by Max Barry

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by The Regional Nation of The Northern Light. . 604 reads.

The Northern Lights - Issue XXXIV, December 2020

We are aware that not everyone is equally appreciative of image-based NS newspapers. As such, we've included the standard format mostly plain-text version of the newspaper in the spoiler below. We hope you enjoy reading this month's issue! If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to contact the current TNP Minister of Communications [nation]Veniyerris[/nation].[spoiler=Standard Version]

[size=200] Editor's Note[/SIZE]
[floatright][I]by BMWSurfer[/I][/floatright]

[center]Welcome to The Northern Lights.
I have been continually impressed by the cards community, and their dedication to their craft. I have seen newcomers and experienced players alike become excited by this relatively new game mechanic, and cards have left their mark on the NS world forever. I am grateful for the new Ministry of Cards for their help in creating this issue, and for all of the authors who contributed. Happy reading!
Minister of Communications
[hr][size=200] Note From the Minister of Cards[/SIZE][/CENTER]
[floatright][I]by DGES[/I][/floatright]

[CENTER]Minister of Cards, you say? You know, many were quite surprised that such a position came into being, and developments such as this help prove just how far the Cards community has come forward in terms of progress. Cards as a feature has lasted for only an estimated two years - a fledgling duration of existence compared to other areas of the site, yet I believe that this issue of The Northern Lights will go into enough depth to justify why Cards has become its own, fully-functioning part of NationStates. Without further ado, let's show you what we mean by that!
Minister of Cards
[hr][size=200] Interesting NSers you might've not known were actually cards traders[/SIZE][/CENTER]
[floatright][I]by DGES[/I][/floatright]

