Friday, August 7, 2009

Ikariam Beginner's Guide

Beginner's Guide


Welcome to Ikariam! This game can be a bit addictive, as events happen in real time, in your browser: there's nothing to download. Ikariam is a game that allows you to make alliances, build cities, and expand your territory. With enough time and resources, your city will become the heart of an empire. Ikariam has some whisperings of games like Civilization, without the addition of years or decades: you follow your own tech tree in the same time scheme as the rest of the world. When you begin, you will start with your own capital on an island that can hold up to 16 cities. The island has wood, a wonder and one of the following four luxury resources (Wine, Crystal Glass, Marble and Sulphur).

Your first view of Ikariam after logging in will be of your city, including a town hall in the middle of a land populated by parcels with red and blue flags. As you play, you will transform it to become a flourishing city with hundreds of citizens, diverse units and ships, and many interesting buildings through researching fascinating technologies.

Game Rules, Terms and Conditions

When you register into the game, you have to click on the box that you agree to the Terms and Conditions. Also, each time you log on to the game, by logging in, you accept the Terms and Conditions. The Ikariam Game rules stand above the general Terms and Conditions of Gameforge. Please spend some time and read these in order to avoid getting banned.


As you play the game you will encounter a number of resources. These resources are needed to advance your civilization. There are five resources:

Wood is your standard resource - it is used for making and upgrading buildings, creating ships, and building units. The other four are luxury resources, which can only be gathered after you have researched Wealth. Luxury resources are used at advanced levels of buildings and units.

  • Image:Wood small.gif Wood - Used for everything: Troops, Buildings, War Ships.
  • Image:Marble small.gif Marble - Used for all buildings except the Academy.
  • Image:Crystal small.gif Crystal Glass - Used for academy expansion and in upgrading units, ships and some high level buildings. Also used to build the Diving Boat and to train a Doctor. After completion of Glass Research you can also pay crystal to finish research early.
  • Image:Wine small.gif Wine - Used at the Tavern once you research Wine culture. Used in some buildings, such as the Level 4 Governor's Residence. Wine is also used to train cooks in the Barracks.
  • Image:Sulphur small.gif Sulphur/Sulfur - Used when building troops and war ships (except the Slinger, Doctor, Cook, and Diving Boat). Also used in building such as the Level 3 Governor's Residence.

You will notice that on your island there will be only one luxury resource facility. You must trade with or pillage other players who have access to different islands to acquire the other luxury resources. When your city becomes an empire through colonization, you'll be able to colonize different islands to gain personal access to the other luxury resources. It is recommended that you have at least 1 town of each different luxury resource, as trading for the luxury materials needed for later Governor's Residence upgrades will be highly expensive.


Buildings play a major role in the growth of your towns. They can build units and ships, house scientists, or entertain your citizens. The first four buildings you encounter are: Town Hall, Academy, Barracks, and Trading Port.

  • Your town hall is your main structure - it shows how happy/sad your people are, your housing capacity (which you increase by upgrading the town hall), your income/costs, and the distribution of citizens, workers, and scientists. It also allows you to change your town name.
  • The Academy houses scientists who work on discovering new technologies for your empire.
  • The Barracks allows you to create Units for both defending your towns and attacking others.
  • The Trading Port gives you the ability to build your own fleet of Cargo Ships, which are vital for trade, raiding, and colonization.


Technology research is the main way to advance your civilization. There are four main streams of technology: Military, Economy, Science, and Seafaring. Choose one and the program will start your scientists researching the next in line if possible, without stopping.

Well Digging should be one of your first researches. It grants you a morale bonus and a bonus to your population cap, very important to a beginning town. Conservation is also an important first research as it allows you to build a Warehouse, which will protect some of your resources from being pillaged should someone decide to pillage you.

When you get access to grapes and wine, will allow you to build a Tavern, which can tremendously boost your town's morale, providing more people to work.

Don't bother researching Paper for its own sake; it's a trap! Although that 2% extra research per hour is tasty, it is only useful once you have a level four or five academy. Paper is needed for other useful technologies, however, such as Espionage or Cultural Exchange.

Beginner's Steps

Now that we have the basics, let's put this all together. The following are the recommended first steps. Don't forget to review the Ikariam User Interface section if you need to get familiar with what you're seeing.

