Enlightened leadership can make all the difference. Even with superior numbers, a team without fast thinking people at the helm will find that it will soon be cannibalized by smaller but better organized teams. So what makes for great commanding?
Too many cooks...
The danger of too few commanders, however, is that good ideas might never come to the table. An atmosphere conducive for players to contribute tactical suggestions via team chat is one compromise.
The various functions that a commander has to perform can be grouped into four broad "commander types":
1. The Diplomat: who coordinates alliances and overseers spy efforts.
2. The Tactician: in charge of finalizing troop movements.
3. The Punisher: who enforces site rules and mediates between disputing players.
4. The Comrade: who maintains high team morale and a fun atmosphere.
My personal order is Comrade, Tactician, Diplomat and Punisher, due to my experience in my very first GXC game, GoCrossZodiac (any GXZodiac veterans around?). The team was Gemini & Cancer, and as victory seemed increasingly assured, a treacherous ally quickly whittled us down to one territory. Although defeat was very clearly imminent (we didn't have force shields then) the inspiring leadership of Cdr. James Westmoreland and Cdr. Karen Mack reminded us that the glory was not in the winning, but in the experience. We would go on to repeatedly fireball our way through the territories of our encircling enemies, and even long after we were eliminated, the members of team Gemini & Cancer could be found actively engaging each other on the team chat - a team spirit reinforced by the camaraderie encouraged by the commanders.
Tactics, diplomacy and the enforcement of rules will all result in victory, but the game should never get in the way of a good time. It is atmosphere that will encourage players to recruit friends unto the team, and make playing worthwhile.
A Winning Formula
Unlike most other games, GXC is pretty easy to jump into. This is reflective in the fact that people who are active on the chats, rather than players who have previously served as Commanders, are more likely to be voted Commander.
Nothing appeals like success, however. Commanders who have the Battle Plan up promptly, those who interact frequently on the chats and those whose tactics bring in the territories are less likely to face the guillotine than nice Commanders who are simply ineffective. In fact, players are more likely to tolerate a tactless Commander than a genial, but hapless one. Charisma simply cannot make up for incompetence.
What makes a great Commander?
Vision, agility, and an enlightened recognition of your responsibilities towards your teammates. And this. And also possibly this.
Players have their own scorecard, though, and some were kind enough to reveal theirs to us:
Emma Elfeirr (4)
Shreyan Sen (4)
phillip morrin (3)
Thomas Chi (2)
Andrew Hoy (2)
Brian Lee (2)
Justine Sanger (2)
"Spooky Voodoo" Patrick Smith (2)
Joshua "RiceRiceRiceRice" Lin
Mark "Daggor" Nagy
The favourite, of course, was: