Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Let the n00bs fight!

I feel very strongly about letting n00bs fight in this game.

There is a persistent myth among the self-appointed community police that fighting in the n00b ring will cause new players to leave Illyriad.  I have personally witnessed many occasions where a little player complains about an attack to GC. The vigilantes immediately label the attacker a troll, and begin issuing threats and forming a lynch mob. Is this really an appropriate response to a small player who sent 67 kobolds at a neighbor to see what would happen? Or is this actually the response of a bully who craves the naughty thrill of destroying a helpless little n00b, but needs a vigilante-endorsed excuse to act with The Illyriad Community's implied permission?

Whenever a new player asks about troops, some insipid twit in GC immediately gives them the worst advice in Illyriad: Don't build troops. Attacks are frowned upon by The Illyriad Community. Focus on your resource plots. Level up your warehouse, and we will send you free resources.

Translation: Please spend the next 6-8 weeks boring yourself to death by twiddling around with the dullest part of the game. If you're still here in 6-8 weeks, then you have completed the first rite of Illy FarmVille, and are now ready to join the other bleak gray plodders of The Illyriad Community.

Let me tell you a story about a different path.

Skint and the Boss Lady
When I joined Illyriad, I ended up in Tor Carrock. I read a bunch of guides, and decided to build some cotters. Pretty soon I was harvesting minerals and herbs, which was a barely tolerable way to break the monotony of following the standard muggle advice. After a few days of grinding out tiny improvements to my resource plots, I logged in to find a little red 1 over my Rose icon. Incoming diplomats. I don't recall what kind. A short time later, I had a red 1 over my Axe. Incoming army!

Now I have been a strategy gamer for many years, so this was hardly surprising. Scuffles happen in MMORTS all the time. A small cavalry army rolled through my town, took some basic resources, and rode off. After checking around and watching the attacker's city, I could see that he was attacking other little n00bs like myself. It turns out the owner was a sassy n00b who had a habit of insulting people in GC. When I challenged him about the attack, the vigilante brigade started forming up a lynch mob. I said that I would prefer to learn how to defend myself, because the attacking army didn't look that big. The Illyriad Community tried to discourage that. I was not to get into battles with other n00bs, and the troll would be slain on our helpless widdle baby behalf, and I should build up my warehouse, and did I need a few books to get started? It was all very annoying and insulting, people telling me that small players weren't allowed to even learn how to fight.

And then, in a ray of light that illuminated her from the clouds, the Boss Lady descended as meteors streaked across the sky. The FarmVille plodders scattered at her approach. Well, scattered is maybe generous. Humped away like boring brown snails is more like it. Don't listen to them, the mighty Myr counseled me. Fighting is awesome. Here, take these weapons and make troops. We will teach you how to fight back. Then like magic, a caravan hurtled from Arran to Tor Carrock at insane speeds. It delivered to my city all sorts of wonderful things that The Illyriad Community had forbidden to n00bs: spears and beer, swords and saddles and chainmail and horses.

After I learned that attacks will seize basic resources, I quickly built a vault. When thieves started plundering my advanced resources, I learned how to use a trader and the trade hubs. Then I researched a rune that kept blowing them up. My kobolds kept getting wiped out by cavalry, so I learned how to build a wall. When I saw that I was struggling to build troops fast enough, Myr and her friends taught me how to claim sovereignty. (I assume at this point the plodders reading this article gave a simultaneous Illyriad Community groan and fainted dead away at the idea of a 324 population player claiming military sovereignty). Eventually I started using scouts to identify and kill my adversary's harvesters, and I built small cavalry armies of my own to strike his city. I even learned how to equip my commanders to cause more damage. It was very exciting stuff.

Whenever people wanted to jump in, Myr would wave them off. Skint wanted a fight, she would tell them, so let them fight. No interfering. Eventually I was victorious, my assailant exhausted, and the rest is history. He's lucky, I was just about ready to build siege engines.

