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Starting Illyriad: An Alternative Newbie Guide

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Category: Strategies, Guides & Help
Forum Name: Strategies, Tips & Tricks
Forum Description: Player created guides and advice.
Printed Date: 17 Jan 2021 at 16:33
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Topic: Starting Illyriad: An Alternative Newbie Guide
Posted By: Auraya
Subject: Starting Illyriad: An Alternative Newbie Guide
Date Posted: 26 Mar 2013 at 19:18
Starting Illyriad: An Alternative Newbie Guide
written by Auraya, edited by Mithyn, dwarf advice contributed by Smoking Gnu & Fluffeh, orc advice contributed by BenDunder


Firstly, welcome to Illyriad! We love new players here and we're happy you've found our little corner of the web - we hope you enjoy your stay here and look forward to meeting you. 

There's a lot of advice floating around about what new players should and shouldn't do. Whilst there are some things you should definitely not do because they are inconsiderate and considered unacceptable to the player base, when it comes to your cities YOU are the ruler and it is your decisions alone which determine how that empire is run. 

So, before saying build this and research that, perhaps we should take a look at you and see what you want from the game? Illyriad is designed as a 'sandbox' - meaning you set your own goals and work towards them. I suggest getting a piece of paper (yes, now - go!) and writing down the answers to these questions:

1) Are you a patient person who is willing to spend extra time to get perfection?  
2) Do you want to specialise in one field or try them all? 
3) Which appeals most: offense, defense, stealth or wealth?
4) Are you a team player or do you prefer to go solo?

As we go through this guide, we'll consult your answers to these questions in order to tailor the advice given, so that it meets your personal goals rather than those which others assume you have. 

When you created your account you will have picked a race. This race will also influence your choices as all races have different specialties. You need to learn yours! Of course, if you've answered 'try them all' for question 2 and stealth/wealth for question 3, you might want to disregard race specialties completely (see? Sandbox!) 

Also, a word on advice. Many well meaning players will give you advice on how best to build your cities. Before accepting that advice as the gospel truth, assess the player giving it to you and see if it matches with your personal account goals. Be very wary of 200 pop players trying to give you long-term advice and remember that a 200k pop elf might not give very good orc advice, compared to that of a 100k pop orc - race specialities and all that jazz. Never be afraid to seek second, third and fourth opinions, start a debate in GC over various strategies or ask 'Why?' In fact, I'd encourage doing all three! 

First Steps

First things first, make sure you have the tutorial completed and have waved/introduced yourself in GC for your care packages (unless you are fiercely independent and wish to be self reliant.) If you drop a polite mail to me (Auraya), I'll send you some to get you started too.. although be warned, you will need to have upgraded your storehouse to hold my pressies ;)

At this point, you may be flooded with alliance invites. I highly recommend ignoring them completely for now, we'll come back to alliances later. Also, bear in mind that any alliance who sends unsolicited invites is (in my opinion) likely to be more interested in achieving their aim of leading a top alliance than helping you achieve your aims. 

If you haven't already, most people advise lowering your tax rate to boost your resource production. I do know of people who play the opposite strategy and raise their taxes as high as possible then use the gold generated to buy resources. Right now, you won't have the marketplace or population to make this worth while but both are legitimate strategies with various pros and cons. 

If you don't know how to, changing taxes is under 'Step 2' here: - I disagree slightly with some of the advice given in this guide but if you want to follow it, it won't steer you down the wrong path in any way and explains the basics with some nice pictures. It's a 'do this, do that' newbie guide which contains some good tips but feel free to make your own decisions rather than follow the guide to the letter (or at all) - it's YOUR city, remember? ;) Personally, I find Mana's newbie guide much better, especially the Q&A at the bottom: but even then, I have different preferences in certain areas! 


