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The Court of Agema

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baggins
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The Court of Agema

Post by baggins on Sat Oct 01, 2011 1:33 pm

Recently there has been quite a debate on this forum about the return of the "Court of Agema". My understanding is that this is a form of in-game arbitration by Agema to settle conflicts when all sides agree to go to arbitration. I understand it went defunct because as Richard told me, "there was no basius for this in historic reality".

There now seem to be a number of players who want to see the court return, and I agree and I would like to propose a variation to make it more historically accurate.

My understanding is that previously the court acted in three parts. First players put their cases, agema arbitrated, and then the results - whatever they were - were binding on all parties.

I would suggest that players still put their cases - noting any red lines - and agema arbitrates. The red lines may mean negotiations fail and then players would be asked to resubmit, Agema noting why the negotiations have failed, and asking players to reconsider. Players will be under a lot of pressure to move their red lines or they will be blamed for ruinging the negotiations, but at the same time the red lines will protect them from a completely bizarre or unaccapetable outcome.

Once there is an agreement instead of this being binding the deal is presented to all players, who have to approve it personally, then it becomes binding.

I think this is more realistic as this is what happens in real life - countries send plenopotentiaries to a peace conference, who use their skills to negotiate but the final agrement is subject to the king or the parliament approving the treaty.

Frankly I think the Court of Agema is crucial to the game. In wars with lots of players negotiation by letter is incredibly difficult and that's whay in reality peace conferences were held to speed up negotiations.

I feel sure this would bring an end to ugly conflicts like in game 7 or the growing war in in game 2.

What do you think?

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Deacon on Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:00 pm

I agree that negotiating by letter is far too slow and you need some type of live arbitration.

A refreshed court of agema, or perhaps even agema or someone on their behalf could establish a list server. If you agree to send representatives to a peace conference you are permitted to use the list serve on a limited basis to send email back and forth. In character, and monitored by richard, but it would allow a much more timely negotiation than the one letter per game month process.

Edit: a list server can be established to limit the ability to see the originating address, so less temptation to step outside of agreed communication channels. Alternately, everyone could agree to the peace conference, agema adjudicates, but there is only a small ding in honour if you reject the proposal immediately. Call it Agema mediation rather than arbitration.

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by jamesbond007 on Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:56 am

Emails and list servers ? Hardly realistic of the time period is it.
Arbitration services ,Acas, or Agema, again hardly realistic.

Letters,albeit slow moving is the way it was dealt with in those years. We have this forum,to speed matters up, if players wish. Richard does and will police the site.

baggins
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by baggins on Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:59 am

Fair enough, I would not be keen to negotiate on the forum. Not all players and on the forum and negotiations need to take place behind closed doors.

I think an Agema-managed peace conference is the away ahead.
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Kingmaker on Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:06 am

yes, but remember it puts pressure on the GM and ppl will always think they may have been hard done by.


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baggins
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by baggins on Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:07 pm

agreed, i think someone is always going to feel hard done by. by ensuring that players can set down red lines and must ultimately agree the proposals, rather than these being imposed like the past, this should make real greviances less likely.

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by count-de-monet on Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:33 pm

Why not allow the ruler with the highest honour score, not involved in the dispute, mediate as the equivalent of the Court of Agema (if that person was willing).

Same kind of guidelines apply.

Richard would have less pressure on him to apply terms, but he could impact the mediator if he feels he is working to an agenda (Richard would see the correspondence in full going to the mediator).

The only change being, the combatants do not have to accept the terms as binding, but would lose honour points each month until they put forward a proposal that was accepted by the other person, or accepted them.

I dont think this is particularly perfect either, but offers an option of mediation and would be considered more historically possible.


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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by jamesbond007 on Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:58 pm

Only one way to truly sort out a dispute. On the field of honour,till the death. Last nation standing, wins.

