Monday, March 04, 2024
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Tips for playing NationStates without getting frustrated

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

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Tranquil cityscape

Are you getting frustrated with your game at NationStates? Here are some tips for how to play and get all the fun with none of the frustration.

I speak from experience on this - a group of 4 of us started our own countries on NationStates. I soon found myself getting overwhelmed and angry with what was happening in my game. I was getting too many telegrams, then someone complained at me that I'd bought a trading card at the last minute that he wanted, and worst of all, the decisions I made for my country had unexpected negative consequences. I quit out of frustration - this just wasn't a fun game anymore! And this was without even bothering with the forums. The others in my group had quit already by then because they weren't interested in the game anymore, so I didn't even have their countries I cared about to look at.

Then, many months later, one of the group decided he would re-start a new country on NationStates and asked if I'd be interested in making my own country again. I agreed to give it another go, but I resolved that I would make it be fun for myself this time around. Here are the tips that worked for me and made it be fun:

  • Don't take the decision-making too seriously. It's OK to make crazy decisions for your country! It turns out that no matter what decision you make on a particular issue, you'll wind up with unexpected consequences. Embrace the silliness!
  • In your settings, limit how many and what types of telegrams you are willing to receive. I set mine to almost zero, and that definitely helped. You can always loosen the settings later if you wish.
  • Don't even bother with the World Assembly or anything like that, at least to start with. If you find you're enjoying the game as is and want it to be more interactive then sure, try for the WA. But start off low-key if you tend to get frustrated or stressed easily.
  • Likewise, don't even bother with the forums unless you actively want a more interactive game. I didn't even read any of the forum entries until I was about a week into game play, and then I was really glad I didn't. It's more than OK that you have a life and don't have time to bother with forums!
  • Don't bother with trading cards. They don't give your country any advantage anyway, it's a separate thing from game play. You'll automatically receive trading cards every now and then. You have a limit to how many cards are in your deck, so my strategy to keep life simple is to junk every card I get (maybe with a few exceptions for cards I like or that I might want to trade later down the track). Junking cards actually gives you their default value, so if you keep doing that you'll build up some money over time. Again, you can't really do much with the money except for spend it on trading cards at the market, but at least you do get something for the cards you throw away. If you want to trade a few cards here or there you can put them up for sale, but don't get overly into it or you'll just wind up disappointed and frustrated.

The take-home message

Don't take any of the game play too seriously at NationStates. It's meant to be a goofy, fun game, and if you approach it in that spirit, you'll enjoy it. If you're an avid player of Cities: Skylines or Tropico, please be aware you can't approach NationStates the same way. There's no easy way to plan things in NationStates, and often there isn't a "right decision" or even necessarily an appropriate one, unlike the other games you might be accustomed to. In fact, you'll have more fun in NationStates if you don't really have much of any goal at all.

It's true that many people do love doing all the interactive things in NationStates which I recommended against doing, but if you came to this article because you're frustrated, chances are you'd prefer playing it a "quieter" way, which is what I've given you. So for those who are doing the telegrams, WA, forums etc and are having a blast, good for you! But this article is for those who are getting overwhelmed with the game.

The game was created by author Max Barry - you'll love his books!

Regardless of your feelings about the game, you'll have to agree that NationStates is an impressive piece of custom software that Max Barry developed. In addition to being a game developer, he is also a science-fiction author. I had never heard of his books until I started playing NationStates, but I read 2 of them and they're amazing! You can take a look at at books by Max Barry on My favorite was Machine Man which I highly recommend - it's fascinating and has a lot of twists and turns and plenty of humor. A very entertaining read. I'm highly impressed how he manages to be so productive in his writing while also developing NationStates and adding features to the game.

If NationStates isn't for you

If you've tried the tactics I recommended and you still don't like the game, you might like to take a look at these alternatives to NationStates.

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