This is a guide to getting 3-star wins in Ages 7 through 9, particularly 8 and 9. Many of the suggestions can apply to earlier ages, but they are directed toward players with larger armies and more advanced opponents. It is also not meant to be a beginner’s guide, but rather something to help relatively experienced players improve their attacks.
I’ve tried to make this tutorial as general as possible, so it has everything needed to get 100% victories while still giving people room for their own attack styles. I don’t believe there is any one specific attack style or army setup that can get 3 stars, but I see most of the advice here as essential to 3-star attacks.
I should also say that I’m solely a computer-and-mouse player. I realize that some of the tips I give in this guide are a bit harder for a phone player to carry out. However, I haven’t played on the phone in a long time, and I’m not sure how to cater the guide to phone players. I’m pretty sure most of the given strategy should still be doable, though.
While you won’t get 100% wins every time using this strategy (unless you are incredibly skilled) you should at least be able to get 2 stars every time if you do it well. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, and it’s always possible to get 1 star or lose. I lose sometimes as well. However, I’m confident that using this strategy skillfully will lead to regular 3-star wins. I’m sure there are also plenty of people more skilled than me who could use it to get 100% wins more often than I do. It just takes knowing how to go about it.
Before I start laying out my 3-star strategy, I want to give some general tips for attacking. Most of these suggestions are helpful for most attacking styles, but I believe they are all essential practices for getting regular 100% wins. If you aren’t comfortable jumping right into the strategy given in this guide, I would advise first trying to incorporate these pointers into your own attack styles and getting into a habit of practicing them.
- Be conservative. Only deploy the units that you need when you need them. Spawning most of your units at once makes it easy for all of them to get killed in a short amount of time. It also leaves you without options toward the end of the attack.
- Avoid stacking troops. This is related to the previous point. Spawning multiple squads in the same place, or letting them join together after they are spawned, makes it easy for them to all die in the same time it would take for one squad to die. 3 squads of infantry stacked on top of each other is about as helpful as 1.5 squads, or just 1 if you let them near fire. Similarly, 2 stacked trebs could both go down to a stray shot from a treb emplacement, while having them separated would leave you with another treb to work with.
- Optimize hero ability uses. Don’t use abilities until they’re about to be useful. For example, triggering Conrad’s ability before him or his fellow siege units come under fire wastes precious shield time. Instead, you should use it right before they start getting shot at. Similarly, using Alex’s ability before he gets to where he can start hitting a lot of defenses means you won’t be able to do as much damage. Optimally, you should use his ability right before his first shot at the main defenses.
- Prioritize defenses, not the keep. So often I see people head straight for the keep while ignoring everything shooting at them. This may work most of the time when Martel or Conrad has your back, but it is a good way to lose with a simple mistake and it will rarely give you much more than a 50% 2-star victory. If you take out the defenses that can shoot at you before taking out the keep, you won’t have much trouble taking down the keep afterward. It’s also a lot easier to take out defenses while under the protection of a shielding hero rather than waiting until after the keep is down to take them out (or worse, until you need to take them out because your shield is gone).
- Know the game. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but it is still very important. You need to have a good feel for the damage, health, and speed of all units and defenses; how things behave; and the threat levels of defenses and enemy troops. This knowledge is essential for decision making in the middle of a battle, such as deciding what to destroy first, what to use to intercept a defensive unit, if you need to back out momentarily, etc.
- Practice, practice, practice. This is how you gain the knowledge for the previous point. It is also how you improve your skills and make good habits. (Of course, remember that practice makes permanent—practicing bad habits makes it slow to improve in those areas.) You probably won’t be getting 3-star victories right off the bat. It will take a bit of time to develop the right habits and hone your micromanaging and decision-making.
Building an army
The first step for any victory is putting together a good army. Like I said in the introduction, there is no one right setup, but there are a few things you need when building an army capable of 3-star wins:
- Plenty of meat. This is pretty obvious, but having units to tank damage is essential. I do see a lot of people with probably not enough meat shields for a 100%. Good meat shields should probably make up ⅓ to ½ of your units (as in number of units, not capacity). This is true even when using a hero like Martel, who can tank a ton of damage himself.
