Dear TK developers and community,
First of all I would like to say that I absolutely love what the developers have made with Travian Kingdoms (TK). It is an incredibly cleaver idea to introduce the 3 different roles (Gov, Duke, and King) in a systematic fashion to accommodate for players different levels of activity and wish for responsibility in the kingdom. However, over the time of playing TK I have come to realize that the game's largest problem have always been the negative player experience that players have had due to their own King. Don't get me wrong here, it is not power of the King that I'm arguing is the problem, it is rather who the game encourages to hold this power that is the problem.
Let me be a bit more concrete. We have all have seen it happen to our selves or to other players, bad experiences with Kings that have either gone inactive, have threaten his governors to send resources to him (or be kicked from the kingdom if they didn't), used his kingdom in a purposefully destructive way to his governors, or in any other way abused his power as a king... or more commonly been a very poor leader. Again, do not get me wrong, I think that there will always be a skill disparity between the Kings on a server, but what I will argue is that the current system encourages disparity to be larger than it needs to be. And the losers of this happening is the governors.
Given the importance the the King role have over the game experience of other players I think it's high time that we together analyse the King situation and possible remedies to it. Please keep the discussion going in this thread and I will update my solutions section with the new good ideas that are submitted.
~ Problem -- What is the Bad King Situation in TK? ~
In short the "bad king situation" of TK could be descried as: Players are by the game forced to permanently subjugate themselves to a king whom have not proven his ability or willingness to act as leaders or to act in the players own interest, and there are no clear way for governors to judge a King in advance of joining. Or in other words, the game throw players into the force of other players whom more often than not abuse this power in various ways, and in the process sabotage the player experience of the players the game have allocated to them. There are 3 parts of this problem:
1. The Game essentially forces the player to join the first best king based on your randomly allocated position. Alternatively move away from your starting location to another King, which might be just as likely to ruin your experience on that server.
2. The Game does not only facilitates, but also encourages, anyone to assume the King role, independently of his/her suitability to hold this power.
3. The choice of King is in practical permanent. As you start to settle more and more villages in the area of this King, you will eventually find it impossible to revolt against malpractice of the King.
In short. There are no checks and balances on who can assume or hold the King role, and consequently on who will have this huge impact on the player experiences of unknowing governors.
~ Current Solutions -- What do the game offer today to mitigate the problem? ~
There exist only 1 counter measures to the problem today, and that is to only start a server as pre-made with a group that have a king of proven good records as king. Unfortunately this option is not available to new players, and they are left to the lottery of placement.
~ Is this problem solvable? ~
One may begin to think about whether or not TK does something differently than other games of this type, which could enhance this problem. In my experience there are 2 MAJOR difference in TK compared to other games of this type.
1. In the other games there is HUGE amount of work required to be performed before you will be accepted as the leader of an Alliance. Specifically you need to first assume the willingness of the people around you to have you as their leader. This process of trying to gain the loyalty of your neighbours and having them accept you as their leader is by itself sort of a natural filter that will eliminate leaders that cannot handle work of actually being the leader throughout the server. In TK however, the process of becoming a leader is as easy as clicking the left mouse button at the start of the server.
2. In the other games your position as leader is not in anyway fix. You may at any time be switched out for someone else if the members decide they want a better leader.
To summarize, TK is unique in the sense that it requires almost no effort to assume OR to keep the role as King. The only thing that can threaten your position as king is if you AND your governors are demolished by an opposing Kingdom. And the fact that TK is unique in this regard is for me a sign that there are solutions to this problem.
~Proposed Solutions ~
§1. First off is the important question of WHO can assume the powers of being a King. The key here is to set up Barriers of Entry. Before a player even can claim the King role he must have demonstrated some abilities that will be required to lead a kingdom and to keep this governors safe an with at least a hope of going far on the server. A concrete proposal I would like to make is:
- All players on a server start completely without Roles, they start as Majors.
