by guest writer Qapaq Suyu
Introduction by Giovanniland: Hello there, dear reader! In the last edition of the Western Post, I inaugurated this brand-new column called Culture in Focus, which focuses in various real life cultures that one or more members of this region experience in their daily lives, by talking about my home country of Brazil. After my own feature, I called for other people to use this space to talk about their own culture, especially those whose countries aren't well known internationally, and I am proud to say that one resident of the region accepted this invite! Coincidentally, they live in the same continent as me, but I won't talk about it further and instead give them the floor. Without further ado, let's go!
¿Allinllachu masisuyuykuna? I am the nation of Qapaq Suyu and have recently returned to NationStates and the West Pacific. I am from Peru, a South American country on the west side of the continent. It is located west of Brazil, south of Colombia and Ecuador in case you need a reference. Albeit not exactly unknown, many people do not know much about Peru and it is often pictured as a somewhat obscure nation with llamas and Machu Picchu. I am relatively young, so one could argue I am not the best source to learn about a country. However, I have always been interested in learning everything about my country. I have also traveled a lot within and am currently studying History in college, so rest assured I can tell you about the past and present of this Andean nation. Thanks to Giovanniland and The Western Post, this month’s Culture in Focus will be about Peru! ¡Qallarisun!
Many people usually assume Peruvians live in the mountains and own llamas. In reality, more than half of the population lives on the coast, mostly in the capital city of Lima, which houses 1/3 of the population. Furthermore, all the Peruvian coast is a huge desert, so it's definitely not an ideal place to have a llama because there's too much heat. Lima’s metropolitan area is enormous due to mass migrations that began about 60 years ago—it contains over 10 million people. According to the latest census, the ethnic composition of Peru is approximately 6% Afro-Peruvian, 5.5% Euro-descendant whites, 4.5% Asian-descendant, 2% Amazonic, 25% Andean native (Quechua or Aimara) and 50% mestizo, which implies they are a mixture between any of the above (but mainly between Euro-descendants and Andeans). The remaining 7% "are unsure." It is also worth mentioning that Peru has 3 distinct regions: the populous desert coast, the more recognized Andes highlands, and the lesser-known Amazonic region, which actually makes Peru have the 4th largest amount of rainforest land of all countries. Peru is a very diverse country due to all these things, with different types of people, music, food, and landmarks to please the eye.
In terms of faith, over 75% of the population is Catholic, followed by 14% Evangelical. Peru also has the largest Catholic procession in the world, the "Lord of the Miracles" procession. The most popular sports are football (soccer) and volleyball, with chess rising up in popularity. Peruvian youth nowadays listen to both English-speaking songs and Latin styles of music like Reggaeton, Salsa, Cumbia and Latin rock. Did you know that Peruvian band "Los Saicos" is considered the first-ever punk rock band? During the last decade, many Peruvian artists started popularizing modern styles of music, such as electronic or rock, but in native languages. More traditional Peruvian types of music include Criollo music, Andean music and Afro-Peruvian music, the latter being the most utilized to express national pride and sang as anthems during sports events. Afro-Peruvian culture is also the most influential when it comes to traditional dances, for example Marinera, Zamacueca, Festejo (Afro-Peruvian), Huayno (Andean) and Amazonic dances.
History in the territory began about 5,000 years ago with Caral, the oldest city of the Americas (although people in the Americas did not have "cities" per se, with only a few exceptions). Caral is part of what is commonly referred to as the Norte Chico civilization, which is in the north-central coastal region of Peru. Together with Ancient China, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia, Norte Chico is considered one of the five cradles of civilization. Some of the better-known cultures that came after are the Chimú and the Nazca. The former were the builders of Chan Chan, the largest city on pre-Columbian South America, while the latter built the Nazca lines, huge geoglyphs of different shapes and sizes on more than 40 km2 of desert. If you are planning to see them someday, I’d advise skipping breakfast, because the plane can move a lot during the travel.
Left: Spider geoglyph, Nazca Lines. Right: Caral, Supe Valley, Lima.
All of these cultures culminated in Tawantinsuyu (meaning "four regions", but more commonly referred to as the Inca Empire), a political entity that managed to control territories in modern Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile. Although the kingdom of Cusco that preceded it appeared around 1200 AD, the great expansion began with Inka Pachacuti in 1438 (Pachakutiq means "he who remakes the world" in Qichwa). A common misconception is that the term Inka or Inca refers to the people, but it is actually the name of the ruler, akin to other terms like Pharaoh or Czar.
Machu Picchu, located in Cusco, is probably the most well-known remnant of the Tawantinsuyu, and also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Since most of the Incan agrarian and engineering technology (and even math) was destroyed and replaced by western technology brought by the Spanish, the Andean civilizations' contribution to humanity is often overlooked. However, there are some very important things that we have to thank the Andean civilizations and Tawantinsuyu for, like all the agricultural products they left for us. Potato (Papa), sweet potato (Apichu), quinoa (Kinoa) or larger types of corn (Chuqllu) were all domesticated by them, and the oldest remains of potato were found in Ancón, Peru. The Inca also had agricultural research centres, for example one located in Moray, Cusco. Furthermore, some animals like the Vicuña (Wikuña, famous for their fine wool) or even the Llama (Llama) were domesticated by them as well—the latter one quite recently by the Tawantinsuyu itself. Fun fact: there were even war llamas, albeit for cargo only!
