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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:53 pm 
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Not finished reading the thread yet, but so far this seems to have gone unmentioned.

In the real world, war is extremely expensive for both sides involved. Getting enough money finance a war is one of the biggest problems Kings and Emperors have had to face.

Keeping that in mind, let's imagine an Erfworld side with an aggressive strategy. They don't attack literally everyone, but they go to war with any of their neighbors who're showing weakness. By itself, what does this cost them? Nothing! They have to pay upkeep for their units, but they have to do that in peacetime as well. Aside from units leveling up (which is a minor factor) its base costs don't change at all, unless things go badly and it loses cities.

So if you're a ruler, starting a war costs practically nothing and that's before even considering the rewards. You can raze cities for a quick payoff, or capture them and get extra shmuckers every turn. If you're really lucky you'll hit jackpot and seize another sides' treasury. A side can hire mercenaries and natural allies to tilt the odds in their favor but as long as the rewards outweigh the cost it doesn't change the math qualitatively.

Now let's imagine a side with a defensive strategy. It never expands beyond a certain border and only fights to defend or retake its current cities. Unless it can escape detection altogether like FAQ, it'll have to fight some battles sooner or later, and they'll all be on its own territory. This means that aside from upgrading cities they have no way to gain extra revenue to pay for their units and rebuild their sacked cities. This will eat into their treasury and reduce the size of the army they can afford to maintain - which leads to a vicious cycle in which the side grows smaller and poorer with every war. Eventually, it'll fall.

So if war is inevitable in Erfworld it's because pacifism is a losing strategy and starting wars is a lot cheaper for them than for us.

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     Post Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:54 pm 
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    It's been mentioned, and that is the wrong way to look at it. A single offensive Side is not a closed system. The net schmucker gain for that Side is matched by an equal or greater loss of schmuckers from the losing Side. That is a zero-sum model, and cannot account for there being a net income between them that would otherwise be dramatically insufficient for the currently living units.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:01 am 
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    Sonic Screwdriver wrote:
    The net schmucker gain for that Side is matched by an equal or greater loss of schmuckers from the losing Side.


    That claim is not certain, and is probably false. Since upkeep without war is somehow harder to meet, there's probably a way in which the gain for the winning side is greater than the loss for the losing side. This whole discussion is about how that is, what gives the extra shmuckers.

    My guess is razing. It's the only way we've seen so far that war generates money. If razing a city generates more money than it cost to make it, and there are some limitations to restrict razing your own cities or raze-trading with allies, that would be a sufficient explanation.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:41 am 
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    Just a random thought, but didn't feel like splitting off a whole new thread for it.

    Erfworld is also different in that it potentially can have constant -- or zero-- population growth. It only just dawned on me that cities can be completely stopped from popping units if the Ruler constantly switches the pop queue, resetting it before anything pops, and thus avoiding an ever increasing upkeep.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:48 am 
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    ftl wrote:
    Sonic Screwdriver wrote:
    The net schmucker gain for that Side is matched by an equal or greater loss of schmuckers from the losing Side.
    That claim is not certain, and is probably false.
    That was kind of the point I was making. The point I was responding to was theorizing the idea that just being an offensive Side would be enough to account for the wartime schmucker boost, and I was denying that model as being sufficient. Enemy razing was certainly an option I had considered.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:13 pm 
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    Spicymancer wrote:
    Just a random thought, but didn't feel like splitting off a whole new thread for it.

    Erfworld is also different in that it potentially can have constant -- or zero-- population growth. It only just dawned on me that cities can be completely stopped from popping units if the Ruler constantly switches the pop queue, resetting it before anything pops, and thus avoiding an ever increasing upkeep.

    That.. is not actually different than earth. All you have to do is force everyone on earth to have abortions constantly...

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:25 pm 
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    Shai hulud wrote:
    Spicymancer wrote:
    Just a random thought, but didn't feel like splitting off a whole new thread for it.

    Erfworld is also different in that it potentially can have constant -- or zero-- population growth. It only just dawned on me that cities can be completely stopped from popping units if the Ruler constantly switches the pop queue, resetting it before anything pops, and thus avoiding an ever increasing upkeep.

    That.. is not actually different than earth. All you have to do is force everyone on earth to have abortions constantly...


    Leaving aside everything else inherent in that hypothetical, that's really stretching it. It's like saying we're the same as Erfworld because "presidents are like leaders of a Side, and can force everyone in their country to do anything they want whenever they want."

