I'm going to post the start of something 'big' here. It's just part one and I'm leaving it open for discussion for now to get input from other veterans before creating the final version. Part two will rehash some of the original Fundamentals guide info on building cities. Part three will deal with some combat mechanics. Part four will deal with logistics and palace building. Part five will go into some other miscellaneous tactics stuff. This post/review/rework phase will probably stretch over the next several months, ending with the competed 'new fundamentals' book somewhere at the beginning of summer. For now.... part one:
The (Expanded) Fundamentals of Lord of Ultima:
Succeeding in a Dog Eat Dog world... as a cat.
1. The Disclaimer - Even the best tutorial or guide can only take you so far in a game like LoU. Every concept presented for strategic consideration has long since been reviewed, second guessed, filed for posterity, and generally improved upon by dozens of alliances. Additionally, the information and recommendations are only as good as the players who offer them.
As if that weren't enough, it hardly seems fair to spend years learning the game only to teach all those details to the newest players starting out. It is, after all, a competitive game and teaching the new players 'too much' forces one to actually work for each additional victory. So anything written by players with two or more Crowns is suspect, for certain. I've got three of them personally, so that makes me just as likely to be lying as anyone else over 30. Not that I'm actually old enough to really use that phrase 'properly.'
Seriously though, I've done my best to include as much insight into the playing of Lord of Ultima as possible. I'm going to make recommendations at times that may not be the most common method used... they may not be the best methods... but for the most part, I'm going to try to give good advice on the choices that will make you a successful player. More importantly, however, I'm going to try to give you a clear understanding of what the choices are and why you might choose the option I recommend... and what might lead you to choose the others as well.
2. Winning, Losing, Battles and Wars - One of the key differences between the novice and veteran in Lord of Ultima is your perspective of winning and losing. When we play checkers or chess, we understand that it is often necessary to sacrifice certain pieces in order to put others into the right place for a larger victory. Yet, the loss of a few resources, troops, or even a city often causes a great deal of stress for players. Try to remember that LoU is a very long game. Sometimes, the loss of a few troops is necessary for the success of a city capture... other times you might need to be willing to make an entire city vulnerable to destruction in order to create a vulnerability elsewhere.
Now, I'm not advocating suicidal charges or kamikaze castles but don't be afraid to lose a city if doing so accomplishes something worth the loss.
This is especially true of Plundering. Many people panic over the loss of resources early on. Here's the scary truth about Plundering - most of the time, the person doing the Plundering is simply trying to pressure you into giving up. The gains from plundering an active player who knows how to take a few simple actions are meager at best... and under most circumstances, actually COST more than you gain. On the other hand, Plundering a target that has given up is one of the fast tracks to an early lead. I'll explain more about Plundering (and countering Plundering) later on.
3. Perspective, Mindset, and knowing the game you are playing - Lord of Ultima is a strategy game. Like checkers, chess, go, Risk, and dozens of others; LoU relies on a core rule set that is based on pieces that have set strengths and weaknesses. But it is NOT a city building game. Over the lifespan of a world, players will build hundreds of cities. Don't expect to create a little of everything in each city... you will instead find that you want each city to focus on its purpose so it can achieve that one thing most efficiently. Each city cluster will then contribute it's own value to the empire as a whole.
1. Play through the Tutorial - yes, its fairly predictable (and in some cases, foolish) and many veteran players skip through it. Still, play through it at least once before deciding to skip it. If you DO choose to skip it, remember to complete all the Tutorial related Quests in your Quest log... this is the only way you will initiate the Fortune Teller/daily reward system.
Problems with the Tutorial:
* City Guard House and several city guards - Not needed (will explain later)
* Hideout - Not needed (will explain later)
* Training Grounds and a few Zerks - can be useful, but can also be unnecessary
2. Early game goals - Your first priority in the early game is to expand your empire. There are several strategies to accomplish this quickly, but in all cases there are a couple specific elements that MUST be accomplished before expansion can happen.
* Town Hall must reach level 8 - or -
* A Trinsic Temple must reach level 10
* A Moonglow Tower must reach level 10
* A Barracks of at least level 1, but must have at least 1 open slot for recruitment of a Baron
* You must have sufficient storage capacity to hold > 100k wood and stone, 50k iron, 25k food
* You must have sufficient Marketplace levels to have 250 carts available to you.
