Part 1: Basics you should know
Well, after playing this game for a couple of years I came back to play one last round, which was kind of disappointing, but I don't want to leave without give you guys some final advice.
I'll try to cover on the 7 most common mistakes from my point of view only, as nor I have time for a long guide and neither do I think anyone would read some douzen pages just to improve his gameplay, espacially cause some basics are pretty boring to the players that have been here for more than a couple of days...
First something about animals:
#1: Lambs and Wolves
#4: Cheetahs and Horses
First above all: Forget the rankings for a moment. Points do fight in my point of view, but they are not important. If you play right points will come. If you play just to get a top spot in some ranking you have allready lost. Keep this in mind. It's the most important lesson you will ever get.
#1: Lambs and Wolves
Before you begin to play decide what you want to be, prey or hunter. The game is called tribalwars and it hints which 2 things make you successful in this game: Working together and Attacking. A lot of players start STW and all they ever do is build defense and build out there villages, never reaching a good position in the ranking. Sorry, but you'd be better of with a nice single player game and an additional chat program. If you want to play TW you better be ready to interact with other players: Attack others, defend against them, support friends and tribemates who are attacked. If you don't care about that at least I don't understand why you are playing this game at all.
Furthermore a lot of players herd together like lambs. Large tribes are formed, but when the wolves attack everyone is for himself and the lambs run around. If you form a tribe be sure you got a tribe where you really coordinate. Don't form a tribe just for the sake of having one. You might get a good ranked position which will attract even more players but as long as the tribe doesn't work together in offense and defense you will just fight and bitch around in your tribe. Nothing is more frustrating than being attacked and noone sends you help. So the morale in your ranks will drop and your tribe will fall apart.
Herding like lambs doesn't help against wolves.
When you start playing and at a certain point find that someone around you is growing faster than you, you have two options again. Either to fit in the role of the lamb once more or to try and do something against it. If you decide to go for all defense: you have allready lost, your downfall may come a little later, but it is inevitable. Offense builds faster in TW, is cheaper and you can farm with it effectivly, so being defensive will only save you if the bigger players targets are less defended than you are. But if you want to take your fate into your own hands this game will become real fun. Send a few scouts (depending on the style of the world 2-5) to each village around you. Yes, even the biggest ones. If someone around you is that much bigger he has probably bashed some targets and is getting resources from them now. Attack those too and get the resources yourself. if you find villages with low points (not the grey ones) but high wall that have no troops left, send defense and set up traps for the high point players (prefer spears when setting up traps, but never send only spears)
When you build defense never build one kind of defense only. Spears are the most effective defense in the beginning, but a defense consisting only of spears is extremly easy to destroy. Swords and archers are very effective considering use per farm space, but again, pure defenses are cracked easy.
Do build defense!! Building just scouts (the white wall) will help you against certain players (actually the bad ones), but if you have a good player near you, he might just attack you cause he just knows his offense is able to destroy everything. Furthermore you will need the defense of others to block attacks once someone decides he wants your village. Sure you could hope that you are the only one who is hiding without any real defense and in need the others who have defense will send you. Sorry, the others think the same way and thus you won't get defense. So, start making a difference and build defense. And start defending others that build defense, not those who claim doing so.
Defense is good, defence behind a high wall is better. It will double your defensive rating, and depending on how much offense your opponent sends it may easily double or triple his losses and on the other hand your losses will be far less. Defending villages without a wall is far more difficult as you might imagine.
On the other hand the attacker has a way of lowering your bonus and the sad part is, about 95% of the players playing this game don't use it. Rams. Build them, for gods sake, please never attack a village that has troops and a wall without rams. It will not neglect the whole bonus a wall gives but most of it. The best number is (again depending on the settings between 153 and 219, usually 219). I do understand this is an odd number but if you play a little with the simulator you will find out why it is this and neither less nor more. And it might teach you to use the simulator, which is always important.
While we are at it: Look at the stats for your troops. Notice how low the attack rating for spears is? Never, ever attack with spears. They just aren't made for attacking. They are for farming in the very early game and for defending against cavalry, thats it. Don't send spears to accompany your nobles. It's clueless since they would just die against any kind of troops.
#4: Cheetahs and Horses
If you have to run for a long distance, will you want to sprint 50metres then be exhausted for a minute than run 50m again? Keep it steady. A lot of players build headquarters, stable, barracks and the workshop to a high level, which then has 2 benefits: they have more points and thus the ranking is better and they have the ability to produce more in less time. Sorry, you just fell for the biggest mistake you could ever make. If you haven't got the resources to keep that building producing all the time you just wasted resources which would have been better used producing something in that building. You have also gained points and thus helped your bigger neighbour having a better morale when he is attacking you. There is no problem with a queue that is long. I have a level 5 barracks, a level 3 stable and a level 2 workshop at least till I have 2000 points and still I always had the biggest armies on the servers I played.
