I have recently been introduced, by a good friend of mine, to a game of strategy and planning called Empires and Allies on Facebook. In this game, one has to build an empire – houses, government buildings, military forces, industrial structures – from scratch, and work towards the betterment of this empire through collecting fees from houses and government buildings, build military (land, air and sea) forces, harvesting crop, producing oil, wood and ore, going to battle, making allies (and, at times, attacking them)… all to ensure that the empire survives and grows stronger. In brief, the game version of what a country is like.
Playing this game made me really think of the current situation locally and regionally, along with reading about and having many chances of discussing this situation with various people, who come from very different backgrounds – politically, socially, religiously (with “religiously” being mentioned here due to the sad fact that religion is the major factor that moves the people in this part of the world). And no matter how I try to dissect it, analyze it, and come up with all kinds of ‘devil’s advocate’ stories, one truth prevails: Lebanon, along with all other “Arab Spring” countries, are in no way independent or self-governing… I take full responsibility of my words.
Let us step back and out of our little cocoon, and take a wider look at the current events and situation – Empires and Allies style. For those who are not familiar with this game, allow me to explain some basics:
– The higher the level of the game, the more the energy the player has. The energy is required to harvest crop, collect coins, construct buildings, counter-attack an invader, and go to war in “World Dominion” or “Battle Blitz”, both of which can earn the player various items that are useful for the empire’s growth or protection.
– When the energy level is low, the player has two choices: either wait for the energy level to build up (1-energy every 5 minutes) or visit neighbors to perform 5 chores and obtain 1-energy.
– The “World Embassy” is where a player goes to declare neutrality; once done, the player cannot engage in battles, and cannot be attacked (sort of like Switzerland).
– While erecting certain buildings and structures, help from neighbors is essential to receive the parts needed to complete the building. If your neighbors are generous and “benevolent”, your building will finish quickly.
– To expand the land of the empire, Liberty Bonds are needed. Those are obtained either by fulfilling requested tasks or as gifts from friend. Expansion also can be done with friends.
Now back to our subject.
The world has three main advanced-level players: USA, Russia and China.
– USA: is the player with the highest level in the game, owning the largest empire, a large number of allies, state-of-the-art military, strong liaisons with other empires, one of a kind intelligence, and independent industry. As the most advanced player, the energy level this player has is very high, and thus the need to visit neighbors to obtain 1-energy is scarce, and is done only when this player “feels like it”. In brief, this player is the one with the least need for others, except when it fulfills their internal agenda.
– Russia: this player comes in second. This empire was once larger, but due to the player’s strategies and tactics, a lot of the land space was lost, shrinking this empire into its current size. However, this player too is developing their state-of-the-art military using mostly the “army
research lab” and the “navy research lab” to enhance their potential. Industrially, they are attempting to compete with the USA and China, the latter being well advanced industrially. This player also has their intelligence and espionage bureau, and is a major player in certain geographical locations of the globe. The allies of this player are relatively strong, and every now and then this player needs to visit other neighbors to obtain 1-energy from each.
– China: this player is well known to be economically independent and advanced, with a large industry space. They have a large empire, almost close in size to the USA, but are always “declaring neutrality”. Due to this fact, this player uses their daily energy resources until it is low, and waits for the energy level to build up – they never visit neighbors to obtain 1-energy. This player is self-sufficient, but likes to exercise some level of influence in “Word Dominion”.
The remaining countries of the earth are the players who are at lower levels in the Empires and Allies game. Some are at the infancy levels, while others have reached almost okay levels. However, no one can go up one level without the consent of one or all of the above mentioned advanced-level players, since those are the ones ruling the game.
You may be wondering what all this Empires and Allies talk have to do with the current situation in Lebanon and the region. I will explain.
Being one of the countries at the lowest levels (let’s face it, we may ‘seem’ to be advanced but we are not), Lebanon – and the remaining countries of the region – are the subjects to the higher level countries, namely the USA and Russia (the USA has personal interest in the region, while Russia is trying to regain its former, fading glory). And therefore, whatever ‘battle’ we might attempt, whatever crop we might choose to plant to harvest, whatever industry we try to expand and advance will all be in vain, since we have very low energy levels and need the assistance of the higher-energy level countries to obtain 1-energy. We also require the benevolence of those same countries to provide us with the parts needed to complete the construction of structures and buildings. Without their help, our empire will remain as is and will not develop.
So, to the people of Lebanon, who fight amongst each other in defending the ‘honor’ of some political figure, I say: wake up! None of those names you so worship is an independent entity. None of them cares for the well being of the people. They know the rules of the game: to survive as a low-level player, waiting for the ‘benevolence’ of the advanced-level players is a must.
Life is just a game of Empires and Allies; it’s all about strategy and planning.