The modern state of Peru was heavily influenced by these Andean cultures. One of the most influenced aspects of society is the language. Those of you who have seen me write on the Regional Message Board might have noticed I write in a different language before translating it to English. That language is Qichwa (or Quechua) which originated on central Peru and was as the official state of the ever-growing Tawantinsuyu—think of it as a Latin of the Andes. My NationStates name is Qapaq Suyu, Qichwa for "Great Nation," and I write on to in Qichwa. Nowadays it is the most spoken native language of the Americas, with 10 or 11 million speakers on the Andean region, almost as much as French speakers in the Americas or Swedish native speakers. According to Peruvian law, Spanish, Qichwa, Aimara, and any other language that is the majority on a certain region serves as the official national language. That latter part mostly refers to the 42 languages spoken by various communities in the Amazon region of Peru. With Spanish and the four remaining Andean languages, Peru has 47 different languages on its territory.
Due to its proximity with Spanish, Qichwa has influenced many words on the official vocabulary, and some have even transcended into global acceptance. Aside from animals like Puma (Puma) or Condor (Kuntur), some Qichwa words you may know are: Jerky (Charki), Poncho (Punchu), Guano (Wanu) or Wawa (which means "baby"). Fun fact, "Peru" is not a word in Qichwa or any Peruvian language, it is the word native peoples of Panama used to refer to a territory south of where they were—or at least that is the most likely version according to historians.
Peru has won 8 times the title "Best Leading Culinary Destination" in the World Travel Awards, and our food is probably the thing Peruvians are most proud of. I might as well treat this as the main point of Peruvian culture, and quite frankly, it's what best exemplifies our diversity. Even though the main groups during the Spanish domination were the whites and the natives, it was the Afro-descendant population that started mixing the cultures. As opposed to North America or the Caribbean, most African descendants were brought to work on urban households rather than in plantations. Many worked as cooks that prepared European recipes of the time and added the local Andean ingredients, giving birth to new dishes. Also, since they were given certain animal parts to eat (the ones that the Spanish upper class wouldn’t eat) they developed entirely new recipes out of animal organs, and created masterpieces! These two culinary styles are part of what today is called the "Criollo Food," found mostly on the coast.
Anticucho (it is a cow’s heart!)
During the 19th century, the first Chinese immigrants came to Peru as laborers. The central coast of Peru received mass immigration of these workers, who quickly mixed with the local peoples in a similar way to what happened in California. This led to Asian culture spreading into the region, mostly through food. As opposed to other Spanish speaking countries, we use variants of Cantonese words for ginger (kión) and soy (sillao), ingredients that became widely used on the average Peruvian household. Perhaps the most prominent influence was the creation of the "Chifa", establishments that don't serve Chinese food, but rather a type of food that sticks to their Oriental routes while having some Peruvian influence. These quickly spread not only to all regions of Peru but also South America. Japanese immigrations soon followed on the 20th century, which would lead to the "Nikkei Food", an actual mixture of Peruvian and Japanese culinary styles.
Andean cuisine is also rich and delicious. It mostly utilizes Andean ingredients like potato and corn, but also some lesser-known herbs and vegetables. Also, since the Andean regions is mostly the rural area, Andean cuisine features all types of meats, including Alpaca and Guinea Pig. Listen, I know some of you may consider them pets, but they aren't even from Guinea—they are actually Andean mammals (Quwi in Qichwa) that were originally domesticated to serve as cattle, and they are like a really tasty and savory chicken. One main dish is the Pachamanka (“Ground cooking pot”), which is cooked by burying the meats and tubers underground and putting the cooking fire on top of it.
Chicha (yep, that’s purple corn)
Amazonic food is also really diverse and features local fruits and tubers combined with the typical meats you’d imagine. One of the distinct characteristics of this food is its smoked meat, easily one of the best parts of it. Since the rainforest naturally has lots of rivers, fish is also an important component of the culinary style. However, Amazonic culinary influence is best represented on its sweets, with desert-like fruits like Chirimoya, Lucuma and Cacao. If you ever find yourself in a Cacao plantation, be sure to taste the seeds—do not bite them though—I promise it will be the best candy you will have in your life. Finally, seafood is like the crown jewel of Peruvian cuisine. Its most prominent food, ceviche, is the reason Peru has won the title of best culinary destination many times. It is worth noting that ceviche isn’t actually a Peruvian exclusive dish, since it is found throughout Latin America, but the ingredients in Peru are what makes it stand out, always accompanied with Chicha. I wouldn’t advise having a "Peruvian ceviche" outside of Peru though, since the local ingredients are the key, and it isn’t usually great abroad.
Peruvians also like their "Pollo a la Brasa", which is roasted chicken and the go to delivery food in case you don’t feel like cooking. Also, there is a fast-food chain in Peru called Bembos, which makes burgers. These two have prevented American alternatives like Burger King or McDonalds to dominate the scene. Due to these reasons, Peru doesn’t really have foreign restaurants. Granted, in Lima you may find maybe a Thai or Indian restaurant—the latter I haven't seen yet—but they are not present anywhere else. The "Chifa" replaces your typical authentic Chinese restaurant, although one might find a couple in the capital. Authentic Japanese restaurants are also extremely rare because they are replaced by various "Nikkei Food" places that feature Peruvian Japanese mixtures like the "Acevichado maki" (Ceviche-ized roll). The only exception are Italian restaurants, present all across the country due to Italian immigration.
Conclusion by Giovanniland: After reading this awesome feature by Qapaq Suyu, I hope you have learned more about the nation of Peru. And this is the perfect opportunity for me to make again an invite to the readers of the Western Post – if you liked this column, then maybe YOU could talk about your own real life country's culture in upcoming editions of our newspaper! Please contact me (Giovanniland) by telegram or Discord DM (Giovanniland#8272) if you are interested, and then we'll talk about how to make a good article for the Culture in Focus column. Thank you for reading, and see you all in the next edition!
