Yes and No!
Evony Two Player's Guide and Advice
Evony Age2 is advertised as free forever, is that accurate? Well, yes and no. I have played for over3 years now on server NA-11. When I joined there were less than 20 servers and now there are over 40. The game has changed in many ways. Evony has continued to produce new rules and options. The players have learned the game and evolved new tactics. Bugs have been found that the players could exploit, some of those have been corrected. Bugs have been identified that disturbed the players, some of those have been corrected too.
Simply any player may join any server and play free of charge forever, unless Evony decides to change that rule. You will be able to play the game everyday and compete with other players on your server of choice. There will be some quests that you cannot complete, since they involve the purchase of items from the shop. Those quests will not prevent you from enjoying the game. That is the simple answer.
Evony keeps many of its program and administrative issues secret from the players. In itself that's not a problem, but it means we do have to guess what makes our little world go around. Each new server costs money to bring up and to support. Over 40 active servers means a reasonable daily cost to keep the game up and running. There is an unknown staff of programmers and administrative staff that must be paid and whose overhead costs must be covered. That is, Evony may be free to play, but it isn't free to operate.
Evony is not the United States of America. It cannot print money while going into debt. Evony must have an income stream to pay its costs. Since Age1 is still running and Age2 is growing, we can assume Evony is successfully paying its bills.
Evony makes money by selling items to willing players in the shop. The game involves the collection and use of a very large group of items. The items are used to increase the player's abilities or resources. These items can be found by the player during game play or may be shared thru FaceBook with their friends. Over time any player may succeed in reaching the highest levels of the game without spending a single dollar, pound or Euro. The player who does spend real money in the shop can significantly increase their accomplishments and growth in the game. Many players spend almost nothing in the shop and others spend significant sums of money. It is this difference in player choice that drastically affects the game.
When I started playing the players spending money could grow their personal account, but did not have significant knowledge or skill beyond the player who did not spend money. Our knowledge of the game was limited so our growth was as well. The most important city in the game, Atlantis, was not captured for over a year of continuous play on our server.
An important part of the game is the formation of alliances. Alliances provide training and protection to new players. They also allow advanced players to coördinate the use of resources not available to a single player. Early alliances were not powerful since the players did not understand the game. That is no longer true even on the newest servers.
Now experienced players leave their old servers with all the knowledge and FaceBook friends lists that took us months to accumulate. They have the added benefit that their rank on their old servers gives them benefits on any new server they join. New servers are immediately populated by planned alliances of experienced players who are expected to spend real money every week. The shared purpose of these players is to dominate a new server within days. Atlantis is now captured on a new server within 30 days.
It is not clear how these migrant players will behave after they have set a new record. Will they stay on the new server or jump to the next new one that opens? Most players leave the game when real life (RL) demands more time than they can spare for the game. We have all lost friends to RL and surely will lose more. The continuous changing of players creates opportunities for newer players to move up and become leaders in their own time. Manuals and guides are now available to speed the training of new players.
The game has changed, but new players are still assigned to random servers everyday. Those players still need to learn the game from its simplest skills to the most demanding. Alliances still train, aid and protect new players on every server. Any new player on any server can learn the game and play from the first day they login. No player will have to spend money if they don't want to.
The power of Evony is not the game, but the friendships you will form with other players. Those players will not be limited to your country, continent or hemisphere. Since the game is played around the clock, players are from around the world. Your ability to share ideas with someone 12,000 miles away is only limited by the speed of the internet. I have enjoyed meeting people from almost every continent.
Evony is not just a game, but a social network. If you enjoy meeting people and learning about what makes them unique, then Evony is for you. At least for now, Evony is truly free forever.