Frequently Asked Questions
What NationStates is all about.
How to play.
Troubleshooting, tech talk, and general help.
How to avoid the wrath of admin.
FAQ doesn't solve your problem? Visit the Getting Help page.
So what is this?
NationStates is a free nation simulation game. You create your own country, fashioned after your own ideals, and care for its people. Either that or you deliberately torture them. It's really up to you.
Is it a serious political thing, or just for fun?
Well, you can play it either way. NationStates does have humorous bent, but that's just because international politics is so inherently funny.
Who's Jennifer Government?
Jennifer Government is a novel by Max Barry, on which NationStates is based. The book is set in an ultra-privatized world, of the sort you can create in NationStates, if you're mean enough.
Why did you make this?
Because it seemed like a fun idea, and a way to let people know about my novel Jennifer Government. With luck, some of the people who play NationStates will buy the book. Then my publisher will think I am a left-field marketing genius, instead of a chump who blew four months on a web game when he should have been working on his next novel.
How do I play?
Create a nation and follow it from there. You'll be asked to choose a name for your nation, a motto, a national animal, and a currency. Then you answer a short questionnaire about your politics, which will determine whether your nation is authoritarian or libertarian... conservative or liberal... compassionate or psychotic... you get the idea.
Why do you want my e-mail address?
So you can recover your password, should you forget it, and be notified if your nation is about to be deleted for inactivity. Also, if you decide to join the World Assembly, you have to verify your e-mail address in order to enforce a one-WA-nation-per-player rule. That's it. There's no spam here.
Originally, players were e-mailed updates about their nation, but that lasted exactly two weeks in late 2002, back when I thought this site was going to mostly just be for me and my friends.
How do I win?
Ah, but what is "winning," grasshopper? There is no way to win as such. Which is better, a left-wing civil rights paradise with no money, or a right-wing economic powerhouse where the poor are left to fend for themselves? (That's a rhetorical question.)
One way to succeed, at least in a sense, is to make it onto the top rungs of a World Assembly report. These are compiled once per day, one for each Region and one for the entire world. Nations are ranked on anything from economic strength to the most liberal public nudity laws (the WA has a lot of time to fill in). There's a certain glory in making it onto one of those.
Nations ranked near the top of a World Census report receive a trophy icon, displayed on their nation page: there are icons for Top 10%, Top 5%, Top 1%, and #1. A region must have at least ten members for one to receive a Top 10% icon, at least 20 members for a Top 5% icon, and at least 100 members for a Top 1% or #1 icon.
How do I go to war against another nation? Or trade with them?
In one sense, you can't. NationStates doesn't include these things—because it's a simple game, and because they would bias things in favor of militaristic and capitalist nations. One of the nice things about NationStates is that you can craft a nation into your idea of Utopia without having to worry about such pragmatic concerns as national defence.
There are, however, two types of wargame that have been developed by the NationStates community. One is regional invasions, where nations attempt to move into another region and topple the Regional Delegate; the other is an in-depth role-playing game that takes place in the International Incidents forum.
Many people have suggested a more sophisticated version of NationStates, with trade and military conflicts, but this is unlikely, as it would fundamentally change who we are. At its core, NationStates is a political game, not a wargame.
Issues & Politics
What are issues?
Once or twice a day, you'll face an issue, and need to decide what to do about it. How you respond will determine almost everything about how your nation evolves.
There's no micro-management in NationStates! You control your nation by making broad policy decisions, not tweaking numbers.
I don't agree with any of the options on this issue!
Dismiss it! This is the equivalent of ignoring an issue until people stop talking about it. If you were a real government, you'd do this all the time, of course, but in NationStates it's more interesting if you actually respond to issues.
How do I change my classification?
Your nation's Category is determined by how much personal, economic, and political freedom you permit in your nation. For example, a "Conservative Democracy" will usually have free and open elections (high political freedom), a mildly regulated capitalist economy (moderate economic freedom), and relatively strict laws on issues such as marriage and sexuality (low personal freedom). An "Inoffensive Centrist Democracy" has moderate levels of all three freedoms, while a "Capitalist Paradise" has moderate personal freedom, moderate political freedom, and high economic freedom.
