Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

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Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby askafroa » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:38 pm

I've lurked awhile and read the comic longer but this is my first actual post, hopefully it's not something that has been proposed a half million times already.

Anyway, we're told in the comic that nobody in erfworld really understands what Charlie wants. His side seems to function as a mostly neutral party, selling mercenary and non-combat services (Charlie mentions that he sells information, based on the archons' thinkagram charge it appears the side also sells various caster services to sides either without an appropriate caster at all or with one not at a current location.) He also appears to covet artifacts greatly.

With that noted, the rest of the speculation rests on two assumptions. The first is that units do not die of old age after a certain number of turns (we seem to have no real indication either way, though the lifespan of the average unit appears to be pretty short regardless.) The second is that, while there appear to be other ways to make money, the majority of money (and thus resources in general) in erfworld come seem to come in a non-renewable form (the only real evidence of this is what we know about the economy of Gobwin Knob though, things could be very different.)

So all in all, if these two assumptions are true... Charlie seems to be playing the long game. He wants to win, or at least survive. So he maintains a reputation as an extremely honest (if brutally literal) military contractor amongst erfworld, avoiding personal wars (based on the one charlscomm location we've seen, what cities he holds appear to be fairly defensible and I would speculate he generally doesn't do much city sacking except where his contract gives him a percentage of the spoils in addition to an upfront fee.) Presumably he's attempting to risk little and gain much by bringing in money beyond his upkeep costs as well as powerful magic items and artifacts. He may be hoping to survive, treasury intact, to the point that most other sides are poor because they've mined out the non-renewable resources at which point they will need to attack one another and seize treasuries more often to upkeep their armies, field cheaper units, or both. At this point if charlescomm has been saving for a long period of time, it will have the most powerful military on erf.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby Didgin » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:23 am

I believe that Charlie, just like Parson, was summoned from Earth many turns ago. That'd explain his out of the box thinking and his interest, understanding and sympathy twoards Lord Hamster. In that case, his strategy might just be along the line you've set.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby Mathamancer » Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:45 pm

Another thought that may be reflective of Charlie's strategic practice: Perhaps the Arkendish comes with an extraordinary upkeep cost to offset its great Thinkamancy powers, which he would need to supplement his income in order to meet.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby jabbersocky » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:48 pm

Another first time poster here so hello.

Going off what askafroa said about him building up his military. It may be possible hes preparing for a war on a MASSIVE scale. Im starting to think theres going to be a huge world war type senario involving sides fulled by each of the arkentools. That might explain why he'd beeen so keen to inlist the perfect warlord away from stanley.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby moose o death » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:47 pm

i hold a slightly different version in high regard, i think all the found tools and their users represent a aspects of the new erfworld. unique erfworlders will be the template for the new world. a world not in constant war but where each unit has choice. parson is the person who must unite them all. charlie must first be conqueered by parson or join parson through free will.

and if it takes anything less than ten years to happen i'd be very surprised. speculating on charlie is premature at best. we know absolutely nothing. to the point of not even knowing charlie is the attuned user of the arkendish. it's on the roof of charlescomm. unless charlie is the city itself it could be any unit of charlescomm holding it
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby Anton Gaist » Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:17 pm

The first thought that came to my mind was "10 years of Erfworld... sweet!". Now of course it's way too soon to know how long Erfworld will last in real time, but in the meantime, we still have a lot of story to go through.

As for Charlie, I think his is probably the strongest side in Erfworld. Not just physically, the amount of intel he's most likely accumulated on every other side would certainly be an advantage should he get involved in a conflict.

As for him being conquered or allying himself with Gotti, I doubt it. I imagined some time ago that if Wanda ever leave GK and go solo, taking her decrypted with her (specially at a critical time, such as during an attack on the city), Charlie would most likely swoop in to capture Gotti. No other side would want to capture him, that's for sure.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby moose o death » Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:52 pm

keep in mind book one took over a year. hardly makes sense to expect anything less than 5 years or else we'll have to have the story wrapped up by third book's end. so i will be surprised if the story takes less than 10 years to fully play out. we really are WAY too prematurely debating charlie. all we know about charlescomm is that they have the dish and charlie can see what's written in the eyebooks. charlie's gender is unknown, charlie's species is unknown, it's assumed but not known that charlie is attuned to the arkentool. charlie could just be an archon elite unit and is indigenous to that hex. or charlie could be the city itself . we really have nothing to base any speculation on yet.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby DevilDan » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:03 pm

Yes, we can guess about Charlie all we want, and I'm pretty sure that we'll be mostly wrong on every respect.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby Yosarian » Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:59 pm

askafroa wrote:The second is that, while there appear to be other ways to make money, the majority of money (and thus resources in general) in erfworld come seem to come in a non-renewable form (the only real evidence of this is what we know about the economy of Gobwin Knob though, things could be very different.).


