Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A new bribe?

Did anyone notice recently when the answers to the cryptic riddles weren't working anymore? You would do all of the adding and totaling of your land amount, and the answer would be wrong... the rules were changed! A slight change in wording was your only clue that something was different.

Unlike most games, Tiny Empires is a game in which the rules are subject to change without notice at any time. It certainly keeps things interesting! But since we're changing the rules as we go, here's a new one that might be fun...

Currently, when someone wants to switch allegiance, they have to pay their current liege to leave and join a new one. How many times have two Tiny Empires players sat together while one of them accumulates the gold necessary to switch? I wouldn't want to even guess at that number, but I'm sure it's fairly large.

So, a possible solution would be to make the liege change offers happen on both sides. For example, if a Countess is standing next to a Duchess, the Countess gets the offer to pay to switch allegiance (as happens now)... but the Duchess also gets an offer which reads "You are standing next to Countess Mulligan. Offer her xxx gold to join your kingdom?"

Several things would happen if this option were available. The first one is that a lot of changes would occur much faster-- the higher ranking player is usually in a much better position to afford the payment than the lower-ranking one. (This would probably hold true even after the usual calculations which would have the higher ranking player paying much more than the lower ranking one... and the lower ranking one receiving only a fraction of what had been paid.)

The second change that would happen is that it wouldn't take long for some bright soul to see this as a way to transfer gold from one player to another. Bribes occur at random, and usually with people you never met. Voluntary payments to switch occur from lower to higher- usually not the way you want your gold to flow. But this goes from higher to lower, and even with the losses that occur in such a transaction, it could be seen as a gain from a purely monetary point of view. This means that the offer would have to be limited... say that a player would only be eligible to receive one of these bribe offers once or twice a week. This takes care of most genuine changes in loyalty, while limiting the incidents to a rare enough level to make "switch me back and forth to give me gold" a largely futile strategy.

The third change would be between Princes and Princesses. Since a Prince can go under another Prince, the current offers that both receive are to pay their current liege to join the other. (These mutual offers to switch can even mask- hide- offers to become allies.) Now, with this new option, one of two things would have to be done... either have a system of alternating offers (pay them gold to join you.... next year, pay gold to join them) or just not offer this between Princes and Princesses (which likely wouldn't be a bad idea, since at that level, the amount of gold usually isn't an issue when wanting to switch allegiance.)

The fourth change would be a bit more subtle, but perhaps longer reaching. When the only way to join someone is to pay gold from your own purse- and to do so without any possibility of direct recompense from your new liege- you have to be serious about switching. You certainly aren't doing it for the money! But this option opens up the possibility of more 'rolling stones'... people who switch allegiances at any time when gold is offered to them. The fact that it is done in person would make it less anonymous than the current habits of accepting automated bribes, but the principal could be much the same. And voila, a new source for drama is born in Tiny Empires!

So does this sound like a desirable new feature or not? And what else have I overlooked here? What other possibilities can you foresee from this idea if it were implemented?

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