If everyone is so intent on peace and arbitration. Why start the war in the first place ?
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Deacon on Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:15 pm


list servers and forum is the best analogy to a peace conference I can come up with. You need something that allows faster communication than one letter a month. The issue I see is that letters just aren't fast enough. The whole point of sending empowered ambassadors to a peace conference historically was just so such speedy negotiations could take place.

I'm not sure I would ever want to be a player position mediator, as it strikes me that it is a mostly losing proposition. No doubt that's at least part of why Richard doesn't want the albatross tied around his neck either!
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Kingmaker on Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:20 pm

jamesbond007 wrote:Only one way to truly sort out a dispute. On the field of honour,till the death. Last nation standing, wins.

If everyone is so intent on peace and arbitration. Why start the war in the first place ?

hear, hear.....


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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Kingmaker on Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:22 pm

I have acted as a ref in some disputes others they have refused, I settled one by holding a duelling match between rulers in St Petersburg that seemed to sort it out fine Very Happy


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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:13 am

Wow - been away this weekend, but I seem to have missed quite a discussion.

Commenting on other contributions:

Deacon - the list server idea would be a problem for those who still play by ordinary mail or who don't have internet access.

Baggins - if some kind of arbitration procedure is re-established then any judgement has to be binding on all players otherwise you risk continual ping pong with the court. Also, I can see why you suggested it, but I have a problem with all playes voting on a solution. Not all players are active, yet could be affected by the outcome.

Jamesbond007 - I agree players have to be given the freedom to fight it out if that is what they want but in major multi-player conflicts like Baggins referred to these wars become so big that they inevitably impact on smaller nations. These smaller nations were unlikely to be the cause of war yet have their trade destroyed, their lands pillaged and the effort they have put into the game counts for nothing.

No nation goes to war thinking they will lose. My view is that Deacon is right about the problems of game letters never being quick enough to match how the war unfolds on the ground. Baggins is right that some kind of dispute resolution is essential to the game.

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:54 am

There are 2 big advantages to all players from having the GM/referee adjudicating:
1. Only the GM knows the full game hisory and all factors including those hidden from players.
2. All players (whether reflected in their honour or not) will all have their own agendas, getting a group of players to vote on a solution to a conflict many could not be involved with does not seem very historical.

Suggestion

Under the old rules Agema would consider arbitration:
- if a treaty was alleged to be broken by a signatory
- where 2 or more parties requested arbitration.
Baggins red lines idea was there but wasn't binding on the court.

I think the problem was not with arbitration (which I agree is necessary in some situations), but with the 'court'. The 'court' became the first recourse when a treaty was broken which is historically unrealistic. If this option was scrapped then the old system could work quite well as a dispute resolution mechanism.

Players would be allowed the flexibility to fight it out until they realised a diplomatic solution was needed. Allies of each faction could call for 'Agema Mediation' to encourage players to sort it out, but the players themselves would both have to request it. The process would operate as before with players stating the strength of their case on 1 side of A4. AM would consider the arguments and the existence of treaties would carry strong moral weight. Judgement would be binding.

AM would become the last recourse rather than the initial option so it would fulfil the historical peace conference role rather than the unhistoric legalistic court role.

It may even promote historic play with more minor wars over insults or matters of honour because players knew that once they had made their point they had a way to stop the war before it triggered a series of alliances and involved multiple nations who would rather remain neutral.

In wars just involving 2 players they should be able to sort things out themselves, but when wars involve more players I agree that using game letters to try and achieve peace is impossible. In LGDR7 it took well over a game year to negotiate the original Treaty of Ghent between France, Spain, Flanders and UDP. This was a simple treaty where there was much initial agreement over what was needed, players trusted each other and were prepared to compromise. Even then we had objections from nations who were not directly involved, but thought they should have been consulted. In times of war goodwill and trust is usually non-existent and so some neutral arbitration seems essential.

baggins
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by baggins on Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:11 pm

I agree with TRKL. the real problem is wars with multiple partners, which are almost impossible to settle. in my experience nations dont destroy others they just force exasperated players out who dont think they have any other options. so arbitration is both historically accurate and should keep good players in the game.
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Deacon on Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:18 pm


Agema could also put in a chance that negotiations just fail. It doesn't always hold that a proposed treaty comes out of those negotiations.

