A couple of weeks ago, the way that animals behaved on the map of Illyria changed. Instead of just popping up, animal groups started to move around, and grow and divide, like they are migrating and breeding.
It’s tempting to say “oh that’s a cute little detail”, and move on. But look deeper….
I compared notes with a couple of other players as to what animals were doing in their parts of the world. One said that her area, with few players and all of them peaceful, was thick with big animal groups, with nothing smaller than a Horde in evidence, and that the animals seemed to have started attacking each other. Another said that his areas was almost barren of animals, with just a couple of tiny populations – though he then said that his neighbours (it’s a Black Skull Horde area) were annoyed that they couldn’t find more animals to hunt: the BSH players had hunted their local populations to extinction, it seems.
I doubt that the GMs have done this just as a cute detail. There’s obviously a logic here – there is a reason why they are letting the players over-hunt animals. Three options leap to mind:
- If the GMs intend animals to become more important in some way, then having large local populations will be an asset. Perhaps in the future players who can preserve local populations will benefit in some way. Presumably this would lead to players deciding whether to go for XP (hunting animals for Commander Experience), or the animals’ own benefits, whatever they may be.
- This may just be about XP farming. If animal groups are reproducing based on a percentage (I haven’t measured this), then the most effective strategy for gaining XP through attacking them will be to let the groups grow really large, and then Raid them at a rate which keeps the populations large but stable; meanwhile, less disciplined players will keep Attacking the populations and wiping them out, thus gaining fewer XP. So this could just be a way to reward players for being clever and disciplined.
- This change may also, intentionally or unintentionally, increase conflict and tension between players. If some players are benefiting from large populations (e.g. through Raiding for XP), and other benefit from destroying these (e.g. Attacking for the XP), then this could lead to clashes and diplomatic disputes. Players already recognise that attacking cities and counter-claiming Sovereignty are hostile acts. Might we get to a point where people feel ownership of animal groups, and see attacks on these groups as hostile acts, too?
Or, of course, the GMs might have other cunning pans afoot. More suggestions welcome. But one way or another, this is not an insignificant or cosmetic change.