The Fourth War, or How Decisive Action Changed the World (Blog or Die! Entry #5)

Accepted entry for the “Article” category.

Author: Nick Barrett

Word Count: 3,309

 

THE FOURTH WAR, OR HOW DECISIVE ACTION CHANGED THE WORLD.

 

Conventional wisdom would have it that we have borne two world wars, and that the third will take but 20 minutes or so.

Gentle reader, I am here to tell you that this is not so. You see, I was there. I, with many others; friends and foes still bear the scars. Memories grow dim, records of our exploits are sporadic at best, and what I can tell you is but one perspective among many but know this – there was a brief shining moment during its long decline in which MocPages came alive.

And we lived it. Oh sure, some called it a game, but we the players knew better.

An explanation is in order. Sometime in… 2013 was it ? Messrs Rutherford and Goldman of this parish decided to try out an online war game, a fiendish game that grabbed your attention and wouldn’t let go until you’d won it or were dead. Probably dead. This was the first Decisive Action (henceforth to be referred to as DA). It was where Commandants Rutherford and Goldman honed their diabolical skills while the denizens of MocPages annihilated each other. rowntRee won it, as I recall with no bitterness. No bitterness at all. Really, I’m fine… It was also where he won his oddly capitalised name, but that’s another story for another time.

DA was played across a world map, somewhat analogous to a game of Diplomacy; or Risk for younger readers. A third World War that served merely as a prelude to the planet-defining conflagration that was the Fourth.

I refer of course to DA2. This is the reason so many of you suffer under the yoke of Communism. Confession time; it’s my fault. But I cannot take all the blame – enough time has passed for this wizened old veteran to name names and expose the guilty.

I’ll start with one of the less guilty leaders. General Remy, Tom to his friends, of which there were many. His nation was one of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. A West African paradise of pavement cafes, joyous people and killer guitar riffs. Until the CCCP came knocking, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It’s important to understand that DA2 was primarily a creative outlet, at least in the beginning, including the creation of brick-built figures to represent each nation’s leader. Most were workmanlike, some were serviceable. One was a work of art.

1433702450m_DISPLAY.jpg

Jimi Hendrix by Tom Remy

It was fitting that Jimi Hendrix be appointed the first Magistrate. This was a new power, not present in the first DA, that gave its holder political influence and the ability to manipulate his friends or strike his foes. Being a democratic and benevolent leader, General Remy did neither. It would be his downfall.

Big beasts were patrolling the savannah. Beasts who knew the threat a talented and popular builder like Tom could pose in this game. Simply, it was him or me. In the first DA, it was me. Not this time. But I needed help.

1435509060m_DISPLAY.jpg

Lords of All They Survey by David Roberts

Help came in the form of a jolly, tea-drinking red spaceman. General Roberts. David was a gentle soul who led a peaceful but powerful nation of Endearingly Republican Royalists to the South of my darker, more oppressive locale. An ally who I’d helped in the past and who owed me; or at least I had him think he did. Y’see, DA2 was all about the numbers. And the rules but we’ll get to that. It was mostly the numbers. The power of your weapons was decided by their popularity as mocs, thus favouring the more established, talented and/or productive builders. I at least managed to fulfil two of those criteria, and thus my numbers were good and growing with my territory. But Tom’s numbers were stellar. General Roberts would be persuaded to attack him alongside me, thus dividing his forces. We could take him down.

David was queasy about this, his peaceful nature in conflict with the brutality of this game. Or at least the brutality of it as it was played by the CCCP. They were exactly as communist as that sounds. They were my loyal attack dogs.

One thing Tom had in his favour was quick fingers. Eh? I’ll explain. There was a weekly 24 hour attack window, in which all battles were fought and calculated in the order that they happened. For example, if you were attempting to attack from a territory that was taken before your attack occurred, it was null. The attack window would open at midnight on a Friday EST. That’s five in the morning for us Brits. Five in the freaking morning. Every single Saturday for five months. A game’s gotta be something special to drag this night owl of bed like that…

Being French, Tom had the same problem. But he was always there and for week after week he’d beat us to it, clinging to life as I’d curse these arthritic fingers. Until one day he wasn’t. Suddenly the world needed a new Magistrate, and Tom had unwittingly handed me the tools to wrest that power. Another of his benevolent decisions, this time that fostered creativity like so much in this game but it was a challenge in which few players had the time to participate.

Gentle reader, I found the time.

And so a communist enclave, with a contradictory Queen at its head, came to call the shots in the largest alliance.

It wasn’t the largest by much, and we had to be careful. Organised. We knew our outcomes before the battle was fought. We fought well, and together. There were early casualties. Generals Brown and VAkkron, talented builders both, tried and ultimately failed to gain a footing in South America. Leading the other side, entrenched in SA was our potential nemesis.