The prom poster made by Bran Astor.
The 21st of May saw the start of the West Osi High School Prom, one of the region's yearly events, that seeks to strengthen the friendship between the West Pacific and Osiris. This time around, it was watched over by principals Dakota Vytherov (Valerievna) and Dilber Dilberson as well as the Chaperones. Although the official ending of the event was scheduled to be on the 23rd, the party still went on for one or more two days. The event featured several activities, such as voice chats, casual talk and roleplay. This year’s theme was Under the Sea, with students breaking moves on the dancefloor and singing along to the beloved The Little Mermaid song of the same name.
Once the students arrived, the first thing to do was to answer some questions so that they could be matched with another person. These questions ranged from simple ones, such as favorite flower and whether the participant was well-dressed or not, to harder ones like how to make the punch not mix with the water since the Prom was celebrated underwater, to which some participants mentioned chemistry and physics laws but others were far simpler. A few students arrived already coupled up and did not need to answer, but all others were skilfully coupled up by the Matchmakers Dalimbar and Altino.
After being matched, a common activity for the couples was to pick a prom photo of them together. There was more of a range of prom photos this year, with new inclusive options still in classic fashionable choices. These quickly became popular with students with students ordering their couples package immediately after they were posted. Some of the highlights shown below were, left to right: the two matchmakers Dali and Alti; the Prom King and Queen of last year Sho and Teralyon; and the two school reporters Giovanniland and Blue Bubble with their respective couples Varanius and Malachor Ren.
Pictures of some couples present at the prom, all taken by Teralyon.
Finally, the last activity needed to be done before fully joining in the fun was to sign the yearbook. Here, several students left their own messages and memories, some serious while others more funny. Once they were done, couples were free to talk in the main chat and also wander through the many other rooms open for prom activities.
The main chat was called #awkward-small-talk, and also featured an Awkward Small Voice Chat for those willing to use that option. For obvious reasons this was the most active chat of the event, and conversations about many themes took place here. Some highlights were, for example, the identity confusion incident started between Varanius and Zoran in a similar way to the last year's prom, and the awesome acronym-creating skills by Principal Dilberson, in which he created funny acronyms out of various students' names.
Meanwhile, prom participants also had several rooms along the hallway to have fun and relive the moments from years ago. For example, the auditorium was the site of some interesting musical performances that certainly attracted many. However, the situation was not that organized in the nearby band room—which featured some students loudly playing different music styles to see which one would prevail, and then chaperones coming in from the nearby library to ask for silence. Talking about the library, it was certainly a place where some students could take a break from all the prom activity and re-read some of their favorite books. However, just like the previous year, the library was also the site of some attempts of burning all the books there, perhaps by students who did not like reading some of the books there. Nevertheless, they failed and all the knowledge stored in the library was safe.
Perhaps the football field and quad were more peaceful places than even the library itself, given all those circumstances. In the football field some students could be seen playing several sports and taking one last walk on the field—although there were some disagreements on the best type of sport to play there. Meanwhile, the quad was open for those students who wanted to take a breath of fresh air amid all the agitation of the prom. Finally, the last feature of the hallways were the second floor restrooms, in which various mysterious happenings took place, and the principals' office, in which students such as Zoran were given detention for their evil doings.
Finally, who could forget the dancefloor? Of course it was a place for students to share impressive dance moves with their couples, but probably more memorable was its main attraction near the end of the prom. As said earlier, it was the collective singing of several sea-themed songs, an event that featured several students led by Principal Dilberson and Vice Principal Wymondham, and certainly was a source of fun for many. After this major event, the prom closed to an end, even though the server was still left open for one or two more days until the Janitor from Hell, Big Bad Badger, came in to officially close the event.
However, no prom is complete without the superlatives, which were announced a day before the purge. In comparison to last year's titles, they featured not only some students who managed to hold them for another year, such as TWP's Overthinkers as the most likely to become Delegate of the West, but also some funny highlights like Varanius being picked as the most likely to be purged in both regions. The full list of superlatives is as follows:
Class of 2021 Superlatives
Most likely to be delegate (coup or otherwise)
Osiris: Syberis Two Electric Boogaloo
TWP: Overthinkers via taking over the computer lab
Most likely to be purged
TWP: Varanius (for obvious reasons)
Best Smile (excessive use of emoji)
Osiris: Tethys 13 (venue provider)
Most likely to stay up until 5 AM
Osiris: Feu de Glace (was there ever any doubt :p)
Osiris: Luna State
Osiris: Varanius (again!)
Osiris: Malachor Ren
TWP: The Holy Principality of Saint Mark
Most likely to trip at graduation
All in all, it was a nice and active event, showing that the long-lasting friendship between Osirans and West Pacificans is likely to continue in the future. It will certainly be a prom to remember, while we wait for the next one in the year of 2022. This is it for this article, but stay tuned about more articles about our interregional events in future editions of the Western Post!
By Fuentana, Poet Laureate of Haiku
Music lovers know it when they hear it: it’s the timely riff, the clever drum fill, the phrasing of the singer. Though popular music is filled with banality—the endless I-V-vi-IV chord progressions, the autotunes up the wazoo, the endlessly repeated motifs and harmonies of the Nickelbacks of the music world—true artistry still shines, perhaps more frequently than meets the ear. Now, I do want to admit that because the contemporary music scene is a true production industry, but there is still artistry to appreciate in the Bob Rock and Ron Fair-inflected work of various musicians. And let’s be real: Madonna can’t really sing, but her music is often transcendent. We know ABBA is cheesy, but who won’t enjoy “Dancing Queen” from time to time? So despite the caveat that the music I will catalogue below is manufactured and, to a degree, artificial, I still want to appreciate music that sets the bar.
