"Protection" refers to the first 72 hours after you create your dominion. During this time no other dominion may take any hostile action towards you, or vice versa. The basic idea is to use these 3 days to get extra land and train the troops to defend it, before anybody else may invade you.
You want to get your land FIRST before you do any training, and this is done through exploration. You should aim to come out of protection (OOP) with 500 or so acres if you are starting the round on time, including 60 acres from 3 daily land bonuses. Those starting late should aim for 400-450 land. The more land you can get when you go OOP then the higher your population and income will be, thus allowing you to build a stronger dominion as the round goes on.
The optimal framework for exploring in protection goes something like this:
With regards to draft rate, you want to set it high (40% or more) so you are constantly drafting throughout protection. Later, when you have finished your training, you can release extra draftees back into the peasantry, as having too many of them sitting around is wasteful.
Now that you have your land, you must defend it. It is absolutely crucial that you have your defensive troops finished training by the time you come out of protection! Failure to do so will leave your lands open to easy invasion by enemy dominions. Do not worry about training offense yet; you should secure the land you have before you think about conquering more.
To get the defense you require, you will need smithies. This building reduces your military training cost by 2*(smithies / total land)% to a maximum of 40% reduction. In other words, you want 20% of your land to be comprised of smithies when you come OOP so that you get a 40% cost reduction. If you go OOP on 500 acres, you want 100 smithies. Smithies are built on plains, so you will need to explore plains to get the smithies you need.
On the status page is a timer that tells you how many hours of protection remain. Watch this carefully to make sure that you get your defense in time. It helps to think of it backwards:
- Start on 250 acres, set 29 to explore and then grab your daily bonus (you will now be 270 acres).
- Shortly before your 29 acres arrive to put you at 299 (11 hours after you explored the 29, ideally, since after 12 hours the original 29 acres will arrive and your costs will increase), explore the maximum amount of land that you can afford.
- After that explore as frequently as you can until you have as many acres as you want. This way you will have explored as much of your land as possible while sitting on 299 or less, thus maximizing your results, since costs go up a fair bit once you hit 300 land.
For example, take a Human dominion coming OOP on 500 acres. By the time this dominion has 35.xx hours left in protection, it already has 100 extra plains explored or being explored. By 23.xx hours left, it already has 100 smithies built or under construction. Once all those smithies are finished building this dominion will train knights and archers for defense.
Knights are an elite unit and take 12 hours to train, thus they will be finished training in time for OOP if you set them to train with 11.xx or more hours left in protection. Archers are a spec unit take 9 hours to train, and thus will be finished training on time if you set them to train with 8.xx or more hours left in protection.
Try not to train troops until you have 20% smithies built. The exception to this is obviously if you make a mistake and cannot have your smithies finished in time; then just train as many defensive specs as possible since they are cheap. Whatever defense they get you will be better than nothing.
Spec units are appealing since they are so cheap on a plat per point basis, thus allowing you to raise your offense and defense faster. Understand, however, that there is a trade-off for this in long-run efficiency. A dominion that is too heavy on spec units will have very low population and income later in the round compared with a dominion that is running elites, and in time will be unable to compete. So while it can be a helpful boost in speed to use some specs early, donít overdo it.
Hopefully you can play a good protection and come OOP with decent land and adequate defense. What you do from here is your choice. If you are very new then it may be best to continue exploring for a while to get the hang of the game. See the "What to Build" section of this guide for some tips on what buildings you should construct. Once you feel you are ready to train offensive units and start conquering land from your enemies, see sections "Calculating Attacks" and "General Attacking Tips."
- When you have 35.xx hours or more of protection left, be exploring enough plains for 20% of your land to be smithies
- When you have 23.xx hours or more left, be building all those smithies so they are all built with at least 11.xx hours remaining
- When you have 11.xx hours or more left, be training elite troops (units 3 & 4)
- When you have 8.xx hours or more left, be training specialist (spec) troops (units 1 & 2)
- When you go OOP, cast the Ares Call spell for 10% extra defense