1435283767m_DISPLAY.jpg

M & M Attack Interceptor by VAkkron

General Revanchist, LukeClarenceVan the, was the force to be reckoned with here. I’d fought alongside him in DA1 and knew his strengths. He played us all like chess pieces, sitting quietly in his (for a while, anyway) safe corner of the world while orchestrating his minions to wound us. And wound us they did. Luke’s right hand man, the brave, belligerent, bold General Bacca made regular incursions across the Atlantic from his Northern Imperial stronghold, wiping out our ally General Ian and his enlightened new Roman Empire. Should I be amused that one as warlike as Bacca was in charge of Canada ? Those mounties were fierce.

And what of us ? Half way there and we were five; Barrett and Roberts controlled Africa. General Lucas held sway in central Asia educating the natives until the end. Stuart was a good teacher, by all accounts, and it seemed his pupils were well versed in the Art of War. General Van Grootveld’s Tequila-soaked mob sobered up enough occasionally to keep Eastern Europe and Northern Asia a fetching shade of lime green. Pico’s gang may have looked unruly, but man, they were equipped. The most stylish, homogenous and slick fleet of deadly weapons on this Earth, and above it. Stalking the Steppe like a flotilla of shiny, deadly Tigers.

1435121419m_DISPLAY.jpg

Mayahuel Gunship by Pico van Grootveld

And then there was General Creatori.  Commander Rutherford was right – behind her fun and whimsical builds lay a steely determination, and it was there at every planning discussion. Topsy always had a way forward for all of us. She played for the team, and the team thanked her for it.

Barrett’s CCCP played for the team when it suited them.

To understand the complexity of what we were doing, perhaps it’d be helpful to look at a chart:

image007.jpg

..and this is the compact version with the last five players. Earlier in the game there were all 30 or so players on here,  all their numbers updated and ready for us to crunch. Every week. There was a long way to scroll right to get to the smaller fry. This is exactly the sort of thing that hits right at your nerd-centre. How we loved it.

How did Comptroller Goldman love it though ? He it was who processed the calculations for every attack, every week for five months. Always producing the results within a day or at most, two. Mistakes were rare; and usually our mistakes. The man was a machine, but even machines need a rest. Goldman didn’t take one; he just took endless questions from those who would not deign to read the rules.

The rules were there, clear as day and in black and white. There was no circumventing them, they had been refined to such perfection it would have been a crime to try. Complex yes, but completely logical and understandable to those who read them. These are the people who would destroy the players that did not. There were of course traps therein, carefully laid to ensnare the stupid and unwary.

General Douglas was nothing if not unwary. Here was the single greatest reason to post a security guard at the door with a ruler and a sign that says

YOU MUST BE AT LEAST THIS TALL TO ENTER.

Six feet two seems about right…

But MocPages is for the kids, right ? Sure it is, the ones that can read and comprehend will do just fine. Douglas did neither. Just questions, questions, questions; answered always promptly by the staff as they tried (and failed) to hide their exasperation. Whereupon the dear boy would enquire whether he is being annoying and apologise. Before doing it all over again. I’m sure he’s older and hope he’s wiser now, so wish him no ill. Mainly because he fell head first into the biggest trap those confounded rules had laid.

Antarctica was one large territory. Other landmasses were divided into many territories, but not Penguinland. It was intended as somewhat of a shortcut along the bottom of the map from South America to Australia and, if you were really brave, up to Africa. This was fine, and indeed dandy if you’re a Revanchist, but it’s not a good place to start from. You cannot go anywhere. In order to attack across water, you must hold at least three coastal territories. It was there in black and white, waiting to be interpreted. Or not.

Now where do you think General Douglas pitched his tent ?

You guessed correctly. To be fair, he took it on the chin. No over-entitled whining about his lot; he was growing up. He’d learned A Lesson.

We left him there in the snowy wasteland. There were bigger fish to fry.1441663021m_DISPLAY.jpg

Sea Raven Submarine by LukeClarenceVan the Revanchist

It wasn’t all frying fish. The main group was a lively gathering, rife with braggadocio and smack talk yes, but also tangential discussions with fellow players, friend and foe, who were happy to pass the time in each others’ company. To commiserate and to celebrate. To be serenaded by the Bard of Oz.

General Werewolff was his name, wherefore the second ‘f’ no one knows, but we did know he had a rare talent. If Goldman was the engine of DA2, Remy its pure heart, Bacca and van Grootveld its fists, then Werewolff was its soul. There was a place in this blood-soaked world for poetry, lyric splendour that favoured no one and yet favoured us all. Did more powerful players leave him be because of the strategic insignificance of Australia, or because we couldn’t bear to be the one that snuffed the poet ?

General Revanchist thought twice about using the shortcut available to him to deal with those vagabonds in the Far East. They were a thorn in our side as well. Ever the audacious gambler, he took Madagascar instead.

