Travian is a browser-based MMORPG where it takes gaming back to the ancient times: building a civilization from the ground up, adventures to expand your reaches of your kingdom, forging alliances with other kingdoms and destroying those who oppose you. Travian received recognition as a superb game due to its heavy realism, user-friendly interface, and open-endedness.
Travian starts with the selection of a tribe, in other words, one's character class. There exist three character classes: Romans, Gauls, and Teutons. Like most MMOs, each tribe possesses its own unique strengths and their own weaknesses. Gauls, for example, possess excellent speed compared to other tribes and the fair ability to settle to other areas well. However, they lack a strong offense, which may addle some players when trying to conquer an enemy village.
Travian, unlike most MMOs, feature a system of creating a kingdom from the ground up. Travian takes the idea of "from the ground up" up to eleven: You start in a random place with one person (you) and it's your job to take over the world. Fortunately, the game does not throw you in the midst of the battle. The game gives you three days of siege protection and it gives you a helpful tutorial on how to strengthen and refine your village into a strong kingdom. Additionally, Travian features an in-game FAQ, of which goes into heavy detail on many topics. Many games do not provide a very helpful FAQ – or one at all. Travian, with its library of helpful articles in an easy-to-understand style makes a complex game very simple to understand.
Building a city, in most video games, takes about a couple of moments, give or take several seconds. In Travian, the games adds a bit of realism in that it takes less than an hour to make a simple warehouse. Adventures, on the other hand, are not action-packed battles, but thirty minutes of waiting to deploy a troupe, and waiting until they return. However, there is no way to speed up the in-game time clock. The sheer amount of waiting for your embassy to be built may offset many gamers who want to see things beaten up and want things to happen fast. However, Travian, in itself, has its own appeal to other gamers. Because it takes up to thirty minutes to have an adventure and get items, one can do something else with their time while they wait. Instead of spending an hour in a dungeon, you can send your troops to a dungeon while you do something else.
"Attacking" opponents in Travian is very different from what most gamers (including myself) think of civilization games. Normally, one would see sprites representative of troops and expect a strategy-like battle to occur. Travian subverts this in that one must consider the amount of enemies one faces compared to how many troops one has. There are no graphically depicted battles. Thus, one cannot impart much strategy into such skirmishes. To avoid painful losses with trial-and-error, Travian introduces the "battle simulator" to test the mettle of your troops and see if they can survive an onslaught of Roman troops, or a phalanx of rats, bears, and spiders. Travian takes out the huge learning curve that most games of its genre have by providing a simple, yet effective mechanic.
Although the game has a large base of internet rewards praising its brilliance, there exist a couple minor problems: Gold and the "Plus" system. Gold, a currency gained via real-world purchases breaks the game. Instead of waiting an hour for your embassy to build, add some gold and, poof! Embassy built in the blink of an eye. Gold can also be transferred to silver (in-game currency) for a pretty penny. The "Plus" feature adds a large amount of things that should be readily available to non-subscribers, like a sorting function and an auto-complete function. The small things that some players with no access to cash do not receive may anger some, but the overpowering of gold can easily decimate others who do not access to gold.
Travian is a solid MMO. It sports an original building system that sometimes takes longer than most gamers are accustomed to, a great battle simulator, and a very easy learning curve. Despite some quirks that some gamers find unsettling, Travian is one of the games that you can just pick up, play, and let the game do the rest and still have fun all the while.