* You must have sufficient Harbor levels to have 25 merchant ships available to you.
* You must convert resources into Purified resources, sufficient to research Title Advancement.
Once you research Title Advancement, you will be eligible to recruit a Baron unit. This unit is necessary to settle a new city, claim an existing lawless city... or to capture a castled city via siege (with the aid of other units - this is only possible when both cities are castled). Once you have a Baron recruited, you will be able to plan a location to settle. If you have a city placed on water and built Harbors, that location can be virtually anywhere... and continent, anywhere on the water. If you have a land-locked city or only built Marketplaces, you will be restricted to only building cities on your current continent.
With your second city starting to grow, you will quickly discover that the cost of further Title Advancements jumps higher quite quickly. Don't let this discourage you, having more cities will enable you to generate a greater amount of resources and it is important to note that having more cities growing in parallel is generally far more effective than trying to build one city to completion at a time. This is mainly due to the exponential cost and build time of higher building levels.
3. Early game strategies - During the first seven days of play, a player's first city is kept protected from attack. The protection does not apply to additional cities as your empire expands. However, only Scouting and Plundering can be done to a city without a castle... and these actions can only be initiated by a city with a castle. That is important to remember when choosing an aggressive strategy early on. You could potentially castle and find that you have no available targets until the end of the first week and then find that the early warning allowed all your neighbors to prepare to counter your aggressive actions the moment the protection drops.
* Linear growth - What most novice players do in the early game is they focus on building up a single city at a time to a moderately high degree (most buildings level 7-8 or so) before turning resource generation over towards researching titles. Then, as the next city starts up; they try to finish up the first city. As a result of this focus on 'few' cities, they tend to have to make these a sort of rainbow/catch-all that can serve any purpose. As a result, as with anything generalized, they do ok at a number of things but aren't really great at anything.
Where this strategy fails is that the game uses a weighted cost system for building levels that can be a huge drain on resources early on. It costs, literally, millions of wood and stone to fully build up a resource city... but even a well built COMPLETED resource city will take weeks to generate that many resources. So while the city 'could' generate a lot more resources, it takes far more to get to that point when you've got a limited amount being produced.
* Restricted parallel growth - This method is used by most experienced players. A city is built up, but only to level 4 or 5 buildings. As a result, the production rate of resources is only a few k... but then the city is left stagnant, while resources are applied towards title research. While this may mean it takes 5-10 times longer to accumulate the necessary resources compared to a fully completed city, the amount of resources committed to building to this level is a small fraction of those necessary to complete a city. With all resources focused on title gains and settling new cities (which also build only a small way before stopping and focusing), expansion can come very quickly.
* Aggressive expansion - In addition to the resources that can be accumulated through low level production buildings, a player aggressively expanding their empire can use Plundering on enemy cities to acquire unused resources. This is especially effective when neighboring cities are controlled by more casual players, where resources sit accumulating most of the day before the player logs in to set up a new build queue. This method does require adding a castle to at least one city, which means it is generally only used by experienced players who are confident in their combat capabilities but in both this and the next type of expansion, there are players who believe they are ready... but are not.
* Ruthless expansion - Not only is it possible to use Plundering, but in the case where multiple players in a region castle; there can be combat between their troops and the potential for capture or destruction of a castle. Because of the way Fame works (I'll explain more on this later), killed enemy troops and destroyed buildings reward the ruthless player with additional purified resources which can be turned into further titles. As such, the more enemies they defeat, the faster they can be accumulated. This method is limited to only a few players because only the largest will have free rein to rampage over the top of others... and ruthless players are only successful if they aren't countered and only for as long as they have easy targets. The best 'counter' to this play-style is knowledgeable enemies.
4. The Use of Raiding in the Early Game - In most of the game, Raiding (the use of military units to attack Dungeons for the resources gained by killing off creatures found there) is the undisputed 'best' means of acquiring resources, especially gold. However, there are some limitations to its effectiveness in the early game that make it important not to rely exclusively on raiding until city growth is sufficient to begin spawning higher level dungeons (levels 6+). Raiding IS still critical during the early game, primarily for gold, but some care is needed in looking at early game resource production so over-focusing on early raiding doesn't hinder growth.