Our alliance had a problem. This could be the beginning of the end for us, with Bacca’s cavalry pinning Topsy’s cultural re-flowering of Europe to a handful of territories, Pico under attack from men in suits in the East and Stuart feeling the heat from a minor alliance who’d suddenly got quite major. There was a typhoon brewing in Japan. General Typhoon and he was not going away without a fight.

I still had the power of the Magistrate, and I would never get to use it to such devastating effect. I took the nuclear option. One territory – just one – would be summarily wiped from the map; blackened for all time, habitable to no one. Now, I couldn’t just point it at Madagascar. There had to be a worldwide poll choosing between three possible outcomes, selected by me and all deleterious to my opponents. One much more so than the other two. One problem remained; in our weakened state we didn’t hold half the available votes or even close to it.

Here came the triumph of diplomacy. Every lone wolf, and indeed Wolff was cajoled / bribed with offers of protection and co-operation (which we followed through on for the most part, to my own surprise…) in order to swing the vote our way. It was an exhausting week. Just minutes before the polls closed, it was clear this would go down to the wire.

We won with 51% of the vote. Madagascar was rendered a nuclear wasteland, an island Chernobyl off the coast of Africa, just to protect some communists and tea-drinking spacemen from a Revanchist. We were safe for a bit but at what cost ? All those unique and wonderful island species, gone. I still feel the pain. It was the turning point of the game.

1440613261m_DISPLAY.jpg

Meteors of Madagascar poster by VAkkron

We haven’t mentioned General Burns. Leader of a very orderly society, quietly going about their business, and that business was kicking van Grootveld whenever the opportunity arose on behalf of Luke and company. A polite bunch, they always fought in their business suits. You just know the trains ran on time. It didn’t help them when the reckoning came.

Most of this, the real action / bloodshed took place in the game’s second phase. The first was a kind of phoney war; players too far apart to attack until they’d built up their lands and arsenals. Sabres rattling across empty deserts with no-one to hear them. It didn’t last long. I’d set sail for Remystan as soon as I was able, and they knew that I was coming.

1436882511m_DISPLAY.jpg

Little Victory by Nick Barrett

That battle marked the start of the real action, the point at which the big beasts started taking bites out of each other. It was a battle between two factions although others were involved; sometimes for one side, sometimes for the other – anything to stay alive just a little longer. But there was no holding back the ravenous beasts. After enveloping Africa, Roberts and Barrett turned to the Middle East, knocking over the surprisingly resilient General X in doing so.

X, as befits his name, was something of an enigma. Ostensibly a lone wolf, he would side with whomever was in his interests, which works fine until you’re surrounded by one faction. Goodnight X.

1440240546m_DISPLAY.jpg

A Night To Remember by Werewolff

And so began the game’s third phase. The point at which the five remaining members of the winning alliance, having carved up the world must decide; with keyboard or sword, which individual would win. There can be only one.

Imperator Goldman wanted blood, and who could blame him ? To level the playing field, the Magistrate was discontinued for the last part. Fair enough, but as the tallest poppy at this point I was vulnerable. We spoke freely as a group and decided to have at it. Attack! as one might say. The crowds deserve an encore.

General Roberts was queasy again. A brave fighter but a gentle soul, he had no stomach for turning on his former allies; he decided to rule himself out of the fight and watch the fireworks. General Creatori was weaker than the others, having been in the frontline against Bacca for most of the game – her role would be a supporting one. That left van Grootveld, Lucas and Barrett to duke it out to the bitter end.

We were not without encouragement. Vanquished players stuck around to see the result; even as former teammates we cheered each other on as we knocked seven bells out of each other, but there was a problem.

That 5 a.m. thing. Fast fingers. The fastest fingers all game had belonged to Pico. Whatever they put in his Tequila worked wonders for his powers of prestidigitation. I needed an ace in the hole.

Meet Captain Alex. Not a computer-game construct this time, but a real person; a person who’d watched his normally titanically lazy father rouse himself at stupid o’clock on a Saturday for months now. The more I told him about it, the more he wanted to know. This from somebody who has a real Army to fight in. I told you the game was good… Too young to be a Captain of course, but he earned that rank here. By the third phase, even a night on the tiles didn’t prevent him from getting up with me to watch the action, and his tactical advice was invaluable. He would squint at the map for minutes on end, eyes darting across  every permutation before he’d find the One True Path.

Being young, he’s got faster fingers too.

It was his idea to engineer events to ensure that I took my biggest hit in the penultimate round. Be the tall poppy. Let them fire at will. We’re big enough to survive, and fight again.

Let the other two fight each other in the last round. The wounded CCCP can’t recover on its own and is no threat now.

Is that General Creatori on the line ?

