NationStates Jolt Archive

Great Big Guide to WAR (in NS)

Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 15:00
War on Nationstates
“War. It’s fan-tastic!”

In war on NS, there’s really some very general things that should be agreed upon and made known. I’ve tried before to make war guides that go into tons of specifics, about military budgets and costs of operation, etc, right down to the production costs of the military grade Nikes. But anyway, I’m not doing that here. (Check the next post). The specifics are resources for background for making things more realistic and detailed and stuff- helpful, but not all always required to have an enjoyable RP.

Things Everyone Should Know And Show Before/When They Make a War Post

CLASS level. (Yes, I just made this up, but it's still a good idea to know your opponent's and your tech level before you RP a war!) Tech level, Power level, whatever. You can always RP, just pretend you’re in a different universe where technology hasn’t gone as far, or goes further. Agree upon one. Or two with Class E, as long as Class E isn’t Class E for being a godmoder.

-Class A: Past Tech. Anything before now, including WWII and early nukes.
-Class B: Modern Tech. This will be either exactly as RL.
-Class C: Future Tech. This includes those things which “could” exist now, but don’t. The definition of what could or couldnt exist now is pretty hard to pin down. This is anything that’s “within reason,” say within the next 50-100 years.
-Class D: Far Future Tech. This includes anything that definitely couldn’t exist now- major advances in science theory or engineering, etc, are required.
-Class E: Never. Haha, well maybe. This is things that are based on little to no science. Or things that are just plain impossible, like the Dark Lord and magic and stuff. The actual level of “tech” here varies, but can merge with the other classes (usually far future tech).

(You could replace D with “near future,” and E with “far future,” to be more political.)

WHAT your forces are. [This can be detailed, and in the wrong areas. I’ve seen plenty of war posts with info about how many tank drivers there are, how many guys with blue hats there are and how many guys with red ones. You don’t need to do that, because unless you’re some kind of obsessive hardcore number-crunching wargamer, no one is going to be calculating your soldier’s bullet velocities and total rounds per second from each gun on every mile of front and the tensile strength of the body armor and so on.

So all that stuff is essentially background: good to know, especially if something gets called into question or those bits of data become somehow relevant to the RP, and in particular CO-RPs-- but not really needed for purposes of seeing who wins a battle.] All you need are:

-Combatants: How many and what kind. If you’re doing your standard modern tech game, this would be tanks, fighting troops, fighting planes, other fighting vehicles. Undoubtedly you’ll want to be pretty specific just for good roleplay, it’s kinda weird if you just send a few thousand generic “tanks.” On the other hand, simplicity is good.

-Support: How much and of what kind. Not looking for numbers, except perhaps total strength or mass (personnel total is always a good number to be aware of). But for example, a modern division might have 10,000 personnel total, of which 8,000 are combatants and 2,000 are devoted to support (anyone not directly fighting the enemy, normally).
Essentially you’re looking to see how much raw strength you have (combatants), and how well, elaborately, lavishly, or long you can use that strength (support). Lots of support and less combatants usually means much more skilled, capable combatants one-on-one (the Western approach.) The other way around gives a hard punch (the Soviet style), but is riskier and/or less capable over time, or in a certain environment, etc.

A key thing to look for is combat-to-support ratios. That is, how many overall combatants (or 'effectives,' I think) there are in comparison to how much support they have either with them or sitting at home doing the monstrous work of organizing your massive military. See Vrak's page on combat support ratios! (Link goes here, when I find it.)

WHERE your forces are (and when). It’s really helpful to have a map, unless you’re really good at visualization. Even a rough outline-like map, so you can refer to things as being “southwest” of something else. You don’t have to get fancy and show every division in turn intervals-- although that’s fun too. Just be clear in your posts where they are, and when. (‘When’ usually is obvious if everyones taking turns like they should be).

WHY your forces do, and are doing, what they are! You need to be in character and act, for example, like your army commander’s army could get annihilated if it went through that pass, so he’s going to just dig in and make the enemy come to him. In war, commanders and units do things with objectives in mind, and scenarios they are wanting to avoid. Objectives are particularly important.

HOW things are happening. Think of an adverb. Rapidly? Slowly? Angrily? Calmly? In a panic? With orgiastic glee? Etc. But go further, if you’re sending 100,000 troops up a mountain to attack, its good to know, OOCly and ICly, what kind of attack that is. Have fun with this one, but be careful to only write about a) what your guys are doing, and b) what the enemy has already done/posted (don't assume, for example, that your troops march with orgiastic glee over your opponent's dead armies. Post YOUR losses, not your enemy's!)

From what I can tell, most ignores/retcons/bitchfests/etc result from confusion and disagreement on answers to some or all of the above questions.

Be clear about all of these things when you post- you don’t have to write them out like a list like that, try to work it into the post. Add OOC notes wherever needed. [And remember that usually, what, where, when, why and how are all related to one another. That is the secret of life, young Jedi.]

For example I might agree that someones armies have a motive for attacking, and I know and agree how they are attacking, and where, and when, and how many of them, but I think the fact that they can all heal instantly and carry hyper-super-ultra-kinetic-plasma-dart-sling-guns is unlikely. So the sooner you can tell me that thats what they’re carrying, the sooner we can deal with problems before 8 pages have gone by and half the RP is now invalidated or whatever.

Other Things

If you have certain terms or conditions, you gotta get those out too. Like, anything goes in the RP except the death of this one character. The best war RPs I’ve seen had certain things laid out for sure, OOCly, in the beginning.

Of course this means that the RP was more of a cooperation between the players. This is important to do! You are interactive storybuilding and nation simulating here, not competing in the special olympics.

