EA Playfish released its 12th Facebook free-to-play game, My Empire, on May 13 to very little fanfare. In fact, visit the company's official website, and you'll find no mention of it -- so we entered this new empire-building social game with cautious optimism.
My Empire is essentially an attempt at re-imagining the popular turn-based PC franchise Civilization as an interactive and social environment. However, you're not building towards an end goal of ruling your region with an iron fist, rather always attempting to find the right balance of creating revenue streams and maintaining the overall happiness of your people. In other words: Sorry, Pinky, we'll have to take over the world some other day.
After adding the game to your Facebook account and a short title screen pops up, My Empire drops you directly into your nascent empire and asks you -- as all civilizations eventually employ -- to hire a tax collector. Yes, you can't escape the IRS even in the virtual world. Once your initial funds of 3,000 gold coins are depleted, the tax collector will act as your main source of income, outside of visiting and trading with your neighbors.
You can hire four different tax collectors, the only difference being that each dispenses increasing amounts of gold at varying intervals. For example, you can hire one that gives you 120 gold after five minutes, or one that delivers 1,600 coins after 24 hours. The math doesn't really add up-you can earn 1600 coins after about 50 minutes of continuous play-but if you know you're going to be way for a bit, then it will probably suit you better to opt for the long-term financier.
The only problem is that you can't interrupt the collection once it's set into motion. We made the mistake of choosing the 24-hour option first and had to wait a full day to get bankrolled. Your investment will vanish if you don't return within a reasonable time to collect, so it will behoove you to collect at the smaller intervals at first unless you know exactly when you will be playing. Of course, you can always plunk down some real cash and magically populate your kingdom's money bin with coins or Playfish Cash.
As you erect more buildings, you will slowly level up your character and unlock more types of buildings for construction. Each building will increase your village's happiness, population and/or fame, or will supply you with a resource to construct special "wonders," which greatly increases your happiness and your fame. Fame acts as your experience points in My Empire, so definitely focus on increasing that statistic as much as possible while appeasing the whims of your loyal subjects. (Note: They get sad a lot.)
Also, some of the buildings require a specific number of neighbors, or Facebook friends connected with your My Empire village, in order to be constructed and because the game is still in its infancy and lacking players, you should attempt to find a few friends to jump in with you. You'll also see others offering friend requests on My Empire's official wall in case you are in dire need of some trading partners. Why are neighbors important? The more you have, the more money you can get per day by visiting their villages.
That pretty much covers the inner working of My Empire during its first week. We expect many more additions in later updates -- seriously, what's a civilization without an army at war -- but at this point, it's at best something to babysit and upkeep while the developers continue to build on the game. Keep your sword at the ready.
Play My Empire on Facebook now >
Have any My Empire tips? Just looking for a few new neighbors? Leave a note in the comments below.