Topian Early Ranking
From this UBB post Early Ranking - the topian way of life by Liadran
There has been recently some talking about early ranking and about the fact that there are only so few mages trying their skills in that. It is hard and it takes skill, so many decide not to take the challenge and instead take the safe route of gelding at the start and see how things are going. I started to think that maybe with sharing the knowledge I have about it would help more people to try it. So I decided to start this thread with that in mind. I might be a bit slow to write it, so I’ll keep adding more stuff here and make a “strategy-book” out of it later. I’ll also try to answer all questions that I can about this subject. Also I suggest that everyone keeps in mind that these are just my opinions, but I’ll try to give some thought on telling why I think like I think.
Difference between early ranking and rushing
Basic difference of rushing and early ranking in my wordings is that rushing is done without full research first (except blue, which I’ll go to later). When someone rushes he will try to reach the top quickly and stay there and try to research at the same time. So using lots of barrack troops and buyable troops and own color troops. Basically he tries to get to top before anyone else and stay there and research with mass guilds. Early ranker will research first and only after that try to reach the top and stay there. Rushing is very very hard and if you fail you will lose a huge amount of turns as you have to research with low land after wasting a huge amount of turns on reaching the top first (normally hardly anyone manages this fully). With both of these strategies you can do a quick 120-200 turn initial gelding, but it would make rushing even harder. Some early rankers do geld for that 120-200 turns before they go to research and make sure that they have enough geld (especially after some item sells) to research without towns and farms to have more guilds to research with and catch that ~100 turn loss that they just did (~100 because some of the turns used you would have used anyways [explore/some buildings]).
How to research quickly
Let’s forget that initial gelding for this. Those who geld for some turns can adapt it themselves. Basically there are 2 ways to do this and 2 ways to gather that land you need. To get enough land for your needs you can either explore or attack for land. I still suggest that your first land gain you do by exploring. After this the choice is yours. Explore is more guaranteed, attacking can be more profitable, but also has more risks. Idea about attacking for land is to have low net power yourself and hit mages without troops. Basically some 10k+ Frogs, Squirrels, Militia, etc and could use some buffer troop at the top. Or go with some stronger troops and try to find weak troops for easy land. To see if someone has low/no troops is to look at their NP and take 1 mil for every 1000 land and 20k from every fort and see what is left (later on SL will also influence it also, 1000 NP / 1 SL). If there is not much NP left then it might be an armyless mage or only have initial troops and be an easy target. This is pretty simple but has risks of giving you more attention and losing too many attacks on poor judgment. So I won’t start talking about this too much, you’ll have to learn to do this well by yourself so you’ll get the touch of it. Other way to gain land is simple, just explore it.
So I said that there are basically 2 ways to research quickly. One is to have ~1650 land and research without troops and other is to play defense and have some 2k+ land. Having 1650 land is profitable because when you lose a full siege against someone who wants your lands you’ll lose 165 land and it takes you well under 1500 land and without troops you will get Council Protection and can be safe. You just have to maximize your guilds to be quick. You’ll need some 1100+ guilds (preferably a lot more) and a very low amount of farms/towns. After losing 1-2 battles you should be able to play without any towns and farms. You will be losing lots of geld all the time anyway so your main income will be sold items (be ready to sell anything you need and so that you can run full turns the moment you leave protection, even MCs if needed). You also need enough forts not to die. Keeping 8 forts would be totally safe for example (and keep a safe margin still). And only research, do nothing else. Problem is that you need to cast Concentration (if you use it, blue should at least) again after protection as it gets dispelled every time you go under 1500 land.
Defending is the more profitable way, but of course has more risks like most of the things that give a better profit in this game. This is a lot dependable on the color you play. For example white can use AAs for defense, blue can use Djinnis and green can go with Griffons. Also it’s better to remember that even one Soul Speaker will deal fatigue (and more will give you more losses that can make you lose the battle) and keeping a cheap spell like BF or Fog Cloud or EA or Lovesick or FoH on defense with 100% or 75% will help you keep your land. Cheap item like Drums of War or Ointment of Healing or etc will help a bit too. Losing land is bad, but it’s not like you couldn’t survive with losing once or even twice, it’ll just take some speed from you. I suggest using at least 1500 guilds, some go even with over 1700 guilds at the end or even more. Some 150-200 nodes are enough to keep a decent defense and use Concentration. Cast Concentration every ~75 SL for blue starting with some 100 SL, white can start with ~200 SL and cast it again once before researching ultimate spells.
Best way is to research spells that give SL the quickest first (more SL is better Concentration) and probably ultimates as the last spells.
Black and red have a bit harder time as they need to research all spells and are the slowest to research (red being the last one), not counting blues that research all. Also they don’t have a defense that would be almost proof from attacks. Early whites will eat blacks and early blues will eat reds and etc. Demon Knights with a good defense spell can deal against early whites and could also last against other attacks. Choices for reds are quite poor too. Early blues love to hit reds with Mental Thrash which is pain to most red troops. Even 1 Red Dragon would be quite perfect, it’s just hard to get that so better for most to forget (I’d probably use Council Protection tactic for red at least myself).
It’s also an important thing to get few farms and towns before you are ending your research to get pop increasing quickly and not start form scratch. Also I'd like to point out that gods are not that good during research, mostly just slow down on average.
