This is a guide written by Achilles for the .EN forums.
Introduction from the Author:
- 1 Leadership Role
- 2 Recruitment
- 3 Diplomacy
- 4 Play the Game
- 5 Motivation
- 6 PnP
- 7 Pro Activity
- 8 Vision
- 9 Numbers
How useful is a Leader?
The answer is not as easy as yes or no, not because I can complicate it, but because there are two sides to the issue. Essentially, the issue is about, what is more in important in an alliance, the quality of the membership base? Or the quality of the leader? The answer is not so hard to understand. Looking at a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the membership base being the most important and 10 being the leader is most important; at the beginning of a game, the position on the scale is 10 with the leadership being most important. As the game moves on, the scale slowly falls from 10 to 1. This does not happen quickly, and is in fact most likely rather slow. On the scale, it would only get to 5 probably when many players are getting above 300K points. The impact of a leadership on a alliance in the beginning of the world, irrespective of premade or other, is huge; diplomacy, recruiting, general management of the alliance and PnP have the largest effect at this point in the game. Due to this, an alliance’s success relies upon the ability of the leader. Once you get further into the game, co-ordination and the players themselves take more of a role in how the alliance performs, as player mobility between alliances becomes greatly decreased and the alliance success starts to slowly rely on how that alliance does in war. The leader becomes more of a motivator and fighter himself rather than a diplomat and recruiter.
Fear not, the above did have a point to it. Since assuming the above is correct, you now get onto important issues on how the structure of the leadership should be laid out. Which again will be matched to the time scale in the world, due to how important a leader is.
Leading me to say that at the start of the world, when leadership is more important, it is very important that there is a sole leader; and that this sole leader is up to standard, that means good on PnP, persuading people, being proactive, friendly and active. In having this, the sole leader is then needed to be able to give the alliance the direction it needs, able to recruit in what areas he/she wants to and do whatever deals necessary. It is far more efficient to have just one leader, in terms of decision making, knowledge, and the workings of an alliance. At a time when leadership is most important what you do not want is a reactive, not proactive, council that vote on decisions. You may love democracy, but remember that having one leader rather than a few is actually more democratic, as long as everyone consents to that leader being the leader. And if you’re in the alliance; you do consent.
As you get further and further into the game, and co-ordination gets more important, and the leadership is perhaps less influential on the alliance’s success, this is when an alliance would want to broaden its leadership. Every player goes through activity issues, to then rely on this player can be unreliable and for that player to be relied on co-ordinating on top of everything else it can be too dependant on that leader, and as such, an unnecessary risk. You will also find that many players as you get through the world will develop a great number of personal friendships with other players, these can often be utilised if that player with the contacts is in the leadership. For these two reasons, it is often then best as you get deeper into a world, to start to spread responsibility, one player taking on everything is no longer such a great idea. Especially when you now want your main leader’s responsibility to be less of a diplomat, but more of a war leader. I would still argue for a defined leadership structure, so that decision making can be decisive if things are looking desperate or in-alliance arguments are starting to escalate; but generally, delegation of leadership should start to increase the more you get into the game.
Often an issue to all alliances. More inexperienced players it is a matter of how to recruit? What to do? Well, in the interest of being more accessible, I will simply say, befriend. The best way to recruit is make friends. Get friendly with local players doing well then entice them into your alliance. It will help you once they are in your alliance also as they will be much more likely to follow your word and be more loyal whilst more active on forum and creating a feel good atmosphere. Don't send some tacky recruiting mail, just very simply, talk to them. Be humble, not arrogant, be friendly, not hostile. If you can't get over this simple hurdle, that as a tactic is hugely effective, then you shouldn't really be a leader.
Then to the issue of who to recruit? Well it relates to my point above. Talking to a player is the best way of knowing what that player will be like. You can judge their activity, their likelihood of being active on a forum and also their experience. Don't start relying on something stupid like troop counts (earlier on) and bp, just talk to players who are doing well (say top 40/50 in the ocean), get a good feel for them and you should know whether they will fit in, don't be afraid to think, no, they won't fit in.
