Friday, March 25, 2011

Winning fights pt 1: The army

"The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his." -George Patton

Seems simple enough to understand, but I have seen far too many alliance mates needlessly throw their troops away. They see honor in fighting to the death, but I only see them handing a victory to the enemy.

One I hope to make clear in the following posts is ATTACKING = WINNING. This is not always possible, so let's start with the "defense" army.

Defending suffers from one key problem: you cannot do waves. Your troops are there at the mercy of whatever your attacker throws at you, so your army must be prepared to fight "as is." The other important point here is that if you are not using waves this is the army you want (mostly).

2000 Hoplites
1600 Swordsmen
336 Carabineers
500 Gyrocopters
100 Rams
30 Cooks

Total upkeep 22,708

Notice anything missing? That's right, Mortars and Bombers. Each of these two units deserve their own discussion, but for now you're going to have to trust me. If you can't use waves (or aren't going to), Mortars and Bombers are more of a liability.

You may have also noticed how few Carabineers this army has. This is intentional. They will run out of ammo and be safely in your reserves after 12 rounds, while your flanks will break down around round 14.

Also noteworthy, since you have no Bombers, you are going to lose 30-40 Gryocopters per round (which is why you need so many). 300 is probably enough Gyropcopters to kill off 200-250 Bombers, and your opponent is unlikely to have more than that. Still, Gryocopters cannot receive more damage than they deal (the worst they can do is an even fight versus other Gryocopters), so having more can't be bad.

The main issue here in using this army for attack is that Rams simply can't damage even moderate level walls. For high level walls (higher than level 26 or so), you must use Mortars. But for moderate level walls, Catapults will serve you better ("funneling" will be covered in a future post).

Making this army in to a real deal Holyfield attack force only requires adding a few units:

2000 Hoplites
1600 Swordsmen
336 Carabineers
500 Gyrocopters
100 Rams
30 Cooks
50 Catapults
30 Mortars
300 Bombers

Total upkeep 38,358

The vast majority of the difference in upkeep comes from Bombers, however properly used Bombers are one of the biggest keys to out-damaging your opponent. Still, when building for a war, make the Bombers last.

In part 2, we will look at how to properly use this army, with a bit more explanation for why these are the units you want.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What kind of army should I have?

This is probably the most common question asked in my alliance. As with most complex questions, the answer is: it depends.

I'm not going to go through the uses of each unit, because that kind of basic information isn't what this blog is about. You can find a pretty decent guide on that information here. I'm going to assume that if you're reading on, either you know all that or you don't care.

The two most important factors are what level of technology you have and how much you can afford to pay in upkeep, while still having a decent gold income on top of that. You should never have to take workers off the mines to support your army (selling the resources is better gold anyway).

These are the different levels of army I recommend. Pick the one that you have all the technology for (including all upgrades for the units themselves in the Workshop), and that you can support while still having a decent positive income.

The Ultra-Cheap Defense Only Army

500 Hoplites
300 Swordsmen
100 Carabineers
30 Rams
30 Cooks

Total upkeep: 3750

If you can afford 7200 upkeep, double everything but the cooks.

This army will probably never win a battle. But for 3750 upkeep, you shouldn't expect to.

What it will do is cost your attacker troops, and buy you some time. Time to get your resources out of the town, or time for your allies to come help. This army should last about 5 rounds (or 10 rounds doubled, obviously), give or take, plus whatever time it takes for them to beat down your wall.

This army uses Hoplites, because if it's for defense you can't do waves, and without waves Hoplites are better than Steam Giants. It also has no air force, as air units are very expensive for their benefit, so in the "ultra cheap" army they're the first thing to ditch. Lastly, it has only Rams and no Mortars. This relates to the lack of air force (you'd lose 15 Mortars per round), as well as to the fact that this army is only designed for defense (you don't need this army to break down any walls).

Your Grandma's Sensibly Priced Army

500 Hoplites
300 Steam Giants
1000 Swordsmen
300 Carabineers
50 Rams
50 Mortars
90 Gyrocopters
90 Bombers
30 Cooks

Total upkeep: 17,950

This isn't the biggest army on the block, but it will get the job done. It is more than capable of smashing smaller armies, and is a welcome addition to any large, multi-player battle. Be sure to use waves with your Steam Giants and Bombers, if possible.

The All-Out War Army

500 Hoplites
500 Steam Giants
2000 Swordsmen
400 Carabineers
100 Mortars
50 Rams
150 Gyrocopters
200 Bombers
60 Cooks

Total upkeep: 32,300

This army is the army I use during a war. It can make sustain the losses from repeated attacks and still be ready for more action, but it is far too big and expensive to keep around during peace time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Science of Science

Since I have recently renewed my interest in academic pursuits, this brought up a fairly common question in my alliance:

Are experiments worth it?

