They say that Civcraft is like the Hotel California of Minecraft servers — that is, once you join, you can never, ever leave. It’s a statement which holds surprisingly true. Civcraft is a grand experiment in societal construction, borne out of the now-defunct AnCapMinecraft, a server created and run by an enigmatic administrator known only as ttk2. This server does not run on the principles that most public servers do — there is but one rule (no hacking), and the moderation team generally only exercises their powers when users are caught breaking that one golden commandment.
One would expect, then, that Civcraft’s overworld is nothing but a wasteland of lava and broken homes, of sacked cities and scarce resources. It’s only the logical conclusion, after all — we’ve all seen the effects that griefers can have on our builds…
Civcraft is unique in that it runs a parcel of server modifications that allow its playerbase to mete justice on their own terms, and to protect their homes with often-expensive fortifications. The most important of these mods, PrisonPearl, allows players to imprison each other in Ender Pearls, a process colloquially known as “pearling”. This sends pearled players to The End, a dimension which can normally only be accessed through specialized portals. Its presence on the server completely changes the power dynamic between players, and shrinks the power divide between “rich” and “poor” — powerful and wealthy players are able to indiscriminately imprison those who oppose them, but they themselves are vulnerable to being pearled if mobbed. However, in the world of Civcraft, pearling has consequences, and one of those consequences is that any pearled player can instantly access the coordinates of their particular pearl.
The second most significant modification, developed in-house specifically for Civcraft, is called Citadel. This mod enables players to protect blocks they place by “reinforcing” them with certain materials (that is, smoothstone, iron ingots, and diamonds, which each offer differing levels of reinforcement). When a block is reinforced, it can still be broken, but with the reinforcement in effect the block will instantly re-appear a set number of times before finally breaking for good. This mod works hand-in-hand with PrisonPearl — players can add a second layer of imprisonment by locking someone’s pearl in a reinforced chest, which itself can be surrounded with reinforced obsidian for extra effectiveness.
Several other modifications run on the server, including one which limits chat range to 1000 blocks in any direction, but they’re nowhere near as game-changing as PrisonPearl and Citadel — PrisonPearl in particular poses as a significant deterrent for would-be criminals and those who only join the server in the interests of griefing its denizens.
What these mods also do is allow societies to be built, and the many players of Civcraft have taken to that task with nothing short of a brisk alacrity. Hundreds of different players have formed countless different factions across the huge (100,000 block area) map, and the server’s official subreddit (reddit.com/r/Civcraft) serves as a discussion board for anything and everything related to the server’s players and their varied political ideologies (and arguments based thereon).
However, until last month (I’ll go into it later), there has been but one snag in the experiment, one unintended event which, turned the server’s culture upside down, and caused many players to leave in disgust.
It was an invasion, of the worst kind imaginable.
When I originally joined the server, in September 2012, I did so with the aim of building a cool base in the middle of nowhere then blowing up a theatre in the server’s largest city, Mount Augusta. I made a throwaway account on Reddit and posted a vague threat on Civcraft’s subreddit, all the while not really intending to actually go through with my plan.
I didn’t know much about the server then, though, and my friends and I never followed through with our grand plan to blow up Mount Augusta’s theatre. However, in the days following my post on the subreddit, I noticed a curious trend in the comments — people believed that my threat was credible, and began to openly suspect each other of being the mystery poster (username of UnderpantsBomber). I was nothing if not intrigued by this trend, but schoolwork forced me away from the server for a few months.
Three months later, in December, I started to play again, this time with no concrete goals or affiliations. I’d been reading the subreddit for a week before I joined again, to get a feel for it – but all I really knew was that Mount Augusta was the safest, friendliest city in Civcraft, and that I wanted to live there.
After roaming about the map for a short period of time, I finally found myself in Mount Augusta, and set up a small house near the east wall. Over the week that followed, I got to know my neighbors, and even began to participate in the communal harvesting and replanting of the wheat fields adjacent to my home. My neighbours on the eastern side of Mount Augusta slowly came to trust me, and I felt like I’d found a proper nice home.
My idyllic existence was not to last long, however — one morning, I logged on to find that a particularly tall construction near my home had lava cascading down from it. Unfortunately, it made quite a mess of the wheat farm, and it was rather annoying to clean up, though I was thankful that it hadn’t hit the public wheat chests. Interested in finding out what had happened, I went to Civcraft’s subreddit and found out that the attack had been carried out by a couple of users, who broadcast their affiliation with but three letters:
Intrigued and more than a little bit wary, I investigated further. These HCF players, originating from the HardcoreFactions server (unaffiliated with Civcraft), had quite suddenly emerged from the shroud of obscurity to become feared opponents across the server — most Civcraft players are better versed in political manoeuvres than PvP combat. These HCF players seemed wholly malevolent, and, worse, they also appeared to have a vendetta against Mount Augusta, a city renowned for its political neutrality.