The Intro Sets The Bar
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
The Wallflowers - One Headlight
Chicago - If You Leave Me Now
The recent Vice feature The Story of “A Thousand Miles” included an interview of producer Ron Fair that confirms all the things I felt when I was an enchanted teenager hearing “A Thousand Miles” for the first time, and then for the second, third, and thousandth time. As Fair says, it is a “f***ing smash!” For many Western folks, the intro motif is instantly recognizable and thoroughly charming. Those who remember the era of music videos will also recall how amazing and creative the video was. Carlton does not have a great vocal range, but in her natural range she is memorable and expressive. Also memorable: the music video. Also Terry Crews.
I especially love how Fair arranged the bars from the intro into the verse. (It’s well worth watching his analysis in the Vice video. He loves the song!) Piano alone, then Carlton begins the first verse with staccato piano chords backed only by a great groove by Abe Laboriel Jr. Fair gradually adds additional layers, bass played by Leland Sklar who still loves the song, thoughtful backing electric guitar, and then the big string sections to add tension and emotion to the song.
Back to the great intro: musicians will know that on one level, the piano intro riff is both simple yet complex. It is essentially three chords arpeggiated cleverly. As teenagers, many of my friends and I spent hours trying to learn the riff: I can still conceptualize how to play it in my mind, but the artistry is in the expression and precision that only truly proficient pianists can play. Vanessa Carlton is one such pianist. Add in the great ambiguous chorus: “If I could fall into the sky, do you think time would pass me by?” Probably.
We turn our attention from the sky to a different light via the one-and-a-half hit wonder the Wallflowers (the “half” hit is their cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”), fronted by Jakob Dylan (son of the famous Bob Dylan). Whereas Bob Dylan’s voice is bleating and annoying, Jakob’s is smooth and melodic. Of course, dad Dylan’s career is more enduring, but his son has chops too.
“One Headlight” was produced by T-Bone Burnett, and the expertise shows. The mid 90s hit immediately sets a somber tone: a galloping rhythm shared by the drummer, bass player, and rhythm guitarist. Not unlike “A Thousand Miles,” there is a similar build-up of layers: tasteful and simple lead guitar riffs on one side, then an organ/synth. This arrangement is captured quite nicely in the music video at 17 seconds in. Are they doing anything super impressive? No. But they are adding effective little motifs to drive the song along.
To be frank, half of the time I find “One Headlight” to be fairly dull. Jakob Dylan is perhaps too smooth in a baritone range, and the original version is very long. But listen to all of the fills, especially this organ fill. It’s a descending line from a high B down to D. As the song progresses, guitar fills range from chorus-y lines with a little bit of delay to brief licks with just enough growl to slide guitar lines. This is really good studio work. It makes for a haunting song.
But let’s shift to something warmer (but equally sad). I’ve always been a softie for Chicago, and while “If You Leave Me Now” is just a tad bit sappy, it is one of the most soothing songs one can ever listen to (or play). James William Guercio produced this song and contributed the guitar tracks, which resulted in two Grammys (best performance, best arrangement). Right from the get-go, there is a simple and melancholic intro of horns and acoustic guitar in unison playing the D# - C# motif over the B chord. The second iteration of it includes a horn fill plus a brief string section.
The musicians are all restrained and focused throughout the song: the acoustic guitar work shifts from strumming a voicing of B (perhaps with a capo) to picking through almost punteo style. Especially effective are the bars from the chorus into the guitar solo, which is played on a 12-string guitar to give the added dynamic of two octaves. The horn section leading into the solo is just so delicate with its line from a high B to the F#. Really sad, really sappy, yet really soothing. But now it’s time to leave to another section.
The Other Parts of the Song: Vocal Moments
Alicia Keys - If I Ain’t Got You (Unplugged)
Evanescence - My Immortal (full band version)
Lawrence - Come On Over (Cover)
The elegant Alicia Keys penned one of the great love songs in recent memory in her “If I Ain’t Got You.” Written in the wake of September 11th and the death of Aaliyah, this song communicates the importance of the real over material things. I am focusing on her Unplugged album version because of the exceptional backing vocals that make the song absolutely memorable.
As usual, the song begins with the well-known jazzy arpeggio—simple technically (major sevenths and minor sevenths), but so enchanting like “A Thousand Miles.” Keys moves from soothing vocals during the verse to a soulful confession during the chorus. But listen to the amazing backing vocals on “roses” during verse 2 and into the second chorus. The second chorus is repeated. The first iteration, Keys begins alone until backing singer Jermaine Paul (who would later win season 2 of The Voice) joins in with a very high harmony on “want nothin at all, if ain’t you baby.” During the second iteration, he takes over the main line with the female backing singers Sarah Devine, Denise Stoudmire, and Anaysha Figueroa joining on the second line with even higher harmonies. If anyone has ever tried singing this duet style, you know what I mean in terms of the emotion conveyed by singing Alicia’s part or the harmonies. I got soul, but Alicia and company have all the soul.
Mezzo-soprano Amy Lee made big waves in the early 2000s through her band Evanescence when alternative metal and nu metal were fairly popular. (Imagine: Korn was a regular on pop airwaves and on MTV). There were some hits and misses in this genre (Limp Bizkit: big swing and a miss), but there is something enduring about bands like Korn and singers like Amy Lee. (“I can’t wake up!!!”) Her singing and songwriting were nothing if not haunting in that beautiful way.
