Book 2 - Parson's Klog 001

Book 2 - Parson's Klog 001
Comic - Book 2  Parson's Klog 001
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reignofevil wrote:
Even inter-coalition intel sharing has to be pretty rare, given that the ultimate end of any alliance in Erfworld has to end with it breaking up and turning on itself. Combine that with the likely level of intel coming from non coalition members (None {snip}


That's almost accurate but-

it's also applicable to Earth, and look where we are. There is no such thing as absolutely no intel. People will find ways of getting information, even when it's not consensually shared, be those ways spying, torturing captives, or hearsay and good old fashioned reverse engineering. Look at the flier relay. Tremennis had no problem figuring it out even though all he had going were rumours about a side that is impossible to infiltrate. Yet, he got the flier relay well enough. Pretty Earth-realistic.

Also looking at Earth history, it sometimes happened that a culture got a hang-up about war. Say, you got it in your head that war is supposed to be fought as a gentleman sport and we should take captives and hold them for ransom if they can afford it. Oh, and ranged weapons are bad, because they give those dirty peasants too much power.

When that happened, there was always another culture just around the next hill, who did not share those hang-ups, to knock the bum-pines out of you. Even if Jetstone does not have many types of units, surely by now it has faced pretty much everything Erfworld could throw at it. Except the Decrypted, which are a genuinely new thing.

And then moving on to-
Oberon wrote:
So it appears that using units to their best effect is not widely understood, outside of the Sides which possess the units these tactics can be leveraged with. {snip} But it appears as though the lessons need to be personally learned in order to be internalized. And that strains the suspension of disbelief.


I'm not sure where you're going with this. I find it perfectly reasonable to expect a commander, or a side, to be better versed in some tactics rather than others, and aquiring new knowledge is not instant and effortless.

I think you mean that knowledge sharing within a side is pretty poor. Sure, Jetstone may have faced Dwagons before (for example, Stanley's side) but maybe Ansom didn't have access to all the Jetstone experience. I don't know, I rather think Ansom thought Stanley was an idiot and unconsciously lowered his game.

But you may be on to something here- read on, you'll love the next part of the rant.

In Erfworld, archives are rubbish. Parson read one and it was just a record of high scores. People pop fully formed. It is implied that learning is not something Erfworlders are good at. It's an interesting idea.

And just like the turn-based mechanism idea, it's an interesting idea that quickly becomes a narrative burden and is at least partially chucked away.

Turns- yes, we have a lot of effort from Mr Balder to clarify what can be done on a turn and such. But in the end, all the times we've seen two opponents encounter each other, it's real time, with the off-turners having some magical barrier stopping them from doing thing A or B. Every time people from the same side interact, it's real time. Why? Because showing one side literally frozen in place, a-la videogames, waiting to get its teeth kicked in would be silly. And it would be weird to have only one person from a side being able to move/act at a time.

So, Erfworld is very softly turn-based.

Likewise, the learning impediment idea is chucked away- if indeed, it ever was intended. Prime example, Tremennis immediately figures out the relay and shares the information to a skeptical, but understanding Ossomer. Another possible example, Jack. And in general, people on Erfworld are an average mix of smart and stupid just like Earth. Because anything else would be weird.

So given that, I do expect an old experienced side like Jetstone to not be surprised by tactical innovation, unless that tactical innovation involves genuinely new technology (Decrypted, some unknown spell whatever).

And for the most part, that's how the comic handles this. My beef here is not with the comic creators, it's with us, and our penchant to think that Parson is the sole innovation engine of Erfworld.
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
reignofevil wrote:


So given that, I do expect an old experienced side like Jetstone to not be surprised by tactical innovation, unless that tactical innovation involves genuinely new technology (Decrypted, some unknown spell whatever).

And for the most part, that's how the comic handles this. My beef here is not with the comic creators, it's with us, and our penchant to think that Parson is the sole innovation engine of Erfworld.


Old experienced side is to me a somewhat misleading term. I can't find the archive just this moment, but even Rulers like Don King are only several hundred turns old. Which amounts to... 2-3 years old. Yes, they have memories and knowledge fully formed when popped. But still, how much time do they have to sit down and learn, or even learn to learn? Most days are spent directing a fight for survival, and it is only the rare, laughed at, Utopian style mini-state that can get away with actual learning. Or Casters in the Magic Kingdom.

So, it is entirely possible that most if not all of Parson's tactics have not only been tried but relied on in the history of Erfworld. But that old TVland joke applies- if you haven't seen it, its new to you! And when the breadth of your experience amounts to the 4 or 5 sides directly around you, that becomes a serious issue. Interesting that the mercenaries have much higher chance of experiencing more of Erfworld, not being tied down as the other factions are. Charlie and Jillian are probably the two most widely experienced units we have seen.

