This vast second post on this topic is just with a specific gaming community in mind. Here, I unload five years of thoughts on the dynamics stemming from top alliances in #AstroConquest. I touch on the big picture of the game and #StudioHoppe's design. I speak to the financial absurdity as well.
To a non-player who reads this and tries to comprehend my depth of involvement, it was a coping device amidst turmoil, and I've made connections all over the world.
#Alliances: There have been three top alliances for quite some time: #17, #LegionXII, and #Sunrise (formerly #Dontpanic). Three inevitables where others shattered. And now a fourth, #Valhalla, is burgeoning in a second wave. And it's that fourth alliance that has the strongest points to base ratio, indicating lots of ships and efficient base use. Subsequently, the other alliances pick sides or they're dog meat, pretty much, unless they can find a place to get ignored. And I will get to talking about how hard it is to make a new alliance, spurred on by another player's keen analysis.
I'm in one of the top three alliances, myself. And, I just bought a modest amount of titanium, so I'm not going to rant against paying up to really play. I'll just say I don't feel drawn to engage right at this very moment and wonder if, just perhaps, that was the last time I'll buy. Truthfully, I've already for far too long merely considered the absurd economics of gameplay. But I've stretched it by playing more efficiently and intermittently or with the occurrence of game events. By events, I mean major battles where every extra player online is of significant value. That's especially true if I have position in a contested map, because with bases comes more ships allowed on the map—whoever has position becomes more important to have online during a battle.
#Impact of powerhouse #alliances: But I digress. No, if you're just now choosing to start or upgrade, then know a few things first about the impact on you from the decisions of top alliances. If I claimed their decisions are absolute and irresistible, that would be going too far. "Staffing," holidays, key individuals' real lives, etc. influence our whims and limit power. While we can be very, very heavy on an ordinary alliance, we may not be motivated that day in that direction and you slip passed. Or maybe there's no one on the roost just then. There is constant decay across this game with loads of shared accounts at the top, flowing around. There is still successful recruitment and pruning, though.
And, then, there's the case of being in an alliance that isn't just under the feet of top alliances, they aren't even into the millions of points. Those alliances and some into the low millions are totally at the whim not only of alliances, but individual players. I'm approximating, so all I can say is, like, at least the top 50-100 of us can individually whack a small alliance. Yes, I'm in that category of animal but, initially, only by way of being gifted a hefty starter account—from then I've run it and improved it small increments. And I'm not on the very top. no. But there's a slew of competent players that can crush entire small alliances . . . unless that little alliance has a backer, an enforcer, to help defend them from other monster-sized, well-informed alliances.
#Map-taking difficultly level: Back in the day, a player could scope out half a map and then kill all the ships on it, essentially all on their own. I don't know how many others did that, or still do. Solo map rampages are still possible, I reckon. But I haven't for quite some time. It wasn't for sport. It was to help a small alliance I favored over another. But I did once call that a sand-people move. "I killed them all." I sometimes had spectators, which, actually, are contributors, especially if they give good advise. Plus it's fun if someone sees you casually strip 200 bases of all ships. That was a long time ago, though. I can only speculate at the moment where that's possible for a smart, efficient player of leaner point status. And a biggie, most places, solo, now, it's hyper risky. But it could be, and is, a phase of a joint invasions, still, fur sure.
Nonetheless, I'm not so sure the landscape is as porous as it used to be even on the teamwork scale. Especially with alarms and good communication relays. Both mowing a map without your own bases and getting starter bases get harder when there's even a handful of players defending, and, then, even if you go all yeeha and score like four bases virtually undetected and jack them up and pile in your ships in waves . . . you're really going upstream if enemy biggies are called in. One or two middle-caliber players may not stop a even a modest invasion. However, even one other biggie or backer alliance can spoil either a ship raid or a base-taking invasion when done solo, and most often, even, when done in teams. Taking and holding territory under top protection is all together tricky.
#Creating an #alliance: Such tentative gameplay could be viewed as a flaw, the view #StudioHoppe's game design is too protectionist. A fellow player says, "I do not see how new players (with tit) can make a new alliance unless there are 10-15 of them." And, here, I believe, he means double digits in paying players, and not like $20, either. Like you're putting hundreds. He says the developers are responsible, firstly, because "base guns are a huge obstacle in trying to take old maps from enemies. The power of bombers is not enough to overtake a 20-gun base in a short time. No chance to quickly score an entry on an old map."
I'd argue there are entries, but, like, it's a feat to pull off, even with multi-alliance attacks. Secrecy is the issue there. The bigger you make something in terms of players and teams involved, the more likely the enemy is going to find out and prepare. Info-leaking and #spies is the huge catch-22 of the game in my opinion, but in many ways its part of the intrigue.
#Attack #alarms: But what my fellow player calls "the real big blow to the game" is "the trigger alarm on every single scratch on base or ships." It does change things dramatically, but I think we're hesitant to speak up to Hoppe about that maybe because we don't want to deal with raids. As well, it's the present situation so we have great recognizance, niche players who can help a lot on a small budget by using Spels to just tickle some info. But, then, to his point, where's the tumult that makes the game fun (and potentially more expensive, mind you)? And how can new alliances emerge?
Thinking back, he says, "It used to be common to make nice raids and try to conquer old maps. We all remember that. Now it's 100% impossible to do it unless a shakeup happens in a big alliance. I understand the alarm feature. It saves us a lot in ships but it forced the jumper system to take place and hence kill every new map from new players."