- DPS units. Also obvious, you should have a good amount of damaging units to back up your tanks. You need to be able to take out defenses quickly enough to not burn through all of your meat in the first half of the battle. Of course, trebuchets are going to make up most of your DPS in virtually every setup; their damage and range makes them indispensable. I always carry 4 trebs, and that seems to work pretty well. Those in Age 7 will probably want 3, and having 5 can work as well. You can’t have too many, though, or you’ll crowd out other necessary units.
- Troop killers. The last essential part of an army is units that can kill defending troops. Defending units can easily overwhelm you if you aren’t prepared for them. You should be able to deal with multiple waves of a wide array of possible defenders. Those include:
- Cavalry, mamluks, and knights templar (they can all be dealt with in about the same way, though they do have differences)
- Raiders of Muscovy (they behave a bit differently than the other mounted units)
- Infantry, spearmen, and archers
- Teutonic knights
- Cheirosiphons (they’re rare, but they can be hard to deal with when you aren’t prepared for them; I tend to not have appropriate counters to them because they’re so uncommon, so they can cause trouble for me)
- Rushers. It’s not necessary, but it’s good to have some units that can rush in and destroy priority targets faster than your treb line can get there. They’re also handy for cleaning up at the end of the battle. These units shouldn’t take up too much of your army capacity, though.
- Raiders. I’m mentioning these only to say that they don’t fit in very well with this 3-star strategy. When you’re getting 100%, you don’t need to have units dedicated to destroying resource buildings. Once most of the defenses are destroyed, most units can raid effectively. If you feel the need to have some raiders for the cleanup phase, I wouldn’t take more than 2 RoMs or 4 raiders. If you have a way to use them to reliably help take out defenses, though, it could be okay to take more.
- Diversity. With all the different setups and units you can come across, it’s good to have a bit of diversity to be prepared for anything. Too much diversity can be detrimental, though. You don’t need every unit to be prepared for anything. Plus it’s hard to select units when you have to scroll to get to them.
- Versatility. Having units that can take on several different roles is often better than using specialized units. For example, cavalry can rush emplacements just as well or better than laddermen (as long as you’ve made a path for them), and they can also kill defending units, tank a bit of damage, or clean up resources if needed.
Heroes are of course a big part of building your army. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your heroes.
- Spread powerful heroes over multiple attacks. It’s tempting to always start with the two most powerful heroes (right now Martel and Alex), but when you do this you take away potential from your later attacks. Unless you’re only attacking a couple of times a day, it’s better to pair strong heroes with weaker ones. For example, I’ve been pairing Martel with Edward and Alex with Maslama. This makes it so all of your attacks can be strong rather than one or two being super strong and the others being weak.
- Cater your army to your heroes. This isn’t necessary and I don’t do it much myself, but it is something to consider. Modifying your army to take advantage of your hero abilities can be very beneficial. For example, it can be good to take some extra siege weapons when you have Conrad or a couple more infantry or knights templar to run in ahead of Winrich.
- Take a damage hero and shielding hero. This also isn’t necessary, but I find that it works well. Having both an offensive and defensive hero helps provide a balanced setup, and it makes it easier for the offensive hero do his thing.
- Avoid keep rushers. Heroes that mainly help you rush the keep generally aren’t very helpful when trying to get 100%. These include Charlemagne, Richard, and Belisarius (I’m excluding Edward and Saladin because they are effective at taking down defenses as well). That’s not to say that it’s impossible to use them to get 3 stars, though. You just have to use them to help take down defenses, not the keep, and it’s rather difficult to use them that way. There’s no point in using heroes to snipe the keep because the keep is a low priority when going for 100% wins.
Scouting the castle
Once you have your army, the next step is scouting out your opponent’s castle. I’m not going to go over looking for a good castle, since that’s up to what you’re trying to get from the battle and what you’re comfortable with, but I will say that it might be good to go a little outside of your comfort zone sometimes, at least once you have the basics down. I didn’t start getting regular 100% wins until I took down some castles that I wasn’t sure I could beat. I think it was both the experience and confidence from those battles that propelled me forward.
