Title: The HGWars Saga: 'I was a teenage cleric'
Posted: June 01, 2009 (07:53 AM)
Thrill to this reasonably complete tale of my stagger to the top in the two month saga of the first HGWars.
Why did I choose to be a cleric? It's a class I've always liked for any solo outing. The original character called 'bloomer', who has semi caused me to be known by the handle to this day, was a cleric on a MUD called Meat-MUD. He was also me.
So, as HGWars bloomer, I emerged blinking onto the field. The first days were of random, sloppy killing, fun, non-comprehension and confusion. There was some thief lass about named Wolfqueen who stabbed me an awful lot, and I would as quickly stab her back until the situation was about as violent and repeatedly fatal as a Punch and Judy show. Our relentless back and forthing was leading to mutual exhaustion and guardedness, so we signed an oversized novelty parchment declaring peace. As it turns out, this was probably the only official piece of collusion that occurred in the course of the game, and it had some positive ramifications for Wolfqueen later on. For me, it was above all a headache reducer. I can see in retrospect that it was pretty silly to be thinking about my headaches on only day three.
Clerics grew up fast, big and strong, as everyone who encountered myself or ASchultz early in the game noticed. One day I let a small ASchultz pop me for some generosity xp, the next he seemed to be walloping me pretty soundly, and it was apparent that no more generosity was needed. In fact, it seemed possible that my earlier gesture had already been a horrible mistake. Considering the two of us in our holy, hard-to-kill finery, I did think 'Now I know why everyone is railing against us.'
Some perky soldier named Janus had leveled up alongside me as a newbie on our shared night one, and he'd evidently grown alarmed when I started turning into an unslayable brick wall. For awhile he joined the railing-against-me brigade, but eventually he morphed into that big killing machine he'd probably always envisioned himself being when he signed up as a soldier. Now he could kill me pretty much whenever he wanted – yet he still wanted me dead for all times in broad and non-specific ways, and made a point of declaring his anti-bloomer stance to all and sundry. Since I ultimately won the game, I guess he was right to warn everyone.
Players began to tinker with the hiring of mercenaries. Zigfried appeared to be tinkering with the way of peace, and also the way of just not buying stuff. As we all publicly questioned the value of fighting in our lives, some of us began to save money by not buying the latest equipment. We'd hang around in our old togas with an eye towards something shinier we expected would appear later. ASchultz either didn't do this or was just making too much money for it to be relevant. He graduated pretty rapidly into some kind of brimstone fortress. I continued to stand around in a state of bedragglement with my old weaponry, wondering if imitating Zigfried had actually been a stupid thing to do. I can't remember what caused it, perhaps a change or addition to the game program, but a moment came where it seemed that everyone who'd been putting off buying shiny weaponry simultaneously decided to stop putting it off. We got armed. We were all ready to kill each other, and we did, a lot.
I was right to have questioned Zigfried's joker card like wisdom; he turned out to be just another thief. Between Vince, the hothouse beast class whiz kid who later stat heaped himself into a kind of dead end, and ASchultz, Zigfried's nefarious scheme for extracting maximum money from other players' buildings while simultaneously seeming to be kind to them was revealed. (And robbery profits were still a part of the game that hadn't settled yet, and they were unreasonably great.) I hadn't noticed the maths of all this and continued to feel like a slow person. I had been busy writing simple programs on my 8-bit Apple II to solve problems regarding property profits and timescales in this game. Normal people use a spreadsheet for this kind of thing, but I actually don't have a spreadsheet on my main computer, and I can program an Apple II faster than I can do most things.
Zigfried and ASchultz both grew too clever by half, and both removed themselves from the game after either exploring or exploiting, uh, exploits in the code. This was certainly a relief in the case of the latter, as his huge pile of money and brimstone fortress had been intimidating, but now they were gone. Wolfqueen was starting to build herself quite a nice little run of properties at this point, and while everyone else was busy assaulting those properties for the purposes of robbery, or trying to, I watched with curiosity from the sidelines, my me-and-Wolfqueen peace treaty in hand.
I seemed to be in a pretty good place now. The mavericks were gone. I was at the head of the field in power terms, with a solid and evenly developed character. I'd learned a lot both by watching wilier players and by running programs on a wonky 8-bit computer. I was following printed out lists I'd made telling me what property to buy and when. I could see that maths were going to be very important for winning this thing, and I ESP-heckled Zigfried later when he suggested that they might not be.
A young upstart cleric called Woodhouse soon started to shoulder past me in levels at a weirdly rapid rate, and while I enjoyed stabbing him in the back for up to 40 xp as he moved away from me, I didn't discern the purpose of his haste until later. Gradually I settled into a valley of steady progress, sharing it with a couple of guys in particular with whom I would spend the remainder of the game, for that part of it where I was not alone. They were Sashanan and Yamishuryou.
Sashanan was a relentless soldier marching towards me from behind. He would kill me whenever he could and he would tear down my buildings whenever he could. My response was to get into the biggest possible fortress at first opportunity, then to laboriously load that fortress with different groups of mercenaries until I found a configuration that could keep him out. The game program changed multiple times in dramatic ways over this period, and my configuration changed about as often, as did Sashanan's luck with all of these upheavals.
