Hi, I'm wish. I've been playing this game for ~13 years. I still remember how bad my first couple of accounts were, and it certainly hasn't gotten easier to be a new player now than it was back then. The game is hard to learn, and even harder to master. Which is why I'm writing this guide.
This guide is not a guide on how to build your village or your account. This guide aims to teach you some fundamentals to surviving as a new player, and how to (hopefully) let you learn without being disheartened by better players smashing you about.
Table of contents:
- 0: Summary
- 1: What to do on your account
- 1.1: The importance of activity/time
- 1.2: Resources and why they are important
- 1.3: Under attack: making yourself unprofitable/crannying up
- 1.4: Traps
- 1.5: Troops?
- 1.6: Going to the boonies/settling your 2nd village
- 2: The best way to learn
- 2.1: Making friends
- 2.2: Joining an alliance
- 3: Questions?
If you're not very good at English, or just don't have the patience to read the whole thing, here's a very brief overview of the key points in the guide:
- Be active! Logging in every day is a must.
- Resources are... Well, your most important resource in the game, so a good economy is fundamental to growing your account.
- Don't leak resources to other players! If you get attacked, spend the resources, or hide them with crannies so they can't be stolen.
- Troops can help in deterring attackers, but remember that you're spending resources on producing them, so you need to get good value out of them.
- Settling your secondary village should be at the top of your to-do list. Remember that you'll need some economy for it though. Chose a location for your secondary village where you're not likely to be troubled by other players for a good while.
- Make friends. The easiest way to learn the game is with the help of more experienced players. See if you can spot any players that seem to be experienced in your area, and send them a polite message asking if they can give you some tips and help.
- Join an alliance. Travian is a team game - you can't get very far on your own. Alliances can be of varying quality though, so try to spot the best one(s) in your area, and see if you can join them. Don't write "Can I join plz?" - say that you're a new player, and thus might be slower growing... But that you're willing to learn, and will happily provide whatever the team needs.
1: What to do on your account
1.1: The importance of activity/time
What you need to be aware of before starting, is that this game is never on pause. When you log off, the game doesn't stop running. This means that activity and ability to log in often is very important for developing an account. As an absolute minimum, you should be able to log in once per day before you consider playing. You'll need more activity than that in the early game, but later on when you've established yourself, you can barely get by with a single login or two per day (some people log in once in the morning and once in the evening). Not only will your account not be improving if you're offline for prolonged amounts of time... In addition to that, if you're offline for 2 days, you will begin to show up in "inactive finders" (more about that later), and you risk being kicked if you've managed to join an alliance (especially if you're offline for 5+ days in a row, or if you go offline for 2 days several times).
If you aren't able to login every day, you have two options: vacation mode, which will prevent your account from being attacked. Downside to this, is that the account won't develop while you're away, and you'll be falling behind other more active players. The other option is to get a sitter - the sitter is another player who can log in on your account and take care of it while you're away. Trustworthy sitters can be hard to find if you aren't in a team though, so be cautious about setting others as your sitter.(There is a third option, two or more people playing on the same account, and covering each other's offline times. If you're new to the game though, this will likely not be an option for you.)
The best is of course if you're able to check your account and build stuff often yourself, so aim to login several times per day.
1.2: Resources and why they are important
Apart from activity, the most important thing for developing your account is resources. You'll notice that your village is producing lumber, clay, iron and crop, and that the production can be increased by leveling up resource fields. These resources are used for everything in your village: upgrading buildings, researching and training troops and so on. Having a decent resource production is key to developing your village(s) and account. Because resources are so important, they're also coveted by other players. Other players can attack you, and steal away your resources. You can however do some things to deter other players from attacking you, as explained in the next section.
1.3: Under attack: making yourself unprofitable/crannying up
In the short run, and especially early game, most people who attack other players close to their village(s) are just looking to get some extra resources for their account. This means that they don't want to waste time attacking villages that give no resources. Typically, they'll be looking for inactive players who aren't online to protect their resources (remember the inactive finders I mentioned?), or other accounts that have a good amount of resources sitting unprotected.
As a result of this, the best way to deter many early game attackers is to be active, and make sure that they can't get any resources from you. To achieve this, you can spend down your resources when you have incomings. This alone won't save all your res though, and you might be wanting to save up resources for an expensive building upgrade, or you might simply be offline. Here, the cranny comes in handy. The cranny is a building that hides resources from other players attacking you. You can build multiple crannies in your village, and if you combine spending down resources when you get incomings with crannies, you can be sure to keep all your resources for yourself.
If you're still getting attacks after doing this, you can try to send the attackers a message. Don't be rude, don't whine. Simply say something along the lines of "Hey, I'm an active player. As you can see, you're not getting any resources out of attacking me, so maybe your troops are of better use elsewhere".
If you're playing Gauls, many players might be a bit more reluctant to attack you in the early game. This is due to the trapper. The trapper lets you build traps. Traps let you capture enemy attacking troops, and come at a relatively cheap price. Attackers will be vary of attacking you if they suspect you have traps. They might test to see if you have traps by sending a few cheap units at first. So it's always a good idea to at least have some traps.
Trapped troops fill your traps, so they'll take up the space and let you capture fewer new troops. The owner of the troops will still have to feed them, but can't use the troops. You can either release the trapped troops yourself, the owner can chose to kill the troops off, or he can attack you again with a large force to try to free them.If you're afraid that he might try to attack with a large force that you can't handle, you can try messaging the attacker, offering to release his troops if he leaves you alone (sometimes the attacker who got troops stuck at your place might even offer you the same deal on his own).
Having defensive troops in your village can further deter attackers. However, it's no use if it's a small amount. Other players will happily take out small amounts of troops to get experience for their hero. If you get a decent amount, it will scare off early game attackers. It works well combined with traps. However, producing troops in the early game will significantly slow down your account growth, since you'll be spending resources on troops and not anything else. You should also be careful to only defend with the troops when you've produced a good amount, defending with smaller chunks at a time will just get the troops killed to no avail. You'll either have to activate troop evasion or manually dodge with your troops if they aren't enough to kill the attacking force.
Also be aware that there are both offensively oriented troops, and defensively oriented ones. It's almost always a bad idea to defend with offensive troops. Legionaries are fine for Romans early on, Phalanx are good for Gauls, but don't defend with Clubswingers if you're a Teuton. It might be tempting to research new troop types at the start, but it shouldn't be a priority before you have settled your second village. It should only really be done to unlock defensive troops if you're Teutons (spearman), and even then it might be better to just cranny up until you can settle your second village.
1.6: Going to the boonies/settling your 2nd village
As you've probably realized by now, there are some avenues to minimize the dangers to your account in the early game. However, spending down your resources is just a temporary fix. Other experienced players near you will be growing faster. Experienced players don't like other villages near their own(especially not non-allied villages). If you're not a "farm" for resources for them, they might start to catapult your villages. Even if they leave you alone for a while, it might be just to start conquering your villages later on.
One of the most important things for your game is to settle your second village quickly, and in a good location.
So, what you need to do, is to take a good look at your neighborhood and see if it looks like any players there could give you trouble (if they're growing quickly, have multiple villages in the area or if they're attacking you), and then considering if it's worth moving to a more favorable location. As a new player, the best place to go to is the "boonies" - i.e. far out on the map, away from other players (at least for a start). Here you can learn the basics of how to grow your villages and account, and to produce troops, without being destroyed by other players.
To correctly settle in the boonies, you should take care to settle at least 20 fields from the nearest players. It's a trade-off though. If you settle very far out, your spawn village will be far, and you might not have any players/alliances near you to make friends with/join. The optimal solution is probably to settle so you will be out of danger from any accounts that started early on the server, but still close enough that people joining later will eventually start spawning around your new villages (the exact place for this varies from server to server, and with how many days have gone by on the server). This way, you'll have a head start compared to those around you, so you should be the top dog in your neighborhood. To quickly boost up your second village, it's important to send merchants with res to it from your spawn village.
However, you might be in trouble before you're able to settle a second village. If your neighbors are starting to catapult your spawning village, and you can't defend it on your own, a solution might be to offer to let them have your spawn village, once you've settled a new village. Hopefully they'll see the benefit of this deal.
2: The best way to learn
The first parts of this guide have been addressing what you should do on your own account to give you a chance of survival. The rest of it will (hopefully) help you find the quickest way to not just survive, but thrive in the game.
2.1: Making friends
Travian is a complex game, and even more so it's a game where it's hard to survive on your own. The quickest way to learn is to get help from others. Once you're well underway with building up your account, you should start looking around for someone to help you understand the game.
Don't start messaging people right away, it's hard to tell from the start who's good, and they can't see if you're doing well either. Once you've been building up for a bit, maybe even after you've settled second, if you've managed without too much trouble, look for large players/players growing quickly or even those players who might be attacking you. Send them a polite message. Say that you're new, but looking to learn, that you've made sure that you aren't attractive to attack, and were wondering if they could give you some tips on how to build your account.
In return for their advice, you can offer to be their "personal defender" - you'll be producing defense to help them when they're under attack. If you find a good player, he/she will most likely be happy to have a personal defender, and it will be in their interest to teach you how to get the most out of your account, so you'll have more defense for them.
2.2: Joining an alliance
If you join an alliance, you'll have many "friends" with just one click. However, not all alliances are good, and those who are good will likely have joining restrictions.
Some times in the early game, some alliances will send you invites without talking to you. These alliances are not likely to be good though, and the help you can get, both in terms of advice and troops to help you defend might be little. Still, if you're lucky it might make a few other players more reluctant to attack you (and at least the players in the alliance won't attack you). You can also hope that someone experienced will take up the leadership roles in the team, or that the alliance will merge with another team with more experience later on.
The ideal thing is to find a team that looks promising (after a few weeks, and not just at the start because they've spammed out invites to random players), and sending them a message. As said though, they might have joining restrictions - the most basic one being that you're in the same area as them. Funnily enough, the good teams will most likely not have the joining requirements listed on their profile, while worse teams might have it. No matter what, a team with joining requirements will almost always be better than a team that spams out invites to all players without talking to them.
Once you've identified what you think might be a good team, it's time to send them a message. First, you should look at their profile to see if they have a recruiter, or some kind of leader. If you can't find a recruiter in the team, try messaging one that holds a title.
Do not write "Can I join?" "Please let me join" or similar. Tell them about yourself and why you'll be an asset to the team. Again, tell them that you're a new player, but that you've made sure that you aren't a juicy target for others to attack. Tell them that you're willing to listen, and that you're hoping to learn, so you can provide the best possible help for the team.
If you've already made friends, another way to join a team might be through them. If you see them in a team, ask them if they could perhaps recommend you, or get you an invite.
If you have further questions, please feel free to ask them in this thread, or write directly to me ( @wishmaster3 ), @ELE, @BlackBlade or any of the other players listed in this thread: Sunday school for newbies
(This guide was cross-posted across the major English-speaking domains. If you would like to translate it to other languages, feel free to drop me a PM).