Diplomacy, perhaps one of the key roles of a leader. An experienced leader from tribal wars (Teyla) said that whoever controls the diplomacy, controls the alliance. That, whoever does the diplomacy, is the leader. She said that diplomacy was all-important. Where maybe I would argue that issues such as recruiting are often underplayed, she brings up a big point. Diplomacy, is nearly always the main deciding factor in an alliance’s future.
What is Diplomacy?
Always remember that essentially, diplomacy is primarily a defence mechanism, a way of deflecting the blow an alliance may give you by giving them multiple enemies or quite simply, divide and conquer. Do not see it as an offence technique, it is a way of weakening your enemy or strengthening your defence, it will not grow your alliance, only your players conquering villages will do that, so never rely on it alone. Coalitions are useless to be in unless you are going to take advantage of the situation and go in there and do some damage, take some villages, get something for yourself.
Let's start with merging, it is to do with diplomacy even if not to do with your diplomacy list. Many people are opposed to merges. Why? Because it is a fast track option to more land, more points, higher rank. It seems like taking the easy option. First thing to say, don't be afraid of the easy option if it is the best option! But secondly, you must judge if it is the correct option, for it may not be that at all.
First thing that must be considered is do you need it? What will merging an alliance into you add to your alliance? What location do they hold, how good, active, and talkative are they? Some of the questions that you may want to ask yourself. For example, if you are a Ocean 44 alliance what will merging with a Ocean 56 rank one alliance do? Will they really be able to support you? There are four occasions I suggest merging may be a good option:
- When you control an area but barely, and do not have the player base and density in the area that you may need and may give you a weak spot as a result.
- Manic inactivity. If you have a lot of inactivity and have a load of actives wanting to merge, then them joining should strongly be considered so that the burden of inactivity is relatively less.
- Bringing in more experienced players to the fold if you have a lack and there are not so many good recruiting prospects, this is when merging is more like recruiting several players at once.
- Last choice. If things are not looking so well, a larger alliance is gunning for war that you think you can't win, your alliance is dwindling in numbers and unable to keep up, you are losing a war and may need help. Merging could be an answer.
Merging as explained above can bring its advantages. But just remember its disadvantages:
- Possible knock to morale. This is likely, to happen, since you may lose that community feel that you had before, which may take some time to get back as players don't know each other so well and feel less inclined to speak.
- Disloyalty, some of those players you bring in may already be disloyal to their current alliances, never mind yours, this is a risky move, bringing in players you have not built any kind of relationship with, loyalty issues will be present.
- Leadership split. If you start bargaining for leadership positions, things could start to get messy soon, to an extreme length even a power struggle. Even if you are the one firmly in charge, leaders may start to fight, it does happen.
- Loss of credibility. You are likely to suffer a huge knock to your reputation if ever you had one, and alliances are more likely to look down on you, if it was a sizeable merge.
- Increased inactivity as players begin to question whether they feel like staying as the alliance they were fighting no longer exists, it can take a lot of effort for some to join in with a new alliance.
- The refugee problem. And not only that, possible diplomacy problems that may come with them, and issues others have with them.
Merging is risky business, but done in the right circumstances, and done correctly, it can work.
To Ally or not to Ally?
I will say, do not be scared of alliances. Many put forward the argument that alliances are useless because all you are doing is limiting your targets, where that alliance will not help you against an enemy. But as I said above, divide and conquer, is a very good technique. However small or big an alliance, there is no shame in putting them for later so that you can go after an alliance gunning for you in the present. You will be much more successful in war by taking one enemy down then another afterwards rather than taking two enemies at the same time. As the Native American saying goes:
“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both."
