Understand how the game works
The first step to defending yourself is to know what damage can be done to you, and what cannot.
- No one can destroy your City. They cannot destroy your Buildings and facilities like farms, mines and quarries. Everything that you build is safe.
- No one can make you unlearn Research. Once you have learned, or even started to learn a skill, it is yours to keep.
- They can steal resources. Food, Wood, Stone and Ore that you have in your inventory can be stolen if it is not protected in a storehouse. Gold in your inventory can be stolen and cannot be protected.
- Wilderness tiles can be stolen if they are not defended well enough. You will lose the gathering bonus from the tile when this happens. This means you will experience a sudden loss of resource income.
- Your Might will go down if you lose Troops. Attackers can kill your troops if they are set to defend your city against a much stronger army. You can also lose troops to desertion if you run out of food to feed them.
- Your Defensive Units can be destroyed by an attack. This will cost you might, as well as resources if you would like to build them back up again.
- Although there are many who play with honor, there are also many who play with little or no honor. People with 25k+ or 250k+ armies will attack you. It's not fair. You need to be prepared to deal with someone who doesn't care about fair. The game will not stop them.
- This is primarily a war game, pure and simple. You have to get your city and defenses and storehouse up as fast as you can, as you can and WILL be farmed. This is how most players play the game.
Ask them to stop
The first thing you should try when you get attacked is to ask the attacker to stop. Many people have a personal sense of honor and they will not attack smaller players who are trying to enjoy the game. High level players often attack people because they think they are idle and therefore easy to farm for resources.
Ask politely, without threatening. If you make empty threats, they will be recognized and will probably result in further attacks.
If the attacker is a member of an honorable alliance, speak with the chancellor of that alliance. Alliances are usually responsible for the conduct of their members. Again, be polite.
Join an Alliance
If you are a member of an alliance, you can have your chancellor speak with the chancellor of the attacking alliance, lest they start a war between alliances.
The purpose of an Alliance is really simple, "We are an Alliance, we act as one, make decisions as one, we defend as one, and we fight as one!" If that is not what you are looking for or if you don't believe in that, then either an Alliance is not a good idea for you or you are in the wrong Alliance. Usually a higher ranked alliance (top 30 alliance would help) could deal more easily with an alliance that thinks they are high enough ranked to farm you.
Protect your resources
Build a Storehouse to protect your resources from being stolen. Work on your Shrinking Powder research as well. This will allow you to keep a certain amount of food, wood, stone and ore in your inventory where it cannot be stolen by an attacker.
If you have more resources than you can protect in your storehouse, consider moving the extras to your other city if you have one. Or, you can even hide some of them in a wilderness space if you think that wilderness is less likely to be attacked than the city.
Also, if the player farming you is not sending a massive army, but instead sending a few K archers and some supply wagons (because you are so weak that is all they need), consider building 500 spikes or so to limit the amount of resources they can carry back with them (500 spikes will knock out quite a few supply wagons). This is one of the best tactics to protect gold, as the resources the winners carry back are automatically determined; having a surplus million food can help shelter your gold if the attackers have been reduced to a 300K load.
Protect your gold
Good Gold management is key to saving gold. Use the Increase Gold strategy. This keeps your knights employed without creating a stockpile of gold. - when you need gold, go to your castle and use the increase gold button. Immediately spend that gold: buy your latest research, or put it on the market for some resource you need. Do not leave it lying around to be stolen.
If you know an attack is coming from your Watch Tower and you have gold in your inventory, go to your Market and buy any resource that is currently available for sale. The idea is to spend your gold on a resource that will then take 30 minutes to reach your city, instead of losing it for nothing to an attacker. While recent game updates mean that all market transactions are immediately canceled as soon as your city comes under attack; once you have completed the sale and the money has been given to the seller, the transaction cannot be canceled.
Also reinforcing a wilderness can be quite useful when your city is under attack. You can reinforce your wilderness with supply troops or wagons, carrying the gold from your city, so this will not be stolen during the raid. For more information read "protect your troops" below.
