > instinctively understand that socialising with the other players
    > gives
    > > them immense leverage.
    > >
    > > <There follows some stuff about how alliances can be used to give
    you
    >
    > > diplomatic leverage in the game, but I'll cut that for the sake of
    > > brevity... I finish up by saying:>
    > >
    > > Some other points about alliances
    > >
    > > * Uneccessary alliances sap your time and strength.
    > > * An "alliance" doesn't need to be military. It could be a
    group
    > of
    > > players who all agree to manipulate the contraband market in sync,
    > > perhaps to the detriment of another.
    > > * When, whether and how to ally is clearly the most important
    > choice
    > > you make in a game, since no choice will be perfect, you are likely
    > to
    > > get dragged into new theatres of conflict, etc.
    > >
    > > Any comments? Particularly on whether alliances are Fool's Gold?
    > > --
    > > Paul Honigmann
  5. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    KlingonKommand wrote:
    > I'm doing a minor rewrite of my how-to-play strategy guide. One thing I
    > wonder about increasingly is, are allies really a good idea? Below, is
    > some draft text from the new document. But I don't want to give newbies
    > bad information, so I'd like to debate the point on this newsgroup to
    > see if I am right.
    >
    > --- extract follows ---
    >
    > Experienced players can usually be spotted by the fact that they rapidly
    > form alliances. So what? I've long had my doubts about the usefulness of
    > very close alliances. In my experience, they get grossly complicated
    > really quickly. Conventional Planets wisdom is that alliances always win
    > - but this is not true. Of late, I have become quite convinced that
    > close alliances with other players usually dilutes your strength and
    > reduces your flexibility.
    > The main reasons alliances win a lot, are: firstly - that two or more
    > players pool their resources; and economy is a big part of the game. But
    > due to tying up ships and other resources you're sharing, it's an
    > inefficient way to boost your economy. Lone players can strike it rich -
    > for example by acquiring lots of Amorphs, successfully manipulating the
    > contraband market, or (for some races) capturing lots of prisoners. When
    > this happens, I've seen them steamroller alliances. The other reasons
    > alliances win, are because it is easier for them to attack from two
    > directions, or they pool their "unique" abilities such as chunnelling.
    > But most of these abilities depend on hull devices - and hull plans can
    > be Spied, traded for, or captured.
    > There is another reason that people in alliances often seem to win.
    > That's because they're better diplomats - better manipulators. They
    > instinctively understand that socialising with the other players gives
    > them immense leverage.
    >
    > <There follows some stuff about how alliances can be used to give you
    > diplomatic leverage in the game, but I'll cut that for the sake of
    > brevity... I finish up by saying:>
    >
    > Some other points about alliances
    >
    > * Uneccessary alliances sap your time and strength.
    > * An "alliance" doesn't need to be military. It could be a group of
    > players who all agree to manipulate the contraband market in sync,
    > perhaps to the detriment of another.
    > * When, whether and how to ally is clearly the most important choice
    > you make in a game, since no choice will be perfect, you are likely to
    > get dragged into new theatres of conflict, etc.
    >
    > Any comments? Particularly on whether alliances are Fool's Gold?

    How do you define alliance ? For me that with the contraband market is
    no alliance.

    You over see some point IMHO. By a real alliance until game ends you may
    become secure boarder and can focus your strength on the real enemy, can
    share planets and have so more Bases which makes VPs, can got mor infos
    (that from the allies), may become quicker stuff like ships or planetary
    buildings (you can not build), if your area was overrun by the enemies
    you may have some secure Bases at allied space and so on.

    What is really important is, that you pick the right race (and player)
    as allie and it is good if one ore more of them are near by that you can
    help each other by attacking the same target or help at a defence or
    there are quick ways to each other (JGs, WHs or by chunneling or "paxen").
    In some situations the players must comunicate quickly. "Hey I see an
    enemy fleet arrive this turn my planet x. Can you send some hypers or
    wings or chunnel in some to help me." Then I need an answer in this turn
    and not the next turn, to decide if I evacuate the Base or can defend
    them with the help I get. Same with attacking, maybe I have enough to
    clear the orbit but not to fight the Base, then I ask an allie if he can
    help with his wings or Dreadnought with SW. In most cases this must be
    quick, before the situation change, maybe the Base chunnels away or the
    is a much bigger defence or the enemy start a counter strike.
    There are many situations where time is short and so need a quick response.
    Can write here much about my biggest game with 4 allies against 9 other
    races and how we help each other. At the end we had destroyed enough
    Bases from the leading player that I was leading the last 2 turns of the
    game. Could never win alone.