Without wanting to repeat Mana's advice, you will want to build up your resources early on. It's boring but there's no escaping it and a good foundation now will allow you time to read guides and ask advice before making building choices. Larger players will send some resources whilst you are small but you can't rely on that. If you want an aim, I'd try to keep resource income (of each, excluding food) at twice your population until a city hits 1000 population. If you're online for long periods at a time, building the lower resource fields evenly is a good way to go as the build times are very short. If you're less active, concentrating on 1 plot of each might be better for you since build times increase exponentially. Keeping food positive is not essential but allowing it to go very negative is a bad idea! I like to stay as close to 0 as possible early on, personal preference. 

Your library generates research points (rp), I always advise players to treat it like a resource plot. Neglecting the library will cause you to halt researching unless some kind people have gifted you books. This is no great disaster but most people don't like waiting to queue research. Books have other uses than generating rp so saving them is recommended.


You may have heard the term 'Big 6 Buildings' being used in GC. These refer to the barracks, library, storehouse, mage tower, marketplace and consulate. They are considered 'essential' buildings although depending on your play style, you may choose to demolish some of them later. Which of these you concentrate on most will depend on what you answered in question 3. Check your paper now :) For offense/defense, you'll want to work on your barracks and unlock that research. For stealth, you'll want to work on your consulate for diplomacy research and for wealth, you'll want to work on your marketplace. Regardless of which specialty you choose, upgrading your mage tower is recommended as it's your best defense early on and if you answered 'try them all' in question 2, you can work on them equally. 

With regards to the mage tower, whilst I agree with the general advice to research runes first, my personal preference is a seeking rune vs thieves rather than a slaying rune. Which you choose is entirely up to you. Diplomatic units do not give the name of the sender upon the attack unless they are caught, as such they are the most common problem encountered in the game - especially thieves who give the sender a small profit. Would you rather be covered a little on all options or take a gamble and protect better against the most likely threat? For the former, go slaying rune and the latter, seeking vs thieves. For more information on magic, read step 7 of Mana's guide (link again: and for more information about thievery and what to do should thieves visit your city, I can't recommend Vanerin's guide highly enough: 

If you're struggling, there's a step-to-step guide to magic by Mara Zira here: - I find it particularly useful for reference, as there's a full list of spells near the bottom. 

Optional Buildings

In addition to the 'Big 6' buildings, there are a variety of other useful buildings:

For quests, a tavern + brewery is recommended. The brewery provides the beer necessary for accepting quests. Many people forget about quests as they grow larger but you do get 2x discoveries from them. They aren't necessary but most newbies enjoy doing them for a while. You only need a lvl 2 tavern for quests.

For harvesting, filling all your empty slots with cottages to gather hides, grapes, herbs and minerals until the slot is needed for something more important is a good plan. Cottages cannot be upgraded and hold 1 cotter each. Each cotter gathers 100 basic crafting resources. They can be used to gather lost equipment but I wouldn't recommend doing that unless it is your lost equipment. Unless you are lucky enough to have rare herbs or rare minerals near you, herbalists/miners guilds are unnecessary. Skinners guilds are useful once you have troops but it's generally recommended holding off on military units until you can afford the upkeep on ~500. 

Common grounds and paddocks are useful to upgrade early as the city spot they have is fixed. You can never have too many cows since they are necessary to make saddles and leather armour - as well as for spells. They always fetch a high price on the market :)

The usefulness of blacksmiths, fletchers, spearmakers, tanneries, saddlemakers and forges differs depending on race and aim. If you chose 'wealth' for question 4, I'd recommend blacksmiths and forges. 

Military wise, for t1 troops of racial strength: elves = fletcher/brewery, orcs = spearmaker/brewery, dwarves = blacksmiths/brewery, humans = paddock, saddlemaker, brewery. Later, you will need additional buildings for t2 troops. If you can afford it, you have the option of building t2 troops only but this is very expensive to keep up and better suited to larger players. 