Topsy was scrupulously fair. She had the ability to mount three attacks. She’d make one against each. The rest was up to me.

I could have a lie in for once, do some leisurely maths and if it was possible, win.

It was close. So very close. I crunched the numbers and fired my salvos and waited. Near the end, General Lucas had gained more power than I’d allowed for. Just a little bit. My numbers were wrong; I would need one more attack but my guns were silent.

1435268775m_DISPLAY.jpg

Colonialism 101 by Stuart Lucas

My pleas to Topsy to use her one remaining attack went unheeded. Fair to the end, she had done her part.

There was not one winner. There were two, or there was none depending on how you looked at it. Brigadier Goldman believed it was a stitch up, that friendship is magic when resistance should be futile but let me set the record straight. We did not arrange to tie. I arranged to win but screwed up the maths. Lucas and Barrett tied at the top, van Grootveld held one territory less.

The world settled into its new order. Half of it living comfortably in a classroom being taught at and the other half subsisting on a diet of gruel, driving to work in their shoddily built cars.

Communism had triumphed, kinda.

 

Acknowledgements

Keith Goldman, who gave everything of himself to provide this game and keep it running.  The players salute you, sir.

Mike Rutherford, who invented the thing and was there to encourage, explain, excoriate as appropriate.

matt rowntRee, an able assistant to Keith and the only one to keep Luke in check on the smack thread.

Ron L. Mitchell, Chief Officer of the Department for General Douglas Containment.

MocPages, which could have been designed for crazy shit like this. Except when it wasn’t working. Bonk Smash Thud! Is even less amusing at 5am…

All of the Players. Every single one of them. But mostly Werewolff.

 

Editor’s Note:

I found a map from the original Decisive Action and added it to the article for clarity.

9994000335_fbdfc5a7fe_o.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “The Fourth War, or How Decisive Action Changed the World (Blog or Die! Entry #5)

  1. I have never read something so cram-packed with nostalgia. This was the start of a lot of things for me, but above any else it made the online (and real) world feel like a smaller place. My teammates were brilliant, and it was such good fun to hang around in that group. I don’t even mind its disappearance, since MOCpages is an empty shell that I hardly ever visit. But I’m glad it can live on in the pictures, and even more so in the great storytelling and sharp memory of you, Nick. Thanks for the phenomenal memory trove.

    And Pico, I still don’t blame you for screwing me over. That was a confusing email I sent, and I know entering two attacks at once had to be challenging. ❤

    It really would be the best thing ever to do it again. Duke it out a third time. If I remember correctly, the setting was supposed to be far from the institutional and communist territory of planet Earth…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Round 3? Like Matt Roundthree? Don’t know if I’d sign up for a Roundtree. Maybe Matt would? Confusing..

        Anyway, can you imagine a space race for DA3? Wow.
        Keith, let’s get this worked out 😀

        Mocpages status unknown though, still broken I guess. So many questions…

        Like

  2. I haven’t even read this yet… but I had to jump to comments and accuse the author of cronyism!

    Your a crony Nick!

    Now… back to the top for some reading…

    Like

  3. This seems to be an excellent way to bring LEGO builders together to form some lasting bonds without actually having to meet. I’m not sure I understand the rules of this game from what I read, but basically it is RISK I think. I’ve had some RISK games that I thought lasted forever, but nothing to match your five months.

    I’m good for about one build every year to year-and-a-half, so I don’t think I’d be an ideal player.

    Like

    1. You’re bang on, and it’d be well worth cranking up the productivity for. It’s a lot like RISK, but there are extra dimensions to it that add to the immersiveness of it.

      Like

  4. General Barret, now, having read this article, I proffer the following assessment:

    Powerful, emotional, fun, but also focused very tightly on a very small audience. It reads almost like a private party.

    It’s an odd approach to the topic. Very personal. Highly evocative of the emotion that characterized the entire endeavor. Any former “DA-vients” who read this article will recognize the myriad allusions and inside references. They will recall specific turns, and specific players. The rhetoric, the humor, the hot tempered moments… all of it. In that respect, it is indeed very powerful. A recap designed to appeal to surviving veterans of the campaign.

    But I don’t know if it offers the same value to readers who were not there. Would a reader who had not played DA be able to follow your explanations of events? Would they be intrigued by the notion of a war game in brick? Your offering seems to have been composed almost exclusively for the veterans. There is some description of the nature of the exercise, and a few observations regarding specific rules, but for the most part, it is a recap of tactical level events.

    Truth be told, I don’t think the details about the rules are that important. Same for who did what to whom and why (except for that one turn when the guy with ten territories was gang shanked by a treaty group of other players and GONE… in one turn! That shit still gives me PTSD!). All of that detailed stuff belongs to those who played. Those who did not play, did not, and still do not care for any of that. But what effect did this activity have on YOU as a builder? What (if any) effect did it have on MOCpages? There was some odd stuff in the exercise. Pressure. Limits. Specificity. Rules designed to create harsh dynamics. Head to head competition… a Zero Sum scenario… unambiguous win/lose outcomes… published for all to see… every 7 days… Not always fun. Often frustrating.

