Saturday, 25 February 2012

Are you a good leader? Part 1 - Recruiting

I saw many leaders frustrated with inactive members, frustrated after sending long mass ingame mails, asking people to cooperate, send resources, armies, to read posts on forum but with very minimal response. Their "Fidel Castro" long speeches to masses brought no results, because masses didn't care to read or react. They were inviting masses to their alliance and then expected masses to follow.

Building your power - alliance recruitment, different individuals and different rules

We are talking about different individuals who might come from different countries, live in different time zones, these might be women, men, kids, working people, students, unemployed, family people, singles, they might have different experience in "gaming", with computers, online games, strategy games, they might have a lot of free time or just an hour a day etc etc etc. That means each of them will have a different attitude toward the game, expect different things and so you cannot expect from them exactly the same involvement. This is where the biggest problem lies with many leaders - most of them are very active players who get irritated, angry or disappointed with members of their alliance, because they are on a different level of engagement in the game.

Lets start from basics - to be a good leader is like to be a good manager/coach, even more as you have no real life rewards for your team members (money). Unfortunately not every player can be motivated by in-game success and following satisfaction. Some are too much self-centred and ignorant, some expect different "rewards" from playing and some don't even understand basic mechanics of the game, alliance's forum or the game in general. There is no real "carrot" here but some leaders think they can use a "stick" instead - "we will kick you out and farm". That doesn't work with everyone, especially that some members will never even read this message.

Need of discipline
To build a strong and functional alliance you will need some sort of discipline, however, it is very important to understand that as a leader you don't have any power over regular members. Your power comes from their actions and you can only channel it. The need of discipline should be a common value shared by all members of your alliance - you cant force it.

Keeping morale high is important (I will not talk about it right now) and it can be understood as "motivating" but rules are different than in a workplace or school. Its more like having a football team for Sunday matches - you don't invite everyone there, but only those who have similar needs and share the same goals. You need people with similar goals and game expectations.

Different types of players
If you want to be a good leader, you must first understand that not everyone is interested in the same things as you are and you cannot force people to do anything in the game, after all its only a game. We all join large groups of players hoping for many things to happen. We all expect to get something out of it, otherwise we would not be interested. There are different types of players and so their needs and expectations.  I will only mention about one type which you should avoid if your goal is to play a long game full of victorious wars and battles - simcity players.

For some Grepolis is like another farmville or simcity - they like to build things, have something to watch at and observe how it becomes bigger or prettier. Those players will never be interested in conquering cities, sacrificing their armies for the alliance good (war strategy). Most of them will not even read forum posts. Unfortunately for them, Grepolis is a war game. Everything turns around it. A player constructs buildings to get a bigger and stronger army - you cannot produce philosophers or artists. Every single building helps in gathering resources, production of war units and sending them at other players.
Some people will never realise that. I had so many discussions on the public forum about it and some "peace lovers" were strongly arguing that the Grepo world can be different. No, it cannot, it doesn't give us other activities than fighting each other. Therefore those people are just waiting to be conquered. Soon or later they will all quit or be forced to quit the game. Full name of this game should be: "conquer or get conquered", to avoid any misunderstandings.

However you have no right to tell these people they are wrong - they can do whatever they like - but as a leader you should know that they will not make your alliance stronger. They might be a "cannon fodder" at best. Maybe, if they stay far away from enemies, they might be send some defensive units or resources but usually they are not very active on the alliance forum and are pretty useless. Its a waste of time to try to change them. Sometimes pressing them might bring little results but they will be short-lived. Effort and time spent is not worth it.

So many times it happened that some leaders were building their "powers" on massive invitations to their alliance. There were no standards, requirements, questions, nothing. We called them MRAs (Massive Recruitment Alliances). They were primly made of semi-active people who were not a team, they were more like a mob of randoms. I will talk more about them later but at the moment just want to illustrate a bad recruitment process. Leaders were inviting anyone thinking that numbers will do all the magic. They didn't. So many times I read cocky messages on grepo forum made by fool leaders, flexing their muscles and threatening smaller alliances. They were pointing at grepo stats, showing total numbers, points per city etc. You know what? They went down so fast, that even we were surprised that something that big can disappear just like that, in a week or two. I was crashing alliances made of 300+ players with only 10-15 people! Why? Because it was a mob, 300 random nicknames under one banner with absolutely no idea about game mechanics, tactics or even about each other. I am pretty sure most of them didn't even talk with each other on their forum.

Simcity players usually join alliances for protection or "social life". They have nothing to give back and are like leaches, dead weight. I know it sounds harsh but that's the truth - it is a war game and the strongest will survive. They will never read a single post on the forum, which might be a call for help when someone is being under attack. They will only use it when they need help. My first alliance was a MRA , however forum was organised with a ready to use form of "under attack" tab. All you had to do before posting was to spend 5 minutes to read an instruction which was asking to post details like: ETA, city which is under attack, city which is attacking, number of waves, travel time etc. It was so simple but 9/10 players were posting something like "HELP IM UNDER ATTACK". Naturally 9/10 other members didn't even bother to check the forum so the attacked one was being conquered and was leaving the game in silence. One by one they were taken out, it was like slaughter of lambs...