The best way to look at this effectively is with a chart of resource income by dungeon level (note - there is some simplification involved here due to purpose - research and shrine bonuses not counted). Maximum effective troop usage by dungeon level (Zerks in Mountains) per command slot:
Dungeon level vs Distance
| 1 (1:20)
| 2 (1:40)
| 3 (2:00)
| 4 (2:20)
| 5 (2:40)
| 6 (3:00)
| 7 (3:20)
| 8 (3:40)
The results are shown in resources/hr gained from raiding Mountain dungeons with Zerks at 0% completion per command slot. To find your max gains for a non-castled city, multiply this value by 5 command slots. A castle will have higher production results but with the added high cost of Castle levels (in stone) and the abstract cost of additional vulnerability. Times shown with distance are one way cost in hr:min format (full trip is x2).
The Mountain dungeon resource results break down like:
This means that a level 5 dungeon at range 1 is producing 11250 resources per hour... but only 1/10 of that is stone (1125) and 2/3 again that in wood and food (2/3 of 1127 is around 750) or 1876 per hour. Iron, on the other hand is 5 2/3 the value of stone (5625 + 750 =) or 6375. Of course, some of that iron will get turned right back into replacement zerks to cover losses, but in general even at level 5 dungeons only one field out; Zerk raiding is only producing between 1100-1900 resources per hour (per command slot). It takes very little to build up woodcutters and quarries to produce this production rate.
As such, early empire raiding can actually be quite detrimental towards expansion... committing 450k iron to each command slot worth of zerks to raid a level 5 dungeon when doing so only generates about 6000/hr iron should show that raiding (by itself) is not the be-all end-all of early game growth.
HOWEVER, you don't get to the higher level dungeons by ignoring your city growth. And you don't get many dungeons without the expansion of your empire (more cities = more dungeons, high city scores = higher dungeon levels). In other words, to get the good dungeons; you have to find a supply of resources sufficient to get your cities built up first. That means you are likely to have a LOT of empty barracks slots and ensure you are setting aside resources for building and not allow it to be consumed by recruiting of troops that you don't have dungeons or commands to use.
Still, the important part about early raiding is providing a steady source of gold income without wasting resources on Townhouses. Just be aware that the funneling too many resources into troops that cannot produce resources will slow you down... even if it does give you the means to defend yourself.
Playing the Game
The majority of cities you are going to produce in your time playing LoU are going to have a military focus. It IS possible to play the game from a purely 'peaceful' resource city only standpoint, but doing so is a very insular, isolated play style... and actually isn't supported very well by the ongoing changes to the game mechanics. You can build resource cities that don't need military defense... and sell resources via the trade system... but it's possible to accumulate resources faster through more risky methods (using castles for raiding) and while the end-game does involve some very high resource demand building projects... they also require a fairly high number of castles that must be defended while built up using those resources. Thus, even players inclined towards a more defensive or economic style game are likely to find themselves using a large number of military cities instead of purely resource/production oriented ones.
Some of these military cities will used for resource production, as dungeon raiders and boss killers, while others will be specifically designed for use in PvP against other empires and alliances. The game has been around long enough that there are tons of 'ready made' layouts available for you to copy... but I am firmly of the opinion that there are no single best city/castle layouts. The castle design for great raiding is not by any means the same as the one I will use for a continent invasion and the defensive castles I build on my alliance's home continent are definitely not the same as those I build elsewhere as we accumulate territory. Knowing why to build high capacity/slow recruiting castles vs low capacity/fast recruiting castles is a strategy discussion that I'll talk about later... but knowing HOW to accomplish what you want starts with one important element: Planning.
As I mentioned before, Lord of Ultima is not a City building game... it is focused on Empires. As such, you need to be aware of the larger needs for an empire through the various parts of the game... and that will determine what types of cities you need to succeed. There are currently four key periods in the progression of the competitive cycle of Lord of Ultima, in which this cycle begins with the first moment of the opening of a new world and the point at which the first alliance is awarded their crowns from completing their palace building end-game.
1. The Race for Lead - the moment the server comes online the first day of a world's life, there is a rapid race to establish THE dominant alliance that will lead the server. This is caused by the means in which the worlds are populated, with all players being placed first on c22 and then as each continent fills; further placements occurring on adjacent continents in an outward spiral until either new members are no longer joining or all the continents are open. During this time alliances are going to go through several rapid evolutions as initial positions and potential control of territory is assessed. Strangely enough, there will be very little actual military action during this period (which usually runs for the first 2-3 weeks).