[CENTER]Please note that everything I will say from here on out will come from me as a regular cards player, not me as the current region’s Minister of Cards.
From time and again, I’m sure many people have come, continued to stay, or have gone from NationStates. However, not all those people manage to catch the eyes of others: some are perfectly fine with staying as regular players, while others choose to ascend within the site in terms of notoriety. Whether they become well-known Gameplay figures, joining the site staff such as the Moderation team, et cetera are all examples, and I’ve noted plenty of such well-known users who - despite their names being recognized for things unrelated to trading - have actually delved (and sometimes even continue to delve) into the cards game themselves.
As for which users I’m talking about, just naming a fraction of the total will take a while to accomplish. There’s so many we have to go over!
I guess the first group of NSers we can go over is the site staff/game volunteers. These people are likely the most important due to them essentially running the site, and one would assume that, due to how time-consuming performing such a task is, none of the users would ever dabble in cards. However, those who are familiar with the cards community know that such an assumption happens to not be the case; so many members of the site staff actually trade cards that naming them all would prove difficult! The most notable ones (in my opinion) would be Frisbeeteria and Ballotonia. Frisbeeteria is a current senior game moderator within NationStates and potentially the most active user in the field; plus they’ve been a user for at least 2 decades. I find it interesting to see how they’ve also dabbled in cards in addition to moderation, holding a near-monopoly on the epic cards market and continuing to possess one of the highest deck values in the trading leaderboard. As for Ballotonia, they’re a current game administrator who helps introduce new features and manages the code for existing features within NationStates; this could be considered even more potentially time-consuming of a job than being a moderator (though that is just speculation), yet Ballotonia has shown time and again to collect cards of numerous types out of self-interest, whether it be cards of commended/condemned nations, cards of World Assembly author nations, or even wacky/fun cards pertaining to rubber ducky images! And to add on to their collections, Ballotonia even regularly offers input, manages, or helps introduce new cards-based content for the benefit of all traders across the site, so we couldn’t be more grateful to them for everything they’ve done for cards so far!
For other site staff members, then I’ve also noted of Luna Amore and Noahs Second Country. I used to trade extensively with Luna (specifically for ex-nation cards), and they’re both a current issues editor as well as game moderator. For Noah, they’re one of the most recent issues editors to be added, and, despite their new responsibilities, they continue to “terrorize” the card market, so to speak (if you wish to gain a bigger idea of what I mean then try reading their condemnation). Both users I have communicated frequently with in the card game, and my experience with them I’ve considered to be a defining point in my journey through trading.
All in all, many site staffers/game volunteers have impacted the cards minigame one way or another.
As for Gameplay regulars, they too have dabbled within the cards market to a certain extent. Whether it be regional officers, delegates, or raiders/defenders, I’ve seen plenty of these types of users trade at least one time and/or start their own collections.
For the most notable ones, there are users like Xoriet, Ever-Wandering Souls, r3n, and HumanSanity. For Xoriet, they’re a current officer within the NPO and a former delegate of The East Pacific; they became especially known within the trading community for hosting pull events for the extremely valuable Season 1 Pergamon card, and they are currently involved as (both) a staffer within the trading cards server as well as helping manage (though I don’t know to what extent) the NPO’s card program. They’ve been an extremely generous and affable user to me, and everyone’s interactions with them have produced similar responses. For Ever-Wandering Souls (condemned raider and influential figure within The Black Hawks), they primarily card farm using their alt accounts, but the most significant thing they achieved in cards was their involvement in the so-called “cards raid” instigated by Refuge Isle and Feu de Glace. I currently don’t know the full extent to how much they impacted trading as a lone user, but their facilitation of the event might have contributed somewhat towards the admins’ changes to card pull mechanics, due to the amount of cards that generated in said event. I never interacted much with Souls so I can’t comment on how my experience was with them, but they seemed to be quite dedicated to trading (in their own way) at the height of their activity. As for r3n, they were actually a former delegate of The North Pacific and largely responsible for the World Assembly Development Programs largely used by TNP as well as Europeia, and (through their