Nations also have a "type," such as "Republic" or "Empire." You can set this yourself. Once you have 500 million citizens, you can write your own type, rather than selecting from a list.
How do I increase my population?
This is the one thing that won't change no matter what you do. Population grows steadily over time.
Isn't this "simulation" biased towards your politics?
Very possibly. Not intentionally, though. And since there's no ultimate measure of success or failure in NationStates, any bias shouldn't affect much. For example, you don't win the game by having the strongest economy. It just means your nation has a strong economy.
Why is my nation so weird?
Everything is exaggerated a little. Well, okay, a lot. Your decisions affect your nation very strongly, so your country might seem like a more extreme version of what you were aiming for. Unless you have radical politics. In which case you probably think nothing's wrong.
My decision had unintended consequences!
Yeah, that'll happen. For one thing, see "Why is my nation so weird?" above. For another, pretty much every decision you make will involve a trade-off of some kind. It's kind of an exercise in choosing the best of a bunch of bad options. You might find this frustrating, especially if you're the kind of person who thinks the solutions to all the world's problems are obvious.
Is my nation liberal or conservative?
The left/right scale isn't used in NationStates. Because it's one-dimensional, it's not a very accurate way of measuring your politics. NationStates has three main scales: personal, economic, and political. In each case, you can be authoritarian (moral, or restrictive) or libertarian (liberal, or laissez-faire). For example, someone with left-wing politics might want high levels of personal freedom (e.g. no drug laws, gay marriage), low levels of economic freedom (e.g. high taxes, universal healthcare), and average levels of political freedom (e.g. open elections). A libertarian might prefer high levels of freedom on all scales. An authoritarian might want the opposite.
Are those three scales the same as Civil Rights, Economy, and Political Freedoms?
Mostly. "Economy" is affected by other factors, so a nation with high economic freedom can have a poor economy, and vice versa. But they're pretty close.
My nation is The Free Republic of Bruteland, but the Category is "Psychotic Dictatorship!"
You can call your nation whatever you like, but it doesn't make it true. Your Category is based on your laws, not your name.
Why can't I set my nation's Capital City, Leader, or Religion?
You can customize a few things about your nation in the Settings page. Three fields are initially greyed-out: Capital City, Leader, and Religion. You can edit these once your nation grows beyond a certain size and has passed relevant legislation, i.e. answered a particular daily Issue in a certain way.
Your nation might receive the relevant Issue as soon as it is large enough, or may have to wait. During this time the field displays "Unlockable: Awaiting legislation" in your Settings.
If you dismiss the Issue or select a choice that does not unlock the field, you may receive the Issue again in the future.
Who wrote all these issues?
I wrote the first thirty, back in the days when I thought nobody much would be interested in playing a political simulation game. I imagined NationStates as the kind of game you might stumble across, have fun with for a week or two, then move on. Then this entire community just popped into existence, as vibrant and dedicated as any on the internet, and it became clear that 30 issues just weren't enough. Rather than devote the rest of my life to writing them, I decided to ask players to submit their own issues, and let the moderators edit them into a form suitable for use in the game.
How do I submit a daily issue?
When your nation's population reaches 500 million, a link will appear at the bottom of your Issues page.
Which region should my nation be in?
Good question! It depends on what you're looking for. Anyone can create a region, and there are thousands of them. To find one, browse the tag cloud, or maybe find a nation you like and move there. Most regions are looking for new members, and you will probably receive a mini-flood of recruitment telegrams shortly after you arrive in the world.
You will begin in one of the Pacific regions (known as feeders): these tend to be large, vibrant, and somewhat spammy. Stay there if you like, or move somewhere else! You can shift regions whenever and as often as you like.
To change regions, find one and look for the link near the top that says, "Like what you see? Move to (region)!"
Does it matter?
Yes. Your region has its own message board and its own World Census rankings, so you should find somewhere you enjoy the company of your neighbors. And if you get involved in regional politics and the invasion game, it matters a lot.
The invasion what?
Okay, let's get this out of the way. In a region, the nation with the most endorsements is automatically appointed Delegate. This usually grants significant powers, including the ability to eject other nations from the region.
One way this can work is a region's residents endorse the nation they think would make the best Delegate, and that nation rules over it with a wise and gentle hand. Another way is that nations make private deals on who to endorse in order to make sure that their ally gets into power. A third way is a bunch of nations from a different region unexpectedly move in, endorse each other, and seize the Delegacy in a coup. This one is called "the invasion game" (also "raiding," or "R/D" for raiding/defending).
The invasion game is somewhat controversial: some people find it fun to crash into other people's regions, some people enjoy trying to stop them, and some think the entire practice should be banned.
Detailed information can be found in this forum post: "Basics of Military Gameplay."
The person who created a region is known as its Founder. Founders usually have complete power over their region, being able to eject other nations, password-protect it, establish and cancel Embassies, suppress message board posts, and modify the World Factbook Entry (its main description). However, many regions have no Founder, many have inactive Founders, and a few have non-executive Founders, which means the Founder has relinquished power. In these cases, the nation in charge is the Delegate.
The region's Delegate is the nation with the most World Assembly endorsements. It usually has the exact same powers as Founder, but a Founder can strip the Delegate position of power (by making it non-executive), while the reverse is not true. For this reason, a region with an active Founder is effectively immune to serious invasion.
Founders can administer their region as they see fit, but Delegates must spend "influence" in order to perform some actions. This limits the power of invader Delegates.
It's a measure of how well-respected a nation is in its region. Nations earn influence in a region the longer they remain there and the more endorsements they have. When a nation leaves, its influence in that region begins to decline.
The more influence a nation has, the more influence the Delegate requires to eject it from the region.
My region's WA Delegate is an evil dictator who abuses her power! Make her stop!
Delegates are elected: if you don't like yours, it's up to you to get her unelected! Delegates are free to use or abuse their power as they see fit.
The World Assembly
What's the World Assembly?
The World Assembly is the world's governing body. It's your chance to mold the world to your vision, by voting for resolutions you like and scuttling the rest. However, it's a double-edged sword, because your nation will be affected by any resolutions that pass. (Unfortunately you can't obey the resolutions you like and ignore the rest, like real nations.) In other words, it's a hot-bed of political intrigue and double-dealing.
Your nation can join the WA, but it's not compulsory. If you remain outside, you're unaffected by its decisions. If you're ready to mix it up in international politics, though, the WA is for you.
There are two main benefits to WA membership: you can vote on resolutions, and you can give and receive endorsements to and from other nations in your region, which detemines who is Delegate.
You mean like the United Nations?
Ha ha! Funny you should say!
Except in regions where the Founder has stripped the position of executive powers, a Delegate can alter the World Factbook Entry, set a password, eject other nations, suppress message board posts, establish and cancel regional Embassies, and more. Some Delegates use this power to keep the region safe and orderly; others do it to cement their grip on power. And some, it's a little of both.
A Delegate also represents the region before the World Assembly. She can review upcoming proposals for legislation and promote those she approves. When legislation reaches the resolution voting floor, she wields additional voting power over regular WA members: 1 extra vote for each endorsement. Delegates of large regions therefore have considerable influence over whether resolutions pass or fail.
A nation must have at least one endorsement to be elected Regional Delegate.
I'm a WA member! What should I do?
Endorse some other WA members in your region, as a way to signal you like their policies, or their cool flag, or their willingness to endorse you back, or whatever. The nation with the most endorsements is elected Regional Delegate: you can support the incumbent or push for change.
Be aware that some Delegates are more democratic than others. Some will happily allow a fair ballot; others will ruthlessly eject anyone they consider a political threat. Dictatorial Delegates must be overthrown by building opposition in stealth.
You can also contribute to NationStates international law! The World Assembly has two Councils, the "General Assembly and the Security Council, which each propose and pass resolutions. You may vote for or against any resolution at vote. Depending on how ardent you feel, you can also debate the issue in the WA forums, and discuss which stance your Delegate should take on your Regional Message Board.
How do I endorse another nation?