    Yes, it's sort of kind of true, but there's so many asterisks and exceptions to that that it completely breaks down beyond the most cursory resemblance.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:42 pm 
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    Upkeep will always be a necessity, and since the one thing every Erfworld inhabitant has in common is their combat stats, there aren't a lot of other things to do than take Shmuckers from other sides. A side of enough cities to pay the upkeep for all those units could exist indefinitely. However, fewer units means lower defenses and that leads to being croaked for money. If you are a side with a lot of units and not enough cities, likewise, you have to take treasuries and cities from smaller sides in order to keep everyone alive. If people stopped popping units and they all stopped fighting, everything would work out fine.

    There is, however, one good way to make a side that requires no upkeep- the Arkenpliers. The Decrypted require no upkeep. If the side with them were to croak the vast majority of units in Erfworld and Decrypt them, you would wind up with a side that could fill the land and never again have to fight. I imagine the Hippiemancers would pretty much just rule all.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:49 pm 
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    CarniDollMancer wrote:
    That may make sense for mines (though I don't think it is the mechanic used. I think it more likely that they didn't mine because unless you mine in a city's Tunnels, there is a chance of enemies stumbling on your miners and looking for their source), but it doesn't add up for Farms. Farms replenish their selves.


    Yeah, also most modern games make it so that if you mine a gem, then another gem will spawn randomly on the same map (but different place) so reallistically, by getting a ton of money in gems, you are stopping them to spawn anywere else. (which would angry Erf GM as gm)

    the thing is... that most of the things on erfworld respawn at turn start, and about the resources depleting, that's probably not possible. "Ultima Online" the old MMorpg Had actually resources that depleted until ppl used them up, but since most ppl accumulated it, the world map Wasn't renewing. so they had to disable it (retcon) and make it less natural but Spawning again after X time elapsed. because otherwise the entire world would be unplayable.

    Since the game is about endless warfare, the resources to make these sides fight continously must replenish. otherwise the battle would have ended already.

    Another thing that is not mentioned elsewhere is why "new sides" aren't destroyed as soon as they are formed. (and don't bullshit me with the "we turn into a colony of another big side" because that would still attract a ton of Aggro. and I suspect its because Fate meddles so they aren't destroyed as they form)

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:06 pm 
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    Vendanna wrote:
    Another thing that is not mentioned elsewhere is why "new sides" aren't destroyed as soon as they are formed. (and don't bullshit me with the "we turn into a colony of another big side" because that would still attract a ton of Aggro. and I suspect its because Fate meddles so they aren't destroyed as they form)


    It's stated somewhere on the wiki (don't remember if it's Word of the Titans or not) that Hexes will eventually return to their "natural state", so Dirtamancy improvements outside of a city decay, and presumably destructive foraging (burning down a forest) eventually gets undone as trees repopulate.

    Mining and gem replenishment though, are probably operating on either an entirely different time scale, (like Stupidworld geology) or actually don't replenish. I'm inclined to agree with you though that the Titans probably want a world that is maximally able to be at war, so there has to be some mechanism for that.

    As to new sides, I guess it probably depends mostly on the conditions of their founding. Jill states most warlords only ever see "level 1" because of how harsh Erfworld is. New sides probably have similar hurdles, but I'm willing to bet that most new sides either pop in "undiscovered*" capital sites as has happened at least twice in-story, or in the ashes of bigger empires collapsing like Haffaton, giving them a chance to grow strong enough to fend off nearby established sides.

    * I'm also willing to bet that "discovered" or "known" capital sites can fall into the mists of time in one way or another, helping repeat the cycle. Considering how sparsely populated Haffaton was, for example, it's fall would have left 7 capitals ready to be lost and recovered.

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     Post Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:19 pm 
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    Spicymancer wrote:
    Vendanna wrote:
    Another thing that is not mentioned elsewhere is why "new sides" aren't destroyed as soon as they are formed. (and don't bullshit me with the "we turn into a colony of another big side" because that would still attract a ton of Aggro. and I suspect its because Fate meddles so they aren't destroyed as they form)


    It's stated somewhere on the wiki (don't remember if it's Word of the Titans or not) that Hexes will eventually return to their "natural state", so Dirtamancy improvements outside of a city decay, and presumably destructive foraging (burning down a forest) eventually gets undone as trees repopulate.

    Mining and gem replenishment though, are probably operating on either an entirely different time scale, (like Stupidworld geology) or actually don't replenish. I'm inclined to agree with you though that the Titans probably want a world that is maximally able to be at war, so there has to be some mechanism for that.