    In the end, were these good things? Bad things? Did these factors enhance or inhibit creativity? Productivity? Communication? Was the shy builder emboldened to speak out, or lashed into even deeper silence? Were all equal before the lash? And if so… was that a kind of social justice? Or was it just tyranny with a good sound track?

    We have seen articles about story telling in the hobby. We have talked about the role of contests and prizes. And now, you offer an article about a game within the hobby. I like the way this whole writing contest is playing out, and your choice of topic re-enforces that whole deal man.

    I’m also completely stoked that we lured you onto the field here in our ghetto little blog man. And I sincerely hope that you will stick around to throw “stuff” at us. God knows somebody needs to check rowntRees uninterrupted stream of shite talk!

    It’s good to hear from you again brother.

    Attack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Astute observations all, and it’s true that it speaks loudest to those who were there. I think to really convey what it meant to all of us would take a greater talent than mine. Perhaps Werewolff should take a swing at it…

      As for the sometimes difficult to follow narrative, that was a conscious decision to avoid an overly episodic drudge. One that maybe was not executed flawlessly. I reckon non-players will at least get a flavour of what it was like in the trenches and if it serves as an appetite-whetter for DA3 it will have done it’s job.

      Thanks for your thoughts, as always I love to get some proper input. It’s great to be here.

      Like

    2. “Powerful, emotional, fun, but also focused very tightly on a very small audience. It reads almost like a private party.”… “I don’t know if it offers the same value to readers who were not there…”

      Yup… and henceforth, I vow never to talk about my last Fantasy Baseball league season to anyone… ever… even in my own league.

      I would definitely be interested in reading more about the overall integration of strategy gaming into Lego building. The different formats (DA, GARC racing, space battles, etc.), the rules, the right people, what works, what doesn’t etc. I think this a territory that’s ripe for some exploration…

      Like

  5. Oh the nostalgia feels! They burden my heart with fond memories of a time long gone. This is such a fantastic article mate, and once again I’m incredibly humbled by your kind words. It’s all coming back to me now…

    Like I said in my previous article, I’ll thank the Overlords of DA2 till the day I die, for giving me the chance to have a place in this online community, for opening my eyes to the wider world of Lego-building. And your article is the perfect homage. Though Rutherford may be correct in saying the average reader will probably get a bit lost, for us veterans it’s simply brilliant to read this synopsis of those five months of fun, yet grueling, conflict.

    Interesting to hear what was happening within the alliance itself, as well as the steps that lead up to the tie(ish). Interesting to hear about the famous Captain Alex as well! It must’ve been an interesting time explaining it all.

    Thanks for the memories Nick, and for a great article as well! I’m with VA on this one though: I’ll be here when Round 3 inevitably comes our way…hopefully.

    P.S. Five in the morning sounds pretty rough…considering it was 2:00pm Saturday afternoon for me. Time zones, amiright?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s it. I’m moving to Australia! Cheers Wolff; the very best thing about DA2 was the people I met. Like you, I’ll always be grateful to Keith and Michael.

      Like

  6. You could write a book about it if we went deep, like, knee deep.
    What a great adventure it was. A whole other dimension to Lego brought to you by the same guys who run this place. How bout that? It’s such fun reading up on this trip down memory lane.
    Thanks for this, Nick! Made me smile.

    Seeing that form again and thinking of the chats at 5AM, we’re indeed a pretty crazy bunch. Happy crazy though, the good kind. Trigger finger here’s still ready to beat all yalls butts when time’s due ny the way. This time, no mercy for the Brits.
    xoxo

    Like

  7. Oooh, look at that pretty map with all that PINK ruling the world! A20 bitches! Never lost my homeland of Mueslixtenstein, ever! Haz happies! 😀

    Granted, ruling the world by a single territory that Shifu HAD the power to throw another attack at me and win the game but didn’t. He who hesitates…

    DA2 was like the Aliens of Lego contests. The first one was brilliant, but the second one went straight for the throat and wouldn’t let go. So many new and intriguing devices and flaming hoops to jump through. The worst aspect of which was that it played out to an audience (Mocpages) that either didn’t care or were completely lost. Here’s hoping that DA3 plays out on Flickr, ’cause I intend to destroy everyone. Just sayin’. 😉

    Bringing up General Douglas had me in stitches. The epitome of those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it as General Hayden did the same damn thing in DA. I remember all us after DA wanting Antarctica to NOT be a trap like that; however, I have to say that the sadist in me takes immeasurable delight in watching it sit there like a Siren calling to the fool. Read the rules; goddamned right! I remember using the rules in DA to our alliance’s own advantage in which we wiped the planet with not only General Revanchist but three other Generals as well. Four if Bacca had been able, but alas… Read the rules, then read them again. And if you have any questions, shut the fuck up and read the rules one more time! By the way, Douglas hasn’t changed. He’s still undecipherable and not very bright.