You can only endorse another nation if:
- You are both members of the World Assembly
- You are both in the same region
If this is true, the other nation will have an "Endorse [Nation Name]" button in its World Assembly section.
No. While you can have as many nations as you like, only one may be a World Assembly member at a time.
What if I sneak them in?
First, please don't. This is against the rules, and considered cheating. The game uses four different methods to detect WA cheats (also known as "multies") and when it finds them, expels them from the WA and prevent them from re-joining. Repeat or large-scale offenders are deleted.
I only have one WA nation but my brother has one and he sometimes uses this computer.
Unfortunately that's asking for trouble. We try to identify WA cheats accurately, but we have no way of telling exactly whose fingers are touching the keyboard at any given time. So unfortunately if you don't want to run the risk of being ejected from the WA (or worse), you shouldn't let anyone else operate WA nations from your computer, either.
Sharing a network or IP address is usually fine. The game does not rely on any single method of identifying WA cheats, but combines data from four methods to calculate the likelihood that multiple WA nations are operated by the same person.
What's the difference between the General Assembly and the Security Council?
The General Assembly is concerned with passing international law: resolutions to improve human rights, environmental standards, and the like. They have an immediate and material effect on all WA member nations, and can change your laws and category. For example, if you are a protectionist nation, and the WA passes a resolution promoting free trade, you may find your nation becoming abruptly more capitalist.
Broadly speaking, the General Assembly does not concern itself with individual nations or regions, but humanity as a whole. It has a vibrant role-playing community in the General Assembly forum, which debates and drafts legislation.
The Security Council, on the other hand, is very much about specifics. It passes resolutions that Condemn or Commend particular nations or regions, and authorizes Liberations, by removing a Delegate's authority to set a regional password (usually to restore order following its capture by invaders). Compared to the General Assembly, it is more concerned with gameplay (regional politics, invasions) than role-playing.
Both Councils function similarly in that they accept proposals, which enter the voting floor to be voted on as resolutions. Each Council may have a resolution at vote at the same time.
Can I propose a World Assembly resolution?
Yes, once you have at least two endorsements, you can also propose resolutions. If approved by enough Delegates, your proposal will be voted on by the entire World Assembly, and if passed, will become international law.
Over time, the WA has developed a significant body of protocol governing proposals. To maximize your chance of success, you should familiarize yourself with it. You can find out more in the WA forums.
Whether a proposal reaches the voting floor is determined by the Delegates. If at least 6% of all Delegates approve it, it is said to have attained quorum, and will enter the resolution voting floor at the next opportunity. If it fails to gather enough approvals, it will be dropped.
Getting a resolution up is no easy business, and usually requires support from many key players (especially Delegates of large regions who are active in the WA).
Why don't my proposals ever make it to resolutions?
The WA takes itself seriously and will not approve proposals it sees as inappropriate. There are two common mistakes inexperienced contributors make:
- Not reading the relevant rules for General Assembly Proposals or Security Council Proposals.
- Proposing something beyond the scope of the WA's authority. For example, proposals cannot change the rules or mechanics of the game itself, nor ask for new features. They should not reference events, people, or things in the "real world" that do not exist in NationStates.
The best path to success is to get involved in the forums: the General Assembly forum or the the Security Council forum. There you can meet key players, propose your idea as a draft, gather feedback, and build support even before your proposal hits the queue.
How do I approve a proposal?
You must be a Regional Delegate. If you are, then you will have an option to approve proposals when you view the list. By allowing unapproved proposals to fall by the wayside, Regional Delegates make sure that the WA only votes on worthy issues.
Can I make a resolution to add war to the game?
No. Well, you can, but I'm still not going to add war. The WA is not there to request new game features. I admit this would be nice: propose a change, vote it through, and BAM! The game gets better. But then, I would have to make the BAM! part happen. It would require me to spend so much time rewriting game code that I wouldn't be able to pursue my real passion, which is earning enough money to buy food, and staying sane.
WA resolutions are a way to bring all member nations into line on a particular issue; be that environmental, democratic, free trade, or whatever. Don't suggest game improvements there. They just clutter up the place. And they make people think, "Hey, yeah, that would be cool! Why doesn't that bum Max Barry get off his ass and do that?" I get e-mails.
