Defending is when a group of nations invades a region in order to preserve control for or return it to the "natives" of that region. When defenders are trying to prevent raiders from taking over, the operation is called a "defense." When defenders are trying to return control to the natives while a raider holds the Delegacy, the operation is called a "liberation" (though some raiders prefer to call it "counter-invasion"). When defenders invade a region once the raiders have left in order to restore a World Factbook Entry to its pre-raid condition, the operation is called "detagging."
NationStates players defend for a variety of reasons. Players who choose to defend rather than raid, however, usually defend because they believe (at some level) that it's the right thing to do. While defending provides the same sense of accomplishment that raiding does, defending is ultimately a reaction against raiding; it appeals to players who care more about protecting other regions than they care about the sheer 'fun' of conflict. Defenders claim the moral high ground (with varying degrees of credibility), and take part of their satisfaction from the knowledge that they've helped other players preserve their freedom and community.
What is update and why is it important?
"Update" is when the NationStates server recalculates and updates all information about nations and regions. Several things happen during update. In the list below, bold text indicates something which happens at both the major and the minor update (see below). All other events take place at the major update only.
National population increases.
World Census Reports are issued.
World Assembly resolutions finish voting and new ones arrive (at the beginning of update).
Nations receive new issues and issue effects are processed.
Influence increases (or decreases, for a nation that has left the region).
Inactive nations and empty regions cease to exist.
WA endorsements are verified and new WA Delegates are elected, if necessary.
It is important to know when a region updates for military purposes, because the risk of facing opposition or interference is smaller the less time you give your opponent to react. If you move into a region with less than a minute before the region updates, your opponent will have to work fast in order to stop you from taking the WA Delegacy.
When are the updates?
There are two updates every day: the major update (roughly 00:00-01:00 EST/EDT) and the minor update (roughly 12:00-13:00 EST/EDT).* Each update lasts for approximately an hour due to the sheer amount of processing time it takes for the server to update thousands of nation and region pages.**
The server updates the game by going through all the nations in a region before moving to another, so each region has its own individual update time during the hours in which the server is updating the game.
* EST (Eastern Standard Time) and EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) have been used for convenience here. It is customary to use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) in order to facilitate communication between players living in different time zones. However, NationStates relocated several years ago to a server in Canada, and update times now change along with Daylight Savings Time there. When Daylight Savings Time is in effect, the update changes from 05:00-07:30 GMT (major update) and 17:00-19:30 GMT (minor update) to 04:00-06:30 (major update) and 16:00-18:30 (minor update). To calculate the update time in your time zone, try a time zone calculator.
** When this guide was first written, each update took approximately one hour to complete. After the addition of new features (charts, statistics, etc.) to NationStates, each update lasted well over two hours thanks to the increased number of operations the server had to perform. Since the move to new servers, update is now back to a little over an hour.
How do I find out when a region updates?
In order to find out when a specific region updates, look for signs that the update is taking place (nations receiving new issues, nations ceasing to exist, etc.). The time that a region updates is relatively consistent from day to day. There seem to be larger variations in time, however, between the major and minor update, increasing in severity the later in the update a region usually falls. This is probably because only nations which receive two issues a day are receiving an issue during the minor update, plus world census reports and population changes are not being calculated, so it takes the server less time to process. The two update cycles begin exactly twelve hours apart, but less work for the server means that the minor update cycle completes earlier for each region. The difference is barely noticeable early in the update, but the cumulative effect of the faster update means that late-updating regions may update 5-10 minutes earlier during the minor update than they do during the major update.
What does 'I got caught in the update' mean?
After your nation has updated once, its endorsement will not be counted again during that update cycle. This is true even if you later move to a region where the update has not yet taken place. You will be able to endorse nations as usual and your endorsement will appear as one of their "Endorsements Received", but it will not be verified by the World Assembly when determining who becomes or remains the WA Delegate.