    I would like to share a beer with your Captain Alex (of course depending on legality and any parental approval) but I found myself doing the EXACT same thing. I would pore over that damn map for hours, HOURS, until I found the only strategic options for EVERY player. I had the luxury of an alliance that trusted my vision to help them gain theirs, but in DA when the alliances were disbanded it was a free for all that I nearly got sideswiped by a preteen in General Ninja. Never thought he would be that sneaky parking in Antarctica. Live and learn AND never discount any input regardless of age. Ever!

    God damn, Nick! The nostalgia is palatable here. I feel bad for those that are unfamiliar with the brilliance of DA and especially DA2. It was so unbelievably rich, like a chocolate truffle. Other contests on Mocpages fall under the Hershey’s auspice, but Decisive Action was the Ghirardelli, the Godiva, the goddamned fucking Fran’s Chocolate of Lego competition! Brutal, violent, engaging, grueling, draining, exhilarating, frustrating, exciting, deceptive, bonding, desperate, infuriating, and above all fun. GodDAMN it was fun!

    So was this read. I love that the game was such an impact on you as it was for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers matt! Alex would raise a glass, you’d enjoy his company. I hoped this piece would manage to convey at least something of what DA2 meant to us all… it really was exceptional in so many ways. Doing a DA3 on Flickr might be more awkward, more’s the pity… wonder if WordPress can be wrangled ?

      Like

  8. Great to see you found your way here Nick.

    While I saw many of these builds on mp, and saw Decisive Action mentioned here and there, I had no idea what it was. Indeed, as Mike pointed out, the article didn’t really click with me since I had no involvement and there’s no nostalgia going on; nevertheless it’s great to see all the passion you and the others put into it. Now I definitely want a new round! And it’s always great to see Tom’s builds mentioned – he’s one of the most overlooked builders (on the internets, at least) I’ve encountered.

    “rowntRee won it, as I recall with no bitterness. No bitterness at all. Really, I’m fine… It was also where he won his oddly capitalised name, but that’s another story for another time.” – I’m sure matt feels the same way about the 2013 MO.

    Like

      1. Nope, no bitterness here at all. None whatsoever. Nada. Not even the slightest bit. I’m perfectly fine with it. Perfectly fine. PERFECTLY FINE! PERFECTLY GODDAMNED FINE WITH IT!!! Excuse me a moment, I have to punch a wall.

        Yeah, I think you’d easily wipe the planet of both us with your productivity and popularity. But we won’t be bitter. I PROMISE!!! -grrrrrrrrr- XDDD

        Like

      2. Come on Rountree, tell him the harsh truth. Knowing how powerful he would be, you would recruit a crew of players to take him out on turn one before he could grow.

        Like

      3. I assure you that I have no idea what you’re talking about. No clue. No notion of the heinous intentions that Keith may be referring to in the least bit. I bid only gentle tidings, good will, and fair play all around with absolutely no malevolence whatsoever. Truuuuuuuust me. Your other option is simple destruction if that’s what you prefer. I grant that if that is what you truly want, but I can offer you a simple tiding of an alliance to which we can collectively eradicate any annoying competition that may interfere with our gargantuan bout to determine who is truly worthy of the title of Decisive Action winner. I think it only a fair salute to one so illustrious as yourself to take on the only ACTUAL winner of this prestigious competition. It seems only a worthy endeavor to take on a humble player as myself to feel it a necessity to, dare I say, prove your worth by defeating such a minor fledgling such as I. It seems that the only course of action towards this true test would be to align yourself with me in order to effectively destroy me. Seems logical, doesn’t it? Keep your friends close but your enemies closer? I think that if you, good sir, were to really seek out a place upon the throne that it would be only in your best interest to seek out the one sitting there.

        Just sayin’.

        Like

  9. This was an incredibly entertaining read. I don’t get any of the references, but that doesn’t matter. It’s just so damn well told. I’m left knowing no details, but the way it was presented makes it feel so familiar. I applaud your choice to not explain the workings of the game more clearly as that would have killed that sense of intimacy. Instead of being thoroughly informed of the events, I got an unobscured glimpse into the very heart of them, with no need for a lesson or thesis. There it is. Definitely one of my favorite things to come out of “Blog or Die!” so far.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Christopher. What I wanted most out of this was to give a flavour of it to people who weren’t there without overdoing the explanations. Although at 3000 words plus I’ve probably overdone something!