    As to new sides, I guess it probably depends mostly on the conditions of their founding. Jill states most warlords only ever see "level 1" because of how harsh Erfworld is. New sides probably have similar hurdles, but I'm willing to bet that most new sides either pop in "undiscovered*" capital sites as has happened at least twice in-story, or in the ashes of bigger empires collapsing like Haffaton, giving them a chance to grow strong enough to fend off nearby established sides.

    * I'm also willing to bet that "discovered" or "known" capital sites can fall into the mists of time in one way or another, helping repeat the cycle. Considering how sparsely populated Haffaton was, for example, it's fall would have left 7 capitals ready to be lost and recovered.


    If it's possible to pop new sides, then Royalty makes more sense. Royalty are the originally made players and everyone else essentially popped barbarian.

    We don't know enough about destructive foraging, but I suspect regeneration is either a very slow process or results in a change of terrain type similar to Infernos.

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     Post Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:47 pm 
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    Well, since this subject is one that interests me enough to have posted in another thread where it came up, I guess I'll post my thoughts here.

    The key thing to remember is that Erf doesn't appear to have a civilian economy. That's why smuckers come "from nowhere" and "disappear" when spent. Smuckers are military budget, they are obtained from tax base, looting and pillaging enemies, and by foraging for basic resources like food and gems. Foraged food is the one thing that has a superficially complete economy to our view, wild animals (flavor mobs) and edible plants pop and are hunted/gathered, they get turned into provisions, then consumed as rations, then units crap them. This crap can be used for various things, but normally it would just depop...going back into the natural environment. We don't normally think about the part of the cycle between crap depopping and wild plants and animals popping, it's ecologically important but not our job to make all of that happen. So it doesn't really cause that much confusion that crap depops, and then the Erf environment causes plants and animals to pop.

    Still, an important step is being skipped and made invisible to anyone except Dirtamancers. And even Dirtamancers don't seem to understand Erf's mechanics with the same depth as anyone on Earth who has ever farmed or gardened understands our mechanics. The step that is being skipped in the case of smuckers is the entire civilian economy which produces wealth that can be taxed and spent on military projects. We don't even see very much in the way of civil government, beyond units 'managing' farms, facilities, larders, and so forth (which is not 'civil government' so much as martial law). These things function without intervention, and 'managing' them is simply a matter of having a unit physically present to look at activity they can't even see. We do see REMF's, military units that have no real utility beyond 'management', but we don't see any true civilians (except maybe Jed, who seems like he might be a mayor or civil defense administrator). But the gaps in the 'conventional' economy of Erfworld sides are big and very obvious to us...and to Parson.
    Quote:
    "These are all empty, right? These buildings. They have no function?"
    "Not as such," said Maggie. "Most of them are currently utilized as troop quarters or equipment storage. Some seem designed as stables, so mount units are being kept there. Most are exact copies along a few designs, and have no purpose beyond 'be the city.'"
    Parson looked around thoughtfully. "That's a little weird, don't you think?"


    That's Maggie's, or any Erfworlder's extent of understanding of the entire civilian economy of the capital. "Be the city". Notably, this is also what they say after casting to turn Spacerock's tower into Jed.
    Quote:
    "It can be," said Sizemore.

    Parson rolled his eyes. "Yes, I know. Be...what?"

    "Be the tower," said Ace.

    "Be the city," said Sizemore.

    "Be itself ," said Maggie.


    Their inability to perceive any details of the civilian economy (or any civilians) doesn't bother the Erfworlders, but it does puzzle Parson greatly. We see some military units can fabricate, turning existing resources into new items. But the raw materials, and most types of common finished items, simply pop. Which is why Parson at one point does not believe he actually needs to physically visit and observe the non-activity (or at least not visible activity) in the various buildings of the city to 'manage' them. Because he has no experience of being in the military, and how soldiers (even REMF's) perceive civilians, and how civilians perceive soldiers (even REMF's). The complete invisibility of Erf's civilians to Erf units is just an exaggerated version of how soldiers perceive civilians in Stupidworld. The difference is mostly attributable to the fact that our "units" remember being civilians, have civilian relatives and friends, and anticipate returning to civilian life (whether with trepidation, longing, or indifference). But go back to a time more reminiscent of Erf in other ways, when the armed classes were entirely distinct from birth to death, and you get a lot closer to the mindset of Erf units.

