This is Obi-Wan. I would like to give my analysis for the server on various topics and give highlights of the server from my perspective. This will somewhat be a mixture of analysis and giving shout-outs. I will divide the parts in sub-categories, hoping that it makes it easier to follow (and if you find some parts uninteresting, just skip it). Apologies in advance that this might be a long post (and for the typos, to be edited later on) I will try to be as objective as possible, reflecting upon last months. Obviously most of these will include my perspective and personal take on some issues. As some of you know, I joined Billion account, soon after the artefact releases - so that my analysis will be a bit weak on the early game and more detailed after artefacts time. After a quick run in com7, this was the first real server I took seriously, after a 5 years hiatus from travian. It took me some time to realize that things have changed since then. On one hand, the server was plagued with bots, spiking, multies etc. it was great to see how much the gameplay is improved. Mechanically, nothing much changed except alliance bonuses, which creates an interesting dynamic where alliance members have an incentive to free-ride in a shared goal. However, it was interesting to see how efficient players got over the years.
I have met Richard and Zee in com7, fighting against TEN - our common enemy back then. It was me and my dual, seramana, returning to travian after a long break. TEN was by far the strongest team in that server against a bunch of new players and unorganized folks. It was a clean wipe from them there. However, I tried to give them a good run for their money, trying to fight back alone as a regular member of an ordinary alliance with no leader. I disliked everything in that server, except our ops with Richard & Zee, later which we kept in touch and they invited me over to Billion to get revenge from TEN. I had enough of travian back then and it took some convincing to join, after artifacts time. The idea to smash TEN with this account with great potential sounded pretty tempting and I could not resist. Shortly after I joined the account, Zee and seramana got really busy with real life and Richard started to split his attention in between multiple servers. Well, little did I know was that we were actually allies with TEN and fighting an unbeatable enemy called Villains...
I had a very little influence on early the account setup. The account has three clusters - we had a spawn area with one spawn hammer and 5 feeders, 1 capital hammer and 2 off-hammers right next to the capital, with 15 other feeders and last, settled 6 villages in WW area. The capital and off cap hammers were right on the Villains border, combined with large boots, I knew we would make a great threat. We simmed all the hammers to a decent size, by raiding from all 4 of them while waiting for the ops (that was promised) to happen soon. We waited too long and ops were not coming (Noel was busy), so I suggested to do organize one myself to Mazzi. By that time, we were fed up waiting, Richard has already splatted our cap hammer trying to steal UB. I am fortunate that Mazzi trusted me as a total stranger and newbie, and luckily mads came around that time to help with ops. My responsibility was to be OC which later extended to taking role on WWk hits, scoutings, artifact arrangements and general management stuff. So, thanks for the opportunity, Mazzi. Now, Billion account could do what it was built for - demolish many targets using multiple ops hammers using location advantage (being on the border) and large boots. Billion has already accomplished a lot before I joined, and I am pretty proud of what this account achieved overall: From having 4 full pages of attack reports, to stealing UT or from ghosting enemy WWr/WWks (Narcos and Nocturne) to chiefing enemy WWks (Wooky). So, a big shout-out to Richard, Zee and seramana.
Situation after Artefacts Release
From what I understood, Villains were top contenders for the server from the get go. They have very skilled and experienced players and a large pre-made players who has been playing together for quite some time. When I joined the server, Villains were dominating top raiders by big margin, artifacts were somewhat evenly split, and there were so many active large accounts in Villains. I remember checking top 20 (40) population and attackers. It was amazing to see a total domination by villains, it was around 80 percent of the accounts, belonging to Villains. That being said, although it was few in number, I knew SGR had some amazing accounts themselves too - investors, wolf, templars etc. I remember people being quite negative for our chances against them, even if we outnumber them. To my experience, only effective number matters - so, SGR's numbers indeed seem inflated. I knew that there were good players in SGR, so I was being optimistic about our chances, given that we take initiatives for the remaining part of the server. I am told that I say these because I dont know the opponent, I have never played against them. I didnt enjoy the pessimistic atmosphere but I respected the experience.