The rules for playing smart during this period of the game depends on whether you started on c22 and c32, or if you began on one of the later continents to open. If you are on one of the first two continents, the biggest challenge is in making the right decision in what alliance to join. One of the alliances that forms on c22 is likely to become the dominant leader on the server... the others will either be wiped out or will relocate and try to become a serious opponent to the leader. Any empire trying to grow successfully on one of the early continents without joining the dominant alliance is likely to find themselves being farmed for resources.. you might manage to prove yourself 'worthy' to join them, but the life of the unaffiliated or small alliance player on one of these first continents is generally pretty unpleasant. After all, most of the most aggressive players are pushing for early dominance there... that doesn't leave much of an opening for the newer player who is trying to learn how the game works, or even an experienced player who just doesn't have the time or inclination to play in the highest competitive levels.
For those players who join the fun a few days later, after several additional continents have opened; it may be obvious already who the dominant alliances are going to be. Some of these may still be recruiting and if you are interested in being an aggressive player, they may welcome the opportunity to pick up a member or three for a head start onto the outer continents. But be aware that being one of the lone members of the big alliances will draw local attention to you because they are going to see you as the foothold of something nasty that is coming later on. You will have to grow quickly and be prepared with a strong military to hold your ground. For most, however; finding a good alliance that is willing to cooperate and work on controlling territory isn't too difficult. You should be wary, however, of how these alliances are prepared to handle the big/leader alliances when they come to your territory... the good leaders know it will happen eventually.
Besides the political/diplomat game, the main goal for a player during this phase is expansion. This is where the different styles of early game play are involved. Your city choices are going to be focused on expansion for the sake of additional expansion. That means a resource city or two with low level production buildings, some military buildings for raiding the early dungeons, and adding in a small mix of defensive troops just to provide some small protection in the event that someone tries for an early Plunder or two. If you are expanding fast, you can focus on offensive troops... the general idea being that if you can attack anyone before they can get established, they'll never have a chance to attack you (so you need no defense). If you're not quite that fast, you'll want to be sure to be including some defense as well.
This is, really, the only point in the game where you will want to mix any of the aspects of building cities with other types. You may have, in your first couple cities, some production buildings alongside military buildings and you might have offense and defense troops both along with storage and shipping and the ability to recruit barons. But don't get used to it... after a couple weeks of this, you will need to focus on making each city do what it is designed for and specializing those to a specific purpose.
2. The Early Empire game (pre-Duke titles) - this phase of the game runs roughly from the point at which you are no longer generating resources purely for the sake of expanding to a new city but actually begin to be able to generate resources for title advancement and city building at the same time (one or more cities is no longer a drain on resources). This will typically occur somewhere between your fourth or fifth city... up to about your tenth to twelfth, depending on the effectiveness of your resource production. At this point you can start to make decisions that will allow for cities whose primary purpose is something other than the production of more resources/more cities, such as hubs and specialized military cities.
Note that this doesn't mean you don't have specialized cities in your first ten... it's not uncommon to build a number of offensive or defensive castles DESIGNED for special purposes in the early cities, but to use them for raiding early on (or vice versa). But now that you have a foundation for your empire, you need to start planning how you intend to move forward in interactions with other empires. Are you going to be aggressive? In that case, you may want to look at starting a number of offensive castles and getting recruiting under way so the cities are ready for action before your targets can get themselves protected. If you plan to move forward with a more defensive strategy, the same thing applies... know what you are going to need to be effective down the line because most cities at this stage of the game are going to take two or three weeks (if not longer) to build to completion and potentially longer to recruit the units for them. That will change, later on... but until you can afford the extra costs of rushing the build process and have stockpiles of resources available to press recruiting at full speed... the process will simply take time.
During this phase, most players are going to be fighting using incomplete castles. Army attacks may number from a couple thousand up to 50 or even 100 thousand... but you very rarely face full castles of units (200-300k) until 7-8 weeks into the game. That means that it is unlikely that you will need a full castle of units to defend yourself, also... unless other players cooperate to make attacks on you. Even if they do, you should be able to work with your alliance members to ensure that when they work together... so do you. (NOTE: this is an important factor. The dominant alliances, the ones that win world after world, know this simple truth. You win fights by 'ganging up on' your opponents. The alliance that takes personal honor and one vs one fighting to be the proper way to do things will lose to the pack of wolves pretty much every time. Learn to work with your teams and you'll go far). It's also important to be aware of the types of attacks someone can use on you during this phase of the game, this will help you know when you can dodge and when you need to be certain to defend... as well as knowing how to minimize the chances that players will see you as an easy target.
