you want to lead an alliance. Awesome! This game thrives on
competition, and the community is at its best when there are lots of
good alliances struggling to best one another. Strong alliances capable
of making things happen are one of the most important factors that
makes this game so exciting, and good leaders are an important
component (although by far not the only one) of good alliances. But
good leaders are rare and bad leaders leave behind a trail of dead
This thread is a short collection of ideas about
how to lead an alliance in TDZK effectively. I have no qualifications
to write this aside from leading for a long time Fury, an alliance that
most (although certainly not all) considered to be pretty good in the
previous incarnation of the game. Some of these things I learned by
being lucky enough to get it right and reaping the rewards. Some of it
I learned by getting things horribly wrong and paying for it. Some of
it I realized in retrospect and wished I’d known at the time.
guide is mainly meant for those looking to lead a “serious” alliance
seeking to make some impact in the game. It is not necessarily about
leading a small alliance that is a group of friends that wants to have
fun, chat on IRC, and casually hunt, although some of the ideas might
still apply. There’s certainly nothing wrong with those alliances, but
they’re generally outside the purpose of this guide.
secret formula for leadership, I can’t promise you that any of this is
actually good advice at all; every leader has his own style and
discovers his own way of doing things. I can only offer what I think I
know, so evaluate this advice on its own merits and go with makes sense
to you. I hope it helps.
Onto the fun stuff!
Life is easier as a grunt
a decently serious alliance sucks, and you should know that before you
get in too deep. Leading sucks even if you’re surrounded by awesome
people and have subordinates that do everything for you (thanks guys!).
It’s hard when you’re getting started and it doesn’t get a whole lot
easier over time.
Leading is time consuming. It’s stressful. And
it’s inglorious work, because most of what you do is behind the scenes
and is rarely seen or appreciated. Leading means dealing with stupid
drama and disgruntled players and sometimes making painfully hard
decisions that might come back and haunt you for months or years.
Leading means rolling up your sleeves and doing the much of the
tedious, time consuming work that no one really wants to do but that
needs to be done. In TDZK, it means a ton of time and emotional energy
invested in something which is, in the end, a pretty silly game. You
might have other plans for that time which you’d rather not spend
soothing ruffled feathers and melting your brain trying to figure out a
working raid time for people from eight different time zones and busy
personal lives. I can’t blame you.
Unlike the real world, being
higher up in the pecking order in a TDZK alliance means a lot of extra
work but affords you no real benefits or perks aside from the ability
to have a greater hand in the direction of the alliance and the
personal satisfaction of a job well done. It’s also thankless work, and
if you’re in it for ego or personal glory, it’s not going to be worth
it for you. For the most part, a talented hunter is infinitely more
visible and gets far more recognition than the best leader. That’s not
to say it’s not fulfilling; leading an alliance can be highly
rewarding, even meaningful. But the sole satisfaction of seeing your
alliance develop and prosper over time has to be enough for you.
of brilliant TDZK player that are more than qualified to be awesome
leaders intentionally choose not to because they know it’s a major pain
in the ass and prefer to just play the game. There’s no shame in this,
and there’s more than a bit of wisdom. If you’re serious about leading
an alliance and having a decent go at it, make sure you know what you
might be getting yourself into.
Authority doesn’t come with the title
positional “authority” as leader is meaningless. TDZK is an internet
game where people pretend to pilot spaceships and blow up other
spaceships. People play TDZK as a leisure activity. There is nothing at
stake in TDZK for anyone except for time and ego. Consequently, your
position as the leader of a TDZK alliance is meaningless in and of
itself. This is not the military, a business, or even a sports team.