Anyway, what I’m going to focus on in this section is scouting out the castle that you’ve chosen to attack. That includes locating the biggest threats and figuring out where you’re going to attack from. At this point you should be able to locate the various defenses fairly quickly and figure out how the defensive power is distributed (whether it’s mainly in the center, weighted toward a specific side, spread out, etc.). How you use that information to plan your attack is especially important when going for 100% wins, and there are a few main factors to consider:
- Start with the most powerful side. When going for 3 stars, this is almost always the best approach. The most common exception is when you have Winrich, since he can usually quickly get to and take out large clusters of defenses anywhere in the castle, but even then it’s usually good to start where the most defenses are. It’s best to destroy as many towers as you can at the beginning of the battle because that’s typically when you use most of your army’s power. If the castle has a lot of defenses in one area, it’s relatively easy to clean up once those are gone.
- Start from a side, not a corner. It’s possible that there are times when attacking a corner is better, but I have yet to come across a castle where the corner is definitely the way to go. When you start from a corner, it generally takes longer to get to defenses, which means defenses will be able to shoot at you longer before you’re able to strike back. Creating openings from a corner also takes longer, and navigating is more awkward. Lastly, it’s very difficult to have a line of trebs when you’re attacking a corner. On the other hand, attacking a side typically means you’ll be able to get to defenses quicker and hit more at once.
- Figure out how to take out the guard houses and watch signal as soon as possible. It isn’t always possible to quickly take out all of these, and there may be times that it is better to hold off on them for a little bit, but you generally want to attack a side that has at least one of these buildings, if not two or three of them. The sooner these are out of the way the better. If possible, also consider using a treb or some other units to take out a guard house on a different side than your main attack.
- Hit symmetrical castles from the broad side. Many castles have a symmetrical layout where guard houses and trebs are across the keep from each other. If they line they make is diagonal (SW to NE or NW to SE) it’s usually best to attack from a side that you can reach both of the guard houses or trebs at about the same time, rather than a side that has one treb and guard house close but the others across the keep.
- Be wary of starting on a side that is at the edge of the map. For castles that are against a side or corner, you should only attack from the edge of the map when you’re sure it’s the best approach. It’s very easy to lose a lot of meat and a few trebs when doing this, so make sure you have a plan to take out the surrounding defenses as quickly as possible, especially the close range towers against the side.
It is also good to think about the heroes you have when scouting out a castle. Here are a couple things to look for:
- Targets for Winrich, Edward, etc. It’s good to plan ahead where you’re going to use heroes that target defenses. One good way to use them is taking out troop-spawning buildings early.
- Parking spots for Martel and Conrad. Look for places where these heroes can draw the fire of the most defenses at once. Be wary of blind spots.
Preparing to strike
Once you have a plan, the next step is to set up your attack. It’s typically better to take some time to get everything ready before striking rather than rushing into the attack. There are a few things you should do in this stage:
- Lure away and kite or kill troops. Most do this already, but if you don’t, you should make a habit of it. It’s also good to know when to kite and when to kill.
- I find that it’s generally easiest and cheapest to kite grenadiers, infantry, and knights templar because they can be kited for a while with a single squad of infantry. I usually don’t kite mounted units because that takes mamluks or cavalry, which are expensive, but it’s an option. If there is a mix of grenadiers and mounted units, it’s good to try to separate them and kite the grenadiers while killing the mounted units. Also remember that kiting patrol point units is pointless unless they mingle with the guard house units.
- When kiting, I find it works well to make a large circle around the castle. I realize this is difficult for phone players, though, as is kiting in general. If you’re a phone player, you’ll have to figure out what is best for you, even if that’s just killing all defensive units.
- Try not to spend too much time taking care of the first wave. It can easily take a minute or so if you’re not careful, and time is precious when going for 100% wins. However, it is difficult to do it quickly.