management of the ‘The Northern Light’ account) they currently hold the #4 spot for highest deck value - which would have been much higher had they not been regularly/generously donating much of their cards to TNP’s card programs. Super dedicated to what they do, and I’m sure many would agree that r3n could be considered the G.O.A.T. of trading cards (though many are still part of the Koem Kab fanbase of course). Finally, we have HumanSanity. Current delegate of 10000 Islands and on the opposite of Ever-Wandering Souls on the raiding-defending spectrum; like everyone else on this list, I know absolutely nothing when it comes to talking with them from a Gameplay perspective, but what I can say is that my interactions with them (when discussing cards) were nothing but laid-back, enjoyable, and sometimes even wholesome. They currently manage their region’s Card Co-op program, and we tend to joke around with each other in Discord card channels during the time we’ve been able to communicate.
At one point, there were even users Cormactopia Prime and Queen Yuno who originally traded cards. The former was a previous delegate of Osiris (though not on the account I’m naming) and simultaneous nominee for a commendation and condemnation; they were rocking a few legendary cards along with an entire series of Gameplay-focused cards before later choosing to sell their entire deck (even more funny was that I bought some of their cards when it happened!). For the latter, Yuno was a former delegate of The East Pacific, and they were one of the traders who originally tried extremely hard to purchase one of my Season 1 Menta Lee-IL legendaries years ago; as of this moment, they still possess their deck but they no longer seem interested in trading at the moment. Everyone has their own reasons for choosing not to continue card trading and that is something I can completely understand, but when you even have users as widely cited as Cormac and Yuno getting involved - despite their heavy focus on Gameplay - at this point you’ve likely come to the conclusion that the trading cards community can no longer be seen as a mere group of people supporting a slightly obscure minigame within NationStates; it has simply grown far too much and to the point where figures from all over the site have taken at least one look and even participated in it on certain occasions!
Players belonging to communities other than the above two have (also) naturally gotten involved in cards. Whether it be the issues authoring, World Assembly legislative, or roleplaying communities, I’ve seen many come and go over the time I’ve been a cards player. Examples include WA authors Cretox State, Morover, and Honeydewistania. I’ve interacted frequently with Cretox during my membership as a TNP Cards Guild member, and Morover and Honeydew have both posted many times on the Cards Discord server. Fauxia and Ransium (prominent issues authors) fall into the same case as the latter two I just mentioned, with Ransium even regularly selling me ex-nation cards when they were still active in trading. With regards to roleplay, then I’d have to say that Forum 7 regular + Factbooks & National Information poster Valentine Z easily takes the cake: not only do they regularly maintain an extremely large collection of cats (I sometimes gift them such cards as well), but they were also the main architect behind the now widely used ‘Gold Retriever’ tool (a script that outputs the amount of bank one possesses across all their puppet accounts); in addition, multiple players even used their card within a collaborative effort that would go down to be the longest card auction to ever occur in trading history (at least 12.5 days, hehe), something which many of the cards community is still proud of. All of these players - much like the other players I already noted - have occupied themselves in cards to some degree, and there is not much I can really say regarding this other than the fact that I’ve been extremely glad that this has been the case.
Cards have lasted as a feature for an estimated 2 years. Numerically speaking, this is starting to become rather aging. However, as a fully-fledged community it has lasted a bit shorter (due cards - for the first few months of its existence - actually being a mere April Fools Event), and it’s far shorter in its numerical age in comparison to most of the other communities NationStates already has (such as Gameplay). Despite this fact though, it seems that cards have been receiving a welcoming reception due to just how diverse the amount of players have been involving themselves within this fledgling area of the game. Whether it be a dedicated person who volunteers to keep the site running, an aspiring writer who wishes to further their own literary skills in an organization-like setting, or a humble user who loves to help others in communities they are apart of, all of these types of players have come together and have engaged - one way or another - in one thing within the NationStates universe: trading cards.
Yeah, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that the cards community possesses its share of interesting users.
[hr][size=200] Smaller regions that are using cards[/SIZE][/CENTER]
[floatright][I]by DGES[/I][/floatright]

