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Of Wolves and Sheep

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Mafro View Drop Down
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    Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 08:30
Imagine a grand strategy war game where military alliances battle over claims of land and resources (and not just out of boredom). Where merchants and craftsmen ply their trade, seeking to amass the greatest wealth (without fear of getting wiped out by those with a greater military focus). Thieves and villains lie in wait, seeking to steal easy coin or secretly tip the scales in huge conflicts. A vast world where numerous interactions amidst countless contenders awaits!

This is what Illyriad could have been...and still could be!

What's Wrong
Military players are bored and seeking greater challenges. However, there aren't really any true military challenges to be had, as a clear majority of the true military alliances appear to be confederated with one another. There's no reason for them not to be, as there's little in-game reason for war amongst them (or anyone else), and so the game has evolved to the current natural, yet largely unsatisfying, situation where the strongly militaristic are targeting the less militaristic for lack of something more fun to do.

What's Also Wrong
At the same time, recent changes in attitude by a few players, the leaders of military alliances, are driving non-military players away from the game entirely. Specifically, some alliances have chosen to purge huge swaths of land of any players that aren't members of their alliance or a confed. This action has already driven away a number of players, and threatens to further shrink the player base, ultimately reducing the income the game generates for Illyriad Games, Ltd. and its overall viability.

How is this Different
In the past, most land claims allowed existing players to remain in the area. This prevented players from simply abandoning the game and allowed them to potentially contribute to the alliance in other ways, as an outsider.

What I Propose
I propose that the cities of non-military players be viewed as sheep by military players. Yes, you heard right, sheep. Sheep are valuable and should not be killed or driven away. Instead, they should be gathered, cared for, and properly shorn at regular intervals.

Specifically, each alliance bold enough to make a land claim should assign a single city to which tribute can be sent from non-aligned cities within the land claim. They should make sure that city is clear on their alliance page (presumably with a link to send resources to it) and they should make clear what tribute is required for non-aligned cities within their claim.

It should be fairly simple - perhaps 100k gold per city per month, with caravans to be sent before the 1st of the month. One or more alliance members - the evil, geeky, spreadsheety, tax collectory types - could be made responsible for tracking this and making sure all tributes are paid, or the consequences dealt out. Or not, as the alliance chooses. Ultimately, perhaps the devs would code the automation for this tax collecting into the game itself, with a UI allowing players to choose who to pay what taxes to and when.

The Result
These funds can be donated to the alliance bank itself or distributed amongst alliance members as the leadership sees fit. The point is that there is now an in-game reason to keep non-military players around, and in fact those players can help fund the military efforts of the alliance. Instead of purging an area of unaligned cities, alliances would seek to control areas with the most unaligned cities.

Military alliances may find themselves actually competing with each other in order to control more land and resources (including, and especially, the non-military players). More alliances will make land claims and the land claims will actually have meaning, other than simply notifying everyone about where they intend to settle (which frankly is a lame use for a land claim). In short order, all available land would be claimed, with ongoing contests amongst those with competing claims.

Military alliance leaders will enjoy deciding how heavy a burden to place on those under their control. Too high and the sheep...er...citizens...may exodus away, or even attempt armed revolt. Too low and they may find other competing alliances with more heavily funded armies.

Some sheep will seek to join the alliance to avoid being taxed. Military alliances that spread the wealth amongst their members may find it beneficial to avoid or even remove non-military members, purifying the military nature of the alliance, both in order to get more taxes as well as to have as few people as possible among which to distribute them.

Wars will break out as alliances seek to control more land, possibly offering lower taxes to current residents of a rival claim in order to get their support.

In Conclusion
What I described above can be done right now with the game as it is. It requires no development, no change in fundamentals, just a change in attitude from those with the power to do so. And it seems like a heck of a lot more fun than what is currently taking place, purging players from the towns they've built. Most importantly, it would give a true in-game reason for wars - to control tax revenues!

In fact, not only would it be more fun for the non-military players, but I suggest it would also be more fun - and more challenging - for the military players. The different game play styles would actually complement each other, instead of the current trend towards military players wiping out non-military players. We could return to a healthy competition amongst military alliances and land claims would finally - FINALLY! - mean something real and impactful.

So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Could the idea use some tweaks? Share your thoughts!