- Check for traps. Again, I doubt I need to say this, but you should check the side you will be starting the attack for fire and engineer traps with expendable units. I often check for fire traps with the same unit I use to draw out troops (and replace it if necessary), but it might help to take care of the first defending units more quickly if you use separate units. For engineer traps, it’s good to check with a ram or catapult rather than a trebuchet, since even if you react quickly you can lose a treb if you place it right on an engineer trap.
- Line up your trebs. You’ll want to have two or three trebs on one side, spaced out well. This includes Nikephoros or Saladin if you have them. Of course, you’ll want to lay down some meat first if there are towers on the outer wall or a treb emplacement nearby.
- Destroy any outer defenses and make a wide hole. This both helps you a lot when getting units inside and is a good way to keep your trebs lined up for the initial strike. If there are any towers on the outer wall, you’ll want to destroy them before breaching the wall. Otherwise, you can usually make a hole without getting shot at, but you might have to use some meat to keep your trebs safe from emplacements. You basically want to keep targeting walls until you’re satisfied with the size of the hole, not letting your trebs wander too close to the castle or each other. Don’t use a defensive hero at this point or you’ll just be wasting precious ability time/uses.
Attacking from the edge of the map
If you’re attack from an edge, you’re obviously not going to be able to do all of these things. You should still kite or kill the first wave of troops, but there will usually be no traps to check for (unless there’s a space between the walls and the edge) and you won’t have any time to make a large breach. After taking care of the first wave of troops, you’re going to want to deploy your meat and trebs and go straight to the next step. You can open holes into the castle after the immediate threats are destroyed.
Frosted castles and great walls
These aren’t nearly as common anymore, but I feel they should get a mention. Attacking these is mostly the same as more “typical” castles, but it is different in some ways. The biggest difference is any mistakes you make will have greater consequences, so it can be good to use more meat shields toward the beginning than you normally would, unless you have a good shielding hero.
You’ll still pretty much always want to attack a side, not a corner. You should also still make a big hole in the outer walls during the prep stage, even if the wall isn’t complete (like those lines of four walls you see sometimes). Having obstructions between the spawn area and the actual battle is always something you should avoid.
Another thing to keep in mind is that meat shields will take longer to get to the front of the battle, so you should try to send in more a bit before the current tanks are dead. It’s hard to remember and time right, though.
Finally, troop spawners are an even bigger threat in these setups. It would be especially good to take them out as soon as possible, even if that means skipping over treb emplacements and other big threats.
Probably the only heroes you should activate at this stage are Joan and John, and even then it’s not always necessary. If you only have to worry about the two squads from the guard houses, it’s usually best to just kill them rather than using your ability, especially with John. Also, with Joan, it’s tempting to try to gather as many units as possible at the beginning of the battle, but it’s sometimes not the best to do this if it takes a lot of time and units to do. It’s not the easiest decision to make, though.
Making the first strike
Finally we’re at the main part of the attack, where you punch as big a hole in the castle as you can. This is when you’re probably going to use your heroes as well as at least half of your army. The gist of this phase is that you want to do as much damage as possible while you have your heroes and their abilities available. If you do it well, the primary threats should be gone and the rest of the castle will take a bit less effort to take down.
This is when the first four points in the general tips really come into play, so really try to keep them in mind during this stage. There are also several other things you should do to make the first strike successful:
- Keep your trebuchets safe and efficient. With a typical army, your trebs are always going to be your primary sources of damage. Because of this, you should prioritize keeping them safe and having them attack efficiently. There are a few key ways to do this:
- Keep units in front of them. This point is no secret, but I feel it’s worth repeating because everyone can improve on it. As soon as a treb gets targeted by defenses, it’s likely as good as dead, so you need a constant buffer of meat shields in front of them to keep them safe. It can be easy to forget to refresh your frontline until it’s too late, so try to always keep an eye on how much meat you have left. You also need to have a good idea of when to deploy troops so they get the frontline as the last wave dies.
- Keep them spread out. This goes back to the general tips, but it is also worth repeating. Having two or more trebs on top of each other means that they’ll all die at once if they’re targeted by a treb emplacement, ballista, squad of grenadiers, etc.