[CENTER]What exactly defines the phrase “smaller region”? Well, I’d definitely state that it’s not any of the feeder or sinker regions; regions possessing a minimum of 1000 nations are definitely not small by any means. That specific number leads one to conclude that, in addition to all the feeders and sinkers out there, large User-Created Regions such as Europe and 10000 Islands (the latter actually possessing its own card program) are also to be excluded from the “small” classification.
In other words, regions possessing a few hundred or below are to be focused within this article, and the reason as to why we will specifically be going over smaller - though not at all meager - regions (and their involvement within cards) is for one reason: dedication. In huge regions such as any of the feeders, there exists hundreds to thousands of active players that work toward contributing to the region they are apart of, and the chance for a region’s card program to grow becomes exponentially higher (than that of smaller regions) due to the sheer number of players within the former likely to get themselves involved, whether through self-discovery or through the large region’s highly developed methods of advertising. Should a smaller region - despite the setback of not possessing enough players to sustain the region’s programs - actually possess its own card program, then that speaks miles of how dedicated said region’s players are when it comes to cards, and I believe that this can go a long way in proving just how amazing cards can overall be for some people.
Without further ado, let’s get to the actual regions!
I remember over a year ago, that in the really old days of cards this one user, Democratic Republic Of Unified States (DRUS for short), really went out of their way in getting together much of the cards community. As for what exactly I mean by this, it’s that they chose to host an entire cards festival within a well-known UCR at the time: Pacifica (a region that peaked at nearly 700 members at one point). As DRUS was considered the region’s cultural officer at the time, their hosting of the cards festival could be considered an official method regarding a smaller (though by no means tiny) region using cards, and DRUS invited most of the well-known cards players at the time (including Mikeswill, Ballotonia, Samudera, and more) to temporarily join the region and offer cards advice, while also simultaneously hosting card giveaways within the festival. This was one of the first (and actually likely the first) time I ever got myself involved within another region’s dwellings in cards, and it’s safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which Pacifica pulled it off for themselves.
The next really out-of-the-water region I came to admire was Card Gardens. Though they are not known at all within the Gameplay community, they are actually one of most documented regions I’ve ever come across within cards. Not only were they a region utilizing cards in an official capacity, but the region itself is a literal cards organization. Possessing its own application, giveaways, and its own Discord server, Card Gardens possesses dozens of regional residents along with plenty of official members within its organization. The region hands out cards on a daily-to-weekly basis, and you’re not even required to be a member of any region (not even Card Gardens itself!) to become a member. Highly inclusive as a result, and I myself have donated to the region’s programs due to how active they currently are within the cards community.
As for the next one, there was Psychotic Dictatorships. As a few probably know already, my main account serves a current officer of that region (so this choice could come across as more nostalgic than anything), but I included it here due to the promotion of one of the region’s most dedicated members. Their name is Japhetia, and they were appointed as a regional officer partly for their RMB activity, but also partly due to their card donations. Said donations primarily consisted of Season 2 Menta Lee-IL (the region’s founder) epics, and they also mentioned donating more of the aforementioned epics within one of their most recent gameside polls. Overall, this example is not nearly as huge as the two regions I already mentioned above, but the fact that someone still managed to single-handedly play a role in introducing cards for their region speaks volumes on how far players can go with regards to promoting/enjoying the trading game. Nice working, Japhetia.
Lastly, there is the Tea House of Cards. Like Card Gardens, it would be a mistake to just consider this name to be that of a normal region. Unlike Card Gardens however, THC was not a cards organization, but rather the embodiment of an entire, multi-regional cards event! Organized by players (from regions Lazarus, The East Pacific, and 10000 Islands) well-versed in the cards game, over 100 users ended up participating one way or another during the height of the festival’s existence. Whether by guessing what card rarity they will be when the next season releases, roleplaying within the region’s RMB in the context of a cards-based setting, or giving out full-blown lectures solely discussing the trading feature, a multitude of things were completed during THC’s event duration - and I’d definitely be interested in seeing additional regions being made that would serve as embodiments for card events.
As a bonus, I also once noted of One Small Island (the nation). They’ve long been the delegate of the GCR Warzone Sandbox, and at the height of their influence they achieved over 100 endorsements (as far as I know) during the massive Drew Durnil wave. While their region never officially adopted cards in any official capacity, the user in question had regularly offered card-based advice and encouraged participation in trading to Warzone Sandbox while they were still active.
Similar cases were repeated in NationStates and Spiritus; long-time delegate Mikeswill ended up pinning the Cards Guide to their region, while The Salaxalans (user who even was partially commended for their potato card collection) frequently mentioned cards in Spiritus’s RMB - the latter even starting a regional card collection comprised of most of their region’s members. Delegates are oftentimes seen as a microcosm of what a region stands for, so the fact that these many delegates of regions - despite the regions not actually officially delving in cards - regularly involving themselves in trading as well as encouraging said trading is quite a notable thing on its own.
Overall, in spite of the numerical disadvantage many of these regions possessed in terms of players, the actual members of each region decided to take it upon their own hands and go out of their way to introduce cards in some fashion for their regionmates (and in some cases, for any player who hasn’t even delved into trading yet). People like this not only are considered admirable from my personal standpoint, but also serve as a truly genuine example of how cards - despite its rather fledgling duration of existence - has already influenced a multitude of players to try their hardest to bring about the full potential of this feature of the game. Whether it be through simple promotion on the RMB, regular giveaways to members of the region, or through the hosting/embodiment of entire card-based organizations/events for every player to enjoy, smaller regions could be considered to have performed just as admirably (or at least close to have performed so) as that of the more well-known/larger regions with regards to utilizing cards in their everyday functions.
[hr][size=200] What makes a good theme?[/SIZE][/CENTER]
[floatright][I]by Valentine Z[/I][/floatright]