Here are some good estimates of city breakdowns for what you need to get through this phase successfully:
a. 4 in every 10 cities should be able to generate resources.
b. 2 in every 10 cities should be designed primarily to generate resources.
c. 1 in every 10 cities should be designed as logistics support / as a hub
d. For every 1 offensive castle, you should have 4 defensive castles. - DEFENSIVE STANCE-
e. For every 2 offensive castles, you should have 5 defensive castles. -MODERATE STANCE-
f. For every offensive castle, you should have a defensive castle - AGGRESSIVE STANCE-
Roughly, this means that in your first ten cities; you are likely to want 2 cities dedicated to resource generation (probably actual resource cities in this instance) plus two more raiding cities castled (one zerk, one knight or both zerk). You will have a hub, probably with moderate storage totals but high shipment capabilities (you're not going to have a lot of stockpile at this point) but you will want some buffer and the ability to get resources where they need to be to keep building on track. You'll also wanting to be starting your Navy (ships take a long time to recruit) with a Sloop castle (def), and a Galleon castle (off), and you'll have a ranger/guardian castle, and templar castle. The final castle will likely be either zerk or mage... or possibly catapult/ram, though you should coordinate with other members of your alliance near you as not every member needs siege engines in this stage (someone needs mages and zerks to clear the troops out before the SE come in to knock it down).
There's plenty of variation you can do with this, but the important part is to ensure that you aren't stagnating due to resource limitations. And don't forget that almost any unit can be raiding effectively during periods when they aren't being used against other players. Templars won't do well until they get some research points and guardians only work well when sent with something else with a higher attk power... but most everything else will do well raiding. Just keep an eye on your resource returns and recruiting queues to make sure you don't start going backwards.
Note that even the Aggressive stance has defensive troops. Pure offense only works if you can hit your opponents as fast as they appear. Someone with no defense available is doomed the first time two or more enemies choose to work together. Offensive units die quickly when used to defend... and you simply can't have them in two or more places at once.
3. The Mid-game - As the game transitions into this phase, warfare evolves to be less an action that the individual can initiate and succeed in... and more the process of an alliance. In the earlier game, it was rare to face full castles of troops... but now people rarely attack with less than a full castle. This means a successful defense has to involve more than just the target city... and its where the preparations for having a defensive cluster of cities for each offensive one really pays off. The process of combat in LoU puts each offensive attack into combat with the target city on its own. But on the defense side, as many cities as you can send troops from can have defenders standing by ready to protect the city. And up to 100 of them (the 100 highest TS) will face each new offensive force as it arrives. So for those people who prepare four defensive castles for each offense... when they attack one of your cities, you can place 800k-1 million TS of defense in that one castle to counter their 200-300k TS attack.
This is, of course, why warfare becomes an alliance activity. Once defensive numbers can so easily exceed the size of an offensive army, it becomes necessary to do one of three things.
a. You can use multiple castles of attackers, each one taking heavy losses until sufficient defense has been killed
b. You can use fakes (low TS companies) to target false targets in addition to your real one to force an opponent to divide up their defenders to cover everything. This has the downside of once the fake is revealed, the target can shift diverted defense over to cover your real target. If the purpose is a siege, this can be bad news.
c. You can strike multiple targets in cooperation with other members of your alliance. This has the same initial value as using fakes, forcing an opponent to divide up defense between multiple targets... but with a much more brutal end result.
Ultimately, of course, alliances will use all three in combination... hitting multiple targets AND fakes simultaneously and also ensuring that there are plenty of attacking armies on each target to accomplish the goal. As you progress into the mid-game, a naval attack for instance might involve 10-15 real targets mixed in with 40-75 fake ones. Each of those 50-90 cities will see incoming attacks from 9-14 castles (often a mix of types... 2-3 zerk siege/assault waves, 2-3 knight siege/assault waves, 3-4 mage assault waves, and 2-4 galleon sieges). A strike like this can typically crush a castle as long as it is defended with fewer than a million TS in defense... though anything between 500k-1 mill is going to result in heavy losses for the attackers. But consider that with 50-90 targets potentially under attack, anywhere from 25-45 million TS in defense has to be available to protect everything well enough to even reach the 500k point... while the attacking alliance is fielding 2-3 million TS per real target. The key to this exchange is in making sure you are on the side capable of recovering faster. If the attackers lose enough troops to take three weeks to recruit back up in order to kill your 15 castles... but you are able to rebuild those castles in 7 days and be fully recruited back up in defense before they hit you again, then their efforts are in vain (even though it seems like they won by taking out 15 castles).
