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TINSTAAFL and TARDIS – The Economics of Game of War



In the beginning there was Game of War, and it was a relatively simple game where you could go to burn stuff and chat to friends.  It was also a relatively complex social experiment with kingdoms and alliances and taxes and resources and a central currency called Gold.

A lot of thought went into the design of Game of War before its release in July, 2013, so 2 years into the game, it it time to take stock, and take a bit of a helicopter view of how Game of War is going as an ecosystem.

In June 2013, StayAlive77, the Emperor of the game, now 138B power, wrote to MZ with some serious queries.  The detail was posted back then at this link.  http://www.insidegameofwar.com/machine-zone-reveal-their-long-term-plans-for-game-of-war/

A large part of StayAlive’s queries to MZ in June, as outlined here were related to the pace of change, the pace of release of new gear and new researches.  I would like to add to that a perspective on the magnitude of those changes by trying to measure some of the increases.  The focus will be on some of the design decisions made by MZ, and how they have fed into increases in combat boosts as well as devaluation of their virtual currency, Gold


One of the core tenets of Economics is that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Except that in Game of War, lunch is very much free as long as you are a troop.


Whether by design or just because it was an economics in-joke during the build phase, MZ made the deliberate decision to have NO CONSEQUENCES to running out of food.  Troops still defend, march, gather and fight without ANY sustenance.  The way I like to think about it is that every hour on the hour, MZ’s magical mystical food elves deliver hundreds of millions of pieces of food for free to my troops.  And they do that to almost all of the millions of players of Game of War.  That is extraordinarily generous of them, but it does come with some pretty serious consequences.


The second fundamental concept to Game of War is that there is an UNLIMITED capacity in your strongholds for troops.  Your stronghold is a TARDIS, appearing MUCH larger on the inside than it does on the outside.  Along with the free lunch, and no requirement to maintain positive upkeep, we have the somewhat absurd situation of StayAlive77 having over 4 Billion troops housed inside his single tile stronghold, with none of them requiring food.  So MZ’s magical mystical elves deliver somewhere in the order of 16 Billion pieces of food to StayAlive every hour.  Soon enough, StayAlive’s stronghold might even exceed the population of the Earth.  And fit it inside one tiny little square at the SuperWonder.

No-one knows how the design team makes their decisions, but one can imagine that the concept of cores and pieces could have been conceived as a way of providing for an ability to do damage to people with millions of troops in their strongholds, to get around their other fixed design parameters of maximum march size and maximum rally march size.  These are deliberate design decisions, and cores may be an attempt to address an apparent perceived inequality that appeared as a result of people exploiting the design decisions of free lunch and Tardis-like unlimited troop size.

Other design decisions made my MZ which have materially shaped the game are the lack of convertibility of their unit of currency gold into anything else.  You can use gold to purchase other items at a FIXED exchange rate, but you cannot perform a transaction in the opposite direction, i.e. you cannot convert resources into gold, or material or gems into gold.  This is the ultimate in protectionism, there is no official mechanism for trade.  Yes there is an ability to send someone resources, and they can gift you items in return (but only if they have gift mode), but there is no convertibility of any in-game items for Gold currency, only gold-equivalents in the form of speedups or shields etc.  As such, a large black-market has arisen within each kingdom trading gold for silver, and RSS for speedups etc.  The coliseum was the primary mechanism for inter-kingdom trade, except that MZ probably recognised that, and shut it down so that they could try and control and LOCK-DOWN trade.  StayAlive77 pushed MZ very hard for an answer on the direction of the game, and one element they revealed to him, which they did not want made public, was that there is a proposed new feature coming that allows for a cross-kingdom trading system for pieces / cores / materials.


Since the release of the Alliance City (no comment on the usefulness of those), there has been a hint that piece trading would be allowed in future: the ever-present “Coming Soon”. Any day now……

So, it remains possible that MZ plans to actually introduce some form of  market economy with at the very minimum, bartering for exchange of materials / cores / pieces.  It is believed that the recent massive expansion of materials / cores / pieces, is designed to provide a breadth of options for valuation.  It appears they are trying to make a diverse array of materials available for trading, with varying levels of scarcity.  For example, it is likely that materials like blue flames, ripped hearts, demon tails etc will be highly sought after, whilst there will be a variety of materials that almost no-one needs any more of (e.g. siege gems!!!!).  How they implement will be interesting to see, but it remains questionable as to whether they will ever allow convertibility of materials for Gold.

This kind of system will of course add even more complexity to a game that is already getting more complex at an astonishing rate.  But it will also be a huge shift in the game.  Moving from a tightly controlled fixed exchange rate that only goes in one direction, to one where relative values of materials is fluid, is a huge structural shift in an economy.  Every single player in this game has a store of value in their account in what MZ calls ‘in-game items’.  Unlocking some small amount of that value will allow people to actually craft some of the hero gear they have been hanging out for.  Or it may allow them to trade mats for speeds, or mats for gold.  If MZ went so far as to allow trading of mats for gold, then there would be ALOT of people who could speed to T4 very quickly.  Unlocking all the dead-weights in an economy through trade has been one of the greatest drivers of economic expansion in history.

But enough of economics, how about the War aspect of this game called Game of War.