Protect your troops
Put your troops in Sanctuary. It is advisable for weaker players to never defend your castle with your troops in your city when you're not there to change it under attack. Additionally the informed choice to defend or not defend is not even available without a level 8 watchtower, as this is the only level you'll get detailed information about an incoming army. Don't waste the troops trying to defend unknown army numbers, you'll just lose might when they die to overwhelming odds. Defensive units won't cost you might, but they are still mostly a waste of resources better spent on city upgrades.
Nonetheless, one option to defend does exist to deal with the persistent farmer, with all the troops reinforcing the wilderness (carrying the gold and what your storehouse couldn't hold), you're free to set your castle to defend by clicking the castle and selecting "order troops to defend city" with no risk of losing your troops. (choose a semi-distant level one wilderness; players who click it won't be able to beat what you have, and choose anything but a plain, even a higher might player would click a lev 1 plain to build a city!) A distant wilderness will make it harder to find by players looking to take out your wilderness holdings.
The reason to defend is simple; with all the goods on the backs of your troops and city set to defend (I like to call it meatgrinder) the person farming you will lose might every time he attacks you and will walk away with nothing. Sure, you'll lose castle defenses, but you can rebuild them and it's a small price to pay to get the local bully boy to never farm you again. To further stymie the effort to farm you, do this when you log off for the night, (you're troops can stay in the wilderness indefinitely with no penalty) set that tax rate to bare minimum (just enough to stay positive) because you can always use the "increase gold" option when you log in again. I threw a player a 10k might loss with this technique, (with only a third of available defenses built) and for his trouble he walked out with 78 gold. Needless to say, he never tried it again.
Wait for them to go away
Follow this advice, and most people farming for resources will move along when they can't get anything from you. There's no point in repeating an attack with no profit.
Once you reach 300k might or so, you should be strong enough to defend against attacks from other players. Build up an army of 30k troops of your own, and start working on your Defensive Units to support them. Then you can start defending your city if you like.
A weak player can still take revenge on a stronger attacker. Remember that players with lots of might have a constant need for food to feed their large armies. If you steal the Grasslands and Lakes that they own, that will cause them to lose food income. Very large armies can lose so much food that they start to starve, and the troops will desert from the attacking player.
Most players do not defend all of their wilderness tiles. They simply cannot afford to keep one army stationed at each wilderness, because then they would have no slots open in their Rally Point to send attacking armies out. Players who do defend their wilderness tiles usually only leave a token force of a few hundred small troops, just enough to deter a small attacker from sniping the wilderness away.
A Sniper Attack is the fastest way to steal a wilderness, and it can be done by a low-level player. First, locate a wilderness that belongs to your enemy. Scout the wilderness to make sure it has no troops (or skip this step if you want to make sure the attack is a surprise). Then send a small army of 500 scouts or 100 cavalry (1 Scouts or a few Cavalry aren't enough after July 2010) to attack the wilderness. Use scouts or cavalry because those units move faster than most troops. As soon as you conquer the wilderness, reload the game if necessary and recall the troops back to your city so you don't lose them in a counter-attack.
If your scouts turn up a small defensive force, you may be strong enough to defeat them with a larger strike force. Be careful because now some owned wilderness have traps. Plan accordingly.
This turns into a game of ping-pong when the enemy counter attacks and steals the undefended wilderness right back from you. Obviously this strategy is much more effective if you believe the enemy player is not online and therefore cannot take the wilderness back from you before losing a significant amount of income.
The ultimate way to win this game of ping-pong is to lose: Snipe the wilderness, and immediately abandon it. It will revert to an uncontrolled tile, and the barbarian army will build back up over the course of the next hour. If you can snipe and abandon a wilderness this way more than an hour before the enemy can retaliate, they will be faced with fighting the barbarians to take it back, instead of facing your forces.