Your authority, and the “power” you wield, has no teeth.
common mistake of poor or inexperienced leaders in a game like this is
that they think that leadership is a matter of power relationships, and
that their “leader” or “subcom” title means they inherently deserve
respect and obedience. From this viewpoint, effective leadership is
mostly a matter making the right decisions and subordinates promptly
doing what they’re told, lest they face the consequences.
the short term, this can be true. People might temporarily listen to
you because you’re the leader, and they might even grudgingly follow
orders they disagree with, but it only goes so far. Eventually, if your
players don’t believe in you and don’t see the point in what you want
them to do, they’ll just go somewhere else for their fun, and there’s
not a damn thing you can do about it. What are you going to do, boot
them from the alliance?
Any effective long term authority you
expect to wield has to come from the respect that your players have for
you, not from the [LEADER] tag next to your name. Players will listen
to what you have to say and do what you want them to do because they
believe in you and think you know what you’re doing, not because you
have the power to kick them from the alliance. This respect isn’t
something that comes with the title, but rather something that you have
to build up over time. You have to work at it, and you can’t take it
Most of this guide is in one way or the other about building that respect.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
nothing more boring that a leader that can’t laugh at him or herself.
New leaders sometimes have a tendency to be overly serious and spend
time agonizing about their perception within the alliance -- I know I
certainly did. Do people take me seriously? Am I acting “leaderly”
enough? These guys are making for of me for taking a pod -- do they
secretly think I suck at the game?
Don’t worry about it. People
don’t expect you to be perfect, just honest. Players respond far better
to leaders that have a sense of humor and can poke fun at themselves
than they to do ones that that keep an icy distance from the troops so
that the pecking order remains clear. As long as you’re making good
decisions and doing your best for the alliance, people will respect
Don’t burn bridges
is a stressful, emotional thing, and it’s easy to take things
personally. Maybe it’s a player leaving, or a defeat handed to you
ingame, or one of a million other things that can go wrong in an
But whatever you do, don’t burn your bridges. It can
be easy to decide that a person or alliance means nothing to you and
that it doesn’t matter if you’re never on civil terms with them again.
It can be easy to dismiss someone with a cutting remark, and it might
make you feel like a badass. But don’t be an asshole for the thrill of
a good burn. It might be satisfying in the moment, but it doesn’t get
you anywhere and it’s usually embarrassing in retrospect.
will leave your alliance for all manner of reasons. Maybe they’re bored
and looking for something different. Maybe they just never gelled with
the culture of your alliance. Maybe they have friends in another
alliance they feel loyal to. Who knows? It all hurts, and it can very
personal. But clamp down on your tongue. Wish them well. Don’t be an
ass. There’s nothing to be gained and everything to be lost.
you’ve wronged or been harsh to can damage you in ways you’ll never
anticipate. An ex-player you took a parting shot at might feel more
inclined to leak sensitive information to his new alliance. A player
you’ve shamed might decide to ram your raid team into a port. An
alliance you’ve bullied might assemble a coalition to take you down.
the better you are to people, the better they are to you, and over time
this also plays out in complex ways that you can never anticipate. An
enemy that you were respectful to might be impressed with your
character and choose to join your alliance in the future, and you might
discover that he wasn’t such a bad guy at all. Today’s disgruntled
departing player might be tomorrow’s returning and even more loyal
one. Today’s enemy might be tomorrow’s powerful ally. You never
know how things will work out.
Now, I’m certainly not saying you
should be a pushover. Stand up for yourself and what you think is
right. But try to do it without being an ass. You never, ever come out
worse off for forcing yourself to take the high road. If you find
yourself getting too pissed about something, step back for a moment
before you do something you’ll regret.
you just spend two weeks pulling strings, shuffling funds, and
designing ships to make a successful raid op happen? Excellent work!
Bask in the private glow of a job well done and thank the raiders and
RCs and escorts and everyone else involved for making it happen. It was
their doing, not yours, and make sure they know it.
time you should be taking credit for something is when something goes
wrong. Did a player screw up his squad setting and destroy two
expensive raiders? Don’t crucify him! He already feels bad enough.