Good things to know in general, everyones forces, BEFORE deployment, situational things like terrain, and those things that, ICly, people would already know. So no sneaking up with a bunch of stealth aircraft, and then mention that you’re attacking the enemy’s capital out of the blue. They would notice SOMETHING on the radar, it’d be small. Or the satellites would see. ICly, they get something. You don’t have to say, “your radar spots my stealth aircraft. Shoot them down now.” Rather, you can just put it in like “your radar operators will notice lots of small, flickering, fast moving incoming targets. If they’re paying attention, what with my tanks charging at them and all.”

Random Rants

1. If two countries have the same populations and economies, but one is higher up on the UN Defense Ranking list, the one higher up will have a more well-funded military. Well-funded militaries are almost always better than poorly funded ones, if for no reason than more money can be used to train more troops. Or buy more guns, or better guns, or more ammo, etc.
2. Future tech does not mean everything is cheaper and that you can have more. No. I see this a lot. “Well, I’m future tech, so the laws of economics, engineering and logistics don’t effect me.” Your armies are going to be using the latest technology you have, and cutting edge weaponry (etc) costs the same no matter what tech level- a lot. Even if you use older technology, there are still real limits as to how much you can support, because things always break down in war conditions, things fall apart, inefficiencies add up, and the universe goes from order to chaos.
3. Storefronts aka “I’ll take six Battleships with some sweet ‘n sour sauce. 300 billion wired.” OK, I’ve been guilty of this one. But that was before I stopped to think about how real nations do military deals (I looked up stuff at and too). In fact the whole idea of storefronts is ridiculous. Nations aren’t stores, even corporate ones like mine. Imagine going somewhere and seeing “United States of America Weapons Storefront. UPDATED!!!” I don’t think so. Nations do deals with each other, but they’re trade deals, setting up a trade route, paid out and done over time.
4. People who never lose at all. I don’t mean just losing a war, but I mean losing ANYTHING. People who are so attached emotionally to their nations and/or characters that they can’t take any losses at all, or have to godmod or otherwise walk the dark side to cope. That’s not fun for anyone, it’s boring and it’s why a lot of people quit playing the game. Your NationState is never gonna die (unless it gets deleted), so rest assured no matter what happens, you can always continue to keep roleplaying something/someone. And you know, losing isn’t so bad. Losing thousands of people isn’t so bad. Losing a space fleet isn’t bad. Why? Because it doesn’t exist in the first place. No one’s keeping track of how much personal pride you’ve lost. We just want a good RP thats interesting and fun. Lose now and then- kill off a character. Have fun with it, make it a heroic death, or a gory death. Make your resistance fighters interesting. Even if your country is turned into glass, roleplay the mutant subhumanoids who now live in the ruined citys sewer systems and caves. Or roleplay the brave colonists who want to use the territory to build their own little nation on the glass. BE CREATIVE, NOT INVINCIBLE.

[End Rants]
Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 15:00
Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide to War on NS

Intro and Disclaimer

Now then, this is a mostly comprehensive guide from start to finish about RPing a war with both realism and fun in mind. My concept of fun might not be everyone’s (in fact, I’m POSITIVE its not everyones), but basically I like things that are in-depth, interesting or at least done interestingly, and believable to me. A long read, but at least it’s not all one paragraph...

Bear in mind also I’m not an expert in anything. I’ve not fought very many wars (just one really, with my “puppet” which lasted about two months and used a specially-designed Axis-and-Allies like combat system with a map.... very fun, but takes quite a bit of work) but I’ve observed a lot of the juicier ones. I’ve read a lot of military history and like many of us continue to do so constantly. I’m not a factbook, but I have a few and I hope this can help provide clarity to somebody.

It’s long, but hey its comprehensive.

Step One: Your nations military spending.

Before you can wage a war, you should have a clear concept of your military. Obviously you can’t fight if you don’t know what you have to fight with, so be prepared to at least be able to answer questions about your military. Like, what kind of units and tech levels does it fight with, who are its key leaders, and how big is it.

First, your nationstates description is key here. If your nations description doesn’t even mention defense, your military is going to be smaller and less well funded than those whose governments are ruled mainly by defense, or even those who just juggle the competing demands of. This will also help determine how militarized your nation is overall.

Secondly, economy. The better the economy, the better your military can be, its that simple. Better economy, means more money overall, more skills available for technical jobs, more civilian contractors, more choice in the type of military you can have. If your economy is weak, you are limited to either a rather small military, or one that’s relatively large but poorly equipped or trained-- I.E, militia and reserves.

A very common way of getting a feel for this is defense per capita spending. Per capita simply means in proportion to your population, and defense spending is the money that every modern military requires to operate and fight. Basically, how much money you extract, per year, from each of your citizens that goes toward the military. Warfare is expensive, and militaries are expensive. More money spent per capita on defense means, given same economies and population size, a better equipped, better trained, larger, and/or well supported military. This is more important than going just by how big the military is in terms of personnel, because that is dependant on defense spending.

In the real world, for example, the US spends about 958 dollars per capita on defense. This is the cause for the US militaries overall excellence in most regards. When combined with the powerful US economy and relatively large population, this means a more effective military. Other nations spend less. This means they can afford less. Doesn’t mean spending less necessarily makes your military WORSE, but it does mean less potential. The UK is a world class military, but its limited in comparison because there’s less money per capita to go around. Thus its smaller, in order to make the best use of the funding it does get.

