I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 9

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet)
– by Goemon

I was greeted by LoU with an interesting sight this week.

What you’re seeing is a level 1 Town Hall, and absolutely nothing else. This is (used to be) my main and biggest city, aptly titled The City of Goemon. It was the main city that had been under siege in the weeks prior to this, but I had held off my attacker and thought I was home free. My army was still weak- I hadn’t fully recovered from the previous attacks. But I didn’t think I was in that much trouble.

Oh, how wrong I was. He sent 140,000 Berzerkers to clean out my defending army first, then followed it up with 6000 catapults. The whole city was in ruins in a matter of hours. At the most, one day.

Interestingly enough, he didn’t take the city over, or destroy it completely. He just destroyed everything but the Town Hall and the Castle, both of which are at level 1. So pretty much the city is permanently crippled, but he won’t put it out of it’s misery.

So I got that going for me.

I tried to get rid of the castle myself (to at least get a buffer to try and rebuild), but that’s not an option in the game. Once it’s built, it’s there to stay. I don’t really know if this town is worth saving- it’s already castled, so it’ll be vulnerable to attack if I rebuild anything and get resources worth taking. On the bright side, I have 3 other cities that are pretty well defended, and they’re not castled yet so I don’t have to worry about losing those just yet.

In fact, my other largest city got plundered as well, by ANOTHER 140,000 Berzerkers. Luckily, this one had better defenses AND no castle, so I did alright. I don’t get what I’m doing wrong in this game! How do I get that many troops?! For kicks, here’s the report I got to look at:

My attacker is in the Blood_Legion alliance, which just so happens to be the number one alliance on the server. So I don’t think I’ll have much of a chance if I retaliate against him. But that’s OK! I’m building up the defenses of my other towns and I’m ready for another attack. I say this now, but we’ll see when it actually happens.

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I Am the Lord of Ultima (Well, not yet) Part 7

Goemon treats us to another hilarious edition of “I Am the Lord of Ultima”. Enjoy!

I Am the Lord of Ultima (Well, not yet)
– by Goemon

I got scouted by someone that goes by the name of Gankster this week. You read that right, not Gangster but Gankster. See, it’s a play on words. If you’re a dedicated enough gamer to be browsing a blog on the topic, you probably know what the word “Gank” means. More than likely it struck fear directly into your heart. If, somehow, you missed this term in your online gaming career, allow me to elaborate. Basically, to gank means to kill someone that doesn’t stand any chance against you. Usually very quickly, and often unexpectedly. This is a term exclusive to multiplayer games, by the way. For example: in just about any PvP MMORPG, if a very high level player jumps out of the digital bushes and kills a newbie instantly with a high level spell, this is the prime example of a gank. Another example: say you’re playing an online FPS. You shoot your opponent down to 2 hp, and you’re about to finish him off, when all of the sudden BAM! Your teammate comes out of left field, shoots the guy once, and gets credit (and points) for the kill. Perfect gank scenario.

So to recap:
ga – nk (noun) – 1. To kill a severely disadvantaged player in an MMO

2. To steal something in game that wasn’t rightfully yours (i.e. a kill)

In Lord of Ultima, or many other OSGs for that matter, ganking is a pretty easy thing to do. Sure, developers have started to implement some newbie defenses like grace periods and Lord of Ultima’s castle system. But once you get past these things, what happens? Take me for instance. I am well past the grace period and have a sweet castle. But my city and army size is nothing compared to this Gankster character. I’m sitting on around 10,000 compared to his six figure score. Now, Lord of Ultima does boost the weaker player’s stats if he is attacked as another form of protection against ganking, but that only goes so far.

But here’s the thing: I’m a firm believer that it’s all part of the game. Sure, I can’t really gank anyone around me. But if I was in a position to do so, I feel like I probably would- let’s be honest, it’s kind of hilarious. Even the word itself is hilarious. Come on, say it out loud. Gank. Funny, right? Of course, all he’s done so far is scout me. And I slaughtered his scouts. Maybe that will send him enough of a warning.

Moving past Gankster. I accomplished something huge this past week- I successfully conquered a town. No wait, make that a city. Actually, I conquered an entire EMPIRE. Alright, maybe it was just a city. However, I effectively doubled my entire score with this strategic coup d’etat. And it wasn’t even a gank either- the city was just sitting there, and all I had to do was send good ol’ Sean Connery (read: a baron) over there to settle it. Not only did it double my score, but it gave me a mass of resources to spend on troops as well. Plus, it’s in a rather strategic location that opened up some new territory for me to settle in.

All in all, it was probably the most successful thing I’ve ever done in the game- and also one of the easiest. But it all felt too easy. Was this town rightfully mine? Was it…ganked? Does this make me a horrible person? These are intense philosophical questions I now need to ask myself. Who knew Lord of Ultima could be so deep.

Also please everyone, note my use of the unoffensive term “newbie” instead of the derogatory “noob.” I’m not trying to sound like a jerk here.

