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"NationStates" Beginner's Guide: How to Start Your Nation

Dominating lives since 2002.

Dominating lives since 2002.

How Do You Play NationStates?

Welcome to my beginner's guide to NationStates, the government simulation game where you get to manage your own nation. Today we're going to talk about how to get started, and by the end of my rambling, you should have a good understanding of the game. Here's what we'll cover:

  • How to Join the Game
  • Category and Domains
  • Telegrams
  • Issues
  • Settings
  • Dossier
  • Dispatches
  • Overview
  • Accounts
  • Factbook
  • Trend
  • People, Government and Economy
  • Analysis

How to Join the Game

  1. Head on over to this site.
  2. Start creating an account. You'll be asked to pick a name and decide on several of your nation's traits. Don't worry too much about the nation details, as most of them can be changed later on.
  3. After you fill this section out, you'll be presented with a survey of sorts. Keep in mind that the options you pick here will affect what kind of nation you start off with, so be careful!
  4. Start playing!
You too can own a nation as corrupt as mine!

You too can own a nation as corrupt as mine!

Category and Domains

One of the first things you'll notice after finishing your sign-up is the category of your nation and the three domains: Civil Rights, Economy and Political Freedoms. After completing the aforementioned survey, you'll be assigned different levels in these domains, which will in turn determine the category of your nation. Whereas a Father Knows Best State will have a powerful economy and very few civil rights and political freedoms, a Socialist Democracy will be the exact opposite.


Telegrams are messages that can be sent between players. Think of it as a private messaging system. As soon as you sign up for the game, there's a very good chance you'll be bombarded with recruitment messages inviting you to join the 'best region around'.

Take what is said here with a grain of salt, and remember, you are under no obligation to join anyone. Keep in mind that whilst sending messages to another player is free, if you include additional recipients, you'll need to fork out real money for stamps.

An example of an issue: The Philosophical Brit tactfully resolves a fragile political matter.

An example of an issue: The Philosophical Brit tactfully resolves a fragile political matter.


One of the main selling points of NationStates is the issues provided to you on a daily basis. As leader of your own little paradise, it's up to you to decide how things are run. Where should the funding go? Should tax cuts be made to please the population? What about the death penalty? Tolerance of other religions? Spying on the citizens?

All of these and more are challenges that pose consequences, both good and bad. Of course, if you don't like the issue at all, you can always dismiss it. Just like the real government!


This place is pretty self-explanatory, but I'll go through it anyway. Within the settings, players have the ability to modify certain aspects (mainly cosmetic) of their nation, such as the classification (whether you're a republic, dictatorship, queendom, etc.), the currency, national animal and motto.

As your nation grows, you also unlock the ability to classify your capital city, leader and religion. Then you have game-specific options, mainly the number of issues you want to receive (maximum of two per day) and what kind of telegrams you want to receive.


The dossier is a document complied by you that features information on selected nations and regions. It is incredibly useful in times of (imaginary) war and (also imaginary) economic crisis, where you are attempting to manage relations between several players. You can use the built-in dossier system, whilst technical-savvy players can upload their written version, which can also be shared with other players. So if you think Bob from Legoland is going to invade, it's that much easier to spy on him.

From your nation's main page, you can access the many different tabs related to your country.

From your nation's main page, you can access the many different tabs related to your country.


Dispatches are statements issued by your nation and fall into one of four categories:

  • Factbook: Stuff that describes your nation.
  • Bulletin: For all things gameplay.
  • Account: Articles or stories about your nation.
  • Meta: Kinda weird, but I believe this addresses the game from a real-life perspective.

I'm only going to cover two of these: the Factbook and Accounts.


This is pretty simple. The overview page gives you and other visitors a randomly generated look at your nation. The information given is mainly based on your response to issues. Say, for example, you decide to allow the police to carry out phone taps; you'll most likely find this particular gem of information available for all to see. It will also mention your population, the trustworthiness of the government and you as a leader in general.


Imagine your nation has a newspaper. Pretty cool. Now, imagine that you have complete control over what goes into this newspaper. Even cooler. You can write stories about anything you want! Has your leader declared war on anyone who uses the internet? What about if your nation's main export is heroin? Maybe there's a shortage of Jaffa Cakes, and the only solution is to take over another nation's trade route!


The Factbook is where you store all of the, ahem, facts about your nation. Whilst you're certainly not obliged to post anything here, those who enjoy writing about a fictional state which has absolutely no impact on real life whatsoever will certainly enjoy it. You have the option of writing facts about your nation's history, geography, culture, etc.




The Trend tab shows a linear graph of the evolution of the three domains of your nation from the beginning to modern days. This allows you to pinpoint where you destroyed your economy and gave your citizens way too many civil rights.

People, Government and Economy

These three tabs give you insight.

  • People: This wonderfully humorous pie chart shows you the leading causes of death throughout your nation. I was personally subject to a bungee-jumping epidemic.
  • Government: Here, you can see the distribution of your budget. I was quite pleased to see very little in Education and Healthcare and a massive chunk contributing towards my Defense program. Who needs schools and doctors when we have giant mechanical death robots?
  • Economy: This one is pretty simple, showing the division between the public and private sectors.


Finally, we have the Analysis tab. Every day, the game will generate a Census Report on a particular subject and will rank all nations and regions from highest to lowest. Such topics include 'Most Extreme', 'Most Cultured' and 'Best Healthcare'. Guess what I got on the last one? Score well enough, and you'll be awarded a little medal that appears on your nation's page.

Quick Summary

  • Your nation is influenced by the decisions you make through the issues system.
  • The type of nation you run is defined based on the varying levels in the three domains.
  • You can send telegrams, collect information on other nations and invent facts about your own state.

Go Forth and Lead Your Nation

That pretty much concludes this beginner's guide to the world of NationStates. I hope that I have been helpful in your quest to become the world's most malevolent dictator. I'm currently planning several more guides, focusing on topics such as the World Assembly and the importance of Regions. If you enjoyed the content, following is always appreciated, as is sharing the guide around. Thank you for reading!


Oscar Gilmour (author) from A coffee shop on July 17, 2014:

Thanks Venkatachari! It has certainly improved my political skills :) Thanks for commenting.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 16, 2014:

It looks very interesting. It can make you very smart and a good administrator.

Oscar Gilmour (author) from A coffee shop on June 22, 2014:

Hey Rustedmemory, thanks for reading! Nationstates doesn't take up too much of your time :P Really, you only need five minutes a day to solve issues and reply to messages. Thanks for the upvote as well, I really appreciate it :)

David Hamilton from Lexington, KY on June 22, 2014:

This looks like a game I would be interested in, if I had the spare time!

Cheers and a upvote from me.