Do not be afraid to use alliances to your advantage, though obviously hide the craft of doing so, or you may not look so good on the forums. Though whether you say that there is a possibility of more than a alliance in the future or not, to be honest, an alliance is being foolish to think that you will never think of breaking that deal you have. How to break up a alliance? Well people normally come up with all sorts of excuses, sniping, recruiting refugees or just plain we felt like it. If an alliance breaks an alliance with you for some reason or another, don’t believe it because of that reasoning the likelihood is, they want your villages, pure and simple.
This is always seen as the big issue of diplomacy. How many, where, who, and what. My first bit of advice is that there is no perfect number, you could have one, you could have 4, it depends on your situation. However, do not get too many. For every extra ally you get, you devalue your other allies. And devaluing allies is never a good thing, you devalue them, and they become nothing more than glorified NAPs. And if that happens, they will be less likely to co-operate in your plans, and become increasingly unreliable. Do not let that happen. You need to know your allies plans, you need to co-ordinate your plans alongside theirs and you should often seek to give advice and help (without damaging yourself), for they will normally return the favour. Be your allies friends, and you will find a relationship of trust building up so that you are secure in that alliance.
Secrecy or not?
Many often ignore this issue, but I think it quite a large one. It is the issue of whether you make some of your alliance’s diplomacy known, or not. Now there is never much use in showing off your NAPs, but allies is a different matter altogether. Some tribes often show their allies, and this does have it’s advantages. If an alliance is going to war with you, they will be much less hasty about it, for they do not want to land themselves in a two on one scenario. However, as they say, knowledge is power, and to deny them that knowledge may often be held back due to not knowing your allies. However, I suggest that most tribes will often lead with ignorance, or get some kind of backup plan should you happen to have any unexpected allegiances. But whatever you decide, remember, you are trying to use them knowing or not knowing in an attempt to put them off warring you. You will have the advantage by choosing your wars, not letting them choose them for you, so holding them off is often a better idea.
We seem them so many times. Mostly late in the game, against alliances that are rank 1 and streaking away from the rest, smaller alliances band together in an attempt to overcome that alliance through numbers. But as I explained earlier, diplomacy is a defence mechanism, to draw out fire. Since none of those tribes normally are able to give much damage themselves, the coalition usually fails due to them just being picked off one by one without much harm being given to the alliance being ganged up on.
Last tip on diplomacy, be nice. Be respectful, look to be honest, even if you’re not. In this game, people are not amazingly brilliant at thinking with their heads all too often. Give them a few compliments and so forth will often have them doing what you want. Present a positive image of yourself and you will find the deal you get for your alliance is a lot better. Do not let issues such as pride and arrogance get in the way of getting the best deal for your alliance.
Though don't be afraid to present a false image, be cunning, or whatever else if it comes to your advantage. But on the surface, observer the niceties
Play the Game
Learn to play before you lead.
And when I say play, I mean able to play every part of the game very well. That means being good at various aspects from lightning start ups to early and late stages of conquering. This is such a huge bit of advice that it is difficult to explain how important it is. Not all of the best players are best of leaders, but the best of leaders are the best of players.
Starting with early on. An alliance can be built quite easily upon your success at the start, even at the 500-point level. Secure yourself a top 20 spot (not too early on for obvious reasons), and all players whoever they are will give you immediate respect. People will be more likely to listen to you, you will be able to befriend those other players doing well around you easier, and developing loyalty around you, and your alliance will go from strength to strength. Early on there is no better indication for a player than how good a leader is in that alliance, so do well, and you hand yourself a huge advantage. Throughout the game being a larger player tends to grant respect, but early on it is often crucial in recruiting a member base that you want.
Later on in the game, though recruiting becomes less of an issue and your alliance is not just judged upon you as a player, and rather your leadership skills, being able to play is an essential part of leadership. If you do not understand how the game works in detail, and are not able to think of possible defence, offence and co-ordination tactics that work well then your alliance is given a huge burden. And do not think defence and offence are just co-ordinating issues, since they are more often than not tie closely in with expansion and diplomacy. And to master both of those you have to know the game inside and out and be a great player yourself. Whilst knowing the rules so that you do not go over that line is also essential.