Also, defense per capita is different from percentage of GDP spent on defense. While North Korea spends nearly a third of its GDP on defense, this doesn’t mean they have a high per capita defense budget. If I recall correctly, they’re in the 200’s for defense per capita. Whereas the US spends a much smaller percentage of its GDP, and has a higher per capita defense. Which military is more effective? Most would agree the US. Similarly, for its size, Israel has an efficient military, spending more than 1400 per capita on defense, meaning they get a lot of training, and can afford the best equipment. Percentage of GDP on defense indicates more how your military will effect your country overall-- higher percentage, means crappier economy and more problems, as with North Korea. Thus its unlikely that Frightening economy nations can spend 33% of their GDP on military, in fact, I’d say just about impossible. So the worse your economy is, the more of your GDP you can realistically allocate to the military. BUT, I repeat, that doesn't necessarily improve your military quality, or make up for a low defense per capita spending.

How much you spend on the military is dependant on all of the above things. I go by per capita, because its the only quality listed in the UN rankings about the relative military powers of different nations. Basically, if you spend 1000 dollars per capita on defense, and you’re 10,000th in UN defense rankings, this means anyone above your ranking is going to be spending more, and anyone below is going to be spending less. Ideally, the ones on the bottom of the ranking would be spending something like 2 dollars per capita on defense, as for example Somalia does; and the ones at the top would be spending 1000-2000 dollars per capita. However, a lot of people use the GDP calculator to determine their budget, and as a result many people have ludicrously high budgets per capita. Its possible to use the GDP calculator to give a higher budget per capita on defense than nations that are ABOVE you in that UN ranking,. So don’t go by any calculator.

To find your defense per capita spending, divide your population by your military budget. Anything above $1400 is more than any existing RL nation I can find. If you’re about average in the NS rankings, you’ll probably be somewhere around the US’s stature (since the US would in NS be an “average” nation, at least for militarized ones, with a strong or better economy, almost 300 million pop) floating around $1000. This would be with a government with defense definitely dominating the categories. If you’re high in the rankings, you’ll have a higher number here. But not TOO high, honestly. Its unclear what the highest country in the world would rank exactly, since there are no RL examples for 2 billion+ pop nations with frightening economies. I’d say $8000 tops, and that’d be for in the top 500 or 1000 nations. Anything more is just too ridiculous, IMO.

See the "Military Budgets by UN Defense Ranking" thread about this.

Step Two: Your military’s budget.

Then its up to you how to spend that military budget. But you will be limited by the reality of military spending. You can’t spend everything you have on purchasing new equipment or even supporting the old. It has to be divided if you want anything resembling an efficient and realistic military. A good realistic budget breakdown I’ve found:

37% traditional armed forces. Navy, army, air force.
8% strategic forces-- WMDs and ICBMs, etc.
2% air and sea lift/transport.
5% reserves. Your militia and angry peasants with pitchforks go here.
7% intelligence and communications. Satellites, analysts, etc.
9% research and development.
10% central supply/maintenance. These are all your logistics bases that serve the larger units.
22% all other support.

So lets take that as an example. Lets assume, also, that your nation is exactly average in UN defense rankings, spends most of its money on defense, and has a frightening economy and population of 500 million. Lets also assume that you’ve decided to make it somewhat realistic and you spend exactly $1000 per capita on defense. This gives you a total military budget of $500,000,000,000 (1000 x 500 million). This is about twice what the US currently spends, but spending the same per capita, puts you probably on par with US military as far as quality of troops and equipment. So in this case, if you just want to figure out your main units, you have $185,000,000,000 to spend, with the rest going to all the other things above. (You don’t have to spend as much in the other things, but bear in mind that if you don’t, your main forces will be limited in some way. Not enough R&D and your tech stagnates. Not enough air/sea transport and you can’t feed or move your armies anywhere. Etc.)

Now, that number is going to be FURTHER limited as far as units. Because, for any given thing-- the army, for example-- you have to spend something on paying the personnel, buying new equipment and ammunition constantly, supplies and overall operation costs. If you don’t do this, your forces will again be limited, either by not having satisfied soldiers (not a good idea), having substandard or old equipment, being able to practice less and shoot less due to lack of available munitions, or not having enough capability to support as much troops. A realistic breakdown here would be:

31% payment
34% procure (aircraft, missiles, ships, communications equipment, vehicles, everything else)
24% operate
11% support.

Operating cost is the big issue as far as how many tanks, etc, you can keep running during peacetime or war. For example, a US mechanized infantry division costs 1.7 billion dollars per year to operate. Thus, we take our 37% of military budget-- 185 billion dollars, and that for army navy and air force combined. Then we divide that so we can operate mechanized infantry divisions, in the army, that one-third of that (assuming as much spent on army as the other two traditional branches), and then 24% of THAT to see how many units we can support. (185,000,000,000 divide by 3= 61666666667, multiply by .24) and we get $14,800,000,000 for the army. If you spent it all on mechanized infantry divisions of the US type, that means about 8 or 9 divisions.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? In reality a division is a huge chunk of personnel, equipment and cash. Lets say about 500 tanks, a bunch of other vehicles (mostly trucks, and APCs), and 10 or 18 thousand people total. So your 8 divisions will be about 4000 tanks, if you like to list things in that way.

Now you don’t have to do it exactly like that. You could for example spend more on operating costs and cut back on procurement a bit. Or, you could spend the majority on the army, so maybe 60% for the army leaving a total of 40% for the navy and air force. How you spend is up to you, but if you take huge shortcuts expect to have huge vulnerabilities. A general way to change military around if its not to your liking is to shift the total amounts given to each branch. You can make your army a little stronger, at the expense of the navy. Maybe you can make the air force just a little weaker but the army stronger still. Etc. This is a better route than taking money away from, for example, logistics.

