There are several games falling in the basic category of browser based games where the goal is to build up a city and an army and conquer more cities. Three of these are Tribal Wars, Travian and Evony. The basic idea of all of these is the same, starting with very little, you upgrade your buildings and recruit soldiers and try to conquer other cities.
Tribal Wars is a very simple, very slow paced game in the beginning. It is also the only one of the three that doesn’t include quests as you are going along. It doesn’t have heroes or adventures either. Well, ok, some servers have a unit called a Paladin which you can have 1 of, but they don’t go on adventures, they’re just like a named soldier that you can equip with items. Tribal Wars is quite fast paced. Its pretty much impossible to take a break for more than a day or so. I really really like the graphics for this game in particular. They’re simple but nice to look at. All the different points are animated when they’re in use, too, which is nice.
I have a lot of trouble getting into this game. Every time I try to start, I get built up a little bit and then suddenly overwhelmed. Once upon a time, I was very good and actually brought a server to its knees, but lately I start a new city and get decimated almost off the bat and its nearly impossible to recover from that. There aren’t very many levels of tech and eventually you hit the point where all you’re doing is building up armies to conquer and city and raise its tech levels, assuming you get that high without being destroyed.
What makes Travian different from other games of this kind is that when you start a city, you have to decide which European tribe you are part of. The choices are the Gauls, the Teutons or the Romans. Each one has different racial bonuses and weaknesses. The recommendation listed on the site is that beginners should play as the Gauls, so that is what I have set up. I have to admit though, that while I created a new account to discuss for this review, this is the second time I have played Travian. I had an account for a while about a year ago.
The first thing to know about Travian is that it is massively multiplayer and international. In fact, Travian is, I believe, developed and maintained by Europeans. I have on several occasions tried to do something involving talking to another player, only to discover that they don’t speak english. There are a lot of tech levels and different buildings in Travian which makes things very interesting. There are also adventures that can be undertaken by your hero character. This leads to equipment for him. Travian has a very long beginner period, but don’t expect to last long if you try to take a break once you’re out of beginner protection. There is also very comprehensive help available and a lovely tutorial that gives you more resources for completing it.
Evony is an interesting beast. Adds for it are frequently shown around the internet and they tend to contain very attractive, very scantily clad females. I can promise you, there are absolutely no hot women in this game. It does, however, have all of the bad traits of a microtransaction style game. There are near constant tickers going by telling you to buy this package or the other one. There are achievements for buying packages, which in my opinion is extremely silly. I understand, as a game designer, that the goal of any designer is to make money. But really, this is going too far. Admittedly, Evony does have tons of content, but still. Evony is also the only one of the three where I have yet to be attacked. I’m really not sure what that says.
To really appreciate how ridiculous Evony’s “free to play but not really” nature is, take this for an example. On order to post in the chat you need a special item. One gets used every time you post. They cost 3 game cents. The smallest amount you can get at a time is 50 cents, which costs 5 dollars. So basically, every time you want to talk to someone, you just paid about 35 real cents. Plus there are buttons everywhere saying to do this you need this item or that item. You get some items free through playing the game, but not many. Really, it seems like someone’s get rich quick scheme.
And so, the ratings
Tribal Wars is a very good game, very simple in its design and easy to master. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 hearts.
Travian is also very fun, with way more content but some issues communicating with the other players. I give it 4 out of 5 hearts.
Evony is absolutely full of content but everywhere you look is an advertisement trying to sell you their special currency. I give it 2 out of 5 hearts.