    'Civilians', or rather peasants, weren't actually physically invisible to the warrior class, but they certainly weren't seen as 'real people', either. We romanticize the idea that every morally upright hero in even ancient times lived up to our democratic ideals and viewed warriors and peasants as being fundamentally the same. But that's not true. People who ignored or transgressed the class distinction between warriors and commoners were regarded as immoral scum in those times. And for the most part they deserved to be regarded as such according to other standards we moderns still recognize.

    We still pay lip-service to things like the Geneva conventions regarding distinguishing between lawful combatants, unlawful combatants, and noncombatants. The main crime of unlawful combatants (variously accused of terrorism or perfidy) is failing to respect the distinction between combatants and noncombatants.

    In Erf, terrorism and perfidy are simply not possible. There are no "unlawful combatants". There is greater or lesser honor, and there is betrayal, but it only happens between units (whether or not they are all on the same side).

    The fact that Erf units cannot perceive the existence or activity of noncombatants, or have any understanding of the civil economy beyond it being 'the way the world is' doesn't mean that there isn't a civilian economy. And the rules of Erf simulate a phenomenon that is well understood in Stupidworld.

    The reason war is necessary to the economy of Erf is that smuckers are military budgets, and military budgets (and militaries) shrink when there isn't a threat of war.

    That raises the question of what 'civilian life' is like compared to being a unit in Erf. The fact that Jed has a distinct personality suggests that it is quite possible for civilians to have conscious experience...but is that how it usually is? Back in feudal times, life was pretty different for people in different classes, we can say that they all had conscious existence but typically it would genuinely be a terrible fate for a member of the military class to be demoted to peasant. "Fate worse than death" used to really mean something to most people who weren't in the lowest class of society.

    But what if the key is to improve the civilian economy to the point where being 'disbanded' is merely like being discharged and going back to civilian life? Which would be a neat trick since nobody in Erf can even see civilian activity...but Jed might be the first step.

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     Post Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:58 pm 
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    Chiu ChunLing wrote:
    Foraged food is the one thing that has a superficially complete economy to our view, wild animals (flavor mobs) and edible plants pop and are hunted/gathered, they get turned into provisions, then consumed as rations, then units crap them. This crap can be used for various things, but normally it would just depop...going back into the natural environment. We don't normally think about the part of the cycle between crap depopping and wild plants and animals popping, it's ecologically important but not our job to make all of that happen. So it doesn't really cause that much confusion that crap depops, and then the Erf environment causes plants and animals to pop.


    Wouldn't this imply that crap golems actually reduce the amount of harvestables by temporarily taking crap out of the cycle?

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     Post Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:57 pm 
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    Chiu ChunLing wrote:
    But what if the key is to improve the civilian economy to the point where being 'disbanded' is merely like being discharged and going back to civilian life? Which would be a neat trick since nobody in Erf can even see civilian activity...but Jed might be the first step.


    I don't think this is right, but I do think it's fascinating. : )

    My personal theory for why war is net-positive schmuckers would be that there is an unnamed mechanic for harvesting weapons and armor (spoils) from croaked enemy units, that can be converted back into schmuckers, and the basic function of steady-state war is to have sides swap losses of basic infantry (cheap to pop) with each other. A side in isolation cannot achieve these gains, because a unit's equipment depops with them is they are disbanded and/or disbanded your own units regularly causes Loyalty to plummet.

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     Post Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:16 pm 
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    Yes, crap golems should affect the biomass cycle but the key word is "temporarily".

    The turnaround time from crap to harvest is pretty long, and I suspect that for a city it wouldn't be localized.

    On the other hand, games tend to simplify such hidden mechanics in ways that eliminate subtle effects, and Erf seems very game-like. It may be that the difference is fully accounted for by the fact that a dirtamancer has to use juice making crap golems rather than improving soil fertility or other tasks. Same with creating buildings, the wood and stone resources are counted (in Erf) simply as "dirtamancer juice".

    Of course, that has interesting implications, but they are tangential to this discussion. I brought up the thing about crap just to highlight that Erf skips over bits of logic we are familiar with in Stupidworld, the point is that the existence of civilians and thus a civilian economy are just as alien to the units in Erf as a detailed analysis of the ecological biomass cycle that turns waste products into food would be. Sizemore might have a "whoa" moment, but even to him it would probably have no practical significance.

    Or it might...Parson should try it, after he deals with more pressing business.

    On the issue of civilians themselves, I think that Jed is the first step to something, but perhaps not a sufficient first step to making civilian life 'real' to Erfworlders. My point is not to identify the game mechanics that make continuous war necessary to the economy of unit upkeep in Erf, but rather to illustrate why such mechanics would exist and what they parallel in our world.

