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The first ninety turns.

Ok. So you're in the game page. You've just chosen your race and spent some time thinking up snazzy names for your empire and ruler. You have 90 shiny new turns waiting for you to use.
Now what?

There are 3 things to do before you even think of taking a turn! You will see a list of links on the left hand side. These link you to all aspects of your empire. Check through some of them. Now you are ready to begin.

1) Go to the military page, you'll find it on the left column and buy one militia. This will raise your morale, thus making your peasants work harder. If this isn't clear, just go to the military page and buy one militia.
2) Go to your building menu (on the left column under infrastructure). Here you will find a construction yard. You need to build this to unlock the other buildings. It won't be started until you start taking turns, but before you press that end turn button, you have to do the third thing.
3) Get some workers. Go to the population page. You will see a list of five professions: farmers, merchants, woodsmen, builders, and seers. At the moment you have 100 unemployed peasants. Put about 60 of them into building and 40 into wood (I will explain this in a moment).
Get wood and build a school!

Why do I need woodsmen? I hear you cry. Well, one of the most important buildings is the school. Once this is built you can employ teachers who will train your workers. Why is this important? At the moment your workers are at skill 5. In time they will rise to skill 10, making them twice as efficient. Trust me, they're important.

Now, the school requires a whopping 280 wood. You need to employ enough woodsmen to aim for the school. How do you know you will produce enough? Well, go to the advice page on the left column and it will tell you all you need to know! Take a turn. Peasants will slowly start coming to your land. Generally, there should be 1.5 peasants per 1 land, which means you will end up with about 225 peasants for your 150 land. The more peasants who come, the more food you need, but the more you can increase your builders. Some peasants die or emigrate (there isn't anything you can do to influence this) but others will come in to replace them and boost your population. Every turn place your peasants in the profession you need. Take another turn.

You may (or may not) have noticed that your food levels have been dropping very low. By turn 2 they are nearing zero, and if this happens your peasants will die. Very quickly. Place enough peasants into farmers to ensure this does not happen. How do you know how many you will need? Check out that advice page (You will do that a lot!) Play your third turn, and try not to kill your peasants. Also try to make sure you get 280 wood and see if you can finish the Construction Yard too!

Once you have the Construction Yard (this should have taken 3 or 4 turns), start on the school. Every turn place peasants into farmers and into builders.
Build the ditch

Now, it is always important to think about the next building you need, as you need to collect the resources first. A good building to go for next is the ditch. As you can see in the building menu this will really help your farmers and thus free up some peasants for other uses. If you go to the bottom of the building menu you will see a small menu that says "select next building". Open this and select ditch. Then press the button next to it and the building pre-requisites will appear on the main page, underneath the resources. You will then know what resources you need. You will need a bit of wood, so work out how many peasants you will need for this. About 4-5 should do it.

The school usually takes about 16-18 turns to build. If you get there and start the ditch you have mastered the basics of Age of Chaos.
The next 70 turns.

You will have noticed that you have 90 turns of protection. You cannot attack or be attacked while in protection. It is imperative that when you come out of protection you are in a good enough position that you aren't easy meat for the rapacious veterans out there. So let's go through the two main ways to play out your turns.

1) Just building.

Many new players try to get as many buildings as they can by turn 90. You could try to aim for Blacksmith, a useful building as it gives you an early defender (shield bearer). Work out how to get to the Blacksmith by going through the building menu. You ought to buy some militia (about 700) about turn 60, as they need time to train up. To help them in this, you could build a barracks and a fighter's guild. This is not a very helpful strategy as you come out of protection ("Oop" in AoC speak) with only 150 land, far behind the leaders.

2) The land rush.

Some empires can come oop (remember what that means?) with very high land. They do this by exploring vast areas of land. You've probably found the explore button by now and may have already explored some land. Many top players take this strategy to the extreme by hoarding enough gold to buy 250 land, which is the maximum amount of land that can be explored. This usually takes all of 90 turns, but you can make up the building turns by the peasants who will come flocking to your lands. To get to the magic 250 land is quite tricky and requires some patience. One tried and tested method is to put 80 or so into teachers, 60 farmers and the rest into merchants and play your turns putting all new peasants into merchant.

You can even try a mixture of these two strategies. Buy 150 land and build. Explore and build at the same time. Buy 150 land and start buying militia for an aggressive start. It is up to you.
I screwed up, and I need to start again!

No problem. You can delete your empire as long as you are still in protection.
Seers and scryers

What on earth do I need these for? Well, if you click on them it will say: "our seers create Views, which they can then use to spy magically on your enemies and neighbours. You need one view for each acre of land owned by your target. Seers can spy on workers, buildings, military, siege defense, magic effects and thieves."

Therefore for an empire of 400 land you need 400 views. It is a good idea to view some empires once you are out of protection. Some empires like to store up enough to view 2 empires before coming Oop.
How many teachers/ builders do I need to stay competitive?

The perennial question, and one you will have to discover. Generally I keep between 80-100 teachers until my workers get to skill 10. There is a guideline that to be competitive ones buildpoints should be the same as the turn number. Therefore at turn 200, you should be averaging 200 bpts (another common AoC abbreviation); at turn 300...well, you get the picture.

You will have noticed that turns come by slowly every 50 minutes. Most players wait for turns to hoard before playing them. You can hoard a maximum of 100 turns. A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, COME OUT OF PROTECTION UNLESS YOU HAVE 100 TURNS SAVED.

You may have some time in Crown Prince Position, but rest assured, you will become the favourite target of those waiting for the turns to build up. You will almost be certainly attacked by a marauding orc or two. If you wait for the 100 turns to build up, however, you have a chance of survival.
Some basic start up guides to the different races.

These are options: by no means the only way of playing these empires.
Enjoy the game!

Many thanks to Cuchlain for this guide!
More guides
Basic Guide | Quick Start | Buildings | Diplomacy | Engineering | Knowledge | Materials
First 100 turns | Professions | Races | Spells | Theft | War | Long Guide
Storyline Part 1 | Storyline Part 2 | Storyline Part 3 | The Rules | Rules of War