When the latest Tournament was announced, I had a few in-game mail exchanges with people who were moping that “we can’t win this – why should we bother trying?” (The more politically astute noted “it’s obvious who is going to win, so why would anyone bother trying to compete?”, but that inevitability is a subject for a different post.)
“We can’t win, so why bother?” is a natural thought. But it misses the point. It assumes that the only way to win is to be the top-dog supremo.
In life, not all runners will win a gold at the Olympics, and not all scientists will get a Nobel Prize. Yet both, in their own way, still compete. The runner seeks to beat his best time, to finish ahead of the guy he was behind last time, to qualify for the next heat. The scientist competes to get her research published, to get a professorship, to make a break-through in her field.
So, in Illyriad. Illyriad is a sandbox. You decide what you want to achieve. But you have to be realistic with your dreams – expecting to always be number one out of thousands will simply lead to disappointment.
As someone whose alliance is ranked 64th in size, “victory” in its most obvious sense was never going to be an option in this Tournament. But we’re still getting a load of fun out of this. After a little thought, we identified several ways we could enjoy it. Our thoughts (both what we decided on, and other options) are below – thoughts which might help others in smaller alliances, in this or later Tournaments.
- Beat the spread, punch above your weight, and bite back for the underdog! Lords of Frost are the 64th biggest alliance. At time of writing, we’re ranked 26th in the Tournament. That’s pretty good going. We could be in the race to see how far up the leaderboard we can finish.
- Play the long game. Again, for a geographically focused alliance, we have the option of just making a point. We might aim to ensure that by the end of the Tournament our neighbours should all be saying “those Frost guys may be small, but they’re pretty scary!” That might give us an edge in future Tournaments, or politically. The aim would not to be to win the Tournament, but to establish a reputation.
- Local victory. Lords of Frost looked at four squares close to our core holdings, and wondered if we could just focus our attentions on one or two of them. If we can’t win overall, can we grab a crown locally?
- Training. Most small alliances will have had limited exposure to coordinated attacks and defenses. The Tournament could be used to practice coordinated attacks, and coordinated defenses, against real live opponents.
- Support. The Lords of Frost are a small alliance with goods relationships with several page-one alliances. We considered messaging one of them, probably our Confederates in Absabroke, to ask if they wanted us to launch Raids against their nominated targets, in order to bolster their own efforts. (Raids are perfect for this, as Raiding armies cannot ever be completely wiped out, so we could do this without significantly running down our armies.)
That’s five ways to get some fun, or benefit, or both, out of the Tournament for those who are not going to be top-dog.