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I noticed that if you raid or attack with only 1 non-mounted unit on Travian, you will always lose.

Why is this?

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No one really knows. There doesn't seem to be any innate defense to villages. I think it's just hard-coded in almost. What's interesting is that stronger units can die alone if the person you're attacking has a lot lower population. There's no real answer as to why though.

Another thing to consider is that villages can get defense from a residence or palace even if they don't have any troops there. Residences and palaces give small amounts of both types of defense, as listed in this post, which can also be increased by city walls.

Also note that if you upgrade your units at the blacksmith, you might be able to survive, depending on the type of unit that you're upgrading.

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I suppose the city harasses the lone soldier and he commits suicide due to depression. –  General Stubbs Aug 25 '13 at 9:19
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Every village has some default protection. Defence of basic protection depends from many factors:

  • Village population of attacker -> Population of defender
  • Troop type
  • Levels of: Residence/Palace, Rally point, Main building and wall
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