Raiding: The Art & Science
Ah, raiding. One simple fact separates strong players from weak players. Strong players raid. They may raid a little or they may raid a lot, but they raid. A simple comparison. With roughly level 12 generator buildings you produce a grand total of 1,000 of each resource an hour (or thereabouts). A single raid on a high-value target can net 50k in Resources. That's about 16-17 hours of production for one raid. Not all raids will be that successful, of course, and you may choose to focus on low-level targets. However, even focusing on level one targets will net you almost 30k resources a day. That's 10 more hours of production added onto your day just for raiding level one (through 6) targets within a few minutes range of your city. You could have already raided over half of them in the time it took you to read this message and they refill every several hours. The bottom line: If you are not raiding, you are not playing effectively and will be outclassed very quickly. This guide is meant as a helpful suggestion on how you might go about becoming a strong raider. This is not the only way to raid and many good players have developed equally good systems, so ask around.
Who you attack is probably the most important aspect of raiding. Finding good targets that provide a solid source of revenue is not an easy task. Sure anyone with half a Scout about can find one or two, but to truly bring in the big bucks, you must systematically hunt down several dozen of them. Persistence and luck will play a larger part in your success. However, early on (or if you are just casual) you have to start somewhere and that somewhere is the level one next door.
Gone are the days where low-level Cities were protected from attack by anyone but other low-level Cities. Regardless, when you send out your first few raids you should aim for easily manageable "dead" cities close by for quick turn around. A maxed out, level one City with no upgrades (someone logged into the game but never actually played) will net 950 of each resources. These cities refill rapidly and have no upgraded Acropolis to protect their resources. Likewise they have no ability to produce Scouts so you can freely recon them without fear of losing your precious few Scouts, built in the early stage of the game.
Assuming you just joined the game and are not returning to from a long hiatus, there will be quite a few new Cities around you that are leveling just as quickly as you are. This early on you should avoid attacking them. Simply put, neither of you will have a commanding edge over the other at this time and the addition of rewards for achievements means that those Cities which are level 15+ are likely to have some solid units out which will whittle away at your early reward units. Instead, you should be focused on level 1-6 Cities that have no Scout protection and possibly (if they haven't been hit yet) the early reinforcements and maybe a few other minor troops.
An excellent investment of your early reward Drachmas is the purchase of a single unit, from the Market, of every unit type you do not already have. Take your Scouts and scout those low-level cities around you and raid them with one of every unit. Such a force is capable of almost completely wiping out the early reinforcements with zero loses. That will give you 9500 of each resource, each day. This is a wonderful way to build up your forces early on, especially since you won't yet have the carrying capacity to handle richer targets, even if you find them.
If you are a casual raider, you can easily bookmark ten such targets and raid them every day. That will net you nearly an extra 210,000 resources a week for minimal time expended and without ruffling any feathers. To guarantee your resources, scout before raiding. It only takes a few more minutes and you can identify another five or so targets, just in case your regulars are empty.
Once you have built up a solid force you can proceed to find better targets. One thing to keep in mind is that a higher-level target might not actually mean a better target. The reason for this is the addition of the Acropolis. There is a Quest for upgrading the Acropolis as part of the Building Quest rotation. So that a level 12 or 13 City might actually give you less resources than your go-to level 1-6. To truly see a significant jump in resources you will have to start looking at levels 30+. A couple weeks into the game (for your area) 20s & 30s will start to represent "dead" cities as well. As an area develops, it quickly becomes clear who is active and who is not. You want to find inactive cities in the 20-30 level range. The reason is that these Cities are more likely to net you 2-5k of each resource and have a low risk of retaliation. It's at this point you have to start worrying about the 50k "soft limit".
The 50k "soft limit" basically means you have taken 50k resources from a target. After doing so, the game does not let you take any more resources from that target as long as the balance is tipped >= 50k in your favor. If you are taking 5k of each resource from a target in each attack, you will only be able to attack that target three times in a seven-day period before the game cuts you off. Attempting to raid a city that is past this limit may trigger an error message stating you have reached the limit and asking if you wish to continue. Clicking "Yes" to continue will result in 0 resource gain and simply waste a resource raid. Do not count on the game to advise you of this as the warning is not triggered 100% of the time. See Taking Notes.
It is at this point that you also have to contend with other players raiding the same targets you are raiding. These targets are "safe" targets and many of your casual players will have them on "farm" status. Thus, it becomes imperative that you scout your target before attacking so you know if the raid is worth it or if perhaps the level one next door might be a better use of your raid. You are still close to home and sending out a single Scout to each target is a minimal investment of time and resources to assure a return for each of your resource raids. Again, a casual raider could easily devote a small bit of extra effort to raid at this level. You can easily net 500k-1 Million in Resources just by doing this. It won't get you even close to the Top 10 Ranking, but it's worth the investment if you plan on being a solid player in this game. As previously noted, real players raid.
If you have taken the time to scout and raid as noted above, then you should now be significantly ahead in resources, level and unit count compared to all the other players that started the game at the same time. It's at this point where you can start sending Scouts to any target out there. Really once you have 40 Macedonian Cavalry, 31 Agema Horsemen, or 345 Myrmidon, you are ready to start hunting down the lucrative targets.
The most cost-effective way to do this is to send out a single Scout at every suspected, dead city of level 35 and up to whatever you are comfortable with. A single Scout is all it takes for two reasons; first, a dead Scout has most likely been cleared out already and thus will have no Scouts to encounter, second, if there are Scouts in the City and you send more than the single Scout, you will be losing more units than necessary. Instead, take notes on the Cities where your Scout fails so you can tell if the City is inactive and thus is worth investing more Scouts. The City isn't going anywhere and there are other targets out there. Slowly, over time, you will identify which targets are high-value targets, which are duds and which are still active cities (which can also be high-value depending on how they play, but come with retaliation risks). Also, most folks will let a single Scout slide and not retaliate against it, in the event they are active. Keep in mind though that even if you Scout a target and it appears to be a dud, it could in fact be a high-value target that another raider just hit so don't write them off after just one scouting mission.
