Happy Snail

A collection of Ikariam Tutorials from a hard-core player and Java Script programmer

Beginners guide to Ikariam

So you have decided to play Ikariam?  Good for you.  I hope this little guide will help to get you off to a good start. The guide is designed to help you create an all-round balanced and powerful account as quickly and as efficiently as possible.


Ikariam is free to play, and some players have built mighty powerful accounts without spending a single cent.  But by spending small pocket change your account will develop much faster. Unlocking premium features is a long and interesting subject. Suffice to say that not all Ambrosia features have been created equal. Donating Ambrosia to upgrade mines is silly and costly.  Converting 1 million of wood and wine into 1 million marble for 5 Ambrosia coins is a much better proposition! Paying Ambrosia to move a small town to another island is not profitable, but moving a fully developed town that you have been growing for 2-3 years is much more sensible. Paying 1 ambrosia to see what cargo is being brought into your port is useless, you will find out this anyway when the fleet arrives. Having a "plus account" feature allows to upgrade building when you are off-line, because you can queue of up to four upgrades per town.  This is however only useful if you have a lot of low-level buildings to upgrade and enough resources. Exercising sensible fiscal restraint is a key to good Ambrosia management.

Generally, it is best to be patient and only buy Ambrosia when there is a special deal.

Some of my advice may seem controversial, but I have played Ikariam for over 5 years on various servers, started accounts, gave them away and looked after accounts belonging to others, so I know what I am talking about.  There are many shortcuts, hacks and cheats and I am eager to share them with you.

The game is set in antique Greece where the whole world consists of an endless expanse of the Aegean Sea dotted with small islands. You get to control a small town on an island. All islands are equal in size and have 16 city spots. There is an extra premium 17-th spot, but let’s not concern ourselves with it now.

When you first start there will be a pointing finger on the screen that will guide you. There will be a tick-box “I don’t need this tutorial”.  WARNING: Don’t click it.  Follow all the tasks and you will be rewarded with free resources, free cargo ship and 10 Ambrosia coins. After completing all the tasks that take just a few minutes you are free to do it your way.  What should be done first?

Go to barracks and dismiss the spearmen you have acquired. It is not profitable to loot barbarians after the first time.  The demobilized soldiers will become civilians again and will pay taxes. (After the December 2015 update v.07.0 it is however possible to farm the barbarians safely until level 9, you will also be able to loot gold from them). Demolish the city wall. There are much more important buildings to spend the resources on, and you don’t need military or a wall while you are in the Beginner’s protection.

Develop the academy and get as many scientists as possible.  Do not worry about running out of gold. You will get a lot of gold later. Your priority now is to get as many research points (RPs) as fast as you can. Research “Well construction”.  It will speed up population growth. Spend RPs wisely – that is, only on what is needed to obtain what is called “Expansion”.  Do not research anything related to military at this stage. Your priority is to build a second city – it should be on a marble island – even if your current island is marble. Click on Research tab.  There on the left there is a link called “To Library”.  Go there and check out the research tree that will lead to Expansion.

Build a tavern to level 2 or 3 and the town hall to level 4. Serve wine to get the population growing faster.

It takes a few minutes to a couple hours for the buildings to upgrade, so use the time to click on the Word Map, check out various islands and see what’s on them. You can click, hold and drag the map. Double clicking on an island will open it.

While all islands are same in size, they are far from equal. Firstly, the islands have different resources: marble, crystal glass, wine and sulfur.  Secondly, the level of mines, mills or vineyards is different.  Thirdly, the location on the map is important.  The closer to the center of the world, the better.* This is important because centrally located islands are much better developed. While in the beginning it may seem impossible to fill in all vacancies in mines and mills, later on you will enjoy a far higher production rates.  Your account would grow much faster.  Also being in the center allows you to trade in all directions; something that would not be possible if you stayed near the edge of the map.

Once the second city becomes possible – it should be on the 2nd or 3rd day from starting to play – click on the Word View and type the following co-ordinates 50:50. This takes you to an island at the center of the world.  Look for a marble island in the vicinity of 50:50 that has vacant city spots.  A hint – if the island has 16 printed on it, this means there are already 16 cities there, and no vacant spots.  Find a few marble islands with vacancies.  Click on an island to open it.  Take a note of the levels of marble quarry, and lumber mill.  Write them down along with the island’s co-ordinates on a piece of paper. Repeat this for other candidate islands. Do not be hasty here. Open a few islands that are full too. See if there are any inactives there. Inactive player’s cities are in gray script and have a letter (i) after the city name.  Inactives are periodically deleted from the game, so a spot may become available in a few days.

The other thing to look for when choosing a new island is it's Local Miracle. Try to ensure that each of your cities is located on an island with a useful miracle. Hint: Hephaestus Forge, Colossus temple and Poseidon temple are all very useful. Other miracles are of limited value ( Demeter's Gardens, Ares, Hades and Hermes). Large and powerful players often have multiple Forges, Colossus temples, and at least one temple of Poseidon. Temple of Athena can also come in useful, but less than that of Hephaestus, Colossus and Poseidon. This is the most important piece of advice. Do it right and you will definitely not regret it later. Many a player had paid in ambrosia to move their cities years later, after initially plonking them on a random island with a temple to a useless deity like Hermes. 

