To pay or not to pay; that is the question!
I'll be blunt...it is a Tribal Wars 2 but slightly more complicated, slightly less frustrating and completely dependant on how much money you put into it.
I LOVE how the game elaborates and improves upon concepts like Tribal Wars 2. Of course, I suggest looking into a synopsis of tribal wars 2 to understand what I mean by this, but for those familiar with the game, it does improve upon some portions of the game which, for many, was what would make a Tribal Wars realm become boring. Of course, the game does lack a bit in terms of scale which Tribal Wars had, but is still fun and playable.
I would recommend starting the game world from its beginning stages just because, as I have learned, coming into a world in its later stages makes it 10x harder for a player. You have to worry about not just growing exponentially, but about the players near you who have started earlier and have already grown exponentially. 1 day makes a substantial difference in power.
Assuming you come into the game around the same time as all the other players, there are still issues. As fun as the game is; and it is worth a try still, especially given the historical aesthetic, what does kill the game is how it is too pay to win. Some pay to win concepts aren't too bad, and the playing field is still level enough for a free to play player to excel. However, in this game, it is not so. Game mechanics like auto farming makes it so that a larger player, who has been playing longer than you or has gained extra strength early on due to paying for bonus', they can turn you into a farm. Now, in games like Tribal Wars, you can overcome this by hiding troops, saving up resources or gaining allies to overcome your bully. But in this game, it is not so. Auto farming makes it so that you'll constantly be farmed to the extent that not only will you never have extra resources, but any army you build will eventually be found and killed before it can build up.
So though I have nothing against pay to win in general, it needs a good balance, and this game simply provides too much if you pay for it to make a free player consider the game worthwhile for anything other than just casual short-term gameplay.
In addition to this, numbers lopside battles. Whereas you might have more elite troops, etc, the larger the numbers and army has, the less damage they'll essentially take. So if someone is farming you and they find your army after it eventually comes back home, if the army attacking is massive or substantially higher tier, then whereas you'll lose your entire army, you'll be lucky to make even the smallest impact. So whereas you'll constantly be stagnant, your enemy will get a larger and larger army while taking less and less damage. Keep in mind that this is merely how I perceive battles. As you can see from the picture above, my 6 defensive soldiers and 4 trash soldiers only killed about the equivalent in enemies, even though I had a wall on my side. In previous battles with much smaller numbers, I could kill small batches of elite troops with this same army with almost no loses just because of my hero and wall bonus'. Though i don't expect them to be reciprocal losses, the defensive troops alone were far superior to the ground troops that attacked me. Given that I was attacked with superior cavalry troops beforehand with minimal losses, and I was attacked with weaker ground troops, with substantially greater damage/little damage to the attacker, I am inclined to suspect that there are mechanics that define number advantage to bonus' involving unit health. Though I think this is generally a good idea, it must be balanced correctly so that small guys like myself have a chance coming into the game later than others.
Overall, fun game. But pay to win kills its potential!