When Wargamers and Farmers Fight?

Illyriad is currently experiencing an unusually high level of in-game violence. One possible reading of this situation (which I personally believe to be accurate, but that’s an argument for the Illyriad Forums) is that this war is between those who wish to pursue a non-consensual PvP approach, and those who wish to avoid PvP (at least, non-consensual PvP). If so, this means we have:

  • a war between those who are all dedicated wargamers, and those who are mainly farmers.
  • one side fighting because they want to fight, and the other fighting for the right to not have to fight.

Reduced to this simple summary, two immediate problems jump out:

  • In a war between wargamers and farmers, one might suspect that the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
  • To fight for the right to not fight is a contradiction. More than that, if the wargamers are looking to fight wars, then to stand up to them is to give them what they clearly want – a wargame – while to roll over and surrender is to give them the other thing that they presumably want – victory.

There is also a deeper problem here. If we imagine that the farmers might actually manage to gain the upper hand, militarily, then what exactly would victory look like for them? Again, there are two problems that emerge.

  • In the short term, if they are saying (which they are) that players should not have the right to unjustly destroy others’ cities, then they are constraining their own ability to weaken their opponents in the long term, and to regain losses. (In fact, in the present case, many of the farmers believe that nobody should ever be deprived of a city, nor forced out of the game, on which basis it becomes incredibly difficult for them to weaken their opponents, who have no such qualms about weakening them.)
  • In the long term, the farmers do not just have to win this war. They have to win every war that the wargamers might start in the future. After all, a wargamer who is happy to eliminate a courageous farmer need do so only once to be rid of the pest. Meanwhile, if the farmer refuses to eliminate the threat of the wargamer, then the wargamer can keep coming back over and again after each defeat. But if the farmer adopts the wargamer’s callousness, then arguably this is morally self-defeating.

In real life, societies have dealt with very similar challenges. The way in which societies become increasingly good at containing, channelling and curbing aggression is what we describe with words like civilisation, progress, etc. But it is not clear if this sort of civilising progress is actually possible in a sandbox strategy game like Illyriad.

This is not just a question about what might happen in Illyriad. It raises a fundamental question for any sandbox strategy game which attempts to mix in military and peaceful playstyles as Illyriad does, and for the genre in general.


About Kurdruk

Kurdruk is a fictitious character. Specifically, he is a fictitious Orc. Orcs are, of course, a fictitious race. And so, being a fictitious member of a fictitious race, it is unsurprising that Kurdruk lives in a fictitious land - Illyria. So it is no surprise that Kurdruk's great wisdom relates to life in the realm of Illyria - in other words, in Illyriad.
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5 Responses to When Wargamers and Farmers Fight?

  1. BellusRex says:

    “…if they are saying (which they are) that players should not have the right to unjustly destroy others’ cities, then they are constraining their own ability to weaken their opponents in the long term, and to regain losses. ”

    This would be true, if you considered defensive war unjust. I would say there is no contradiction when you attack an opponent who attacks first and has no qualms about taking out others cities, especially those who sought to avoid conflict in the first place….

  2. humbledrop says:

    While I would like to see a more developed level of Civility and ability to co-exist without the need for unwanted aggression in Illyriad, I can’t help but remember, we are playing a sand-box game afterall.

    More so, there is a commonly found trend that people tend to be more aggressive when interacting through a screen. There are still those that are passive and outright friendly, but the tendency does seem to be towards aggression. There’s less consequence in a game than in real life, and as such players are more prone to do ‘bad’ things.

    I would enjoy seeing the Farmer side of this equation get organized and not only hold a defensive victory, but choose a target to make a point with, and wipe one well established city off the map.

    It seems counter-intuitive to the Farmer’s message for sure. It goes against the moral code they are trying to set. It will also serve to justify why they do not want people to act with unwanted aggression. Whoever loses that town should be a key player, should be a mouthpiece of this war, and should learn that it is outright painful to lose that much time and effort because someone decided they wanted to be a jerk to you.

    Just my $0.02.

  3. misfratz says:

    if they are saying (which they are) that players should not have the right to unjustly destroy others’ cities, then they are constraining…

    … the ability of the wargamers to enjoy the game that they want to play.