    So IMO alliances are a big part of the game and a "good" alliance mostly
    wins against a "bad" one or lonely wolf. But there should be a set of
    rules which all accepts like asking the others before opening a new
    front against an other race, or how the ressources of the shared planets
    are handeled and so on.

    To hold the game interesting, I like if the ally limit is not to high,
    say under 1/4 of the players.

    Bye-Bye JoSch.
  6. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Here are my DOs and DON'Ts regarding full (!) alliances and team games.

    Do:
    ===
    - Ally with a race which fits your own race selection well
    - Make sure all sides benefit from an alliance once you entered one
    - Try to find somebody which is in (nearly) the same time zone (best
    which you can phone up without having to spend a fortune) if the turn
    frequency is high
    - Give detailed information what you are planning and even more
    important what you expect the other to do!
    - Communicate often and early
    - Plan at least 1 turn ahead for coordinated actions

    Don't:
    ======
    - Ally with somebody you don't know (well)
    - Expect everything to happen as discussed and agreed on - mistakes
    will happen

    With this I have so far made very good experiance in alliances and team
    games.
  7. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Alliances are good as non-agreassion pacts. I'd say this happens to me
    90% of the time. Sometimes in a good alliance you can also trade
    resources like ships occasionally, but this seldom happens and is
    almost always REALLY time consuming. (Don't ask why - it is).

    Alliance as in combined war efforts is really tricky. I've only managed
    to pull it off with people who are absolutely devoted to their turns
    and keep up excellent communication level. It also helps if the people
    you attack with speak the same native language as you.

    Skies
  8. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    "Enemies strengthen you. Allies weaken you."

    -- Frank Herbert in one of the Dune books


    Scytale
  9. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    > "Enemies strengthen you. Allies weaken you."

    Very true .. but 2x80% are moren than 1x100% :)

    Lordfire
  10. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Making an Alliance at some point is generally a pre-req to winning the
    game at some point. Does not need to be a (too the end of the game
    kind)

    But a bad ally can do more harm to you than an enemy can.

    examples:
    1. If you have cloaking ships and your ally has Lokis, your ally can
    unwitenly light up your cloakers for your enemy to see.
    This generally results in your cloakers being destroyed or worse yet,
    captured.

    2. In a game with an in game "ally limit" [should really be stated as
    non-agressive limit], your ally by turning off attacks for other
    players can unwitinly turn attack on for you.

    3. If there is a Privateer player in the game, if you trade hull plans,
    a Privateer can steal the plans to that ship resulting in them having
    increased chances boarding your ships and doing more damage in the VCR
    to them as well.
  11. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    See also

    ALLIANCE, n. In international politics, the vnion of two thieves who have
    their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot
    separately plvnder a third.

    and

    PEACE, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods
    of fighting.

    Ambrose Pierce 1842-c1914
    American writer
    The Cynic`s Word Book (1906)

    Cheers!
    --
    Olly

    "Scytale" wrote
    > "Enemies strengthen yov. Allies weaken yov."
    > -- Frank Herbert in one of the Dvne books
  12. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Here is something that I wrote up using ideas of my own and from
    others. You can use if you like Paul:

    How To Be A Good Ally

    Be honest. You usually won't know the player that you are gaming
    with, so if you want to participate in future games with this person,
    it is probably a good idea to treat them like a human being, not a
    computer blip on the screen.

    Don't do anything that may be considered a violation of your
    alliance. This game is about war and you are always looking at your
    own vulnerabilities and the vulnerabilities of your opponents. Don't
    make your ally feel vulnerable or it will create mistrust and often end
    in disaster.

    Communicate often and well. This is the way to keep your alliance
    strong like a well-oiled machine. In many cases, this will eliminate
    the need to worry about #2 above since you communicate why you are
    doing something that may make them feel uneasy.

