Ikariam Finding a Profitable Target Guide by Leele
When finding a target to pillage your first step should always be to spy their town, to do this you must have researched espionage and built a hidout where in you can train spies (at very early stages of play however you may not be able to do this as espionage takes a little while to get to in the research tree). It is worth sending spies to many potential targets and sorting through them to find the ideal one (start with inactive towns). To send a spy to a town click on the town in island view and select send spy.
Once you?ve sent your spy and it has arrived at the town in your hidout you are given an option with missions you can undertake, however before conducting any missions double click on the town you have a spy in from the island view and it will allow you to see the buildings within the town the only building of importance to you at this point is the town wall as each level will affect how easily you can pillage.
Generally unless they have no defense and are on your island level 1 and level 2 walls they will not be profitable and you can remove your spy from the towns without having to conduct any missions.
Checking on millitary strength
Once you find a town with a low town wall the next step is to find out how many units they have there. Go to your hideout and select ?spy on garrison?.
If it?s successful you will have an idea of how the army size in the town if it says your spy doesn?t answer anymore it was unsuccessful and your spy is gone in this case you can either send another spy and try again or if you can afford to lose a slinger send a single slinger at their town to recieve a combat report telling you how much defense they have (this will also tell them who plans to get them where as a spy being captured only gives limited information so only attack people you believe you can overwhelm). Once you know the size of their army you must decide whether the size of their town is worth killing an army for profitwise, if the army is small you may wish to overwhelm it if the army is large you may wish to move to the next town option. Consider: an inactive town will not rebuild army so overwhelming it will be a one time thing where as an active town may rebuild meaning freqent resistance.
When overwhelming an army it is worth the extra upkeep gold to send an army of overkill size than to lose many soldiers by sending an army of equal size to theirs (there are many guides to attacking).
Pillaging without spies
All i can suggest for the early stages of the game before you can spy your targets is to use a single slinger to scount defense but preference inactive towns as they are unlikely to come back and retaliate for other towns it?s a matter of luck. Essentially pillaging becomes a far easier and safer task once you have researched espionage. However on a server that is just starting up if you are quick to build up an army those around you are unlikely to have one to rival yours so you can send a few slingers around to gauge potential targets.
Hope this guide is of use to some newer players. These are the methods that have worked for me it is not the only way to play and you may want to do it different. Any suggestions for other situations or chapters are welcome, any non-constructive critisism from seasoned players with their own methods is unwelcome.