Dealing with the 'Alliance Exploit'

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George Geczy
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Dealing with the 'Alliance Exploit'

#1 Post by George Geczy » May 20 2006

For the next game update, I want to deal with what can be called the 'Alliance Exploit'... This is when a player has an alliance (or transit treaty) with another region, and then uses this to move in a major attack force to sit on the region's main cities and bases, and then declares war.

While not everyone may think of this as an exploit, ie "choose your friends carefully!" and "keep an eye out for troop movements onto your capital!", I really don't think this type of action should be acceptable gameplay, at least not without some adjustments to how it plays out. Right now, the only penalty is the WM and regional opinion and integrity hits you take for breaking an alliance or treaty; the action itself is usually devastating to the region on the receiving end.

There really is no precedent in modern times for this sort of attack. True 'surprise' attacks (Pearl Harbour, Germany on Poland or Russia, the Yom Kippur conflict) did not involve situations where the attacker launched from 'within' the territory of the defender.

As well, one can assume that in true alliance/transit situations, the visiting force will be escorted & supplied by the host nation. This is true in real life, where visiting units will usually recieve senior officers from the local forces as liasons and monitors. Logistics will also be handled by the local authorities, which is also simulated well inside SR2010 (since a unit in an ally's territory receives supplies based on the ally's resupply levels).

My opinion of all these facts is that we shouldn't just let a visiting force start shooting at the former ally as soon as the order comes down. We've come up with three possibilities in this case:

1) Units inside allied territory would immediately surrender to the host nation when the surprise war was declared.

2) Units inside allied territory would take a serious efficiency hit, and have no ammo, but would not surrender.

3) Units would only take a serious efficency hit.

The problem with #3, efficiency hit only, is that the 'visiting' units would still end up capturing territory as soon as the war was declared. This would not only greatly disrupt the defender's region, it would also enable effects such as scortched earth, causing even more disruption. The low effieciency units would themselves be in danger of suffering significant losses once the defender's units arrived, but by then the damage is done.

#2 resolves the problem of land capture, since units without ammo cannot capture land. However, this one might be a bit confusing to players - where did the ammo go?

#1 resolves the problem entirely, in fact makes it an additional penalty to launch such an ethically disdainful attack on an ally. It could also be explained in terms of realism by pointing out that not only where the units being monitored and supplied by the host country, but they were also working closely with the host thinking they were friends, and as such would be less likely to follow such 'attack your friend' orders. It may, however, seem as too extreme to some players.

Thoughts?

-- George.

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#2 Post by red » May 21 2006

Is it not possible to disallow declaring war on a region with whom you have such close agreements? It may be an artificial game limit, but as you say this is without precedent in reality, and I think it's no worse a solution than #1 in that regard (which is itself pretty bad because the player wouldn't expect their army to suddenly evaporate).

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#3 Post by Uriens » May 21 2006

I like 1 actually.

Also, there could be a diplomatic workaround to this - maybe it shouldn't be possible to declare war on ally before you break alliance and right of passage treaty with him. Also, there could be a period of time (maybe a week) that has to pass before you declare war after you broke those treaties. That way all units in former ally's territory would have time to reatreat to friendly territory (already happens automatticaly and can't be stopped) and would make such attacks impossible.

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#4 Post by BigStone » May 21 2006

I'm thinking of a new treaty.. something like a "combine armie/training" treaty before you can place troops on allied ground.
AND if this treaty is signed the AI place also his troops on YOUR ground.
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#5 Post by Il Duce » May 21 2006

I'm with red and Uriens on this. An 'artificial' or arbitrary ban on flipping your relations wth a hosting ally, while simplistic, reflects the underlying real-world unlikelihood of such a maneuver.

At the very least, you could set up a lock such that you can not declare war on a hosting ally without first doing two things - removing your troops, and closing down the transit agreement clause of your treaty portfolio with that region. Short of a considerably larger number of enhancements to the diplo engine, I don't see many other alternatives.
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#6 Post by George Geczy » May 21 2006

I guess it makes sense that you're suggesting diplomatic solutions, after all this is the Diplomacy forum section :-)

Yes, I suppose we should include a diplomatic solution as #4. Right now, you can unilaterally break transit and alliance treaties; even if we didn't allow you to declare war on an ally, you can break the alliance at midnight and have war by 1am. So, as suggested, a time limit of some sort would have to be added.

This raises a number of complications: 1) Forcing the arbitrary time limit; 2) A player could still end up with units in the former-ally territory either in special cases (such as an island, where they can't leave) or if the player sets 'allow pathing into neutrals'; 3) probably a few others I can't think of.

Regarding the suggestion of a new treaty, the 'combine training' treaty would actually be 99% similar to the 'transit' treaty - that's pretty much what Transit lets you do, move units into the other's region. One idea might be to remove 'transit' from the package of treaties included in an alliance, so that you would have to sign transit separately. Maybe not a bad idea, after all US and Germany are allied but you don't see Leopard Tanks rolling through New York...