[CENTER]With the advent and inception of the Trading Cards since the April Fools of 2018, originally planned to be a one-off feature, it has seen a comeback as a permanent mechanics of NationStates, spanning 3 seasons so far, so to speak – Season 0 (when it was first incepted), Season 1, and Season 2. Without going too far into describing the history of Trading Cards, I would like to now talk on what exactly makes a good theme. A theme, by definition, is a set of cards that follows a particular set of rules or styles. When we think of theme, we usually would like to think about the Collections of both the big and small players, along with perhaps a few more. There are several factors that come into play, though none particularly superseding one another; after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Given the rarity of the cards, the first theme that most of the nations that went through and collected were the Legendary cards – the ones of the highest rarity. Even in the first days of Trading Cards, one can see a slew of collections that are all about collecting these Legendary cards consisting mainly of Admins, Moderators, Issue Editors, WA Secretaries (the staff in general), along with a few other older nations who have issued authors, amassed a large number of gold badges, and just about anything else that have set them apart from the crowd. With this, also branches out other smaller themes and collections that were based on the staff of NationStates. Other nations have collections that were based on themes of seasons and rarities. Often enough, these were the aforementioned Legendaries, but there were also Epics, Ultra Rares, Rares, Uncommons, and Commons. On a deeper note, these would also involve being separated into Seasons – for instance, there were collections on complete S1 Legendaries, as well as S2 Legendaries.
Of course, all of these involved a particular time-frame, or were confined to being separated into rarities, as well as to the time-frames (i.e. seasons). In contrast, there are many other themes that are boundless on these two traits, and instead are only concerned with the aesthetics of the cards. While some of the collections look at the value, these themes are all about the appearances of the cards, and in other times, about the names of these nations. There spans several of these – Entertainment, Flags, Geography, Nature, Objects, and many more. The Entertainment ranges from movies to TV shows to comics; Flags range from ones that are a collection of rainbows, to animated flags; Geography would involve players collecting cards involved with RL flags; Nature involves wild animals, trees, skies, and many more that are the wonders of Mother Nature; Objects involves the more wild card collections that were distinct and different from one another – food, guns, ships, cars, etc.
Last, but of course not at the very least, we also have themes that are hybrids of time constraints, rarities, among many other things. One of the first collections that attracted the eyes of the many would be Destructive Government Economic System (DGES)’s collection – The Ex-Nation Extraordinaire! As of the time of this writing, this behemoth collection has 18,960 cards, all of them being of ex-Nations, that is, nations that has ceased-to-exist (CTE) when the cards were snapshotted. Collecting these cards since the first few days of the Trading Cards’ inception, it would have been an understatement to say that DGES has defined the theme of ex-nation cards, and eventually boosting the demand for these otherwise forgotten set of cards for their perceived lack of value to them. Also from the same user and a noteworthy mention is a collection of cards that have extremely low ownership (usually only 1-3 users have these cards), regardless of rarity. These low-ownership cards can be called a subset of ex-nation cards, since they are still the ones that either does not have a large demand or are rarely pulled.
Of particular mention and my personal favourite are the slew of collections that are relevant to the field of Mathematics because of the competition.1 There is no limitation in creativity and what qualifies as a collection – it’s simply a matter of the story behind it, and the commitment these card players have put into them. There is simply no boundary to the themes that one can create and collect – apart from the aforementioned themes and large collections, there are also these smaller ones, such as memes or Internet Culture-based collections, that uses card ID numbers, their names, their pictures, and just about everything else in-between to make their own unique status quo.
With the themes being talked about, we will now go over to what makes them so good, or a cut above the rest. It is obvious to see their high values and large collection sizes, but none of these would have been possible without one thing – determination. Determination to get the bank that one needs in order to buy the cards, as well as the determination to add these to the collections. The former perhaps need no introduction, given how most of the players have at least tens to thousands of puppets at their disposal to answer issues with to get these card packs. The answering process itself is a tedious one, going through each nations manually and having no legitimate automated system to make it fair for everyone involved. It was simply a matter of how much the player is willing to sink their time into the game. With that, we have the second form of determination of making these collections. It is of note that the “Add to Collection” for each of the cards were only done so recently, that is, the feature was not around for a good majority of the lifetime of the Trading Cards game. In other words, those collections that were large and vast have been done painstakingly, once with going through the list of their main deck to add to, followed by going through the list several times in order to add more cards. As a result of all of this, it takes an equal amount of determination to get these cards, as well as to organise them into neat collections and themes.
In conclusion, going back to the first paragraph of this news piece, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as many of the themes and collections were made differently. While there has been repeating themes and collections from different people, on what makes them good and memorable would be the sheer amount of hardwork and dedication that these nations and players have put into making such wonderful pieces of themes and collections for everyone to behold and to follow in their own footsteps.
[hr][size=200] What changes should be made to the cards game?[/SIZE][/CENTER]
[floatright][I]by Valentine Z[/I][/floatright]

