Ikariam presents a lot of opportunity for strategic warfare not found in other games. In the typical OSG, most battles are fought between Player A and Player B. The most that can be done in terms of a War is Player A’s alliance can reinforce his city and will have to withstand attacks from all of Player B’s alliance. Ikariam’s island system and the division of Army and Navy makes war much more interesting than most other OSG’s.
In Ikariam every city is on an island, each island supporting up to 16 cities (but usually much less). In order to attack a city you first have to get your army onto the island. There are basically three options.
– If your target city has no naval defense, you can attack the city directly.
– If your target city does have naval defense, you can use your own navy to “block the harbor”. You’ll have to defeat his navy with your own, but afterwards can move your troops in.
– Alternatively, you can land your troops somewhere else on the island (either an ally’s city or a third-party’s city), and then move your troops over land.
These same rules apply to leaving an island. If all the harbors are blockaded by enemy navy then you’re stuck! One of the most ingenious tactics I’ve witnessed was luring an enemy’s huge army to a city which appeared to be un-defended, and then moving in a strong navy to trap him there. This means the enemy is paying double upkeep for his army since it is away from home, but is unable to use it since it is trapped an island.
Naval control of an island can also be important for an ongoing battle. As I mentioned in previous post, some battles can last for over a week, with both sides constantly pouring reinforcements into the city. If you can prevent the enemy from even landing on the island you ensure that only your reinforcements arrive.
One important strategy that arises as a result of the naval system is “island hopping”. Often in war, the main battles might take place several hours away from you. In the current JRG / EMP war, the closest battle is about an 8 hour journey from my main cities. When you send an army to a city, either to attack it or help defend, you have no idea what the state of battle will be in 8 hours! The worst thing that can happen is your troops arrive at the city, but the enemy has blockaded the harbor. This means your army will turn around and spend another 8 hours coming home. The best way to avoid this is to “island hop.” Instead of sending your troops directly into battle, find a nearby island that has an allied city and no sign of combat. Once you’ve landed here (let’s call it City A) you can send them in to battle. If they happen to get turned around they’ll only return to City A, instead of all the way home.
This also works to keep your enemy’s alert time as low as possible. If you send an attack from 8 hours away, that’s 8 hours the enemy has to prepare for your arrival. If you attack from a closer island, however, he might not even see you coming.
Sulphar is also very important during a war. Most military units require sulphar to build and only 1/4 of the islands produce sulphar. About half-way through every war you’ll start getting messages from your allies about how they’ve run out of sulphar. This means you can neautralize a player by controlling his sulphar supply. Most strong players will have 8 or 9 cities, but usually only 1 or 2 on a Sulphar Island. This means you only need to blockade one of his cities (or even better, loot it) and he’ll be unable to build an army and will essentially be out of the war.
All of these aspects and more make war in Ikariam much more interesting, more like dancing than 2 rams butting heads. Of course, one of the main draw backs is that with all the dancing, all the players constantly moving armies and navies around waiting for the right time to strike, you can go for days without actually getting into a battle. It also means you have to be a lot more attentive to be useful in a war. Even if you have a huge army, you can’t just send them to a target and hope to help your alliance. However, for players who are looking for some real strategy in an OSG, this is the place.