It would be unfair to analyze small diets and trainers in isolation. Both teams approached those differently. Villains had 4 small diets while SGR had 2. Villains decided to hold onto the diets on large anvils (except Snoopy) which helped the garage fellow WWk troops and push massive anvils. On the other hand, SGR used diets on key raiding WWks, which led them hold a large standing defense. UT steal was game changer for this particular reason. Our main WWks would be able to utilize halved training time while holding onto their large standing defenses. This not only helped them feel safe but also helped many defenders to grow bigger. On the other side, however, the small artefacts were in Villains favor. On paper, it looks an equal 3-3 split. When you look more closely, most of SGR's WWks are capital WWks while almost all Villains WWks are non-cap WWks. This is probably due to better planning of WWks on Villains side and/or higher experience and activity from WWks. Apart from Get Schwifty and Solidfan, I dont recall any mid-sized WWk that used trainer. If used properly, this potentially means much bigger WWks for Villains. This combined with losing another small artifact, making it 4-2 on Villains favor, I am confident to say that Villains had a upper hand by a good margin on small trainers.
Villains also had an upper hand over SGR in eyes department. UE holder WetWilly was amazing, scouting everyone left and right, using multiple villages. Similarly, CarelessCat did a great job - quick access to most of SGR players with its central location. SGR didnt have any large eyes (the only existing one got stolen by a multi-account), weakening the protection of key targets, such as valuable artefacts in SH area. However, bert and LE (first Richard and then pari) did a good job on fulfilling the endless scouting requests as sitters. This server has shown the strength of UE to me, once again.
Going to late game having both UD and UA, gave an upper hand to SGR, on paper. I argued this in other threads, I will repeat again. UD is very useful, but it is a misconception that it is overpowered. As long as you establish a good WW feeder cluster, good and active NPC villages, and a couple of MMs for push, you are good. We have seen Villains survive just fine (and even increasing defense numbers) for 4 days straight without any diet, a weak WW cluster and at 17M def. On the other hand, UA is only useful if you use it. SGR failed to use it everytime. In some cases, Villains did a good job on hiding their WWrs; on others, it was more obvious but hesitation costed SGR greatly. You would see a 1 Villains WWr doing the same damage as 3 SGR WWrs.
Overall, I believe that artefacts were evenly distributed up until SGR has stolen UT. In general, I dont believe that there was a huge disparity, coming from artifacts.
SGR had large defensive accounts, a good SH setup. However, DC was on the shoulders of very few people. I heard that more people were involved in DC in the beginning of the server but some left their role due to lack of ops from Villains side. I recall some isolated (2-3 man failed ops, some coordinated fakes) attacks from Villains but nothing to amount to a serious threat. Luckily, it was enough this server. It is something SGR needs to work on to up their game against more active opponents. Props to especially Valt, for doing an amazing job at investors' defense. Some special notes on defense on investors - it was the day me and mads were working on ops and I had plans to go out with friends later that night. Valt reached out to me for some crazy scouting demands (I was taking care of Lady Envy account at that time), because many of our WWks were under attack. I think timed scouts are well understood and known to be effective by most players. However, he was asking 7 players to be scouted for 6 possible launches. This amounted to 50+ timed scouts to be sent during the day while organizing the ops. I canceled my plans to go out, slept barely a few hours, monitoring ops launches and trying to nail the scoutings. So, Valt, it is not that I dont understand timed scouting, it was just very difficult for me to do, because of time constraint (and the constraint of having scouts ready for Lady Envy). I think I ended up selecting a few key targets for scouting. Scouting on Cyrus helped us rule our quite a bit of options (anything in the boonies wouldnt be possible, biggest candidates were Duom and investors). With the remaining scouts available, we selected LoMo to check for everything after investors - Duom, Templars, Wolf. We hit the lottery on investors. LoMo managed to hide 19*4 spears in that tight window which I found very impressive. I checked any other target that is launched in that time window (made a circle in the map, putting LoMo in the center and investors on the line - tracing any other WWk along the circle's line). I couldnt find any and Valt was suggesting investors should be real. We went for it, and it was the correct call - splatting 16 hammers. This success didn't come without a cost - we had to use the defense which could have gone to WW, making Villains' op not totally useless. But knowing that they depleted all their offensive power, we knew that we could defend WW full force from know on (which didn't happen, sadly).
The reason SGR didn't defend some other WWks attacks properly (like Sankets) was also due to hesitation - a similar we have seen on switching to UA. There were multiple attacks, and the consensus wasnt there. I scrambled a very last minute all in call (some ridiculous 3.5 hours before the hit) in the morning which I think was another fail from our side. That being said, we had a serious talk about this and fixed the decision making in this font in the next wave, defending Vendetta and Snoopys. In sum, in Villains' perspective attacks on WWk period mirrored mid-game: They did a great job in defense (recall that amazing all in defense call 36 hour in advance), while failing to deliver offensively.