Hunt in packs, defend in packs. Playing alone will get you to a certain point and you might even get quite high in the rankings, but against any good tribe you will have no chance at all. The sad part is: everybody knows that and still there has been less than a handful temporary actions from tribes with excellent teamwork, let alone tribes who really do that. On the other hand about every single tribe in this game claims to have superb teamwork ;)
The problem is that in TW 99,9999% of the players are interested in their own rankings above all else. Superb teamwork is not possible if there is noone willing to sacrifice this interest. Period.
Most players may think that supporting each other makes them an excellent tribe. Actually thats far from the truth. It just shows their tribe is not totally pathetic. While we are at it: If you are in a tribe don't be the asshole who only builds offense, cause you can grow faster that way. you too will need defense eventually and since we know that defending alone is not possible you will have to contribute, too.
The usual thing you can observe is that high ranked players have a lot of kills and quite some offense (and problems with morale). Low ranked players fear attacks by high ranked players and hide behind their defense, till all the targets that have less defense than them are allready taken care of. Then it is their turn.
Lesson one: Morale bashers
Actually it is far more benefitial if the high ranked player had defense for him and the small guy and the small one was all offense. The smaller would be defended by the larger one pemanently and every village he attacks would be nobled by the big one.
Lesson two: Resources
It is quite easy for a big player to get a fixed amount of resources since he has multiple villages. the small guy has a hard time getting enough resources to build troops, coins, nobles, whatever. On the other hand it is so much harder for the big guy to gain points and very easy for the small one. So by supporting the small one with resources their combined points grow faster.
Lesson three: Defending
Offense is really really strong in this game. Still defense has one effect that makes it even stronger. It can be stacked, the more the better. Prepare for defending your tribe mates. Defense travels faster when sent with a paladin, so about everyone in your tribe can reach the village that is currently nobled. remember: the more the better. So the attacker has no problem to destroy small amounts of defense ten times, but the same amount at the same time is a hurdle he cannot take. So, coordinate your defense
Lesson four: Offense
Coordinate your offenses. Attack the same player in all his villages at once. No, do not send at the same time. Arrive at the same time. Even better arrive at multiple players villages at the same time and take them out at once so they have harder time defending themselves.
I guess I'll have to explain timing first. You see the server time in the lower right corner and you see the current lag right in front of it: page was generated in xxx milliseconds. At certain times this lag becomes higher but is still stable at other times it is not controlable and is between 9 and 20000 milliseconds. If it is like that forget timing. It's impossible. This doesn't happen too often though.
Everytime you send troops out you can click on the order and will find a time of arrival like this 21:43:56:443. the last three numbers are in grey and a little smaller.
So if you want to arrive with troops at the same time you will have to arrive in the same millisecond. you know the time your troops need from A to B so it's just a matter of preparation to calculate the time when you would have to send theoretically. Practically you still have a problem. From the moment you want to click till you click you have your reaction time, from the time you click till the click is transferred you have the lag (but we can test the current lag by just making any click in another window and get a good estimate) and finally that click needs to be transferred all over the world to that server somewhere in germany, which then has to execute it. good thing is there are just 3 things that influence this time and both are about the same everytime - your distance from the server, your computers ram and cpu and the browser you are using. the only way to find that is testing testing testing. click an attack every full minute and look at the order when it arrives. if you do this a couple of times you will find your computers lag. For me it was 1,45 seconds in average.
So now we know that we have to click for example 1,6 seconds before we calculated. Next we have to find a way to really click in the perfect moment. I count from 1 to 5 each second to get a feeling for 0,2 seconds. If you get a feeling for it and don't feel stupid talking to yourself any more you might even click on a early 2 or a late 3 to improve your timing even more.
So now that we know how to time we can not only attack in the same second but also send our defense out before the first attack hits and let it return before the other 4 are coming in, which is called ducking an attack. be careful though. there are some trick plays that destroy your rally point. think about it for a while and you might see the benefits. additionally ducking will make you loose your village, so if you are able to get at least about 4 times your current defense till your attacker returns it's well worth it.
Please specialize your villages. you will need defense and you will need offense, which work together quite fine, but mixing both in one village is highly inefficient. Since a offense is stronger the more attack power it has you will want to maximize that by building a high amount of axes, lcav and rams (219, remember?) in it while keeping the farm slots wasted for stupid buidlings (hq 30 and market 25 is incredibly stupid) and for defensive troops (that have really low attack ratings anyway) low.
On the other hand you don't want your enemies to know where your offensive villages are so they should look the same as your defensive ones from the outside and you should a few (maybe 5 or 10) scouts in each village. Imagine someone sending 4 scouts to each of your villages while you are offline. he will be blocked in all your defensive villages that have scouts, but will see all easy targets. you can do that via support too, but at least I tend to forget so at a certain point in the game.
So if I still find any moron, that
builds only offense and no defense without telling it to his tribe in advance
attacks with spears
attack without rams
hides behind a white wall
has a mixed village with spears, axes and about everything in it
doesn't support his tribe mates
only builds defense and nothing else
I'll get you slus, and put a nole on you ;)