Standards and requirements
The main message I would like to communicate here is that you should realise before recruiting what kind of a player you are looking for.  It doesn't matter how good tactician you are, doesn't matter how many players make your alliance if all you have are people unwilling to grow, conquer, who don't have the need for discipline and organisation. Yes, that's right, they need to want discipline and they need to ask for more organisation because only a well coordinated actions can defend you from enemies and defeat them.
During the recruitment process you need to write down some standards and requirements. It all depends on how advanced your game is. My second alliance, which I made myself had that sort of information on our page:
Want to join us? Don't even try if you don't meet the requirements:
- Speak a decent English
- Be ready to give everything for the group
- Active and aggressive in farming neighbours
- At the very least 500 BPs from attacks alone
- Be within 4 hours by bireme from one of our members.
- Be within one of our oceans of operation (67, 76 and 77)
The whole info you can see here: Vanguard
Of course it was just at the beginning when most players had 1-3 cities only. We didn't need players who were many hours away as they couldn't help us nor we could support them. We wanted players who want to attack so we asked for attack Battle Points. I would check grepostats to see how many points each willing to join player has. These stats were telling me everything I needed to know - if he has attack BPs that means he wants to grow, he uses his cities to build armies, he uses his army to get more cities/resources and get bigger - that's sort of a player I want in my alliance!

Recruiting from other alliances

All of the above might be obvious for you but just remember about it each time you take in a new member. You might be already a well organised alliance with strong structure and fighters but destroy it by merging with a bigger in numbers MRA. When you win a war, there are always refugees willing to join the winners but mind that a lot of them might be just interested in continuing their simcity. They don't care about banners, teams, wars - they just want to stay around a bit longer.

Some leaders make the mistake after winning a war to take on board all surrendered players. Its tempting as it might make your alliance look stronger but trust me, it will not. Don't do that. They will boost you on grepostats but overall make weaker and fatter. Other aggressive alliances around just look for fat targets - you don't need that extra fat for practical reasons and to not get any unnecessary attention. Other alliances have to see you as "elite", a team made of bad-ass killers. Otherwise they will not respect you, interpret that extra fat as a sign of weakness and might hit you at a bad time.

I was going against the main stream and after winning a war I was inviting in all the best fighters from the defeated side. Of course as long as they were not rude and disrespectful assholes. We could be the worst enemies, kill each other every day, we would take their cities and make them furious but when the war was over and their leadership was giving up, I would invite these guys, with who we had the biggest troubles, into my alliance. What is a better way to test if a person is a good player if not by fighting him/her for a while?

After many weeks of fights I was sure about who I want in my team. There were no disagreements later on, they all were warmly welcomed with all honours as heroes, who were defeated only because their team/alliance/leaders failed. However as I mentioned, I would never invite someone that our group didn't respect (some people can be really rude, arrogant and mental) but as long as they were respectful, honourable and gave us a good fight we would be more than happy to play with them.

Therefore whenever you take someone on board be sure that you really checked that player first. Email him/her, made a temporary cease of fire pact and spend a week just chatting by emails. This way you will see how active he/she is. How often the player is online, what he/she knows about building army, fighting, what are his/her goals etc. Ask these things! Ask how many land/naval units he/she can provide. Some people have the right attitude but were in a bad alliance so they don't know much about the game. That's ok, they might be your best warriors later on because they have the right attitude and will learn. Some people just need a couple of weeks to learn something that took months for others.

Below is what I wrote in one of my basic guides a year ago:
Leadership - contact the recruitment person and check if he/she is an active player with common sense. You would be surprised how many kids send invites all over the server and have no clue about this game. They will usually speak to you about their numbers, and points etc... A good recruiter will first send you a mail before sending an invitation and will want to talk to you first about strategy, skills, what kind of people they are looking for etc. If it's somethings like "yo bro, get on board, we are brothers, drink together, sleep together die together - strength and honor, you attack we kill you" just ignore it and don't waste your time, you will be better alone.

The strong alliance is the one which is made of active players willing to expand and fight. Aggressive alliances most of the time are the winners. Their members are communicative (check the forum, post over there, answer to mails), active, have aggressive style of playing (attack other players often, farm everything around for more resources), are team-oriented (when someone needs support they send it).  Team which is united, enjoys the game, reacts quickly and fights a lot (is the most experienced in fighting) is the one you should  be looking for. Forget about numbers - total points don't matter, in the beginning only BPs (Battle Points) are good indicator of a players/alliance quality.

I hope that from this wall of text you will learn something new. For experienced players it all might be something obvious but many against who I played would definitely need that lesson. In next guides I will focus more on how to run your alliance, interact with players, organise them (remember they all have different schedules and abilities), organise wars, battlegroups, some tactics about attacking, choosing targets etc.

Any comments or questions welcomed


  1. Great document and really good advice. Thx and perhaps see you soon on pi. dunkaan

    1. Glad to hear that, take care and good luck

  2. You should make a guide how to actualy recruit 20 top pro active experienced players in your alliance

  3. Your tutorials are like a Bible for Grepolis, everything you need, you just find it here.

    Thank you for this effort :)

    1. Thank you for the positive comment and Im happy this site is helpful.