The flag of the interviewee Onderkelkia.
Onderkelkia is one of the most well-known members of NationStates gameplay, having played this game for over one and a half decade and led several major regions at different times in history. This month, they have resigned from several important positions in regions such as The Land of Kings and Emperors (LKE) and Balder, as part of a greater retirement trend starting back in 2018, when they retired as Emperor of the LKE.
Therefore, Wymondham from The Western Post decided to invite them for an interview, and asked several questions to know more about Onder's history and their contributions to the game. The answers are published verbatim, with the only edits being the additions of nation or region tags and full names of certain abbreviations, signaled by brackets, for easier understanding by the reader. We're very excited for the opportunity to bring you this interview, and without further ado, here it starts:
Q: How did you first find NationStates?
A: I searched for a political nation simulation game.
Q: How did you get introduced to Gameplay in NS?
A: I received a telegram from Eurosoviets inviting the small UN-focused left-wing region I led to join the Red Liberty Alliance. The RLA was looking to expand its engagement with the United Nations (as the precursor to the World Assembly was known then) at the time. From there, as well as in operations for the RLA Intelligence Department, I became familiar with defender alliances, invader regions and wider aspects of inter-regional politics.
Q: How did you end up in Balder and the LKE?
A: I joined Balder on the day that our region was created in October 2011, in the context of TNI [The New Inquisition] and Europeia's efforts to guarantee the freedom of Balder in the face of early UDL [United Defenders League] and FRA [Founderless Regions Alliance] attempts to establish a foothold in the region. I was member of the Constitutional Convention which determined the region's initial institutional configuration. My first Balder nation Wicker table remains the nation with the third-longest residency in Balder. I was nominated to serve as a Justice in early 2012, but my nomination was narrowly voted down due to opposition arising from my role commanding and conducting TNI's invasion of TRR. Subsequently, I remained engaged with Balder's affairs as an ordinary citizen. I first gained office in Balder in mid-2016 when I was appointed Minister of Integration by Statsminister Gabriel Xavier. After re-founding the Balder Civil Service and increasing outreach to on-site nations with successful results, I won first place in the next Storting elections and I was then nominated as Statsminister for the first time.
I first encountered the LKE as a result of the RLA's efforts opposing the occupation of Munster by the LKE's members in spring 2006. Munster was allied to an RLA member-region and remains a dominion of the LKE today. I joined the LKE initially when I began spying on the region in late April 2006. I decided to defect in August 2006, joining the region again under a new nation (Onderkelkia) with the knowledge and support of the Emperor. From there, I was entrusted with positions granting me the leadership of the LKE's military and intelligence services, as well as first becoming Prime Minister the following month in September 2006 and Crown Prince for the first time in November 2006.
Q: What would you say your favourite moment has been over your time in NS?
A: The most satisfying aspect of regional gameplay is less a single moment and more the process of successfully steering the domestic and external affairs of the region that you serve. If I was to single out my favourite moments, I would point to the year of 2012 and some of the military victories within it (in particular: the Belgium operation leading to the conquest of The Rejected Realms in January/February 2012; the coalition counter-invasion of The United Kingdom of Britain ending GGR [Greater German Reich]'s occupation in May 2012; the reclamation of Concosia after interception of the UDL's attempted refound attempt in June 2012). I could similarly select multiple victories in most of the other years from 2006 to 2020, especially pre-2015. However, while each victory is good, there is greater happiness in seeing the regions that you lead flourish internally and externally—in that sense, my favourite moment has been every time I have logged onto the LKE, TNI or Balder forums and seen the affairs of the region in good condition.
Q: You mention TNI's invasion of The Rejected Realms. As a follow-up question, how did the planning for that go, and how did your role as commander play out?
A: The specific concept of ejecting piling units on an ongoing military occupation to initiate an invasion of TRR originated as an idea in the course of a discussion I had with North East Somerset about TNIAF [The New Inquisition Armed Forces]'s operational priorities back in August or September 2011, shortly after the refounding of Concosia. This was a long time before the invasion of TRR itself later in early 2012 and the idea arose in the context of achieving a particularly notable military victory in TNI's war with the FRA, as TRR was the FRA's largest member-region. As it happens, shortly after that discussion, TNI became aware that Europeia was planning a treaty with TRR. To ensure that this created no obstacle to our intended invasion, I ensured that TNI made strenuous objections to Europeia about entering into a treaty against TNI was at war, which thankfully resulted in the proposed treaty being dropped.
From the autumn of 2011 onwards, I was looking to find operations which could be used to launch the invasion of TRR. Other priorities intervened (such as the brief reclamation of Valhalla, TNIAF's deployment to Balder after its founding, and the occupation and passwording of North Atlantic). Belgium was eventually selected, because it was a significant enough target (with its historic place in the Allied Liberation League and current links between its members and the UDL) to merit a large-scale deployment. I led TNI's invasion of Belgium on 28 January 2012, with the intention of using this to conduct the subsequent invasion of TRR. On the face of it, this was a standard TNI occupation similar to several I had commanded before. The angry defender reaction to the invasion was useful in justifying my requests to other militaries to commit all possible resources to securing Belgium. In its own terms, the Belgium was symbolically important and this justified concentrating resources.
After amassing a large-enough force in Belgium, with margin to spare over TRR's endorsement count, it was possible to proceed with the TRR phase of operation. I reviewed the issue of timing with NES. It was critical to eject all the piling nations in sufficient time before TRR updated, while simultaneously minimising the amount of time that defenders had to respond once the operation was initiated. I practised doing 'ejections' by several times dossiering all the units endorsing my nation and timing how long that took, to see how short I could get it down to. On the preceding minor update, there was actually an aborted start when I had a technical issue after the first few ejections and I decided to abort with the time taken up—contrary to my expectations that the opportunity was gone, the incident happily was not interpreted (by most at least) for what it was. At the subsequent major update (2 February 2012), I experienced no technical issues with performing the ejections and the operation proceeded as planned. TRR was conquered by The New Inquisition. There was no question of attempting to stay beyond the subsequent minor, given there was no ejection button and the prior native delegate had the advantage of pre-existing native endorsements on top of incoming military units, whereas the raiding side had already marshalled our piling resources for the Belgium mission. The victory in seizing TRR by ejecting military units from an occupation (rather than natives) and my brief Delegacy of TRR in consequence of that has since remained an accomplishment of note for many in TNI's storied military history.