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 5

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet)
– by Goemon

I am officially a castled city! And how…anticlimactic. I had an image in my mind of the floodgates opening, and having to fend off wave against wave of troops. I’m talking the finale of The Return of the King here. My walls are leveled up and I’ve got thousands of city guards and berzerkers at the ready…pitfall traps and barricades line the outskirts of my town, waiting to be broken in(in case you didn’t know, they render a certain amount of invading troops useless). Or, in continuing with my underdog theme, to be honest I would have been fine with an Alamo-type battle.

But for some reason I haven’t been able to draw the attention of my neighbors. I’ve definitely tried, by means of plundering whenever possible. Granted, these haven’t been the most strategic plunders, as I think my losses often outweigh my gains. But I’m doing it mostly just to see what will happen. You would think at some point someone would get tired of me and try and fight back, but that has yet to happen. We’ll see what happens. My second city is on its way to being a solid resource farm as well as training camp, so even if my main city gets squashed I think I’ll be ok in the long run.

I want to mention a couple of things that you guys might not know about:

First off, I was unaware of how this game would end until I found this stickied thread in the official forums. If you don’t want to read through that wall o’ text, I’ll summarize. Basically, after around 6 months of server life, 8 “shrines” will start to spawn in random locations around the continent. Players can found cities on them, which are automatically susceptible to attack from others. Basically from here it’s a classic game of king of the hill- first player (and alliance) to level up their castle to level 80 wins. In order to get it up to 80, your alliance has to hold one of each type of shrine (8 total). And then you’re Lord of Ultima.

After this happens, the servers are reset, and you and I have to start all over. To be honest, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me; I got a bit of a late start on my server, so I don’t really think I have chance at defending a shrine against every other player on the continent. Maybe when it gets reset and everyone starts on equal footing I will have a better opportunity. I can definitely see this angering some of the players that have been here since the beginning though; that’s a lot of game hours that just get flushed down the digital drain.

Second: One of the things I thought that was cool about Lord of Ultima was how each town was potentially different. The game gives you the power to choose where to place buildings, and where you put them determines how effective they will be. For instance, placing Woodcutter’s Huts next to Forests nets more wood profit. Makes sense, and makes building placement important, which is a bit rare in this genre.

HOWEVER, after perusing the forums yet again, I found out that you are actually more profitable by just destroying the natural resources and placing boost-buildings in their place. Here’s a pic from this thread. A rather extreme example for sure, but it illustrates the point. This effectively eliminates the need to think about where to place your buildings in relation to natural resources, since you can just cut them down and be better off. I find this pretty disappointing.

On the other hand, it makes the game more balanced because everyone can effectively have the same amount of resource intake regardless of what natural resources they start with. I for one haven’t destroyed mine yet, if for aesthetic reasons only.

The Lord of Ultima Castle System

The Lord of Ultima Castle System
– by Goemon

The castle is an optional building in Lord of Ultima. It doesn’t give you access to any new types of units, or any other new buildings. It really acts as a gate to the game’s form of PvP- or you might say all the game’s action.

Until you build a castle, your main focus is building up your city and your army, and either trading or raiding dungeons. The only interaction you can have with other players is trading or sending your army to support a city under attack. You cannot scout, siege, plunder, or assault any other cities. The tradeoff, however, is that you cannot be taken over by any other cities. It’s still possible to get plundered, and trust me, it happens. For those that don’t know, plundering consists of an enemy army attacking your base and making off with the resources. They can’t destroy any buildings or take over your city though, and they have to contest with all of your cities defenses (i.e. the hundreds/thousands of city guards as well as traps you probably have), so rest assured you’ll make it out ok.

Ben Cousins, the general manager of EA’s free-to-play team, said that he put this feature in as protection for new players. Apparently, he played Travian and got destroyed right away, so he felt the need to implement something to prevent that from happening (source: Gamasutra). The concept of the castle allows the player two distinct ways to play: as a builder/trader, or as a fighter. Even without the castle, you can still found new cities as long as there is a vacant area and you have a baron.

There’s one more big difference that comes with a castle: Your maximum army size is increased from 5000 to 400,000, which is pretty huge.

If you do decide to build a castle, though, the gloves are off. That means anyone can siege your city or even take it over, so before you do build a castle, there’s a couple of things you might want to do first (this stuff might seem like common sense, but hey, you never know):

1. Be part of a strong alliance. This is helpful all the time, but if your city is going to be susceptible to takeover, then you are definitely going to want some backup. Ideally they’ll be as close to you as your enemies. Or closer!

2. Defense! Lord of Ultima gives you lots of options. You’re going to want tons of city guards- and why not, they don’t even take up space in your army. You’re also going to want to make sure your wall is leveled up and full of pitfall traps, barricades, etc. And don’t forget Hideouts! They’re an oft overlooked building that keeps some of your resources hidden and from your attackers.

3. Check out your neighbors. If you are surrounded by enemies much bigger than you, maybe you should hold off on the castle until you get situated.

I think the castle system is a pretty great idea. It keeps the little guy alive long enough until he’s ready to fight for himself. In theory, this in turn makes him less likely to get frustrated and give up the game. And more players is always a good thing.