Peaceful Tortoise vs War-hungry Hare: the pace of progress

In my first article about the mobile builder title Forge of Empires, Forge of Empires: progression and maintaining culture, I spoke to the capacity for the game to be played as a game of diplomacy.  In today’s article I will be discussing the lessons the game taught me about why a power would use war and aggression vs diplomacy and peace.

Peaceful tortoise

I played Forge of Empires for a solid month, painstakingly gaining 9 territories through 44 trade agreements. My goal was to go through the game without gaining territories through the use of force,  I made a guild specifically for peaceful playthroughs and gained a few followers.

forge-conflict-map-mid
Lower 4 sectors obtained through trade agreements
forge-conflict-map-second-top
Upper 5 sectors obtained through trade agreements
forge-conflict-map-top
The 9th sector, with two remaining divisions, finally made me consider warfare

After several weeks of lethargic growth I finally snapped. Peace, diplomacy, and trade were viable methods of cultural advancement, however they came at the extreme cost of time.  My frustration taught me an interesting lesson in the politics of peace and war. War is a matter of substantial change within a short period of time, whereas peace offers us gradual change over the course of a long period of time.

War hungry hare

The steep price for peace was time and after a month I decided it was time to go to war. Truth be told, I was on the verge of uninstalling the game, since as my original objective had culminated in the lesson that diplomatic tactics require planning, preparation, compromise and chance.  However, I then saw the opportunity to put my vast resources to work, to retool my society and guild, into a war machine. I saw the opportunity to learn about the methods of expansion through war, their cost and consequences.

When an empire seeks to make fast gains it goes to war, ideological beliefs and justified retaliations aside, war is an expression of a power deciding to extend its territory or area of influence, with the aforementioned reasons simply serving as a catalyst for their imperial ambitions.

forge-sector-options
Sector options which include negotiation via trade or taking the area with military force
forge-army-management
Army management with the option to infiltrate an enemy company damaging their health before the battle
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Battle layout in Forge of Empires

Costs of war and peace

In the end I am still one to hope for the further inclusion of and representation of peaceful and diplomatic means of conflict resolution. The costs of war are evident; casualties, collateral damage, and destruction.  The costs of peace are far less tangible; time, compromise, dedication to the ideal.  War can be an easy banner to fall behind with motivations ranging from fear, to anger, to pride. Peace on the other hand, can be a difficult ideal to rally behind; with the ever present temptation to fall to corruption, to exploit negotiations to subjugate the weak, and the challenge of committing to peace and diplomacy as the first response to conflict in times of hardship.

Have you ever had to fight to find a way to be peaceful and diplomatic in a game where war was the focus?  Have you ever been able to stay true to your ideals when face with the struggle of glacially paced progress. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to playprofessor@gmail.com.

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.

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