How has the game evolved with regards WAR in the 2 years?  Well, it has shifted from a game where troops were the focus, and everything evolved around climbing the pinnacle that was unlocking T4 troops, to a game where it is basically all about hero gear and equipment.

The relative power levels and strengths of troops were fixed at the start, and players did some research to work out the relative strengths of the different troop tiers.

Troop tier power strength







The smart players quickly worked out that this meant that MZ’s decision on power vs strength meant that you could hide an extraordinarily strong defensive army in your stronghold with lower power by just training mass amounts of T1.  Trust me, the concept of a 1B player with 450M T1 troops, which is equivalent to 100M T4 in power, is a pretty daunting concept.  With anti scout on, all you have to go on is their power number.  And 1B power surely is weaker than an equivalent strength army with a total power of over 3.6B (36 x 100M).  So MZ NERFed play to rectify what appeared to be the unintended consequences of their 3 core design decisions:

1) free lunch, meaning mass defensive armies were basically inevitable (TINSTAAFL)

2) unlimited army size inside strongholds (TARDIS), with fixed maximum attack sizes

3) T1 are 4 times as strong as T3/4 per unit of power gain, and T2 are 2 times as strong as T3/4 per unit of power gain

So with troops basically unalterable, the only thing that can really be tweaked is hero gear.  So Ancient relics which are fixed in their boosts end up getting replaced with cores, which allows much greater customisation, as well as an ability to subtly increase boosts over time.

Plus permanent hero gear needed to be boosted to allow attackers to overcome the massive limitations placed on them by unlimited defensive army size.  So, we have a rapid sequence of new gear, with ever more powerful boosts, both on attack and defense.  Plus new 4th gem slots to overcome the fixed limitation of 3 gems of maximum boost of 25%.


So, how large is the boost to the combat abilities of hero equipment since release?

Well, first of all, we need some objective measure that we can use to measure the magnitude of combat boosts.  Given this is InsideGameofWar, we will be using the attack and defense scores used on this site, being weighted boosts according to our tiering system of combat boosts as outlined in our Guide to Combat Boosts, and as implemented in our page listing the Best Combat Gear.

From a big picture perspective, what we can say is that our comparison is between the standard equipment hero gear released with Game of War in July 2013, compared to the best available equipment as of the 2nd Anniversary in July 2015.

We have averaged the top 5 pieces from each of the categories (accessory, armor, feet, helmet, weapon) in 2013, and compared them to the equivalent top 5 from each of the categories from 2015.  So we are basically comparing the best 25 pieces of equipment from 2013 (5 per category) with the best 25 pieces of equipment from 2015 (5 per category).

Way back in 2013, at release of game of war, the average attack score for these best 25 pieces was 34, with defense averaging 14.6.  There were quite a few pieces with 36% single troop attack, but there are of course NO pieces in the standard gear that included overall troop attack.  In 2015, the average of the top 5 pieces had an attack score of almost 105, whilst the top 5 defensive pieces from each category averaged just under 80.

Attack and Defense Scores 2013 vs 2015

There are two things to note here.  The first is that it is absolutely obvious that there has been a large increase in combat boosts from release until now, 2 years later.  The second thing is that defense appears to have ‘caught up’ a little bit to attack when comparing the relative balance between attack and defense boosts.  The main reason for this is the inclusion of more overall troop attack in more special event gear, including balanced defensive pieces.  Large defensive armies tend to really like overall troop attack.  So, from this perspective, things are appearing a little less ‘unequal’ than they were in 2013.  More on that later.

So a topline analysis suggests that the rate of combat boost inflation is running around 100% per year.  Average combat boost scores for permanent gear roughly doubled from 2013 to the 2014 anniversary release, and has again roughly doubled again to the 2nd anniversary.  Whilst there has been some catchup with the best defense scores getting closer to the best attack scores, what this is measuring is the best current attack gear vs the best current defense gear.  Most defenders do not have the best current defense gear, they either have 6 month-old gear, or they have predominantly standard gear from release in 2013.  When taken from the perspective of best current attack gear (Samurai, Fire Age or Colossus) vs the available gear for non-spenders who only have a small number of special event materials, then the picture changes somewhat.  In that context, the average top 5 attack score of 104 in 2015, is over 7 times more powerful than the average top 5 defense score from 2013 of 14.

If we look at the boosts over time for the second year, we can get a bit of an idea of how they have evolved over time.

Defense Score vs Days since release

Combat boosts have shown a steady rise in boosts since the 1st anniversary in July 2014.  There is a marked jump up in boosts around day 680, and this is with the release of the Xena Kunoichi gear, as well as the subsequent release of the Samurai gear.  Whilst people will rightly argue that the Samurai gear is predominantly an attack set, the large boost from overall troop attack is almost always welcomed by defensive players.  Overall troop attack is valuable to pretty much all players. We can also see the very large number of new pieces of equipment released in the last 3 months.

On the attack side, there has also been a significant rate of inflation of attack boosts.

Attack Score vs Days since release

What we can see here is a steady and large rise in boosts, with a massive jump up with the Colossus gear release for the second anniversary.  Whilst the boosts follow a similar pattern to the 1st anniversary, in that some pieces boost infantry attack, some ranged attack and some cavalry attack, individually, they are phenomenally attacking pieces.  The magnitude of the individual troop attack boosts leaves the overall troop attack boosts of the Samurai set way behind, even if the overall troop attack can prove more versatile and useful.  Again, one can see the multitude of pieces released in the past 3 months.

