So someone gave you a hud, and said "here, wear it and try playing the game"... but now you're lost, confused, and not even sure where to start... well, here's a little guide that should help you get started in playing Tiny Empires....
Why am I hearing a bell sound?
In Tiny Empires, a month lasts three minutes. It is one turn of the game's play. Every three minutes, when a new month (turn) starts, you hear a bell sound from your HUD. If it bothers you, you can turn it off by clicking and holding the clock in the upper right corner for a couple of seconds.
How do I win this game?
Unlike Chess or Checkers, Tiny Empires doesn't have a way to "win" or "lose" in a definitive sense. However, you can gain more rank and influence... perhaps even become King or Queen of your own kingdom if that is what you desire. It often takes some time and experience for different players to decide what goals they want to achieve within the game.
Do I have to pay Lindens to play the game?
The only purchase you are required to make is to buy the "Full" HUD. There are optional HUDs and gadgets sold as well, but none of them are required to play the game. If you continue to use the free trial HUD, it will 'die' (stop working) after you become a Knight or Dame (with ten acres).
Why am I being offered a liege?
If you do not have a liege, you are not in a kingdom, nor an official part of the Empire. This means that you cannot earn gold on your land, nor will you receive any special benefits that a King or Queen might provide. This makes it much harder to achieve anything, so the Emperor offers you the chance to take a liege at random if you do not have one.
Do I need to buy a shovel?
The offer to buy a shovel is the first of several "land improvements". Each improvement will add one half gold per acre to your land's production. While it's certainly possible to play without improving your land, it is highly desirable to do so, since it means more gold, and thus more land!
Should I buy land improvements or more land?
Each decision on whether or not to buy more land or make land improvements varies, depending on exactly how much land you have and how fast you want to buy it. The more land you have, the more gold you get from improvements and the more expensive it is to get each acre. In general, buying land is great for short term gain, but land improvements work best for long term gain. So, you will want to concentrate on buying land at first, then after you have a few acres you can begin buying more and more improvements to make it produce more gold for you!
Do I have to pay homage to my liege even when I'm not playing?
No. Homage that you pay- and that is paid to you- is determined by your own individual playing time. There is no actual relation between the amount of gold you pay in homage and the amount your liege receives. You pay when you are playing. They receive homage when they are playing.
How do I get a different liege?
Once you have a liege, there are two ways you can switch. Either stand next to the person you want to be your new liege, and offer to them when it comes up on your HUD (if it does...) or accept a bribe offer from someone else. These come up on your Hud at random intervals, as people get the chance to offer you gold to join them.
I was told I could be removed from the game by my liege. Is that true?
No. You can be "disowned" (it is sometimes called "pruned") by your liege. If this happens, you revert to your original liegeless condition (with no ability to earn gold on your land), but you keep all land, land improvements, gold, subjects, etc, that you have. You will not be in any kingdom until you find a new liege to join. Note that standing next to a new liege and offering to join them will not require you to pay money to switch lieges, since there is no old liege to repay!
How do I get a higher rank?
Rank is determined by how much land you and your subjects own. This is called "total acres", and is shown on your HUD as Land. (Your personal acres belong to you and are in parentheses after the total acres number. The difference is the amount of land your subjects own.) Getting a higher rank means getting more total land. This holds true until you want to become a Queen or King, at which point things are more complicated. For an exact list of how many acres are required for each rank, check out this earlier blog post.
How do I get a custom title?
Custom titles are given out by either the Emperor or (more usually) monarchs. The normal method of getting a custom title is to have your King or Queen give it to you. How each King or Queen decides on who to give a title to depends on their personal wishes- so ask your current liege, or however high you have to go to find out! Note that titles are usually (not always) given to higher-ranking subjects. Also, if you do receive a custom title from your Monarch, you will eventually lose it if you leave their kingdom.
How do I get subjects?
First, you have to have the full HUD to get subjects of your own. After you buy that, you may get subjects randomly assigned to you by the Emperor. (Note that new players are the usual subjects assigned a random liege, which means you won't get any of those after you become a Baron/Baronness). The second way is to have someone of the appropriate rank stand next to you and request to become your subject. This means anyone who is one to three ranks lower than you. You will also get a chance to bribe someone else every now and then on your HUD.
On a more general note, finding people to join you usually falls into one of two categories: new people that you or your upline (lieges) find, or current players that are persuaded to join you for whatever reason. The exact reason, of course, is as varied as the players themselves!
The ability to create and maintain a large number of subjects is an essential part of the game to anyone who wants high rank and/or their own kingdom- but how it is done depends on the people involved, and is the old human art of finding and inspiring others to follow you.
How do I find answers to the riddles?
Riddles and polls appear each October. There are several helper pages out there. One of the more popular is by Erzsabet Bergbahn. Note that the riddles are changed occasionally, so when a new set comes out, you and your friends and everyone else will all be scrambling to figure out the new ones!
What are Taxes?
Every December, you pay twenty to thirty percent of your land's net income for the year to the Emperor. (Or for the time you were on, if you haven't been on for a full year.) This is calculated by taking your land income for one month (it's the first line in your Accounting tab- number of gold times number of acres = land income) minus the amount of homage you pay (the second page of your Accounting shows this) times twelve (for a year) times .2 (twenty percent... or whatever it is for your rank). Your monarch may have the ability to give you and everyone else in your kingdom three years of amnesty once per day--no taxes for three years in a row.
One important note is that if you do not have enough gold to pay your taxes, your land will be automatically sold until you do have enough- so be sure you have plenty of gold on hand when December comes!
What is the Census?
In January of every even numbered year, the Census occurs. If you have subjects, you get so much gold per direct subject. If you have the "Federation HUD", you get one gold per nine members of your population. This may become an important factor in your strategy later in the game.
What is the Trader?
The Trader comes every couple of days to your Kingdom. The exact time is random. You will start receiving notices on the HUD that he is coming. He will charge you roughly two to three times your current acre cost, and in return offers a surprise which is usually more than worth what you pay. For more details, see the wiki page. Note that he only comes for players who meet certain minimum rank/land requirements, so you won't encounter him immediately after you begin playing.
Are there any groups I have to join to play?
Basically, no. However, there is a main Tiny Empires group (it is currently by invitation only, due to spam problems) and most kingdoms- and even groups of players within kingdoms- will have their own private groups. Ask your liege, if no one mentions it to you. (They should, almost every active player places a high importance in their local groups.) These groups can prove useful for advice and help!
Who is the Emperor?
Ultralite Soliel is the creator of Tiny Empires and is the Emperor of the Terra Aurean empire. As such, he produces the game, and all new changes in the rules and new gameplay options, riddles, etc, are created by him. He is also the final authority on any questions about the rules of the game.
Where else can I find information?
The Tiny Empires Wiki has detailed information about numerous aspects of the game.
Erzsabet Bergbahn's page helps solves puzzles.
The Tiny Empires Blog can be a source of information.
The official Tiny Empires site has basic game information and the 'standings' pages, which show you the ranks and alliegiences of everyone within the Empire.