A big part of the equation is whether or not you have an Optician. This changes the return from 2 Crystal per research point to 1.36 Crystal per research point. Still, how does that compare to the cost of the research points at your Academy?

I have all the "regular" research as well as Science Future 1. This puts the cost per Scientist at 6 gold per hour, and the output per scientist at 1.16 per hour. When all is said and done, each research point I get from scientists is costing me about 5.17 gold.

We can use this number to ask how much Crystal would have to be worth for an experiment to be of equal gold cost. At 1.36 Crystal per research point, Crystal used in experiments balances out at 3.8 gold per Crystal. If I were to spend 4 gold or more per Crystal to do an experiment, that would be a less efficient use of gold to obtain research points than the scientists. If I were to spend 3 gold or less per Crystal, that would make the experiment the more efficient use of gold to get the research points.

Since I could sell the Crystal at 5 gold each, does that mean experiments are a bad idea?

Not necessarily. It only means they are less efficient than scientists. Rather than doing an experiment, you would be better off selling the Crystal and using that gold on scientists.

But that isn't the whole picture either. You can only have so many scientists based on Academy levels. And while you certainly shouldn't be taking any scientists off to save up gold and buy Crystal, that doesn't answer the question as to whether it's worth doing experiments in addition to the scientists.

The answer is, it depends. I have well over 20 million gold and 160 cargo ships, so I have no reason to save any more up. The comparison for me is not against the gold, but rather against the marble I could use that gold to buy. Using the numbers from the last post, we see that the next Future research for me is about 1 million research points, and provides the benefits of roughly 3 million wood/stone worth of buildings. After the Optician, that's costing me only about 1.36 million Crystal for that many research points.

Since Crystal is about the same as wood and much cheaper than marble in my area, the experiment wins bigtime, at least for me. To calculate this for yourself, add up the total costs of your next Town Hall level and your next two Museum levels. Compare that total to the number of research points required for your next Futures level. If it's more than the research points, experiments are for you. If it's less than the research points, buy marble instead.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Future of Futures

A while ago, I did the math on the return from various Futures research. The numbers didn't turn out so well for our scientist friends. It turned out that all the level 1 Futures took about a year to be worth it, and obviously as the Futures went up in cost from level 2 on, they also took even longer to "return their investment."

At the time, I took my scientists off and demolished all but one of my Academies. I reasoned that the extra building space was better used for something else, and the gold cost for the scientists was better spent on trading for resources than research points.

The other day, however, I was browsing through the Suggestions Forum when I came across a suggestion for a change in the scoring for research. Among other things, I mentioned my above opinion that Futures research wasn't a very good return for what you invest in it. However, Alleycat pointed out that neither were higher level buildings, but you still get huge points for those.

Even with scoring aside, Alleycat made a good point. I am now at a point in building where structures are rather expensive, expensive enough that THEY take a long time to pay off as well. So I decided to compare the two methods of advancement in a mathematical cage match, because that's how I roll.

This was my result, as posted in the thread:

I have relatively low research and fairly high building levels. With all the level 1 Futures, my Scientists score is still only 85k. On the other hand, my master builder's score is just under 1.2 million.

At 1,065,600 research points, Economic Futures level 2 gets me 20 space and 10 happiness in each town. Times 9 towns, that's 180 total space and 90 total happiness.

A Town Hall upgrade (level 27) and two Museum upgrades (levels 15 and 16) cost a total of about 3.3 million resources.

Obviously the cost is much less due to research and buildings, but the same can be said for the research with an Optician for experiments. The buildings cost a little more and provide a little less space, but give more happiness than the research, so I'll say they're about equal value.

So yeah, for me at least spending on research is just as good an investment as building upgrades (better through experiments).

Although this equation will vary based on levels of research and building, and I still won't be building any new Academies anytime soon, for the moment my research team is back in action.

Ikablog is born!

While I'm sure the stories of this epic moment will be told for generations, I should probably start by answering one important question:

Why blog about Ikariam?

I have played Ikariam for around two years now, and have yet to grow tired of the game. It has its ups and downs, certainly. But as a slow paced casual game it doesn't take up much of my time during the day, and so it seems less prone to burnout.

As an active member of my alliance, I enjoy helping out the newer players and discussing theory and strategy with the veterans. With other games such as WoW, I have enjoyed the higher level discussions provided by blogs such as Tobold's blog and Big Red Kitty. To my knowledge, no such blog exists to for Ikariam. While I consider Wikikariam to be an invaluable resource for information, it doesn't quite fit the bill for talking theory.

So I've decided to throw my hat into the arena and make the blog myself. I'm aiming for moderate to higher level discussion, so while that will sometimes require discussing the basics I expect that it will often be over the heads of less experienced players. Well, you can't please everyone!

I hope you enjoy Ikablog!