1. Rename your town.
The rename link is located at the top of the Town Hall screen.
2. Build an academy.
Once your town reaches higher levels, the academy will look best on either the farthest left or farthest right plot of land.
3. Send citizens to the Saw Mill.
Click on the Show Island button at the top of the screen. Find the icon of a pile of wood. When you move the mouse pointer over this icon, it will show "Forest x" (where x is the Saw Mill's level). Click on the pile of wood to access the Saw Mill screen. Set your wood production to 30 by moving the sliding bar to the right. Remember: Workers in Ikariam produce resources in real time (i.e. if you are making 30 units of wood an hour, you will get an additional of wood every two minutes).
4. Send citizens to the academy.
Click on the Show Town button at the top of the screen. Once construction on the academy has completed, click on the Academy. Convert eight citizens to scientists by moving the sliding bar to the right. Note: your income may now show as negative because you do not have enough citizens producing general wealth, i.e. gold. This is not a problem because your capital starts with lots of gold. Gradually, as the size of your town increases and more citizens arrive, you will once again be profitable. Do not be afraid of spending gold in the beginning.
5. Research Well Digging.
Click on the Fields of Research link on the left side of the Academy screen. Change your research focus to the Science discipline. This will help you discover Well Digging early on which grants a permanent +50 bonuses to your maximum town population and happiness rating.
6. Build the Barracks and the Trading Port.
These buildings will give you access to ground units for an army and cargo ships for trading, respectively. The Trading Port can be built by clicking on either of the plots with a blue flag while the Barracks can be built on any plot with a red flag. As your town grows, the Barracks looks best directly above Town Hall. Note that only one building can be constructed or upgraded at a time.
7. Upgrade the Town Hall.
Click on the Town Hall icon, then click on the Upgrade button. Each expansion of the town hall increases the town's maximum possible population.
8. Switch to researching the Economy discipline.
You will finish researching Well Digging after approximately four hours. If you upgraded the Academy to level 3 (instead of building the Barracks and Trading Port) and kept as many scientists as possible, you will have discovered Well Digging in one hour. Notice that your population growth rate jump by one person (e.g. from 2.85 people an hour to 3.85 an hour). Now change your research focus back to Economy. Let the game glide you through discovering Conservation, Pulley, and Wealth with the additional citizens Well Digging allows.
9. Upgrade the Saw Mill.
If your Saw Mill is not at level 2 by the fifth hour on your island, donate wood to get it there. Hopefully most players on the island have donated a little bit. If not, muster the resources to donate the rest of the required 350 units of wood and then click on the upgrade button. The 10 extra lumber is probably worth it in the long run.
10. Continue researching and upgrading buildings.
Stay in the Economy field of research through Wine culture, while upgrading your academy and town hall as much as you can to increase your maximum scientist and population limits.
11. Build a Town Wall and a Warehouse.
Stronger players look for weak villages they can attack and loot. The wall will grant a bonus to your army's defense. If you lose the battle, your warehouse protects some of your resources from being looted. The wall is built on the northern plot of land with the yellow flag. The warehouse can be built on any plot with the red flag after you have researched Conservation. If you are attacked repeatedly, continue upgrading the warehouse until it protects all of your resources. In order to build a Warehouse you will need to have researched Conservation.

The rest is up to you. Remember to check the reports from your Advisers status updates and messages from other players.

Luxury Good Costs

People can, and should, sell what they have for whatever the market will bear. However, the production cost in gold of any given resource can be seen on the list below.

  • Wood and Luxury Goods.

3 3 Gold from not having one citizen earn 3 3 Gold per hour.

  • Scientist

9 9 Gold from not having one citizen earn 3 3 Gold per hour, plus an additional 6 6 Gold cost for the actual scientist(Pre-Letter Chute).

These values do not take into account the relatively fixed and/or shared costs of the Saw Mill, Luxury Good, Town Hall or Academy expansions, needed to bring in more people or resources, nor the corruption level (because this is a beginner's guide).

Working Strategies

Technology Path

A good and advisable research path at the beginning of your game would be:

Switch to Science → Well Digging → Switch to Economy → Conservation → Pulley → Wealth → Wine culture

This allows you to expand your town as quick as possible, with the bonuses from Well Digging and from the Tavern. It also gives you the very important access to luxury goods and the ability to trade with other players. After that, you could follow this path:

Switch to Military → Dry-Dock → Maps → Professional Army → Switch to Seafaring → Deck Weapons → Ship Maintenance → Expansion → Switch to Science → Paper → Espionage → Switch to Seafaring → Foreign Cultures

  • Switching to Military at this point is optional. Since Culinary Specialities requires both Professional Army and Expansion, it will automatically start researching down the Military (Professional Army) and then to Seafaring (Expansion) before going to Culinary Specialities. However, if you choose to follow the recommended research path, you should switch it to Seafaring (where it will automatically research Espionage which is a requirement for Foreign Cultures) when it starts researching Culinary Specialities.

Professional Army gives you access to, among others, the phalanx, a basic unit to defend your city, but requires a level 4 barracks to build. If no one is attacking you, it is possible to postpone this research. Expansion is crucial to obtain, as it will allow you to found your first colony after building a palace. Foreign Cultures is also a very important research, enabling you to join an alliance after building an embassy.

These are the basic researches you should obtain in the beginning. Other researches you should aim for are the Cultural Exchange, to further boost your town happiness by building a museum, and Helping Hands, to increase production.

Remember to constantly upgrade your academy as your population increases. When you are not able to do so (due to a lack of crystal), wait until you finish wealth, as this will allow you to trade with other players.