[CENTER]This has been most very likely one of the more controversial topics of the game, because as with most of the situations and problems in real life, there is not a single solution that resolve everything. When something was supposed to solve a subset of problems had by a group of players, it would inevitably cause frustration for a few other players. We have seen this first and foremost with the addition of TCALS – Trading Card Anti-Laundering Service, as it would be called. This was made with the intent and purpose of increasing the chances of drawing and finding a card that was currently being used for a bank transfer. This prevents players from transferring banks without the threat in the form of new owners heisting them, while still offering a substantial chance of making sure that it is fair for everyone involved. While the system was not met with great reception at that time, it was eventually refined and evolved in order to better suit the needs of a majority of players, and it is also used as a means for players to get valuable cards (i.e. by making a large bank transfer called a pull event whereby the card farmers and other players alike can get that particular card).
One of the more common feedback and idea that I have heard from some of the players around are to limit the purchasing power of the players with large puppets, or to put it simply, to prevent them from simply owing a large number of nations. Just like how one can only have a single nation inside the World Assembly, this would ensure that there will be a fixed limit on how many puppets can a player has, i.e. 100 nations. However, this was usually thought less of as an actual suggestion, and more of an idea that players throw around now and then. This is due to the inherent difficulty of making sure that a nation belongs to the player, and it is unnecessary work involved. While the site staff can check for nations of that player, presumably with the same mechanics they use for WA Multing or for Delete-on-Sight (DOS) players, it is something that is deemed as needlessly restrictive, first and foremost problem being that limiting the number of puppets has absolutely little to no impact on the actual card game. Additionally, the needless hampering would have been frowned upon by the other subforums if the limit is lower.
Personally for me, I would like to see a change and improvement in the deck expansion system. The current system is such that in order to get space for another 50 cards (100 if you are a Site Supporter or a staff member), the cost to expand the deck increases with the square value. In other words: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100, 121, 144, 169, 196, 225, and it goes on. This cost model is good enough for the first few expansions as I personally feel that it does help to curb the relatively new players from gaining deck space quickly without effort. However, the cost quickly ramps up to unreasonable levels as it went on, even for some of the players with a generous amount of banks at their disposal. It is of my personal opinion that while the bank cost modelling could be lower, perhaps down from x^2 to a slightly more reasonable x^1.8. This way, the bank could be used for something else, and while also helping to keep the collections more unified. It does not make much sense as to players being able to get new deck space for free on their puppets, while their main card-collecting nations have such a ramping cost that was nothing more than deterrence for having a lot of cards in their deck. A lower limit, personally, could ensure that the newer players would not have such a difficult time, while also still ensuring that the deck spaces do not explode with such an absurd growth rate.
Another controversial and frowned upon practice is the idea of penny-bidding, whereby the buyer would snatch away a purchase from the original buyer by bidding just 0.01 more, and thus the name penny-bidding. While it was done through an honor system at this point, i.e. players usually try their best not to touch a purchase, or they would bid much higher prices as an actual competition, it is still prevalent in some areas and is the woe for players. One of the suggestions I could see is for the system to only allow bids of more than 10% of the current auction price to go through. For instance, if the deal is going on at 10.00 bank match, another bid would have to be 110% of it, that is, 11.00 bank. The next one would need to be 12.10 bank to outbid, then 13.31, then 14.64, and it would go on ad infinitum until one of the buyers no longer has the bank to sustain or make a purchase. The idea of 10% increase requirement from the previous bid was just an example suggestion here, as there could be other mechanics and numbers in play. For instance, instead of 10%, we could have 20%. Alternatively, a piecewise increment is also possible, whereby if the bidding match is less than 10.00 bank, one would need 50% more bank from the current match in order to outbid it. If the match is more than 10.00 bank, then this percentage would drop to 25. I personally believe that this would help stop the slew of penny-bidding and sniping that most of the trading cards are not fond of.
One limitation, however, I can see is in the grounds of bank transfers (using a particular card to make bank transfers from one puppet to another) – the principles and rules might get muddled here, and at the same time, another mechanics – underasking, might become a new problem. Underasking, for context, is the practice of reducing the selling price a penny (or more) lower so that it is closely matched to the bidding amount (selling usually gravitates towards lesser values). For instance, a 5.00-5.00 auction can be disrupted by someone finding a card and bidding asking for 4.99. The card game, given how large it is right now – from small-time players to intermediate farmers, to large thousand-nation-strong players, will have extreme resistant to change, some for the better, some for the worse. While suggestions are welcome and I feel that there are some things that can be changed, I will also humbly admit that the changes are easier said than done, such is with other multiplayer games that we might be familiar with (e.g. Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege, League of Legends, DoTA, and many more). Even a smallest change can change a meta to unrecognisable levels and with it, usually a worse outcome or a game-breaking feature that must be remedied.

