You need to be looking at this game from a point of view of trying to create incentives for players to fight other players, not the environment.
Have you considered the possibility of having all players spawn on a 15 cropper, which then changes to a 6 cropper when they go gray?
If a player's capital is on a 15 cropper, and the capital is zeroed, then the 15 cropper remains a 15 cropper and is available to be settled.
But if a player on a 15 cropper goes gray, the 15 cropper reverts to a 4-4-4-6er.
I don't know exactly how that would all work, but players would all be able to get croppers, and the only way to get another cropper is to take it away from another player.
I think people would fight for that.
I would like to propose an idea here that I haven't seen before, having to do with robbers.
What if, after a certain point in the game (like after collecting a certain amount of treasures), the kingdom could once and for all completely defeat the robbers such that they do not return all server long. As a reward for completely defeating the robbers, the kingdom would gain a permanent benefit to the kingdom, such as a kingdom-wide fighting strength boost for troops, or else a kingdom-wide resource production boost, or a kingdom-wide troop training speed boost.
The trade off for getting the boosts is that your supply of treasure generation is now gone. The benefit, though, is that now you don't have to waste your time on the pesky robbers and can focus all attention on the enemy. Since kingdoms that opt for the boost are not generating treasures, they have to steal their treasures from the enemy kingdoms.
Where would the trade-offs have to be balanced such that 50% of the kingdoms would opt for the kingdom wide boost while the other 50% would opt to keep the robbers?
I would suggest that it would need to be framed as a decision that kings would have to make sometime in mid-game, and that it is a decision that gets locked in and you can't get out of it without disbanding the kingdom. If the kingdom disbands, the process restarts from scratch and any boosts that were in operation are reset to the original statistics.
Personally, when I am farming (rare because I have gotten lazy about it in my old age), and I get annoyed by spikers, I just croplock the gray villages.
Heck, sometimes I resource-lock AND croplock the biggest gray villages that I can find.
Croplocking an inactive ensures that spiking will fail. If you're lucky, they try and spike with their hero, and the hero dies. Immensely satisfying.
Resource-AND-croplocking an inactive ensures that if someone conquers it, they get a sucky village. I like doing this because I hate it when people use their valuable chiefs to take a village from the inactives. I personally feel that chiefs and more importantly the expansion slots and culture points for new villages ought to be used to take villages from active enemy players.
By croplocking and resource-locking inactives I feel I am doing the server a favor (in a small way) by lowering the benefits of interacting with the NPC and by comparison, raising the benefits of interacting with active players.
do you think this effect could be added to the natar horn? Currently several ideas are being considered like making the natar horn work against all NPC, natars, animals and robbers. We'd love to hear what you think about that!
I like that idea a lot.
If you can only attack players you are at war with then you eliminate farming, unless you declare war on the server? lol I think that is a bad idea
Why not declare war on the whole server? I think that the default setting for diplomacy should be war.
Abusing NPC (inactives are NPC) is not a competition in any way.
If you are arguing that defending an inactive is abuse of the NPC, then by the same logic it would follow that attacking an inactive is abuse of the NPC.
This is a self-contradiction. How can attacking an inactive be legitimate, while defending an inactive is not legitimate. Both are interaction with NPC. Attacking gains the attacker resources. Defending deprives the attacker of resources and may cause troop loss (strategic gain for defender). But if a defender defends an inactive, and the attacker figures it out, then the attacker can come back with an overwhelming force and easily wipe out the defender's troops while losing few of his own (a strategic gain for the attacker). Defenders cannot risk putting their whole anvil in an inactive because since it is inactive, there is a large probability that the anvil might starve. So if the attacker wises up to the game and comes back in full force to clear the defenders' troops, the advantage will always be with the attacker.
You also suggested earlier that it's impossible to tell who is defending inactives. It's difficult, but not impossible. It's like hunting for a spy in your alliance. First, you make your list of suspects. Narrow it by tribe, if possible, eliminating two thirds of the suspects. Then you start tracking each of the suspects defence points. Send attacks on the inactive that's being spiked, and look at which of the suspects' defense points go up by the amount that corresponds to the number of troops you lost. If you find a perfect match, then there's a good chance you found the culprit. Now go take vengeance on their account.
One more time...plundering is the the way to build and feed hammer to fight your enemies to have fun, no plundering = no war = no fun
Curtain has spoken well. Spiking farms is simply one tactic among many when it comes to competition between players in Travian. When you're trying to farm, it's annoying. But if one player could figure out how to take a nice dent out of his enemy's ghost hammer by spiking a few farms, and had some decent assurance that he wouldn't be killing his own team-mates offence troops, I think that would be acceptable gameplay.
