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 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 some where 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 bases. 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 bases 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 this early and the addition of rewards for achievements means that those cities level 15+ are likely to have some solid units out which while 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 40 sappers and maybe a few other minor troops.
An excellent investment of your early reward Drachmas is to purchase 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 40 sappers 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 carry capacity to handle richer targets even if you find them.
If you are a casual, you can easily book mark ten such targets and raid them every single 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 won't take but a few more minutes and you can identify another 5 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. A curiosity though 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 level 12 or 13 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 non-combine level 20s & 30s. The reason is that these bases will likely net you 2-5k of each resources and have a low risk of retaliation. It's at this point you have to start worrying about the 50k soft limit.
Once you have taken 50k resources from a target, 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 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 as you. These targets are "safe" targets and many of your casual players will have them on "farm". 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 could easily devote a small bit of extra effort to raid at this level. You can easily net 500k-1 Mil just doing this. It won't get you even close to the top 10, but it's worth the investment if you plan on being a solid player in this game. As we have said before, real players raid.
If you have taken the time to raid as above, the you should be significantly ahead in resources, level, and unit count by now than all the other players that you joined with. It's at that point where you can start sending Scouts to any target out there. Really once you have 40 Macedonean, 31 Aegan, 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 in the level range of 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 counter with. Second, if there are scouts on the base and you send more than the single one, 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 scout.
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 base), for that reason you again should be taking notes on who 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 scout in to 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 accidently 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. This is because it is the fastest unit in the game, period. While the Aegan 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. The Macedonian is perfect for this role. That said other almost as fast units include the Aegan, Myrmidon, Peltast, and Javelineer. Yes, you read that right the Peltast and Javelineer are as fast as a Aegan or Myrmidon. Thus if you know the city is dead, they are perfect for the collection task. This means that even if you play pure defense, you still have no excuse for not doing your raiding rounds.
However, if you happen to have a target that has defense out and don't want to risk your precious Macedonians, sending in a solid force of Aegan & Myrmidons is not a bad idea for two reasons. First, they are almost as fast as the Macedonians so you won't be giving up much on the surprise factor. Second, Myrmidonswill drag down the defense value of units specializing versus Cavalry (and there are a few, like the Mounted Peltast).
While the Macedonian is king of raiding for now, expect that new units will be released that will actually be faster.
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 it's 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 it is a dead cities the numbers will all be static and you can easily determine if the city is worth raiding on subsequent scouts.
The simplest means of determining activity (but not fool proof) 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 afk a lot (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 annotate where their experience bar is. You will have to estimate because there are no numbers for the enemies 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 full 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 garrison tab in your War Council. There will be a line for the player you have sieged, if their 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 be 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 fuel and munitions, 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 on 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, you have almost all the knowledge necessary to do so. There are a few other things you will have to work out for yourselves, 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 convoys.
- 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 for the following week.
- Cities that are very far away from your city have a maximum travel time of 24 hours. Meaning 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.