As far as navy and air forces go, the “basic units” budget-wise are different than divisions. In the navy case you will be spending, on average, $150 million per average ship, per year. Some, like huge carriers, will be much more, and most will be a lot less (missile boats and transports, corvettes, etc). Aircraft tend to cost about as much as their initial buying cost, per year, to fully operate. So I’d say about $15 million per aircraft, again that average so some will cost more and a few will cost less.

If you have Marines, their units cost more. US marine division costs something like $2.45 billion per year.

And all this is just peacetime costs! Meaning, your units are practicing, moving around, expending ammunition, eating up food, using supplies, losing vehicles and aircraft to accidents and wear, taking casualties even. In war, much more ammunition is used, and costs skyrocket. While a division might cost 7.5 billion per year in peacetime, it costs 75 million per DAY of combat. There is no such thing as a cheap war. An average air-to-ground mission will cost $900,000. So if you fly 1000 fighters to take out SAMs or whatever, just remember that that single operation will have a price tag of $900,000,000. You can see now why even a one-sided victory as with the US in the first gulf war, cost so much money. And you can see why it is unrealistic to just have tens of thousands of modern fighters duking it out whimsically at a time. The amount of supplies and munitions for a single sortie also requires an average of 29 tons of supplies, including fuel. So not only do you need to have $900,000,000 available in your military budget to wage a strike of 1000 fighter bombers, you need to have 29,000 (!) tons of supplies handy.

That a lot. Do NOT neglect your support, your supply lines of merchant vessels (in history, civilian merchant fleets are REQUIRED to supply large forces-- there simply isn’t enough military ones to do all the work), your large air transports and your proud crews of truck drivers and your sea and air ports. Ammunition in particular is very expensive, and tends to be underestimated. An example is the US divisions, which consume at least 1000 tons per day, or maybe 5000 tons in intensive combat. Missiles, bullets, etc etc are NOT cheap at this level. The average ton of munitions costs $40,000 and up. Missiles are even more expensive at $600,000 per ton. This is why its far more effective to have a small number of planes doing multiple attacks and reloading, rather than a huge air fleet which expends all ammo supplies at once and then is completely useless afterwards, like a bee that guts itself by stinging.

Air operations are more expensive than ground operations. Navy is somewhat cost effective, not counting the planes they use. Special forces and marines are more expensive than normal. Use your head. For a major war-- for example, World War XIII, coming to a NS thread near you--the average country is going to run out of munitions in a few months. It takes TIME to train the staffs, create the machines and produce larger amounts of munitions, and even if you spend lots per year in peacetime on it, the fact is that munitions and fuel don’t store cheaply or safely. Particularly as new munitions replace the older ones, and tend to be safer to use.

I strongly recommend doing some of the number crunching yourself. You can adjust things to your specific forces-- say for example, perhaps YOUR armored units don’t cost 1.7 billion, perhaps because they are exceedingly good quality or larger size, they require a full 2 billion-- and get a truly unique military that consistent.

Step Three: Roleplaying a war.

Now’s the fun part. First, contact whoever it is you’re going to war with, and do it OOCly and get as many facts straight as you can. This is the only way I’ve seen where a war can be RPd well without getting ground to death in arguments and misunderstandings. Just make sure you dont use OOC knowledge to help you ICly-- the only thing OOC knowledge helps is determining what actually *happens* and improving the quality of the roleplay. Remember, its a roleplay, something like collaborative fiction writing-- not a competition. Cooperation is necessary, because if you dont cooperate with your opponent at all, the storlyine is lost. Dont let your ego get the better of you; remember that roleplay should be fun and fair, not WON. Even if you LOSE a war, its still a fun roleplay, so go with it instead of whining that you lost. Similarly, dont be a jerk about winning. The war won’t even take place unless both enemies acknowledge and agree on what happened. For these reasons, I never wage war on someone for an OOC reason, or with someone who I know I can’t agree with-- for example, godmodders. Best to find someone on your level of RP and work it out.

Once you’ve decided on the basics, like tech level, size and location of forces involved, then you can start the war. Trust me on this, you dont want to start a war just by declaring it against some random person. You’ll have to agree on the basics at SOME point for it to work, best to do it in the beginning. And, don’t hesitate to continue during the war, talking with your enemy OOCly and making sure the roleplay isn’t sidetracked or stupid. Communication in this way can only help.

Step Four: Fighting

There are probably some things you should know about fighting wars, if you don’t already. Lets get into those.

A. Principles of war. I won’t go into a paraphrase of Sun Tzu here, but you should know what these things mean.

-Mass. Get there first with the most. Concentrating fire on a single enemy ship is taking advantage of mass. As is attacking your enemy with overwhelming force. More than NUMBER, this includes strength of units overall. To win, you generally need 3:1 strength ratios. This means if you and your enemy are exactly the same types and quality of force, you need three times as many to get a guarantee on victory. More often, everyone has slightly different, so you need to use common sense.

-Initiative. Also known as leading the dance. Don’t be reactionary-- always stay ahead of the enemy, making THEM respond to you, not the other way around. Because, throughout history, defense has always lagged behind offense, and its better to be in control of attacking rather than passively awaiting an attack. Generally. A surprise attack is an example of achieving total initiative.

-Flexibility. This means having contingencies and being able to operate in case some things fail-- which they inevitably will. If you have a single plan, and everything hinges on that plan working, and then it doesn’t, you’re screwed because you didn’t have enough flexibility.

-Objectives. Every combat must have a purpose, a clear goal. No one really wins wars by having a lower body count than the enemy. You have to do something specific, or try to. Your forces need a reason to fight-- ie, your attack will eliminate SAM defenses, thus enabling a second attack to go on. Or, you cut off the enemys supplies, so that they’re starved and run out of ammunition.