Apologize to everyone for not being clearer about squad settings and
for not double checking before you started.
One of the most
crucial things you can do as a leader is to make your players feel
involved in and responsible for the successes of your alliance. That
can be harder than you expect. You will put in a ton of work towards
the alliance, it’s not always visible, and it’s natural to want credit.
But if you find yourself fishing for compliments or subtly trying to
shift some praise towards yourself, stop. You’re making a mistake, and
it’s not worth it.
People are stupid, but not that stupid
are stupid, especially in a game as emotionally charged as TDZK can be.
If your leadership experience is anything like mine, you’ll have
frequent occasion to deal with players that are upset for dumb reasons,
are causing needless problems, or are creating drama that makes you
want to rip you hair out. People are stupid and unreasonable and part
of what you try to do as a leader is to handle their stupidity while
keeping your own under control.
However, people aren’t so stupid
that they can’t tell when you’re patronizing them. When you’re dealing
with drama, you have to be upfront with them; you can’t just shrug off
the issue or not tell them how you really feel for fear of offending
them farther. People respond to honesty and if you are direct (but
polite) about telling them how you see the situation and why their
behavior is bothering you, more often than not an ugly conversation
will take a much more productive turn.
Let’s say a player you
have difficulties with is disgruntled because he thinks he should be a
subcom for his service to the alliance. You could stall and mince words
and tell him that there are no openings and that you really appreciate
all he does for the alliance that maybe someday in the future something
will open up (yeah right). That might keep him around for a bit in
resentful silence. Or you can be level with him and tell him that,
honestly, you haven’t seen enough standout initiative from him to
warrant a leadership role and that he is getting into too many
personality conflicts to really be considered. This truth might hurt.
Maybe he’ll be offended, but at least he won’t be left with the
impression that you don’t respect him enough to tell him the truth. And
very possibly, things might take a turn for the better.
doesn’t always produce magical results and some drama will never
resolve, but you owe it to your players to tell them the truth.
You need to be the hardest working and least rewarded player in the alliance
brews resentment or kills alliances more quickly than leaders that
think that they deserve special privileges. I can’t tell you number of
times I’ve seen alliance leaders flying ships that were 30 levels
higher than the rest of the alliance or using the AA as their private
bank account and how few of those alliances lasted more than a round.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that being a leader means you are
somehow above menial work, that your ship must be the “flagship” of the
fleet, or that if you’re slogging through the mud with everyone else,
it detracts from your “authority.”
You have to hold yourself to
the same standards as you hold anyone else, and it’s better than you
hold yourself to much tougher standards. “Lead by example” may be a
cliché, but it’s critical in regards to earning respect. It’s
unrealistic and unfair to expect more from your members than you expect
from yourself. If your AA is badly in need of money and you’re calling
for people to trade and donate, you should be at the top of the list of
donators. If you’re asking people to be up at 2 AM for an important
jump, you should be up too if at all possible. If you’re asking that
people make a sacrifice of some sort, you should be first in line. If
you don’t do what you demand from your members, they will resent you
for it. Practice what you preach, because no one respects a hypocrite.
lot of new leaders start out by laying out a long list of detailed
alliance rules because it feels like a productive and leaderly thing to
do. Attend a X number of ops per month! Donate X money to the per week!
Wear X ship tag! Log X hours per day! Be on IRC for X hours and make X
forum posts per week! Back when Fury was getting started, we had
requirements that people spend a certain percentage of their turns
planet building and also tried to get everyone to wear standardized red
alliance tags. Later, I made a number of attempts to ban posting
on the alliance politics forum, none of which I truly followed up on.
Those were all stupid and totally unrealistic.
Avoid this trap!
