Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guide by Tedeni

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With this startup guide you will be aiming for 3 things:

1. An almost complete nuke by the time you're ready to noble.
2. A full 4-noble train. You won't be nobling until you have a full train ready. (3 nobles on package worlds)
3. A village with efficient building levels by the time you have a train ready. This includes: high barracks, high stable, balanced resource income.

This guide does not require you to be online 24/7, but it does require a rather high level of activity, the more, the better.

Recommended farming method: manual, without scouts, with premium. Click map, middle click on all several target farms that should have resources, and split your troops between them. Send LC alone (don't mix LC with axes or spears, as that slows the LC down) The more LC you have, the more farms you will need, so that you can split your farm runs up further. As this goes on, you will be farming in a wider area.

Something to understand: during startup, highest rank doesn't always indicate the best player. A rank 5 player could easily be in a better situation than the rank 1 player. However, in general, a high rank comes with a good startup strategy. It is not a requirement for a good startup, it is a result. Note the difference.

Something new players or 20 HQ stickers must realize:

A lvl 20 HQ is horrible during startup. I have only ever used a 20 HQ startup once, and that was in my first world, mainly due to the terrible guides floating around at the time. Using the 20 HQ felt like I needed to do 10 things at once. I needed to upgrade barracks (rax), stable, smithy, farm, and warehouse at the same time. There was a terrible bottleneck, caused by the lvl 20 HQ - I could not even farm, as the warehouse was full. I may not have been using the most efficient building order as it was my first world, but the bottleneck was so terrible that I'm forced to say that it is impossible to do a 20 HQ startup without hitting some sort of bottleneck. In fact you will probably end up hitting many.

With a 23 HQ it is possible to avoid a bottleneck, but you will need a good building order, and likely several previous experiences with startups.

--Part 1, begin--

I won't be explaining step by step on how to reach LC. There are other guides for that, and this guide is for those who don't enjoy looking at a guide every 3 hours to see what to do next. The general concept here is to be understood, and then it can be applied without needing to constantly re-read.

1. Plan for pure-offense.
2. Plan for building between 100 and 250 spears at start. 102 spears are need to clear an inactive player's warehouse, 204 allows you to clear two simultaneously, and 250 are to cover losses.
3. Plan for researching axes before LC.
4. Plan for researching scouts after LC, unless they are needed urgently.
5. Split farming runs between about 15 spears and 3 axes per target.
6. Scout and farm low point player villages as soon as beginner protection is off. Below around 90 points you can farm without scouting.
7. Don't build more than 5 swords in first village, and none early-on.
8. Don't go more than 30 - 40 scouts in your first village; you'll need 10 or less early on.
9. Early-on, as a general rule, when faced with a choice of upgrades or troops, choose troops.
10. Whilst LC rushing, if you need to choose between barracks and smithy, choose smithy if you have a resource deficit, and choose barracks if you have abundant resources. Reason is that the barracks is much faster to construct, which allows you to spend more resources in less time.

Basically follow any high quality guide to LC rush. (guides from Nauzhror, Purple Predator, etc.) You'll want to have LC already by the time you exit beginner protection. If you can't get that right, then either beginner protection setting for your world is shorter than usual, or you are doing something wrong.

Optional reading/links:
Nauzhror startup guide:
Purple Predator startup guide:

Once you have LC, everything from this point onwards that you upgrade will either slow you down, or speed things up. What most guides, even the high-level guides sometimes miss, is the timing of the HQ rush, and as to whether you rush HQ before or after getting workshop. If you go straight for workshop soon after hitting LC, then you'll have a slightly less efficient startup. Keep your smithy at lvl 5 unless having a workshop early becomes absolutely necessary.

Early on you're going to have problems with resources. You've just started building LC, and you can't always keep the HQ running. To counter this delay, use this time to balance your resource mines, and to upgrade your stable. Yes you won't be keeping your stable running 24/7 yet, but you will soon enough, and having your stable around lvl 7 when that time comes is better than having it at lvl 3, because the stable does take a long time to upgrade.