-Economy of force. Use what you have. Spending your entire military budget, for example, on any single type of thing, whether is the army or tanks or your latest spaceship, is a bad economy of force. Holding a force of reserves at all times is a better use, and helps maintain flexibility as well. Never put your eggs into one basket.

-Leadership and unity of command. This is a good reason not to be cheap when it comes to “payment” in your military budget. Spend more, get better trained and motivated officers, who can then lead better in combat. Unity of command means, for example, in an international fleet action having a single Admiral make the decision, not some sort of hodgepodge of individual fleet commanders or worse, some kind of democratic council. You need good leaders at all levels of combat, not just generals but lieutenants and sergeants. You can have masses of untrained infantry if you wish, but if their leadership is equally untrained it will more than likely end up in slaughter.

-Morale. Your troops need to be motivated. Fighting a war is very demanding on the human (or elven, or even orc) psyche. A sentient being can only see so many of his comrades die instantly due to mines, friendly fire, enemy fire, bombs, disease, starvation, accidents, etc before starting to consider running the hell away. Leadership helps a lot here, but so does avoiding situations where your troops demoralize quickly, like fighting in a swamp or taking lots of losses, or fighting against an enemy that they FEAR. Psyops and psychological warfare play a huge, underestimated role in warfare.

There are some other things too, of course, like terrain, maneuvering, climate, casualties. Casualties for modern ground combat, for instance, tends to be about 1 to 5 percent per day of sustained fighting. Infantry takes more casualties, since they are susceptible to the most forms of death and harm; about twice as much per day. Take casualties, don’t be afraid to, because they come with the job. Always. Its okay if your soldiers aren’t invincible. Invincibility is a myth.

And remember, try to visualize the combat. If you attack with your 8 divisions and 4000 tanks, what do you see? A huge field with 4000 tanks crammed together, moving forward at the same speed? Of course not. Real tanks tend to fight in pairs, 10-50 meters apart. Anything closer and they attract death and lose effectiveness. And, since most of a division and other large combat units is support, divisions only tend to fight with small percentages of their total force at any given time. Exceptions are, when you’re completely surrounded and attacked all at once. But other than that, those 8 divisions will only expose maybe 400 tanks to the enemy at any one time, about 10 to 15 percent. The rest is as far from fighting as possible, and usually front line troops work in “shifts” with the rear echelon troops, to maintain effectiveness.

Don’t forget to organize your forces, either. I’ve been using divisions, which are combined arms groups. They may have infantry, armor, and artillery regiments (1500-2500 men each) in different proportions. This can get really complicated when you start naming things, like the 145th infantry regiment, as things move around so much that you might lose track of everything. Keep it simple, and decide how many men you have in a squad, platoon, company, division, and perhaps who leads the groups. Never just “attack with 10,000 tanks,” because that vague and really doesn't tell you much of what's going on.

Another important thing worth repeating is that large operations take lots of time to prepare for. D Day operations DON’T just take place at the drop of the hat. They’re planned for, for years in advance, and pre-positioned transports and equipment is absolutely necessary. So at the very least, your major offensive will begin with ominous stockpiling of munitions and supplies, mobilization of merchant fleets, etc. All of this should be RP’d, so that your enemy has an IC chance to prepare or respond. Never, ever just “i launch a surprise marine landing of 5000 tanks!” out of the blue. People tend to notice little things like the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of personnel, transports, trucks, etc etc etc.


Do some research. There are plenty of good military/war/tech websites around listed in the newbie threads and all around. (Feel free to add to this list.)

Tons of info on military things

Another wealth of information

James Dunninghams Website

UN Rankings/Defense Budget Discussion

For space nations, I recommend this sight if you plan to have... engines

And also this about orbital mechanics by the Evil Overlord

And hey, there's not just war, there's diplomacy! the Diplomacy FAQ

And for all this and more, Daistallia's Online References

Google will turn up interesting results (not all of which are accurate.)

The books I get most of my stuff from are “How to Make War” by James F. Dunningham, a wargames researcher and designer, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and How Wars Are Won by Bevin Alexander. The first is chock-full of more numbers and statistics than I can pick up even after reading it for the 15th time, and is the hands down best comprehensive modern military guide book I’ve yet seen. The third edition is somewhat outdated, but not by much. Of course you may even know someone from the military or are one yourself, and learn as much from that as possible. I like to character-orient my wars, but sometimes its fun to just numberwank everything in the sterile Tom Clancy fashion. Yeah, Tom Clancy, there we go. Read “Red Storm Rising” for the best modern war fiction (between the USSR and USA in a conventional war) I know of.
The Imperial Navy
10-10-2003, 15:01
Hmm... I'm probably class D...
Atlantian Outcasts
10-10-2003, 15:05
defenetly D. oh well, I like what I am
Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 15:26
I'm C to D, generally. Fission thermal rockets could exist. But the newer fusion rockets require significant advances in the field of very very powerful magnetic lines.

10-10-2003, 15:29
I am in class D maybe E 8)
10-10-2003, 15:44
I'm definatly a D, not a dishonorable possition, I'm Imperial Japan in space, now all I need are Mecha. . .

((OOC: tag for future reference, nice posts))
10-10-2003, 15:57
B - maybe even a "hard B" from whats been going on in my cannon buying thread.

