What Kind of Troops?
The first choice you have to make is what kind of troops you want. There are five reasons to want troops: defense against players for yourself, defending friends and alliance mates against attacks from players, attacking other players, raiding dungeons, and raiding bosses. Let's boil these down to just "self defense," "defense," "offense," and "raiding." The only difference between self defense and defense is that you don't usually need to take travel time into account, so we'll ignore that for now and leave the distinction for a later article. That leaves us with just three categories.
When defending, you need troops with a good spread of defensive stats. The stats are based on what kind of unit they can defend against. These are: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Magic. Below, I've put all of these stats into a spreadsheet with all of the defenders and their space used and resource costs.
I've highlighted the strongest unit type in each column in red. Notice that Guardians, Templars and Sloops represent the best bang for the buck across the board, and the Guardian is the single best all-around defensive troop for the cost. Rangers are fairly useless unless you need cheap defense against Berserkers.
It's also important to keep in mind that only Rangers, Guardians, Templars and Ballistas can benefit from towers, making them more powerful for defense of your own cities, but you can't count on allies having the right, unoccupied towers for your support troops.
Keep in mind that the goal in producing defensive units is to kill enough attackers of whatever types you expect, that the attacker won't want to do it again. This means building for balance, unless you happen to know that you're going to be attacked strictly by one type of unit (very, very rare that this will be the case).
Because of these stats, I recommend one of these strategies:
- For defending a water castle (always hard) have surrounding cities produce primarily Sloops with some Guardians and just a few Templars, say in a 4/2/1 mix.
- For general defense, generate Guardians and Templars with a small number of Ballistas depending on how much water you have to defend, say in a 2/2/1 mix.
- For a mix of raiding and defense, it's hard to beat a mix of guardians and paladins. Your paladins can defend or raid and the guardians back them up.
In another article, we'll go deeper into how to build an empire to optimize troop production, but the important thing to remember is that, unless you are a 100% defensive player, you will want to reserve most of your castles for offensive troops, so these defensive mixes I'm talking about are mostly intended for regular cities. In terms of generic layout, you can use this design as a blueprint. There are many ways to build a city for troop production, and this is just one of them, but the basic ideas are this:
- Have some food production. Even if it's not as much as you need for a full compliment of troops (you can always bring some in). This rule changes for castles, since they need enough food to survive a siege without outside food, both for defenders and support.
- Have carts to carry away excess food.
- Build each unit-producing building next to as many barracks as possible, as they will increase production speed.
- Pick a rate that you want to produce units at as a ceiling, and don't build more unit buildings than you need. Once you have enough, focus only on barracks for total army size.
For raiding, you can use castles or regular cities, but only castles can attack other players, so let's focus on them. As I said, I'll cover support layouts of cities in another article, but to make a quick point: castles that produce defenders aren't typically a good idea, with some notable exceptions. Even for a 100% defensive player, having only defensive troops in a castle means that you have to either leave them there to defend or, when you send them off you must provide additional defense for them. So, we'll focus on the idea that your offensive castles produce no, or a very small number of defensive troops and instead get their defensive support from elsewhere.
Offensive troops are fairly simple. For infantry, you have the berserker. They're cheap, medium speed and quite strong. For cavalry, you have the knight. These are fairly strong, a bit more expensive and fast moving. For magic, you have two options: there's the warlock and the mage. Mages are slower moving, but devastatingly powerful. Both catapults and rams are weak against other units, but catapults can destroy buildings while rams can destroy walls and towers. Typically, you bring in a wave of attackers to soften up the defenders and then a siege that contains rams, catapults or both along with some additional troops to take out remaining units.
I'm going to deal with navies in another article, as navies are a very complex beast, but suffice to say that they can be overwhelmingly powerful, but have substantial limitations and weaknesses. Stay away from naval combat unless you're sure you know what you're getting into.
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