Q: Which government position(s) have you most enjoyed holding and why?
A: If I was to select a single position, it would be Emperor of the LKE, especially in my 2010-18 reign relative to my earlier periods as ruler. I was able to combine overseeing and facilitating a vibrant domestic political system with supreme authority over the conduct of diplomacy and military operations. The position provided sufficient longevity to devise and achieve strategic objectives, as well as an excellent footing from which to provide global leadership to the wider imperialist sphere.
However, I have also greatly enjoyed holding several other positions. I have served as Crown Prince of three different regions—the LKE under Lucius in 2006, 2007 and 2009-10, TNI under Gryfynn in 2010-13, Balder under NES since 2019—each time striving to carefully, efficiently and robustly undertake key responsibilities and drive forward the regional monarchy's priorities. Serving as Vice Delegate and Crown Prince of Balder has been a particular privilege, as it has allowed me to advise on and contribute towards Balder's evolution and success as a region since 2019. The other major position in Balder which I greatly valued was as Statsminister (Prime Minister), a role which I occupied for 10 parliamentary terms split between three separate continuous periods across 2016-19. This position gave me with the opportunity to succeed repeatedly in electoral politics and in leading the Statsraadet (Cabinet) to deliver the policies on which I was elected, having mainly occupied politically neutral roles within the LKE and TNI since 2008.
In addition to my principal positions in the general leadership of the regions I have served, I have also enjoyed more specialised roles, perhaps most significantly as Commander of TNI Armed Forces, and as Director General and later Executive Director of TNI Intelligence, although also in equivalent LKE positions and as GB&I [Great Britain & Ireland] First Sea Lord. These positions allowed me to concentrate on directing operations and improving performance within my area of responsibility, with measurable results. The same applies on an inter-regional scale to my periods as SRATO [Sovereign Regions Alliance Treaty Organisation] Supreme Allied Commander, UIAF [United Imperialist Armed Forces] Joint Commander and lastly as a member of the UIAF Imperial Military Council. Finally, I have enjoyed serving as Chief Justice of Europeia, continuously since July 2017 as well as during earlier periods in 2012 and 2014-15. This role has less operational responsibility than my other positions, but I hope that I have provided effective leadership for the Court, well-reasoned judicial opinions, and a helpful example of how a judge's role should be performed within the legal system of a NationStates region.
Q: Why are you retiring from NS?
A: After a long period of careful reflection, I have decided to step further back from NationStates, towards a fuller retirement than I ultimately managed to achieve when I went from LKE Emperor to Emperor Emeritus in January 2018. I decided to retire a long time ago, when I first decided to abdicate as Emperor, but I never fully completed the process, partly as I felt there was still more that I could contribute in Balder and partly because I wanted to give my successor as Emperor, and also the wider Monarchy, the benefit of them assuming additional responsibilities while I was still available to offer regular advice. I have decided that now is the right time for me to complete my retirement. I have reached that decision by judging: what I can realistically contribute going forward (bearing in mind that I do not wish to have a continuing obligation to be active/engaged on NS daily, beyond just logging-in as I can), the shape of NationStates gameplay today (sadly centred on Discord now, no longer regional forums), and the needs of the three regions in which I currently serve (Balder, LKE, Europeia).
In Balder, I will be retiring as Vice Delegate and Crown Prince (including the associated roles as President of the Lagting and Chief Justice) and from the appointment as Chief of Defence. For the immediate future, I will continue to serve the Realm of Balder as the Prince of Jomsborg, to contribute towards maintaining on-site security as a Regional Officer, but I will not be involved in decision-making or performing the array of responsibilities that I fulfilled as Crown Prince. In the LKE, I will remain Emperor Emeritus, as this position was designed for my retirement, but my intention is to complete the process of retirement by only fulfilling the position's core constitutional responsibilities (in the limited circumstances where a role is specified for the Emperor Emeritus). As such, I will not normally advise on or undertake policy decisions or functional tasks. In Europeia, after serving as Chief Justice continuously for over 4 years and as a Justice continuously for 5 years, apart from my earlier terms on the Court, I have decided to fully retire from the Court. In each region, I am confident that there are capable leaders who can undertake my existing responsibilities very well.
Q: Which part of your NS legacy are you most proud of?
A: I am very pleased that the LKE remains an active, influential and well-run region today, when most of the other prominent UCRs from its earlier days, including other imperialist regions, are no longer open. I am somewhat conscious that there were moments—for example, in 2008, 2010 or 2013—where the LKE might not be active today if I had not been there to make the decisions that I did.
More broadly, I am very proud of my contribution towards building, advocating and sustaining the imperialist approach as a widely-used concept within inter-regional politics, as well as establishing the imperialist tradition—especially the LKE and TNI, as well as the UIAF of the LKE and TNI (later admitting Albion)—as a major force to be reckoned with in world affairs, diplomatically and militarily. I cannot claim that exclusively as part of my legacy—others contributed greatly as well, most significant among them North East Somerset—but I hope that I have provided valuable service to the imperialist tradition and that this will endure through the LKE even following my retirement.
In addition, while Balder is not presently an imperialist region, we have heritage rooted in the imperialist tradition from our membership of the ISRA [Imperial Sovereign Realms Army] with Osiris in 2014 and TNI's role in protecting Balder sovereignty at our founding. As such, I see my increased contribution to Balder later in my NationStates career as an important addition to a related overarching legacy, as well as, in my judgement, being beneficial to the freedom, stability and overall strength of Balder in its own right.