One final perspective on this is a way of looking at the relative importance of attack vs defense, and how important attack is perceived to be in terms of the silver value of the pieces being ‘sold’.

Attack vs silver 2013

Way back in 2013, there was not a particularly strong relationship between the price of a piece of gear in silver terms, and its overall attack score.  The correlation between silver cost and attack score was a very low 0.15.  That means that there really wasn’t much of a relationship between the two.

Fast forward to 2015, and that picture has changed quite markedly.

Attack score vs silver 2015

At the very bottom left are all the data points from the previous chart.  All those 100k silver costs kind of pale in comparison, don’t they…..  The correlation has now moved to almost 80%, with silver cost being reasonably well explained by the attack score of the piece in question.  Whilst it is nowhere near perfect, it is a pretty consistent relationship.

This provides a little piece of evidence that MZ has shifted things ever more potently over time towards attack, and the main reason for that of course, is that the attackers are the biggest spenders.


Whilst combat boost inflation is running at around 100% per year, the silver cost inflation to purchase those same boosts is running ALOT more than that.  From costing on average 92,000 per piece for the top 25 pieces in 2013, they are now running at an average of over 250M, which represents an annualised inflation rate of over 5000%.

But everyone who plays the game does not need the stats to understand this point.  When people see gear sets with 200-300M silver for Xena Kunoichi, followed by 400M silver the next week for Samurai, then 750M for March speed and Training sets another 3 weeks later, then 1,000,000,000 for individual items in the Colossus set another week later, then it is pretty apparent that there is some serious inflation going on.

What appears to be happening is that MZ is steadily devaluing their in-game currency (gold) over time, relative to a recognised store of value outside their world, whether that be US dollars, Euros, Japanese yen, etc.  They are constantly printing new gold to replace gold that gets used each day, but printing virtual currency at an ever-increasing pace.  Each and every month, the same amount of USD buys you more and more virtual MZ goods, whether that be gold, resources, or chests.  For new players, this is of course fantastic, in that they get to catch up to existing players.  New kingdoms can become relatively competitive with older kingdoms because they are able to use current USD to by current gear, whilst older kingdoms have had their purchasing power destroyed by inflation.  Their historical USD purchases are now devalued by 100% per year in combat boost terms, or 5000% per year in silver cost terms.

No-one that I know of has collected a price history of packs vs the notional gold value sold in them, but for those who have played any length of time, they will remember $100 purchasing 20-40k gold, 100 days of speedups, 20-40M of each resource, almost no chests, and hardly any materials.  Compared to today, it is clear that inflation in pack contents is a deliberate program from MZ.

The funny thing about inflation is that it all depends upon your perspective.  From inside the GoW universe, this programmed inflation appears horrendous, continuing to destroy the virtual value of accounts on a daily basis.  From outside the GoW universe, where things are freely traded with hard currency, the perspective is one of DEFLATION.  Whilst the price level ($99.95 per pack) is unchanged, the purchasing power of future buckets of $99.95 is appreciating.  The player who steps outside the system sees that in 1 months time, a pack will deliver 20-50% more gold equivalents, and probably to go with a jump up in the boost of gear that is able to be crafted.  The longer you delay purchase, the more value you get.

What that means is that from outside the game, the incentive system inherent in a deflationary system is to DELAY purchases.  And that may be MZ’s greatest weakness.  They have built a system with visible, obvious inflation in ‘in-game items’, but which perversely encourages people to delay purchases with hard currency.  Unless MZ manages to implement a free-trade system that helps people unlock some of the buried value in their account by free the exchange of goods within the GoW universe, it may be that the deflationary economics will take over, and people will just stop buying as they see value being destroyed month over month.  MZ’s key is to unlock in-game value before everyone realises that their existing value is steadily being destroyed.  Central banks mostly serve these days to keep monetary inflation in check.  Most of what they do is inflation targeting, trying to keep a slow and steady low rate of inflation, with an excessively high rate of inflation, or verging into deflation, where there is a reduction in the money supply and a fall in prices.  MZ appears to be failing as central bankers.  Inflation is rampant, and what usually goes with rampant inflation is major social unrest and ultimately revolution.

One of the most important debates ongoing in politics and economics relates to the level of inequality in our society.    We all are aware of the Occupy movements, of the concept of the 99% expressing themselves against the 1%, of a belief that there is widening inequality in our society.  That is certainly true in Game of War.  It used to be that reaching T4 was a crowning achievement in the game, so that you could contribute to rallies and help your kingdom in Kill Events.  Now it is all about hero gear, core stats (can you push over 3000% troop attack), 1 minute rallies and glowing golden hero gear with 7 piece set bonuses.  As released today on this blog, the Set Gear Research has a cumulative time of 690 years to complete, and requires over 13 Billion silver, with a cumulative power gain of 1.7B.

Likewise hero levels 51-60 have just been released, with hero 60 requiring 9,500,000,000 hero XP. If all this hero xp was purchased in gold from the store, this will equate to 22,800,000 gold.  Did anyone say INFLATION?

