TF2 hasn't been the only thing eating into my social life this week. Prompted by a game designer friend, I've found myself signing up for the broswer-based strategy game Travian (or Travian if you're in the US) on the x3 server. I'm enjoying myself. I like it enough to have analysed it enough to realise why - eventually - I'll stop playing it. But, for now, it's a kick which is working its way into my daily routine.
It borrows heavily from every kind of Settlers it can find (Both Blue Byte and Catan varieties), and - in the words of my designer friend - is a little too good to be a (mostly - there are extra payment options for bonuses) free webgame. Now in its third version, the idea is, you start as a village, and grow by building shit. You can trade between other villages, gain troops, go to war and build alliances - the whole basic wargame thing. Despite the cartoon finish, it's surprisingly deep - you don't just build (say) an academy to train troops in a village, but you can then upgrade it to level 20. Since similar decisions need to be made about all your constructions, what you decide to do next becomes of paramount importance. I'll be writing more about my game another time, and my fledgling alliance's scrambling to avoid being crushed by Bigger Boys, in the future, but for now I suggest you could do far worse than play it. Just be sure to use the three-days new-player grace to build your economy as quickly as you can.
Yes, this is a shameless attempt to recruit friendly tribes.