      Like

  10. Official Contest Review

    Entry # 5

    Title: The Fourth War, or How Decisive Action Changed the World
    Author: Nick Barrett
    Views: 160 Comments: 26

    Favorite Quote: “id more powerful players leave him be because of the strategic insignificance of Australia, or because we couldn’t bear to be the one that snuffed the poet?”

    Favorite Comment inspired by the entry: “This was an incredibly entertaining read. I don’t get any of the references, but that doesn’t matter.” – Christopher Hoffmann.

    Single Sentence Summary: A nostalgic examination of the Decisive Action 2 Lego wargame.

    The Good:

    1. You more than tripled the word count requirement for the category and while I’m all too familiar with the concept that more doesn’t equal better and the law of diminishing returns, I would have been happy to read another 3000 words. Maybe that speaks more to my ego and a desire to soak in more adulation for something I created, but I didn’t really create DA, Rutherford did. In the first version, all I did were the basic math calculations and internet stuff Mike hates. In DA2 I think of it as a partnership with the players, I might have made it all work but the players brought the drama, comedy and occasionally the sheer stupidity. So size may not be everything but a topic as large as DA2 needs a deep dive and one of my consistent gripes about the other entries is that they didn’t plumb the depths of their topic as well as they should have. It is more than just sheer word count though, out of all the writers who stepped into the arena for this contest, yours is the narrative voice and writing style that I enjoyed the most. Your entry is also the one that I read the most. I’ll consider it a big loss to the blog if you don’t contribute something else as time passes and if I had my way you’d be a semi-regular like Andes and Rutherford. Really, you should be writing for TBB, if you ever catch the blogging but you should go knocking on their door too.

    2. I’m amazed that you were able to paint such a complex picture of DA2 without several crucial elements readily available for use. It had to seem like an uphill battle with no access to the map or rules or poetry or the vast number of conversations to mine for rhetorical gems. What you didn’t mention in the article was that when the game was over Mike and I left MOCpages entirely and the group vanished like a fart in the wind along with our accounts. While I made it clear from the get-go that I was only back on the site to conduct the game and nothing else, I’m sure Mike’s departure was a bit of a shock. In retrospect and after talking to fellow player Lauchlan Toal I’ve come to regret this decision, I wish I’d kept my account active so that people could copy the game and the format verbatim for their own use, or be inspired by. I think over 300 models were generated and a couple thousand conversations, I’d forgotten what a juggernaut the game was for that half a year. So kudos for piecing together as many of the fragments as you did, you managed to highlight many of the key models and some of the graphics as well. It was a true delight to poor over your spreadsheet in detail, I’d heard rumors that such things existed but it was nice to actually see one for myself.

    3. Your photo selections were steel on target, you managed to hit on quite a few of my favorite models and builders from the event and I was delighted to see the Meteors of Madagascar graphic, I’d completely forgotten about that. It was a good call to include the great builds for the readers who had no connection to the game but can still appreciate a good build. Your balance of images to text was perfect, I never felt like you were padding the article to make it appear more substantial than it was. Even though this is the “good” section I almost wish you’d selected some of the crappier models, in their own way they were just as important to the game as the shiny ones. I know it sucks to name names but including one of Topsy’s low resolution tree-fighters might have been a good illustration of how there are many ways to be powerful in the game and that it doesn’t all rely on popularity or a slick build.

    The Bad:

    1. Straight away this article put me in a very tough spot, and just like DA2 it forced me to deal with gamesmanship that I didn’t expect to encounter when I planned the contest. I never entertained even the slightest notion that a contestant would choose me or one of my endeavors as the subject for this particular category. I thought (and hoped) I might see a comic entry that mocked me in some way and I thought I might get at least one person ask for an interview (I would have rejected the request), but I didn’t anticipate an article on DA2 or any other project I’ve been associated with over the years. You speak of both the game and my conduct in such glowing terms that to declare you the winner seems as though it would reflect poorly on me, that I picked the entry that praised me the most. Right or wrong, I would feel guilty for the selection. I’m even second guessing my decision to include a photo of the map because I was so lured in by your piece that I wanted to contribute to it in some way to help you overcome the lack of citable source material. I said in the rules that I wouldn’t be editing anyone’s work and I broke the rule for you. It’s completely my fault, my error but that’s the danger of appealing to the host’s ego, sometimes it works too well. It’s a real shame because this really was one of my favorite entries, regardless of category or personal connection.