In the end though, I don't spike farms because the benefit I perceive (killing enemy troops) isn't worth the cost (hassle factor and risk of accidentally killing friendly troops).
For this reason I stand by my statement that the claim that "one could do massive damage to all the offensive troops on the server by spiking a few farms" is baseless. Evidence to support this assertion has yet to be provided.
Friendly-fire and immature farm spiking happens too, and I think the appropriate response to that is to figure out who is doing it and kick them out of the alliance and farm them so they have something worthwhile to defend. Maybe cat their villages for good measure.
Personally I think that inactive accounts should be removed far sooner after going inactive. I would love to see less interaction with the computer (inactives, adventures, and robbers) driving more interaction between players.
It seems that Kingdoms is really designed for pre-made teams. I have basically only played kingdoms as a dual on an account that plays in a pre-made team. We don't have any of the king problems mentioned so far, mainly because we only choose as kings the people who have played in the pre-made for a server or more and proven themselves. The leadership core is a TEAM.
Usually it goes that nobody really wants to be the king because of all the work, but then somebody has to do it and kings and dukes are selected ahead of time, then in we go and join a server together and we more or less don't have to worry about the kingdom shenanigans.
I think the advice for governors ought to be: get in the game, use your first server to discover a team or band of players that you would like to play with in future servers, sit through the first server together and develop some camaraderie, then join the next server as a pre-made and be prepared to do some real damage!
Perhaps Travian needs to more explicitly explain to new players that this is how it works best.
Think about it like this:
I could destroy all the hard work of all the plunderers on the server just by spending a few hours of work per week spiking, for however long i want.
This is a baseless assertion. And even if you could find evidence for its truth, then why on earth wouldn't everyone be employing this tactic as a way to whittle down the enemy's hammers? The truth is, that spiking is a minor annoyance and that to use spiking to cause significant damage would require more effort than most people are willing to put into it.
People who are trying to farm up big end game hammers are trying to farm inactives because it is a low-risk activity. Almost a no-risk activity. The rewards are small, and so for it to be really rewarding, you need to be able to do micro-farming with really small troop numbers. Lots of grunt work, but low risk of losing the hammer. 2 or three troops at each inactive is ideal.
When your enemy is using his hammer for farming and otherwise not bringing the troops out to play, there is nothing that you, as a defender, can do about it unless you can get sneaky and discover which villages the enemy is farming, and then spike those farms. I've never seen this done as a team, but it could conceivably be used as a team tactic for evening up the odds with the enemy or gaining an advantage somehow. The problem with this as a team tactic is that there is a high risk of friendly fire if the communication is not great within the team. Theoretically possible, but not worth the trouble. There are just better ways to use your heroes and troops.
As far as problems go, spiking of inactives is a really, really minor thing. Leave it be and focus on bigger problems.
Surely Travian could at least do a trial run with something like this. Make it a tournament server, where you have to pay a subscription fee to get into the game. Everyone who pays to play gets X amount of gold per month and can choose how to spend it (like a test server, kinda). But once the gold is spent, you can't buy more. This introduces some tradeoffs to make the game interesting. Make Tournament servers to be something where you have to pay to get in and stay in, but once you're in, everyone is on relatively equal footing.
That might make the tournament rounds actually mean something. And attract more players.
I like this idea. Also like the idea you mentioned elsewhere about making diplomacy meaningful.
Like... you can only attack players who you are at war with; only reinforce players with whom you have a confederacy, etc.
For this game to have some balance and attract more players:
1. Limit capacity of kingdom members
2. Remove 6 wonders and only 1 remains (center 0/0)
3. Make Center map ( 0/0 ) the natar area (similar to RoA)
4. Add artifacts
5. Give free gold to everyone 50-100 per week (to attract players)
Agree or not, gold whales are 1 reason why the game is declining. Sure tk earn with them but the number of players are getting lower and lower. Beginners lose motivation specially those who can't gold much which in return resulting to incompetence due to big difference between a golder and non-golder. There is huge difference of a golder and a skilled non-golder. No matter how good you are in the game and how active you are. The player who golds a lot still has all the advantage.
These are interesting ideas, but don't really relate to the topic of how to fix the broken VP system.
It's why I suggested a size limit on Kingdoms. Then you can't just be better by being bigger.
Unfortunately I rather suspect that you are right. I'm hoping that by constantly hammering the message it might eventually penetrate!
