WARNING: Contains coarse language. Reader discretion is advised.
Update: Corrected stronghold level for war rally against a non-alliance city.
Game of War: Fire Age is an MMO Strategy game by developers Machine Zone. In Australia, it is the second top grossing game on Google Play:
And the third top grossing game on iOS (smartphone):
I have discussed the marketing of its in-app purchases in more detail in my previous post, so there’s no need to discuss this here.
Those who are active players, know all too well what it is like to get their city attacked by another player, especially by one of a much higher level/power than themselves. Many have given up in frustration (which explains the abundance of abandoned cities in any given kingdom), and recently-announced new features exclusive to Level 21 players might be the death knell for Machine Zone, or at least for Game of War. More on that later.
I must say, in writing this blog, I feel like the 21st-century equivalent of Sun Tzu when he wrote The Art of War. In Game of War, there will be other players who will be reluctant to help you out, unless you are a member of an alliance. Even then, some members of your alliance (including the leader) might be as new as you are. If you get hit in an unprovoked attack, the higher level players will say, “Well it’s your fault for not shielding up!” Yeah, kinda like blaming a rape victim for being raped. But in this game, players are going to be arseholes, and that is not going to change. There are no real-world consequences upon them (or yourself), legal or otherwise. It’s a game. They’re going to play dirty. So you’re just going to have to outsmart them until you get to their level, grow more powerful than them, and fuck their shit up in retaliation in good time. They’re probably going to hate me for blowing their secrets, but fuck those guys. I’m going to hit them where it really hurts – arming the less powerful players with the knowledge to reduce their risk of losing their hero and their troops. You cannot rely on the goodwill of the other players, especially the big guns – they WILL attack you. Because fuck you, that’s why. Here goes:
#1. Know the Kingdom Rules
Each kingdom has its own set of rules, if any. Find out the rules on the Kingdom Chat. Don’t tell them you’re new; some, if not most of them won’t care, or it has been too long since their novice days that they’ve forgotten what it is like. Remember, give a person anonymity on the Internet, and they will behave like complete arseholes, with absolutely no scruples.
If no one in the Kingdom Chat answers your questions, go to the Chat room section to find a chat room that will give you the details of these rules. If your alliance leader is a novice him/herself (or just very clueless), isn’t very communicative or absent, you need to find this out for yourself. (This is in no way a reflection on my alliance leader whatsoever – but I am not going to deny such people exist.) Go to the Kingdom Chat or Alliance Chat window, tap on the little blue box in the top left corner of the screen. It will roll out a menu. Under the heading “ROOMS”, tap on “Join a Room”. Enter into the search bar, “[Kingdom Name] Rules” and if there is a dedicated chat room to the Kingdom Rules, one should pop up and you’re in. Make sure you understand the rules. Ask the ruling alliance for clarity if the rules don’t make sense. In any event, you will see terminology that will have you thinking, “huh?”
Nap – This means Non Aggression Pact. The details of Nap and the conditions of Nap will be set out in the Kingdom Rules. Usually Nap will be during the week, which makes sense because most people work during the week. As the term suggests, it means that no player can attack another player during nap time. Variations and exceptions exist – for instance, if you’re not an alliance member, or holding a hero captive, you’re fair game. Otherwise, hitting your city is completely off-limits during nap.
Purge – This is the period where every single city in the Kingdom is fair game, limited to individual alliance rules. You can attack, and you can be attacked. If you need to be away from the game for whatever reason and you don’t want your city to get hammered while you’re away, you need to protect your city, your troops, and most importantly, your hero.
Tile hitting – this is where another player parks his/her city on the tile next to you and hammers away. On average, a march from Tile A to Tile B will take about 20 seconds. Some kingdoms have rules against this under certain circumstances.
First March rule – This website explains in more detail on the “first march” rule.
Scouting etiquette – Never, ever scout a resource tile. 99 out of 100 players consider this as an act of war – usually when a scout comes, an attacking army is sure to come later, and this is why scouting is considered as such. However, I have been able to prevent wars by simply sending the offending player a simple message, politely letting them know that they can find out who is occupying a resource tile by simply tapping on it. Diplomacy is just as much a part of war as aggression.
#2. Know the Alliance Rules
For your own sake, you are better off being a member of an alliance than being a lone wolf, especially in kingdoms where players with alliance tags are protected under any alliance Nap rules. Other alliance members can help you speed up your timers, expediting research, training and the like, and you can obtain various items from the alliance store. You earn alliance loyalty by completing alliance quests.