    2. The article was not easily accessible to the average reader who did not participate in or even watch the game, and a couple of the comments reflected that. I think you might have been able to focus less on the nostalgic aspects of the experience and more on the nuts and bolts. I’m sure Rutherford would have loved to see his mission statement mentioned somewhere in the article. Sure it would have demanded an even longer treatment and you already clocked in over 3000 words but some of the strategy recap sections are no doubt impenetrable to people who didn’t play the game, especially the references to the world court and the combat system. Maybe you could have substituted a few of the personal anecdotes and the blow-by-blow account of the strategic gameplay in favor of a more comprehensive explanation of the game mechanics? That might seem a little dry but you’ve got the writing skill to make it interesting and it might have been interesting to contrast DA with the slew of other Lego wargames that have dotted the landscape over the years. In the end, even though I loved the article I don’t think it had the kind of mass appeal that a winning entry should have.

    3. Against my better judgement I’m going to use part of Rutherford’s critique for this last ‘bad’ point, since he isn’t allowed to compete or judge I consider him a decent impartial judge who has an intimate connection to the topic and thinks about this stuff way too much:

    “But what effect did this activity have on YOU as a builder? What (if any) effect did it have on MOCpages? There was some odd stuff in the exercise. Pressure. Limits. Specificity. Rules designed to create harsh dynamics. Head to head competition… a Zero Sum scenario… unambiguous win/lose outcomes… published for all to see… every 7 days… Not always fun. Often frustrating.
    In the end, were these good things? Bad things? Did these factors enhance or inhibit creativity? Productivity? Communication? Was the shy builder emboldened to speak out, or lashed into even deeper silence? Were all equal before the lash? And if so… was that a kind of social justice? Or was it just tyranny with a good sound track?”

    When I read your article I didn’t have any of these questions lingering but once Mike brought them up I really wanted to know the answers. It would have been interesting to see you look at the bigger picture and impact of the game on both the MOCpages population at large and yourself as a builder. You hint at them and drop a tease here and there but there were certainly unanswered questions at the end. This specific criticism kind of dovetails with the other two points, but honestly I was having trouble coming up with this third point of criticism, I enjoyed the essay that much. I was going to say something about your failure to include some of the competitions low points , but I’m not sure if it would have made the article demonstrably better.

    The Whatever:

    This final observation has nothing at all to do with the blogging contest, but I want to specifically thank you for reminding me just how much fun DA2 was, not just for me but for at least a handful of people. Unfortunately the ending of the game, where it appeared to me that the players conspired to end the game in a tie (because friendship is magic) left a bad taste in my mouth and it has taken far longer that I would like to admit to dissipate. This article brought back all kinds of memories and the vast majority of them were positive and caused me to chuckle: the attack window, the players, the world court, watching the map change from empty whiteness to a rainbow, the tactical blunders…everything. It was more than just triggering a memory though, the quality of writing and your narrative style just ushered me right into the action. If you’d asked me a month ago if I’d consider running DA3 in 2018 I would have probably laughed and shook my head. Rutherford finds himself unexpectedly busy these days and I wanted to have more participation out of him for the third version, since it’s his baby ultimately and I think he makes the best front man for the operation, so I thought it would have to wait at least another year. But after seeing the vigorous, infectious enthusiasm in this article and some emails I’ve received from former players who don’t comment here on the blog (but read your piece), I’m committed to running DA3 or maybe DA2.5 (if Rutherford can’t return) sometime in 2018. So even if you don’t win the Blog or Die contest, at least your entry resulted in a prize for a bunch of people. I hope to see you on the battlefield, General Barrett.

    * I will re-post this review along with the rest of your competitors when the final results are issued.

    Like

    1. Thanks Keith, I’m glad you enjoyed it. As for the unanswered questions it seems only right that I try to address that.

      As a builder, it had a similar effect on me that the MocOlympics did – it made me do stuff I’d never have done otherwise. If it weren’t for competitions like this I might now be bored of making mostly vehicles and have moved on. As it is, there is nothing that Lego can’t do and you’ve helped me to grasp that. I know, I know, praise can be tough to take so I’ll stop now.

      The mechanics of the game and the way it was played had differing effects on different people. Some rose to the challenge and some didn’t, but there was little correlation between that and their popularity as builders. All was certainly not equal before the lash, but not in the ways that may be surmised by a cursory glance at the game mechanics. So much depended on how you were willing to play the game.

      Most of this was written from memory so there may be errors but since nobody’s protested their innocence I guess it’s mostly correct and I loved writing and in a sense re-living it.

      I did try to explain just enough to allow a non participant to relate to it; some did and some didn’t so there was room for improvement there. I wanted more action than explanation; perhaps I just need to gain confidence in my own writing chops – your assessment of my ability seems very generous.

      Don’t feel bad about your reaction at the end of the game – we had collectively worn you down for half a year and you were justly unsatisfied with the result. I’m glad to provide the reasons for that outcome here but if I’d done that a lot sooner it would have been better. It was gracious of you to still send out prizes.

      I said at the time that I’d help out with a DA3 and I meant it. I’ll be happy to be on the staff or the field but either way I will definitely be there.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s