The next part of this series will look a bit more at Core / piece inflation, and dive a little more deeply into a comparison of best attacking vs ‘average’ defensive gear, including applying our attack score methodology to cores and piece recipes that push 3000% troop attack.  We will also discuss in a bit more depth trade options, where all your tax goes, including the attack tax of 30%, and it will finish up by looking at the health of kingdoms, and thus the health of the overall GoW ecosystem.


MZ have made some deliberate decisions on design of game, with free lunch and unlimited stronghold size being absolutely central design features of the game.  A lot of people consider that the NERF and Cores are reactions to these fundamental design issues / mistakes. What is also apparent is that there is a deliberate programmed inflation of both currency and combat boosts.  Combat boosts appears to be running at roughly 100% increase per annum, whilst the cost of purchasing those boosts has increased by roughly 5000% per annum since release in 2013.  MZ need to address a system for unlocking stored value in accounts pretty quickly, or the sentiments expressed by StayAlive in his letter to MZ in June 2015 are only going to get louder and louder.  A boycott is serious talk.  And I don’t know about you, but I see no evidence that MZ listened to the Emperor of Game of War.




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  1. That explains alot on how our kingdom is making 1 Billion power in 3-5 days just using there storage castles and build quick t1 to 1billion and then work on research plus taking a few level 15 castles and sharing the hero to make that bonus that makes since no wonder billion power is been showing up so quick on new worlds buy a 99.99 pack shield and build t1 to a billion power no one going to hit that and then just do research as you go

  2. I am a 74 mil trap….1 mil t3 , 400kt2 and 300kt1 and I have been doing 200-300 mil each KVK. I have the resources to go T4 but will remain at 74mil. At 74 mil I have never been hit as much by 200-800 mil players. These players are hitting because they have nothing else to do. I can easily take a non core hit from a 4 bil player and come up on top but the action from the smaller player has increased. The new gear has given me 700+ on attack/def and health…and a healthy 200 attack debuff and 120health debuff , I run 880k beds and I have seen an increase in action. It has made me changed my gameplay….i will sit deep in hive and have my hero and 375ktroops in encampment….when march is coming I bring them home and take the hit………..i am so glad i resisted the pressure to go T4 .

  3. You have missed a key historical design error:

    There was no hero customization. As an example, in order to become a “ranged” specialist with research and hero skills customised specifically to ranged only troops, the player has to also research various cavalry, siege and infantry options and select the same in hero skills in order to “pass through” to the desired choices. The end result is that heroes are effectively all the same. Not only did this design error destroy the game progress after T4 it exaggerated the food/tardis design errors making troop numbers >> everything else.

    There is also a critical design failure in the concept of Siege/Wall Trap design. By including Siege Engines and Wall Traps into the regular battle calculation they are useless. Thats a different discussion though.

    The solution is that Core armor is the new income source and an attempt to overcome poor design choices. Regular gear is (sadly) now obsolete. The customisation of core gear overcomes the design failure of no hero customisation. The inflation of statistics affecting the relative power of your army (attack, defence etc) is staggering, moving from (as an example) 3.5% troop attack in hero skills to 58% troop attack through research to 300% regular gear to 3000% core gear. It’s now possible to make a ranged specialist by ignoring everything about the “old game” and concentrating on cores/pieces and ultimately AC trading. Core gear allows the player to choose a valid defence option, a ranged specialist or anything the current design allows. It has effectively overcome TARDIS and TINSTAAFL.

    You should expect to see the piece and core technology built upon in terms of events, monster drops, new dungeon drops, AC trading and other yet to be implemented features while the rest of the game equalizes in terms of the ability of a new player or an old player to achieve the very basic T4 army very very quickly.

    All in all, Cores and Pieces are very clever. They are consumable, they require lots of in game time to collect and manufacture, they are almost infinitely customisable and they (at least on the surface) offer players of all levels a chance to compete.

    • There was specialization since day one? There was range specific gear.. Infantry specific gear.. And skills to accompany them. As well as gems.. In the beginning you were able to customize a specific troop to 500% attack. Now by today’s 4200 or so this sounds crazy but at the same time you were never facing millions or 100 millions of troops. You missed the entire point of this. In the beginning smaller accounts were able to defend and attack smartly large paid accounts. As the packs got better they eliminated the middle class. Now it’s either 10b accounts or farms. The fact that you can only get newer gears by buying packs in a game always jokingly advertised as “free play” further extends the gap between normal players and people such as myself able to buy thier way to victory. The need for knowledge and skill has left the game. All that is needed now it to buy packs till you obtain 4000 boost core sets. small free play or moderate spend accounts always had a way to fight before.. They could retaliate against attacks by hitting tiles.. With all the RSS in packs no one farms tiles.. So these players are left to getting hit by something like a complete 4h set that is impossible to defend then having no recourse to fight back.. MZ has created what littles always complained about.. A game of bullies.. After playing since the second week of the games release I find myself now quiting and selling all my accounts for pennies.. I used to get my fun from schooling smaller players how to defend larger attacks even against players such as myself. When I can buff thier cav 1200% with a 4h set matted for infantry attack it’s now impossible for anyone under 9-10b to defend. Follow the 4h with a dragon set running now 3900-4100 range and then there is no cav left to defend. It’s no longer fun and thier is no chalance anymore. It’s now a game simply of who has more troops and is willing to lose them. MZ seems to be doing everything that Stay brought to thier attention. Although at the pace they always make changes.. At a snails pace.. But shoving toilet paper in the holes in the hull of the ship is gong to stop it from sinking. The game is dead.. It’s too late to fix it now cause things are too out of hand and you can’t turn back time.