    Share ideas, strategies, and resources. Not everyone has the same
    level of knowledge in this game. It has vast nuances and tricks to it.
    If you share what you have learned, you will only increase your chance
    of winning the game.

    Find the weaknesses of your ally and protect them with your strengths.
    An example: the Robots are very weak against fighters. If you have
    ships that have high numbers of point defense weapons or anti-fighter
    fighters, then you should escort the Robot ships. Another example:
    some races don't have minefields or specific types of minefields that
    are effective against your enemy. Protect your ally with them.

    Find the resource deficiencies of your ally and provide compensation.
    Usually by doing this you will unbalance your allies racial limitations
    and cause them to excel where they shouldn't, which is a good thing
    for your side. An example is that the Crystals have a difficult time
    making food and cannot build farms. You can provide them with your
    extra food or even build bases with farms on their planets then use the
    GBA command to give them the farms. Another example is the Colonies of
    Man. They have the best fighters in the game, but cannot make them
    without a ground-based Fighter Plants. So, if you find yourself
    playing a race that has mobile-fighter factories on its ships, then you
    may want to give him a few.

    Magik
  13. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Well, it's up to the intention you have.

    Reading the Scav guide by Drew Sullivan open's a door for quiet different look on alliances.

    GFM GToeroe

    "KlingonKommand" <Paul@nurk.fnord> schrieb im Newsbeitrag news:EFkQX9G4a9TCFw74@furfur.demon.co.uk...
    > I'm doing a minor rewrite of my how-to-play strategy guide. One thing I
    > wonder about increasingly is, are allies really a good idea? Below, is
    > some draft text from the new document. But I don't want to give newbies
    > bad information, so I'd like to debate the point on this newsgroup to
    > see if I am right.
    >
    > --- extract follows ---
    >
    > Experienced players can usually be spotted by the fact that they rapidly
    > form alliances. So what? I've long had my doubts about the usefulness of
    > very close alliances. In my experience, they get grossly complicated
    > really quickly. Conventional Planets wisdom is that alliances always win
    > - but this is not true. Of late, I have become quite convinced that
    > close alliances with other players usually dilutes your strength and
    > reduces your flexibility.
    > The main reasons alliances win a lot, are: firstly - that two or more
    > players pool their resources; and economy is a big part of the game. But
    > due to tying up ships and other resources you're sharing, it's an
    > inefficient way to boost your economy. Lone players can strike it rich -
    > for example by acquiring lots of Amorphs, successfully manipulating the
    > contraband market, or (for some races) capturing lots of prisoners. When
    > this happens, I've seen them steamroller alliances. The other reasons
    > alliances win, are because it is easier for them to attack from two
    > directions, or they pool their "unique" abilities such as chunnelling.
    > But most of these abilities depend on hull devices - and hull plans can
    > be Spied, traded for, or captured.
    > There is another reason that people in alliances often seem to win.
    > That's because they're better diplomats - better manipulators. They
    > instinctively understand that socialising with the other players gives
    > them immense leverage.
    >
    > <There follows some stuff about how alliances can be used to give you
    > diplomatic leverage in the game, but I'll cut that for the sake of
    > brevity... I finish up by saying:>
    >
    > Some other points about alliances
    >
    > * Uneccessary alliances sap your time and strength.
    > * An "alliance" doesn't need to be military. It could be a group of
    > players who all agree to manipulate the contraband market in sync,
    > perhaps to the detriment of another.
    > * When, whether and how to ally is clearly the most important choice
    > you make in a game, since no choice will be perfect, you are likely to
    > get dragged into new theatres of conflict, etc.
    >
    > Any comments? Particularly on whether alliances are Fool's Gold?
    > --
    > Paul Honigmann
  14. Archived from groups: alt.games.vgaplanets4 (More info?)

    Thank you everyone. You brought p lots of points I'd not thought of,
    like the way allying is a good way to train new players / learn from
    experienced ones.

    I thought it was very interesting that several (not all, I admit)
    experienced players said things like "alliances are weak at offence
    unless you put a HUGE effort into co-ordination".
    --
    Paul Honigmann
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