    If you've ever seen the Seven Samurai, there is a good moment when the one who isn't really a samurai gets the farmers to reveal their secret stashes of loot, which the legit samurai had never suspected (that leads to basically the best scene in the whole movie, in my opinion). I think that lost/broken/discarded equipment does probably cycle through the invisible mechanics of Erf, just as in Stupidworld. But we know the primary problem is that cities generate less income for a large side, even if that side is fighting battles and expanding by conquest (which would generate plenty of that kind of materiel losses).

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     Post Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:26 pm 
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    A combination of the need for security and the "diminishing Schmuckers point" (as Parson called it) on having more and more cities, a variation on the classic Civilization efficiency penalties as empires grew larger.

    Because Erfworld is at war, everyone needs protection. Protection has a cost. The more protection you want, the bigger income base you need to support that, ergo more cities, ergo more war. And because large empires have diminishing returns, even more cities (until you reach a point like in Olive's Haffaton where more cities are not only failing to support more units, but actually draining income so you can afford LESS units, and your main protection is just that other sides are scared off by your sheer bulk and assume you must have massive armies). At this point using your armies on offence to boost your income through seizing and sacking cities is the most feasible option.

    Decrypted are a gamebreaker because they allow infinite armies without upkeep.

    Now, if there was a trustworthy Peace on Erf and sides didn't need to budget for all this security, there doesn't seem to be any reason why sides can't continue to last without war.

    At that point, actually popping and developing a peacetime population and infrastructure should be possible. We know things like Courtiers can be popped. Raiment. King Banhammer's entire kingdom. Twolls can fabricate chairs and picnic baskets. That Erf doesn't currently have a civilian economy doesn't mean it is impossible, but peace is a necessary prerequisite.

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     Post Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:42 am 
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    Um...of course peace is a necessary condition for there to be a sustainable economy which doesn't include war.

    I guess what you're saying is that the threat of war must also be removed for there to be a sustainable economy that doesn't include war, but while I think that's a valuable assertion, I don't know that it is a true assertion within the rules of Erf nor that providing protection against the possibility of war was the sticking point for Parson's calculations trying to design a viable peacetime arrangement.

    Parson does mention buying off neighbors with harvested non-speaking heavies in his speculations about sustainable economics, but I have to presume that he knew that such a relationship could be secured with an auto-magically binding contract by then. So buying them off would be offering attractive terms to get them to sign a permanent peace agreement, which would presumably serve instead of maintaining forces for defense.

    But the page cuts off before clarifying whether that only requires not popping any more units that can't be harvested or disbanding most of your existing defense forces to save on upkeep. Given his reflection when Janis proposes peace on Erf http://archives.erfworld.com/Book+3/75, which is clearly after he's considered the agribusiness angle, even an automagically enforced global (or whatever...I guess Erf can't really be a globe, though it might possibly be a torus) permanent alliance doesn't remove the economic problem of sufficient upkeep absent "substantially depopulating the world". So I'd have to say that he knew it would require disbanding most of the existing forces, not merely refraining from popping more.

    Which tends to support the idea that, if anything, removing the threat of war is irrelevant or actually makes the economic problem worse. I tend to believe it would make the problem worse, that there is a mechanic that economically punishes large alliances that are not actively fighting a major war. Otherwise it is hard to explain why such alliances are not more common. One would think that spun-off sides at least would commonly be permanently allied to their parent side (at least for the first generation leader), but that's apparently not the case.

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     Post Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 7:02 am 
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    ... Wasn't there also an update where Benjamin worries that a war with Carpool could be to expensive? How does that fit in with "War generates money"?

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     Post Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 7:46 am 
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    Gotta spend smuckers to make smuckers.

    A successful campaign makes money. One you don't have the resources to win is a loss.

    Same as any other investment. You gotta make your Kickstarter minimum to do the project right, do it wrong and it doesn't matter that it could have made a mint.

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     Post Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:36 am 
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    Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:44 pm
    Posts: 59
    Chiu ChunLing wrote:
    Gotta spend smuckers to make smuckers.

    A successful campaign makes money. One you don't have the resources to win is a loss.

    Same as any other investment. You gotta make your Kickstarter minimum to do the project right, do it wrong and it doesn't matter that it could have made a mint.


    More than that Ben's a Moneymancer, and his caster senses can tell him it's not just shmuckers that have worth...and what the exact worth is.
    It could be the Shmucker's are positive, but the lost units aren't worth the cost. Units which can be protecting Transylvito or running rackets against their other neighbors.

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