I am sooo relieved to be done with this game. It's like a weight has been lifted off of me. I managed to claw my way up to second place in the newbie league, and it's an experience I'm not eager to repeat. See, I figured out that you get crowns even if you attack lower-level castles than your own, so long as you survive to make it to the end. So, most of my time for the past eight hours has been spent raiding castles 1-4 levels below whatever my character's current level at the time happened to be.
This wasn't entirely an opportunistic and predatory act on my part. At around level 18 or so, there was a turning point, and players suddenly started knowing how to make castles that were effective on the defense. And it turns out that I really suck at this game. Even with my sleazy preying on the weak, there were many castles that quite nearly defeated me (and a few that did entirely defeat me). When it came to going after equal-level castles, I was completely hopeless.
I'm not likely to retain my second-place status. There's still five hours before the day's competition ends and the rankings are finalized. It's possible that all the people who could not be up playing The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot in the middle of the night will wake up and get whittle away my "accomplishment" through a series of attacks on my castle. That would probably be for the best. Honestly, it's no more than I deserve.
I mean, if this were a single-player hack-and-slash game, I would feel no compunction about dealing with difficult content by out-leveling it. That's what levels are for. Yet, in this instance, I feel . . . icky. I didn't technically break any rule. There weren't even any suggestions for how you should choose castles to raid. So, really, I was engaging with the system in the way it was presented to me. I did exactly what I would do in any other rpg where my personal skill was not sufficient to overcome an appropriately leveled challenge. I went to a lower-level area to grind for xp.
But I can't help remembering that there are other people on the other side of those castles. Granted, from what I understand the game's multiplayer is dying, so many of those castles were probably long-abandoned (as mine will be, starting today), and I did try and go out of my way to soften the blow by writing encouraging comments and constructive criticism (especially to the ones that almost beat me), but it still feels like I did something wrong.
So, what came over me? Why did I fall to the dark side? I'm not sure it's appropriate to offer an excuse, so please, take this simply as a narrative. I was doing fine, attacking at-level castles until I reached about level 18 or so. Then I started entering castles that were curiously empty . . . except for a huge horde of enemies, all jammed into one room. Some hordes were better constructed than others, with support units mixed in the middle and ranged units near the back to snipe at me while I charged the main ranks, but even the haphazard ones gave me trouble.
To face a significant portion of a castle's defense points in one, immense battle was too much for me. I'd play the mission, get my ass handed to me, and then wince as I saw my crown total go down significantly (at first, each loss was taking about 10% of my total crowns). I guess I just snapped. I told myself that it would be alright if I went after level-1 castles. And when those started beating me, I went a little lower.
At first, I was doing it just to find castles that were an appropriate difficulty. Then, I noticed that I was really close to the top ten in the league. I just need a few more crowns. And as I took down a couple of easy castles, I noticed that the next rank was just a couple of crowns away. So I kept doing it. Once the initial taboo was broken, each additional offense no longer seemed quite so bad. I was already compromised, so why not go all the way?
And that's how I got to second place in the league. First place probably did something similar, given that they were level 30, still in the "minion" league, and had nearly twice my crown score. That doesn't make it right, of course, but that was the environment I was in.
I am glad to see the back of this game. I don't like the cutthroat competition, and I especially don't like the person I became under the influence of that competition. It also doesn't help that the actual gameplay of The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot is not entirely polished, and that I experienced many control hiccups and a persistent frustration with its cash economy. There's a good game underneath all this, but I'm not sure it's worth sticking it out to find it.