No, it's certainly not enough on its own, but what it does is (assuming a maximum size of 60, say, on current Com servers):
1. Stop Metas. You can't be a Meta with 60 players.
2. Prevent the extremes of VP abuse for pretty much the same reasons as above.
3. Create more opportunities for conflict - and real diplomacy! If you can't merely all join up together, then you can't just sim to the win.
Yes, there's more to do, but limiting Kingdom size is the best single thing that can be done to ensure better play and a fairer result. You still need to severely tweak the whole VP mechanism, but this is an easy, and to my mind obvious, first step.
I think the idea of a size limit is also a good idea. I would propose maybe 5 to 8 governors per duke, which puts an end-game meta in the neighborhood of 40 players.
In the two servers that I have played, all of the end-game metas were roughly in the neighborhood of 40 to 60 players anyway.
So if you consider this to be a critical change, then my revised recommendations would be:
1). Non-transferrable VP, combined with more efficient VP generation for smaller-than-average alliances. For Treasure VP generation, choose one of the options:
1.a) Treasures generate VP in active treasuries. The higher the treasury level, the more efficient the VP generation.
1.b) Treasures must be spent to buy VP which is permanently attached to that kingdom. (this one I didn't suggest earlier, but it could be a viable approach)
2). Limit Kingdom Size to force proliferation of smaller kingdoms. I think we all agree this is important. I would love to see a kingdom limited to 20 or 30 players.
3). Make treasures to be something governors can build in a treasury. The higher the treasury, the faster the treasures are generated.
4) Option for kings to decide between spending treasures on VP or on purchasing kingdom-wide boosts for their team.
Number 1 and 2 are the must-haves; number 3 would I think open a greater variety of strategies for competition between alliances. Number 4 would just create a system for rewarding teamwork within the alliance.
I think I would pay to play on a non-gold (or limited gold) server.
Where I draw the line is trade routes. I will refuse to play without trade routes.
I know the VP situation is problematic right now, and would like to share my suggestions.
One aspect of VP production that is working well is the way that VP are generated gradually over time by Treasures that are sitting in an active treasury controlled by the team.
VP Bonuses for stealing treasures from other alliances which leads to complicated webs of intrigue where people win by deception rather than through actual battles.
Solution: For starters, remove what is broken. Make VP completely non-transferable once earned.
I think if you do this single fix, it will help the gameplay mechanics significantly. It will still favor metas, but it won't favor friendly treasure sharing between alliances.
On another note, I have a few ideas that I would like to toss out there for consideration. I haven't seen these ideas thrown out anywhere else, so I apologize if I missed something and these ideas have already been discussed to death.
1. Victory Points are earned permanently and are non-transferable. However, the rate of VP production should depend on the level of the active treasury in which they are being stored. So a level 20 treasury produces more VP per treasure per day than a level 1 treasury. Knocking out a single high level treasury imposes more significant disruption to VP than knocking several smaller treasuries. I suggest that some kind of mechanic is used so that the smaller the population of a kingdom, the greater the efficiency in VP production from Treasures. So, metas have more treasures, but smaller alliances generate VP more efficiently from their smaller stash of treasures, narrowing the gap slightly.
2. Get rid of the damn robbers. Make treasures to be something that the governors have to spend resources to build in their own treasury (or maybe a special building only governors can build just for building treasures). Make treasure production something similar to troop training such that the higher the level of the production building, the faster the treasures are created. From there, allow the governors to sell their treasures to the king, duke, or robber baron as usual and receive a nifty return on their investment for making treasures. The governor's treasure production building should be targetable by catapults so that the game has a strategic alternative for knocking out the enemy's treasure production capabilities.
The importance of putting treasure production in the hands of the governors is that it opens of the strategic option of cutting off (or crimping) the supply of treasures to the enemy by targeting the high-level treasuries of their governors.
3. Option to Sacrifice Treasures for Kingdom Boosts. This idea is really just for fun, and to try to introduce some team-based rewards into the system. I think it would be cool if the king could choose to spend treasures in exchange for some kind of permanent kingdom-wide boost, similar to the effects of the artifacts in Travian Legends. If the king decided to spend the treasures on the kingdom-wide boost, those treasures would be gone forever. It should be costly enough so that the decision is not made lightly.
It could be any range of cool boosts:
* attack bonus when attacking an enemy on whom the kingdom has declared war
* merchant speed boost
* crop production boost
* movement between alliance members boost
* everyone in the kingdom gets trade routes boost
Lots of room for creativity. The point is, the king has to make a decision between getting a sweet boost, or putting those treasures into earning victory points.