BTW I reccomend Jim Dunnigans web page as well:
Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 16:00
Me too, Dai! Actually that reminds me, maybe we can collect a bunch of the good military/war/economic references here too. Maybe even things like for realistic spacecraft engines concepts. And my guide to building your own spaceships (in NS), coming soon.
10-10-2003, 16:00
Lol I'm a class B, with some newer type weapons. :-)

Nice write up, I enjoyed it!
10-10-2003, 16:11
Class "C", but then again becuase I use normal tech along with ideas like Gauss Weapons. My space fleet is highly limited (Homeworld tech without Engry weapons, except for Plasma bombs and not FTL drive or shields).

The problem is working out exactly how many tanks/ships/planes that Iuthia has, becuase everyone has their own idea. I am currently smacking figures against my head getting it all down on to a spreadsheet and I'm getting there... slowly.
10-10-2003, 16:15
OOC: Well, I am definitely class C. Most of what I have are modern tech, but I've got some mechs and pretty advanced space colonies as well. Slowly turning my country into class D, though.

Hmm. Now, how about making the great guide to DIPLOMACY as well, that would surely be needed :)
10-10-2003, 16:17
Me too, Dai! Actually that reminds me, maybe we can collect a bunch of the good military/war/economic references here too. Maybe even things like for realistic spacecraft engines concepts. And my guide to building your own spaceships (in NS), coming soon.

Already on it. Check out my online references thread. :D
10-10-2003, 16:20
I see Diplomacy as a IC things though, so I don't worry about breaking rules with it, basically if you get it wrong then other nations won't like you.

The way I see it my nation is very... arrogant with some nations, but only when we feel we are in the right.
10-10-2003, 16:43

Well done Santa Barbara. Would it be possible to make sure this is linked to the stickies? Like other well-thought out posts that are designed to help, it should be required reading.
The Evil Overlord
10-10-2003, 17:06
Outstanding posts!

Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 17:07
Thanks guys, and a *** (for added links.)

*** A bump was removed here after another bump grew out of TEO's post a moment earlier. This has been a public service announcement.
10-10-2003, 17:21
You've certainly put alot of time and effort into this. Too bad YOU SUCK!!!

j/k :P

Seriously, very comprhensive. If people were to take this information into consideration, there would be virtually no more wars in NS. Now do we really all want that? {rhetorical question}
10-10-2003, 17:24
Having read this again I think it deserves a...

Woo Yay Hoopla!!

The second post is brilliant and I will definatly be using it to imporve my lacking skills of war.

Thankfully I've yet to be invovled in any real war... or fighting for that matter of fact, but this will help me alot.


10-10-2003, 17:24
*runs in circles and dies of a heart attack*
The Evil Overlord
10-10-2003, 17:27
If people were to take this information into consideration, there would be virtually no more wars in NS. Now do we really all want that? {rhetorical question}

Actually, I think that wars would be a bit less frequent- assuming that everyone took the information to heart. But they would also be a lot more fun when they did happen.

I don't believe I just used the words war and fun in the same sentence!
Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 17:56
I used this kind of thing at heart, or at least tried to, with the whole Resi war (okay, so its disintegrating into a big mess, maybe thats a bad example). But I started the whole thing, ICly, so. Just made sure I had the initiative, surprise, numerical superiority, a flexible plan and maximizing my weapons and forces advantages and stuff.
10-10-2003, 18:06
Most. Informative. Post. About. War. Ever.

SB, I commend your great effort. Thanks for teaching me more :D
Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 19:16
Glad its useful. :)

<bumpage for exposureage>
Santa Barbara
10-10-2003, 23:53
Bump for the mid afternoon crew.
Santa Barbara
11-10-2003, 02:28
<bump for the evening crew, and to save thread from being eaten by the forum monster!>
11-10-2003, 09:10

1. If two countries have the same populations and economies, but one is higher up on the UN Defense Ranking list, the one higher up will have a more well-funded military.

The WHAT?!? Where the heck is that???

Sheesh, the stuff that's not in the FAQs...:shock:
11-10-2003, 10:06
Very good, and very helpful.

a combination of levels B & C
11-10-2003, 10:09
What I don't understand is why people get so uptight about my use of WMDs.

Yes, I spend 1/3 of my massive military spending on them. So what? I have never had a navy.

Roanians blister in salt water, it's a very big weakness. Any national leader with an encyclopedia would know that.

It all evens out.
11-10-2003, 10:18
I'm somewhere between B and C... Just kind of walking the line between the two. Except for my ETC guns, I pretty much just apply modern technology in different ways.
11-10-2003, 10:23
(Well, as long as we're commenting on our levels, I'm a pretty solid Class 'A'. Other than that, I don't really have much to contribute, except the fact that this was one of the more enjoyable reads I've had on NS, and without a doubt (in my mind, anyhow) the best of the 'self-help' threads.)
11-10-2003, 10:37
I'm pretty much the same as Kotterdam but I'm leaning more to C than B. My nations' researchers and technicians are constantly developing project after project such as this one. ( (Of course, with the help of larger nations. I know my limitations as a small country.) However I still keep in service some modern technology such as some F117A Nighthawks in my airforce. On a side note, I also don't have a navy because the United Socialist States of Zvarinograd has decided to have land and air superiority instead.
11-10-2003, 14:48
And a consideration I thought might be useful, while I was browsing. Did your opponunt build their own material or was it purchased. There are lots of inferior tanks, ships p@lanes being sold around NS. Try to find out if you opponent is usin g inferior war materials. (to take a RL example, think of the 1st Gulf War and the Iraqi9 produced tank ammunition, wich was moserable in extremes!) :D
New Empire
11-10-2003, 14:56
C and D.
[tag] for reference and good job.
Should be stickied for all noobs to read.
Santa Barbara
11-10-2003, 15:52

1. If two countries have the same populations and economies, but one is higher up on the UN Defense Ranking list, the one higher up will have a more well-funded military.

The WHAT?!? Where the heck is that???