After choosing an island as close to the center, with a useful Temple, and with as high marble quarries and lumber mills as possible (you may have to compromise here) click on an empty spot and select to found a colony. You will need 1250 wood, 3 ships and 9k gold and have a palace built in your town before you can do that. Your ships will start sailing and in a few hours (or a couple days) you will have a second city. The spot on your target island will be reserved for you the moment your ships start loading.  If you change your mind you can recall the ships and you lose nothing. However once your city is built your immediately lose Beginner’s protection.  From now on your cities could be looted. But this is nothing to be feared if you prepare in advance.

Many new players are scared of being attacked and linger in Beginner’s protection too long.  This is a very, very silly mistake. Ikariam allows you to build 4 warehouses (each would protect 480 of each resource from being stolen. Town hall also protects 100 of each resource.  So, if you have 4 warehouses at level 1 you can safely store 2020  (480x4+100) of each recourse. This is a considerable amount. You could be attacked a hundred and five times a day, but if all your resources are protected by the warehouses you lose absolutely nothing. In fact if you have no military you suffer no damage whatsoever. Your attackers will only hurt themselves by attacking you.  They will have to pay double wages to their troops as they move about, and their cargo ships will be sailing around empty for hours on end – the aggressors will be wasting the most precious resource of Ikariam – the time.  Eventually they will stop bothering you.



After arriving at your new colony, build four warehouses – just to level 1 for starters.  It takes just 1 minute to build a warehouse from 0 to level 1. Line then nicely by the waterfront.  Keep the new city aesthetically pleasing for the eye.  This is going to be your new capital.  Now you are going to do something counter-intuitive.  Unless you had been incredible lucky, and your first city landed in a good spot you need to demolish it.  It does not make sense to keep your cities more than 8 hours apart. Most people keep them much closer than that.  But don’t just abandon your city, or no… There is a much better way!  Start systematically demolishing buildings in the old city and shipping recovered resources to the new. The last building to be demolished is the port. Dismantle tavern and academy.  Do not yet pull down the barracks, warehouse and port.  Recruit as many spearmen in the barracks as possible. Send them to the new city. While they are sailing built barracks in the new city, next build a governor’s residence. Once the spearmen arrive dismiss them.  They will become civilians and join the general population.  This is the only way to transfer population.  Resources spent on building spearmen are also recovered in this way.  Just keep an eye on gold balance or else your spearmen will desert.  Remove workers from mines and mills. The next step is to demolish barracks and warehouse.  Keep in mind that without a warehouse you can store only 1500 of each resource.  Everything above this will be lost. In the past it was possible to demolish townhouse and the palace, so try to demolish them also. After all the resources are shipped to new island, demolish the port. Donate the remaining resources to the island or try shipping them to the new city.  You can still load the resources without the port, but quite slowly – 3 units per minute.  Now say goodbye to the old island with low mills and mines on the outskirts of the server.  Say hello to a central location with high quality marble quarries.

While you were demolishing the old city, hopefully you have built a Governor’s Residence (GR) in the new city.  When your resources and citizens arrive from the old city, go to this GR and declare the new city a capital.  Now visit the old city one last time.  Go to Town Hall and click “abandon colony”.  Once done, you will be able to build another city near your new capital.  Make it another marble, preferably on the same island.  Build a market and start selling marble and buying glass, sulfur and wine. You will find this profitable. Marble prices are often double of what other resources cost. No doubt you will be attacked, so keep upgrading those warehouses.  Upgrading warehouses should take priority over everything else. You should have 4 in each city. Soon the would-be pillages will get a message that there is nothing to be had in your towns and will leave you (mostly) in peace.

Try to establish friendly relations with the neighbors. Chat to them.  Ask politely those who have attacked you why are they doing it.  Never be rude to anyone. Donate some wood to quarries and mills early on – even if it is just 100 logs of lumber. Post on the island Agora that you will soon donate more.  Players who don’t donate to development of mills and mines are known as “leaches”. Neighbors resent them and attack them constantly.  Apart from looting (which is not dangerous to somebody with 4 warehouses) they are likely to blockade your port.  This will seriously damage your economy. So if somebody from the same island is blockading you, it is possibly because you are not a good donator.  Explain to them politely that you are a very small player and cannot donate much until your grow bigger.  You will find that most people are reasonable.

Apart from building 4 warehouses in each city, build low-level academies, taverns, governor’s residences. Have an architects and carpenters buildings in all cities. Build them to level 32. The sooner you build them the more wood and marble you will save. Do not start high level-upgrades without first maxing out these resource reducers.  Build stonemasons in marble cities, and other resource boosters. These buildings are optional, and it is likely you will demolish them later, so do not build them too high. As spaces in the cities start to fill up, demolish academies everywhere, but in the crystal glass city.

