I receive a decent number of invites/requests from developers to try their game and post feedback here. I decline/ignore most, but not all. One such request I did not ignore was for a game called Million Lords, which is tagged as a Mobile MMO RTS. I’m writing about it today because I find it a very interesting game, yet one that I don’t know if I can recommend or even say if I like. That said, I’m still playing it, so that says something.
Here are the basics of how the game works: You start with a capital city and a small number of troops. You use those troops to attack other cities, and if you have more troops than they do, you win the city. Gold is another resource, and its sole use is to upgrade the level of a city. Higher levels mean more defenders and more troop production per hour. Each combat (attack or defense) gives you XP, scaling to how many troops were involved. Each level up you get a talent point, along with a bunch of troops and gold. The talent point is spent upgrading stats like Attack (20% attack gives you 20% more troops when attacking), Defense, Gold Income, etc. Every five levels you also get an item chest that has 5 random items. Items come in three types (weapon, shield, belt), and different items of different quality (normal, rare, epic, etc) give you increases to the talent point trees. So for example a normal dagger can give you one point worth of attack, one point worth of gold income. A different weapon might give you troop movement increase, or defense. Items can be upgraded as you get more copies of the same item, which increases their power.
The basic gameplay flow is you gather your army from around your cities into one group, pick a city to attack, hopefully win, and repeat. You level up, expand, defend, gear up, repeat. Initially you will have some easy NPC cities, but shortly you will be fighting other players. When those players attack you, you upgrade that city to increase its defenders, and hopefully successfully defend the city. There is no gameplay around attacking/defending beyond selecting who to attack; the troop stack (represented by a flag) travels to the city, and then combat resolves itself. There really isn’t a lot of gameplay here overall, yet again for some reason I still find myself logging in daily and playing a bit.
Here are the major flaws of the game as I see them right now.
For starters, the whole ‘upgrade a city to defend it’ mechanic is just dumb. You will get a notification on your phone that someone is attacking you. Usually that attack arrives in 5 minutes, but that depends on the size of the attack and the distance to travel. If you are able to get into the game before the attack hits, you upgrade your city enough to beat the attack numbers. This is generally easy to do as troops are a far rarer resource than gold, and city defenders instantly appear when you upgrade. The result is when you attack, you aren’t hoping that you can beat the number of defenders, but rather you are hoping the other player isn’t around his phone to upgrade his city in time. If you can monitor the game 24/7, you win!
Another issue is that the biggest source of new troops is leveling up, not city generation. What this means is that those who can attack more level up faster, which gets them more troops faster, which lets them attack more. If you ‘fall behind’ this loop, you will be so under leveled you have no chance attacking those higher level players (a lvl 30 player will have 100k troops. A level 40 players can upgrade a city to have 2m defenders). Higher level players can’t attack those much lower, and lower players hitting up get bonus XP, but that doesn’t balance out as well as you might hope, because losing an attack still puts you way behind on troops compared to winning. And a successful defense is a huge XP boost compared to a loss.
There is of course a cash shop, which primarily sells item chests. Remember you do get chests from leveling up, but you can also buy them. I received a code for $90 worth of gems, which converted into 100 item chests (500 items total). Opening all of those gave me 4 legendary items (the highest tier item), which are significantly stronger than even epic items, of which I got maybe a dozen of. Remember that more copies of an item increase its power, so if I was to buy another 100 chests, maybe I’d find a copy of one of my existing 4 legendary items and it would get stronger. As you can see, if you really go nuts on spending, you can buy a lot of power that isn’t realistically achievable via just playing.
All of that sounds bad and unfun, right? And again, I’m still playing a few minutes a day. There is something fun/rewarding about taking a city, even if you know you succeeded because you got lucky and that person didn’t respond. Defending feels good as well, even though you succeeded because you upgraded in time. I can’t explain it, and perhaps tomorrow I’ll stop because the game is broken. Or maybe they fix it (simple fix to the city issue: remove defenders, boost the production bonus way up, and make the game more about having troops defending rather than the level of the city being the primary factor of defense strength), and once fixed this might be a more enjoyable mobile MMO that you can feel good spending a few minutes with each day.
If you are at all curious, the game is free to download, and if you use my friend code in the North America server (DB2C2888C2EED7C3) you get 200 gems and I get rewards based on the number of referrals. Already mentioned but just to repeat: I was given a code by the dev for $90 worth of gems.