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Date: 11/29/2015

The Games I Play

I have been using computers from the earliest days of home computers or personal computers, you know the days of the Sinclair ZX81, or the Commodore VC20, Apple IIe, etc. Actually my first real computer was an Apple IIe. Before that I programmed TI and HP calculators. Afterwards I had PCs and then Macs and PCs, and now a couple of decades later my house is filled literally with dozens of computing devices from the latest tablets, to old laptops, etc.

Why did we all want to have a computer? To play games, of course. We didn't tell our parents. The parents got the 'oh this is so important for my learning and studying' story, which they bought. While the story back then was made up, it so happened that my knowledge of computers did allow me to make a career, and computers are today my most important tool I could literally not live without. It is a happy "Beware what you wish for!" story. Consequently my son is allowed to play computer games - pretty much anything he likes. I think it is generally a good thing - familiarizes them with the use of computers and can spawn other interests - unless it escalates and they forget to do a minimum of personal hygiene and mandatory homework.

What games did I play back then, more than 30 years ago? The earliest game I clearly remember was a sort of submarine shoot 'em up game. It was played on a PC and had color graphics. I don't know the name or manufacturer, but it was an impressive game back then. I was in high school and I remember both professors and students huddled around a computer monitor marveling at the game. I never played this game much, but the visuals are still burned into my memory. I can literally see the game before me, thinking about it. I played a few so called Adventure games but never really got the hang of them.

The first game I did play excessively was called Warlords. It was a strategy game where you built armies and fought against computer generated armies until you had everything conquered. I really loved this game. It was easy to beat with an 'attack everything' strategy, but took a full day or more to play from start to finish. The little jingles it played for attacks were addictive. I played this several times all the way through until I had to forcefully extract myself from the game. Another game I played a lot was Civilization. You can see a pattern developing. I like strategy games where in the end I can conquer and rule everything :-) Other games I played but not excessively were Lemmings, SimCity and various board and card game simulations.

Then there was a bit of a lull in my computer gaming until I discovered Doom, Duke Nukem and then Quake. These first person shooter games took a lot of my attention. We had entire game parties were everybody came with a computer, we connected them and then were battling each other. These games impressed me so much that I wanted to program my own version of it, but I never succeeded. Eventually live took over, job, family, you know, the usual story. Now through the prompting of my son and seeing him play all kind of games I have started again to dive into a few games. I am very discerning now. I don't have all the time to try just about anything. But it is a lot of fun to play a good game every now and then. It reminds me of my early days with a computer, the excitement and the fun. The one game I play most these days is Empire from Good Game Studios seen below. It plays right into my soft spot of strategy games where you build an empire and try to rule everything. If you want to give it a try simply enter a player name, email and password and press Play. No installation or anything else. It is free and really good. You can play it right in the browser. Or if you rather play it on your iPad or Android tablet use the buttons below to get the game for free. However, keep in mind that the worlds you play in are different between desktop/browser and tablet/app. Meaning, you can't start building your empire playing on your desktop, and then later use a tablet to login to your account. The worlds are completely separate without any way to move accounts or even trade resources. Keep this in mind before you start diving into the game. (You could use a flash enabled browser on a tablet, but it is not an enjoyable game play - very slow, and certain features just don't work such as scrolling the world map left and right.)

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The graphics are beautiful. During the first phases of the game you will receive the necessary hand holding and directions of what you should do. Eventually you understand what to do, which buildings and soldiers to add, which allows you to plan your own course of actions. It is the perfect thing to do on a rainy or cold weekend.

Some Tips and Traps to Avoid

The most precious and useful resource are rubies. They are quite hard to get unless you buy them through the store. The best way to get them is through leveling up and raiding robber barons. Certain quests and other tasks and gifts do also bring you some rubies. Be careful where you click. It is very easy to quickly spend your rubies on things you do not necessarily want. Once clicked there is no undo or going back. The rubies are gone. I wasted 600 rubies on the tax collector until I understood that the rubies shown are not the reward but the cost! I also accidentally hired a mercenary commander because I clicked too quickly on the attack. So take your time, read and then click if you want to avoid spending rubies.

One of the biggest bottlenecks to advance is building. There is only one building slot. You can get two more slots buying a crane. But a crane costs more than 6000 rubies and it does get more expensive the higher experience level you get. It is very hard to collect that many rubies just through game play. I guess it is possible but settle down for a couple of weeks if not months of playing before you can afford a crane. Most likely you will run into issues that force you to spend your rubies before you can buy a crane. At least that has been my experience. You cannot directly change any of your resources into rubies. But you will get a number of sales and bonus offerings where you can purchase rubies on the cheap.

From the three resources, wood, stone, and food, food is the one you must watch more carefully. It is the only resource that is constantly consumed by your armies. Wood and stone is only consumed during construction. In the worst case you have to wait a few days until you have accumulated enough wood and stone to build something new. However with food the situation is quite different. If you do not have enough food production to feed your armies you will eventually exhaust your food storage and your armies will desert you until food production and consumption are again in balance. In the end this game is a resource game. You need to balance the various needs, supply and demand. Eventually you will run into a resource shortage. Here are some suggestions of what you can do about it without having to resort to buying rubies and then buying the resources with your rubies.:

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