Long term, sustaining a tannery and saddlemaker in the same village at level 20 is impossible. You can build both and demolish one later or pick which one is most useful to you and wait to build the other in your second village. If you answered 'Yes' to question 1, you'll likely want both to unlock the research - same with if you answered 'try them all' for question 2. 

Crafting buildings such as bowyers, swordsmiths and horse trainers tend to hold little benefit to new players as you require rare parts to build many of the crafted items and they take much longer to build than the basic equipment. If you chose 'wealth' for option 3, you may want to build one or two to prepare the research ready for when you grow larger. Look at the 'Research Tree' (link: and the crafting page (link: to see which crafted items are cheapest to build. I suggest the horse trainer early on as they are cheap to craft and many players need them. 


If you answered 'solo' to question 4, this section does not apply to you. You can play Illyriad without an alliance. If you answered 'team player' then you'll be wanting to choose an alliance sometime after you leave beginner's protection. Firstly, decide whether you want a training alliance or not. Training alliances theoretically give an insight into the game and allow you to learn the basics in peace - the quality of which differs greatly, some are superb and others provide very little training and are more a 'holding pen' whilst a player grows. They aren't for everyone but they are a great starting point if you get the right one. 

The other option is to join a regular alliance straight off the bat. As with everything, this is about finding the right alliance for you. Talk to the members, leadership, read all the alliance page and ask any friends you've made for their opinion. Alliance rank is not particularly a good indicator of which is best, it's more about alliance goals and what will be expected from you as a member. 


Important: It is considered the height of bad manners to settle within another player's 10x10 radius without asking permission prior to moving. 

The '10 square rule' is often referred to. It is generally accepted that each city owns 5 squares in all directions as potential sovereignty - meaning a 10 square gap between cities. For exodus or teleport, it is a server requirement. For settling, it is not necessary but the community frowns upon anyone who settles within 10 squares of another player without asking and you may find your village demolished without warning. That said, many players do not need to claim sov beyond 3 squares therefore if you ask to settle 6-10 squares away from a player, many will be happy enough to allow it. Asking to settle under 6 squares away is generally best avoided and rarely will a favourable answer be given.

When you reach 450 pop, you have the option of expanding to another village! Exciting times! There are two options available for expansion: settling an empty square or sieging an existing town. Almost everyone settles their second village and for that, you will need to build a settler and complete 'Pioneering' research. Building settlers in advance is usually recommended but there's no reason why you have to settle straight away, some players prefer to get a solid first city before moving on to a second. It's up to you. 

Sieging is usually an option for much larger players but as previously stated, it's your account so without further ado, a very helpful post by Rill on sieges: 

After you've decided whether you want to settle or siege, you need to find a location. There are several different options here so lets go back to our paper. If you've answered 'Yes' to question 1, I highly recommend using a little trick which will allow you to terraform (i.e. convert a square on the map into a more useful square) 

Why terraform? A quick and concise explanation can be found here: and Vanerin has written a great guide on how to do it:

If you are intending to terraform, the only thing that matters in your second village location choice is the resource distribution. Check your paper again - for question 3, if you've chosen offense/defense then you'll likely want to choose the correct distribution to maximise your racial benefits:

Human/Elf: 5 wood, 5 clay, 5 iron, 3 stone, 7 food  (for option between cavalry/ranged)
Dwarf: 5 wood, 3 clay, 5 iron, 5 stone, 7 food (for option between infantry/ranged)
Orc: 5 wood, 5 clay, 5 iron, 3 stone, 7 food  (for option between spearmen/cavalry)

Of course, you may not wish to play these specific troop types but they are the most effective per race. It is important to get the right res distribution for city purpose because of 'advanced buildings' also known as t2 buildings. These t2 buildings cost basic resources per hour, in addition to the build cost. Cavalry are the fastest troops for all races, they require a lot clay as upkeep for their advanced buildings. 