- Give them separate targets. This is how you make the most of their damage. When you give your trebs the same targets, you may take those targets down faster, but there will be a lot of wasted shots and more time between every target. If you give your trebs separate targets, you’ll basically always be firing at something with one or two of them while the others move into place for the next targets. If you micromanage well, you can also prevent wasted shots so that your trebs are always moving on to the next thing when the killing shot is in the air. Overall, three trebs in a line targeting separately can take down more defenses in less time than any number of trebs stacked on top of each other and targeting the same things. It is worth mentioning, though, that it can occasionally be good to give a couple trebs the same target if you want to take it out as soon as possible, such as when taking down the keep or dealing with a musket tower.
- Destroy the defenses in a wave. In regards to your trebs and siege heroes, you should always destroy defenses as you get to them. Even with Martel or Conrad, passing up defenses to get to bigger threats or the keep is never a good idea. Taking out defenses in a wave means there will always be as few things as possible trying to target your treb. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rush some big threats with other units, though. If you won’t be able to target a guard house, watch signal, or treb for a while, it can be good to rush it with mounted units or a rushing hero (e.g. Edward or Winrich).
- Don’t go straight for the keep. I’ve said this before, but once again it’s worth repeating. The keep is hardly a threat, so only destroy it when you’re about to sweep past it for the defenses behind it. If everything is going south and you’re worried about winning, it would be good to focus a bit on the keep, but that should be the only time.
- Consider destroying short-range towers before long-range. This may seem counterintuitive since treb emplacements and ballistae are bigger threats to your trebs than fire and crossbow towers, but destroying the latter defenses first means that your tanks will live longer and have more freedom of movement. The longer your meat lasts, the easier it is to take out the long-range defenses. This is situational, though; a good time to do it is when a fire tower is right in the middle of the defenses you’re targeting and making it difficult to keep meat in front.
- Cut off defensive troops whenever possible. Try to make sure defending units don’t make it near your trebs. Make sure there is meat well in front of your trebs in the castle, and pay attention to make sure you aren’t caught off guard by something outside the castle. It’s often good to stop watch signal units right as they arrive, or as they approach the main battle. It’s dangerous to wait for them to get near your treb wave before taking them out, as they can unexpectedly target your trebs.
- Destroy the guard houses and watch signal as soon as possible. Your ability to destroy these buildings quickly is largely dependent on where you decided to attack, but you’ll often want to destroy them before your line of trebs gets to them if possible. If they’re on the other side of the keep, you can usually rush them with mounted units or a hero. If one is just inside the walls of a side you aren’t attacking, you can use longbowmen, templars, grenadiers, or even a treb to take it out. Usually the sooner these buildings are gone the better, even if it takes some extra losses. Of course, if a watch signal is on the opposite side of the castle, only go in to destroy it once it’s triggered or about to be. I should also mention that you may want to keep these buildings up temporarily if you have Joan, so her ability uses don’t go to waste.
- Remember to take out wall grenadiers (and archers). It can be easy to forget about these guys, but they can easily take down your trebs if you aren’t paying attention. Make sure to always take them out after the surrounding defenses so you don’t have to worry about your trebs passing by them.
- Keep opening paths. As you proceed, it’s also good to take out walls to open compartments, though usually only after the surrounding defenses are destroyed. Doing this helps your wave continue smoothly as well as helping the cleanup phase go quickly and without hindrance. It can also be good to make them bigger than just one square, especially when the first square is at an intersection, so your units (especially your trebs) can get in easier.
Like I said, this is the phase when you’re most likely going to use your heroes. The main thing to keep in mind for all heroes is that you should only use abilities when they will be the most useful.
- For heroes like Alex and Conrad who have empowerment abilities, this means waiting to use their abilities until right before they are needed. For example, triggering Alex right before he fires his first shot at a good cluster or triggering Conrad right before he starts getting shot at a lot. When you use empowerment abilities well before they are needed, you lose precious ability time.