Defending and Vacation Mode

If you are going to be absent for a couple of days (at least 48 hours), consider activating Vacation Mode: this will completely protect your city against any attack, but you will not produce resources nor research. To activate Vacation Mode, you can not be building/upgrading anything nor can there be any Ships or Units moving to or from your town. This includes Cargo Ships.

Prevent Being Pillaged


If you are attacked by a player of the same island as yours, it is possible that you are not donating to the luxury good and wood deposits common to all players of the island. When this happens, it is common for the attacker to first send a message warning you if you are leeching and not donating.

Everyone benefits when everyone donates. Do not rely on a benefactor to do all the grunt work for you. Try to donate something acceptable even early on. While what defines equitable donation is certainly in the eye of the beholder, you should be able to donate at least 1,000 1,000 Wood by level 5 town hall. Don't forget to donate to the luxury good deposit as well as to the wood deposit. As long as you're making an effort relative to people who aren't, you'll be less likely to get pillaged. If your town is level 4 or higher, have full complement of workers at both luxury and wood, and have donated nothing, you should expect to be pillaged. The more you donate the less you get pillaged.

You should certainly be able to donate 200 200 Wood to both sawmill and luxury as soon as you colonize. The first thing that requires any large resources is your Governor's Residence, and even though that takes some resources, you have the ability to replenish the usage by transport or by gather in the time it takes the Governor's Residence to finish. In fact, you will likely be gathering resources at a rate faster than you can spend on a new colony -- take this time to give it back in donations. Every time you get over 2,000 2,000 Wood, split it 1,000 1,000 Wood apiece between luxury and sawmill. In time, you'll be seeing over 100 100 Wood per hour, and that will be enough for most building purposes.

Hoarding resources makes you a target. Donate Wood, and sell extra luxuries in the Trading Post or upgrade (or build a second) Warehouse. Remember that a transport holds 500 units, so reasonably priced luxuries shipped in multiples of 500 often sell fastest.

Adhere to Market Rates

This is a controversial issue. Some players get uptight when they feel, rightly or wrongly, that you are selling at a price that undercuts their established rates of goods. Most players will sell and buy whatever they can afford. It would be good practice to announce first why the attack, but sometimes it takes a little prodding from the victim to determine why. In the mean time, keep your warehouse high.

Naval defense

It is also important to have some ships on your town. Your fleet does not need to be powerful, but because no one can pillage you as long as you have at least one ship, this can easily discourage some potential pillagers. Three Ballista Ships should be enough, since the attacker will need to send some Flamethrowers, which have a greater upkeep. Note that you are not using your fleet to defend, you are making yourself a less attractive target.

With the introduction of Occupation a strong fleet has become almost obsolete as a defense against pillagers. However it is still strongly recommended that you maintain 1 ship in each harbour to discourage pillagers who either do not know about occupation or are unwilling to go to the trouble.


While it is vital to have a martial defense of your towns, it can be more strategically important to have a defense against spying. Using spies, both in defense and offense, can mean the difference between having someone discover the details of your city - including how much in resources you have, what troops you have, and what level your port, wall, and warehouse are at - and having someone completely blind and unable to tell whether you're worth attacking to begin with, or if they can successfully defeat your troops.

Once you research Espionage you can build the Hideout which allows you to create one spy for each level of the hideout. The hideout's level and the number of spies residing in your town increase the risk of enemy spies getting caught. Your town level lowers the chances of catching an enemy spy, and so the Hideout should be upgraded with the town regularly.

Each mission has a base risk, and to prevent this risk from being lower than it normally would from your town level's effect which lowers the risk, you should have at least half your town's level in spies, defending. Spies, as long as they are in your town, automatically defend against espionage. Having more spies than half the town's level increases the chances of catching enemy spies and preventing information from getting out. Also, a caught spy may sometimes reveal information not only about who sent the spy, but also info on the spy's home town.

Island Strategies by Luxury Good

  • Marble (Image:Marble small.gif)- You can upgrade all of your building far more quickly than individuals with other resources, except the Academy. Make friends with someone on an island with a Crystal Mine and offer to trade for your marble.
  • Wine (Image:Wine small.gif)- Your greatest strength will be population growth, when you can research Wine culture and build a Tavern. Until then, simply sell it to other towns.
  • Crystal Glass (Image:Crystal small.gif)- Research is your greatest strength. Try to get your Academy up to 6 as soon as possible. Most people will want to trade for crystals so offer them 1:1 for resources you need, like marble or sulphur. Sulphur tends to be harder to get.
  • Sulphur (Image:Sulphur small.gif)- This luxury resource allows you to follow the path of war more than any other. You can produce more Units than anyone else, so Pillaging will be what you are most likely to gain from, unless you feel like trading your sulphur for the resources of others (which is usually a far wiser option when starting out because everyone else is likely bigger than you).