You only need one market and one barrack for your empire. Trade for everything you need. Do not build spy hideouts. If all your resources are protected and you have no military there is no need to hide anything. In the latest version of Ikariam spying is so costly that hardly anybody uses it these days.

When you have upgraded the palace and governor’s residence to level 2, build a third city. Build it on a wine island. Wine is essential for rapid population growth.  Some say that your 3rd city should be sulphur, so you can build military and upgrade governor’s residences (GR)  to level 3 to get a 4th city.  This shows shallow thinking and short-sighted planning.  Sulphur is always cheaper than marble; you don’t need a lot of it for low-level GR upgrades, and as for army – until you have 6-7 cities your account is too small to support a serious military. A small military is no deterrent and it will only upset you being constantly defeated.

However if there are low level inactive players near-by try to loot them with hoplites and rams.  If the inactive town has no wall, you can continue pillaging it with a single spearman. But generally, on new servers, inactives are being constantly hit, so there is very little loot left. So, my advice is to concentrate on developing economy and science, until you have 6-7 cities.  If there are no profitable inactives you may as well temporarily demolish barracks and replace it with a resource booster. Join a dominant alliance as soon as possible.  Look for alliances that seem to be dominant in your particular area.

Once you have researched museums build them in all non-wine cities.  Offer cultural treaties (CTs) to all your neighbors – preferably to those not in your alliance, particularly to those who have tried to pillage you before.  This is controversial, but consider this: your alliance mates cannot loot you anyway. When they advertise CTs on alliance message board do not rush to snap them up.  If an alliance mate offers you a CT directly, politely decline – say you have none available at present, unless you have many vacancies in your museums and there are no takers from other alliances. Having a cultural treaty with a non-alliance member makes it impossible for them to attack you.  Technically they still can attack you, but their will suffer a very heavy penalty for this: there will be a massive dissatisfaction in the town from where they send the attack.  It would last for 24 hours and they will lose a lot of population and gold.  So in practice nobody attacks somebody with whom they have a cultural treaty.  Now this may sound mean or Machiavellian scheming, and it is… But don’t feel bad about it – this is only a temporary security measure, soon you will have CTs with all your non-alliance members and then you are free to exchange statues of Poseidon on a motorcycle with all your alliance friends.

When you have researched Government Types have a revolution and switch to Democracy. This will give you 75 more satisfaction in each town, and 1 CT per hour for every cultural treaty you have concluded. An extra building slot should become available to you sometime at this stage. You may wish to build a low-level temporary resource boosters there. Do not build wine cellars unless you are perennially short of wine and this cannot be alleviated by upgrading wineries to boost production. Build museums instead. I never had wine cellars in my cities until I had 12 cities and I tore down some crystal reducers.

Have an architects and carpenters buildings in all cities. Build them to level 32.

Keep upgrading GRs and building more cities.    Only build new cities when all the GRs are sufficiently upgraded.  Don’t let there be any corruption.  City spaces periodically become available as inactives are removed by the system, so keep an eye open for good city spots.

When building cities chose the islands with highest level of mills and mines obtainable.  How you space out your cities is up to you.  I keep my 8 cities close by in a same archipelago. My other 4 cities are arranged in a cross formation 5 hours sailing distance to the south, north east and west.  I have five markets – one in the center and four in outlying cities. Buying crystal glass for 5 gold in one end and selling it for 15 at another is a fun way to use you ships if there are no inactives to loot.

Research Piracy as soon as you can, and click the 2.5 minute capture run a few times a day for some extra free gold. 

Your cities should be as follows:  marble, marble, wine, sulphur, crystal, wine, marble, wine. 

With 8 cities you are no longer a beginner and this is a subject of the Ikariam Intermediary Level Tutorial.


* There are certain charms to being located on the edge of the World.  You are likely to have few active neighbors and possibly some inactives bursting with resources to be looted. (I mean saved from going to waste). In bustling central parts such inactives are looted round the clock by rapacious neighbors. As a result there is not much loot to be had. It is relatively safer at the edge of the world; most alliance wars happen somewhere far away.

You are likely to have an island all to yourself; and you may be the only person in the whole archipelago…  In the beginning this is fine; you won’t have enough citizens to fill all the vacancies in mines and mills anyway.  As your account grows though, very soon you will notice that your mines and mills are on the low side. Obviously production levels will also be low.  You would have to invest many millions of timber to upgrade mines and your mines will still be much lower than what players have closer to the center.  Your trade would be severely constrained, as firstly there are few other cities around, and secondly you won’t be able to trade 360 degrees around you: due to there being an endless expanse of the ocean on one or two sides of your little empire.

So there will be some degree of safety to being so far away, but your account will never make the top 100.

There is a good reason to there being no large players around the edges of the map.

Recommend this Ikariam Strategy Guide and Tutorial

Filed under: Ikariam guide, beginner's guide