“My Immortal” is a fantastic example of it. Piano driven and initially sung in a lower register, the prechorus and chorus crescendo into a tormented confrontation of sorts with a haunting presence.” On paper, there is nothing to write home about with the piano lines: it’s straightforward major and minor chords arpeggiated. But it’s the shifts of tempo and expression to support Lee’s memorable voice that wows the listener. Consider for example the bridge, when the piano changes dynamics. “But though you’re still with me” is accompanied by an effective descending piano line that adds to the drama that is already latent in the chord progression: “gone” is sung over D, and the piano player does a line descending to C#m and them to B minor on “But though.” From there, it ascends back to C#m, to D, and then finally to “E” on “I’ve been alone” to set up the big interlude with the drum fill and full band. The guitar solo, though nothing to write home about, tonally and musically reinforces the emotion of the song rather effectively. (As an aside, I’ve always enjoyed the Seether version of Broken featuring Amy Lee, so check that out too).
And now for something completely different. I hated teen pop, and while Christina Aguilera has a very good voice, I find it to be mildly annoying (for a commercial break watch Ariana Grande do impressions of the teen pop stars). So it was refreshing to discover this excellent cover of a song that I never wanted to hear again: “Come On Over.” Lawrence is a soul-funk brother-sister duo with a full band. Clyde Lawrence has so much fun playing this song, and Gracie Lawrence (who had a brief role in The Americans) is both faithful in her vocals and innovative by adding soulful riffs. And how about that range! The part I want to focus is the final “All. I. Want. Is…” which leads from that interlude into the final chorus transposed a half step higher.
YouTubers have frequently commented that this is perhaps one of the best transpositions ever, and some have even wondered, “Why didn’t anyone else think about that?” Besides the technical proficiency Gracie Lawrence demonstrates is the pure emotion—and I mean this with a bit of a pun intended. What irritated me about the original “Come On Over” is that it was during the hypersexualization of teen pop, which is of course inevitable. As the adage goes, sex sells. But Aguilera had respectable vocal talent that set her apart from Britney and all the other similar leading ladies, and in the original they keep her in a lower range that does not exploit all of the emotional possibilities. So instead in this cover we get something that’s a bit less over the top and more relatable. Who wouldn’t want their significant other to belt this with all their heart? Plus: it’s clearly about the music in this cover. Return to Clyde, who is having the time of his life. In fact, just about everyone is having fun in that cover except for the drummer. Poor guy. Nonetheless, they all demonstrate great musicianship and turn a somewhat forgettable pop anthem into pure fun (relatively speaking with the “pure” of course—the lyrics don’t lie).
An “Outro”: Join the Chorus Next Issue
Next month, I hope to get by with a little help from my (NS) friends. I’d love to include voices from across the NSverse who want to talk about perfect moments in music: it can be guitarwork, arrangement, piercingly good vocals, or something else that you want to talk about that epitomizes good music. If you want to join the motley crew, DM me on Discord or TG me!
By Giovanniland, Card Czar of the West
The first 30 Season 2 legendaries by nation ID.
In the West Pacific and in the entire NationStates multiverse, the trading cards community is certainly important. For example, here in our region we have our own Card Club as one of the communities in the Cultural Trust, and a #twp-card-central channel in our Discord server. This has helped to build a solid community of card traders, who build several collections and have hundreds of puppets, also called card farms. One of these collection types, and one that is extremely valuable, are the collection of all legendary cards in the game. Those cards include nations with the most impressive issue stats, game moderators and administrators, issue authors and editors, commended and condemned nations, and more. For obvious reasons, they are also the card rarity with the least amount of cards—with 184 in Season 1 and in 169 Season 2, the total of legendaries adds up to 353 different cards.
These distinct characteristics give those cards a high value, with some of them well over the hundreds. Naturally, this makes a lot of people try to collect all of them in a given season. However, relatively few people manage to finish that goal—only 10 for Season 1 and 24 for Season 2—and the ones that succeed have a lot to tell about their journey. The West Pacific is represented by three different collectors that have completed a legendary collection, including one that has achieved that feat in both seasons, Elegarth. The other two are Fhaengshia, a newer trader to the scene than many others that has nevertheless made a big impact in the community; and Mediobogdum, who has not only collected all Season 2 legendaries but also all Season 2 epics.
Therefore, I decided to interview these three West Pacifican card farmers that have certainly spent a lot of time to complete their collections, in six questions that will hopefully explain some aspects of their journey. For those wondering, their complete collections can be seen by anyone in the following links: Elegarth, Fhaengshia, and Mediobogdum. Here is the interview:
1. What was the motivation to collect a full set legendary cards?
Elegarth: It was the natural thing to do for me! You need to understand that Card collecting in NatioStates is just a reflection of my own geekiness in real life. I am, or was, a big collector of Trading Cards in RL when I was in University. Specifically, I had a huge collection of Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, for gaming, as well as Basketball cards exclusively for collecting. I’m also a big sucker for sticker albums (like the worldwide famous Panini album for the World Cups, I have full albums from France 98 to today). When you collect cards, like those, you usually look for the legendary ones, the super ultra awesome amazing cards in those kind of collecting sets. And when Cards came out in NS… Well… It was only natural for me to focus on collecting Legendary cards here as well.