The Western Post thanks Onder for a very interesting and detailed interview, and wishes them well in their NS retirement.
The West on the Waves logo designed by Bran Astor.
On August 13th, the great ship of the West Pacific set sail across the waves for the Launch Show, the first episode of The West on the Waves, the region’s official radio channel. The Launch Show proved to be a great success, with 10 people tuning in live on the discord server, with more listening afterwards on Spotify and Anchor. So, how did this exciting new project come about?
The idea which would grow to be The West on The Waves was conceived by Blue Bubble, who now runs the station, who has revealed its origins to your correspondent. “The idea comes from Burning Marsupial festival, where I did a DJ set and really enjoyed it. It was my first festival and I was very new to NS and TWP. I realised that we could capitalise on this as a general thing for TWP and suggested the radio to TWP. They basically immediately loved it.” The idea was then developed further following the recruitment of your correspondent, with Blue recalling that there wasn't much of a development on the idea, or a push into making it a reality while I was just working with Dilber on it. Then when Wym was placed on the project by Dilber, things came into reality in about 3 weeks. The project was finalised approximately two weeks before the Launch Show, with Myrkavhal (Syberis) joining the team to provide advice on technical details. Blue further commented: “Wym and I [Blue] looked into possible ways of hosting TWTW, where I had already ruled out a few possibilities. Him and Syberis then finalised how we are doing things. Those two really helped me (they just sorted it for me honestly, I felt like a manager).”
The West on The Waves currently features three shows: “What’s a vibe anyway?”, “The Wym Show”, and “In The Mines with Zoran”. The first one is a music show by Blue Bubble, described by its host as “a show where I force people to listen to my music taste through vaguely themed sets weekly." When asked for further detail, Blue answered: "Somehow people still join (thank you loyal listeners) and enjoy the vibes. The theme/vibe is never posted and you basically guess what the theme (the vibe) is as you listen to the 10 song set. I select whichever vibe description i like the most, and that person can select the first song/artist/genre of the following week.” As a music show, “What’s a vibe anyway?” is not available on Anchor or Spotify but you can tune live on discord every Wednesday at 5PM EDT.
The Wym Show, hosted by Wymondham is a free flowing discussion show which is largely centered around the chaotic wyms of its host and features two guests from The West Pacific and beyond. Conversation has involved heated debates around NS technical proposals suddenly shifting to a detailed discussion on foreign holidays and the best sort of tea. Guests featured thus far include Dilber, Varanius, Aynia Moreaux and Evil Mother among others, with Francois Isidore set to feature alongside another (secret) guest in the next episode. The show is notorious for its unprepared, unscripted nature, with the guests being given no indication of likely topics before the show begins. The show takes place live every Saturday at 5PM EDT and is available on Anchor and Spotify.
Last, and by no means least, is “In The Mines with Zoran,” the newest of The West on the Waves’ shows. This show covers current affairs in the West as well as topical discussion with an eventual focus on an audience oriented show featuring music and history quizzes. The first episode is available now on Anchor and Spotify.
Anyways, The West on The Waves has been a great success in its first few weeks as a fledgling station, with your correspondent confident that the station will go from strength to strength in the following month. As a final comment, Blue reflected that “I think it is going well, we have 3 different shows with viewership being great for a new project/whatever you want to call the radio, and for new shows. I think The West on The Waves will really start to blossom in the upcoming months as we get into the swing of things.”
By Zoran, Speaker of the Hall
The most recent government Q&A happened from 21 July to 10 August 2021 with Teralyon, our Minister of World Assembly Recruitment (WAR). Some good questions were asked and answered, and here are some highlights:
Q: What made you come to NS? And how were your first months in NS & TWP? – United Adaikes
A: A petty argument with a friend about pixel art. Long story short, my friend and I were going back and forth discussing pixel art battleships which led down a rabbit hole where I discovered a really cool black and red pixel art battleship in someone's dispatch then about 10 minutes later the nation of Teralyon was founded in The West Pacific.
As for what I did in the first couple years? Nothing. Lurked on the RMB sometimes and answered issues, Badger had just become the Delegate when I joined and he scared the c**p out of me. I got more involved after some shi**y RL stuff and I wanted and needed a distraction to focus on after a few more months I joined TWPAF.
Q: How was your experience in this rise to top, and what would you say were the highlights of your time on NS and TWP, and this journey to becoming a minister, and hopefully even better things ahead? – Larxia
A: That's hard to answer, there are many moments. I want to say my experience has been great. I've met great people, I've learned some things that have helped me in my professional career. (I owe Bran Astor for that.) And most importantly I've calmed down. Without going on a tangent, Tera in his early 20s compared to Tera now are two very different people and TWP is a major contributing factor to that.
Some highlights? Uhh...
Well of course being named Minister of WAR;
Being chosen as the first HoN Guardian;
Racing to see who can set fire to 1200+ embassies faster with Kawaii;
The whole South Lebanon debacle.
Honestly there's quite a few highlights... all my promotions in TWPAF, the badges I've earned, my titles, I'm proud of them all. As for the future? We'll see. One of my favorite quotes is "When you reach the top of the mountain, find a bigger mountain".
Q: What is your favorite part of being Minister of World Assembly Recruitment, and what do you consider the most important lesson you've learned in this job? What do you consider as your favorite thing about TWPAF? – Giovanniland
A: Favorite part? Confusing people that see the title has been hilarious. Aside from that I'd say while challenging, trying to find new WAs and talent is fulfilling. The most important lesson by far for me has been the need to nudge people along, keep myself and other accountable for what we need to do. I have goals I've set for myself that I need to meet. I've learned complacency is something I can't let take hold.