Leading from the front
Leading from the front can often bring large advantages. For one thing, you are running into the heart of battle, some players will always be fearful of jumping into a battle they can’t win, if you jump in without hesitation, it is likely to put some of those on the fence head first into the battle. Secondly, you are able to assess the situation yourself, realise what is going right and wrong in a war, and know the next best step to take. How to adapt to a situation, and how to get the upper hand are often easier when in the battle yourself. Thirdly, late game is all about attacking and co-ordinating, by playing yourself you are granting your alliance a player you know will never betray, since you are the alliance.
This is perhaps a point relating to my first points. Motivation. It is an influence a leader can give right through the game, from the start to the end. Influence players to be more active, more aggressive, and more responsive to commands. Do not underestimate how the smallest of words can have an impact. Grepolis like many things works on the margin, you want to increase that margin as much as possible to give you the best chance possible, every bit of motivation given by a circular or your active presence on your own forum or on PnP can have a huge effect overall. I may only write a small paragraph on it, compared to my other points, but it is very important.
Early on it is important in diplomacy, and recruiting, your image can often effect the decisions of others, meaning giving a good image can be very important. Further through the game, relates to my above point of motivation. Doing well at PnP against opponents can spur on a tribe to improve in a war. If you can sustain a good PnP presence whilst losing a war, in a lot of cases you can sustain that losing streak, often for months, maybe more. The last reason for PnP is using it as a tool. It is very easy to spot many alliance’s attitudes to other alliances by reading what they post, whilst being able to mislead other alliances yourself. You can make them underestimate, overestimate you, or even just befriend them. Compliment them indirectly, and they will take the compliment without you looking to be sucking up or looking like you want something.
Now I've gone over a few very in your face aspects, perhaps a bit more less covered aspects. First, pro-activity. This will always be important in a world, but it is essential early on. Pro-active, not reactive. There are numerous opportunities, be them merges (yes they can work), diplomacy deals, possible recruiting or anything else you can imagine. Even just forming relationships with opponents that may be essential later on. You could look at the most active players making PnP and befriended them ingame, so that they would then give you and your alliance good ratings on PnP. A pretty cunning tactic, but you are there for your alliance, not moral goodness.
But the essential point is, that with pro-activity comes opportunity, good image, reputation and furthering of your alliance. Remember, if your not going forwards, your going backwards.
Always my favourite... vision. Give your alliance a vision. A clear objective of what you want to be doing, a direction, a path. Give your alliance inspiration and direction and you will see them act more as an alliance and less of a group of players. You will see they will become more active and more willing to fight for the alliance rather than themselves. And the feel-good atmosphere can have a spiralling effect upwards often, and ties in with the issue of motivation. Give alliance tribe vision, and often, your members will chase after that vision.
Another big discussion. What kind of numbers is good in a alliance? Well, you start to hit one of the most unanswerable topics there is. That can lead you to the issue of family tribes, mass recruiting, and elitism. Many players will go very in depth, large debates, a large amount of theory, about what is mostly unable to be tested and is all a lot of opinion.
It is actually very very simple. A player in an alliance can either be a negative or a positive. Look at it like this, every player in an alliance naturally contains a negative. Having more numbers in a tribe can detract from the atmosphere, and are an extra village that could be attacked and is a liability in needing to be supported. However, this negative can be wiped out and reversed into a positive by that players actions. If that player supports when asked to, he/she is bringing something positive to the alliance, if they post on the forum, they are giving yet more positives to an alliance, if they take down targets or even solidify an alliance’s area, yet more positives. If you include the extra number as part of the negative, it is then about evaluating whether a player is overall negative or positive. Which then means, if you just have positive players in your alliance, numbers is no longer an issue as by nature the extra weight of numbers is taken as a negative but outweighed by the positives those players bring in.
In summary, numbers don't matter, it is whether the players you have give to the alliance, if you have a member count of 200 it's unlikely they all do, it's about keeping those that do, and clearing the dead-weight.