Fhaengshia: When I first started playing NS about a year ago, I was attracted to cards right away. For weeks I didn’t even know about legendary cards and thought epics were the rarest. From dispatches and the forums I learnt more and saw the amazing collections people have. I mainly wanted to have a valuable deck and was opportunistic with purchasing new legendary cards. I only seriously considered collecting all season 2 legendaries when I had close to 100 of the 169 cards.
Mediobogdum: I am afraid that I am collection freak! I have collected 'things' all my life starting in my youth with birds' eggs, matchbox labels, stamps, and coins. Later in life I assuaged this incurable habit by concentrating on family history records, and more recently collecting NS epic and legendary cards. So, it has been just one long lifetime of gathering up whatever takes my fancy! As far as legendary cards are concerned, they are for the most part colorful and elegantly designed, some are very hard to acquire, and I just loved the challenge of completing the set!
2. What is your favorite legendary card and why?
Elegarth: Tremalkier is my favorite S1 Legendary Card. I just love that GIF! It is a pity it went Epic, cuz it is also a very nice Epic Card in the improved S2 design. From S2, The Dark System’s card look awesome… pity that it is not a GIF.
Fhaengshia: This is hard as there are many that are very interesting, however one stands out for me: Eaischpnaeieacgkque Bhcieaghpodsttditf. An amazing flag and name (the motto is in Dutch), also a card where the nation has ceased-to-exist or CTE’d which makes the card much rarer. I have a puppet nation in the region they had founded so it doesn’t get lost as there’s some interesting RMB posts there.
Mediobogdum: My favorite legendary card is without doubt Frisbeeteria because it is the most visually interesting and is the card I really prize most. It has fascinated my from the start of my NS card journey and I know that I paid well over the norm for it, but what the heck I just had to have it!
3. What was the hardest card of the collection to achieve, and how did you finally get it?
Elegarth: My last S1 card, I’m unsure if it was Soops or MC, that someone gifted to me in the end. I was 2 short of my full collection for weeks, and I just kept grinding for cash so I could buy them; they were around 1000 bank each back then. Finally, I got enough for Noah to trade with me one of them – with a bunch of added Legendaries as part of the payment – and then later someone gifted me the other. That was amazing. I’ve had heard rumours about who the player that gifted it to me is. But they have chosen to remain anonymous, and I have respected that.
Fhaengshia: The hardest card was naturally the last card I needed to complete the collection: New Good Order. Another CTE’d card, this time with very few people willing to trade. Ronodin had bought up all the asks and had inflated NGO to be one of the most expensive. I was able to convince Ronodin to host a pull event for the card which is how I got my copy. NGO has since been deflated by Rono and there are more copies around so it’s no longer as difficult as it was for me!
Mediobogdum: For me, the hardest card to collect was without doubt NERVUN because it was a CTE nation and was the last card I acquired to complete.
4. How did the overall collecting go, and how do you feel now after completing it?
Elegarth: It was hard! Specially cuz I basically am never a part of 98% of the draw events done across the multiple organizations, and I don’t have as much time as others due to real like work, parenthood, university, etc. I also only got a small tool to answer issues faster, and one key bind thing from 9003 to help me, but not much more cuz I basically am really really bad at scripts and what-not. Hahahaha. In S2, by the end of the collection, Sitethief had organized the NPO Cards team/club and a lot of people there first showed me the marvels of group-collecting. A lot of help between people, collaboration, etc. I am very thankful to them for their help. Now, don’t met wrong: I’m not saying other people wasn’t like this. I just haven’t been formally part of a group in that aspect before. And how do I feel after completing it? Pleased. As any collector: I can’t wait for the next one! (Give us S3!!!!)
Fhaengshia: As I mentioned before, I was very casual with collecting the first half. Once I decided to go for the full collection I realised that CTE’d cards would be the most difficult part, even cards like Testlandia and Frisbeeteria which have been some of the most expensive will eventually be found with a farm active enough. I feel like I have a little bit of cards history in my deck having completed the set, though I was 18th to finish this collection.
Mediobogdum: I started late of concentrating on legendaries because my first, not so ambitious goal was to finish my S2 epic collection and it was only after that point did I start to aggressively work on the S2 legendaries. As a collecting freaks there is a great sense of relief that I could now get my life back once the collection was complete.
5. Which people are you thankful for after completing it, the ones who most helped you?
Elegarth: Uff it would be hard to name people cuz I will surely forget someone… Let’s see… Noahs Second Country, 9003, CaveDweller, Vylixan, Pluvie, in reality everyone in the NPO Cards team, and the mysterious donor from S1!!!
Fhaengshia: I would have to say Ronodin helped with how amenable they were to my pull event request. Some of the nations that helped the most though were: Feu de Glace, 9003, The Atlae Isles, Noahs Second Country, Philville2, Harmonic Empire and Witchcraft and Sorcery.
Mediobogdum: This was really very much of a solo journey but was aided by the encouragement and support of the NS card community as a whole and in particular the members of the Card Gardens Discord channel.
6. Finally, do you have plans of collecting legendaries from seasons other than the 2nd? This includes both the 1st and future seasons.
Elegarth: Yes, that’s pretty much what I will stick to. I only have 3 real collections in the cards game: my legendaries collection, my Rick and Morty collection (in a nation called “A King who Waits for the End”) and my S2 Self-Collection, with all my puppets. For S3, I intend to collect all Legendaries, more Rick and Morty, and my S3 Self-Collection :)
Fhaengshia: I definitely plan to collect legendaries of future seasons, as for Season 1 I have 41 of the 184 cards. I have been lucky enough to naturally pull 5 of these, with the rest being from opportunistic purchases, events and prizes. I’ve focused on collecting cards which have been commended or condemned and those with the Delegate badge. That will add another 20-30 or so but I expect that to be a long and expensive challenge in and of itself.