Please note that this type of strategy is looked down upon by a large percentage of players, and can garner you and your alliance the label of "wild-stealers" and cause many alliances to band against you to make you cease these actions. Constant complaints to the game creators resulted in the addition of wilderness defenses as a way to defend against players who only steal wilds as a method of attacking an enemy.
Surviving as a low level farmed player
I notice a lot of players complaining about how they are being treated as farms and how 'unfair' etc. the game is to new players.
Yes it is unfair but it is survivable.
Here are a bunch of tips for farmed players to use and grow stronger even as they are being farmed.
Keep the following in mind:
- The only thing that can be taken is resources (which are gold, food, wood, stone and ore). You will always be making more of them.
- Your buildings and fields cannot be hurt. Your researched technology will never go down. So you should always have something being built and something being researched at each city. Try to keep your building levels even. At low levels, building your city quickly is best done by upgrading all the level 1s, then the 2s, then the 3s, etc. Save long term builds (Castles, Walls, Alchemy Lab, etc.) for when you will be offline or doing other stuff. Remember you can only have one building being built per city, one research per city, etc.
- Combat is voluntary for the defender. You have to have your troops on defend to have them fight. You can always have them hide in your sanctuary (in your castle) until you are strong enough to hurt your attacker(s). If you want to have some scouts to just cover your city to keep it from being scouted, keep your troops in your castle and have another city send the scouts. Reinforced troops always defend.
- Gold is the only resource you can not protect to with a Storehouse, so keep your gold low or be ready to run with it. One way to protect your gold is to have a bunch of troops carry it to another city or a wild you control (if you are in an alliance, another player's wilderness will also work) and recall them when you are not being attacked. Keep your gold production at or below what your Knights are costing you and then when you need gold click the "Increase Gold" button in your castle. That will lower happiness by 20 but since your tax rate will be low you will recover that happiness without any problems over the next 15-25mins.
- As for your other resources, you should not have huge amounts over what your Storehouse can hold. If you need to build faster, upgrade your buildings and research more. Do this as often as you can. Your storehouse should be the highest level thing in your city or equal to it. Also, research Shrinking Powder. With a level 6 Storehouse and level 6 SP, you can hold 960k of each resource.
- If you are in an alliance build up your Embassy and Relief Station. Each slot in the Embassy can hold as many troops as an alliance member can send in a wave. Nothing stops a farmer better then having his troops wiped on an attack. If you aren't in an alliance - why not? Half the fun of the game is chatting with your alliance, and the help and advice of an alliance is very useful.
- When you get to about 150k Might, you will want to build Wall Defenses also. Do not waste resources on Traps as they can be set off by Milita and are pretty worthless. Build as many Crossbows as you can. You can queue up lots of them if you need to. Each Crossbow will take a couple of Archers or whatever with them when they die. After you have several hundred Crossbows, build some Caltrops and (not too many) Spikes. Making yourself harder to farm will discourage the casual farmers.
- Added on 7/11/10: I seem to be seeing in more then a few reports that either xbows are not firing or firing a lot weaker then they should be. Caltrops are no longer worth anything as 2 militia can kill one caltrop. Spikes seem to be useful but only if backed by huge amounts of archers as xbows seem to be asleep at this time. Also bonuses such as stoneskin, bloodlust, etc. are only showing up for the attacker.
- Once your might is in the hundreds of thousands, you shouldn't have too many people farming you.
- As a final 'defense' or if you just need to take a break and walk away... set your tax rate to 100%.. your people will leave and your production will stop, no gold, no ore, no nothing. As far as I know the buildings stay up forever. When you are ready lower your taxes and get some people back and start up again. :D
- Added on 7/11/10: ok I have finally tested this, the lowest you can go production-wise is 100 food, wood, stone and ore. So there is still a little leakage production. I have a city with a pop of -13k (??) and they still putting out 100 of everything. Your troops will died off, but your knights will stay and continue to gain skill (??) as loyalty has not yet been implemented. You can still build if you have materials. Your buildings stay there.