Because you are hitting bigger targets, you won't be able to hit the same targets, multiple times, in the same week for the same profit (or possibly any profit if it was a good enough City). For that reason, you again should be taking notes on whom you are hitting. You have to wait a full week (from the time of the raid) before raiding them again. A simple means of preventing yourself from hitting the same target twice in a week is to divide the area around your City into sections and rotate which section you hit each day. If, for instance, you divide things up like a pie with eight slices centered around your city, you can simply rotate clockwise or counterclockwise one slice each day. You even have a built-in safety net of one slice in the event you accidentally skip a slice or a slice just isn't panning out for you that day.
Hands down, the best regular unit for raiding is the Macedonian Cavalry. This is because it is the fastest unit in the game, period. While the Agema Horseman packs a bigger punch, raiding is about getting in, collecting your new resources and getting back to the safety of your Acropolis before anyone can react.
Macedonian Cavalry is perfect for this role. That said other other units which are almost as fast include the Agema Horseman, Myrmidon, Peltast, and Javelineer. Yes, you read that correctly, the Peltast and Javelineer are as fast as an Agema Horseman or Myrmidon. So, if you know the city is dead, they are perfect for the collection task. This means that even if you play purely Defense, you still have no excuse for not doing your raiding rounds.
The only unit faster than the Macedonian Cavalry is the Carthaginian Horseman. However, the gain in speed comes with a large sacrifice in power and carrying capacity. Additionally, being able to build the Carthaginian Horsemen will require completing the Agreement for Carthage, the eight Articles for which can only be purchased with Glory Points. You will need a total of 400 Glory Points (GPs) as each Article costs 50 GPs.
If you truly want to be good at raiding, there is no substitute for taking notes. This is especially important if you are in a Coalition that prohibits its members from attacking other Coalition members. The main things you are going to want to note are date of last activity, approximate capacity, and Acropolis limit. If they are active, the numbers will change, but if the numbers are for a dead City, they will all be static and you can easily determine if the City is worth raiding on subsequent Scouting missions.
The simplest, but not guaranteed, method of determining activity is to note everyone's level and watch if it changes. Generally, if the city is below level 45 or so and doesn't level up at least once a week, the city is either dead or only occasionally playing which might as well be dead for our purposes. Other ways of telling if someone is active is to watch for changing sieges by the player, posts to the Port or Colony possessions. Another way is to go inside their city and note where their experience bar progress. You will have to estimate because there are no numbers for the enemy's bar. You can also see if they have posted any scores to the weekly rankings, though that is a time-consuming process if they are not a major player. You could send them a message, or make some in-game gesture (offer to be allies, reinforce them) to see if they respond. The only fool-proof means of determining if someone is indeed inactive is to siege their city. Once you have done so, exit the game, log back in and then examine your Protectorate tab in your War Council. There will be an entry for the player you have sieged. Above their name you will see "Resources are ready for transport" and to the left of that phrase is a small circle which is their activity indicator. If the activity indicator is Grey, then they haven't logged in for more than 3 days. Of course they could be on vacation, so always be on the look out for returning players.
Determining Capacity & Acropolis Levels
This is basically a matter of comparing successful Scout reports to Raid reports. This does not work if they have a significant amount of resources (more than you can carry in the trip), if someone raids them before you do, or if they are active and spend down before you raid. However, if it is a dead city then:
Acropolis limit = Scout report amount - (raid report amount + (raid report amount/19)) / the 19 is to account for the 5% fee the game charges for raids.
An alternative is to send another Scout timed to hit just after your raid hits. In that case, the Acropolis limit will be the same as the Scout report (rounded down to the nearest 500). This again assumes you took enough resources to knock them down to their Acropolis limit. If you see 100k of each resource in the original report, you are not going to get them down to their Acropolis limit. However, you can rest assured that the Acropolis limit doesn't generally matter for that target.
Determining capacity is mainly just a matter of tracking the highest amounts you have seen on Scout reports. Due to the fact that Warehouses store a maximum of equal values for both Timber and Bronze, if you see those resources with the same value in a Scout report, there is a good chance you are looking at the storage limit for them. To confirm you can send a follow-up Scout. If the numbers are the same in both reports, you have found their capacity. The same is true for checking Grain capacity.
If you are looking to place in the Top 10 Rankings, you have almost all the knowledge necessary to do so. There are a few other things you will have to work out for yourself, but we'll point you in the right direction.
- There is a limit of 50k resources that each player can send another in a rolling 7-day time period. Whatever one player takes from another (voluntarily or not), the other player can take back in addition to the 50k the game allows them to take.
- Virtually any action can be canceled for up to 50 seconds after it has been initiated. This includes both raids and Galleys.
- Ranks are determined from reset to reset. Scores count only when a raid hits, not when it is launched. In other words, it is possible to start a raid in one week and have it hit to count for the following week.
- Cities that are very far away from your city have a maximum travel time of 24 hours. This means you could technically launch (if you knew a good city to hit) an attack on Friday night and time it to hit just after Saturday's reset.
- If you are attacked and the attacker manages to take resources from you, it deducts points from your score for that week.
- Raid score is simply a total of your net resources (above 0) gained for the week.
If you see a score of 4 million, that player took 4 million resources from other players in that week. That player is developing at 9 times the pace as a non-raider (assuming all other things equal).
Real players raid.