There are two main issues facing new players. One is how best to develop their account and the other is to avoid being pillaged.
If you are lucky you will land on a marble or wine island but if not don’t worry. You can get the resources to get started from attacking the barbarian village or by trading. If you use ambrosia you can even convert resources. Attacking the barbarian village is the only thing you need troops for at this stage, otherwise concentrate on growing your account. An academy will be needed for research which will unlock other buildings for you.
Build up your warehouse and town hall so you can increase your population and gather resources. You will need a barracks so you can attack the barbarian village, a port and a trading post. You will also need some cargo boats in order to trade. Build a shipyard and make one ramship, also build your town wall as high as you can. If you have a marble or wine island then a stonemason or winery is useful to increase production. The other thing you should build as soon as possible is a hideout.
As you grow you will need to build a tavern and keep it supplied with wine in order to keep your citizens happy. Run out of wine and they start to disappear! Once you grow enough you will be able to upgrade your palace and plant a second town. Depending on what kind of island you started on this should be marble or wine. Sulphur and crystal have their uses but you can trade for what you need for now. By this point you should have a good idea about developing a town, building and trading so let’s look at defence.
If you take a few simple precautions then you are unlikely to have many problems with being pillaged. The first thing to do is build up your warehouse. Every warehouse level keeps a certain quantity of resources safe, try to use up resources as fast as possible so you never have too much lying around. A high level hideout full of spies will make it harder for anyone to see what you have and thus less likely to attack. This is also where the ramship mentioned earlier comes in. If you have a ship in your port then an attacker on another island will have to send a fleet before they can attack. A single ramship will turn back troopships. Build troops as and when you can so that you have a generals score but you won’t be able to hold off a larger or determined opponent so don’t waste resources trying.Your aim at this point is just to make yourself seem far more trouble than it’s worth to attack.
If you see an attack coming the thing to do is to make sure it isn’t profitable. The first thing to do is use up any resources you can by building something. Then any excess wood can be donated to the sawmill. You may be able to donate other resources to the island miracle. You could also ship resources to another town if you have one or to another player. If they are bigger than you they will have to return them but do send them a message explaining what you’re doing. If you’ve made your resources safe then you may as well move your troops out of the way. If you have built a good town wall then your attacker will lose troops to that but if you want to be annoying then leave one spear in the town. This will make the pillage slower and more expensive out of all proportion to it’s cost.
It’s always worth sending a message to an attacker. This should be friendly rather than complaining. The right approach can result in promises of no further raids or even advice and offers of help. Many raiders will leave you alone if they can see that you are making an effort to learn the game and to protect yourself.
Finally joining the right alliance can be a big help. The best ones will offer advice and help as well as friendship. Don’t go for the biggest one and at this point certainly not anyone warlike. There are alliances that specialise in helping new players and these often feed into a ‘parent’ alliance. Look around your local area, talk to your neighbours and read the forums to get an idea of which alliance will suit you best. At some point you may wish to get involved in war but that’s a topic for another day.