This is a HOW TO guide on starting the mobile (only) game Empires and Puzzles (don't install until you read below), which is my new obsession. If you aren't interested in playing a game where you match three to five gems to battle for land, then this post isn't for you! But if you DO want to play this highly addicting game (that even BETHANY enjoys playing), then read on!
(Disclaimer: I'm not an expert at the game, but I did notice many things I messed up and wish I could do over. Many of these things have been learned through advice from guildies, especially Cno. Thanks for your help!)
You match three+ of a kind to 'battle' your enemies. You also have a town with a stronghold that allows you to make more powerful attacks. You keep upgrading and getting heroes that do more cool stuff as you go along. It's a game of patience, though, as it takes longer and longer to upgrade buildings (minutes, then hours, then days). You can play entirely free! If you want to develop faster, you can spend money, but there are monthly promotions, so don't spend unless you're getting a deal. Free play is good enough for me, though!
INSTALLATION (STEP ONE)
DO NOT INSTALL WITHOUT SOMEONE GIVING YOU A LINK!! Players can give links and using one gives you 10 days of VIP access, which is REALLY useful! Post on your favorite social media asking friends for their link. It helps them, too, but they can only use three invites (I think). If you can't find anyone, use mine or Bethany's. If you play, feel free to post your link in the comments below. As you're installing, read the next section.
After the game installs, you go through a short tutorial. You must do as they prompt, but keep in mind, they are NOT showing you strategy. What they make you do is NOT good strategy, but just how to play the game. Pay attention to the mechanics, only. Once it's done, read the next section. I'm assuming you've done that to continue.
What NOT To Do
Do NOT spend Gems (those blue gems that allow you to skip things) yet. These are incredibly valuable and the game makes it seem like you can just throw them away. DO NOT WASTE THEM. You need to save 300 of them to summon heroes. NEVER EVER use them to do a daily summon. ONLY use them to get guaranteed 3 stars or higher.
Do NOT train with heroes you want to keep. If you use a guy to train, that guy disappears forever. So there are two types of heroes: those you upgrade, and those you sacrifice to those you upgrade. You NEED smaller guys in the future, so once you upgrade someone, do NOT sacrifice them away! Also, I suggest saving special 'Trainer' heroes to use when you get 4- or 5-star heroes. You WILL get these in about a week or so (depending on how much you play), so BE PATIENT!
Do NOT level your one star guys! Except maybe the one they force you to ascend during the tutorial.
Do NOT train with heroes of a different color. You get far better benefits from similar color guys.
How To Play (Finally!)
Ok, so you've got 10 days of VIP and learned about how to play the game. You aren't spending gems on silly things. You aren't wasting heroes. You're already doing way better than I did. What's next?
At first, you don't do a lot besides go through the campaign and upgrade your town. I might do some strategy tips later, but for now, I'll just go over the basics. If you ever wonder about what something does in game, there are often little ?s to click on that will tell you everything.
What Buildings To Upgrade
Your buildings can't be upgraded above your stronghold (SH) level. So here's what you do for a while (until you learn how the game works better and can decide for yourself). Upgrade your farms first to match your SH level. Then upgrade your mines to match your SH level. Then upgrade your ore storage enough to upgrade your SH. When you click UPGRADE on a building, it will tell you how much you need. If you click on food or ore on your screen, it will tell you your current max capacity. This is not the same as a farm or mine's max capacity. That's how much it will hold until you start losing it.
Once this is all done, then you can consider upgrading other buildings. Here's what you might consider, depending on your space:
Training Grounds - You need a level 2 until you hit SH level 4. Then you need a second Training Grounds, one at 2 and one at 4. This is how you'll get your training heroes. You'll probably get your actual heroes from the daily summons, since you can get rares once in a while (three stars). If you want 4 star or 5 star guys, you have to pay some gems.
Forge - You make battle gear here. Minor Healing Potions (level 1) are well worth it and you can take 20 into battle with you. I usually bring those, Antidotes, Minor Mana Potions, and Arrows. They grow in cost, so use cheap stuff first. Try to avoid using the freebies of higher power stuff they give you. It's really too potent right now for you (until you're level 10+). Eventually have two forges. One at level 1 for Minor Heal Potions, and the other to get other stuff (level 4 should be fine until SH level 10).
Storage - Build multiples of these instead of upgrading them fully. Upgrade as needed, but upgrading from 7 to 8 is WAY more expensive than 6 to 7, and the increase is nearly the same. Add storage as you need.
Houses - These allow more recruits for your training grounds. I typically use my recruits pretty fast, but you can increase your houses if you want to.
Watchtower - This produces food and ore, but much slower. Also, this can get raided by other players (see Raids below). Consider upgrading to about half of your SH level, but it's up to you. As you upgrade, it becomes more expensive to skip raid enemies (also see below). So upgrade with caution!
That about covers the town. Remember, you can MOVE buildings, too, so don't worry where you build them initially. Just click on the ? and it will let you move it.
Fighting The Good Fight
Heroes - Choose your favorites and try them out. Some abilities overlap... sometimes you have two of a color (or even the same guy!) Just try things out here. Experiment early on. The early campaign scenarios are super easy. Also, once you've put anything into a hero, you can LOCK them, so you don't accidentally train them away. Another thing to remember is teams. Go into EDIT TEAM and you can swipe over to create alternate teams for different reasons. You probably won't need this until you have guys you've leveled up that you aren't using right now.
Troops - These guys help out your heroes! You can access them in your Hero screen or your Inventory screen (the menu button offers a second menu showing your inventory). Equip your best ones to help out!
Map - First thing to note: You can repeat levels! If you start needing some minor healing potions, you've probably strayed too far. Start going back to easier levels. You need the stuff and you don't want to waste resources. Province 5 Scenario 8 (5-8) is a great one to do over and over. Once you get high enough, 8-7 is one of the best in the game. It has the most recruits per energy AND the most monsters for your WANTED MISSIONS. You need 24 energy to get 100 monster kills.
Raids - This is fighting other players. At first, you will lose pretty much all the time, but you could get lucky! Keep trying and you'll keep getting better. There is nothing to lose by trying. Also, other players will be able to attack you, but only when you're offline. They can ONLY raid what's in your watchtower, so it's no big deal. IF they beat you, you can seek revenge! See if you can beat them first. If you can't, maybe you can later on after you level your guys up more. Here's a trick - once you pair up for a raid, you can't switch without paying food. However, if you don't want to fight that guy with a 2000+ team, instead go seek revenge! Save those low level revenges just for this! Then, when you go back to raid, you can get assigned a new guy! Yay! Also important - your defense team doesn't have to be your active team. You can change your team once you see what they have for theirs.
Quests - You open these up at level 10 and they're the same for everyone. They're good, but they can be hard (or even impossible). If the quest is the same attack level as you, you should be able to beat it using some battle items. If it's 15%-20% higher, you'll need to use a LOT of resources, but you should win, assuming the gems fall in a non-mean way (so if you have a 1500 army, you can use up a lot to beat a 1800 army). If it's higher than that, you will probably lose. It will just take WAY too many resources to win, and it's not worth it.
Titans - You need an Alliance for this! It's pretty fun, though, so you might try to find one. Plus, the people are usually pretty helpful if you have more questions. This is 90 seconds, so go fast fast fast!
Leveling Up - Watch your progress because when gain a level your World (map), Raid, and Titan energy all fills back up! If you aren't careful, you'll waste Raid or Titan energy by not using them before you level. You don't gain XP from those, so make sure they're used before you level up!
That's about it for the basics! If you want to know more about more advanced strategy, let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! Good luck!