Sheesh, the stuff that's not in the FAQs...:shock:

Heh. Its a UN daily ranking that comes up every so often. Unfortunately its not somewhere we can all view all the time, which for a lot of people, admittedly me too, is a big thing when it does. I usually write it down. 21st in the world, last time.
13-10-2003, 09:55
What I don't understand is why people get so uptight about my use of WMDs.

Yes, I spend 1/3 of my massive military spending on them. So what? I have never had a navy.

Roanians blister in salt water, it's a very big weakness. Any national leader with an encyclopedia would know that.

It all evens out.

HELLOOOO? This was not a rhetorical question. Maybe one of the dogooders on the forum can answer?
The Evil Overlord
17-10-2003, 15:31
HELLOOOO? This was not a rhetorical question. Maybe one of the dogooders on the forum can answer?

Not sure that I qualify as a do-gooder, but I'll take a stab at it.

In real life, everyone is terrified of using (everyone rational, that is) WMD. Once you let the genie out of the bottle, it's really tough to get it back in. This translates roughly into the fear that the quick and profligate use of WMD will inure world leaders to their use, and soon huge sections of the planet will be uninhabitable by anything other than rats and roaches.

In real life, chemical and biological weapons are almost entirely uncontrollable once they're released into the atmosphere. Chemical weapons in particular are very bad because they kill everything that breathes or has skin (depending on the chemical weapon used)- including insects used to pollinate crops, aerate soil, etc. This creates an ecological disaster that ruins the land for anyone's use. Furthermore, the chemically-destroyed landscape also acts as a barrier to any trace of normal traffic. Merely walking or driving across a chemical battlefield risks releasing the weapon into the air again. Forget about farming.

Bio-weapons have the potential for worse damage. There are two types of bio-weapons: Biological organisms that cause diseases (augmented by genetic modification or otherwise) and biotoxins.

Biotoxins are esssentially biologically-created chemical weapons. Many biological processes create toxic byproducts. It is possible to cheaply manufacture and disperse biotoxins. The downside is the fact that they are notoriously unreliable as a mass-weapon. Most biotoxins require that the toxin be ingested or injected- few are dangerous when inhaled unless enormous quantities are involved.

Biological organisms that cause disease have some of the same drawbacks as biotoxins. The only bio-agent with a decent chance of infecting large numbers of people when used as a weapon is smallpox (there are lots of other deadly diseases, but none of them make good WMD for a wide variety of reasons). Only a few organisms are needed to cause an infection, and then the infected people can spread the disease (becoming vectors for the disease spread) among the uninfected population.

Now we come to nuclear weapons. Nukes are actually pretty cheap- considering only their military usefulness compared to their development costs. The political consequences are pretty dire. Using nukes against an enemy invites retaliation in kind. Armies are hard to destroy effectively- even with nukes- but population centers don't move. They're easy to kill. In a world where everyone has nukes, the survival of continental populations are at the whims of whichever national leader is the least stable. If you start popping off nukes every time you feel peeved about buying a cheap Rolex knock-off, pretty soon:
A) no one will do business with you for any reason
B) anyone who is upset at you might do the same thing
C) anyone who thinks that you might be upset at them will be encouraged to launch a first strike
D) you'll probably find your seaports and major trucking/rail centers getting mysteriously vaporized until there's nothing left of your industry and commerce.
E) you'll encourage the formation of massive, nuclear-armed coalitions whose sole purpose will be to reduce your country to the world's largest glow-in-the-dark parking lot at the first sign of any possible conflict.

In short, using WMD is bad for business, and is a sure sign of mental laziness. The nations in real life have massive stockpiles of CBR weapons (Chemical/Biological/Radiological) as a deterrent against other nations using their own WMD. Exactly two nuclear weapons have been used. Whether or not that use was justified I won't bother going into. There have been a few instances of chemical weapons used, but always in small lots (no one has loaded a missile with Sarin- for example- and launched it at enemy troops or cities). The few documented uses of chemical weapons have been dispersed from specially-equipped helicpoters and other aircraft.

Bio-weapons have been in use for centuries (the Mongols hurled plague-infected animals into beseiged cities, for example), but are growing far less effective from a military point of view. Part of this lack of effectiveness is due to the fact that everyone spies on everyone else, and if Nation A suddenly starts innoculating all of their troops against chicken pox, then everyone else is going to figure out that something is up (there is no practical way of hiding something like that). Another risk to using bioweapons is the distinct possibility of a meta-plague. Once released, there is no way to control the spread of the disease. The disease may even mutate under the stress of ultraviolet light, radiation, or a wide variety of other causes. Now everyone is vulnerable- even the troops supposedly protected by their innoculations. All it takes is one human vector getting on an airplane. When the plane lands, there will be a hundred human vectors, some of whom will get on other planes- maybe even going to your country. Pretty soon, all that will be left is the few rare people who are naturally immune (there are always a few) and those populations that are somehow isolated from the rest of the planet.

So, if you want to develop WMD, feel free. Their best use is as a deterrent against total war. If you're losing the war badly, you can always threaten to use your WMD in the last extermity. Perhaps your enemy will be willing to offer terms under these circumstances ("I ain't gonna win, but we can both lose").
17-10-2003, 15:43
I'm mostly A with some E stuff in the form of supernatural stuff that makes the military's overall effectiveness even out to the equivalent of B. I also have enough serviceable tech from the foreign market to put a small force (No more than 100-200) into action on any of the other levels.
25-12-2003, 06:44
I'm kidda confused about the military’s budget.

