Here’s a little Illyriad soap opera plot for you….
There was an unfriendly player who thought that he could steal from his neighbours, and beat up his former friends. He sent out his thieves to steal for him, and sent out his armies too. He even sent messages mocking his former friends, saying that even though he wasn’t very big or tough they would still be unable to defend themselves against him. But ah, this foolish fellow failed to take account of the importance of Neighbours! It is a cautionary tale…
The player in question had left his alliance, Eagles’ Eyrie, and started attacking them. He also sent thieves and saboteurs to plunder from those around him. His decision-making was mathematical, logical. Eagles’ Eyrie is very spread out, so he calculated that they wouldn’t be able to respond swiftly to his predations. And the way the rules work it is mathematically unlikely that his thieves’ victims would receive reports that would identify him.
However, the folks based around him all chat happily to each other, and can keep an eye on suspicious diplomatic units (e.g. thieves), getting a sense of where they are going from and to. And the leader of Eagles’ Eyrie gets on pretty well with the leader of Lords of Frost (i.e. me, Kurdruk), who in turn has a Confederation with Absabroke and friendly relations with a lot of the local PA players. Almost all of the miscreant’s neighbours are in Frost, Absa and PA.
So, Eagle’s Eyrie sends a message to a network of folks who are already suspicious of this trouble-maker. To cut a long story short, at time of writing, he has his settlements Blockaded, his armies destroyed, and two page-one (highly ranked) alliances offering to do whetever they need to to end his aggressions. And bluntly, he has got off lightly: if he had annoyed a more vindictive bunch of players, it would have been much worse for him.
The lesson for would be aggressors is pretty obvious: what you can “get away with” isn’t about the mathematics. It isn’t about the odds of detection for your diplomatic attacks, or the travel times for your victims’ armies. It’s about whether the well-connected players of Illyriad will tollerate you being aggressive – and generally, they won’t. OK, but…
The more interesting insight is for those who are considering joining Alliances. The security your Alliance affords is not merely statistical. Eagles’ Eyreie isn’t strong just because Hathaldir and the other big Eagles players are big, strong and intelligent – although they are that. It is also that Hathaldir is respected, connected and liked – Eagles’ Eyrie have friends. And the agressor here wasn’t just vulnerable because he is small, but also because he had annoyed his neighbours.
So, if you’re looking to join an alliance and keep yourself safe, then don’t just look at the numbers. Go for an alliance with friends, and be nice to your Neighbours.