(I agree list-server/forum options leave out the pure postal player, but the only other alternative is the court of agema that I can see.)
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Basileus on Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:44 pm

I suppose the question has to be raised to Richard, would he be willing to re introduce Court Agema? To become a Deus ex Machina.
Whilst I support the idea, with the comments above, I am aware that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries peace negotiations involving different parties would sometimes take years to resolve. Some parties would stall to create a better position and all sorts of complexities would take place. This appears to be the case with the end of the Thirty Years War. It probably should have ended 5 or 6 years before it did. It was just difficult getting to a negotiating point.
So strangely the game situation we have in game 7 probably reflects reality which is again a positive reflection on the game. With our modern instant world we sometimes want everything to be at the same fast speed.
The turns coming back to us after a few weeks is probably more like the experience of the seventeenth century in waiting for news to travel at its fastest speed by horseback.
So therefore we should not turn to the Court Agema solution because of speed. It is more that France/Austria and by implication England cannot resolve their differences by direct negotiation, nor by a third part as France wont accept Russia or Spain as a negotiator. That I believe is the crux of the issue rather than one of speed. elephant

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by count-de-monet on Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:11 pm

I think some very good points have been raised in this thread, but primarily the opinion that an end to a war (not necessarily peace) comes with people simply dropping out because they have had enough. Also the fact that our modern lifestyles mean we want solutions and glory NOW.

My fear is that as soon as one side shows any sign of compromise or acceptance of peace, the opposition, even if the terms being accepted WERE good enough, then think "Hold on a minute, what else can I get" and then its back to square one.


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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by jamesbond007 on Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:25 pm

If people drop out of a game. This simply means that they have been beaten. This is all part and parcel of the games.It is your role and purpose in the game too make sure that it is not you that has to drop out.Through losing battles or going broke.

It is never personel,or should not be. It is the game.Somewhere in the game people have too lose ground, for others to make it.

Enjoy the fight. Weather it be political or militarily. Always remember,the next new game is only around the corner.Roughly one a year pops up.
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by revvaughan on Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:49 pm

I am not sure that this already hasn't been proposed or looked at...

What if Richard had a negotiation fee that would allow parties involved to send letters to him a set number of times a month. He would then forward them on to the parties involved as if they were at the peace table. This is much faster, protects the integrity of the game from emails bouncing back and forth between players on the back channel, and preserves player control of their goals and nations.

What say you?

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:51 pm

From France's viewpoint the biggest problem in LDGR7 is that neither England nor Austria will reply to France's game letters or negotiate with France. France has offered 4 sets of public peace proposals, each one progressively more generous, and received nothing back. Neither Austria or England have published their own peace proposals or war aims. Negotiations won't happen if other players are not prepared to engage with France.

The implication of Basileus' comment that France is somehow an impediment to peace has to be corrected!

Separate peaces would (in theory) be easier to negotiate between the parties than a 3-way or 4-way peace, but since nobody knows precisely why Austria attacked France or what she intends to gain for her trouble, I am unable to make any further suggestions.

It would be wrong in principle to pass the responsibility for negotiating peace onto other well respected players in the game simply because the players at war will not make any genuine attempt to solve their differences between them. I know I am not the first person to have made this point either.

revvaughan - I would support a small one-off negotiation fee for Agema Mediation, but not a repeat fee for forwarding letters. I already pay more than the standard game turn fee each month, though less than some I am aware of and with the number of orders required to run a large position like France, if I do have any extra real world cash to spend on the game, I'd rather it go on orders.

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Richard D. Watts on Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:04 am

Interesting suggestions here. Some ideas from Agema then, although I comment in some trepidation knowing that any opinion may offend a player or ten out there!