- A Major can pledge loyalty to 1 and only 1 other Major, and thereby signalling that he would be willing to serve as the other Major's Governor should the other Major get enough support to found a Kingdom and be King.
- IF a Major can make 10 other Majors (within a certain distance from him on the map) pledge loyalty to him, then this Major can Start a Kingdom and crown himself as the King. The Majors that had pledged loyalty then instantaneously becomes Governors of this kingdom.
This System would not only filter out Kings that are incompetent in the diplomatic realm. The governors have themselves been engaged in evaluating all players that aspires to be king by asking them for their loyalty. Furthermore, the fact that a king have been able to gain these first 10 loyal Majors to join him as Governor will signal to the other players in this area that this King may actually be someone they can rely on, hence they are also more safe in their decision even if they did not take part in the "evaluation" process.
§2. As I mentioned above. It is not only enough for the King to do a good job in the start of the server, a king should also be required to do a good job throughout the server in order to make the experience enjoyable for the kingdom members. Solution in §1 increases the likelihood of this, but things may happen along the way. In short, should the King be banned for cheating, go inactive for some reason, start to abuse the power of being king, or clearly demonstrate that he is not capable of working in the members interest, then there MUST be a way to replace him. In the current Kingdom Unions this is not possible, which have been criticised here on the forums (I will not enter into this discussion here). In the previous version it was possible for the King to abdicate voluntarily. However, the option to abdicate voluntarily is not enough to protect the Governors and the Dukes from a King that decides to go inactive or begins to abuse his position. There must be a way to replace a King from below.
Before going into suggestions on how such a system could and should work there is one thing that need to be kept in mind. Namely, that even if the King himself is supportive of stepping down as king, maybe due to some unforeseen event IRL that forces him to stop playing.. there are Barrier to Exits that make the process of changing king close to impossible to achieve after a while. Primarily these Barrier to Exits are the treasury villages he is owning. The process of replacing these with villages of the new King is simply too much to go through with. But these Barrier to Exits must be torn down.
So a concrete solution to this problem I would like to make is:
- On the initiation of a Duke, a vote to replace the King with himself (The Duke) will be accessible by all members. Only submitted votes are counted, and a majority of >50% is needed for the change to realize.
- Treasuries are NOT built in normal cities belonging to Kings and Dukes. As a new Active Treasury slot would become available (in the current system) instead a Castle City Slot Becomes available. This slot permits the assigned Duke/King the ability to found a Castle City on the map. These villages have certain properties:
1. These are the only villages in which you can build treasuries.
2. The population in these villages do not count towards the Duke/Kings total population.
3. IF the King/Duke loose his role as King/Duke the ownership of these villages goes to the newly assigned King/Duke instead. The same is true for the troops produced in them. These villages are simply "owned" by a certain Duke/King slot, and the player have only control over these as long as they hold the position of that King/Duke slot. Who even holds these positions gains control of these villages. It is also to these castle villages that the Taxes goes... which in a way ensures that the taxes will be used to increase the power of the Kingdom, no matter of the current King/Duke falls of along the way.
4. These villages have a distinguished look that captures some of the feelings it gives he players that have been lucky enough to hold a World Wonder. Specifically I would find it interesting if the Inner Circle of the village was covered with a Castle (like a WW, but a Castle instead), hence the name.
5. These villages starts with a water ditch (level 1) as if it was a city., and a Wall (level 1).
By this system the kingdom is allowed to live on successfully even in the unfortunate situation of the King goes inactive or something else happens. There are no Barrier to Exits, the only that is needed is a majority vote... + we get a cool new village type .
~ Final Remarks ~
1. As you noticed I did not mentioned anything about the Kingdom Union version here. The reason is that this system can be incorporated with with either 1 or 2 kings. But just from my own preference I see no reason why there need to be 2 kings if you can easily remove a bad king with a new and better.
2. I personally fully support the changes so that we now need 10.000 Treasuries for a new Active Treasury slot. Smaller Kingdoms were indeed needed.
Thanks for reading~