#Jumper #alliances: But then he digresses, saying, "I really do not think 3-4 alliances can control the game. Unless they have free tit, it's not possible to take every single map." I had spoken of decay. Perhaps, in one possible future, a more widespread decay will soften things for new players. The volume of maps either diluting and dissolving things. Or, instead, like my fellow player says, the bigs start letting go of more areas; however, that's where the competition between top alliances hasn't yet broken.
My fellow player had mentioned the #jumpersystem. It's that competition between top alliances that drives a lot of the newb-reserved maps operate. It's how alliances pressure each other's points down, perhaps instinctively more than by plan. As new maps spawn, there's a period of time in which only newbs can occupy the map, but that time will expire after a few days.
So, many alliances formed jumpers comprised of their own newb-alts. They en masse move their #homebases to the newly spawned map and take it over. Now, when the map opens, they can take it a second time, but from their alts conquering with their main. Or, they slice it up for friendly alliances with less worry of that territory and points going to a rival alliance. And, of course, since this is a cyclical process, those alts are all carrying recovery, so it's relatively cheap and not quite as costly as might be imagined.
And, that's made possible by the current paradigm of the game, the way it's been for a good while. The fun of that as a player is sort of having more than one gig or mode (main account and jumper alt roles).
Mid-level #alliances: Even while the jumper system is relatively cheap once established, the bases do have to be covered in round, two, which is not as cheap. And that's where the mid-level alliances deserve credit, for helping to soak up bases and keep them in friendly hands who will let us know if something gets out of hand. And it grows the alliance that needs to grow at the moment.
#Newb sanctuaries: Maybe this newb reserve idea comes back, where sanctuary is given for fresh alliances to take a foothold. But that has a problem and an irony, as well. It requires both UAA and Sunrise gang have to agree and stick to that, which is not a given either in truth nor ostensibly. And, oddly, if at some point that fresh alliance does grow and wants to branch out, they have to step out onto either UAA or Sunrise gang territory, which poses all sorts of quandaries.
Or maybe the UAA and Sunrise gang's grip will organically loosen? Is that possible? Perhaps, where maps open and they're just left alone and things space out in the cyber space based space game's space.
#Cheating: that goes around, too. Computer hackers or some such provide teammates means of having abilities in the game not afforded everyone else. That's reduced, greatly, at the time I'm writing this, as best I can tell, and I keep away from that stuff. But, if something does come around, I'm pretty sure it's at the top or they're the ones able to utilize it.
#Intel & #Discord: And then just the quality and depth of intelligence and perspective at the top compared with individuals and alliances trying to establish themselves—its a huge canyon. That's why I called the top alliances well-informed, both on game play tactics and operation, but also awareness of what other alliances are doing, map intel, etc. That is mostly done on #Discord. If an alliance does not have discord, then they are out of a lot of info loops, And I don't just presume that. I've looked in on all levels of alliances and listened to them and chatted with them to see how things look from various angles.
And that's in part because of UAA and the Sunrise gang, the two, opposing alliance of alliances. There's too much to say about that without taking over this post, so I'll just provide the very basic facts. 17 and LegionXII are buddies. Sunrise and Valhalla are buddies. Very reductionist there, no hard feelings, now. And, then, it shakes down from there as to who your big brother is among the rest of the alliances. That said, there have been large collapsed alliances, usually through planned mergers. Those alliance banners that were not dropped weren't on the order of the top three in 2022. But they were still quite large for their time. There's interesting history there.
Personal view: Still, it can be kind of fun, I guess, and there are some discovery processes as you work your way up the ladder. Or, there is playing alone and in radio silence--but that's like jumping into a mosh pit in a pitch-black room. Studio Hoppe has also made a range of skins for this model. I haven't touched any of those, only heard rumors.
I can, though, offer some praises for Astro Conquest, or at least my experience with it. I've connected with lots of interesting people around the globe, and it distracted me when I really, deeply needed distracting. Thus, I will not betray my alliance regardless my level of involvement at a given time.
#Advice to #new or #prospective #paying #players: If any of what I've said is news to you, then carefully consider limiting your depth of involvement. Just think about it. And, more vitally, don't ignore more important things for the sake of this game. What a money hog it is. If you do buy, use the sale periods and the max volume within your limit to get the good price. And learn about efficiency. Don't go all-out on this game. Even as they say time is money, money is time. Really, it's life itself.
One of the worst things you can overlook is the effect of occupying subsequent bases on a single map. Production becomes dramatically less efficient. On certain maps, take 1-3 bases per map and add production boosters. If you want to get a large army on one map, take a lot of bases or use military boosters and then only transfer ships and resources to that map, rather than producing with large numbers of bases, which can be astronomically expensive.
Now, ages, ago, I think I might have said something about having advice for free players. I don't even have to reverse the saying for that. It's just plain old, "Time is money." Oh, buzz kill! LOL. However, this post is an aggrandized follow-up to my meager 2017 post about free play. For anyone interested in looking back at that, it's in the gaming category of this blog and dated 5 Aug 2017.
Musing about a crazy idea regarding #map #spawning: Stop it? Like, stop map spawning? I ran out of brainpower writing this and now I can't fully consider what that would do—though I have some intuitive inklings what limited conquest area would do. I might give that more thought if I have a moment!
Lastly, a screenshot from a #game #version replaced long ago: We used to take #basefire with certain #Komeshede #ships. The cannons wouldn't fire onto the bombers (later used kobs, mostly, not the tau pictured). Kom and kobs, but you had to sort out which individual Komeshede would serve as leader of a group, the special ones that take base fire. Or, we would take two groups and pass koms back and forth and then heal them. I forget all the details.
Originally published 6.27.22