  4. This article was wonderful, thanks for writing it. MZ is a short sited gaming company, that needs to understand that new games and new companies are popping up everyday. IF they (MZ) continue to not value there customers, then they will soon be out of business like so many others in the past. I use to like GOW, but it’s gotten to the point of why am I playing anymore? I do research, gather rss, build my armies for what? To be burned out by a player who has 4 billion troops. I have asked MZ why they allow this, and they have never answered me. Maybe a class action lawsuit which would require MZ to refund all players would make them understand.

    Video games are fantasy and that is something that we all understand, and one of the reasons that we all play. Everyone needs a little escape from reality. There are 2 major flaws in the programming of the game.

    Number 1 being the ability of building troops without the food that is need for there upkeep.

    Number 2 is tied into the amount of troops that each strong hold should be able to hold versus what the game allows each player to build.

    The game use to fun to play, but it has been ruined by the few players that spend thousands of dollars and ruin it for all the smaller players that cant afford to spend like they do.

    It is my hope, although I will admit I am not counting on it. That MZ will fix the problems in the game and make it more enjoyable for people to play. If not. Then I can see MZ going the way of old style home telephone and fading into the dust.

  5. I think they have ruined this game with the recent changes. I am 600M power player with solid research. I have followed insideGOW since January and have loved this site. At this point though the game has become something for the super spenders only. In KE I can not find anyone to attack. After many hours of searching I may get lucky and find a dropped shield. I recently got hit by a rally that hit me 20s after warning. I had a Xena balanced set on with 75% attack and two strong cores burning in the two extra accessory spots. I tried to check out the hero of the attacker but was hit before I could even open their profile. It turned out to be a level 60 with a crazy core set burning. I got destroyed.

    So I cant attack anyone because everyone shields or is too big to solo. I am not big enough to lead strong rallies and now with the quick marches and rally reduction it is to fast to even play defense. My only option is to join rallies of larger players and hope for the best, while also hoping a 6M level 60 player doesn’t destroy me while I join the rally.

    I used to love this game and was so addicted to it. Now it is just an expensive chat room.

    • My account is the same as yours. Who wants to spend hours looking for someone to attack. That’s not an enjoyable experience. Game of War is like War Games. The only winning move is to not play.

  6. Hey Stay Alive, if you are reading this, How about using that ton of expendable income you obviously have and get the ball rolling on this class action suit? The execs at MZ need to be held accountable before they jump into their yachts and private jets on a one way ticket out of town.

    The truth is out, they are getting what they can because we all know that the end is near.
    (My guess is nothing gets done, servers get shut down and MZ just rides off to start another atrocity)

    Reply at: Big LeCat Kingdom: #404 Charris E/V alliance

  7. machinezonesucksdotcom

    Very nice article, please let me know when the class action lawsuit takes place, I would like to join it. MZ blows.

  8. Not to mention the fact that GOW is more akin to online gambling than a strategy game.

  9. The biggest problem in this game is their isn’t enough war. To have war you need both attackers and targets. Attackers are mainly spenders, targets are mainly free players. We need more targets in the game. MZ needs to make it easier for the free players to build into target accounts, and have those target accounts have fun while remaining targets. Instead, MZ treats free players like shit. Their items suck, their advances take forever, and most infernos and Kingdom events are far out of reach.

    As they have quit, MZ has countered by making better items and research. This puts all spenders on a path where if they quit spending, they eventually get zeroed as well. This has worked great in the short term, but it IS a pyramid scheme. At some point enough people quit playing and nothing is left. Most kingdoms are ghost towns, full of empty cities, farms, Huge players, and a few free players who live behind shields.

    I saw a battle report of a 4B player soloing a 40M player. 700K t3 troops, that probably took 3 months for that 40M player to train, all dead in one hit. The 4B player lost about 10K t3 cannon fodder. That dude got wrecked, and never stood a chance. So what is that free account supposed to do? Spend $100? For what? That doesn’t get him close to being able to take a solo hit from a huge player. Rebuild? Why spend months hiding and training troops to kill 10K t3 and get a first level prize. The first and middle prizes in KvKs are worthless.

    But each one of those free guys who quits kills the game a little more. And instead of doing anything about that, they add monster attacks in a kill event. What a joke.

    • The prob is not paid vs non paid players.. That’s always the issue in pay to play games. I have 2 free play solo traps.. They kick ass against any t4 account unless facing full cores.. Which at under 60m power they won’t be. They are built using shaggy turtle build ideas.. They are maxed SH21 acad 20 accounts with decent hero’s and 7.5m t1-2 troops to keep the power low.. Against my main account with full Sammy gear and 7pc bonus I damn near steal my own hero in testing while only having 160k t1 ti heal which is instant and requires hardly any RSS.. I’m able to keep those account shielded 24/7 buy simply not using gold to build. I use it to shield.. There is always a way to play and contribute at any level of spending long as you are actively trying. Crying that you got zeroed cause you dropped a shield is so,mtching we are all tiered of hearing and has nothing to do with this topic…