Keeping resources balanced with consistent farming isn't too straightforward. A general guide would be:

Timber: 11 - 12
If you only plan on getting about 100 spears, then keep timber around lvl 7. Any more than 100 and you may need to upgrade to 8 or 9. A while after researching LC, you should need to upgrade to around 11 - 12 as suggested above.

Clay: 5
Upgrade to 6 or 7, but not unless absolutely neccesary; you'll be surprised at how long you can keep clay this low: I was able to get to academy without clay deficiency on several startups. Each startup I can consider a top 20 startup, since I was in the top 20 upon academy completion.

Iron: 17
Keep on lvl 1 until about a day before you are able to research LC, in which case you upgrade to around lvl 5 (higher is ok) and if an imbalance does occur, store 1000 iron in lvl 1 market temporarily. I was sometimes tempted to make iron 18, but later on with consistent HQ and Barracks upgrades, 17 kept things balanced - though if large enough iron deficiency does occur, then do go for lvl 18.

Now once you have 50+ LC, you'll be able to build them more consistently. Keep building axes whenever it is logical to do so without sacrificing iron upgrades or LC training. Soon you'll be keeping LC and axe queue's running 24/7.

Continuing, you'll be aiming for these building levels, whilst farming constantly:

HQ: 10
Rax: 5
Stable: 7
Smithy: 5
Market: 2
Timber: 12
Clay: 5
Iron: 17
Wall: 1 (do not upgrade wall beyond 1)

Farm and warehouse will vary, but you always want to make sure to upgrade the farm before you run out of troop space.

If you have no night sitter or co-player, then you should be sending your LC on multiple raids on distant farms, timing them to return when you get online the next morning. With less than 700 LC, you should be sending about 10 to each barb and inactive player, meaning you'll be splitting your night dodge attacks into about 70 separate raids. As the farms increase in points, use your judgment and slowly start increasing the LC per attack, moving up from 10 to 15, then to 20 etc.

Send your non farming troops (axes etc.) on a separate attack, also timing them to return when you wake up.

--Part 2, the HQ rush--

This is the trick to a good startup from this point onwards - aim for these building levels:

HQ: 25
Rax: 12 - 16
Stable: 10 - 14
Smithy: 5
Market: 3 - 7
Timber: 12
Clay: 5
Iron: 17

Again, farm/warehouse will vary. What you're seeing here is an enormous unbalance between HQ and the other buildings. You'll be spacing the stable, barracks, farm, and warehouse upgrades between HQ upgrades.

Now I have tested HQ 23 on several startups, each time I've had more than enough resources to reach it. One world I was constantly in and out of the top 20, until the point that I hit HQ 23. At that point, I was rank 1. From then on after, I dropped slowly in rank as other players built their HQ's above 23 - some players went for 27, some may have gone even higher. (later once nobles were out I was back in the top 5, but until then, the high HQ players dominated the top ranks)

There comes a point where you must choose your limit, and the cost for HQ 26 and 27 is very high. Additionally, the time saved with a 26 and 27 HQ will partially or completely be lost because you may very well need to slot several upgrades between lvl 25 and lvl 27. If you plan well you can avoid those problems, but the time saved is barely noticeable, so I would recommend keeping with 25 HQ to avoid the pitfalls of anything other than excruciatingly precise planning.

For newer players, I'll explain why there is the huge imbalance between HQ and other buildings at this stage. You are not academy rushing, point-whoring, nor troop-whoring. What you are aiming for, is to build an efficient village as quickly as possible. If planned correctly, you will have more than sufficient troops, as well as resources. You put high HQ into place BEFORE starting on the buildings that take forever to construct, this includes high level barracks, stable, smithy, etc. You are not aiming for rank 1, you are aiming to build a noble train fast, with massive quantities of troops available by the time you do reach academy stage. If planned correctly, you should be able to mint 10+ coins immediately after you build the academy. Try to avoid canceling any troops queues, as you sacrifice 10% of resources to do so.

