Ikariam Beginner to Advanced Guide

Ikariam Beginner to Advanced Guide by shinypenny

Basic beginner guide – expanding an empire

When starting out in the game, you have a town hall already placed for you in the village. The other buildings that you have the option of building are the academy, barracks, trading port and town wall. There is a tutorial in the game for new players which will show you how to place workers into the mill on your island to get wood for you. I suggest going through the tutorial if the game is new to you.

Once you have your workers producing wood you will need to build something (you start with some wood). This should be your chance to build an academy. The academy will be your main tool to development at this stage in the game, as it will open up new buildings for you, and allow you to build more units, and be more efficient doing basic activities (building and researching). Once the academy is built assign some people from your town to work in it as scientists. These scientists will cost gold, but it is necessary to obtain research which advances your empire.

During this first portion of the game your main focus should be to create a basic infrastructure with which to support an economy. The focus of your research at this time should be towards expansion (in the seafaring area of research). Once you have the expansion research completed you will be able to create new towns by building and upgrading a palace in your capital (your first town). The next section will be dedicated to the general ideas behind expansion.

Where do I expand to?

This is a common question. Assuming you have expansion researched, and you have built a palace, you have the option of placing a new colony. Where you place it will shape your growth in the game, and help or hinder you depending on your playing style. There are a number of things to take into consideration.

Mines and mills. When you move onto an island you inherit some of the work done by previous or current residents to improve the mines and mills. The bigger the mines and mills the better, as they allow you to mine more resources which can be spent on buildings, upgrades, research or sold for gold.

Miracles. These allow towns on an island to invoke a special power if they decide to build temples which can help (especially in times of war). It will not be profitable to use the miracles on an island if your island mates are not helping, so if you want a miracle you should ask players if they are using it before joining them, or you should try and find a deserted island (not as hard as you might think in some places).

Island mates. When moving onto a new island you have much to consider with your new island mates. If you all get on well, then great, if not, it could be painful. Attacking each other over land is easy, so you need to get on well with island mates.

Location. Close to your other towns will make it easy to ship goods, and defend each other. Being further away will open up more opportunities for trade, and attacking other players. What type of player do you think you are, and what will work well for the type of game you like to play?

Resources. There are five resources in the game: building material, marble, wine, crystal glass and sulfur. Building material (wood) can be harvested from all islands, and as such is often considered the least valuable commodity. Building material (as the name suggests) is required in the building of all buildings. Marble is required for almost all buildings (not for the academy) and is only available on marble islands. This is often considered the most valuable commodity, and most people have more marble islands than any other resource. Wine is used for keeping your citizens happy, when it is served in the tavern. If you have enough town hall space this will cause your population to grow (making you more money). It is also needed for Palace and Governors Residence upgrades. This resource is vital to all empires, so is usually a popular island choice. Crystal glass is used for upgrading academies, buying spies, buying research (with experiments), buying some military units, upgrading military units and upgrading Palaces and Governors Residences. Crystal is valued highly by players who specialize in research, but is not prized by most players as they reach the latter stages of the game. Sulfur is arguably the least valuable resource, being used only for building military units, and upgrading Palaces and Governors Residences.

The main resource strategies are laid out below with some pros and cons:

  1. All on different islands, spread out towns.
    Pro: Great for trade, and finding players to attack, easy to leach
    Con: Shipping times are slow, donating to the mines is difficult (only 1 town per island), defending towns is difficult
    Overall: A good choice for the very active pillager/trader
  2. Pick 1 island and plant all towns on that island.
    Pro: great for defense, donations
    Con: Poor trade links, few reachable military targets, need to trade for everything else
    Overall: If it’s a marble island, this might be worth it as long as you are able to trade for wine, crystal and sulfur, and if you plan to donate
  3. Pick 4 good islands (one of each type) spread a little apart, and stick to only these 4 islands
    Pro: balanced resource production, fairly good defense, good for donations
    Con: Not as many trade links or military targets
    Overall: A good middle ground for the average player

If you decide to spread out your towns (between different resources), players often ask which resource they should expand to. As a general guide consider the following. If you are constantly running low on one resource consider expanding to an island that has that resource (but beware of changes in your consumption). Getting one of each of the four resources is a solid way to start out, and often recommended. One wine town should be able to supply 3-4 non wine towns and leave you with enough wine left over for GR building. One sulfur colony is enough for all but the most active warriors. One crystal colony is enough early on for research needs, only consider the second if you are interested in futures researches (we will come back to this).

There are variations between these strategies that are employed by some players (e.g. only 2 islands, marble and wine) and the benefits are somewhere between the two closest strategies listed above. There are large players that have done well with ALL of the strategies above, so consider your preferred player style, and your game environment (how busy is your server? how aggressive?) before making a decision.