Numbers are thrown around, Im not sure what's going one... so I did my best and came up with this military budget ( This is based on this Table of Militarism ( Please let me know how to improve this. Once I have it compleated and working right, I'll post the spreedsheet for others to use, if it is ok with Santa Barbara and The Entire States, who's info this is based on.
Santa Barbara
25-12-2003, 07:14
Looks good, very uniform all around.

I dunno what else to say... converting budget into military is so hard. At least for me. Well, while drinking anyway. :hiccup::
25-12-2003, 08:38
I'm a Class B/C right smack dab in the middle of it.
25-12-2003, 10:49
Looks good, very uniform all around.

Thanks. However I'm unsure of the Air and sea lift/transport, which takes 2% of my total budget. Don't each brach normaly have their own Air and sea lift/transport? And as for Strategic forces-- WMDs and ICBMs, etc. (8%), Isn't that under the Air Force? As for the rest (53%), don't the Braches have there own funded sections covering these needs?

I'm just wondering why you use a budget such as this? I'm sure there is a logical explanation behind it, but I am at a lost to find it...
Henleaze Avenue
25-12-2003, 12:17
Excellent... I'm currently trying to build my military and this should help a lot.

*Gives Santa Barbara a cookie for being helpful.*
Santa Barbara
25-12-2003, 17:33
Each branch does have its own air/sea transports, but not enough for a major war. Historically, almost every military in the world has had to rely on things like merchant marines and civilian shipping, because they (like on NS) fund the showy weapons more than the boring cargo jets.

WMDs and such are also in the air force, but this is a breakdown of where the money goes. Technically they'd be in the air force budget, making the actual budget larger (meaning if you spent that money on airplanes and no WMDs, you could have a larger air force.)
25-12-2003, 17:49
Remember once, Santa Barbara, when I sent you a strange telegram asking about your thread about war? This was the one! :lol:

== TAG ==
25-12-2003, 18:00
Each branch does have its own air/sea transports, but not enough for a major war. Historically, almost every military in the world has had to rely on things like merchant marines and civilian shipping, because they (like on NS) fund the showy weapons more than the boring cargo jets.

WMDs and such are also in the air force, but this is a breakdown of where the money goes. Technically they'd be in the air force budget, making the actual budget larger (meaning if you spent that money on airplanes and no WMDs, you could have a larger air force.)
Hmm, in a related question, what is the "Real" effect of getting rid of 100 modern Peacekeeper ICBMs on my Air Force (therefore getting rid of the maintance cost of the silos/launch systems, ICBMs, and control centers)?

EDIT: Also would the improvement of a Ballistic Missile Defence system actually costs the same or more as the 100 ICBMs (w/ launch systems, control centers)?

A final question, how does Civil rights and political rights affect the military, by any chance? Thanks in advance.
Soviet Haaregrad
25-12-2003, 18:54
I'm going to disagree with everyone here, you can have a good GDP and devote most of it to warfare. It just means your consumer goods are going to be non-existant and that your standard of living will suck.
Santa Barbara
25-12-2003, 19:00
I'm not well versed in these sorts of things to know the first answers, unfortunately. And, it's frustratingly difficult to get actual numbers for modern WMDs. However, I do know that getting rid of nukes costs money too, so the money saved will be more long run. As for the BMD versus 100 ICBMs, I have no idea. :oops:

Civil rights, well high civil rights means everyone is uppity and probably anti-military, as is evidenced by hippies and peaceniks everywhere. I've seen conclusions that high civil rights means people are more willing to defend their nation, but that doesn't make sense to me. I think people will defend their homeland no matter how crappy things are there.

As far as hard numbers go, they don't mean much (at least in NS) for the military. People with few political freedoms and civil rights might not actually be aware of it, especially if they're part of a culture that reinforces the traits (using mass media and other tools) that make for a good warmaking state.

The only thing that might come into play is whether guns are legal and in use by everyone. They aren't in Santa Barbara, which would make a militia-type defense less effective.
25-12-2003, 19:10
Ah, appreciate for the answers though.
25-12-2003, 23:02
The Budget that was released earlier, was released in error, the Budget was set up by and based on the last administration's needs.

The Hemsu Administration has requested the following funding for the military: FY04 Military Budget Request (

The Administration commented that this is only a glance at what the Military Budget will be, and confirmed that a more detailed Budget will be released. Also, any conclusion taken from the earlier released Budget should be ignored.
28-12-2003, 07:29
I'm kidda confused about the military’s budget.

Numbers are thrown around, Im not sure what's going one... so I did my best and came up with this military budget ( This is based on this Table of Militarism ( Please let me know how to improve this. Once I have it compleated and working right, I'll post the spreedsheet for others to use, if it is ok with Santa Barbara and The Entire States, who's info this is based on.

Fine by me, and thanks for mentioning my chart (
01-01-2004, 09:18
I'm going to disagree with everyone here, you can have a good GDP and devote most of it to warfare. It just means your consumer goods are going to be non-existant and that your standard of living will suck.

OOC: Sure, but that's a great breeding ground for potential rebellion. Keep the masses happy else they get ideas. After all, people can only eat cardboad pie for so long.
01-01-2004, 09:26
E/A here... seeing as im a bit more tolkeinish than would be acceptable for just E...
29-01-2004, 17:41
29-01-2004, 17:47
I'm going to disagree with everyone here, you can have a good GDP and devote most of it to warfare. It just means your consumer goods are going to be non-existant and that your standard of living will suck.

Very true, which is why you need to run a strictly controlled environment so your peoples can live in blissful ignorance - 1984 style. you're telling me that we're not having food shortages due to war? That this is just a big government conspiracy to keep us oppressed? That's a counter revolutionary thought, I'm reporting you, you unpatriotic scumbag!