Also, 'obvious' things sometimes aren't. The applications of new ways of thought can be dismissed (can be? in our world they nearly always are!) or actively stamped out. And many of Parson's ideas to date haven't been used not because individuals didn't see the benefit, but because they saw all too well the cost. Retreating means no experience, but of course Parson was using uncroaked warlords so that cost was not a factor. Dragon/flier relay means, well, your fliers are not available for anything else. Pretty steep if you are fighting constantly, I'm going to bet the relay is not in place right now to save Wanda's hide next turn, since all the Dragons are with her.

So, the long point to all this is that even old experienced sides can be surprised by tactical 'innovations' that may be as old as Erf itself, simply because of the limitations of the 'game'.

Your larger point about what makes a Perfect Warlord still stands. Parson needs to be clever tactically, but he needs to be a lot more than that too.
enthar wrote:
So, the long point to all this is that even old experienced sides can be surprised by tactical 'innovations' that may be as old as Erf itself, simply because of the limitations of the 'game'.


This plays with the idea that Erfworlders, since apparently fully formed at popping, have difficulty grasping new concepts and experiences.

I'm not sure evidence consistently supports that. Yes, archives are useless records of high scores. But then, Tremennis gets a flier relay. And even though Ossomer feels that it's a waste of fliers, I think he might have considered using it in the future, if some cost-benefit proved favourable to the idea. Even if, by some quirk, he wouldn't, Tremennis will.

That's the thing about large worlds populated by different individuals. Nobody has the same quirks and hangups like you, everyone is different. Resulting in the paradox that on a large enough scale of space, numbers and time, individual quirks do not matter. If something works, then somebody will prove it to you. Repeatedly.

Even if a whole culture has a particular bias against some way or another of doing war, then another culture won't. And the results will be obvious.

So I'm very suspicious of any argument that goes "before Parson, this was not done". Erfworlders have been killing each other for who knows how long. They don't need Parson's advice on new ways to do so.
I think it's more an issue of individual CREATIVITY rather than learning. Yes, we've seen that Erfers can grasp new concepts and even apply them pretty quickly. We've seen intelligent Erfers.

But for a world full of SOLDIERS who are used to following orders (do what you're told, don't innovate or think independently) and are fighting nigh-constantly (so who has time to imagine up new ideas), creativity and individualism are toward the bottom of the barrel. More than that, people who think outside of the box may translate to low loyalty and/or propensity to disobey orders, which leads to AUTOMATIC croaking as we've seen from Stanley. This creates an almost EVOLUTIONARY bias against creativity.

So when some outside agent introduces new ideas, wildly creative ideas, yes, Erfers might apply some of them if they come across them (and I also agree with enthar's post), but coming up with them individually? Rare and unlikely, perhaps extremely so.

This is one reason why Faq is an interesting concept to me, a hidden kingdom insulated from war gave rise to a philosopher-King. And some of the most interesting people are coming from that kingdom.

Hmm... one might almost think that, like free will, this is another deliberate theme of the author's that he has planned all along. :)
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
And for the most part, that's how the comic handles this. My beef here is not with the comic creators, it's with us, and our penchant to think that Parson is the sole innovation engine of Erfworld.
I certainly don't think that. If anything the amount of innovation Parson has been able to do is the shocking thing. In a world like Erf, where there are a fixed number of caster types and thus also a fixed number of bi- and tri-mancer links, one would expect that the possibilities would have been well explored by now. I've posted this in the past. The Magic Kingdom, for example, has the requisite casters and spares to enhance safety to loan to research and development. We see that this is ongoing, with the development of the summoning spell. But given the small number of possible permutations true innovation should be very, very rare indeed, as all the easy stuff would already be common knowledge. The uncroaking of the volcano requires a very specific piece of terrain, a dormant volcano with a portal (or no one lives to tell about the discovery of the new spell), which we have only seen in one place. So it is very plausible that this use of this specific tri-mancer link would have gone undiscovered. Kingworld appears to also have some specific requirements which make it a conceivable "discovery", as it might not be possible without the Arkendish, and this makes its use by Charlie and the astonishment of all of the observers plausible. What remains to be seen is whether Charlie will continue using what is to all appearances a repeatable magic spell with such a lovely effect.
Ansan Gotti wrote:
This creates an almost EVOLUTIONARY bias against creativity.


OMG! Not EVOLUTIONARY! That's almost as bad as QUANTUM!

BS faddish jargon aside, I think you're wrong. A war is the best time for innovation and discovery in matters related to war, as any cursory reading of Earth's history will tell you.

And that's the thing- on a mental level, Erfworlders are not that deficient against Earthers. Yes, a lot of them just follow orders and are content. Should sound familiar IRL too.

Also, innovation IS extremely rare and unlikely, even here. The catch, if a lot of people, for a lot of time, have been cracking at something, you'll find what there is to find eventually. And certainly you WILL FIND whatever some stranger to your world, who needs to be taught about chamber pots, will figure out.

Oberon wrote:
In a world like Erf, where there are a fixed number of caster types and thus also a fixed number of bi- and tri-mancer links, one would expect that the possibilities would have been well explored by now. I've posted this in the past.