    This is a fairly fundamental point about all morality – it involves some sacrifice, or restriction, on the part of everyone involved, because there are some desires that are mutually incompatible.

    Where this runs into problems with a game such as Illyriad is that for many people it is the element of danger and risk that they find interesting. I’ve quit from many online RTS games when I found out that it wasn’t possible to conquer or be conquered in the game. From my point of view it makes the game pointless. One of the advantages of a fantasy wargame is that it allows you to play out a narrative of a struggle without anyone really being hurt.

    I’ve only just started on Illyriad, and I find this tension between the farmers and wargamers fascinating. My impression as a newbie is that Illyriad is a dangerous place to be aggressive, because there are a lot of large alliances whose stated intention is to stop people from being aggressive.

    This was a big surprise to me. Most recently I’ve been playing the more aggressive, but also less interesting/limited game of Valor, where I enjoyed seeing how long I could hold out before I was conquered.

    I’ve been thinking of creating an alliance with a more aggressive intent, but I’ve been struggling to figure out how to make that work without being a jerk to real world people. From a roleplay perspective fighting to reclaim the ancestral Dwarf homelands is not an unusual sort of game objective, but it could lead to mightily pissing off people who had chosen to be Elves, were just randomly dropped down into the territory I had claimed, and who weren’t looking for that sort of experience, particularly (and most importantly) new players who have only just started the game.

    On that point, I would say that I am delighted that in my first few days in the game I was sent two welcome caravans from other players – it would be a shame if that sort of welcoming spirit was chased out of the game by unthinking wargamers.

    So the questions I am working on are how do you clearly distinguish between players who are looking for a PvP experience and those who are not? How do you penalise players who attack those who want to farm quietly? Perhaps farmers should pay a modest tax to the wargamers, who can then fight amongst themselves for the right to collect that tax? Would that work?

    Also: does aggressively stating the “10-square rule” make farmers fair game anyway? (What is the “10-square rule”? Ten squares is a long way in a linear distance..)

    It’s all very interesting, and it’s a credit to the game’s developers that their world creates such questions.

    What I would say is that there’s no point in having rules if you aren’t willing to enforce them, so if people do want to keep non-consensual PvP out of Illyriad they have to be prepared to defeat those who disagree with them. (Perhaps the farmers need to create a “police force” sort of alliance for the enthusiastic PvP players who will squish the non-consensual folks for them – in return for a modest fee, perhaps).

  4. asjeff says:

    I agree with misfratz in that I find the nice safe world Illy a little tame sometimes. There has to be an element of danger, exploitation and adventure to keep things exciting. The tournaments are a big help, but they are only once or twice a year. In the other 10 months all you do is build your troops, cities and resources until the next one. So apart from the great community Illy has, what is there to keep people’s interest? With no wolves to concentrate the mind all there is for the cattle to do is eat grass. Dull.

    However, on saying that I would hate to see Illy turn into another version of Travian where people are summarily ousted from the game because the aggression needed and pay to win system means they cannot grow quick enough to survive. (I know – I’ve been there and been part of a winning server team. And yes, I felt sorry for some who would mail me desperate to be left alone so they could play the game in peace. But of course that is not what Travian is about – there it’s dog eat dog.)

    So I hope that the devs do manage to get the Faction aspect going, or more tournaments (and not necessarily war tourneys), or something else to concentrate on, because it is unlikely for much else to happen.

    So does that mean this war is good for Illy? Yes, I think so. PvP and Wargamers now have a chance to play as they want (which side they choose is up to them of course), others can leave the alliances currently in conflict if they want to (perhaps not such an easy option), others can surreptitiously help if they feel like it, and yet others can watch cheering from the sidelines as spectators.

    So to me the crux of it all is not so much that this war is a bad thing – it’s not. It opens up so many more options to players. The issue will be if the winning side decides to decimate the losers and raze entire accounts forcing people to quit the game. Then Illy will be a poorer place, because the great community that sets Illy apart from other games will be lost.

  5. Steve says:

    Sorry, Kurdruk, I just got my accounts suspended by Luna. Didn’t get a chance to send my res to the rest of my friends. But I didn’t cow to her and I didn’t quit! Good luck to you!

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