As for TWPAF, I'd have to say the comradery, the friendships, the little club within a club made up of dedicated people all working towards the same goal, our op playlists and shenanigans, the little inside jokes that develop during ops that only TWPAF members will notice or understand on mission reports.
Q: What made you join TWPAF? What would you name your pirate ship? What would you do if you were TWP Delegate for a week? – Aluminum Oxynitride
A: 1) I wanted to do more, I kept getting telegrams and never acted on it till one day, I believe around the time of the Delegate transition from Halo to Bran I decided I wanted to get more involved, that's where you and I first met and did our first perfect 10/10 raid, good times...
3) Trick everyone into thinking I'm going to reform TWP into a dem... *heaves* democracy get a list of all who support it and banject them all. Probably also cause an international incident.
Q: If you had to choose one thing you have accomplished in you TWP career to be remembered for, what would it be? – Zoran
A: I don't know if I've accomplished anything worthy of remembering to be honest, there isn't one moment that stand out as a "Remember Tera when he did the thing" moment. I really don't know.. my comic? Oh! How about 2 time prom king/queen! Yea... I'm claiming the title for this last prom since it was never chosen. Fite me.
Q: Can you tell us the story about South Lebanon? – Nagaraningrad
A: You'll have to go read the post for a proper retelling of the tale... or that's a thing you'll have to ask me in VC... there is far to much to type in respects to both South Lebanon operations.
Thank you Tera for answering the questions of our Hall members! After this successful Q&A, another one has started on the forum for Hall members to participate in. Our deputy minister of WAR, Aluminum Oxynitride (ALON), has volunteered to face the TWP Inquisition on the off-site forums and can be found here.
That’s right, the West still has elections! The elections were delayed this time but they still happened! Like last time, Hall of Nations (HoN) members voted on two positions, the Guardian of the HoN and the Speaker of the HoN. This election had a lower turnout than the previous one, with 29 members voting as opposed to 32 four months ago.
For the position of Speaker, Blue Bubble, Santos-Dominius (iOctagon), Aluminum Oxynitride, and I (Zoran) were nominated for the position, although ALON and iOctagon declined their nominations. iOctagon said it was due to real life responsibilities, and ALON declined due to having served an extra long term back when they were Speaker due to reworking the purpose of the Hall of Nations. I won the election with 17 votes, while Blue received 12 votes. As the person who won a second term, I would like to thank those who put their confidence in me and I hope to continue to serve the region the best I can in bringing activity to the Hall.
As for the position of HoN Guardian, three nations were nominated for the position, United Adaikes, Fhaengshia, and Nagaraningrad. United Adaikes rallied a total of 14 votes, followed closely by Fhaengshia with 12 votes, and Nagaraningrad with 3 votes. Asked about their victory, Adaikes told The Western Post: “We’re going to continue doing things that are good for TWP and the Hall. But the main agenda now is to get back activity and engagement up and lure more members, new and old, to citizenship. So, our plans this term and going forward are anchored towards that. #ForTheWest”.
The Western Post is the current newspaper of our region, composed by a staff of over 10 members that are tasked with writing about the region's recent events, updates, real life topics, and more. Editions are published at the start of every month—a streak that has been unbroken for over two years, starting back in September 2019 when the newspaper was still called The West Pacifican. In order to celebrate the one year streak, then-Delegate Bran Astor decided in August 2020 to make the name change as part of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs' reform into the Cultural Trust. The newspaper staff then moved out of the ministry and into one of the Trust's newly-founded communities, the News Group, starting to publish under the name of The Western Post. But the West Pacifican's has a history of over half a decade, so a special article on its history was written in order to celebrate this occasion.
The history of The West Pacifican starts in late 2015. In order to explain its creation, however, we need some historical context. 2015 was an eventful year for the region, with a total of four different delegates serving throughout the year. In late June and early July, the transition from long-term resident Darkesia and promising newcomer United russoasia happened, and one of United RussoAsia's actions while in the delegacy was to create a regional newspaper called "Dass Nachrichten." However, United RussoAsia is better remembered in the region for the action of handing their own delegate nation to the invader group DEN, which led natives to start a resistance and eventually remove United RussoAsia from the seat, banjecting the nation soon after. Mediobogdum then served as transitional delegate until Elegarth assumed the seat in November. In regards to the newspaper, nobody in the region wanted to continue United RussoAsia's version, of course, so the solution was to start anew.
Elegarth's term then saw the creation of The West Pacifican, with its first few editions overseen by Zogradia. The first edition contained an introduction to this newspaper, as well as articles about the annual Z-Day event and the regional military—it was the only edition of 2015, with the second one only published in April 2016 and mainly focused on that year's april fools event, the first World Assembly Secretary-General election. Zogradia further published two more editions for May and June of 2016, with short articles mostly focused on roleplay events. This was the end of Zogradia's publications, though, and the newspaper soon went into inactivity for several months.
The next edition would only be written in October 2016 under Big Bad Badger's delegacy, and published by Neenee. Oddly enough, it was published with the title of Volume 3, meaning that there are now two editions numbered 3 and 4. Regardless, this was an interesting edition featured an in-depth interview with then-Delegate Badger, conducted by The Holy Principality of Saint Mark (Halo). Halo then took on the mantle of editing The West Pacifican for most of 2017 and published several editions, a contribution also mentioned in their commendation. The first of those was published in January 2017, notably featuring the first Delegate's Discourse, an idea that would soon become a regular article for many more editions, and an original story written by Fujai. Later volumes published by Halo often featured interesting happenings in the region, such as a new treaty in Volume 5, a citizen's judicial appeal for a banjection in Volume 6, and a spotlight on the region's democratic aspects in Volume 7.
