Monday, March 16, 2009

The new face of shifting allegiances

The other day, I told my Superior something I found highly significant. "If you're a Mogul, you can't switch to another Mogul." She understood the implications almost immediately. For the new universe of Tiny Empires 3000, changing to another Superior is going to be a significantly different set of calculations, and the effect this will have on large-scale development has yet to be seen. To illustrate the point, let's compare old vs new- ranks and holdings needed for them:

Tiny EmpiresTiny Empires 3000
RankNumber of AcresNumber of ShipsRank
Peasant1-42 - 9Runner
Squire5-910 - 19Courier
Knight10-2420 - 49Merchant
Baron25-4950 - 99Trader
Viscount50-99100 - 499Trade baron
Count100-199500 - 999Broker
Marquis200-4991,000 - 9,999Mogul
Duke500-99910,000 +Captain
Prince1000 +????Director

The first obvious thing to note is that the number of ships for each rank is considerably more than the number of acres in the original game. Or, put another way, there are fewer ranks at the low end, and more at the high end (two more after Mogul, and before Guild Leader, which is the equivalent of King). The numbers are a lot higher. Now, what does this mean in practice, when it comes time to switch allegiances?

Harder to switch

In the new game, there are fewer candidates to switch to, since the ranks are spread out over more area. This is most notable at the higher ranks. A mogul can not switch to another mogul- it must be a Captain or Director.

Harder to gain rank by getting new people

The clause of "A Prince can switch to a Prince" in the original game meant that anything above a thousand acres left absolutely no restrictions on who could go with who. A Prince with fifty thousand acres could switch to a Princess with one thousand. Whole kingdoms could flip with one click of a switch... and then back. Now, let's look at an ambitious Mogul with 1,000 ships. He wants to be a Captain with 10,000 ships. With a shortfall of 9,000, he decides to recruit others. But he can't recruit another Mogul with, say, five or six thousand. This means that his best option is to recruit Brokers, with a maximum of 999 ships each. In this best case scenario, it takes no less than ten brokers! (Though in this case, he could surely get by with nine and just buy the remaining ships himself). Still, the point remains. Going from Mogul to Captain is done in small steps, earned the hard way, recruited over time.

Harder to correct mistakes

Let's say a Captain has 10,500 ships. Then, one of his Moguls with 2,500 ships leaves. (Let's call it an accident). The mogul can't return! The former Captain, now Mogul, can't accept that rank any more, and has to build back the hard way. This sort of thing happens all across the lines. Within that space of 1,000 to 9,999 , and in the higher space of ten thousand to who knows (my guess is 20 to 50 thousand), you can leave, but you can't come back. The old "anyone can go under anyone" will be reserved for directors.

Fewer guilds than kingdoms

What will be the minimum size for a guild? It's unclear at this point. My personal guess is anywhere from fifty thousand to as much as a million, though I personally think the most likely number is a hundred thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand. This means not only fewer guilds than kingdoms, but the lack of a standings page means it will be harder to organize one.

So, what is the summary here? We're looking at a game with far less 'fluidity' in its movements than the old one. Moving is more likely to be permanent, and it's harder to work back up. This means more direct subordinates per player, as lines get broken up, or else players that are extremely loyal. It will be harder to advance in the higher ranks- no fast deals with another Prince to get what you want. There will be a huge difference in respect between a Mogul and a Captain (or even more so, a Director). As one friend told me, "There isn't really any difference between a Prince with a thousand acres, and one with ten thousand." That isn't true anymore.

So tend well to your own business, and keep your friends close and loyal. This time, there is no fast way to the top.

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