This guide is meant for beginners to thieving, in the hopes that there will be less newbs experimenting with their thieves.
IMPORTANT: Thieving & Spying should only be conducted against suspended OR inactive players as well as Abandoned accounts.
Inactivity is generally accepted to be 3 weeks in length and not having responded to in-game messages during that period and showing ZERO population growth.
In thieving, 2 diplomatic unit types are commonly used, namely: Thieves and Spies. Their functions are pretty self-explanatory, with thieves stealing resources and spies as the means of assessing the target’s various resource levels.
T1 Thieves are only able to steal BASIC resources, which are your 4 building resources (Clay, Iron, Wood and Stone) plus Food, Beer and Books, as well.
T2 Thieves are able to steal both BASIC and ADVANCED resources, which includes everything EXCEPT Cows, Horses and Siege Blocks. Trade goods such as advanced armor and weapons are still safe as of this time of posting.
Research points and Mana are not considered to be a tangible resource and can’t be stolen.
Generally T1 thieves are meant for defense or to get a feel of thieving, while T2 thieves are meant for some serious mischief.
Each race has different thieving units, with slightly varying stats. The T1 thieves are listed first, the T2 thieves second for each race on the chart below:
1. Picking a target
As mentioned earlier, only abandoned/inactive players should be considered as potential targets!
Four factors come into play when deciding who to thieve.
- Length of Inactivity
- Player Size/Overall Rank
- Player Diplomatic Rank
- Distance of Player’s town to your own
Length of inactivity should be at least 3 weeks accompanied by friendly mails. Useful tools to check player life signs are either:
http://www.illytools.net/site/page?view=about (There's a little graph icon on the dashboard)
Player Size/Overall Rank is a good indicator of the amount of resources he/she has, especially advanced resources. Obviously, it would make sense to target towns with high population as opposed to small villages. Generally, towns bigger than 5k population usually have at least 1k of any advanced resource.
Player Diplomatic Rank tells you roughly how much of a diplomatic defense he/she has against your thieves. Generally, a rank in between 2000-3000 shows he doesn’t have many or no defending thieves, 1500-2000 means he has some, 1000-1500 a decent amount, 500-1000 a good amount and 1-500 a staggering amount.
Of course this ranking should not be taken at face value as a player may have a lot of thieves while having a terrible ranking (he rarely thieves others). If the target has more defending thieves than the thieves you send, you would be detected and lose your thieves.
Distance of Player’s town to your own determines whether or not it’s feasible to thieve him/her. A T2 thief has upkeep of 4 gold/per hour. A thieving run should have thieves to overcome possible defenses, which equates to a drain of 4k gold/per hour per thief.
Therefore it obviously makes more economical sense to thieve from targets closer to your city. Having shorter trips also means your thieves would be able to spend more time defending at home, protecting against potential diplomatic attacks.
2. Identifying & overcoming defenses
A deterrent to thieves would be runes cast by the target. There are 3 types of runes: Fear, Killing and Seeking.
It’s important to first identify what runes a city has in place before taking the appropriate counter measures. Usually send a single T1 thief and a T1 spy to the target city. This allows for the identification of all possible runes.
Depending on the rune in place, the system message sent to you upon triggering the rune would be different. Read the message to figure out what type of rune the city has.
Fear Runes are a joke. Overcoming them is relatively easy: just send more than the amount of units they are able to handle and the rune will be dispelled immediately. Given that the best fear rune is only able to fear up to 300 units, any amount exceeding 300 would instantly overload the rune.
Killing Runes are annoying. They kill all unit types, except for spies and scouts. Overcoming them is more of a cost analysis. Given that a T2 thief costs around 3.4k gold to produce, and since the best killing rune is able to destroy up to 250 units, that equates to roughly 850k lost. Not to mention building thieves takes an extremely long time.
However, killing runes kill ALL unit types, which is why it makes sense to simply send enough cheap military units to overload the rune. Using T1 spears, as they’re the cheapest (about 1k gold each, costing a total of 250k gold), is best. This comes out to about 600k gold saved (850k gold minus 250k gold). Alternatively, you could send T1 thieves to overload the rune as well.
Seeking Runes are a pain. They kill up to 400 selected diplomatic types and people commonly use them against thieves. The only way around them would be to first send a large enough wave of T1 thieves to overload the rune, followed by the main wave of T2 thieves.
3. Determine target’s worth
Only spy the target with T2 spies after making sure the runes in place are not anti-spy (Seeking Runes can be used against spies). A single T1 spy will trigger that rune.
A successful spy mission would list out all building levels, as well as give you a detailed report of the advanced resources present (with the exception of Horses, Cows and Advanced Trade items).
4. Efficient thieving
The biggest downside to thieving is the random aspect. The variety of goods stolen is not fixed. For example, 2 different advanced resources or just basic resources can be stolen.
Additionally, even if your diplomatic offensive strength is enough to overcome the diplomatic defense, there’s a chance the theft might fail and you get a message along the lines of “diplomatic mission sadly failed, but thankfully undetected and your thieves are safely returning home.” OR your thieves don’t return at all.
In order to maximize gains and to make thefts more efficient, it might be a good idea to send multiple waves of thieves. Instead of 1 big wave, break it up into multiple smaller waves.
This increases the chance of more types of advanced resources being stolen over a given time period. The downside is that if the city has more defending thieves than each of your waves, you would fail.
- Choose potential target
- Send 1 T1 thief and 1 T1 spy to determine runes in place
- Deal with rune in the respective manner
- Send spies to determine target’s worth
- Send T2 thieves
- Reap your plunder if successful
Sometimes, your thieves can be detected and the diplomatic mission fails, but your thieves still make it home safely. This is extremely lucky, but it does happen on occasion.