Addendum: If we use ceiling(x^1.8) instead of x^2, the prices could be more controlled. For a useful plot of this, please visit [URL][/URL]
[hr][size=200] A look into the Diverse Community of Cards[/SIZE][/CENTER]
[floatright][I]by Westinor[/I][/floatright]

[CENTER]As you are probably aware, cards are a relatively new feature to Nationstates, having only been permanently introduced in December of 2018. Ever since then, the cards community has grown from a few enthusiastic traders to a burgeoning and considerably large network of card farmers. This Cards community has grown around the practice of amassing bank and cards in order to fulfill a goal unique to each card farmer. These farmers are often distinguishable and can be classified by what cards they collect and why they collect them, and make up the basic pillars of the cards community so many have come to know and love.
First and foremost are those who run regional programs and activities. These farmers tend to focus more on the interpersonal and community side of things, often running regional or interregional cards programs and hosting pull events and other cards activities. Regional organizers have spearheaded the development of the Cards community by helping new and isolated players integrate into the Cards community as well as by holding events and activities for those interested in Cards. Events like the Tea House of Cards and organizations like TNP’s Card Guild help bring together players and provide incentives and aid in helping newer farmers grow. More often than not, these farmers utilize their card farms and expertise to help out newer players and manage programs and activities. These players have also been key in the recent development of Cards into regional programs, a huge step for the Cards community. Cards by itself is not much more than a simple trading game, but these players are essential in bringing it to life.
Some of the most active card farmers are collectors, particularly regional or rarity collectors. Though the term may sound ambiguous enough to apply to all card farmers, these particular traders focus on collecting cards of a certain style or classification, and often involve grouping cards with similar qualities together. Collections can vary from being small or even nonexistent in quantity to massive - just check out 9003’s huge deck! Collectors take advantage of the Card tabs’ “Collections” feature in order to create groupings of cards that they can title themselves. These collections can center around cards from a specific region (like Giovanniland’s TWP collection or r3n’s TNP collection), rarity (see Riemstagrad’s epic cards collection or Noah’s rares card collection), flag, name, puppet series, or more - the possibilities are practically limitless, especially with how creative NSers are with their nation customizations. Collectors are often integral to regional cards communities as well as the Cards community as a whole, with collections often being the focus of many regional cards activities like TNP’s Collection Spotlight and collectors driving much of the everyday market activity through their purchase of otherwise left alone cards.
Now, as noted before, there are many kinds of collectors. However, classifying them all by what kinds of cards they collect would be far too 2D, so I’d split them up into three groups - first off are the collectors who focus on larger, often regional, collections, who tend to partake in cards-related events with others or cards programs. These collectors put spectacular amounts of time into Cards, between placing bids for their humongous collections and often running regional cards programs. In a way, they are the cosmopolitans of the Cards community - their quest to complete their collection leads to encounters with all sorts of card farmers along the way, and thus these members of the community are often the organizers who drive Cards-related programs and activities. There are those who focus on amassing their collections of particular cards, though this group is fairly small in comparison to others. These collections are usually puppets or certain sets of nations, which are also often inflated due to the buyer’s demand.  And finally, there are those who focus more on several different smaller collections, usually larger than your two-or-three-card collection but certainly smaller than the massive regional sets accumulated by the first group. These range from certain flag themes to nations with funny names, as well as the collections accumulated for collection-based activities. Most collectors are not restricted to one of these groups, and dabble in varying collections, though most can be identified by their focus on one type of collection.
