The battle system on ikariam has changed a lot and now needs more thought.
Players waste troops and lose battles needlessly.
One of the first things to remember is if you are operating in enemy territory do not leave your army lying around while you’re offline. Send it to a nearby safe location. A favourite trick of experienced fighters is to send it to defend the town of a nearby neutral player … or even the town of your enemy if you’re sure it won’t be attacked! At the very least never leave mortars and balloons in a town that is likely to be attacked.
If you are being attacked then it’s a good idea to send your mortars and balloons out of the town for the early rounds. Send them separately and bring the mortars back when the enemy balloons are gone and your balloons when your opponent brings in his mortars. This will minimise the damage to you and maximise the damage for your opponent. Remember if fighting in your own town you can do a parial withdrawal of troops and send them back into the battle later.
When you are the attacker then unless you already know for sure what troops are in the town you should hold back your main troops and send in a probing wave of spears and rams. I always keep around 1000 for this purpose. A slightly more expensive option is to replace the rams with catapaults, more vulnerable to damage form balloons but will do more damage to the wall as well. Never send in mortars in your first wave, they will bewasted if outside the garrison limit and likely to be killed if there are balloons in defence.
If you are in a declared war then as a preliminary you can send in some waves of 1 spear, 30 balloons and 60 gyros to kill any mortars and balloons in the town. Depending on how many you have and your action points then waves of gyros only are also a good idea. The other thing you want if possible is to control the ports on the island to prevent reinforcement so a good navy or a partner to provide naval support is valuable.
Once you know what’s there you will have a better idea of what else to send in. Always make sure you have plenty of swords, you will lose a lot once the wall is down and they can make the difference between winning and losing a battle. It’s always best to feed troops in gradually, if you send all in and your opponent has a Colossus miracle available that’s the end of your battle.
If you expect to be fighting a lot then it’s a good idea to have a sulphur town wherethere is an Hephaistos’ Forge miracle and build a temple. These are invaluable in giving an edge in combat. Only use them when you need to though because of the lengthy cooldown.
This isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t even touch naval combat but will give you a start in fighting effectively. Remember if you can’t win then cut your losses and get out.