Edited by Mafro - 16 Oct 2017 at 17:43
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Rarknar View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rarknar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 16:53
This could actually be really fun. Maybe it is time to put a "king" in Kingsland?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ten Kulch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 18:53
I appreciate that you took the time to make a well considered proposal.

That being said, I find your generalizations to be a huge stretch. There are 4000 active accounts in Illyriad. Having a few of them come into conflict does not mean that the sky is falling, even if a handful of players abandon. People have been predicting the Illyriad apocalypse for five years, but by most measures the game currently has the same level of accounts as before the Steam integration. While the current plight of some alliances is unfortunate, I think it's silly to suggest that a few aggressive players have endangered the financial viability of Illyriad, Ltd.

Plenty of military challenges remain for military players. The establishment of countries, the consolidation of cartels, and traditional wars with various opponents, just to name a few. Most of the wars being fought are between opponents with similarly sized armies.

The empire idea is one that 300 has explored. Unfortunately, the in-game taxation mechanisms are bewildering and somewhat useless. Taxing muggles by voluntary caravans would require a lot of accounting and enforcement, which makes the game seem more like work than fun. If we could set a tax rate of 20% on a holding alliance and have the revenue follow a predictable pattern, then it might be feasible. Regardless, allowing strangers into your land claim defeats the purpose of creating a high security zone. People seem clueless about that. I've been body slammed by close range ambushes, and we ourselves have frequently projected force into 100 city enemy clusters using 1 weaponized city. I'm quite comfortable with the idea that all non-allied accounts must remain at least a days siege march from my cities.

If you could somehow address the concerns over security and the reliable automation of tribute payments, then we might have more interest in such a system.
Check out my blog, Warmongering in Illyriad for self-defense techniques, military city construction, and PvP strategies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hucbold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 20:31
Originally posted by Ten Kulch Ten Kulch wrote:

I appreciate that you took the time to make a well considered proposal.

That being said, I find your generalizations to be a huge stretch. There are 4000 active accounts in Illyriad. Having a few of them come into conflict does not mean that the sky is falling, even if a handful of players abandon. People have been predicting the Illyriad apocalypse for five years, but by most measures the game currently has the same level of accounts as before the Steam integration. While the current plight of some alliances is unfortunate, I think it's silly to suggest that a few aggressive players have endangered the financial viability of Illyriad, Ltd.

Plenty of military challenges remain for military players. The establishment of countries, the consolidation of cartels, and traditional wars with various opponents, just to name a few. Most of the wars being fought are between opponents with similarly sized armies.

The empire idea is one that 300 has explored. Unfortunately, the in-game taxation mechanisms are bewildering and somewhat useless. Taxing muggles by voluntary caravans would require a lot of accounting and enforcement, which makes the game seem more like work than fun. If we could set a tax rate of 20% on a holding alliance and have the revenue follow a predictable pattern, then it might be feasible. Regardless, allowing strangers into your land claim defeats the purpose of creating a high security zone. People seem clueless about that. I've been body slammed by close range ambushes, and we ourselves have frequently projected force into 100 city enemy clusters using 1 weaponized city. I'm quite comfortable with the idea that all non-allied accounts must remain at least a days siege march from my cities.

If you could somehow address the concerns over security and the reliable automation of tribute payments, then we might have more interest in such a system.

The security question is simple - 'Guests' are not allowed scouts or runes - so a single scout can see what's in the city. Already suggested elsewhere.


Edited by Hucbold - 16 Oct 2017 at 20:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ten Kulch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 21:06
Again, that puts the burden of policing the accounts onto the warriors. Very tedious.
Check out my blog, Warmongering in Illyriad for self-defense techniques, military city construction, and PvP strategies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eowan the short Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 22:38
The warriors could employ those willing to do this kind of work for them for a portion of the revenue. I for one would be willing to manage and collect land taxes from alliances on claimed land if I got a decent % of it. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mafro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 23:18
Originally posted by Ten Kulch Ten Kulch wrote:

I find your generalizations to be a huge stretch. There are 4000 active accounts in Illyriad. Having a few of them come into conflict does not mean that the sky is falling...I think it's silly to suggest that a few aggressive players have endangered the financial viability of Illyriad, Ltd.

