There’s a hoary old tale that’s been circulating in American politics for generations. It starts with an elderly farmer, because in myth and parable those are our wise men.
Seems this old feller was out mending fence one day and had a mishap, so he went in to see the town doctor. As he was getting his hand stitched up, the doc asked how he’d happened to slip so badly with fence wire.
“Well, Doc, I was startled by a post turtle. Didn’t expect him so close to my left ear, and of course he snapped, poor fella.”
Now the doctor, he’d practiced in the country for a long long time, doing home visits and all, but even so he’d never heard of a post turtle. So of course he asked.
“It’s a turtle on top of a fence post, Doc,” said the farmer, not cracking a smile. Well, you ask a silly question…
The farmer, catching the look in the doctor’s eye, unbent a little and explained. (It pays to be nice to the man who’s stitching up your hand.) “Thing is, you usually don’t see them outside of politics. Turtles in nature ain’t often to be found atop fence posts.”
The doctor allowed how this was so, but, being a curious fellow, after a short moment he enquired about the political aspect of the phenomenon.
“Well, it’s like this: You know he didn’t get up there by himself. He doesn’t belong there, and you wonder who put him there. He has no idea what to do while he’s up there, and having been (as it were) unnaturally elevated beyond his ability to function, he’s never going to get anything done while he is there. You just want to help the poor sunuvabitch get down, and you can’t help but wonder what kinda damn fool put him up there in the first place.”
The farmer and the doctor shared a grin, because they both knew exactly which president this applied to. Of course, they were thinking about two different names, but that’s another story.
Okay, yes, it’s only a game.
My wife knows better. Over the years she’s grown accustomed to me logging on at odd hours to check something, or do some diplomacy, or maybe change an order. Last night I left the dinner table to negotiate, and then again later to make some last-minute alterations to my Grand Plan. She wasn’t angry. Well, not too angry. She understands: Some things are important.
The fact that I’m making these little changes in a game that’s been lost from the moment I started isn’t lost on her. She knows full well that doesn’t matter; if I’m going to bother to do something, it’s important enough that it’s worth doing right. If it’s not worth doing right, it’s not worth doing.
Trouble with League play is, we get more than our share of post turtles. And I include the championship in this reckoning.
You’ve got to understand: I’ve been a post turtle myself, though I didn’t know it at the time. Capricorn, I really wasn’t ready for, and my inexperience with the Nu way of playing really hurt my chances. Since then, I’ve faced some of the best, and have come away with an awareness of what it actually means to be in a serious game.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining about the quality of my opposition in the War. I’m entirely satisfied at the challenge level on my side of the map. But this game was decided elsewhere, by droppers and poor players and people who are just “phoning it in”, and that’s something I find irksome in a champ game.
Thing about a post turtle: You can’t blame the turtle. Most times, they didn’t even put themselves there; they were picked up by someone else with a warped sense of humor.
And it’s hardly someone’s fault when random chance puts them behind the wheel of a race they don’t know. I’ve spent three decades learning how to win with all eleven races; not everyone has that advantage — and, truth be told, if you put me in a champ game at the helm of… oh, I don’t know, maybe Nerf Crystals… you’re not going to be getting perfect play. In point of fact, I’ll be rather a post turtle myself.
Did I mention that most long League games are random race selection?
Perhaps worse is the short-format stuff, where random selection would actually be useful. Instead, the decisions are metagaming: The first to pick a race is at a huge disadvantage, and if they’re too strong a player they may never find an opponent at all. Of course, if we just hid identities and race choices, we’d solve that problem right away — but we don’t.
And then there are the coalitions. Now, these form in every level of play, and that’s fine. But when we’ve got people playing who have no vested interest in a victory — or, worse, are willing to swap help in the War for consideration in next year’s qualifier — we find ourselves in a deeply ludicrous situation that makes mock of serious play. In a game half-full of post turtles, many of whom are just phoning it in until AFoF kills them honorably, that’s something else again.
Now, if someone came at me in the Feed with a rant like this, I’d probably have the knee-jerk response: Sour grapes, eh? If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t play it. Which is fair enough. I’m perfectly fine sitting out League play for the next little while, at least until it gets straightened out.
But what concerns me more than a little is that there’s an awful lot of other people who aren’t terribly thrilled by League. You can tell this easily from the fact that they stuck some other poor dumb turtle up on the post of Champion. If League is the future of Planets Nu — and it has some great plus sides, so I imagine it is — this doesn’t bode terribly well for this site and the game we all like so much.
If it’s not worth doing right, it’s not worth doing.
On an entirely different topic — completely unrelated — Planets Magazine is hosting our very own Classic Invitational tournament right now. The souvenir mugs just arrived; they’re about to go in the mail to every player that wants one — and, if we sell enough to the community, we might just be able to raise funds for a decent prize for the winner. Let me know by PM if you’re interested.
The second Invitational will likely be to Talespin’s design. We might do an International Team format, or he’s got some interesting ideas for Diplomatic Ratings and a Galactic Parliament we might try out. I’m eager to see what we’ll come up with.
The preceding is just my opinion. If you disagree, that’s fine; feel free to write your own article and we just might publish it. I have zero objection to you being wrong in print. ;o)
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