Other combos: 
3 wood, 5 clay, 5 iron, 5 stone, 7 food (for option between spearmen/infantry)
5 wood, 5 clay, 5 iron, 3 stone, 7 food (for option spearmen/ranged)
(3)5 wood, 5 clay, (5)3 iron, 5 stone, 7 food (for option infantry/cavalry)

For those who answered stealth or wealth, which resource distribution you require is a little different and not dependent on race. If you intend on maintaining an army alongside your diplomats or trade buildings, it is probably wise to bear in mind the above advice. If you intend to play purely stealth/wealth then you can use this post to help decide which distribution you need:

For those who answered 'No' to question 1 or 'solo' to question 4, you might prefer to teleport directly out of the newbie ring (which is the place all new players spawn.) In which case, you'll want to hold off settling until after you have teleported. The above racial recommendations still apply for village #2 however there are a couple of other things to consider, as where you teleport/settle is permanent. 

The best guide on location is by Rill, available here: and I recommend everyone getting to grips with the information contained. Whilst you can just settle anywhere on the map, it is generally to your own detriment not to plan properly. 

Final Tips

You will notice, I have assumed you will want to settle 7 food squares. Whilst this is completely optional and some players have very different views on the necessity of 7 food, Illyriad is designed that a higher food bonus provides a larger benefit for almost all aims. 

More food = higher population = higher taxes = more gold income. 

No matter what you chose for question 3, you will most likely want the highest gold income possible. 

If you enjoyed tallica's newbie guide (part 1) then you should try the second half, found here: - she includes lots and lots of useful links at the bottom which is why I keep it bookmarked, rather than trawling through all the forum topics searching for the link I need.

That concludes my alternative newbie guide. I hope this is helpful and please let me know if you believe something should be changed/updated. 

Remember: Illyriad is just a game,  the most important rule is to have fun!

Posted By: Scorpiain
Date Posted: 11 May 2013 at 12:03
Useful Guide - I prefer your modular approach, let the newbies choose more.. rather than  1) Buid fields to x level, then get mage tower. 

Posted By: Captain Elf
Date Posted: 29 Jun 2013 at 10:03
Useful ( Pretty )

Posted By: LancerLynx
Date Posted: 19 Dec 2014 at 06:00
Really usefulSmileStarClapClapClap

Posted By: Rannveig
Date Posted: 12 Feb 2015 at 02:09
Very helpful post! Thumbs Up

Posted By: Heavy Metal
Date Posted: 24 Feb 2015 at 22:17
Nice, thanks.

Posted By: Demosthene
Date Posted: 18 May 2015 at 13:33
Hi Auraya!
Regarding this line:
Originally posted by Auraya Auraya wrote:

Human/Elf: 5 wood, 5 clay, 5 iron, 3 stone, 7 food  (for option between cavalry/ranged)
May I know the specific reasons why you chose stone to be the 3 plots? Moreover, do you know which stone plots would I lose if I move via exodus?

Posted By: Rill
Date Posted: 18 May 2015 at 15:33
Not sure how active Auraya is right at the moment, so I will take a stab at this.  She can correct me later if she wishes.

The distribution of resource plots is mainly based on those buildings that will consume basic resources other than food in the future.  There are a number of buildings that do this, such as geomancy towers, chancery of estates, and the troop and diplomatic unit upkeep buildings.

For most players who attempt to develop and maintain reasonable sized armies, troop upkeep reduction buildings will consume the most resources of any in-city building.  (Depending on your strategy, sovereignty buildings not in your city may consume more or less than in-city buildings.)

As Auraya noted, elves most commonly choose to use ranged units and cavalry, since they excel at these units.  The upkeep reduction building for ranged units consumes wood and iron in addition to food.  The upkeep reduction building for cavalry consumes clay and wood.  Since neither of the buildings consumes stone, this would the the resource that elves could afford to have less of.

Whether a low-stone city is the right choice for you is something that you will have to decide, but as an elf for the reasons described, it is a reasonable place to start.

Posted By: Demosthene
Date Posted: 19 May 2015 at 11:29
Thanks Rill!

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