Basic strategy part I
So, the first thing you need to know is that Defense trumps Offense in a straight out battle... so sending defense at defense is a very bad idea
So.. your defense:
city guards - do not build these yet, they are for palaces and water castles, the more city guard houses you have the faster you can recruit them and if you bother you want like 500k of them they eat v. little food but cannot go anywhere.
rangers - this is your best defensive unit, also good at raiding. best because they are cheap, easy to make, and good for raiding. You want to make many cities and castles full of these.
Templar - good for defense against magic
paladins - best for defense against magic, horrible at raiding
guardians - good at defending against cavalry weak on infantry
crossbowman - better bet. use guardians for palaces, crossbowmen are the more serious defense if you want to kill knights.
scouts- great for scouting or defending, it's an art lost on n00bs. scout and scout often, sometimes two or three times.
sloops - again, disposable and you can make thousands of them, they are very good for raids because of this feature...
any of the above+frigates = pretty good combo, but I'd stick with sloops
now offense. I only want you to bother with 5 basic units
zerks - everyone knows these, I will add that you need to research them!
mages - by far your most common assaulting army, you will want a lot of these.
knights - excellent at killing everything except crossbowmen and guardians, so before you assault or siege with knights, scout!
frig+those above are fine
but galleons is where it is at - these can crush a city nicely, but unfortunately they take awhile to make so...
catapults! I want everyone to have eventually a catapult army, when researched, two waves of 250kTS cats can reduce a city from 12k to 7pt in two or 2.5 waves. But they are very weak if there is any defense, so you must clean the city first.
Types of attack
Raids are for creatures/dungeons
Plunders are if you have a castle and then you raid a city
Settle orders are obvious - you cannot settle with the war minister.
to settle with war you must Siege
but before you siege you want to do this:
scout, scout, assault, scout, assault, assault, (assault...) and then siege
to capture a city you must have a baron.
if the baron has no infantry with him, he can be easily killed.... so send mages or zerks alongside him
support is quite simple enough, but I want to emphasize that you can send scouts as support and this is very handy for hiding things, hence why we will build a scout/crossbowman castle.
You never want to attack (not raid or support) between midnight and 10am server time. http://www.lordofultima.com/en/wiki/view/night+protection
You also want to coordinate attacks with alliance players.
Finally you should exercise caution in war, or risk weeks of resources. And never talk to enemies or taunt or brag in All Chat. Never.
Basic Strategy part II
Setting up your castles
So in a howto I've already talked about the process of building a single castle, and the resources you need - mostly stone - to upgrade it and food and iron or wood (or both) to supply it.
Now I want to talk about setting up your plex.
There is no one right way. This game is all about risk. If you are setting up a water castle, you'd better have 3x as much defense available for that castle as for your landlocked castles.
So, what do you need and what is luxury?
You need in your plex:
1 stone city
2 wood cities
2 iron cities
2 farm cities
1 zerk (baron ready)
What you CAN have too (in order)
1 templar or guardian
1 cat or galleons castle
1 knight (baron ready)
1 sloop or galleons
1 frig+Offense (assaults or sieges)
and you can repeat this plex setup a couple times in one cluster. If your scout army is the tap-jab, the mages are the actual blow you land to the face to disorient them and the zerk and cat siege (or galleons) is the body combo.
Now, the extra food and extra iron or wood is to replenish your armies, because as we'll cover in another post, you're going to use these armies not just for power but economy. You'll make much much more with them than rez and gold cities int eh end, but all in all they still need restocking. This is why you must have a hub that can hold 10M+ of each rez, and maybe 20M+ of food. You want to be able to deliver that rez too, in chunks of 5M-8M, so your hub needs quite a lot of markets. This will pay off in gold as well.
Now, say you are under attack, what's the first thing you do?
most of the time expect a scout report, but when the player is a n00b, it's probably a plunder, and you should just purify and empty your castle of armies. Defending is fun, but you lose out, just send them on a raid, let the idiot get 10k of each.
But if you think it's a scout attack, send out your other troops on support nearby, even to a non-alliance player (not the enemy), and leave your scouts to do battle (or send scout support/request). Half the time it's nothing serious. If they assault you won't lose much TS. If it's a siege you'll either see it is b/c it is SLOW to arrive, or you'll find out after 1 wave and you can return your troops to mysteriously whip ass.
Hiding your forces is a good way to prolong losing your castle, many players won't siege until they KNOW they have wiped out your native forces because you can kill barons.
Finally I want to add that if you are serious about military you really need all four ministers. To build castles reliably, to defend them, stock them, make rez, and overall enjoy the game, you have to have ministers. Sorry. I rarely see anyone make it past 300k score like this, and it sucks not to be able to coordinate attacks.