Setting up those towns, a building guide

So we’ve talked about where the towns will be, and how we get them, now the next step is what to put in them. There are many buildings to choose from, and you can’t have them all, so the question is what to build, and what to pass over. The following discussion will assume that you have access to all of the buildings, and you have researched the additional building spot in the town. Don’t worry if you are not there yet, this is still useful. You need to plan for this time, in order to avoid pulling down buildings later to build new ones you just researched.Buildings you have to build

Town Hall: You have no choice, you must have this building and cannot demolish it. This building gives you an overview of the town and dictates how many people you town can hold. As this building gets larger it also makes it easier for enemies to spy into your town. You should look to upgrade this building whenever you have growing population and the town hall is not big enough to hold them. There is no reason to upgrade the town hall otherwise.

Port: This building determines how fast you can load your trade ships in order to transport goods between your cities. Upgrading will make things a little faster, but don’t go crazy upgrading this building, there are better places to spend your hard earned resources. Level 10 is good for a small empire, and level 20 is sufficient for most large empires. Level 30 is for when you get bored upgrading other things.

Shipyard: This building allows you to build a navy. It is a cheap building to upgrade. Just keep it sufficiently upgraded so that you can build all of the ships you need. Upgrading further will allow you to build ships a little faster, but it’s not that important for most players, especially when you have a shipyard in every town.

Town Wall: This will help to protect your town from attacks. The town wall is really only useful if you have some military units behind it. A good general guide is that if you keep your town wall at close to the same level as your town hall, it should provide a stiff obstacle for invading armies.

All of the other buildings are optional. To make things a little easier we will consider them in groups. Each town has 11 free building spots for these buildings, so choose wisely.

Happiness Buildings

There are two buildings that you can build that increase the happiness of your cities. As cities get happier the population grows. These buildings are very important to increase your population so you can collect taxes, hire scientists and put people to work in the mills and mines. Both of these buildings provide a small boost in happiness for building the structure, and a further boost for using it (filling the museum with CTs, or the tavern with wine).

Museum: This building increases your population by allowing you engage in cultural treaties with other players. When the other players artifacts are displayed in your town your citizens will become happier, and your population will grow. Most players consider this building essential in all towns.

Tavern: This building keeps the town happy by allowing you to serve them wine. This happiness will allow you to increase your population. Most players consider this building to be essential in all towns.

Cost Reducer Buildings

These buildings can help reduce how much you spend of a particular resource. They hold different values in different towns to different types of players. Cost reducers are particularly useful to players who obtain a lot of their resources from pillaging. In this case you don’t want a boost for your production, you want a reduction on your spending (spending other peoples things) so these buildings can come in useful.

Carpenter’s Workshop: This building reduces your spending of building material by 1% per level of the building, up to a maximum level 32 (or 32%). These can be useful as building material is one of the most widely used resources. Also, when upgrading large buildings later on, the building material required can be higher than fits in your warehouses, so carpenters can make it possible to build those buildings. Most players consider the Carpenters workshop to be a very useful addition to all towns.

Architects Office: This building reduces your spending of marble by 1% per level of the building up to a maximum of level 32 (or 32%). This is good because marble is the most expensive resource, and some buildings use it in large quantities (especially the museum, town wall and town hall). The architect is less common than the carpenter, but is still recommended by most players as a good addition to all towns.

Wine Cellars: Like the Architects Office, only for wine instead. These buildings reduce the amount of wine that you need to serve in the tavern. This is only really useful for players who need an overly large population to support a big army. These are equally useful in any town of any resource type. These buildings are more useful if you serve more wine per hour.

Opticians: Like the buildings above, but for crystal glass. This building should only be built if you are using the town to perform workshop upgrades, or if you are considering using the town for experiments later in the game, as this gives discounts on both. It also gives discounts on a select few military units

Fireworks test area: Like the above buildings, only for sulfur. This building is only really useful if you are a very military minded player. Build only one per empire and try and train all troops in that town where possible. This building is not recommended for most players.

Production Boost Buildings

The following buildings all increase the production of your mines and mills. The foresters can be built in all towns, but the luxury resource boosters can only be built in towns that are on islands with the correct resource. The buildings raise production by 2% for every level built. Level 15 (30% boost) is a perfectly attainable goal for a small player. The highest it is possible for most players to get these buildings is about level 25-30 (no more than a 60% boost). These buildings are more valuable the larger your mine is (and the more people you have working on it). Smaller players often have many of these buildings scattered throughout their empire, but larger players find difficulty making room for as many of them. These buildings are more important to players who rely on mining for most of their resources. Some players do not mine and get most resources from pillaging, while this is not often recommended, if you follow this path you should realize that these production boost buildings are not very useful to you.