And so did I, on that one.

Quote:
The uncroaking of the volcano requires a very specific piece of terrain, a dormant volcano with a portal (or no one lives to tell about the discovery of the new spell), which we have only seen in one place. {snip} Kingworld appears to also have some specific requirements which make it a conceivable "discovery", as it might not be possible without the Arkendish, and this makes its use by Charlie and the astonishment of all of the observers plausible.


Correct. I do expect innovation to happen, but it should happen in situations that probably have been rarely, if at all, encountered in the past. Another example of that are the attuned Pliers. The Decrypted seem genuinely new, and so all bets are off regarding them. Let's do SCIENCE!
BLANDCorporatio wrote:
OMG! Not EVOLUTIONARY! That's almost as bad as QUANTUM!

BS faddish jargon aside, I think you're wrong.


Uhh... what? Why is usage of a term appropriate to the context somehow faddish jargon?

Quote:
A war is the best time for innovation and discovery in matters related to war, as any cursory reading of Earth's history will tell you.


On earth, yes. But on Erf, war is all they have ever known, and it has not really resulted in anything remotely similar. Earth and Erf are fundamentally different in many ways. That was one of the themes of Book One.

Quote:
And that's the thing- on a mental level, Erfworlders are not that deficient against Earthers. Yes, a lot of them just follow orders and are content. Should sound familiar IRL too.


Maybe not deficient, but it's obvious that they think differently.

Quote:
Also, innovation IS extremely rare and unlikely, even here. The catch, if a lot of people, for a lot of time, have been cracking at something, you'll find what there is to find eventually. And certainly you WILL FIND whatever some stranger to your world, who needs to be taught about chamber pots, will figure out.


That is your hypothesis, and yet it is one that does not appear to be supported by anything we've seen so far. And some of these sides are presumably thousands of turns old.
There is a lot of internal evidence that GK cannot take any kind of initiative in attacking JS off turn and can't do anything until they are attacked.

Wanda & co: been sitting around discussing defensive strategies, no sense of urgency to do something before the column gets back.

Tramennis, Jillian & co: not worried about Wanda doing anything, several leisurely planning meetings to finish off the column before returning to Spacerock.

AND FINALLY
Parson: asked to be connected to Jack, not Wanda, who is the de facto commander and if there was something that had to be done immediately before JS can gather it's forces, that's who he would talk to. Talking to Jack means a subtle defensive plan, not a crash bang attack.
He has been leafing through his klog for the last two updates, so no sense of absolute do-it-now-now-now urgency to strike at the city before the window of opportunity is gone.

Why?
Because they can't do anything until they are attacked.
They're stuck in the airspace zone and can't move anywhere else.

My guess is some kind of nasty poison pill defense that makes the prospect of shooting down those dwagons much less attractive and much more costly.
And I still think Charlie ends up grabbing Wanda.
Ansan Gotti wrote:
Uhh... what? Why is usage of a term appropriate to the context {EVOLUTIONARY} somehow faddish jargon?


1) Hyperbole

2) We have reasons to suspect evolution is not happening in Erfworld. The existence of heredity is dubious, for example.

3) You in this here post say

Ansan Gotti wrote:
That's because every unit that pops is essentially the same. There is no change, there is no increase in technology.


Ok, so 3) came after I wrote what you were responding to here, and may only mean that change exists but is really really slow.

But you get the idea- it's not the case that the term is appropriate to the context, and I read it as (a maybe tongue in cheek) attempt to boost the argument.

Ansan Gotti wrote:
On earth, yes. But on Erf, war is all they have ever known, and it has not really resulted in anything remotely similar. Earth and Erf are fundamentally different in many ways. That was one of the themes of Book One.

{...}

Maybe not deficient, but it's obvious that they think differently.


The relevant differences here are the absence of archives and the fully formed popping. Which does not stop Vinnie from getting the hit and run against siege tactic, or Tremennis to get the flier relay from nothing but rumours, or Trem for trying out a not fashionable in JS heavy assault, or Jillian to conjure up a "direct" way to capture units with the marshmallow beast. Ansom knew to ask for DDR.

So even without a need for learning, Erfworlders as a whole are not learning deficient, some of them have advanced tactical knowledge (same thing on Earth), they will stumble into tactics that they individually may not have actually used before.
The evolutionary comment is one that I believe will apply to sides, more so than overall units. If a side is more inclined to pop units with low individuality, then less of its units will auto-disband due to disobedience, which will incrementally mean greater resources available to fight and greater success. Obviously, on a micro-level this is insignificant, but on the macro-level, over many turns, these sides will tend to be more successful.

Of course, this presumes that individuality is a trait that can be quantified and distinguishable vis-a-vis each side, and that as that side grows it may split (as has been alluded) and that the new sides born of that side will have similar low individuality.

So yes, it's kind of a theoretical argument of my own. :)