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My city is out of the protection week. I do not have a castle built yet. I was wondering how I should build my towers? What mix makes sense?

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It depends on time, your aggregate production allocation, your financial engagement and few other things.

Financial Engagement

This game favours those willing to spend some real money, change the game or be ready to use many extra hours for monotonous activity such as pressing certain keys over cities. Even if you were able to automate the latter action with user-space tools (alert against ToS), notice that the ready tools with ministers are much better. I am not saying that it is not possible with OCR engines and certain window automation tools, but user-space hacks are not built-in and EA is acting violently against such maneuvers, as you may have noticed with LoU Tweak/BoS not-working-parts from userscripts.org and no public API.

You can ask for a friend for a holiday substitution, but notice that it is only for a limited time and with limited functionality (no trading, no attacking). I have talked with many past LoUs -- and guess what -- they have been using ministers during the whole gaming. When you have about 40-50 cities, it becomes increasingly more difficult to advance without real financial engagement. It is still easy when you are not under attacks but during attakcs everything becomes even harder -- without ministers welcome unhealthy 24/7 gaming. Since military is pretty much an exponential cost-curve (or if you have war-minister, you can get income with automatic raiding), you can just imagine how the amount of different factors greatly increases because you need to create more and more resource cities to please standing armies. Playing as poor and playing as rich are very different activities. It will affect greatly your choices over possible defence strategies.

Time

  1. If you are in the war stage already (middle and ending games), the best defence is a huge amount of rangers in ranger towers, with nice recovery time and cheap. Then again, some people like guardians but, knowing that you are not playing for a week, you don't need attacking power of them so I would not build them with guardian towers. BUT rangers have one weakness, horses, which advanced players will realize very quickly and they will attack with horse units. If it happens, you have at least 3 choices:

    A) revenge strongly with berks (cheap) or mages (if you are rich)
    B) balance
    C) to die.

    More about balance, 4 rangers towers and 4 quardian towers, traps to outer walls (5 of each: arcane, fallout and barricade) and 2 look-out towers are pretty well all-around defence strategy against a variety of attacks (guardians against horses while rangers against infantry). Fill the lookout towers with scouts to kill the scouts of the attackers, very important!

  2. If you are in the building stage (beginning game), the best defence is a variety of defence such as traps on the outer walls, one lookout tower on the inside walls (not castle city) and depending on your armies: provide such towers to the inside walls that protect you the best

  3. If you are in the transition stage from beginning game the middle/ending game, the best defence is to demolish the traps little-by-little and replace them with towers having proper soldiers because traps are futile against big armies (castles multiply the capacity of barracks, currently, by 5 times).

  4. If you are building a castle city, neutralize siege units with Camouflage traps. Neutralize scouts (spies) with lookout-towers and scouts. Scouts are very important units because they help you to attack at the weakest link of the enemy (also works opposite against you). And most importantly enemies won't know the design of your coming castle city if you are able to provide enough scouts with lookout-towers.

Resource production

  1. If you have a lot of extra wood or market has a lot of cheap wood, build ranger towers and rangers. Fast construction after attacks and cheap.

  2. If you are rich in resources or you want to attack/defend with your troops, build guardians: good in defence and good rebound in attacking.

Diamonds

  1. If you are rich, in real life, get the defence minister after placing the towers to upgrade your city defence. Also, a war minister would be useful to create new armies after attacks.
  2. If you are very rich, in real life, get the protection thing for the week.

Location

Land-locked and harboured cities are very different beasts. If moongates are open, the value of land-locked cities may deteriorate after the invasion of strong enemy units from other continents. If moongates are not open, the value of water-based cities is lower in terms of attacking because you will face 2 types of attacks: water-based and land-based. Luckily, water-based cities provide one of the strongest defensive unit in the game: sloop.

Capacity and Real money

People willing to spend more money can take more risk. They can plan poor cities with low capacities because warehouse cities can suck the resources or a minister will purify things automatically for you. If you have no minister, you should aim to create cities with about 2-4M capacities and implant every city with a farm. The farm is important because it kills one factor: you do not need to worry about sending stuff to your cities the hardness of which exaggerates while under attacks.

Summary

It is very hard to say which type of defence to create for a pause. It depends on a number of issues. A key issue is financial engagement which undermines the expertise of this game, those willing to pay a lot have a huge advantage. For a player unwilling to pay a lot, I recommend to balance things (create a balanced mix of traps to resource cities for example), build more capacity and implant a farm to every city. Even if EA tries to give an impression that you can get most things without money, you must understand that the game will never end, it just expand with new continents (and new world) and old player getting killed after inactivity.

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Great information! Thank you! I see you mention putting that lookout tower on the inner wall. Is there a difference between placing on the inner and outer wall? –  computersaurus Jun 3 '11 at 16:18
    
@computersaurus: depends. Top-graded traps are useful in the beginning game particularly with resource cities but futile later. Outer-walled look-out tower would take one important slot from traps, meaning less defence from traps, but if your armies can provide more defence than traps or you need more defence against scouts or you are broke-- build more lookout towers even to outer walls. It is much cheaper in time and resources to build 10 lookout towers rather than 2 lookout towers to get the same benefit (alert trade-off, used slots). Higher researched construction is time to do fixes later –  user9077 Jul 2 '11 at 0:24
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