The Beginner's Guide to Survival!
There is a bunch of so called "guides for beginners" on the forum and the wiki. They were all written by experienced players telling you all those "do's and don'ts". But, do they tell you all you need to know? My answer is - NO!
So, being beginner myself, with only two weeks of playing, I've decided to describe the first person experiences of an absolute beginner. After reading the whole story, someone could say I just had a bad luck, but I could happily just say that I had a great(!) luck, for learning this lesson so early. It could have easily happened that I survived for say 2 months or even more, my disappointment would be devastating. This way, I can live with two weeks of my life lost and decide on my own if I'm willing to try again and risk spending much more time on this game.
As every good beginner's guide starts, let's first give an example (the facts in my case).
The 14th day of my playing, I woke up in the morning and logged in, just to find out that late in that night there was an attack on my village. The good news was it was only a scout attack (the report marked with a blue circle). I was prepared to defend from scouts, I had a bunch of my own scouts sitting in the village, I knew that the attacker needed at least twice that number to obtain full information, I was relieved. Then I opened the report...
The attacker had sent 480 (yes, four hundred and eighty!) scouts. Ok, I thought, someone really strong attacked me, let me check who it was and from which village. What the...? This guy had only about 100 points more than me, his village was in my neighborhood, and the last shock was when I found that he joined the world the very same day as I did!
As naive as every beginner, my first thought was - something must be wrong here. Then I tried to rationalize the whole thing. Since I was quite satisfied with my own development for these 14 days (I had about 1200 points, resource structures at level 20, I was farming nearby villages, I had some nicely growing troops - 65 spears, 65 swords, 30 archers, 20 scouts, 60 lcav, my resources income was pretty steady to support further upgrades and recruitment of more army), I concluded that this guy couldn't be much much better than me, he is surely more experienced player, I thought, but he could not develop his village so much better than me. The final conclusion of mine was that he must have been a spy in his tribe whose only task was to produce vast numbers of scouts and spy on villages that show some development.
I was soooo wrong!
Later that day, the same player attacked again. I had about two hours to think of what should I do, how to prepare for this attack, what troops he was sending to me... I was a bit confused - if my thinking was right, he couldn't have much of regular troops, but why would he send scouts again? He saw my all of my troops, so he knew what he can expect. Should I risk and wait for the attack with my troops in the village? I decided to be careful, so I dodged the attack to avoid troops and resources losses.
Can any beginner guess with what forces he stroked? I couldn't guess! Here are his forces:
Spear fighters (): 264
Swordsmen (): 48
Archers (): 599
Scouts (): 480
Light cavalry (): 174
Heavy cavalry (): 149
Catapults (): 114
Paladin (): 1
Omg! What the...!
Obviously, this guy was all but not a spy in his tribe. He did such an enormous development of his village for the same time and with about the same number of points. I laughed to my stupidity...
Look, there were catapults and heavy cavalry in his forces! Let's paste this forces into simulator. Total costs for these forces calculated by the simulator are:
Timber (): 186.590
Clay (): 136.700
Iron (): 195.880
And what about the time needed to upgrade hq to 15, smithy to 15, stable to 10, farms to say 20, warehouse to 20, not to mention the resource structures, probably a decent wall, and the time needed to recruit all those troops but only after structure requirements have been met?
How is this possible? Was he cheating? Unfortunately, the answer is no, he was not cheating and this is quite possible. Anyway, the question remains - how?
Well, my fellow beginners, the answer is very simple - by playing 24/7... Do you like this answer? I certainly do not like it, but, sorry, it's the only answer... What you have to do to accomplish this is to start building troops and farm other villages like crazy from the very first MINUTE of joining a world! And, do not be foolish, do not waste resources and time for upgrading resource structures (like I did).
What happens if something similar like this happens to you? Well, in theory, there is not much that you can do. That attack smashed my wall from level 14 to level 3. I do not have enough resources (and time for playing) to build up an army that could defend my village from this guy. He already has enormous advantage in troops, and he will certainly not stop neither recruiting more troops nor attacking me nor farming other villages for more resources. He will be stronger with each new attack. The next time he attacks, he could just smash my farms and disable me from further development.
In practice, however, you can play some tricky games and wait for his mistake. If you are lucky enough and/or he is not smart enough, then you can hope he will make a mistake which could give you some advantage and a chance to overpower him. And don't be fooled by this encouragement, the odds are really too small. This would also require that you start playing 24/7 yourself, watch out for any incoming attacks and carefully plan in advance all your moves, and, of course, continue to constantly farm other villages.
