One of the best ways to get ahead in this game, is to not let this game pull you ahead before you’re ready. The easiest trap to fall into is aging up too fast, so knowing when you’re ready to age up -vs- when a questline thinks you should age up is golden. Even before that though, understanding that you can selectively unlock the tech tree to your advantage is amazing, and there’s no better place to start understanding this than in Iron Age.
First and foremost, there are three very important technologies that you will see in Iron Age: Architecture, Militia, and Military Tactics.
Architecture allows you to start contributing to Great Buildings. GBs are extremely important, because they are what allow you to do great things in less space. These are what will give a player the most latitude when it comes to designing their city around their play style, and as such it’s important to get an idea as to what kind of city you want to build (fighter/farmer/builder), and therefore what kinds of GBs might be best in your city. Now, if you’re in a well-established guild, you can probably get help building ahead-of-age. You just have to show initiative and more often than not you will be able to receive help. Then it’s just a matter of learning how to do a trade for FPs, and you’re all set. Since this is typically going to be possible (unless you’re on a brand new server or something), it means you can aim for almost any GB right here in Iron Age, depending on how the economics are for you.
Militia will grant you access to Daily Challenges, which are as rewarding as they are obnoxious. These daily challenges give you the option between two sets of prizes (the actual prize you get is based on luck and some probability), and if you complete seven in a row (so a whole week’s worth), then you can get a chance at some really cool prizes. However, the quests dished out from this lunatic are often maddening, requiring you to complete insane numbers of productions, fight more battles than you’re perhaps strong enough and ready for yet, and other such nonsense. So for as powerful as these can be at boosting your city up a couple extra notches fairly quickly, they can also be detrimental. It’s really important to note that if it’s going to set back your desired growth because it’s depleting your resources (goods/supplies/coins/troops/silver), or forcing you to make decisions you don’t think are beneficial to your city, then don’t do it. It’s okay to miss a day, or ten, because it’s what will happen in the long run that matters more with your city. So using these quests to your advantage is okay, but don’t stress over them.
Military Tactics is the one tech to consider avoiding until you are absolutely ready. The PvP Fights that it unlocks are what will allow players who are in the same neighborhood as you to start attacking, and possibly plundering (stealing), your hard-earned stuff. Depending on your play style with determine how long you potentially leave this locked for, but by having it locked it means you’re safe to take your time to build up some stores without worrying about who might be trying to breech your defenses. It works in the opposite way too, in that you cannot attack your neighbors, either. If you leave it locked, then during this time you can work on getting some military buildings for attached military units, completing some GE (either by negotiation or fighting, or a combination there-of), and even getting that first GB (or two) up and going. For a fighter who might want to be able to hit back to stop people from trying to hit them, Zeus, COA, and/or CDM are good first GBs to aim for. For someone who wants to be more of a farmer, trying to get LOA first might not be bad, maybe even St. Basil’s. Doing a lot of GE before unlocking this also means you can earn unattached troops to use solely in your Home Defense Army, to help protect you against those who might come to steal your stuff. In a nutshell, the important thing to remember about this particular technology is to not unlock it until you’re certain you’re ready.
Outside of those three tech (which unlock certain game-play elements), it’s going to be important to get ahead on your continent map to see what goods deposits you have, so you know which of those tech to unlock as well. Especially if you’re choosing to sit and build up some resources, you’ll want to get your goods buildings up ASAP. Get some trading leverage going, and slowly begin filling your coffers because it’s going to cost goods (as you’re aware by now) to unlock more tech.
Aiding everyone, literally everyone, will get you a lot of coins with which to work, and sometimes some BPs towards GBs. Getting a bit of a variety of players onto your Friends List will increase the ages of which you might earn BPs from, which is also cool. Starts getting you ready for the future GBs you might choose to build. Plus, established players are often a wealth of knowledge and happy to share that with you. It’s also important to fill your FL, because you need to get your tavern moving and cruising, and that won’t happen if you don’t have enough friends to get those seats filled over and over again (and be sure to return the visit!).
Here in Iron Age is also the time where you will have plenty of space to put in a ridiculous amount of Blacksmith’s, which are a nice, small production building that really pack a punch. Getting a lot of those in and letting them churn out supplies for you will make it so you can build up those coffers. Coins are easy to amass more of because you can always aid, but supplies are a bit more difficult to come by. So getting a nice stockpile going is advised, and this is a great time to do it while you don’t need that space for more important things; like awesome event buildings, GBs, etc.
While you’re sitting in Iron Age, not unlocking the tech tree, you can also be investing in GBs that you want BPs to. This is going to do two things for you. First and foremost, it means you can get much-needed BPs. As someone who only has the Oracle of Delphi (a GB you won’t keep for long likely), you are going to be looking to get other stuff into your town before too long. As you move into later eras the BPs seem to come more easily, but those initial BPs aren’t like that. So really investing into a GB to lock a BP spot is important here, and not just leaving it to the whims of aiding. The second thing it’s going to do for you is make the owner of the GB you’ve donated to more apt to want to help you raise yours out of the stix. Now, part of being a good guild mate is to do this anyways, but instead of just getting one or two FPs from a mate you’ve helped, you’re more likely to get five or ten, maybe more. They might even be willing to help you take that GB to level two, which is awesome. Most guild mates (and players in general) are very big on returning favors. Even though you’re investing in their GBs for solely selfish reasons (those BPs), you’re still doing them a huge favor by spending what you do to do that. Especially since right now you’re not in swaps and thereby exchanging help.
You’ll find, too, that Iron Age is generally great for experimenting and learning. Sure, you want to try and work on your city basics, but it’s just as important to experiment a bit to determine who you are as a player. Right now, buildings do not cost a lot to put up, and at least troops don’t take as long to build. Because of this, you can try doing one thing with your city (perhaps making it for a fighter), and then if that doesn’t feel right, switch over to a different approach (maybe more on a farming side) and see how that fits. The only things you’re not going to want to build and delete are GBs and Special/Event Buildings. So just don’t place them unless you’re sure you’re keeping them. Everything else though, switch it up, try it all, get a good feel for what you want. Now, when you’re not fully established yet, is when you have the best opportunity to do this. A lot of this game is trial and error, and this is the best time to make the errors because it’s the easiest time to correct them.
While you’re at it, taking time to learn to fight and understand troops basics is good, too. GE is a good place to learn in addition to the continent map. Knowing and understanding your troops will make it that much easier going forward, so the earlier the better. Again, since troops regenerate quickly, you have ample opportunity for this. Plus, you’re learning before you have boosts to make it easier. If you can do it when it’s difficult, you can do it when it’s easy. This may also help you decide if you want to fight or farm.
Once you get a feel for what you want in your city, the kind of gameplay that’s best suited to you, you’ll want to solidify a good foundation and then start the climb into later ages that build off that foundation. The more solid it is, the easier each subsequent era will be. Just be sure to maintain the integrity of that foundation, because you don’t want to forfeit that hard work.