Next up to bat are the deck expanders. Deck expanders tend to focus more on expanding their Deck Value instead of collecting a specific card, though there’s often a method to their amassing. Oftentimes traders will prioritize nice-looking cards or familiar faces over other cards, while some even go so far as to collect every legendary, which in turn greatly increases their Deck Value. In this way, most people are “deck expanders”, but the ones I’m talking about are those who prioritize higher Deck Value over collecting certain cards. A large portion of deck expanders focus on the valuable commodity of legendaries, but the most distinct class of deck expanders are the MV sharks. Most traders have encountered these players before - they target high-value and often inflated cards that are on the market in pursuit of a higher deck value. More often than not, they will fight and pennybid with their teeth during auctions in an attempt to purchase cards who are often about to drop in value. This species of trader is commonplace in the daily market, so take care next time your complete your bank transfer - you may find yourself missing a card, though likely with some extra bank on hand. More notable and generally more successful than the MV sharks are those who trade nearly exclusively in the legendaries market. This comprises a large portion of top traders, who invest in the stable and high-value rarity in order to move up the leaderboard. Here, flipping cards for profit and card farms numbering in the triple digits are common. This class is distinct from most collectors, who also hold expansive deck value and control huge card farms, in that the focus is on high-value or certain legendaries as opposed to specific cards to fill out a collection. Together, collectors and legendary traders make up nearly every trader you’ll come across in the Cards community.
Of course, the everyday hustle of buying and selling legendaries gets boring for some. There are a few key card farmers who tire of the mindless farming and seek to utilize their newfound wealth to break barriers and push limits. These players, who are often already incredibly successful, employ their vast bank and puppet army to test the very mechanics of the game. In this way, such mechanics like TCALS were discovered, leading to the later development of pull events. These players are just as important to the development of Cards as those who expand participation and hold activities, and contribute more to the technical side of things as opposed to the interpersonal. There is no doubt that without these players, breakthroughs that have transformed the playing field would not have been discovered.
Each class of farmer has carved out their own goals in Cards, whether that be in collecting every card in their region or seeking to dethrone Koem Kab (word of advice: it can’t be done). Card farmers are in the process of shaping and defining the landscape of this community for potentially years to come - and there’s a place for everyone, from the smallest trader to the largest armer, to thrive and pursue their own goals.
[size=100][U][B]The Northern Lights[/B][/U][B]:[/B] [I]Beauty in Truth[/I]
Publisher: [nation]Kranostav[/nation] :: Executive Editor: [nation]Veniyerris[/nation]

[I]The Northern Lights is produced by the Ministry of Communications on behalf of the Government of The North Pacific and is distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs externally and by the Ministry of Home Affairs internally. Except where otherwise indicated, all content represents the views of the Government of The North Pacific.[/I]

[B][URL=]Index of issues[/URL][/B][/size][/CENTER]

[B] [/B]