The default approach for an alliance in Illyriad is to be broadly military, and to seek mutual self-defense. And the default approach for players is to want to build up cities, sometimes with a military slant. So, alliances gather players together, help them build up and encourage them to be militarily strong so that they can defend one another. Fair enough. But it’s a bit… predictable?
However, a few alliances are offering something more than “peace through superior firepower”. These are all “at time of writing”, and some will decline and new options will emerge, but players looking for a more focused or less military game might start with these.
Black Skull Horde are an Orc-only alliance, dedicated to building an Orc Nation in Mal Motsha. The last alliance who tried to build a geographical nation (The Mal Motshans) tried to do it by overwhelming their neighbors – and they got destroyed for being bullies. BSH look as if they are being more considerate, and making fewer enemies along the way. So, for Orc players who want a military game with a genuine goal, they are an interesting option.
(Update: I’ve been contacted by the newly formed Southern League asking me to mention their efforts to build a peaceful/defensive/trade-focused territorial holding in Azura. I’ve just founded an alliance myself, Lords of Frost, aimed on tight defensive/military cooperation in a very small area of the frozen north. And there are also established alliances who tend towards certain broad areas, like Grudge Bearer spreading across the far north and far north west. Please excuse me if I now do not list every alliance’s territorial predilections!)
The idea of a trade-focused alliance is interesting. This looks like what the Free Trade Guild, and perhaps the larger the Illy Trade League, are aiming for, with spreads of small players all over the map. At the moment trade is a fairly straightforward affair, mediated by the in-game Market, but with the developers promising “Trade version 2” some time soon, trade may open out into a more intriguing area of the game – and a trade-focused alliance could really shine.
Conclave is a small alliance focusing on Diplomatic units and trade & diplomacy. They are not taking the obvious approach of equating Diplomatic Units with mindless theft, and when I was handling diplomacy for Valar I was certainly impressed by them.
Of course, if there were wealthy traders and diplomats, with lots of gold and few troops, that would lead to the interesting prospect of mercenary armies fighting wars as their proxies. At the moment I can see few mercenary alliances, and that is a shame. I personally think that there is a great deal of room for intelligent, tactful, patient mercenary groups. One alliance to check out on this basis would be the small Free Mercenaries alliance.
Whether or not you think that the Horde, Illy Traders, Conclave or Free Mercenaries are for you, the game will be made much more interesting by a proliferation of less obvious alliances. We should all support the players who try to do something interesting in the sandbox of Illyria.