Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chain vs. Layer

(Note: what is a 'chain' and what is a 'layer'? This article explains it, but I must say before I start that these are terms that I've created for myself. I have no outside authority or common usage to cite for these terms, they're simply terms that I use to describe patterns in the lines of allegience that make up a Tiny Empires kingdom.)

One of the "line management" projects I did in Caledon consisted of making a Duke and a Duchess a Prince and a Princess. What can I say? They wanted to be a Prince and a Princess. Granted, most Dukes and Duchesses would like to be Princes and Princesses, respectively, but these two were part of our core group. And, too, it was the Queen's Royal Consort and the Queen's real life sister.

So, after some juggling, involving the temporary loan of acres from another line- among other things- she went under him, some of his subjects went under her, and by the time we were through we had a new Prince and a new Princess in the kingdom. We didn't have any more acres in the kingdom, though.

Stop and consider for a moment. Rank is based on how much land you have. We have more rank, but the same amount of land. How can that be? The answer lies in the power of the chain. In a pure chain, each player has exactly one subject below them, forming a vertical chain on the standings page. Since rank is based on total acreage, a vertical chain means that every acre is counted as many times as absolutely possible.

To make it clearer, let's use an example. In the diagram below, personal acres are (in parentheses) and total acres are [in square brackets]

Duke Aaron (200)[600]

Marquis Cary (200)[200]

Marquis Don (200)[200]

Duchess Erin (200)[600]

Marquise Carrie (200)[200]

Marquise Dawn (200)[200]

We have a total of 1200 acres here. Everyone has 200 personal acres. We have two Ducal titles, and four Marquises. Now let's organize them into a chain. (Note that this can be done in game through normal means, but I'll leave it to you to figure out the exact maneuverings necessary for now. Let's just say that in Caledon, they usually scream "Help, Vulpine, it broke!" and then I start asking probing questions about who has how much land.)

So, back to our chain...

Prince Aaron (200)[1200]
Princess Erin (200)[1000]
Duke Cary (200)[800]
Duchess Carrie (200)[600]
Duke Don (200)[400]
Marquise Dawn (200)[200]

Our Duke and Duchess are now Prince and Princess, the two Marquises are Dukes, and one Marquise is a Duchess. The only one who didn't gain any titles here is poor Dawn. Let's give her a hand (and some land... to be discussed later.)

So, if the chain is so great at maximizing titles, how come we don't have whole kingdoms in a single long chain? Well, besides the fact that it would be totally impractical (though I'd love to see someone try), the chain has one major flaw: it's fragile. Like many super-specialized things, it's incredibly good when it works and incredibly useless when something happens to break it. The fragility comes when a single person in the chain switches lieges. Everyone above them drops, sometimes irrepairably so. I once had a Prince who had a single Prince for a subject. The subject left by accident, and my Prince became a Count. That one took forever to straighten back out- and a lot of work from a number of people. I once saw three notices of Princes who had dropped in rank. They all happened in the same month and in the same kingdom. Curious, I went to look. Sure enough, they were all in a single chain. Apparently someone below them had left and dropped every one of them to Duke in a single move.

On the other hand, let's examine what I call the layer. During our transition from separate lines to single chain up there, here is a configuration you'll see:

Prince Aaron (200)[1200]
Marquis Cary (200)[200]Marquis Don (200)[200] Marquise Carrie (200)[200] Marquise Dawn (200)[200] Marquise Erin (200)[200]

This is the layer- a single person at the top, with everyone else in a horizontal layer below them. Note that Aaron has gained rank- from Duke to Prince- but that Erin has dropped rank (and both subjects) and is now a Marquise. This is a pretty sweet deal for Aaron. He gains more in homage income- the same amount of land under him is paid to him by lower ranking Marquises instead of a Princess. He gains more in security- he can lose a subject and still keep his title. He can even lose four and still be at least a Duke. He gains more in the census, when he gets paid so much for each subject.

It's a very nice setup for one person, though it doesn't seem to benefit the others below him as much. They gain no titles, Erin loses her subjects, and if they get any more land, they'll soon be asking him to help by donating to them. But, that's the layer for you. To quote Garfield's parody of the Three Musketeers, "One for me, and all for me!"

All of this leads to other questions, of course... just what is ethical in arranging lines, what about giving land to your subjects, how to plan for accidents, what sort of lines are more common- why, how they develop or don't... I'm sure you can think of more! I'd love to hear any questions, information, opinions.... I know how it's done in one kingdom, but we're one among dozens. What about yours? What about your personal title and subjects? How does it all fit for you?


Valentine Janus said...

Multiple layers are the way to go if the players' object is to build a team identity (a kingdom or group within a kingdom). The reason is stability. Losing one person may be inconvenient but would rarely be catastrophic; losing one from a chain of any length can be disastrous.

It definitely does not have to be "one for me, all for me."


Vulpine Eldrich said...

Valentine, by 'multiple layers', do you mean each person in a layer has a layer below them? If so, that's a good point, and one beyond the limited scope of my comment.

When considering only ONE layer, that might be justified, but as you point out, it's (hopefully) not going to stop at one layer.

Vulpine Eldrich said...

Oh, and another thing to note about the chain- or multiple layers, whichever--

more people actively playing in your upline means more people to offer bribes on your behalf.

Valentine Janus said...

Yes, when I was talking about multiple layers that is what I had in mind, layers upon layers where possible. (Not everyone recruits, or wants to.)

My own downline is developing this way, to a point. I have four direct subjects. They have 4, 3, 3, and 0 direct subjects respectively. Of these 10, four have developed layers of three to five subjects each so far.

Your analysis of chains and layers is quite good. I just sought to correct the probably unintentional impression that a layer and selfishness go together.

And yes, more folks in your upline means more possibilities for the "recruit in behalf" option.

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