What follows is the second part of my epic journey to the dark side in the realm of simulated geopolitics. For those just joining me, feel free to check out the first part or dive right in.
The Durendal Khanate was off to a bit of a rough start. Our bid for justice and equality for our oppressed brethren disintegrated in front of our eyes. We were dumbfounded the next day, when we received an innocuous email. The heading seemed innocuous: “Respected colleagues,” it began. This heading soon became the bane of my existence, the calling card of my arch nemesis and leader of the oppressive nation of Styrkuria.
Master Commander Freuden was her name.
As much as it pained me to admit, she eviscerated us on the global stage. She likened our proposal for the liberation of our people to a declaration of war.We only wrote that, “the Khanate is prepared to take any measures in order to right the wrongs of history and we hope that you all will be supportive of our noble cause.” There was also a bit about how Styrkuria was a socialist nation of slavers, but come on, that was just banter. What kind of reasonable person would take that out of context?
Regardless, Freuden detailed, point by point, how our (supposed) declaration of war broke multiple articles of the UN Charter. Furthermore, she accused us of violating their sovereignty and remarked, “[b]y threatening Styrkuria with war, Durendal Khanate is effectively violating the UN Charter. By encroaching on Styrkuri sovereign territory with said war, Durendal Khanate would be violating the UN Charter a second time. Any nations assisting Durendal Khanate in this endeavor would also be violating the UN Charter.”
Now, we figured that nobody would think we were war-mongers just from our relatively friendly call for liberation. However, she cleverly used the UN Charter to defend her country’s sovereignty and right to slavehold, while at the same time damning us as bellicose, bloodthirsty monsters. Mind you, this early in the game, any rhetoric like that would stick, even though there were flaws in her argument. First impressions are a bitch and, for most of the world, their knowledge of the Khanate came down to the legalistic rhetoric of an authoritarian commie.
Mind, I was the Khan of Khans, a fellow autocrat, but at least I was a capitalist pig instead.
Over the following days, the Styrkuri outmaneuvered us diplomatically, set up embassies with every country on the map and systematically turned the world against us. It didn’t help that we were one of the few capitalist countries on the map. Of the seven countries in the world of Statecraft, four were Communist Totalitarian regimes—all of which saw Styrkuria as their friend. Meanwhile, the Durendal Khanate was an industrialist dictatorship that stood for liberty and science...for Durendalians.
We consoled ourselves by looking at the bright side. In the world of Statecraft, embassies allow two countries to see just about everything: resource production, attributes, hell even their top-secret technologies. Information is power and we weren’t prepared to give up exactly how much scientific knowledge (SK) we had...or our military capacity. That’s when I realized the power of being shunned: nobody had any idea of how powerful we were and if they wanted to figure it out, they’d have to spy on us—which cost them valuable resources. Besides, our strategic angle meant we really only had to worry about Styrkuria—meaning we only had one person to care about spying on.
Not only that, we could exploit their fear. Even though at that moment we had no military whatsoever, we had the appearance of a jingoistic power. Although people were terrified...they were scared enough not to get in our way. Which meant we didn’t have to actually build up a military yet. So, we spent our two turns developing our economy. While other countries were busy building schools, health clinics and theatres, we were building steel mines, science labs and other industrial equipment.
Why? Because of exponential returns. We figured, if the game would last roughly 10 turns (it was a secret how long it would last), then we had to maximize our resource gain. That meant early investments in infrastructure would pay off in the long run more than building static quality of life. Sure, that meant people thought we were backward Huns, but hey, they had to work with us. We had SK.
As mentioned previously, SK is a very valuable resource. It could be used to rush technology research, build advanced weaponry and construct high level buildings. It also happened to be scarce just about everywhere but the Khanate. Now, unlike our communist neighbors, we thought like true capitalists. We had cornered the market without even realizing it and charged accordingly. Our hard dealing brought us the resources we needed to build and develop. Our comparative advantage was in nerdiness, so we leaned into it.
Time for some math. Boring as it sounds, this was one of the keys to our success.For example, building a basic science lab increases one’s SK production by 5%. Now, if your base production of SK is only 100, that’ll give you only 5 extra SK per turn. However, since our base production was 1440, a 5% bump would give us 72 extra SK per turn. That wasn’t even counting our multipliers for being an Industrial-Scientific nation. In the first couple turns alone, we spent the majority of our excess SK on rushing resource technologies, allowing us to get better resource extractors and move up to Big Projects in nothing flat.
A Big Project is Statecraft’s version of a wonder. Each is unique and costs hundreds of each resource. At the middle of a turn, countries can ‘bid’ on a project—
and naturally only one could win the project. Since we had (relatively) many resources by turn two, we were able to bid uncontested on the Einstein Lab, which could grant three free technologies. That would allow us to ramp up incredibly quickly. High level techs would require up to five turns to research. To rush the tech even one turn would cost 500 SK, a tidy sum to be sure. Since we had some big techs in mind, this Big Project was essential to our plans.
Of course, we won it...and spooked everyone in the process. Since everyone had been shunning us, nobody thought we would be the nerds to go for gold so early. Regardless, we had made a small victory. We’d address the Orion Mountain issue shortly, from our improved position. Or so I thought.
Before the end of turn two, I received a fervent message from Jeremiah. He’d been poking around the user interface of our country when he’d found something as surprising as it was unsettling under our military section.
We had nukes.
So much for being a peaceful military dictatorship.