Building Material (foresters): Can be useful, and as all resource booster buildings gives a good return on investment. Most players do not use these because they do not have a shortage of wood, however if you have a marble-heavy empire, then they may be useful to speed up your building. Can also be used to help donations to the mines.

Marble (Stone Mason): Marble is the most valuable resource, so this is the most popular of the production booster buildings. Frequently used by players as marble is often hard to buy on the market at reasonable prices (area dependent).

Crystal Glass (Glass Blower): Useful for heavy researchers, especially if you want to do experiments.

Wine (Winery): Useful to help your empire to expand with fewer wine islands (leaves more room for marble towns)

Sulfur (Alchemists Tower): Useful for heavy pillagers who want to be able to survive on only one sulfur island.

Miscellaneous Buildings

Academies: The only building that allows you to conduct research. Research is vital early on, so you will probably want a few of them in your first four or five towns. Once you have finished regular research consider what you plan to do with them. If you plan to tear them down, don’t build them too high in the first place. You can research in one of two ways, by assigning scientists to work in the academy, or by purchasing an experiment (once you have researched that option). Some players prefer to not research too much in order to leave enough population to assign to the mines. This is a valid strategy and can be used, but you will still need to do some research to make sure you advance in the game. Other players place a heavy emphasis on research early and sacrifice a little building in exchange for the research benefits getting to you a little quicker. The choice is yours, and depends on your playing style.

Warehouses: Warehouses are the only building that you are able to build more than one of in a town. They allow you to store more goods in the town in preparation for creating or upgrading a particular building. They also protect a small amount of your resources (6% of the warehouse capacity) which cannot be stolen by invaders to your town. When starting out 1 warehouse is sufficient, and will allow you t build up to a level 7 palace/GR that will allow you to expand to an empire of 8 total towns. All towns should have at least 1 warehouse.

The temple allows you the possibility of activating the miracle on your island. In the current version of the game (0.3.4) the miracles are still not widely used as the effects are not sufficient to entice players to give up their building spot. For a temple to be able to activate a miracle it takes effort from many players on the island, which also leads to the temples not being used frequently.

Hideout: This building makes it harder for others to spy on you, and also allows you to spy on others (depending on the level of their hideouts). The building can be upgraded to level 32, which is what most advanced players have, as this makes it practically impossible to spy on them. The consensus amongst larger players is that this building is compulsory. Without it other players can see exactly your troops and resources, and will steal them. Some alliances require members to maintain these buildings.
Workshop: This building is essential for newer players. This allows you to upgrade your military units. Build it on a crystal island with a crystal reducer for best effect. Once all upgrades are complete most advanced players tear down this building and replace with something more useful in the long run.

Trading Post: This will allow you to trade with other players that are near to you. There is only ever the need for one per island at most. The usefulness of this building depends on how active other traders are in your area, and how much spare you intend to trade on a regular basis. Some players do not use this building, some have just one per empire, and some have them in many towns. It varies widely depending on player style.

This building is required to build land troops, but is not required to station troops in a town. Most advanced players have barracks in less than half of their towns, as rebuilding an army is not something that is typically done very often. Clearly the more active militant players will need more barracks. This building can benefit from the use of the sulfur reduction building.

Embassy: If you want to join an alliance you will need an embassy. Most players only have one. Leaders of alliances need many of these buildings, as they need one diplomacy point per player in the alliance. They also allow you to sign military and trade treaties with other players. This is not normally necessary, unless you need the military treaty in times of war, or you are an extremely active trader. Joining an alliance is highly recommended, so this building is considered compulsory by many players, but most players only build one, and keep it at a relatively low level.

Setting up the towns

So for each town let us go over for a beginning player what those towns might look like. There are 11 optional slots, with the others being already filled with the town hall, town wall, port and shipyard. Firstly there are buildings that are strongly recommended by most larger players for use in all towns. These are:

1. Museum
2. Tavern
3. Spy hut
4. Warehouse (1 for now)
5. Palace (If this is a colony, this space will be taken by the Governors Residence)

That leaves five free spots. Most players will tell you that in the end everyone needs a carpenter and an architect in every town eventually, and at least some of your initial towns will need an academy, so let’s include them to.

6. Academy
7. Carpenter
8. Architect

So now there are three free spots. This is where some discretion comes in, and players differ. Here is a popular setup for a player with 4 towns, one of each resource:

Sulfur town: Barracks, Alchemists tower, Forester
Crystal town: Workshop, Optician, Glass blower
Marble town: Stone Mason, Forester, Trade post
Wine town: Winery, Forester, Embassy

This would provide a good level of resources coming in, and would cover the main bases for buildings that you will need in the future. You could even swap out some of the academies if you prefer for an extra resource booster or foresters somewhere. When you get this far, your thoughts should be towards expanding. Building those GRs and Palace levels are the best way to increase the size of your empire, your economic strength, your points and your military capabilities.

