After approximately 3-4 weeks of play in total, you should reach the point where all fields are at L6, assuming you did not have major trouble with attackers. At this point, we will take another short break. The upgrade to L7 is again very expensive compared to the gains you get from it, so income can use another boost. Also, by now some of your neighbours will become dangerous and since legionnaires are not the best defenders, your defence needs to be reorganized. Upgrade your barracks to L3 and build an academy, and upgrade it to L5. Build an armory, a blacksmith and upgrade the blacksmith to L3. Build stables L1. In the meanwhile, research in your academy the praetorian, imperian and equites legatis as they become available. Also train about 30 praetorians or more depending on the amount of aggressive neighbours you have, and 30 imperians or less if you have few attractive targets. Train 3 legates. And build a mill! Donít build the mill earlier, this is the point where a L1 mill starts making you a profit. Wait with the L2 mill for a while. You will probably also want to expand your market a bit to get more merchants.
Legates can be used for scouting. This means you can now see whether all those neighbours you never dared to attack have defence! Use them to scout around, and then visit the undefended neighbours with your legionnaires and imperians. Keep the praetorians at home, they are your defenders. This will have kept you from growing a few days, and therefore itís high time to return to growth. Over the next 4 weeks, expand your fields to L10. Make sure to keep improving your defence, as you are now becoming an attractive target for the big fish out there. I would suggest having 100 of either defence unit at L10 at least.
Your offence probably does not need a big boost, as those 30 imperians and legionnaires are enough to raid the inactives and players without defence in your neighbourhood. However, if you feel you need more capacity, expand your offence a little bit. But donít fall into the trap of raiding people with large armies! We are only raiding for profit and quick returns, we wonít switch to full offensive power just yet... While growing, you may want to upgrade your stables to L5 and research equites imperatoris. These are not particularly strong, but they are fast, and if you build 10 of them you might be able to expand your raiding range considerably, being able to target more inactives and undefended players. However, the costs are considerable and I would not suggest doing this before all your fields are at L7 or L8, and it may not be the effort at all. I at least am too lazy to spend much time on raiding people for relatively little profit, and raiding with imperians keeps me occupied enough already. When all your fields are at L8, there is a nice trick to speed up your growth somewhat. When your clay, wood and iron fields reach L10 you are able to build production enhancing buildings for these resources. These function much like a mill, but unlike the mill the first levels of these buildings come at almost no cost compared to the cost of field upgrades.
Therefore, the best strategy is to upgrade a clay field to L9 and immediately to L10 before doing anything else. This allows you to build the brickworks. Do so, and immediately upgrade it to L4. This will give you a 17 percent higher return on investment than upgrading an equivalent amount of clay fields to L9. Use the same trick for wood (which will be faster as this upgrade mainly consumes a lot of clay) and iron, and only then return to upgrading the rest of the fields to L9 and L10. This should save you a couple of days. For wheat the story is more complex as both the mill and the bakery improve production. The appropriate times for upgrading your mill are as
follows: Table 1.
In principle, the L4 and L5 upgrade are so expensive that they only become profitable when all your fields are L10. However, when you have a mill L5 and a wheat field L10, you can build a bakery, which is very lucrative. By doing the maths I have shown that it is actually worth it to build a L5 mill and a L4 bakery as soon as you have 1 L10 crop field (and 5 L9 fields), but the investment costs are about 120k resources in total. This may be too much at this stage, although you do get over 35% higher return on investment.
Table 1: Upgrading your mill
Level Fields And Or
L1 5 x L5 1 x L6
L2 3 x L6 3 x L7
L3 1 x L7 5 x L8
L4 5 x L9 1 x L10 all fields L10
L5 5 x L9 1 x L10 all fields L10