Halo stepped down as Editor-in-Chief in late 2017, although their contributions as author would still be present in several editions in the following years. Sylven (Lost wolves) then assumed the role during November that year, publishing Volume 8 that featured the first Delegate's Discourse by Davelands, who had ascended to the seat the previous month. Further editions published by Sylven often featured and interviews with various players, both experienced TWP residents and known visitors from afar, short stories written by Skymoot, ministry updates, and other interesting content. This was the case with volumes nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen, all spearheaded by Sylven. For example, Volume 10 featured an interview with former Guardian and Delegate Mediobogdum, while Volume 12 contained a discussion with two former Delegates of Lazarus, namely Evil Wolf and Imkiville.
After Sylven retired in mid-2018, two new editors took their place—The Atlae Isles and Nrevyw (Wyvern). Atlae published Volume 14 that notably featured Delegate Neenee's ascension speech. Wyvern published the three next editions, namely Volume 15 containing mainly future plans by the then-Delegate and Ministers; Volume 16 featuring an interview with a foreign visitor and military updates; and Volume 17 with an article about the Westbucks Café and an introduction to NationStates Sports roleplay. However, after Volume 17's publishing in January 2019, another period of inactivity happened and several months passed without any new editions. This would continue until Bran Astor's initiative as then-Minister of Internal Affairs to revive The West Pacifican in September 2019.
The first header of The West Pacifican, used from September to November 2019.
The revival of the newspaper came with the publishing of the September 2019 edition, also marking the end of volume titles in numbers, as the plan from that time on was to publish monthly (even though numbers are still used in the list of publications for the sake of continuity). This edition saw the return of the Delegate's Discourses, now authored by then-Delegate Halo, and also introduced puzzles. October 2019's highlights were a N-Day action report and Recuecn's article about their travel to the East African nation of Rwanda, while the November 2019 saw Halo's final discourse as Delegate, a recapitulation of Z-Day, the first appearance of the Ask Dilber column, and more.
Following these three successful editions, under then-Delegate Bran Astor, new staff and editors were recruited. Some of the December 2019 edition's highlights were an interview with Westwind by Reçueçn and Darkesia's article about chocolate in Christmas traditions, whereas for the January 2020 one it was the first ever Trading Cards-related article and the introduction of Podium's satire column, and for the February 2020 one some interesting articles were Reçueçn's investigative piece on Friday Karaoke and Halo's update on interregional events. Meanwhile, the March 2020 edition holds a special place in my heart due to featuring the first ever article written by me (Giovanniland)—a piece on villains within the Trading Cards game—besides other notable articles such as a retrospective of the first ever TWP Rugby World Cup.
Moving on, the April 2020 edition had a special theme, as it was around the time of publishing that the Crab King's invasion of the region happened. Besides featuring these evil happenings (the author's stance is staunchly anti-crab), this volume also contained some actually interesting pieces, such as an interview with the organizers of the yearly Festival of the Perfections event, and the first one of Teralyon's many comics. As for the May 2020 one, it was a very eventful edition, with Nieubasria highlighting the success of the original iteration of Commend Halo, Fuentana authoring the first ever Foreign Affairs Feature, and Reçueçn writing a retrospective of the Burning Marsupial festival.
The special Pride-themed header for the June 2020 edition of The West Pacifican.
After May, three more editions still labeled as The West Pacifican were published. The June 2020 edition featured not only a Pride-themed header and article, but also various other articles such as a recapitulation of the 2020 West Osi High School Prom and a special feature of haikus posted weekly on our Regional Message Board during Haikuesday. Highlights of the July 2020 one were the retrospective of Dalimbar's Drag Race and of the first TWP Summer Olympics, as well as an interview about card farming within the West Pacific, while for the August 2020 one, they were a piece on the newly-appointed Guardians and a feature with interesting questions made during Darkesia's AMA, a part of the yearly Casserole of Humanity event.
The Western Post
As you read at the start of this article, the name change from The West Pacifican to The Western Post took place in August 2020, the same time as the Ministry of Cultural Affairs turned defunct and gave the way to the Cultural Trust. Therefore, it was no surprise that the September 2020 edition would feature a piece on the Cultural Trust, as well as a Foreign Affairs Feature an Europeia and various other articles. The next edition in October contained, among other things, a spotlight of card collections in the region and a poetic recap of N-Day, while for the November 2020 one, notable articles were a piece on the Delegate transition from Bran Astor to Dilber and a retrospective of both the N-Day and Z-Day events. And the last edition for the year was of course published in December, featuring a paradoxical interview of Dilber by Fuentana, a retrospective on Bran Astor's term, the first appearance of the Art Tips with Fujai column, and more.
After the new year, more editions were released. The January 2021 one saw interesting articles such as the first edition of the Haiku Review (by the trio of Fhaengshia, Fuentana and United Adaikes, and a recapitulation of the various Christmas-themed events during the previous month, collectively called the Midwinter Shenanigans. One month later, the February 2021 edition was published and featured the new Questions & Branswers column, an article about interregional events in January, and many others. For the March 2021 edition, highlights were an interview about the Festival of the Perfections and Hertfordshire and Jammbo's special Foreign Affairs Feature on Osiris, whereas for the April 2021 one it was a piece on the now complete card collection of every Season 2 TWP card, among others.
Finally, talking about more recent times, we have the four most recent editions. In May 2021, some interesting articles were the first appearance of the Culture in Focus column, a retrospective of the 3rd edition of Burning Marsupial, and a Foreign Affairs Feature on regional flags across the multiverse. Meanwhile, for the June 2021 edition, highlights were a piece on the TWP Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, and a special "Haiku" Review that actually talked about limericks. Most recently, the July 2021 edition saw the introduction of a new column called Blue's Reviews (authored by Blue Bubble) and the retrospective of another TWPride Month including Dali's Drag Race, whereas the August 2021 contained, for example, a philosophical piece on happiness, and Zoran's spotlight on interesting aspects of TWP Roleplay. This brings us to the end of the history section, but fret not, as this article also contains some interesting data and graphs on the various editions to bring it to a perfect end.