Mediobogdum: I have definitely no plans to start an S1 collection... way too expensive and difficult with only 100 or so puppets to help me out! As for S3, well I might be tempted if I cannot resist the temptation to start that long journey again!
In conclusion, one can see that quite a fair amount of time and effort is needed to complete such a valuable collection, and even though I don't personally collect these cards, I am happy that there are collectors in the West that do appreciate them. If you do want to start the journey of collecting all legendary cards and you are looking for more card-related resources, you can take a look at our regional Trading Cards Introduction and Glossary. Furthermore, you can also join our regional Discord server to ask for advice in the #twp-card-central, the home of every TWP card farmer, and experienced farmers will certainly answer to your queries and give advice. Thanks for reading this article, one in a series of card-related articles that I've already written for the Western Post, and stay tuned for more articles like this one in the future!
By United Adaikes, Fhaengshia, and Fuentana, Poet Laureate of Haiku
This past month had National Limerick Day, so forgive us for a change of pace this edition as we continue our search for the best snark and beauty in poetic form in the whole of NS!
 We got you, fam!-I mean, any poet in TWP can always request if you want Tuesday to be a limerick day, a haiku-esday, a formal verse day, or even a free verse day! Just give us a nudge, and we’ll make it happen. But of course, we’ll surely put artistic twists and quirky and/or snarky themes!
 And that is why we love everyone who is game with giving all their literary pieces any day of the week. And you all are the reason why we continue to be the BEST. Without you, we won’t have the chance to do this. With that, thank you so much!
 We might have given second chances to new people in the RMB, but the Guardians of the West will not give another chance for multiple offenders.
A lot of the fun that we have in the West doesn’t always make it’s way to the RMB so it’s great to see the different aspects of our region come together in such a fun way.
Such a beautiful response to the prompt we had running the week around colours. No doubt our RMB has been extra colourful lately!
This really made me laugh, such a creative and snarky way to provide someone new with the laws of the land.
I love the love for haiku expressed by our favorite Badger and newcomer Nova Secta, the latter of whom I am watching very closely since they’ve been writing a lot of haiku and I’m the haiku boss (I kid I kid: the more haiku, the merrier), but a change of pace is nice. I had a nice limerick throwdown with Badger.
Willow Gate’s limerick resonated with me because I think I got most active during lockdown so that it would help me avoid a breakdown. I probably had a breakdown anyway, but it’s OK. Also good to be vaccinated! Freedom and some security are around the corner for you! I’m fully vaccinated and in an area that was among the first to hit the critical mass of vaccinations, so it’s nice to enjoy some consolation there. Thanks for your fun limericks!
Remember that every Haikuesday, we’re writing with different themes. We hope you enjoyed this twist. Live from Nantucket where we’re observing a man with a bucket...
Want to get more involved? Contact any of the authors to join our work as members of The West Pacific Fine Arts Society, a branch of The West Pacific Cultural Trust.
By Blue Bubble
If you've read previous editions of The Western Post, you will have noticed the multiple sports roleplay events that happened in the West Pacific in recent months, such as the 2nd Rugby World Cup and the 1st Football World Cup. In order to continue this streak, our regional roleplay saw our first Twenty20 Cricket World Cup this month! Out of four candidates for hosting—Blue Bubble, Giovanniland, Larxia, and Zoran—the host was chosen to be The Great Empire of Larxia, who allowed 15 other international teams to play across 5 stadiums in 5 different cities, with the King’s Circle Stadium in the capital New Larxia used for the finals only, while the other stadiums in the cities of Nexilia, Zancoudo, San Dojas and La Marina were used for various other games.
The teams would start in a set of 4 groups of 4 teams in a play of round robin. A win gave 2 points while a draw gave 1 point, and a loss of course scored none. The two highest scoring teams of each group went on to play in two groups in the Super 8 round robin. Once again, the two highest scoring teams advanced to the next stage—the knock-out rounds, composed by the semi-finals, the final, and the battle for 3rd place. In alphabetical order, the teams playing were Blue Bubble, Dalimbar, Denieria (non-player character), Dilber, Fhaengshia, Fujai,Giovanniland, Hertfordshire and Jammbo, Knights of Tamar Tephi (Cambria), Larxia (host), Nieubasria, Santos-Dominius, Teralyon, The Holy Principality of Saint Mark, United Adaikes, and Zoran.
Firstly, the teams had to design a uniform and logo, and set up their squad. They also had to create a starting or role play post—some players decided to start with the landing of arriving teams by aircraft, while others, namely Hertfordshire and Jammbo, ended up arriving by tractor. The host started with the open ceremony where every captain was introduced, except for Hertfordshire's due to being late, as tractors are not very fast. The Larxians also announced a new project for the finals, namely the One World VIP Box, in which all heads of state of participating nations could join the King of Larxia (King Maddy IV) in watching the games.