- For heroes with targets like Winrich and Henry, it obviously means using their abilities on the best possible targets. If you don’t have access to prime targets yet, then it’s probably best to hold these heroes back until you do. It can also be good to take them back out between abilities if they can’t get to all of their best targets at once, rather than using all of their abilities at once.
- With troop-targeting heroes like Joan and John, it means knowing when to convert/scare units and when to kill them. You shouldn’t just their abilities right when any defensive come into range. Instead, try to wait for waves of two or more troops so you can make the most of your abilities. If a single defensive unit is headed toward you, it’s usually best to just kill it. However, if a treb is in immediate danger from troops, don’t hesitate to use an ability to get rid of them.
Continuing the attack and cleaning up
This phase typically starts once you’ve used up your hero abilities. With the less powerful heroes, though, there isn’t much distinction from the first strike. At this point, you should typically have the primary threats (both guard houses, both trebs, and the watch signal) destroyed, at least a third (hopefully a half) of the defenses down, and several holes throughout the castle. Of course, the first isn’t always possible, but it’s a good objective to have. From here, the goal is to destroy the remaining defenses and then clean up the last resource buildings for the 100%. There are a few things you should always do to achieve this:
- Keep pressing forward with your first wave of trebs. Keep up your momentum and just keep plowing through. Dillydallying can cost you the 100%, both because of lost time and because of the extra meat you have to use in that time. Supply your meat distractions either through the opening you came through or by putting them against the outer walls by the towers you’re targeting. When possible, the latter option is usually better because you can get the meat there faster.
- Don’t forget the keep. I say this mainly because I do forget the keep sometimes, because of my focus on defenses rather than the keep. So just try to still have the keep on your mind even though you aren’t going straight for it.
- Start sending out units to clean up. Once there are only a few defenses left, it’s usually a good time to deploy any units you have left to destroying resources (though you can leave some unused if you’re sure you’ll get 100%). You can also send them to take out resources by the remaining defenses to act as meat shields for your trebs, since they won’t die very quickly once there are only a few towers left. You should also try to remember to check the corners and sides of the map for stray resource buildings. Many times I have missed out on 3 stars because of forgetting to check and running out of time.
There are also a few other things you can do in this stage depending on the castle layout, the remaining defenses, and your remaining troops. Overall, it is the most flexible part of the attack, being more about doing what you need to with what you have than having a set pattern. It’s good to keep some very versatile units in reserve until now, since it gives you several options for taking care of whatever is remaining. Depending on what you have left, you might even use some units in ways you normally wouldn’t, such as using grenadiers as meat or mamluks to finish off a tower. Here are some common things you might do:
- Start a new angle of attack. With your spare trebs, it’s often good to start attacking from another direction. This lets you get to the remaining defenses sooner than if you entered from where you started, and it can help keep the defenses busy while your primary wave comes up from behind. This will basically be a toned down version of the primary attack.
- Take out stray towers with non-treb units. You don’t always have to wait for your trebs to get to a tower before you can take it out. If you have grenadiers or templars (or maybe other units) and there is a lone tower or one with only an archer tower nearby, you can easily take it out with just those units.
- If you’re short on time, focus on resources. If you know you’re not going to have enough time to get 100%, then go ahead and focus on getting as much resources as possible, rather than taking out towers that won’t give you anything.
If you do all of this well, you should end up with 3 stars a good amount of the time. If you do it perfectly, I’m confident you can get 3 stars every time.
Of course, you probably won’t be pumping out 100% victories right away, and attacking like this is likely to feel awkward at first. However, practicing and applying these concepts should gradually increase your amount of 100% wins. Hopefully many of you will go from feeling that 100% wins in Ages 7 through 9 are impossible for you to feeling confident that you can get 100% whenever you see an average castle. That’s how it went for me.
Once you’re comfortable with these concepts, feel free to experiment yourself. Like I said in the beginning, there is no one specific way to get 100%. Though I do think that most of the tips here are essential. Figure out what works for you, and most of all have fun. I wish you all good luck, and I would love to hear about your successes if this guide works for you. See you on the battlefield.