I still feel the servers are far, FAAAR too short. It takes until day 60 before you can fight properly. That lasts for about a month which isn't that long. After that, most people stop caring since it's endgame time and only the few relevant alliances have something to do.
Also, another problem I've been running into - and this is gonna sound hopelessly arrogant - is that there are very, very few alliances and players left who really know how to play. Great, you have an amazing alliance that's setup the way it should be, with just the right people..but who are you going to fight? It feels like you need to wade through hordes and hordes of noobs until you finally meet an opponent worth a damn. I'd be happy to find more than 2 actually good alliances on a server. It'll take years to rebuild the general quality levelto a point where most servers will have more than one or two reasonably good alliances, and TK's incentives are just not setup to help do that. Much the opposite, they only serve to encourage metas (yes, there we go again). It will probably never get there. And yeah they're trying stuff with the test server, which I don't really have an opinion on yet, and also the special T3.6-like server (Rise of Alliance or something). Maybe it helps, we'll see the effects in a few years from now.
Of course the rise of alliance thing won't work with just one server, but if that version is ever implemented on at least several running servers at a time, that could help save Travian...Idk, I just feel like TK is a lost cause and probably won't be returning to it either after this server.
I don't really agree that there are too few good alliances to fight. It's fun to dismantle a bad alliance, and it's really fun to fight and do real damage on a good alliance. But I agree that the time available for fighting (where you can do real significant damage) is too short. One operation gone awry, and the alliance has to stop fighting for a couple weeks just to rebuild siege weapons back to the point where you can inflict real damage.
The one thing I really like about the "finding lost troops" adventure is that ultimately this means that we have more siege weapons, since siege weapons are often the limiting factor in how much real damage can be inflicted.
If I have 3000 catapults, and I lose them all but can get 1500 of them back 2 weeks later, then I will definitely attempt more zero-poppings. And I'm imagining that for a zero-popped village, the troops don't come back. So I risk half my hammer to attempt a zero-popping on an enemy. If I lose, I lose half my hammer and the defenders get back some of their dead troops. If I lose most of my hammer but the village gets zeroed, then I get half my troops back and the enemy gets back none. The more I think about this, the more I like it. There would be serious incentive to try to go for the zero-popping, as long as the troops of a zeroed village cannot be revived.
I would like to add one thing on the subject of incentivizing combat:
I believe people do not fight over treasures because there is a glut of treasures. Treasures, to be valuable, must be scarce. So the supply of treasures should be turned on in the beginning of the game, and then the supply must be cut after a certain amount of time so that no more new treasures are being added to the game.
I believe that this would greatly increase the incentives for fighting over treasures.
I am nearing the end of my 4th sequential server of Travian Kindoms, and have one idea that I think could improve the game play.
By mid-game, my king's treasuries are drowning in treasures, and all the duke's treasuries were full too. There was no point in attacking other alliances to take their treasures because the limiting factor was treasury space and we knew that their treasuries would refill out of their overflow as fast as we could steal treasures. There was no way to really halt the advance in their victory points by taking treasures.
In order for treasures to be valuable and worth fighting over, they must be scarce.
After 30 days, make the robbers hideouts disappear altogether. No more new treasures at all; only fighting over the treasures that have already been released into the game in the first 30 days.
I believe that this would keep the treasures scarce enough to be worth fighting over. If you can't steal them and get them, you don't get to earn victory points. If you lose them, they cannot be replaced without risking hammers.
Make the base calculation of the modifier enemy troops killed * your troops survived. So a splat gives you nothing. Enemies dodging gives you nothing (unless it's a treasury, and then you get treasures and possibly VPs depending on alliance/kingdom standing). Well timed follow homes, especially cav on clubs, returns a motza. Picking the right target and killing a reasonable amount of def for minimal losses to your hammer returns an absolute bonanza. Alternatively, make it enemy troops killed/your troop losses - similar sort of return, the more troops you kill for minimal losses, the bigger modifier boost you get. If that modifier keeps increasing with every successful attack, an alliance that doesn't have huge treasures but chooses their targets wisely and attacks heavily could still outperform the sort of meta simtastic alliances that tend to dominate servers as it stands - especially if you scale the battle calculations for relative size.
To bring this down to a single, shortish paragraph for the tl:dr modern generation... I don't think you need to dream up new mechanics - I think the basics of TK is a massive improvement on TL. You need to tweak VPs to reward attacks, you need to fix the imbalance towards def (and I get you're after a slice of the casual gaming market, so no huge consequences, but you've overloaded def with the hero bonus and items), and you need to tweak battle calcs and reins/diplomacy to allow for other strategies than meta for a server win.
This is excellent. Do this.