Blue also has the choice to not research red/green complex spells or just leave 15 of them unresearched. Blue that decides to do either one of these will be the fastest out of research counting all colors (thanks to Concentration). Trick is to get gods Concentration later in the reset to get them researched quickly (could be 1 week, could be 2 months), first choice would need 2 of them. Point is that blue can easily survive with reduced SL (some ~15% reduction in spell strength) and kick well with that early lead. Opposite complex spells take half the time of blue research so the trick is there.
Initial run and preparations
This part is a lot dependable on the color you choose. Still the basic preparations don’t change that much. One has to decide at this point if he wants some extra speed or more preparations. After initial run resources will be scarce for a few runs. You’ll have to basically live by what you have already and the small amounts of resources you will get from your land. You need to rebuild your land first. Destroy all guilds, build huge amount of workshops, build rest of your land and then destroy some workshops and build that land. Preferably leave barracks and farms as the last ones to build as they are quick to build. Best to still leave a good amount of workshops to be able to build land quickly after first runs. Something like 599 workshops is a good figure, although some keep even more. Most important building is node as you want to be able to summon well at the start. After that mp charge and summon offensive army if you’re quick (can still be defensive if you rely on offensive spells to win with) and low NP defensive army if you are slow to research. Then wait for until you have max turns to start your initial run. Question will be about how much you MP charge. Going with more resources is to MP charge to full/almost full mana before getting a decent army. This will also raise your geld figure a bit and possibly give you the ability to buy few good items. Less MP charge means that you are faster, but rely more on mana you get during your run and can MP charge with more land after that. Both are good ways. Think what you will need. You have to be ready to sell items when necessary and also keep in mind favors are too good to miss. Moon and Lucifer combo is the best for all colors. More mana to be able to move quicker and better summon ratio to be more efficient and a small Attack Power increase to be a bit better on offence. These will pay themselves back, but if you only get one then go for Moon.
White is the fastest color to research fully and if you are quick enough there are only non-opposite complex blues going before you. You probably had over 2k land already and an army which is fully or almost fully Archangels (AA). You hopely also have a good item like satchel on defense after research and a good accuracy reducing spell. Something like that. White has a good amount of options to use now, but black is the best prey to hit with blue and red following after that. Red won’t have finished so far and the same goes with almost all blues (counting out those that just ended their research before getting it done fully. White can choose to go with almost pure barrack troops or AA/Pegasi or something similar. Hitting black a lot is a good choice. Holy Word and a damage item will be enough to win the battle unless that black is a short stacked demon black (like pure Demon Knights for example). Total Newbie Handbooks always do well too as you’ll find many targets without troops (any color is food). Just make sure that you’ll have 10k+ troops left after every battle (summon some if needed) to get max land (10k takes max land in siege from 2k land mage). Hit a lot and either THL or L&P won’t hurt your chances at all. Just try to hit weak mages and get to 3k land or near. Then rebuild, mp charge and power up. Some 100-300 barracks is a good figure and better have some ~40% nodes to be ready for your next run and definitely cast L&P (you need the geld) quickly and get SW+barracks+Gate army for example. Buying is one option too. Good barrack troops are KT, Crusader and HPs (Knights you got from Gate already). Also one cast of few RANGED fodders is nice to get 10 stacks and some fatigue. This is definitely not the only setup, just one example of using your resources cheaply and turns efficiently (which you really need to keep in mind all the time). Forget Doms and Titans for now. Your troop setup should go according to the targets you are going to hit. Last one was a good against black and blue for example. Just make sure that after you power up you try to max your NP to not get hit a lot (90% from top NP at least if you are very quick and ran well). Forget stacking placement, it is not that important in the end. You can look at it, but just don’t go changing it too much. Place a good item and spell for defense, bid on few Carpets if you can and cast THL. Then just wait until you have full turns.
Blue, not fully researched
Blue is a bit similar to white with the start when you go without full research. You have probably Djinni or AA or something similar on defense and a defensive spell/item and also over 2k land. You will be as fast as or faster than white will be (thanks to Concentration). Basically you can hit anything, but red being a slow color to research and probably without RD and blue having Mental Thrash and even possible Djinni top (Djinni beats RD if that miracle happens that one red has few). Best are still mages without any troops at all. Just run quickly, get some fodder from items or simple troops or barracks. Use few troops that hold their own at the top and use Mental Thrash and damage item. Hit everything that looks like a good target. Target land is that same 3k as with white. You need to know what you will hit in your second run. Keep in mind that someone needs to take care of most dangerous white mages and best ones to do that early are green and early blues and an odd white. You’ll want lots of NP and possibly one batch of Elementals or Leviathans (I prefer Elementals here myself). For example going after early whites is best to be done with heavy hitters and lots of army. There should be no non-blue mages above you after your power up if you did everything right. Blue troops are the best to start with as they summon well and cheaply. Medusa, MR, Djinni, Sirenes, 1 cast of HD/Wraith and some RANGED fodder are good examples as are Renegade Wizards for example or some batch of complex troops from BM. Basically troops that hit very hard as you will be probably in top 5 any way and can use quite an overpowering offensive defense. I prefer to not use that many geld eaters to be able to buy Carpets and etc myself. As 1 Carpet for example means 1 almost won siege already (same for Ash or Candle), which is quite a good investment for the cost. Then just wait for your next full turns.
Blue, fully researched
Got to stop for a moment, and will continue later from here. I’ll be glad to answer any questions that arise (that I’m able to). I will later compile all to one guide. New reset in guild server just started so I wanted to be quick to start this to maybe get some people practicing already . More challenge = more fun.