1. The War of the Spanish Succession lasted as long as it did precisely because negotiations were a nightmare and dragged on forever, especially behind the scenes, and involved so many parties. The Duke of Marlborough in his career at times was even accused of being a traitor at home due to 'secretly' negotiating. The difficulties being experienced are certainly frustrating, but I'd contend are a good reflection of 18th century international affairs and diplomacy, as is the speed of negotiations.

If you really want to get peace in a quicker manner the 'confederate' allies fighting France could appoint a single player to represent them all and negotiate with France? Of coure they would all need to ratify any decision, but again if people are heartily sick of the war they can always try and arrange a truce first?

2. Surely the real problem isn't really one of speedy communication, it is more a case that the parties involved violently (literally - in game terms!) disagree with each other and so aren't going to negotiate away a potential victory unless they get mentally exhausted by it all or lose on the battlefield to such a significant extent that it is clear they're not going to win the war as happened at Poltava in the Great Northern War. Reality is that while either side believes they've a decent chance of winning negotiations are going to be slow and difficult. Even significant military victories don't always resolve the issue - at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession when it looked like France was done for after years of poor harvest and defeats King Louis XIV was intent on leading his last army in person northwards against his enemies and to go down fighting. It didn't come to that, but could have if his enemies had managed to invade France.

3. Most worryingly from Agema's point of view arbitrating is going to be a total nightmare! Yes this happens to some extent for instance through playing out judicial cases, but when it comes to a 'court of Agema' we are BOUND to upset players. Look, this is the problem; we think we have good relations with all our players, you're a good bunch to have with us, and if we find against you in such a major case - especially if we should actually get it wrong, which could happen - then we're going to make enemies as well as friends. Agema's impartiality is crucial to the successful running of the game, but bringing back the court of Agema is just going to mean our impartiality will be questioned as soon as we announce a decision. After all, players are only likely to use it when they really don't agree which other at all, so passions are going to be running high!

4. I also have a deep unease that a 'court of Agema' sounds unhistorical, is unhistorical, and has no basis, which is ultimately why the idea was dropped all those years ago!

Anyway, that is how it looks from this side of the fence. Feel free to disagree, we won't crash your honour score if you do, however tempting... maowhahahaahaha!

Finally, does anyone find it ironic that in a wargames campaign the players are getting frustrated because they want peace?!! It's curious, don't you think and I like to think a credit to the players acting in an historical manner! I sometimes wonder how the game has developed over the decades to be like this, but usually players really do end up acting like their real counterparts, which is fascinating to see.


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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Guest on Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:12 pm

OK Richard, I believe you won't cause my honour to crash affraid , so to start the ball rolling ...

I agree with your first point (up to a point). Historically negotiations started as soon as war was declared and were particularly intense outside the short campaigning season. The problem in G7 is that players are unwilling to negotiate or write to each other which itself is very unhistoric. I can understand TheRealKingLouis's frustration over this. If Austria declared war merely to influence peace negotiations between France and England then failing to negotiate makes no sense at all. Players may or may not want peace, but they owe it to other players to be clear why they are fighting Exclamation Appointing a single player to negotiate might work, but then that player is likely to make enemies within the game if the parties still won't compromise. Gut feel is that it could even slow down negotiations unless those players are prepared to accept whatever compromises the nominated player reaches.

Your second point appears valid, though I think it can be argued France did very well out of WSS. Marlborough's final victories were won at such great cost in terms of casualties (Malplaquet) that he couldn't exploit those victories. After this despite superior numbers, France fought back (Denain, Barcelona) and the allies realised they were not able to make progress in defeating France. Significantly Britain and UDP made peace at Utrecht (1713) leaving Austria to fight on until 1714 against France and 1720 against Spain. Perhaps the idea that there should be one combined peace is itself unhistoric? Smile

Your third point seems very weak (sorry, but you did ask!) Surely every time something goes against a player in a game the GM can be accused of not being impartial. However, what cannot be questioned is that as GM you have the authority to make that decision. All players are bound by that. If you rule against a player then you are perfectly capable of explaining why and helping that player understand where his misconceptions arose from so that players have the opportunity to avoid the same mistakes in future. In my opinion both France and Austria can be accused of making mistakes based on their understanding of their respective roles. If these misunderstandings were recognised then the players might make progress themselves and reach a compromise.