Something's not working—what should I do?
My decisions on issues aren't being processed!
Decisions aren't processed immediately. It can take up to 12 hours for issues you've dismissed or taken a stance on to be processed, at which point legislation will be passed and a new issue will arise to take its place.
If you don't want to deal with issues so frequently, modify how often you receive them in your nation's Settings.
I'm not receiving new issues!
If your nation has five unaddressed issues, it won't get any more. You need to dismiss some first. Once you do that, you'll start to receive one new issue per weekday (or whatever time period you've set in your nation's "Settings").
If that's not it, make sure you don't have "Vacation Mode" enabled in your nation's "Settings".
I didn't receive my WA e-mail from NationStates!
First, check your nation settings and make sure that you have entered an e-mail address, and that the address is correct. If it is, your e-mail is probably being blocked by an anti-spam filter. This might be something in your e-mail client, but more likely is a program running on your ISP's server. Anti-spam filters aren't perfect, and so sometimes block e-mail from NationStates. Unfortunately there's not much you or I can do about this.
In your nation's Settings, check the box marked "Vacation Mode" and click "Update Settings". This will stop your nation from receiving new issues and grant it a longer grace period before it gets deleted for inactivity: 60 days.
How do I delete my nation?
You can't. I decided it's better to have people upset because they can't start over with the same nation name than people upset because their nations got accidentally deleted.
If you don't log your nation in, it will be deleted automatically in 28 days.
My nation has vanished!
First, make sure you're using the right name: "mynation" and not "the republic of mynation", for example. If it's really gone, there are two possible reasons why. If you haven't logged in for 28 days, it will have been automatically purged. Otherwise, a moderator may have removed it for breaching the site's rules.
Deleted nations can be restored: just try to log it in, and you'll be presented with an option to bring it back.
You can use some BBCode-style tags to improve the look of your telegrams, Regional Message Board posts, and (if you control a region) your regional World Factbook Entry. These are:
- Bold: [b]Hello[/b] becomes: Hello
- Italic: [i]Hello[/i] becomes: Hello
- Underline: [u]Hello[/u] becomes: Hello
- Regions: [region]The Pacific[/region] becomes: The Pacific
- Nations: [nation]Testlandia[/nation] becomes:
The Borderlands of Testlandia
You may optionally specify "short", "long", "flag" and "noflag" formats. If you omit these, the default is "long+flag".
The following tags work in Regional World Factbook Entries, but not telegrams or Regional Message Board posts:
- Links: [url=http://www.maxbarry.com]Hello[/url] becomes: Hello
- Colors: [color=blue]Hello[/color] becomes: Hello
- Horizontal lines: [hr] becomes a line
Go to your Telegrams page and click Compose New Telegram. In the "To:" box, you can list up to eight nations, separating their names with commas.
You can also address telegrams to a region or special group. A telegram sent to "region: Lazarus", for example, will be delivered to all current residents of Lazarus.
A telegram sent to more than one recipient is known as a Mass TG.
There are three ways to send a Mass TG:
- Address your telegram to a region or special group. This is fast and easy, but requires the purchase of telegram stamps. (With one exception: Delegates and Founders may send Mass TGs to their own region without stamps.) [Coming soon!]
- Manually send a copy to nations one at a time. This is free but slow. If you do this, take advantage of Telegram Templates, which speed the process up a little, eliminate the potential for errors, and provide you with consolidated Delivery Reports. Compose your TG and send it to the special address "tag:template", then follow the instructions to use the special token it gives you to send copies to other nations.
- Write a script or program to send TGs via the API. This is free but very slow.
The differences are:
- Mass TGs include Delivery Reports, so you can tell exactly who received the TG and who didn't. These are viewable in your Sent Items.
- Similarly, when used for recruitment, Mass TGs include Recruitment Reports,
which track who clicks a link from your telegram to your
region and subsequently move there:
- Mass TGs support personalization via the macro %NATION%, which expands into the name of the nation reading it. You can also use %TOKEN% to generate keys for off-site authentication.