Now was that really so bad? No, not it was not. It was awesome. 

The Lies That People Tell the N00bs. 

There are almost too many to count, but some of the lies are more noxious than others.

Myth #1: Attacks among n00bs can cause damage.

Totally bogus. The worst thing that an attacking army can do is kill your feeble little garrison and take some basic resources. Diplomats can slightly delay your research, destroy buildings in progress, steal your tiny stock of advanced resources, assassinate your commanders. But they can't hurt your city.

The only action that can cause serious structural damage to a city is a siege. Not just any old siege. One with a significant number of catapults, defended by a significant number of troops. If a player is big enough to field a meaningful siege army against a little n00b, then that is the specific point where I find it reasonable for bigger players to give them a tap on the shoulder.

Myth #2: Attacks make n00bs quit.

You know what makes most n00bs quit? BOREDOM. Most FarmVille players don't understand the tedium of grinding out resource plots, to generate more resources, to further upgrade resource plots. If you find it rewarding when repetitive tasks yield small incremental growth, I recommend getting a house plant. New players want to do something interesting! They want to be traders, or hunters, or warriors, or crafters, or tournament players, or something. Nobody comes to this game thinking, Yeah, what I really want is to grind that little icon of a clay pit for the next 3 weeks. Sweetness. A level 14 clay pit!

A meek player might get a little sad from an attack, but it is equally likely that a fierce player might get fired up and want to tussle. Minor attacks are a great way to learn about troops, defense, protecting your inventory, using traders, activating magic, tracking back diplomats, and all sorts of other fun game mechanics.

Come on, seriously, who looks at that female Human avatar in plate armor, holding a spear and sword, and thinks to themselves, I'm gonna make her into a resource plot jockey. She will have the biggest quarries of anyone!

Myth #3: The n00bs who want to learn fighting should become tournament players.

Hey, I have an idea. Let's spend a whole year building big armies veeeeery slowly. Then in the space of a month, just randomly throw them into giant heaps see what happens!

Look, some people are really happy to have a safe way to dispose of troops. But there are much more interesting things to do in Illyriad than blindly dump units onto a square in the hopes of getting a medal. Warfare in Illyriad involves a lot of strategy, at least 10x more than tournaments. The ability for opponents to see incoming units adds the possibility of deception. Red movement on the map can provoke reactions. Players can use the full spectrum of city machinery--magical, diplomatic, crafting, troop production--to respond to incoming threats. A good siege is a brutal ballet of a dozen players moving a hundred armies in perfect synchronization. If you haven't experienced it, it's really rather excellent. When a n00b expresses an interest in that style of gameplay, it is a crime that The Illyriad Community (TM) immediately accosts them with admonitions to behave according to the approved Illyriad Community (TM) guidelines. Unfortunately, that is the first discouraging contact that many prospective warriors endure upon addressing GC.

Myth #4: Building troops will limit n00b growth.

Give it a rest already. For small cities, there is very little difference between a tax rate of 5% and 15%. If a player wants to generate a little gold to build some troops, it won't limit their growth. Troops consume gold, and construction consumes resources. They can easily coexist. A real n00b care package should contain a little gold and some weapons so they can build troops and diplomats. The map is the key feature of Illyriad, and the sooner a n00b starts interacting with it, the more enjoyable the game becomes. People who stress the mythical drag on growth often ignore that players need a reason to grow. For some n00bs, a fun little army will provide that reason, and inform their construction and research.


All I'm saying is: Give war a chance.

Arm the n00bs. Be open to the idea that n00bs can learn how to defend themselves. Maybe they want to be self-sufficient. Don't be so quick to form a troll lynching posse, either. In fact, consider that the people instigating a lynch mob might actually be trolls themselves. They are, after all, the ones who are advocating the deployment of destructive force over harmless scuffles. Stand up for battle, stand up for militarized n00bs, and above all...

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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