Results were posted every two days, in order to give people time to build better roleplay posts. The first round ended with Larxia with 6 points and United Adaikes with 4 points qualifying for Group A; Cambria with 6 points and Hertfordshire and Jammbo with 4 points for group B; Saint Mark with 5 points and Fhaengshia with 4 points for Group C; and Nieubasria and Zoran, each with four points, for Group D. All of these teams advanced to the Super 8 phase, while the others were eliminated. During this part of tournament, these eight teams fought fiercely to get a semifinal spot. In the second day, Cambria had a major incident within their own nation, unsettling the team into a loss. That was also an unfortunate day for Zoran, with two early losses knocking them out of the competition completely while Hertfordshire and Jammbo secured their spot. The third day finally decided which teams would go through, and the round ended with Hertfordshire and Jammbo and Larxia qualifying in Group 1 while United Adaikes and Fhaengshia topped Group 2;
In the semi-finals, Hertfordshire and Jammbo and United Adaikes went into the final after winning their respective matches, leading the losing sides of Fhaengshia and Larxia to battle for 3rd place, a match in which the Larxians won by 10 runs and thus earned the bronze medal. Meanwhile, the Grand Final match result was Hertfordshire and Jammbo winning against United Adaikes by 29 runs. They also won the TWP Rugby World Cup earlier this year, showing sporting domination for this year—I wonder what they will win next! Finally, there were also rewards for Best Batsman, Best Bowler, and Player of the Tournament, which went to the players of Rohit Sharma (Larxia), Jasprit Bumrah (Larxia) and Wynne Albrektsson (United Adaikes) respectively. The final leaderboard with the placement of all 16 nations is pictured to the right.
We approached Clarkov, the Prime Minister of Hertfordshire and Jammbo, for a comment on his team's win. However, he declined the offer and had this to say: "Apologies, I am unable to say anything on my nation's title win, I'm too busy doing my victory dance." We also spotted him holding a large sign with bold letters that read "Dear T20 World Cup participants – The Village People are better than you at T20 cricket. Can you confirm you understand this message?". Meanwhile, United Adaikes had this to say about how the tournament went: “I just want to thank everyone who participated and put their efforts and time to create one of many things that bring together the wonderful minds of role play in TWP... hopefully, we can get them to join again in the next sports RP.”
In order to conclude this article, we give congratulations to Hertfordshire and Jammbo on their dominating win of the tournament, and to the other participants for spending time and effort to write posts for everyone's enjoyment of the tournament. Finally, we thank United Adaikes and the Loremasters for crafting this tournament! Feel like you could knock Hertforshire and Jammbo off their sporting lead? Click here to find out how to join the TWP roleplay community!
In the early morning of May 22, the owner of NationStates, Max Barry, had just announced a brand new feature that any region could use—regional banners. These banners work in a similar way to national banners, with the main difference of being instead displayed in the main regional page and other important pages such as the regional history, ranks, admin control, and the Regional Message Board. Furthermore, their resolution was different than national banners, specifically 1200 x 120. Many nations then noticed the change in the regional look and started fiddling with the feature to see how exactly it worked, including TWPers such as Fhaengshia.
The placeholder banner used by our region until the end of the Regional Banner Contest.
Some hours after, the government of TWP was already aware of this change, and I (Giovanniland) decided myself to pick one of the game-provided banners, shown above, as a placeholder until the region could decide on an official one. Some nations commented this choice in our Regional Message Board, such as Bormiar, who stated that "the TWP banner looks stunning on dark mode," and Fantoccini, who remarked that "[they] like the banner. It feels very 2006." Meanwhile, it was decided by the government and the Regional Guides that TWP would hold a design contest to decide our official regional banner, and thus it was announced.
In the main forum thread (visible to registered users), a brief description of regional banners, as well as the rules and prizes of the contest, were listed. This forum thread was the place to submit the designs, while discussion about them took place in the #the-western-artists channel of our Discord server. The contest was divided on two main phases, the submission and the voting one—the former happening from the time the contest was announced until the 29th of May , and the latter from around noon UTC of 31st May until three days after that. Finally, the rules were simple but important to be followed: they needed to follow NS and TWP rules of course, be somewhat related to the region, and be original content.
After the announcement, several artists in TWP went to think about the best design for a regional banner and then create it. Several discussions happened in the #the-western-artists channel, while entrants submitted their banners. At the end of the submission period, five entries were submitted—one from Yldania, three from Nagaraningrad, and one from Santos-Dominius. The Regional Guides then reunited during the next day to decide the finalists, and it was decided that Nagaraningrad's first submission and Santos-Dominius' entry would be the ones chosen to qualify for the voting phase. They were placed in a dispatch for all to see, and a gameside poll was created.
The finalist submissions by Nagaraningrad and Santos-Dominius respectively.
Nagaraningrad's finalist submission featured a mirrored version of the West Pacific's flag in a dark purple background, along with two platypuses, the symbol of Delegate Dilber. Meanwhile, Santos-Dominius' entry was described by themself on the forum thread: "The design is in part influenced by existing TWP aesthetics and themes, uses the TWP colours (red and white) and features a horizon as background as a reference to the name ("Pacific") of the region. The TWP name is placed just above the horizon to symbolise the region rising from the sea. The word "West" is set in bold type to distinguish TWP from the other Pacifics, and "Snarky and Free", one of TWP's most prominent mottos, is featured below the region name."
These very good submissions were then voted on by the populace of the West Pacific. After three days of voting, Santos-Dominius's entry defeated Nagaraningrad's one by 31 to 12 votes and won the contest. Following the closure of the vote, the banner was uploaded and officially adopted as the regional banner, an an announcement was made, and Santos-Dominius was also awarded a Season 1 Candlewhisper Archive card, a legendary with high market value. Residents then celebrated the choice both gameside and in the Discord, making this Regional Banner Contest a success. The banner will now stay as the main regional banner, unless during certain special events, when event-themed banners will be used instead.
Thanks for reading! Tell us about your favorite part on our RMB!
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, Overthinkers, Podium, Recuecn, Teralyon, United Adaikes, Zoran, and YOU
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