      The premis of this article is to show how it appears MZ is willing and purposefully running the game into the ground trying to squeeze every last $ they can in the process.. A perfect basis for a lawsuit. The very fact that a new kingdom can build to power 10x faster then one just 6m older wouldn’t be an issue.. Except for kvk events.. That becomes elligal because you are selling cheaper to one just to make them fight for profit.. As an owner of 3 various companies I can tell you in all three industries I’m involved this is elligal. Now they can say they are offering the same packs for all.. Which is true.. But there are other aspects.. Like the fact that the drops in new kingdoms are better.. Also the events are lower requirements being scaled. My inferno is 120m points.. While one in a new kingdom is only 60m but gets credited 2x the points when faced in kvk events.. Many of you who can’t figure out why you can’t win anything as an older kingdom of nothing but spenders… Now you know… You are working on a grading scale based on your kingdoms average power vs there’s.. They are not beating you in points.. They are bearing you in scale..

  10. Great article!!


  12. I’ve been playing the game since its start. Back before strat troops, relics, cores.. Back when a $100 pack was 26k gold and 2 ports. Nothing else. It cost $7500 or more then just to have full unlock of all reg t4 troops and 10-15k to hit 100-120m power. But the truth is no one was safe. No t4 monster could just rip through a 20m account and each kingdom only had a handful of t4 accounts. But the game was much much more involved and more fun. Activity breeds activity. Meaning.. A player who is forced to gather his RSS and Mats off tiles… And force to remain online watching for tile hits now simply logs in buys a pack then starts a timer and goes back offline under his/Her shield. It’s ruined the game play entirely. I understand the course MZ set out on.. Making strat troops (which was originally supposed to help non and smaller spenders) introducing relics and some more gear. But once they realized the money people would spend they got greedy and kept going. Ruining the game. Most kingdoms last but 6m now before they are practically dead and you can’t even give away a 3b account at that point. What I’m foreseeing is the death of the game and a class action lawsuits by spenders like me who have invested 10’s of 1000’s of dollars simply just trying to keep up. They’ve done jumped the shark and the end is coming.. When no one is left but the money accounts who can’t use what they paid for I see things getting ugly fast. And as much I appreciate Stay for his attempts to right the game he’s a major part of the problem. No one even shows up to fight at SW now… Which last I checked is the entire premise of the game.. But having now 8 teams of the top accounts running 6-7 rallies back to back it ridiculous. And I see it more the bandwagon jumpers fault then his.. But stay.. MZ might ruin the game.. But you’ve ruined the point of it.. Who want to show up to fight facing quad rallies from the same people just to have them give him the SW in the end? Break up your team and fight each other.. That by itself would bread activity amount dying accounts.

    • My theory is that all the devaluing is MZ having a very clear understanding of the lifespan of their product and squeezing every nickel out of it while they can while putting very little back into it. I’m surprised a game franchise like this has lasted as long as it has, but it seems they are still populating new servers/kingdoms.

      Game play in older kingdoms (older than a few months) is dead cities and huge players. KVK’s are all about huge players battling for the wonder with 3000% cores with huge set bonues or catching someone asleep and unshielded. Smaller players that haven’t quit yet stay shielded and fight monsters.

      Game play during KVK events is often has so much latency (“lag” in the game vernacular) that it isn’t even playable, suggesting that less populous kingdoms are put on overcrowded shared servers that are pushed to the limit. Of course, the company is more than happy to blame your device, connection, or my favorite, clock synchronization.

      In summation, the game currency seems to be suffering the same fate as Zimbabwe dollars. The seven piece Colusses costs, what, about 5b silver and $2k worth of packs, plus thenset bonus research to really benefit?

  13. great article. I think we’ve all always known that the game is more about making revenue for MZ than improving gameplay for players but it has got noticedly worse recently IMO. As you say there is now a massive gap between the big players and everyone else, so much so that its almost pointless playing in kvk unless you’re a billion plus. Even then I’d question how much fun it is for most of them. Zeroing occasional big players who are offline?? Never really understood that. They’re offline….Its hardly a conquest worth bragging about….annihilating some poor sod’s army who’s hero is in research mode cos he had a real life issue or his wifi went down. Fighting at the wonder is fun for two people, the rest just add their troops to be slaughtered. MZ need to find some ways to equalise the balance or all that will be left is massive players who can’t fight each other.

  14. Great article and it helps me reconcile some of the nagging truths I have suspected. I am eager to read the next installments on health of the game as I am disturbed by a lot of the things I am seeing. New kingdoms opening on a weekly basis with only Medium populations…older kingdoms are wastelands…more experienced players getting beaten easily by big spending newbies. I am a 5 billion account, but I bought my last packs a couple of weeks ago….jumping off the spend train as the new gear is coming too fast. What’s next, debuffing the resistance to the debuff? MZ is obviously brilliant, but it appears that they have the Selma and Louis ending in store. Young kids look it up.

  15. My simple add on to this article is that I spent over $2K and got up to about 500M power,240 of which is in research. The first 1000 was not used very efficiently as I was learning the game and made some poor building decisions. I thought this would get me to a competitive level but at this point in the game you need huge research and great cores to really lead rallies. Basically you need to be over 1-1.5B. I never attack or unsheild in my kingdom to preserve my troops. I wait for KE and contribute to rallies and search aimlessly for a 60M or less that let his shield fall. Hardly worth over $2K. Ill keep playing but my spending is done. If I make a mistake and get zeroed, Im out completely.