If you cannot play 24/7, then you must prepare your village for an attack that might come while you are not playing. One way to do this is to send all your troops to a distant abandoned village and schedule their return to the time when you will be online again. This will save your troops from slaughtering. Also, spend all resources that you can on structures and new recruitments. He will kill all your newly recruited army if he attacks, but this is better than letting him take any resources from you. If your farms are smashed and you cannot do anything but upgrading farms, you can accept even the most non-favorable market offers just to get rid of an excess resources, but carefully choose delivery periods, so you can do this again! You can also put more than five farm upgrades in the queue and then cancel and add again repeatedly. The whole idea is to lower his pleasure as much as possible - if he does not kill any troops nor gets any resources, he will be just wasting his time on attacking you, maybe he will once realize that he has smarter things to do. ;)
Well, while I was writing this, my war with this guy continued... As if I had some Nostradamus genes, I predicted a lot of what could happen in the future, to the great satisfaction of mine!
The guy kept attacking constantly, I used the tactics explained above to minimize my losses. And I will restrain from judging his intelligence, but this was what happened so you can judge on your own!
His forces were a bit stronger with each attack, several hcav's and catapults were added to his forces each time. He was always coming to my village just to find no army of mine and no resources to collect. Once he hit my farms and put them down to level 3. I needed the whole day to rebuild them so I could continue my troops production.
One day, he attacked with catapults only. Why? Beat me! He must have guessed that I do not have any army at all. I wish I didn't dodge that attack, but who would knew. My hope was that he will make the same mistake again and that I would be smart enough to predict when it happens. But how? With patience and not giving up. It's easy now for me to be smart after the battle, but this is the answer. Right out of nowhere I got my chance!
The further development was quite interesting. He sent his forces again, but by checking the time they needed for arrival, I knew there were no catapults this time. I left small amount of troops in my village to give him an illusion that they are all newly produced units (a couple of swordsman and a couple of lcav). He landed with full force and killed my poor troops. I obviously accomplished what I was up to - he thought exactly what I wanted him to think!
As soon as he got report about this attack, without waiting for his troops to come back to his village, he sent his catapults immediately (again, I knew that by looking at the time of the arrival of his new attack). I knew that there could not be much of his troops to support his catapults in this attack, and I knew this was my last and only chance for confronting his catapults with my army.
Omg, that was a blow of the century, at least from my perspective. I killed him 50 of 50 archers, 13 of 100 scouts, 6 of 6 hcav and 138 of 138 catapults! Lol, I couldn't stop laughing!
This must have been very painful for him, lol. You can calculate on your own (in the simulator) how much resources this will cost him to rebuild (do not forget the time too). I put him down for at least a couple of days.
Of course, he is still much stronger than me (he still has his hcav about 200), I lost about 80% of my poor army in this battle, he will retaliate for sure, I do not have any chance against him in the near future (except if, counting on his brightness, hopefully he get into problems on some other side).
But, after all, this was a great moral victory for me, don't you think the same? I can now leave this game with my dignity intact!
Finally, you can ask yourself - Why would you want to play a game like this and spend so much time with it?
Well, this is not much of a strategy game, if you ask me, you simply do not have enough information to create any decent strategy. This is just a mind-playing game with your opponents, with still so little information about their thinking. Playing cat-and-mouse games with your opponents could not be called strategy. The only question is who would give up first.
The worst aspect of this game is that it gives by far too much of advantage to players who can spend more time than you can. Not to mention that every time you go to sleep, in the morning while making your first coffee, you can find your village devastated! My tactics described above would not save your from nobling your village - if you leave your village undefended over night, you could easily find in the morning that you do not have your village anymore!
At the end, I will give you a short overview of what you ULTIMATELY MUST do to become a strong player on a world (in the order of importance):
1. Read all beginner's guides on the wiki and the forum. Consult the help all the time. Learn fast and do not implement anything you read if you are not sure (with your own brains) why exactly you should do that!
2. Play 24/7.
3. Recruit constantly.
4. Farm other villages constantly.
5. Avoid upgrading your resource structures too high in the early stage. There will be time for this, and the farming gains much much more resources.
6. Upgrade your structures with a plan! Do not be lead by for what you have resources at the moment or what troops you would like to have.
7. I'm not sure about the wall - rams and catapults still confuse me. I'm still a beginner, remember?