Introduction— READ THIS FIRST
This is not a traditional “guide”. It discusses three primary topics and the various aspects of them. It is very long, so I’d suggest just reading the parts that interest you. Most of my experience comes from my time in the original TW tribe of World 1 (The before and infinitely better version of T:V), so you will find that many of the examples use TW.
This has been reviewed by Mimelim and qwe4rty.
About this Guide
Part 1 discusses how to measure skill of players and tribes- (good for Advanced Players)
Part 2 discusses how to go about exposing others and be an intelligent poster- (good for normal/intelligent posters)
Part 3 discusses abandoned taking and faking tactics- (good for any player)
Part 1: Skill? How do I measure how good someone is?
Why did I write this? I got tired of people talking about how good one player is, especially when they have no idea what characteristics a “top” or “best” or even “good” player has. Contrary to popular belief, OD statistics do not mean someone is good.
What does ODD actually mean about skill?
As one of the most misleading statistics regarding skill, this simply indicates who has been attacked the most. Because of the nature of support, players can be stacked to the brim and have high ODD without really having any skill in defending. Good examples of this are Blondeamon (World 1), UnDo (World 1), and tamo (World 1). Thus, there are many unskilled players with high ODD and plenty skilled players with low ODD. This statistic is not a good measure of anything.
What does ODA actually mean about skill?
A high ODA statistic at the beginning and middle of the world is not a sure indicator of skill unless it is constantly maintained. Anyone can chuck armies at other players and accumulate troop kills, especially if the other players don’t know how to effectively stack and defend properly. However, at the later stages of the world, it becomes indicative of a player who is not only aggressive but also efficient in rebuilding his armies. There is a substantial time and therefore attack efficiency difference between producing an army in 16.2 days (the fastest possible in speed 1) and producing a slightly more powerful one in more time. Thus, high ODA stats do not necessarily indicate good players, but good players will have high ODA stats.
What establishes the different tiers of players?
There are three primary categories that determine how well a player will do in a world, namely activity, skill, and the player’s tribe, in no particular order. However, in determining who the “best players” are, we need to disregard activity and player’s tribe and isolate only skill. Obviously, we will only see the “best players” if they are active. What it comes down to, however, is efficiency. Anyone can learn all the tactics, given that albeit many, there is a finite number of tactics to be utilized. Due to the nature of the game (gaining more and more villages), the game shifts from micro to macro. There is no one best player, because it is impossible to directly compare players unless they are right next to each other.
How efficiently can one farm 500 villages? How efficiently and quickly can one rebuild 100 armies? How efficiently and correctly can one decipher 500 incoming attacks and react?
1 hour of farming vs. 3 hours of farming
1 hour of rebuilding vs. 3 hours of rebuilding
1 hour of deciphering vs. 3 hours of deciphering
There are two different types of expert players.
There are beginning experts (examples include Mimelim and vpar2) who are both active and skilled at the beginning and pull ahead of everyone else. I’m not talking about the very beginning, when anyone can be #1, but rather once the nobling capacity has been reached such that one can be consistently maintain the #1 position if he remains active. They know when to build the next farm level, when to conserve their early armies, when to noble, and efficiently farm so that they don’t waste time. This is a game very focused on micro.
In contrast, there are middle and late game experts (refer to Top 5 at the end) who know the micro and macro aspects of the game cold. 99% of the tactics that one can think of are already a given. If you ever thought you could rebuild armies efficiently or manage lots of villages well, you haven’t seen anything unless you’ve seen these village setups. Every button click saves time, especially when repeated 100 times. Rebuilding has been perfected such that every action is optimized to conserve time. With the new additions of Mass Recruitment screens and the like, this aspect is getting toned down a bit, though it does exist.
Any mixture of not knowing most of the tactics, or not knowing all the nuances of quick rebuilding separates the next tiers of players.
To be honest, there is no single, "best" player because it’s impossible to compare people directly unless they played near each other. The top players rarely do this, just because the worlds are too big.
Top Tier Players - Players that adapt and learn this game constantly and can consistently outplay any opponent. Their only limitation is how active they are. They approach optimal performance consistently and don't have any major or minor flaws in their games. When you talk to them you can tell that they really do have such a strong grasp of the game that they can react to new situations with ease. I would say in my experience and extrapolating from my interactions with thousands of players on every world, there are maybe 2-6 people like this per world currently playing. Maybe 70 total and that seems very high to me right now. Signs of TTP, stellar game performance, novel approaches to the game/tactics, etc. One example of novelty would be Openeye’s hcav strategy. It’s probably been done before, but never on such a systemic and wide scale. They don’t follow rigid guidelines, and they know what they’re doing.