  16. Great article. Very well written. Nice job.

  17. Jonathan, you spent $70K of real money on this game ? I hope you are joking lol.

  18. Very well written article.. I ve been playing GOW for 2 years and the changes have been incredible. It was heavily in favor for T4 players before and now game is heavily favoring the biggest money spenders. The game is designed to make more money for MZ.. I spent $0 even though Ive been tempted to spend a few, I never did. People must get smart with their spending. Have a gaming budget and and dont spend beyond your gaming budget otherwise you will regret it.

  19. Thank you for your article. It was nice being able to read a summary from beginning to now. I am a very mild spender unlike those in my alliance who spend atleast $400 per month I use to hold hope that if I work hard on a “game” that eventually I could overcome obstacles and help my alliance by taking on an even more important role than just filling rallies. It’s been 2 years of working hard.

    In recent releases and time, It has become even more apparent in politics and market that the game is now Pay2Play just to keep up with filling rallies.

    It is really hard to describe the way I feel. But in an older kingdom especially with the heavy barrage of ever increasing releases, realization that MZ keeps moving forward at a rapid pace of cost – unfortunately I either have to be happy while watching people throw $100’s each month to a company that is insatiable or decide to do something different.

    I do hope that the barter system spoken of comes out and offers a way for me to work thru difficulties, but if it has any similarity to the recent updates it will be only one that I can’t afford yet again.

    I think I represent many in how they feel about the game. Paying hundreds of dollars a month for ‘gear rental’ on a iphone game to feel successful, just isnt worth it.

  20. What a great article! That’s the kind of analysis that made me fan of this website and I haven’t seen anything near of that awesomeness for months..
    So, my point of view about all this sitation…
    I never saw a game or an app that remained popular through decades..
    No game can remain forever popular like Coca-Cola..
    Games and apps loses popularity due to similar and different reasons, but what all have in commom, they inevitably lose popularity.
    I believe, Machine Zone’s owners are pretty awere of it..So, my point is, Game of war will lose popularity eventually (are losing already or is about to I would say), and they have designed the recent changes to get as much money as possible from big spenders while the game still survive. They profit more with big spenders spending insane amounts to get full researched, hero 60, best gears and cores at the second those features are relieased than releasing features that keeps everyone (non and middle spenders) happy and spending in a slow pace while the game inevtabilty falls apart due to other reasons than deflation/inflation..
    Spenders must be able to be at the top to make up for the money they spend..Some features most be designed only for them, so they can differentiate from those without their cash. And Mz noticed that and are taking every cents while they can.
    But than you can counter-point: “if the non spenders and middle spenders stop playing, spenders will have no one to fight..”
    I say, you are correct..But while they dont Mz makes their money..
    Refleac about the situation below..
    Imagine the game had a less abusive mechanic that stimulates every player to spend few bucks per month and the game last this way for 5 years
    Now lets say Gow will last for 3 years with it’s abusive mechanism and only a few players spendind hundreds of thousends bucks..
    With mechanism like the one Gow has, in 2 to 3 yeas MZ gets the same profit they woud in 5 yeas and when everyone start quitting they already profited enough..So they work less and profit the same lmao!
    Let’s see till when GOW lasts..I guess that when everyone start quitting they will reduce staff, servers and implement more popular futures so they can keep profting in a WAY smaller rate from those really addicteds players till even them quit..

  21. Great article… I am a 1.7 bill player in k154… due to the issues that you have highlighted above I have stopped spending for the past 3 weeks and am debating quitting the game entirely. MZ have gone to far. I refuse to spend the money it now requires just to stay competitive and enjoy the gameplay.

  22. Fantastic Article. One of the best i have read in this site.

  23. I moved to another clone of GoW: Invasion. The only reason is much better in-game economic. With all the love to GoW, time to move on from MZ greadiness and players buying habbit. Just a game after all

  24. MoreMoneyMorePowerNoBrains

    If we are speaking of economics of the game ,Gold isnt the true Currency of the game . For an Top spender who buys dozens to Hundreds of $100 packs overall, Gold is the most worthless commodity in packs . Gold is the illusionary Currency . The true currency is whatever truly drives the economy of the game . IN GOW and pay2win in general the true currencies are many : impatience , ego, Ignorance. Some may call the Lack of economy the actual economy . The intentional degradation of the value of spending now takes place on an monthly . At least before there was some illusion of Spending enhancing value. Now spending erodes value. The more we spend, the faster they increase the rate at which they obsolete said spending . MZ isnt greedy, we do what we tell them to do . If you want spending to enhance value again like an Customer Rewards program in the real world, stop paying them to do the opposite . Every dollar spent works as an vote,as does every dollar NOT spent . How do you vote ?

  25. Very astute article, especially in that it reinforces that even in a video game, the Kings (MZ), the nobles (the big spenders) and the serfs (the non-spenders) are all still bound by basic tenets of economics, politics and the psychological unrest of the disaffected.

    Video games are not able to divorce themselves from reality, much as MZ would like it. If anything, games like GOW are small scale models, simulations thereof, where the results of decisions–good and bad–are seen on a much more rapid timeline than in real human history itself. The death of GOW nation will happen in the course of a few years from its birth, absent leadership in touch with reality.