-- George.

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#7 Post by tkobo » May 21 2006

Simply make it so captured cities DONT produce supplies for like 1 month gametime.

AND

Simply put a troop/unit limit on amount allowed to transit at a given time.

If you want to discourage a "bad tactic" ,Dont make it so people cant try, make so people wont likely suceed.

Watch how little threat this tactic becomes when the users are limited in the amount of force they can put in place and the amount of supplies those forces can acguire.
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#8 Post by red » May 21 2006

Perhaps treaty cancellations involving transit should have a 7-day/whatever delay, then after this delay, units still in the other region will magically go to reserve as WM units do. That's fairly realistic, I think: get out, before we throw you out.

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#9 Post by BigStone » May 21 2006

I see the transit treaty more as a "corridor" (or how do you say it...)

So once signed.... you're allowed to move your troops into allied teritory..
but you've have to keep moving.
And more imporant.. only one unit by one (no massive troop movements).
Once you stop or park your troops you should recieve mails (first friendly) like "Hi mate.. running out of gas or beer ? "
Next day's the mails should become more threathening and , lets say after 4 days, resulting in a cancelation of the treaty.
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#10 Post by red » May 21 2006

That would make alliances such as NATO or the current war in Iraq impossible, though.

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#11 Post by BigStone » May 21 2006

Hmm... on the other hand... IIRC.. the Saudies weren't much
pleased when the US stationed masive troops on their soil
during the gulfwars..
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#12 Post by tkobo » May 21 2006

1) Supplies are too easily gotten in the middle of enemy territory becuase bases and cities cant be cut off from supplies since they make their own.


2) In game ,Transit treaties dont have any restrictions. In real-life when a Country gets a basing or transit treaty its for a set amount of troops.

Its a shame bases and cities cant be removed from the supply chain when they are cut off .
As is stands now, even a city in the absolute worst spot on the map can become a self -sufficient never ending supply island.
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#13 Post by George Geczy » May 22 2006

Some interesting ideas so far... some thoughts:
Simply make it so captured cities DONT produce supplies for like 1 month gametime
This only solves half the problem - yes, it makes it so that the "invasion" troops have a supply problem, but it still makes the invasion generally successful - the defending region will have it's production disrupted, cities lost, possibly even bases or a capital - in general, the attacker gets most of what they wanted.
Simply put a troop/unit limit on amount allowed to transit at a given time
This, and the other ideas about limiting the transit treaty (ie "keep moving") are difficult from a gameplay perspective (how does the player know what's going on?), and also limits certain situations (ie, alliances where the other player needs to come to the defense of the host player, meaning that a large troop movement in is actually desired).

I don't sense a lot of support for the 'surrender' option, but the efficiency/ammo hit option does keep the attacker from doing land captures or scortching - keeping the goal of "Dont make it so people cant try, make so people wont likely suceed. " (In fact, with this option, the attacker can still get some success by bringing supply trucks or planes with his troops; this would resupply the troops after the attack starts, accomplishing some captures and distruption, but at the cost of low-efficiency unit losses etc).

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#14 Post by tkobo » May 22 2006

How about limiting the areas a visiting regions units can "stage" /travel thru with the treaty ?

Use the games land trade feature to select and assign hexs that allied units are allowed to travel thru and stage on .
And make it so ONLY those hexs selected can be traveled upon by visiting units.
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#15 Post by Uriens » May 22 2006

After giving it some more thought best solution would be a combination of #4 and #2.
Also, it's not entirely true that there are no examples in recent history that had some similar events. Not ally declaring war suddenly, mind you, but there are examples when former friendly force became enemy force within enemy territory within relatively short period of time.
One example could be war in Croatia - an ex-Yugoslav army (JNA) had bases in many Croatian towns and when JNA started fighting against Croatia (at the very start of the war) it still had significant forces in those bases. That made JNA effectively a hostile force. However this didn't happen over one night - hostilities had to escalate over time (not much time though) before full scale war started. The following thing happened then; all JNA bases were cut off from any electricity and water supplies and barricades were setup outside of those bases. Then they were offered to either surrender there to Croatian government or to leave their armaments there and to retreat to their friendly territory. JNA bases that had mostly Croatian soldiers (and more importantly officers) stationed in them surrendered and who’s that had mostly Serb soldiers left their armaments and retreated to their friendly territory.

Using a combination of #2 and #4 would be closest thing to these events. #2 means that all former-ally forces would be disarmed and lose efficiency (they were effectively surrounded in hostile territory which has pretty significant psychological effect). #4 would mean that you have to take some time before moving from ally to enemy which simulates that escalation in hostilities before actual war. It would also make all troops stranded in enemy territory to retreat to friendly bases if possible.

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