To find out the rules of your alliance, go to the alliance profile by tapping on the alliance tab on the bottom bar, tap on ‘Manage Alliance’, then ‘View Public Profile’. On the public profile, alliances should have their own rules outlined, and list any alliances that are allies, family, alliances with whom they have a peace treaty and/or enemy alliance/s. Big alliances will require members to teleport to the “hive”, which is a cluster of member cities packed tightly next to one another. It is a protection tactic used by alliances to prevent an attack, or minimise damage in the event of one. Familiarise yourself with these rules, because if an alliance has a “scouting is an act of war” rule and someone scouts you, then the delegated diplomat of your alliance can do something about it. By and large, the art of diplomacy is lost on a good chunk of players, and will probably retaliate without so much as a warning message, not even allowing for any leeway for inexperienced players who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. So just putting that out there. Remember that people on the Internet are arseholes, especially when they are granted complete anonymity.
#3. Be Prepared
Now that we’ve covered the basics, and we know the rules and etiquette, let’s move on to the protection strategies:
The Peace shield
As the name suggests, a peace shield, when activated, will prevent scouts and attacks on your city for a set time. They can run for 8 hours (which you can obtain from the alliance store), 24 hours, 3 days or 30 days (which you can buy with gold or obtain from one of the gold packs, if you’re lucky), and once activated, you can sit back and serenely train your troops and research to unlock the next tier of troops and traps, without any other player coming in and running through your city like a bull in a china shop, or sending a scout to sticky-beak into your affairs. It’s basically a “Mind your own business!” shield.
If you are going on an extended holiday/vacation, it is worth buying gold from the app store to activate a 30-day peace shield. The last thing you want is to go on the trip of a lifetime, only to find someone has pillaged your city, plundered your resources, wounded and/or killed your entire army and executed your hero (if you are Level 15 stronghold or higher) while you were away.
However, if you don’t have any peace shields because you’ve run out and you have to wait for the next pay cycle to get more gold (or flatly refuse to buy any altogether), there is another way to protect your troops and hero…
The War Rally
This is also effective if you have a Level 15 or higher stronghold, and have built a prison in which you are holding captured heroes. You cannot raise a peace shield if you are holding heroes.
This type of tactic is also referred to as a “Ghost Rally”.
First, you will need to find an abandoned city without an alliance tag (or a dummy city from a friendly alliance specifically set up for this purpose), or a small city with an alliance tag that seems insignificant to the point that the alliance probably won’t care. Non-alliance cities must be a Level 15 stronghold or higher. To find out if a city is abandoned, send a scout every day or so and monitor any activity. The higher level scouting you have unlocked in the academy, the more detailed information your scout will find. The telltale signs of an abandoned city are no troops, no traps, and in the case of a Level 15 stronghold or higher, no hero. Also check their power – For example, an active player with a Level 12 stronghold will have about 3 million power on average. Because a non-alliance city must be Level 15 stronghold or higher, anything below 3 million power is a good indicator that the city is either the player is semi-active, or has abandoned that city altogether. Multiple scout missions and comparing scout reports will give you an idea. When you have chosen your target, bookmark that city, or write down the city name and coordinates. You can get this information by tapping on the city in question. The pop-up screen will give you the city name, owner name, power level, alliance level (if any), Kingdom name and coordinates. For example: Fancypants Town – Owner: Mr Tibbles, Power: 123,456, Alliance: None [or if in an alliance – Alliance: [Fb#] Fun Boys], Coords: K: 123, X: 456 Y: 789. If you run out of bookmark slots, either screenshot it or write it down in a paper notepad. You’re going to need it later. Make sure that they are as far away enough as your march distance allows.
You’ve got your list of target cities, and purge has started. You’re either out of peace shields, or you can’t raise one because you’re holding heroes. This is what you do:
- Go to the map view, and enter the coordinates of your target city. Tap on that city, and tap on the ‘Rally’ button under the ‘profile’ button.
- The next screen will open, when you select your troops to rally. Rally EVERYONE, including your hero. This is important, especially if you are Level 15 or higher. If your hero is captured, you will lose all the boosts and benefits that your hero bestows upon your city, and you will be well and truly up Shit Creek without a paddle if your hero is executed (in which case, you had better get yourself a hero resurrection from the alliance store). When your rally is active, any scout report from an enemy will come up as nil troops, no hero present. If you really want to make them earn their salt, you can have your wall traps maxed out and an anti-scout boost activated. Hey, if they’re going to be arseholes, you may as well be an arsehole to them too, just for good measure.