- Mass TGs can reach large numbers of nations quickly and easily. For example, you can telegram all current World Assembly Delegates with "To: tag:delegates". You can also send telegrams to nations that don't exist yet, using "To: tag:new" or "tag:refounded", and nations will receive a copy of your message as they qualify for it (i.e. as they are created or refounded). With the exception of Delegates and Founders sending a TG to their own region, this functionality requires the purchase of Telegram Stamps. For a full list of available tags, open advanced telegram addressing by clicking the "+" button beside the "To:" box when composing a new telegram.
What are the rules on sending telegrams?
Generally, you can send telegrams as often as you like. The game has inbuilt "flood" control and may slow you down if you try to send a lot in a hurry—and, of course, you should stay within site etiquette rules and avoid spamming people with messages of little relevance.
Advanced users should be aware of a few more rules:
- A telegram that encourages the recipient to move regions is a recruitment telegram, and must be marked by checking the appropriate box before clicking Send. (The checkbox can be exposed by clicking the "+" beside the "To:" box.)
- Similarly, a telegram that encourages nations to vote on a World Assembly resolution or proposal must be marked as a campaign telegram.
- Scripts, bots, and browser tools must abide by site Script Rules. All automated telegram-sending must be done via the NationStates API.
Someone has taken control of my nation!
It is against the rules to hijack someone else's nation, and if we see someone do it, we'll ban them. If we don't see it happen, though, and someone changes your password and e-mail address, I'm afraid you're on your own. As far as the game is concerned, your government has been overthrown in a coup.
To prevent people accessing your nation, turn off auto-login in your Settings if you use a public computer. You should also choose a password that is not easily guessable.
I'm a teacher; can I use NationStates in my class?
Yes, some schools are doing very neat things with NationStates. If you're interested in using this site in an educational environment, please see the NationStates for Educators page.
How do I get a custom nation type?
Nations with populations over 500 million can write their own pretitle. Others, however, must choose from the drop-down menu.
It's free speech, so I can post whatever I like here, right?
Ahahahaha! Hahaha! Free speech! No, it's not. I run this web site, see, so you have to play by my rules. It's like my own Father Knows Best state.
What can I post?
You can discuss and argue about almost anything, so long as it's vaguely relevant to politics or NationStates and doesn't fall into any of the categories below. You don't have to be politically correct, but you must maintain a minimum standard of behavior.
What can't I post?
Any content that is:
This applies to your nation's name, motto, and other customizable fields, any messages you write, images you post, or any other content you upload or link to NationStates. If you do, your nation will be deleted. See the site's Terms & Conditions and One Stop Rules Shop for details.
Also prohibited is the practice of "griefing." Griefing is playing with the primary aim of annoying or upsetting other people. If you do this, the game moderators may take action against you.
Does that apply to my nation's flag?
You betcha. In fact, we're much stricter on nation flags than we are on forum posts, because they're not open for challenge and debate. If you want to make a political point, don't use your flag—use the forum, where other people have a right of reply.
I got into an argument with this idiot in the forums, and I got deleted and he didn't! How come you allow pro-Catholic argument, but when someone tries to tell the TRUE story of the coming of Christ—
Okay, let me stop you there. It might look as if you are being persecuted for your political views, but what most likely happened is you made a personal attack and your opponent didn't. No matter what the subject matter, if you don't conduct yourself in accordance with the rules of etiquette, you will get into trouble with the moderators. The best way to get your points across in the forums is to remain calm and respect other people's right to disagree with you.
Another player posted something offensive!
People get offended at different things, so first make sure it falls into one of the above categories. If it does, please report it to the game moderators using the Getting Help page, or if it's in the forums, to the Moderation forum.
Because our moderators are players who have volunteered to help out of the goodness of their hearts, please deal with lesser disputes without involving them. For example, if someone in your region is annoying you, your region's Founder or WA Delegate can eject them.
Can I steal another player's nation?
No. This is fraudulent behavior and breaches the site's terms & conditions. The same applies to any attempt to impersonate another player, including attempting to hack nation or region passwords.
Can I invade other people's regions?
Yes. See: Regions.