Data and Graphs
For this part of the article, information about the upvotes, views and total characters (including spaces and code, so the number you actually read is a bit lower) of each edition every since late 2015 was collected. All stats were retrieved on the night of 29th August of 2021, meaning that dynamic information such as upvotes and views may have changed since then. The stats were then added to one graph, with adjustments on their numbers so that all three could be compared, which can be seen in the sidebar, or in the link for a better visualization.
For those who want to see the stats on their own and with unchanged numbers, though, you can see each of them in the respective links: upvotes, views and characters. In the three graphs, editions are listed by their number, so use the list of volumes if you are unsure of which edition certain information refers to. Note that issues of The West Pacifican are simply referred to by their volume number, while the ones of The Western Post also have a P besides the number.
Looking at the graphs, a general upwards trend can be seen in all three graphs, which means that our newspaper has continuously increased its size (characters) and public reach (upvotes & views). The February 2021 edition has 58 upvotes, closely followed by the June 2020 one with 55 and the June 2021 one with 53. As for views, the uncontested winner is the June 2020 edition, which achieved 900 views, many more than the second-placed July 2020 one with 699 and the May 2021 one with 617. Finally, in regards to character count, the top three can be found within the four most recent editions—the June 2021 edition has 75,117 characters, followed by the May 2021 one with 67,562 and the August 2021 one with 65,373.
Anyways, that is all for this article! We hope you have liked this retrospective of one year of the Western Post—many interesting tales have been told so far here by many authors, and we look forward to many more to come. Furthermore, if you'd like to participate in the News Group, be sure to check in our Ministries dispatch the instructions on how to join. As the footer of every The Western Post edition says, the Western Post is brought to you by The West Pacific Cultural Trust, The West Pacific News Group, and viewers like you—and it certainly wouldn't be possible without everyone's contribution, so all we have to say is thank you.
By guest writer Santos-Dominius
Introduction by Giovanniland: Hello there, dear reader! Culture in Focus is a column inaugurated by me on the May edition of the Western Post, focusing on various real-life cultures that one or more members of this region experience in their daily lives. Several countries have been featured already, namely Brazil, Peru, Australia and England. We now continue the series by traveling to Asia, which did not have any country described in this feature until now. But I won't talk about it further and instead give Santos-Dominius the floor.
Hello! My nation is called Santos-Dominius, but iOctagon (or iO) is what I go by. I hail from the city of Hong Kong, China, one of the busiest and most advanced metropolises in Asia and in the world. Even though most people think about skyscrapers when HK is mentioned, the “Pearl of the Orient” is far more than just that—it’s a melting pot of diverse cultures and arguably where East meets West.
Hong Kong’s history is one of the greatest modern success stories in Asia. The earliest known human traces in the city were dated to 35,000—39,000 years ago during the Paleolithic period. During the Middle Neolithic period though, around 6000 years ago, was when humans really started to congregate in Hong Kong, which became a fishing village and later a Qing Dynasty naval fortress. After the UK won the 1st Opium War against Qing China, Hong Kong Island was ceded to the British in 1842, and the Kowloon Peninsula soon followed in 1860. The British colony of Hong Kong finally reached its modern boundaries in 1898 when the UK obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories.
What followed was decades of economic development and swift urbanisation under British stewardship. Owing to its advantageous coastal location in southern China, Hong Kong was positioned by the British as a convenient gateway to the rest of mainland China, and thus became an entrepôt. During World War 2, the Japanese invaded and occupied Hong Kong for 3 years and 8 months, causing a massive population efflux, but the city was returned to the British when the war ended. What followed after the war was continuous and uninterrupted development. During the 1946-49 Chinese Civil War, many skilled Chinese labourers and merchants fled south to Hong Kong, thus laying the foundation for its rapid industrialisation in the 1950s. It became the first of the Four Asian Tigers to transform into a manufacturing hub, and living standards were greatly improved as public housing was constructed, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) metro system was built, and welfare was expanded.
When rising labour and property costs caused Hong Kong’s competitiveness to decrease, it once again flexibly transformed swiftly into a service-based economy, and became a global financial and shipping hub by the 1990s. The city also became more multicultural as people from across Asia flocked to it in search for better work and life. When the New Territories’ 99-year-lease expired, the UK returned Hong Kong as a whole to China, thus completing its evolution from a fishing village in the middle of nowhere to a thriving world city characterised by its fusion of Western and Eastern cultures as a result of being under two overlords.
Nowadays, Hong Kong is a vibrant city of 7.5 million people that speaks quite a few languages, with Cantonese, British English and Mandarin Chinese the most popular ones in that descending order. We are not independent, for we are a “Special Administrative Region” (SAR) under China, but we do enjoy a high degree of autonomy guaranteed by our very own mini-constitution called the Basic Law. We have our own leader—Carrie Lam, who is the Chief Executive—but the Chinese central government has the final say on most matters, especially important ones.
As a result of British colonial governance and a majority-Chinese population, Hong Kong is a diverse city where cultures from all across the world meet and mix. Let’s explore one of the best things about cultures—food! Although many Western cuisines are present and popular, Hong Kong’s predominant cuisine is Cantonese, and there are a lot of hidden gems. Take dim sum for example, it refers to a wide variety of Chinese dishes in small portions, which are enjoyed in Chinese restaurants for breakfast and lunch. They are usually served in steam baskets that are very recognisable. Spring rolls, a popular appetizer, are filled with (usually) minced pork, shredded carrot and other vegetables and wrapped with a layer of fried pastry skin. Other rolls like rice noodle rolls are also common too! For those who want something heartier, let me introduce you to lo mai gai, which is glutinous rice filled with chicken, wrapped in a dried lotus leaf and steamed; and cha siu baau, a barbecue-pork-filled bun.