If you are really paranoid about whether or not all your troops and hero have been rallied, you can check on this by tapping on the barracks – The number of troops housed in the barracks should read nil. To check to make sure your hero has also been rallied, go to the map view and find a monster. Tap on the monster as you would normally do to send your hero to attack it. You should get a warning message, “Your hero is not in your city right now!” Now you’re set.
- Select the maximum rally time, which is about 8 hours. Even if they haven’t marched yet, any scout report will still show up as nil troops.
Next is the waiting game. If you do get attacked during an active rally, you may lose some resources (make sure your storehouse is upgraded to the maximum to minimise your losses), you will lose silver, any captured heroes will escape, some wall traps might be annihilated beyond salvation, but your troops will be safe, and most importantly, your hero. Secondly, you will not be spending resources in healing wounded troops (and that is the most taxing on your resources).
#4. If you really fuck up and your hero gets captured…
Letting one’s guard down can happen to the best of us. You may have a peace shield up, but for whatever reason (be it a lapse in time sense, daylight saving starting or ending, or a bug in the game), your peace shield expires or your rally finishes, and you’re a sitting duck. Say someone attacks your city between the time your peace shield/rally expires and the time you next log on. If you’re a level 10-14 stronghold, there’s nothing much your captor can do, except release your hero. Once you get to level 15 or higher, then this is where the playing field changes. Your hero can be executed, if your captor so desires. The captor can hold a hero for approximately three days (give or take, depending on prison level) before a hero can be executed. If your hero isn’t released after a relatively short period of time, you can:
- Send the captor a calm, polite but firm message, asking for your hero’s release. (Anything aggressive or rude, could jeopardise you and/or your alliance.) S/he may comply. If not…
- Go on a rescue mission to free your hero. Attack the city, and your hero should be able to make an escape. If, however, the captor is way more powerful than you…
- Put a bounty on your hero’s release. Don’t put some piddly amount – make the bounty a six-figure sum or higher. Make it worthwhile for a potential rescuer. Post the coordinates and the amount of the bounty in the Kingdom chat. Do not use emotive language. Just put the name of the player, the amount, coordinates and that’s it. Ignore any smartarse responses. Remember, people granted anonymity on the Internet are going to be total arseholes. Do not give them any energy. I cannot emphasise that enough!
Speaking of people being arseholes on the internet, whatever you do…
#5. Never, EVER rant on the Kingdom Chat
If your hero’s captor is much more powerful than you, and you start ranting about honour and the like on the Kingdom Chat, all they will do is laugh at you, and no doubt cackle maniacally from their tablet or smartphone as they gleefully teleport to your hive, attack your city again, and destroy every unshielded city in your alliance. Because fuck you, that’s why. Yes, I know it sounds like all the hallmarks of a mentally unstable person, but this is the end result of granting people anonymity on the Internet. They will act like total dickheads, because they know that there will be no real-world consequences upon them for their behaviour.
Instead, lay low, build yourself up, and plot your revenge.
And revenge is a dish best served cold.
One other thing…
As mentioned previously, Machine Zone had announced that they would be offering exclusive defence boosts for Level 21 players. The in-game promotion boasts that it will make their cities “impenetrable”.
I can see the outcome of this: Knowing that their cities will become virtually invincible if they invest in these defence boosts, they can go on an unbridled rampage, attacking all and sundry in their kingdom. Why? Why does a dog lick his balls? Because he can! Why does a Level 21 stronghold player with these boosts go around and attacking all and sundry? Because they can! Give it time, and the existing players will give up and uninstall the app, effectively abandoning their cities. No new players will come in, and if they do, they’ll be gone fairly quickly. After all those Level 21 players are done pillaging those abandoned cities and executing the heroes of the abandoned Level 15+ strongholds, they will probably continue walloping those cities until boredom sets in, then they’ll have no other choice but to turn on each other.
Way to kill the golden goose, albeit slowly. The only other alternative is for the smaller players to be patient (and cunning) enough to evade the predator Level 21 stronghold players, become Level 21 themselves and beat the shit out of the predators who strong-armed the kingdom while the newer players were just small fry.
One last word about those Level 21 players: If, as you lay on your deathbed, your only ever achievement in life was to become one of those Level 21 stronghold players described above, then you lived a very sad, sorry existence indeed. And I won’t hate you. I will pity you.
May you live forever.