Intermediate play, planning for the end game

At some point if you keep expanding and growing your empire, you will reach a good sized economy. However you will eventually reach level 7 palaces and Governors residences. This leaves you with a good sized empire, but there are bigger empires out there, so the question is, what to do next.

You currently have a level 7 Palace, and 7 corruption free colonies (8 towns total). To get a level 8 palace, for one more colony, requires 350k wood, and to hold that you need 2 warehouses. The level 9 palace needs three warehouses, and the level 10 palace needs 5 warehouses. As well as knowing how many warehouses you will need, you should consider how many of them you plan to keep, and how many of them you will pull straight down after building the palace or GR in that town. Clearly this differs by player, but it is common to keep two warehouses if you need 3 for the upgrade, or keep 2-3 if you need 5 for the upgrade. Clearly you should plan to put more resources into upgrading warehouses that you plan to keep, rather than warehouses you plan to tear down.

Clearly to build any of these upgrades you will need more warehouses, and for that you will need to knock down buildings. The question is which ones. This obviously varies from player to player, but here are some things to consider. This is all assuming that you have not specialized and overinvested in one building massively. Clearly you should not do this unless you are certain that you will never need to demolish the building.

(1) Research. By this time you will have finished all of the basic researches, and be onto futures. The question is do you intend to continue researching futures? Some players do, and some don’t, to a large degree this is personal preference. If you do not want to continue with research pulling down your academies will make an easy space for a warehouse. You can tear down the workshop by this point also if you have completed all the upgrades it provides.

(2) “Optional” buildings. There are buildings like resource boosters, trade posts, barracks that can be demolished temporarily (and hopefully cheaply) in order to make space for a warehouse. The question is, are you willing to lose any of these buildings on a permanent basis? Do you plan to knock down the warehouse later and rebuild them?

(3) “Compulsory” buildings. Many players consider tearing down taverns and spy huts in order to accomplish their Palace building ambitions. While this is possible as a last resort, it is generally not the best way to proceed in a town with balanced building levels as the reduction in population, and spy defense can both be potentially very expensive in their own ways. If you prefer to get your level 10 Palace with 6 smaller warehouses (rather than 5 bigger warehouses) you will likely need to think about demolishing one of these buildings.

(4) Architect. This may be torn down if you are a player who is operating with a glut of marble, but most players are short of marble, so tearing down this building just makes any upgrades slower and more painful for most.

Helping hands

Also, at this point in the game, you should consider whether using helping hands in the mines and mills is a good investment for your empire. If you have no resource boosters then helping hands will cost you 12 gold pieces to mine 1 unit of resources. This could conceivably drop to 7 gold per unit with a high enough resource booster in that town. You should consider using helping hands if you can afford the income loss, and if you are unable to obtain resources at that price (or lower) in the market. If you can obtain goods in the market for less, you should probably not be using helping hands. So essentially this depends on each player assessing their own income, trading opportunities, and need for resources.

Advanced play, the end game, what do we do?

So you’ve started building that last palace, and you’re excited that it’s finally done. Now what do you do? Well obviously you’ve still got GRs to go, but in your capital you can start planning for a life after GR building.First, consider if there is anything that you want to upgrade using those huge warehouses that you just built. You’re about to tear some of them down, but make the most of it before you do. Level 18 museums, level 42 taverns , whatever you want. After you are satisfied with the levels of your few remaining buildings you can then tear down your temporary warehouses. At this point I will assume you have the minimum buildings in your town (only the compulsory buildings listed above, plus carpenter and architect) and go from there. Now the big question is, what do you want to get out of the game?

Some large players will return to research after they have finished with warehouse upgrades, rebuilding academies and opticians. There are two schools of thought in this area. One school of thought is that building is currently worth more immediate points than research, so focusing on building gives more benefit. Some however believe that the points from research, in conjunction with the research benefits are worth it now that they have practically run out of buildings to build. Both are valid for different player styles, and it depends on your gaming philosophy. I would discourage anyone from choosing a particular strategy for points alone, as points have changed previously in updates to this game, and they may change again in the future. Basing an entire strategy on points may leave you disadvantaged if the game changes slightly in future versions.

So now you’ve got your big palace and GRS, why not upgrade all those other buildings that you’ve been putting off forever? Museums, taverns, town halls, town walls, ports, shipyards, etc. If you plan to take this route, the obvious choice for buildings to replace your pulled down warehouses is resource boosters. These will speed up your building progress, and allow you to move more quickly through the remaining Governors Residence upgrades.

One other option is to take the militant route. Now you have this massive empire why not use it to support a massive military. In this case wine cellars to go with high level taverns and town halls will allow you to support a monster population which will in turn allow you to support a very large military. This type of strategy works best for fairly active players, although anyone can give it a try.

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