On a broader point you clearly recognise your duty towards all players. However, in G7 now we face a very real danger of this conflict escalating to affect many neutral countries who do not have the might to fight back. They need protection too whether active or potentially active (inactive). In the real WSS the European battlegrounds were Flanders, parts of Germany, Spain and Italy. France, Austria and England deliberately fought over foreign territory. Louis even deliberately underpaid his troops and ordered his generals to make their pay up by levying contributions from lands they marched through. Failure to pay up meant whole towns were ravaged. These contributions caused immense damage to the smaller nations. Within the game players could well expect to be rewarded through increased honour for such historic play, but the effect on these innocent smaller nations would be dreadful. In the end the whole game would suffer if players were discouraged from joining the game and taking these often vital small nations because of belligerent larger nations.

Your fourth point may make you feel uneasy, but having read all the comments on this topic there does seem to be the need for some kind of mechanism to resolve game disputes. If players don't feel they can compromise because they are acting historically (encouraged by the game) or through honour (as applied as a game concept), then there should be some counterbalancing mechanism (another game concept) to allow them to resolve the situation. This isn't being unhistoric, but recognising that the game rules themselves limit some options available to players. Otherwise every war would be fought using Nelsonian/Napoleonic tactics and players wouldn't be satisfied until they had discovered the tank.

I think players are getting frustrated because there are so many different alliances within the game and if players are to honour those alliances they would really like to know what it is they are fighting about. They see the main protagonists unwilling to write to each other or make any steps towards peace. And this is holding up their own plans and affecting their own enjoyment of the game. Such are the views of many who write to me within the game. G7 was introduced as the most advanced game of LGDR ever and attracted a large number of very experienced and capable players, all playing for different objectives. What I find ironic is that despite all this player experience the game is stuck and players don't seem able to solve their differences.

Before anyone praises my evenhandedness or suggests it I am not prepared to be a mediator in G7.

But it is time for some horse sense Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Basileus on Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:39 pm

Neigh, neigh and thrice neigh (to mix ones horse sense and Frankie Howard/Up Pompeii metaphors Laughing )
Richard has spoken and I would accept that the issue of Court Agema is closed.
Austria has always made it clear what its requirement for peace was. This was in the game newsletter in the months between the declaration of war and the actual commencement of the Austrian war. As this was in the newspaper at the time I do not consider mentioning it here is a breach of the rules of the forum. Austria seeks a reasonable and proportionate peace settlement for England. There you go, thats it.

In return France sends huge great transcripts that are brow beating in nature and to be quite frank - to use modern parlance - just do my head in. I offer a reasonable peace, in return I get great long arguements on the break up and destruction of the HRE and why I should just give up and go home.
As to you being a negotiator Mr Ed. Well I am still of the opinion that you are Louis and when you directly discussed peace terms with me through private messaging without making it clear you were Louis you acted in a manner which was not correct. You may see it as playing the game, the equivalent of espionage or whatever. But I am not a happy rabbit with that sort of behaviour.
I have said what I seek in peace, the problem was that you would never agree to it.

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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by jamesbond007 on Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:49 pm

If you all want peace. Then it is really very easy to achieve.Simply pull your troops back to where they were before war and hostilities began. This way all sides cannot complain.

Any nation not wanting to pull back and resume there starting position, is continuing the war and cannot run around wanting peace.

This solution seems the only really fair way around it.
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Re: The Court of Agema

Post by Basileus on Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:53 pm

I would have no problem with that. Obviously that includes France withdrawing from England as well as Austria withdrawing from France. Smile

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