Now - once you have your HQ at 25, it is time to boost the troop production. Shoot the smithy from 5 to 12, upgrade workshop, farm, barracks, and stable way up. These are decent targets to go for:

Workshop: 2 - 5 (will vary depending on how many catapults you need)
Rax: 21 - 24
Stable: 15 - 18
Farm: 29 - 30
Warehouse: 28 - 29

NOW: Upgrade smithy from 10 (or 12 if you built catapults) up to 20, and build academy. In rare situations you may need to academy rush sooner - this is if someone near you is also academy rushing. Then it's a case of eat or be eaten.

Finally, this guide is somewhat situational. It assumes you aren't going to get into any fights during startup, that you won't need to clear anyone with any decent wall too early, and that you aren't going to be catapulted. If it becomes clear that some neighbors enjoy using catapults, then using a 27 HQ is more viable.

--Part 3, the unexpected happens--

You find yourself under attack. Situations will always be different, but remember that right now your best weapon is your existing troops. Don't start upgrading your wall just because you are being attacked. These are the various decisions you'll need to make:

1. The hiding place is a fast upgrade. Build it up quickly if your headquarters is not busy.
2. Dodge resources by putting buildings and troops in queue.
3. Remember that resources stored in the market can be plundered, so if you have existing offers, cancel them and use them temporarily on building upgrades or troops.

First, can you backtime your attacker without large losses on your part? Scout him, test the waters, and if you can, try to clear him by attacking. You have near-pure offense, so you should be attacking, not defending. However under certain conditions you'll find that you cannot attack him. Mostly this is because he is attacking with a significantly large force of defense units, or because his tribemates have pre-stacked him, preventing your expected backtime. If this is the case, you need to kill his troops when he attacks you. Now the wall decision:

1. Attacker is not using rams: possibly upgrade wall if his attack force is small. This should cause him to lose troops each time he attacks.
2. Attacker is using rams: don't build wall, waste of time.
3. Attacker is using rams and you have several tribemates within support range: build walls, and have your tribemates coordinate defense to land at the same time.

You never upgrade the wall to boost the defensive power of your attack units. The wall is in place to either provide a low level defense rating to kill a few troops each time your opponent attacks, or to boost the defensive strength of allied troops supporting you.

Aside from a small basic defense, the wall is percentage based - it is almost useless by itself or together with offense units. It will boost the strength of support troops by a percentage. Here are the exact percentages:

If the attacker is using catapults to hit your rally point to prevent you from backtiming him, try downgrading your rally point, and then research it approx. 5 minutes before his attack lands, timing the research to complete 1 second after his attack lands.

A good same-speed backtime would be:

1. Whilst your opponent's troops are incoming, set up a rally point confirmation tab targeting your opponent's village, so that you see the Ok button. Do not click Ok yet.
2. Open a new tab, making sure to keep the confirmation tab intact.
3. Attack a nearby barb, timing it so that your troops return 1 second after his troops hit you.
4. Downgrade rally point, and do a timed upgrade so it is complete 1 second after his troops land.
5. Immediately after your troops return, click Ok on the first tab.

--Part 4, sending trains--

When sending a train certain conditions should be met. You must make two checks each and every time you send a train:

1. After sending, refresh the commands or rally point page and make sure the first attack contains the majority of your offense.
2. All 4 attacks of your train should be within the space of a single second. An opponent with a single village will find it easier to split a train with an attack or attacks crossing over into another second. The reason for that, is when barb dodging, an attack will always return at 000 milliseconds.

In archer worlds, always remember that a noble uses general offense. What this means, is that you should be sending your follow-up nobles with axes, not cavalry or mounted archers. To test this, simulate:

100 LC, 1 noble

30 HC, 10 wall

Notice the attacker only loses 17 LC, but the noble still dies. The other extreme exists too. Remove the HC, and add 190 spears to the defender. Notice the attacker now loses 98 LC, yet the noble survives.

To avoid fluctuations like this, use axes together with follow-up nobles, and the noble will survive based on a 50% ratio of axes that survive. This should prevent some nasty surprises.

On non-archer worlds, nobles can be sent with axes or LC, as whether the noble dies or not is purely based on the total percentage of accompanying troops that die. For example, 100 LC + noble, assume 49 LC die, the noble will survive.

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