City clusters continue to be weighted much as they were in the earlier game but in the mid-game, some importance has to be placed on the intercontinental growth of an empire. For an expanding alliance, it's important to have some ability to grow on the water (rivers or ocean coasts). Whether or not your alliance has the strength to build military on the water will play a big part in how you expand. When you build on a continent that your alliance controls (by which I mean, on a continent where there is no castle that is not owned by your alliance or a sister alliance), you will often focus on building defense and resource production in land-locked locations and only put offensive castles on the water and only where there is sufficient defense handy to protect against large naval attacks.
However, an alliance that controls the water (or at least has sufficient naval strength to keep from being overrun immediately on putting up waterfront castles); will also want to build defensive castles on the water where they can recruit rangers, guardians or templar to send on frigates to other continents to protect new assets on those continents while they are still building and not yet ready to protect themselves.
Having a multiple continent territory is the only way to seriously compete in the end game. Any alliance whose overall growth and control does not expand beyond one or two continents is unlikely to reach the point where they will hold sufficient enlightened shrines to compete in the end game. This is actually where most smaller 'local' alliances falter... they focus on expanding to dominate their home continent so long that by the time they try to expand to other continents, they are unable to get a foothold... and ultimate, their strongest/largest members will be recruited by a larger alliance who wants to use their territory control as a foothold on that continent.
There are several ways that an alliance can grow to control enough territory:
a. Keep an active, engaged roster that is capable of growing an empire effectively. This includes regular 'goals' that must be met for a member to stay on the roster, getting rid of those who don't log in, and making certain that everyone who is active is participating (if your alliance military attacks somewhere and only 20 people are sending troops... you're not fielding an effective roster). Recruit actively in locations you want to control for people who are able to fit meet your requirements. And keep those members happy and involved so they don't jump ship to a larger alliance.
b. Recruit in territories you plan to move in to.
c. Recruit / don't merge. One of the most common fatalities to alliances is the common merge. There's a reason that an alliance isn't succeeding on its own... so doesn't it make sense to know why before you bring it into your own ranks en mass? Most alliances that talk merges want to protect their little guys as much as every one else. But those little guys are little for a reason. If you have people with time to test and teach them and get them up to speed, go for it... but be certain they aren't just little because they only log in twice a week. When they're stoned.
Now, don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being a part of a friendly alliance with no intention of being an end game challenger or even of having a full 100 man roster. However, when the friendly social alliance encounters the hardcore aggressive alliance who IS shooting for their crown; it can get ugly. Make sure your allies share your level of commitment before that happens, you'll all be happier for it when it comes.
4. The End-Game - the final period of the competitive game doesn't change much except the 'degree' by which events occur. Instead of attacking with your alliance so you have 50 armies hitting 10 waves on each of 10-15 targets, you'll find yourself attacking with 20 armies personally taking out a couple targets while your alliance hits 30 or so other targets in the same area (while faking to every naval castle on two or three continents). Instead of planting individual cities to add to the next cluster that you're working on, you'll be planting an entire cluster or two of cities at a time; some of them to expand an existing controlled location and others as part of an invasion on a continent held by someone else.
The biggest part of the End Game phase, however, only really applies to those members of alliances in the top few ranks... those with sufficient castles in locations to control enlightened shrines and building mid to high level palaces. For these players, empire restructuring is necessary with a shift to a high priority in logistics. By this point in the game, the generation of resources is basically a no-brainer. But getting those resources to the right place in limited time frames can still be a huge challenge. One that is met through the implementation of appropriately placed hub networks and by ensuring that all resource generation locations have sufficient shipping abilities (ideally on water). Enough variation exists between logistics plans from alliance to alliance that it serves no real purpose to discuss this in too much detail except to mention that your alliance leadership and officers MUST have a plan and it makes sense to ensure everyone understands it before you get to this point... otherwise you'll only be getting around to finishing your networks about the time your opponents finish building their palaces.