Eh, I don't know that. Mines seem to be non-renewable, but we do know that all cities naturally make money each turn, more if they have a warlord doing regular inspections.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby moose o death » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:15 pm

it's entirely possible you could sell siege and or units as well. eg tv doesn't pop twolls, so they have a dollamancer. but if they had neither GK could sell them twolls at a markup
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby yay » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:16 am

siege "equipment", like the towers used at Knob, could probably be sold. but i don't think you can sell units. it would probably have the same effect of betraying your side, and the unit would have low loyalty, so who would want a bunch of disloyal twolls skulking around your cities. mercenary work is probably the only equivalent. natural duty > mathamancy

and to keep it relative to the opening thread, i think charlie is from our world like parson, and yes he wants to win: he's a gamer
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby DevilDan » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:31 am

Ah, yes, the laws of traditional storytelling demand that Charlie be another Earthling. I expect better from Erfworld.

Another reason why it might make sense to hire Charlie, say for magical security, is that it may be more reasonable to hire an archon than to risk a valuable caster that may be more useful in your home city.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby moose o death » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:55 am

i have to admit charlie being a gamer is too far removed for my liking.

i'm more willing to believe he's the city of charlescomm personified before him being a human, and i keep making that point as a joke or when i need an extreme example.

my most outrageous thought on the matter is charlie was stanley's first chief warlord and charlie did split off to form his own side. and that theories pretty poorly thought out at best.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby DevilDan » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:26 am

My most outrageous thought about Charlie currently is that he's somehow merged with the 'dish, not just thinkamantically but even physically.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby yay » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:30 pm

maybe Charlie is Elvis in hiding...

or Keyser Soze
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby Raza » Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:19 pm

Charlie being another earthling is an obvious option. I'm not sure if the story's going towards introducing Parson's friends as player characters, but if it does he's a very likely candidate.

For now though, Charlescomm seems to be a corporate culture inspired side - which fits perfectly well in Erfworld's mass of real world parodies and easter eggs, even without him coming from earth. And corporations do work like that, always looking for products to exploit, ways to strengthen their position among competitors and fields to monopolize top technologies on like the arkentools or Hamster's mathamancy bracer allow their users to. Within that theme, he shoudn't even have an underlying motive - it's just the game of turning wealth and power into more of the same.

I don't think he's the most powerful side around, or even among the very top, he's far too diplomatic for that, shrouding himself in neutrality and generally keeping his head smiling, his hand gloved and everything else invisible for people to guess at. Corporate thinking demands ruthlessness when it is cost efficient - if he could afford to go on a conquest of his own taking over unpopular or isolated sides, he would be. Probably under a PR guise of corporate fusions and 'exciting futures' to be had together.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby DevilDan » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:21 am

Raza wrote:Corporate thinking demands ruthlessness when it is cost efficient - if he could afford to go on a conquest of his own taking over unpopular or isolated sides, he would be. Probably under a PR guise of corporate fusions and 'exciting futures' to be had together.


Actually, we know that he's quite powerful: witness how he could have taken GK by himself. Whatever else, even if conquests were to his immediate advantage, he knows that attacking other kingdoms would place a bullseye on him, putting him at risk of being targeted by an RCC-type alliance.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby moose o death » Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:45 am

i don't think GK was ever really in the top ten military powers either. transylvito doesn't seem to have taken them too seriously based on what units they DIDN'T send.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby Raza » Sat Sep 26, 2009 7:24 am

DevilDan wrote:
Raza wrote:Corporate thinking demands ruthlessness when it is cost efficient - if he could afford to go on a conquest of his own taking over unpopular or isolated sides, he would be. Probably under a PR guise of corporate fusions and 'exciting futures' to be had together.


Actually, we know that he's quite powerful: witness how he could have taken GK by himself. Whatever else, even if conquests were to his immediate advantage, he knows that attacking other kingdoms would place a bullseye on him, putting him at risk of being targeted by an RCC-type alliance.

He could have taken the weakened-up Garrison during a timespan of exactly one opportune turn, after being provided perfect magical intelligence. And GK was considered a weak side even before all the preceding combat and Stanley flying off with the air force.

That move shows that Charlie's calculated, mobile and able to strike decisively when the opportunity presents itself - well, sortof, as he did get diplomancied into passing up and ended up losing his strike force because of it - but it's not really a stunning display of numbers. Archons are flashy, but we've seen with the Dwagons how quickly a force of ~30 powerful units can bite it under the wrong circumstances. Moreover, it's Charlie doing exactly what I said; he makes it look like he can do anything he wants at any time he pleases, but for all we know those archons were the better part of his hand and he spent who-knows-what limited resources to get them there in one turn.

I think Charlie got bit badly in that encounter. He figured it a safe moment to go all out and promptly got his hand chewed off. He achieves most of what he does through psychology and intelligence as leverage for relatively small force; what he had there was probably his military budget for years worth of mercenary work.
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Re: Playing to win - speculation regarding charlie

Postby DevilDan » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:56 pm

Yes, those were very specific circumstances. A massive number of bats will be hard for very large units like dwagons to take down, even using attacks like fireballs. After all, a dwagon can only bite and toast so many of them in each of its attacks, giving the rest of the swarm a good chance to take their hitsies. That's why fleets need destroyers and other support craft.

My point, Raza, is that he is certainly strong enough to take over cities that surround him, in all likelihood.

Which is where we agree: Charlie is as effective as he is because of his smarts.
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