Besides Cantonese dishes, there are also a wide variety of other foods and drinks. Hong Kong-style milk tea is a favourite—a mix of multiple types of black tea, pu'er tea and evaporated milk. This mix is added to a sackcloth bag (which reportedly makes the final product smoother), coupled with water and brought to a boil, then simmered. Yuenyeung is also a popular drink—it is a 7:3 mix of HK-style milk tea and coffee, and the name refers to pairs of mandarin ducks (yuanyang), which comprises one grey and one white duck. As for baked goods and pastries, the pineapple bun is my personal favourite. It has no pineapple in it, but the characteristic topping does look like the exterior of one! The HK egg waffle is an underrated delight too, as it's ranked No. 1 in a recent HK street snack popularity list. And don’t forget the mooncake, an indispensable baked delight traditionally eaten on the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is about lunar appreciation as well as familial unity and togetherness.
Although I’ve introduced you to Hong Kong’s cuisine, the city isn’t only unique because of its food. Its popular culture is worth noting too! Hongkongers have a strong work ethic, and are usually willing to work at every moment in a given day, whether it be day or night. We are also determined and have a strong bond with each other, with the iconic Lion Rock Spirit as a great representation of who we are as a people. Derived from the locally popular song “Below the Lion Rock”—the theme song of the eponymous 1970s TV series—the Lion Rock Spirit enshrines the values of solidarity between Hongkongers, valiance, perseverance, and strength in collective numbers and unity. The following lyric summarises it all: “Of one mind in pursuit of our dream, all discord set aside, with one heart on the same bright quest, fearless and valiant inside. Hand in hand to the ends of the Earth, rough terrain no respite, side by side we overcome ills, as the Hong Kong story we write.”
Hong Kong is also a fast-paced city. Unlike other destinations and places across the world that are laid-back and relaxed, Hong Kong never stops. Our metro trains run frequently on time, our pedestrians walk briskly and sharply, and we prefer to get things done quickly. These characteristics apply to all facets of society, whether it be constructing a new building, doing business, paying taxes or simply working as part of the job, Hongkongers are speedy, efficient and dive right into the deep end. Those who have visited Hong Kong before will also know that Hongkongers are orderly. Our public transportation, like our buses and metro, usually run frequently and are incredibly on time. Speaking of transportation, Hong Kong is also home to the minibus. Think “Ford Transit” or “Mercedes-Benz Sprinter”, and then imagine that as a cheap and fast form of public transport! Our transportation network covers most of the city fairly well, to the point where I can confidently say that you can get to anywhere in Hong Kong in under 3 hours—as long as you’re on public transport.
Life in Hong Kong
Apart from a vibrant culture, tantalising cuisine and a storied history, Hong Kong is also a great place to live in in some aspects. For example, Hong Kong’s world-class education can really empower you—if you’re up for hard work, of course. Although the education system is famously brutal and extremely stressful, it is one that’s built to help you earn high grades and nice-looking report cards if you work incredibly hard. Hong Kong’s higher education institutes are also excellent: the University of Hong Kong (HKU) is ranked as the 25th best university in the entire world by QS World University Rankings.
Hong Kong also has a fantastic environment. Despite being a highly urbanised metropolis, the city has managed to preserve its environment wonderfully. It’s not exaggerating to say that one can literally go from the heart of the city to a hiking trail in the hills in less than half an hour! Some of Hong Kong’s best trails include Dragon’s Back (which I’ve personally hiked before), Sunset Peak, Lantau Peak and of course Victoria Peak itself, which is so popular that locals simply call it the Peak.
Thank you for reading this article about Hong Kong! See you all in the next edition for another Culture in Focus article.
Furthermore, if you like this concept, then the Western Post invites YOU to talk about your own real life country's culture—your article will then be featured in an upcoming edition of the Western Post. Please contact Giovanniland by telegram or by Discord at Giovanniland#8272 if you are interested!
The West Pacific is a region with a great history, and many members that have impacted the NationStates community at-large. For these contributions, some of our former Delegates or long-term residents have been officially recognized by the World Assembly Security Council in the form of a commendation or condemnation. Examples are Punk Reloaded (#65), TAO the Watcher (#167), Westwind (#168), Darkesia (#279), Minineenee (#348), and of course Halo, which is the topic of this article.
Halo (The Holy Principality of Saint Mark) is a former Delegate of the West that reigned from November 2, 2018 to November 7, 2019 for a total of 370 days. Many of his contributions to this region are foreign affairs-related, ranging from the creation of interregional festivals to the crafting of treaties and improvement of the Foreign Affairs ministry; but others were focused on other aspects like regional culture and new nation integration, even being the one to convince me to get more involved in the region. Furthermore, Halo has also contributed to several other regions. These include Edlhus (as the founder Marcarius Halohin), Karma (as the former Sage Pyo Karma), Osiris (as Priest Nebemakhet), The Sasquatch Republic (as Bukwas), and Albion (as Culdi).
For contributions to these regions and many others, Halo was honored with a Commendation by Security Council Resolution, authored by The Unified Missourtama States and co-authored by Teralyon. This resolution was initially drafted as part of the WA module of the University of the West Pacific, which includes an authoring task, and later carried on by both authors after ended. It was posted in the SC forums during March 2020, gathering comments for around a month, and was finally voted on and passed by all members of the WA on April 26th 2020. The total of votes was unusually high for the WA, with 16,164 (70.7%) votes for and 6,701 (29.3%) votes against, but this can be explained by the fact a surge of new nations caused by a YouTube video had just happened weeks earlier.