Yamish was a frisky thief who was running ahead of me. I flailed at his back, desperately trying to stay within 10 levels of him, because robbing his properties was bringing me enormous amounts of money. But he was a young punk and I knew he was bound to escape before long.
Thus we raced along for days, Sashanan flailing at my back, me at Yamish's. Yamish eventually slipped over the horizon in what might have been an unwise, unrealisable pursuit of Woodhouse – and so did the profits I had been raking in from tearing down Yamish's circuses and temples. Then came the day when Sashanan did not reappear on the crest of the hill behind me, either. I was tired, nervous and suspicious, but suddenly I found myself alone in the valley. I had been squinting my eyes at the far off Woodhouse, who had leveled up beyond anyone's capacity to match him, and it had pained me deeply to believe that I could not outdo him in profit in the long term if I was always going to have to pay that 15% vault tax to protect my money from my enemies, while he never would, out there in that enemy-free no man's land of his. But I had staggered into my own enemy free zone now. Here I was with my wallopingly great fortress, the one I would never have to improve upon, and with a sizeable chunk of money I'd hoarded, and a great swathe of income-generating buildings I'd erected. More buildings than anyone else in the game... except, numerically speaking, Janus, who had built seemingly hundreds of wells and toilets. My 8-bit programs had shown me that at wells and toilets was not where one should stop, and I pressed on with my plans to build more circuses, temples and brothels. I checked in with ASchultz for advice on my maths and strategies at this point. In spite of his own restart, he had come back impressively and was going to make a serious play for an end game position. I had always thought no-one would live to see the construction of one of those 1920 gold per minute ticket booths, the same way both he and I had once naively that thought no-one would live to buy a spectacular peninsula. Ultimately I was to buy 10 ticket booths, and I often bought and resold a spectacular peninsula twice a day.
My final contact with humans was on May 3rd, when I attacked Yamishuryou for the last time. I never went to the bank again, either. The sensation from this point on was like walking out into a desert on my own, with my eye on a distant point of light. For seventeen days I worked carefully to my plan and spent all money that came in on more buildings, bigger buildings. My income rose from 16,000 gold a minute to an ultimate high of 67,540 gold per minute. It was hard to remember the days of getting by on 240 gold a minute.
Wolfqueen had become prematurely content with existence, lounging about in her money and mercenary filled fortress, but she also went to another country in real life and thus exited the game, conceding to Woodhouse on her way out. (Secretly I had thought, 'We will see about that.') Woodhouse had the glory of sitting atop the leaderboard for nearly a month, but in the process apparently missed the danger posed by all of us who continued to relentlessly build infrastructure, like future threat machinery rumbling beneath his feet (good line, eh?). Another great big pile of maths led to me buying my last building – another ticket booth – around midnight of May 20. Eleven days later, and after selling most of my buildings during the game's final moments, I had 1,418,782,002 gold. I was holding it all in my hands, and had been since May 3rd. Behind me were ASchultz, Disco, HG and Yamishuryou.
Posted: June 01, 2009 (08:33 AM)
I hate maths. But I do like toilets. And wells.
Posted: June 01, 2009 (10:39 AM)
Congrats on your victory. It definitely surprised me to see how things developed after seeing how they were going when I pulled out. Definitely goes to show how quickly things can change in just a matter of days.
With that said, and with infrequent check-ins on the game progress, I can say that, beyond a fraction of a doubt, I would not have remained on the leaderboard for long even if I'd managed to stay in the game properly. My income was just too low in comparison to everyone else's at some point. When I pulled out, I think I was only making 7,816 or something. And at the end of the game, around 9k because I'd decided to play around a little bit despite having no chance whatsoever to reclaim any title.
Posted: June 01, 2009 (11:13 AM)
Well played! Enjoy your money. You earned it! It would have been very interesting if woodhouse hadn't stopped and looked back. I think he was close with you til he was seduced by the glamor of the leaderboard. What's that they said in Chariots of Fire? Never look back to see where the other runners are?
I'll have good memories of discussing some of the math with you and then attacking you and saying "oops, heh, tuition fees." And the senseless bashing everyone else, and everyone else senselessly bashing me, and the fun spite-bounties from EmP. Win the battle, lose the HGWar.
Maybe I will write my own summary, but it will not be as cool as this. A bit of a shame that a cool post like this gets only 10 HG Points, but hey, writing it, and hopefully getting a lot of comments, will be the big reward.
Posted: June 06, 2009 (02:05 PM)
ASchultz is making way too much money for me to compete atm
looks like I'll have to go all out stockpiling my attack points to rob like mad
Posted: June 09, 2009 (12:19 PM)
Rule #1 of hgwars. Never talk about your hgwars strategies where others can see them!
Also, I chose to be a cleric because I thought healing might be involved or useful. Oh well.
Posted: June 09, 2009 (08:17 PM)
Really good read, rofl at Janus buying toilets and wells.
I never put in any math or any kind of intellectual process into playing this game. I was just mindlessly buying and attack. I gave up on like May 20th.