Good Players - Players that know the fundamentals of the game, but really don't have a core understanding of how to optimize and beat new opponents. They are a bit like the TTP without the creativity. Understand how to attack and defend, but really lack the ability to change gears at the drop of a hat and survive in very different circumstances. Maybe 30-50 of these per world, no idea how many total. Signs of GP, decent growth, but nothing stellar, can follow standard growth easily, aka, when things are easy and going well can grow quickly, but when things get complex they start to falter etc.
What establishes the different tiers of tribes?
Why did I write this? After being in many tribes since TW on World 1 (24/7 and –R– on World 12 for example), I realize that the general player quality had risen, but the general tribe quality had crashed. Consequently, I conclude that TW is the best tribe Tribalwars.net has seen, though perhaps if you chose a random player alone from the original 800 Tribalwar.com players, you probably wouldn’t be too impressed (please remember that the tribe limit in W1 was 500 members).
The community, the communication, the striving for optimization, and the lust for war simply can’t be matched. That having been said, those are the four categories that define the strength of a tribe. How well do players communicate with their teammates? How good are the leaders at steering the tribe? How much is each player willing to sacrifice for his tribe and how much does he trust his tribe? How many players really seek to optimize their system and how good are they? How often is your tribe at war, and were the wars against other good tribes?
Having come from a gaming community beforehand, many of the 800 players from TW already knew each other. Because of this, the vast majority, like myself, always saw any village lost as their own village lost. Heck, I once had only 2 villages with defense in them, because all of my other villages’ defenses were out supporting tribemates. How many players in how many tribes would be willing to do that? Do they trust their tribe enough? Do they trust their leaders enough?
In communication, because we (TW) were a closed community, we had basically no spies until very late. Thus, we effectively and actively used our forum, and our irc channels were full. How many tribes can say the same and to what degree? Since tribes that lack an outside community are obviously everywhere, the trick is simply to have competent, trustworthy leaders and a successful system for spykeeping. Remember, TW was a tribe with 800 members (though this quickly dropped to 500 within the first couple months due to boredom; the member cap of World 1 was 500). Most worlds have 100 member or fewer tribe limits. Look how many problems leaders have in keeping a rein on just those 100. Now multiply that by 5-8x.
The majority of what establishes the tribe is the individual members. In a slow world such as W1, inactivity was always a problem. However, this is easily solved through optimization, in order that the game doesn’t take as much time. One less button click that needs to be repeated 300 times, is at least 15 minutes saved. The sum of a tribe’s parts certainly doesn’t equate to the whole, but if the sum of the parts isn’t very big, then the whole won’t be very big either.
In the last regard for measuring the tribe is the aggressive nature of the tribe. This is the culmination of all three previously stated characteristics. This is what proves to everyone else that your tribe is indeed the best. How many tribes can a tribe defeat? How many at one time and at what odds? How soundly? I haven’t seen a more aggressive tribe than TW. Ever. Even when everyone in our tribe had only 1-2 villages, we still made tribes disband (see Destny). From then on, we were constantly at war with at least ¼ of the top 20 at every point in time for the next year. We took W1 by storm and never let go.
In conclusion, the level of one’s tribe depends on the strength of each of the four afore-named factors.
Qwe4rty’s Addendum on Community:
There is one aspect that I see is prevalent in today's game play that I think is seriously damaging to the sense of community in a tribe. In order to support a community, there needs to be a basis of stability. To me, the merging and the constant recycling of members really makes this difficult. An error that I see many tribes make are the constant merge wars to gain members/territory. What they fail to realize this merging essentially leads to winning with no risk attached. Territory is gained without wars, and people are gained who have little to no previous experience working with the tribe and building that foundation of community.
A great example of this would be -R- on W12. After several top tribes disbanded (XiG, etc), -R- began recruiting the high-pointed players who now had no home. This went on for some time, with -R- eventually gaining another half-continent of territory with no fighting. They then merged with GAM and ESQ, giving them another 2+ continents on the map. People at the time congratulated them for their merges, for maintaining their high rank, despite the fact that it takes no skill to accomplish a merge. They didn't war for quite some time, as they were getting territory at a faster rate than what would be possible if they had to fight for it. Essentially, they took the easy road, and their original members or members who enjoyed war became bored with it all and slowly started going inactive or moving to other worlds. Once they started to war again, their coordination, communication, and trust between members were all in shambles. The quality of -R- had greatly diminished, yet players on the externals still held them up to their previous standard. Their reputation on the boards was slaughtered, morale was low, and the tribe fell apart.