Long-timer player, but first time poster, or reading this forum (so apologies if this topic has been discussed).
Essentially, would there be any merit in removing the NPC merchant to help balance the gold vs. non-gold player difference?
The impact this would have on the game is undoubtedly large; 15Cs wouldn't be able to endless spam NPC to push out troops; additionally, managing large crop-negatives would involve a greater element of teamwork.
At the same time though, this would bring together an alliance to sustain large defences. It may also lead to a greater usage of the market place for trading.
Alternatively, if this change is too radical, a daily cap on NPC usage may also achieve some of the things mentioned above.
I am a gold-player and do use the NPC merchant myself. However, I'm supporting a brand-new player who is a non-gold user. Developing a 15c as a non-gold user is completely different to how an NPC user does this.
Personally, maths and strategy are at the heart of the game, and the NPC option seems like a lazy way to play which encourages individualism and in-game spending.
For obvious (financial) reasons I understand why this is in place, but if we're looking at balancing non-gold and gold players then removing this, and/or having a NPC daily cap usage, could help to bring both types of players together.
Interested to hear if their are any opinions on this.