Other specific details about the original proposal were later covered on the May 2020 edition of The West Pacifican, featuring an interview by Nieubasria with the two co-authors, in which they told readers about the drafting process and how they felt during the writing. For that reason, this article will not talk too much more about SC#302, and instead we'll fast forward to December 2020. This was when the repeal of SC#302 was drafted and passed. The main reasons for its repeal were inaccuracies in the original resolution and lack of detail in some parts of the now-repealed text, which were indeed present. It was, however, pushed in an aggressive way by the author and their friends, instead of a more friendly approach of working together to repeal and replace the text. Therefore, this was met with indignation by many TWPers, and ended up in a heated debate which was only increased further by the action of quorum raiding against the repeal. Nevertheless, the repeal passed with 9,636 (69.4%) votes for—a slightly lower percentage if we compare it to the votes for the original resolution—and 4,252 (30.6%) against.
While the passing of the repeal was a moment of despair for many supporters of the original resolution, others realized the opportunity to start working on a replacement that answered the concerns brought by the repeal. Therefore, plans started to be coordinated by TWP and other regions Halo had contributed to, with a group chat created around the New Years' Day of 2021. Talks continued through January and February, and an initial draft was spearheaded by myself. However, due to my own focus on other various projects within NationStates and real life, the replacement draft was put on hold for some time. It was around late May that activity resumed, with myself searching information in both regional and NationStates forums, seeking input from people who had worked alongside Halo in the past, and later putting the proposal open for comments by anyone in the Hall of Nations—not only about content, but also about grammar and flow—before it went public in the Security Council forums. This continued until 4th July of 2021, when it was finally posted for any NationStates player to comment on.
Once it went live in the forums, many players from across the multiverse posted their thoughts on the thread. Some of the initial comments opposed the proposal due to WA non-compliance by the nominee, that is, that Halo did not follow a few General Assembly resolutions. However, this argument was dismissed by many others (including me) on the basis that the commendation did not touch any aspects of contributions as a WA author, instead focusing on region-building, so that the concern wouldn't have much to do with the content of the resolution. Meanwhile, useful feedback was also commented by several people, including SC regulars and resolution authors, for example Bhang Bhang Duc, Zukchiva, Refuge Isle, HumanSanity and The Unified Missourtama States (in no particular order). The feedback aided in the improvement of the text, which went through a total of four drafts in a period of around one month. For example, some clauses were removed from the first to the second draft in order to make way for more compelling arguments, while from the second to third it was mainly the format that changed—it went from a list of lists to a more narrative text. Finally, the fourth draft saw some minor changes and polishments, as soon the month of August would come and the proposal would be submitted.
In the evening of August 5th, the proposal was finally submitted by myself. While I was initially planning to manually campaign, Teralyon was very generous and decided to gift some stamps for free. In a few days the proposal had been approved by the required amount 6% of all delegates, but since other proposals had reached quorum beforehand, it only reached the voting floor in August 17th. The vote started at major update, and a few delegates with several hundred endorsements were ready to cast their votes early in order to influence the result (many nations tend to vote for the winning side, so getting an early lead helps). While the East Pacific, 10000 Islands, The Free Nations Region and Thaecia tried to cast votes against early on, their efforts were outmatched by The North Pacific, The West Pacific and The Pacific. Other major regions also voted in favor, such as the South Pacific, Lazarus, Osiris, Balder, The Rejected Realms, Europeia, Karma, The Leftist Assembly, The Communist Bloc, many member regions of the Augustin Alliance and the URA (United Regions Alliance), as well as countless others whose support is well appreciated. After three days, the proposal passed with 9,780 (76.0%) in favor and 3,091 (24.0%) against, which is a greater margin than both the original resolution and the repeal.
There are a few reasons to which the success of the proposal can be attributed to. A lot of detail was present in the replacement if we compare it to the original proposal—for example, the one line about Halo's contributions to Karma was expanded into two full clauses explaining Halo's contributions to new nation recruitment and retention, as well as training of the region's first diplomat and creation of a treaty. Furthermore, several actions like the introduction of TWP Cabinet meetings, founding of Edlhus, and creation of events like the Festival of the Perfections, and many more that can be seen in the new proposal text, had either not happened yet or not been mentioned at the time the original proposal passed, so they strengthened the point.
Meanwhile, certain clauses such as those referring to the East Pacific and NSToday were removed and made the way for stronger arguments—even though Halo did contribute to these regions or organizations, those actions weren't commendable. Finally, while the original proposal was largely organized in a list format (and even the first few drafts of the replacement also were), the final replacement draft was more of a narrative, just like other successful proposals. These points allowed the democratic votes of large regions—such as the North Pacific and Europeia's, where any WA member citizen and any citizen respectively can vote respectively—to end in a positive result unlike what happened with the original proposal, allowing for a larger vote margin.
Therefore, after the resolution passed, celebrations then ensued on our Regional Message Board and the Discord server—Fuentana's Today in the West posts announced the passage of the resolution and many residents congratulating both Halo for receiving the commendation, and myself for authoring it. Other regions also celebrated, especially those in which Halo has been one of the most important figures in the region's recent history. It can truly be seen that Halo's contributions have impacted the world in a positive way, and as the resolution says, "have created a kind and caring environment in several regions"—which is also a way to refer to the wonderful personality of the player behind the nation, even though that can't be directly referred to in a proposal due to SC rules. I am of course thankful for what Halo has done in this game (especially as they were Delegate of the West when I started playing and mentored me), and I hope other people also are. Everyone who voted for, if you're reading this, I thank you for your vote and wish you well in the future.
On this closing note, this is all for this article. Our region has some future plans in the Security Council, so perhaps in a future edition you will read about another commendation or condemnation for one of our members passed. See you until then!
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The Western Post Staff - Delegate-in-Editor-in-Chief: Dilber Editors: Fuentana, Fujai, Giovanniland – Staff: Aluminum Oxynitride, Blue Bubble, Bran Astor, Fhaengshia, Gryphonian Alliance, Nieubasria, Podium, Teralyon, United Adaikes, Zoran, and YOU
All your chocolate belongs to Darkesia
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