Rules are bad, for a lot of reasons. The more rules you have, the more
stuff you have to enforce, and the harder your job is. And the more
detailed an/or trivial they are, the worse it gets you. Let’s say you
have a rule that requires people donate 1 billion to the AA weekly. Are
you really going to kick someone if they don’t? What if they donate 700
million? Is that okay? Or even more trivially, let’s say you want
everyone to wear the same text tag in the front of your shipname in a
show of alliance solidarity and so everything looks pretty when you
massacre someone in the notices. Do you really want to spend your time
policing that? What if someone wants to wear a different tag? Is it
worth the fight? Why bother?
Only make the rules you feel really
strongly about and that you’re absolutely, 100% planning on enforcing,
and then enforce them when the time comes. If you make tons of rules
and then don’t enforce them, all it does it weaken your credibility.
What matters to you will be totally different from what matters to
Leaders often make rules to encourage certain
types of behavior. Rules can be helpful at getting this started, but
the more effective solution is to build those behaviors into the
culture of your alliance. In the example of AA donations, a donation
requirement might help things along, but the real long term reward will
come when you build an alliance culture based around teamplay and
unselfishness. In the shiptag example, you could make a stupid post
demanding that people change their shipnames, or you could work on
strengthening that sense of alliance identity so that people are proud
to fly your flag.
Rules are surface level things, but real results come when you work more deeply.
will be times where you’ll be tempted to cheat, do something
underhanded, or bend the rules for an advantage. Resist! The history of
TDZK is littered with broken alliances and disgraced players that
thought they could get away with cheating and failed. Don’t be one of
this sorry bunch.
There’s a wide range of ethnically
questionable behavior in TDZK, ranging from the more obvious bannable
offenses like multiple accounts and exploit abuse to allowed but still
sketchy actions like using spies, acting on leaked information,
planting players in other alliances to suicide their raid squads,
backstabbing allies and so forth. I’d urge you to avoid as much of it
as you can. Yes, you can reap sometimes considerable short term
rewards, but in the long term, it’s never worth it.
alliance gets a reputation for being shady, and once word gets out that
you have lousy principles, two things happen. First, you’ll lose good
players. Strong morals tend to go hand in hand with hard work and good
personalities, and as soon as it becomes obvious that your ethics are
poor, those players are going to find somewhere else where they don’t
have to play with the stigma of being in a shady alliance. And second,
you’re not going to pick up good players for exactly the same reason.
No one worth having wants to be associated with unethical play, and
before long, the only people in your alliance will be the ones who are
either too stupid to realize what’s going on or too corrupt to care.
That might be okay with you, but there’s a reason that alliances with a
reputation for cheating are unstable and don’t last long.
the best players in the game are the ones who are able to be awesome
without having to cheat. Those are the ones you want to attract into
your alliance, those are the ones that will make you great, and those
are the ones you drive away with bad ethics.
Deal with personal problems immediately
the title might seem blindingly obvious, but it’s hard to put into
practice, particularly in terms of conflict between players, your least
fun duty. This really goes hand in hand with the “people are stupid,
but not that stupid” section in that addressing issues quickly and
honestly is critical
Don’t let bad blood simmer in the hopes
that it’ll magically work itself out. If a player is causing issues,
deal with him directly in whatever way you need to. If the alliance is
unhappy with something, address that sooner rather than later. Delaying
only makes you look out of touch or indecisive and untended problems
only get worse over time.
Have a consistent vision for the alliance
huge amount of what you have to do as a leader is to figure out what
your alliance is ultimately about and communicate that to your players
and, indirectly, to the game. What do you want from the alliance?
What’s the end goal? How are you going to get there? Even if you’re a
tiny startup alliance, a clear vision for a stronger future will make a
huge difference as you develop a roster.
Having a vision is
important because it leads to the subtle differences in style and
personality that will make your alliance unique. If you know where
you’re trying to go, it illuminates the correct path when you’re at a
crossroads. And if you know what you’re about and what you’re trying to
do, you’ll attract the sort of players that will make it happen.
It’s not about you
People only do "unfun" tasks in the service of a higher goal
Don’t be a mascot