To be clear, I don't believe the sky is falling and my words weren't intended to convey that.

That said, there has been a sea change in the game. The old order where the sheep oppressed the wolves has at long last fallen, at least in the BL, and it remains to be seen what order will replace it.

I see two options.

The Wolves Kill the Sheep
Military players purge large swaths of land of everyone who isn't part of their confed. Perhaps this is the "countries" you spoke of creating. This appears to already be underway.

In many ways this fits under "turnabout is fair play". The sheep prevented the wolves from playing the way they wanted to, at least in Elgea (which is why I moved to the BL), and now the wolves will prevent the sheep from playing the way they want to, at least in the BL (initially).

However, the end result is that this will reduce the number of players, as non-military players won't be willing to build and grow towns just to have them razed or reduced by being forced into exodus. The more successful the wolves are, the more sheep will pack up and abandon...and I believe the wolves will be very successful. What we've seen so far is just the very tip of the iceberg and over the next year or three the wolves will be completely successful, purging not only the BL but Elgea too.

While it could be argued that new wolves will join the game to replace the sheep who abandon, I don't believe we have to bet the farm on that. Instead, I believe there's a solution out there that allows the most fun for all of us, both sheep and wolves.

The Wolves Shear the Sheep
Like feudal peasants living on the lord's manor, I believe the sheep won't mind a little shearing in exchange for protection and the ability to play the game the way they want to play it. I also think it strengthens a weak part of the military game, as war in Illyriad is kind of crappy when it comes to the spoils and controlling resources. Instead of having to track down and control rare mines or whatever, every military player can claim lordship over sheepish peasants and seize tribute for their proven might.

Originally posted by Ten Kulch Ten Kulch wrote:

If you could somehow address the concerns over security and the reliable automation of tribute payments, then we might have more interest in such a system.

I believe this highlights the difference between the warrior and the ruler. For the pure warrior these are utter tedium, obstacles that cannot be overcome. However, for one born to rule, they are a delight to solve.

Allow whoever takes on the role of Head of Internal Security (or whatever title you give) to keep some portion of the tribute they collect and my guess is someone will be willing to take on the challenge. Of course, it's not much of a challenge...just send a scout to each tributary city of size within your land claim once a month and you should avoid any surprise attacks. Check the trade notices on the 1st of the month against a list of tributaries and that's done too...probably less than an hour a month for a spreadsheet jockey to do both jobs. Anyone who doesn't pay has their names handed to the warriors. ;)

And if the devs see this in motion, who knows...maybe they'll be motivated to automate one or both tasks. Lord knows this game could use some automation....

Ultimately, this mode of game play may not be for all military types. However, those that apply it effectively will gain an advantage in gold over those that don't, perhaps enough to tip the scales in their favor. 

All it takes is for some brave soul with a land claim to also claim the right of tribute...glory and gold just waiting to be seized....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ten Kulch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 2017 at 23:44
Many players already have passive accounts to provide them with income. They're called gold farms, and they provide 100% of their gold and supplies with 0% the drama of conquered players. Trying to rule people sounds like a desire to dominate them.

You are still speaking very broadly. There are more categories than sheep and wolves. Not everyone with an army in Illyriad is a warrior. Not all warriors want to rule a bureaucracy. Not all sheep want to be ruled. Who really wants to log in every day to be a peasant? That sounds so humiliating that even being the ruler of peasants seems a little degrading.
Check out my blog, Warmongering in Illyriad for self-defense techniques, military city construction, and PvP strategies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rarknar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Oct 2017 at 03:20
Some players would probably rather pay tribute once a month then having to almost restart when all their city's are either forced to exo or razed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mr. Ubiquitous Feral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Oct 2017 at 05:22
So, is the idea to give land claiming alliances so much bureaucracy to handle that they don't have time to take care of business? At one time, long ago, Illy was made up of Middle Kingdom. Like our own world history, people ventured out and found new lands. They eventually found The Broken Lands. When they got there, they started to claim areas and develop countries. This is not unlike what has been going on in Elgea for the entire life of Illy and it is not unlike our own timeline. I think it is fascinating and completely normal to expect. If they want to allow people into their areas for a fee, let them. If they don't, they won't. Why don't you try it and let us know how it works for you?
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