    I eagerly await the next parts in this series.

  26. Really nice thread inside thank you

  27. Damn what econ school did Dr. Silverhair attend?

  28. Very nice article. Great to see some hard numbers that show and express the changes in the game over the last 2 years. We all miss the old days of GoW where having 3 iron gauntlets made you an attack god. New players have no idea the perverse satisifaction that came from watching snail porn(what we called rallies back in the day. Was Very common to watch them March for 30 minutes) nor do they know what it was like to farm tiles for RSS (which was the main way of acquiring RSS) and the excitement of seeing material brought back from tiles.

  29. Looks to me like basic game design for any wallet-warrior game that caters to instant gratification spenders. If new and more expensive things don’t come out the instant gratification spenders won’t spend. If the old stuff is not added to the Packs or the Packs are not expanded, then new instant gratification spenders will not join and spend. This affects the rest of the players by forcing anyone that wants to play to spend.

    GoW is giving (most) people (the ones that matter to GoW) what they want, things to spend money on. Inflation/Deflation of in game items don’t mean much as long as the $99.95 packs will get them closer to what they want, both the player and GoW.

  30. I agree that the lack of detrimental effects due to starvation is a mistake in game design. This is exacerbated by additive upkeep reduction effects that are not difficult to get so even if there are detrimental effects, they are fairly easy to circumvent. This design is mostly a defensive issue and one that plagues GoW’s predecessors (Travian, Evony, Caesary, etc.) also. Attacking is massively more difficult than defending.

    One solution (and one that they have partially implemented for T1s) is to artificially cap the defender size. So only X number of troops can be “garrisoned” in the Stronghold and only these units will fight in defensive battles. This opens up some issues (like if the player is not online to re-garrison and combat balance with cored-out players) so this is an unlikely solution.

    Another potential solution, and one that I’m hoping to see, is the addition of some kind of “black ops”. Currently, there is only one way to really attack someone and as noted above, the defensive side has a much greater advantage. There needs to be a way to attack a player without involving troops. My idea is a sort of “thieves guild” that will sabotage the targeted player (e.g. disable hero, disarm traps, steal rss, assassinate troops, destroy roads, etc.) at the cost of some kind of payment (gold, silver, etc.). The higher the payment, the higher chance of success. Defensively, players can also pay their own thieves guild to be more vigilant and grant a higher chance of thwarting opposing saboteurs. Balancing this is not an easy task but one that I can see add more dimensions to this game if implemented correctly.

  31. Excellent article. You’ve really upped the ante. I hope you can continue to produce articles of this quality. Although I recently quit GOW (hopefully for the last time), I continue to be fascinated by the game’s mechanics, politics, and psychology.

  32. Great article. While gow is a game, the economic perspective of it is fascinating. In the end MZ runs a business and to grow they need everybody to keep on spending – what was spent in the past is not really relevant. Small/occasional spenders are the cannon fodder in gow, getting them to spend more in order to be more competitive is where the big business is. Even if many give up that climb, that is not a problem as long as more new players come in. Big spenders (who are much fewer) need someone to whack with their superior gear and bonuses. It is actually these guys who are the problem for MZ. They’ve already spent (which again is water under the bridge now), they’ve already climbed the ladder, so new ways need to be constantly invented to keep them interested and get them to continue spending. Them quitting is expensive for MZ because big spenders usually sell/give their multi-billion accounts to some smaller guy who could have spent their money on new packs instead. Luckily for MZ, big spenders tend to be quite committed due to the money and time they have invested.

  33. I have been playing since December 2014…i built a wicked t3 trap account then mz changed the kvk rules and it became basically a farm..haha so I switched gears and have a decent t4 account just over 400m pwr millions of t4 troops….I can not keep up with the gear. so even though i have decent research and some basic lvl 6 gear I just dont have the material for those sets let alone the silver….and I buy a few packs a month.

  34. Eis 11 in kingdom 366

    Awesome analysis! You people with your cybernetic view are half of my fun in this game. I really adore your deeper thoughts, your bird’s view, your comments. Keep up with it!

  35. would most welcome the idea of a market place where you can trade mats gems cores and pieces. sounds like something that I would really enjoy

  36. alexander lukas

    i totaly agree on this article! a standard pc game costs 50$ and mz expects the average player to spend 2-300$ just to keep up staying relevant…I am not a big fan of the core system since it ends up with weaker traps just even get hit harder instead of putting the biggies into at least some danger….Back in the day you could outwight the big spending with smart play now you just need the latest cores and you win even on stupid attacks….i think MZ doesn’t realize that if the average player stops paying there is nobody left to attack for the big spender…..
    I think there needs to be a new feature like double the rally size against players with 2-3 bill Power

  37. This a very good article! I’m quite frustrated with the deflation in the investment I made in this game. I started playing GOW last December and I’ve spent over 70,000$, acquiring the best permanent gears and gems… Now to see new gears like Colosus being released that make Samurai and the 3 Fire Age sets pale in comparison is sick not to say that blue flames and dragonfire gems from one day being rare to an other being abundant … I feel Mz abused me and all spenders big time and since few weeks I drastically dimisinshed my spending because of that…. Better gears is released every couple of weeks so why rushing and buying all the required chests (sometime 10k-15k for a lvl6 sets) when it become useless??

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