I remember learning how trees form their rings, and how come they have one ring per year. As the seasons go by, the spring and summer see fast growth. The tree grows quickly, and it forms lighter, softer wood. As fall and cold comes, the tree's growth slows, the wood is thicker, harder, and darker. That dark ring is formed by the winter. And people can often gauge the overall climate by the variation in those dark and light patterns.
As in trees, so perhaps in Tiny Empires. I was talking with a friend and subject, and he was discussing about the "what to do" problem that many Tiny Empires players face. Here is the tree ring for Tiny Empires:
Wanderer to Prince-- lots to learn and do. Land improvements, housing upgrades, and rank to achieve. Hopefully subjects to get, as well.
Monarch- the final rank before Emperor. A number of options in caring for your kingdom, with special titles, tracts of land, even punishment options if you deem those necessary.
And recently, Viceroys and Vicereines.
Now, what is between those? For the Prince or Princess, with a thousand acres in total holdings, to the Prince or Princess who may have a hundred thousand (certainly less than twenty thousand), they are one among a growing number. They've achieved high rank. There won't be any higher rank unless they ascend... and they may not be able to, or as much or more often, not be interested, for whatever reason. What is there for them to do?
As a Princess myself in that area, I find fulfillment here, on the blog, or in discussing the game. More often, I engage in passing land, advice and encouragement to those under me. Even in having land parties to help someone. But for myself, personally, I'd be facing near terminal boredom.
Why this huge lack of "anything new" between becoming a Prince and becoming a Viceroy?
The history of Tiny Empires may offer a clue. The game started with all of the options from Wanderer to Prince. All of the housing upgrades, land improvements, rank increases, were all there basically from the day things started. The distance from a prince to a King (and the original King was Ultralite, there were no other kingdoms) was not that great. The top ten landholders automatically got a chance to become a direct subject of the King. And as late as November of 2007, that distance wasn't all that great- Ellie Bearcat (later to become Queen of Caledon) was getting offers to be a direct subject of the (then) Emperor when she only had total holdings of five to seven thousand acres. That seemed like a huge amount then, and it was at that time. The first kingdom was formed when Celty Westwick had the huge total of twenty thousand acres.
So, we start with the options of Wanderer to Prince. Then we have Monarchs, and the King becomes Emperor. Much later (in game terms) we have Viceroys. But the huge expanse in the middle has opened since then- a lot of Princes and Princesses at a thousand acres to twenty thousand (or more), and there's not a lot for them to do, it seems. The Federation HUD helps the situation, with its festivals, and possible other chances of gaining gold, with allies, citizens... even disasters can stave off boredom. But a lot of players are facing the problem of "what now?" when they become a Princess (or Prince.)
It would be interesting to ask what meaningful changes could open up to a Prince or Princess... the possibility of engaging in trade, to temporarily boost land production, or improve sagging land production? There are a number of options, but the ring in the tree, I think, can be accounted for by that single growth pattern. Things were put into place at the bottom on day one. Things were put into place at the top as things developed. But the huge growth in the middle hasn't had a lot put into place for it.