This means that if you want to participate in a military maneuver in a region with a late update time, you must either keep your nation in a region that updates later than the target region, or move your nation to a region that has already updated while you wait for the target update time. This is known as using a "forward base" or "jump point". Alternatively, you may create a new region just prior to update to use for this purpose, since newly created regions go through their first update at the end of the update cycle before being assigned a regular update time. This tactic, invented by Lone Wolves United, is known as using an "instant jump point".
What does "WA update pending: nation has __ verified endorsements" mean?
The phrase "WA update pending: nation has __ verified endorsements" appears below the list of endorsements received by a WA Delegate when the Delegate has gained an endorsement that was not counted and verified during the previous update. A verified endorsement is one which has been checked by the game to determine that it comes from a WA nation which has not already updated in another region.
The list of a Delegate's "Endorsements Received" and the number next to it reflect up-to-date (but unverified) endorsement activity, while the "verified endorsement" count represents the Delegate's endorsement count from the previous update.
What are pre-endorsing and update surfing and how do they work?
The list of endorsements on your nation page usually includes all nations who have endorsed you and are in the same region as your nation. When you change regions, your list of endorsements will change to reflect this. However, the game does not actually remove the endorsements of nations who endorsed you in a different region until your nation has updated. If you are endorsed by another nation and move to a new region, the endorsement will at first seem to disappear. But if that nation follows you to the new region, their endorsement will automatically reappear on your nation page. This can be used in two ways: to "pre-endorse" another nation or to "update surf."
"Pre-endorsing" means endorsing a nation prior to an invasion. It eliminates the need to give your endorsement to that nation again after moving into the target region, thus saving valuable time close to the update.
"Update surfing" means changing regions in order to avoid the update. As long as your nation does not update, it will retain all of the endorsements it has received, even though the nations endorsing you have updated.
Puppets and switchers
1. What is a puppet and why should I use one?
A puppet nation is any nation you control which you do not consider to be your 'main' nation. There are two main reasons why players use puppets:
1. To conceal their identity and allegiance from their enemies. Puppet nations often serve as spies, sleeper agents, and decoys.
2. To provide greater mobility and flexibility (see switchers, below).
A nation which has participated in even one military maneuver is considered a "dirty" puppet, since it can no longer be mistaken for a casual or innocent player. Dirty puppets are usually discarded by raiders, since invasions with dirty puppets can easily be spotted (and thereby prevented) by defenders who are tracking them. Defenders tend to continue using dirty puppets, since they usually have no need for secrecy. The need for clean puppets in a liberation attempt is the main exception, though one which modern defenders often ignore.
What is a switcher?
A switcher is a puppet nation that has applied for membership in the World Assembly and has received the acceptance letter via email, but has not yet joined by clicking the link in that email. Before you click on the link, be sure to resign WA status on any other WA nation you may control. Because you are only allowed to have one nation in the World Assembly at any given time, you will not be able to join if one of your puppets using the same email address* is already a member of the World Assembly. In addition, the link that you clicked will no longer work and you will need to reapply. Unused WA validation emails remain valid for 28 days.
* In the past, NationStates would not allow you to use the same email address as a current World Assembly member to apply for WA membership with another nation. This meant that you had to create multiple email addresses in order to create switchers. You also had to keep track of your WA status at all times, so you did not accidentally have more than one nation in the WA at once ("multiing"). The system put into place in November 2012 is designed to keep you from multiing by accident, as long as you use the same email address for all your WA applications. If you choose to use different email addresses to create switchers, you are responsible for making sure that you do not multi by accident. Nations caught multiing are permanently banned from the World Assembly. Using multiple email addresses is therefore highly discouraged for your own safety.
When are switchers used?
Switchers are used to quickly switch WA status from one nation to another, usually in one of four situations:
1. A player's current WA nation has been banned from the target region.
2. A player has accidentally allowed their WA nation to update just before it is needed for a military maneuver. In this case, the player needs to switch WA status to a nation that has not yet updated in order for their endorsement to count.
3. A player wishes to participate in multiple military maneuvers during a single update.
4. A player wants to participate in a military maneuver, but does not want to move their current WA nation from its current region (for reasons of secrecy, security, or sentiment).