The Battle of Polytopia (game)

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The Battle of Polytopia (Polytopia for short) is a turn-based 4X strategy game for mobile and desktop, and it's so much fun! Think of a more sophisticated version of chess, on a much larger and more colorful board.

There is an amazing wiki at that explains all the units, tribes, technologies, Easter eggs and so on, but if you've found my page you're probably already pretty familiar, and instead you're just focussed on getting 3 stars for every tribe!

Strategy for 3 Stars on Perfection

Perfection is the original game mode of The Battle of Polytopia. Its unique format, with a single focus on score, a set time limit of 30 turns, and bot opponents. It raises particular considerations and rewards careful play. You chose the number of bots and difficulty, and each has a score multipler.

There are some great strategy guides for maximizing your high score on perfection on and elsewhere, but the problem is they all suggest Crazy difficulty, which means that even if you start really strong, you will probably spend hours and then have your momentum killed by one or more strong tribes during mid or late game. Having your momentum slowed down in perfection mode means will fail to make 3 days, and you've wasted an hour of play.

I have an alternative strategy which won't get you on the high score table ever with 100k points, but it will maximize your chances of an easy 20k points and thus 3 stars for every tribe, and has pretty often got me over 80k points.

Game Setup

Click into Perfection mode, then click into all the super tribes and turn on "Disable" for each, because when these generate on the map they are the hardest to fight against. To make things easier again I suggest you only enable the "Anti-Mo" (this tribe starts with the "Meditation" tech, which is useless in the early game, and they will take longer to upgrade their cities), "Imperius" (also a weak tribe, which starts with "Organization", meaning all the fruit on the map will be picked for you) and "Zebasi" (will mean lots of farmlands on the map). Playing against fewer tribe types may seem more boring, but it means they all will have the same starting tech, and you won't encounter a pesky Swordsman (Vengir), Rider (Oumagi) or Archer (Hoodrick) or Defender (Quetzali) in your first few turns.

Now enable and select the tribe you want to play. Select 9 opponents and Normal difficulty. This gives you a 210% bonus, so you only need to get your score up to around 20k and you'll probably get 5 stars. More importantly, on Normal, the other tribes are much less aggressive often make critical mistakes, like leaving a city unguarded or failing to take back a city you are about to take over. This seems pretty random. I feel 9 opponents is a good number because you have a chance of picking up at least 3-9 stars when you hit "Explore" in your first few moves - which means a strong start - but still gives a good chance that there is a unclaimed village and/or ruin a few squares from your capital city when you start.


When the game loads, level up your capital city to level 2 as fast as possible and chose Explorer to unveil a heap of the map. If you're on a small island you can exit the game immediately and try again. If your Explorer shows you at least one nearby unclaimed village, and randomly discovers enough land and tribes to pick you up 6-9 stars then forge ahead, because you have a great chance at a 3 star game. Some people prefer when they spawn in the middle of the map, becaause you can cover the whole map faster, but I find it easier to win when you're at the edge or a corner, because there's less directions you can be attacked from in the from, and still plenty of time to discover the whole map using Riders.

Build Order

Exact build order depends on your starting tech and how the terrain around you unfolds, but here's an example of the build order I like:

  1. Capital city to level 2 (research hunting/organization/fishing if necessary) > pick Explorer this one time.
  2. Examine the map and decide if you should respawn (see respawn section).
  3. Get Rider tech and your first rider.
  4. If not already, research either Hunting or Organization, depending on what resources might get your nearby cities to level 2.
  5. Capture a village and bring it to level 2 > pick Workshop (for this and every other subsequent city).
  6. Get Climbing and invest in new Riders as needed.
  7. Pick Meditation then Philosophy when you can afford it... this reduces all other tech prices by 33% which is pretty huge and will guarantee you can afford all techs by the end of the game. Some people will consider it crazy to get meditation so early, sine it is useless by itself, but cheaper tech will pay off.
  8. Purchase Hunting/Organization/Fishing as necessary to make sure all your level 2 cities are upgraded to level 3 and pick the Stars upgrade to get most or all of your investment back.
  9. Get Road tech to connect your cities and select Expand when your capital hits level 4.
  10. If you can see an opportunity to take another city get Free Spirit, sell off badly hurt units than get Chivalry and get your first Knight. These should be bought whenever you see a string of connected 10 hit point enemy units that you can take out, but be sure to hit any with a 1.5 defense bonus with a Rider first. This is a fast way to take over enemy cities. By this stage you are probably close to your first Giant too, which should always be moved via roads to the front line and enemy cities to absorb attacks and take over the city.
  11. If not already, pick Fishing and build your first Port. The best port Is one on the border between two city territories that you can follow up with Trade tech and then a Customs house (CH) each side of the border in the next turn. These CH generate 2 stars per turn for every adjacent port and as it says in almost all guides, placement and investing in CHs, sharing and/or surrounded by ports, is key to a strong economy and winning a games.
  12. Get Whaling as soon as you notice that you have enough whales (10 stars each) to make back your investment by the end of the turn.
  13. If not already, get Forestry and what forests you should turn into Lumber Huts, which adjacent tiles will make good Sawmills for the mid game, and which forest tiles should be cleared immediately (since you get 2 stars) because they are great locations later for a CT, forge or any other building that will get you better income in the long term.
  14. Get Navigation, to explore any ocean and explore Ruins in the sea. On Normal difficulty you might want up upgrade one or two you're vessels to a Battleship to quickly explore the coast. A battleship, regardless of hit points, will take out most 10 hit point units in one shot, and then you just need to float a giant into or next to coastal enemy cities to take the city in one or two moves.
  15. Purchase all additional tech as needed. You will want to purchase Aquatism by turn 18 (ahead of your first set of Water Temples on turn 19), but you generally don't need Shield (who needs Defenders when you got attack) or Archery and Spirituality until the very end to get those point.

I hope that makes sense! On normal mode I usually get 3 stars with hit-and-retreat Riders in the early game, backed up more with 3-4 Giants maybe 3 Knights and 1-3 Battleships. Usually I won't build a single Archer, Catapult (very powerful but too slow moving for aggressive land grabbing) or Defender (great for defense, but you hopefully won't need defense). The key part now is making the most of each turn.

Order of Priority Each Turn

Polytopia is like chess, in that you should always think about the next move your opponents will make, but unlike chess, instead of moving one unit per turn, you get to move every single piece you own, and spend every single star that you have earned on tech and buildings.

By the end of each turn you usually want to end up with zero coins (or almost zero - in rare cases you might be saving up for an expensive tech in the next turn) and have moved or sold off (with Free Spirit tech) every unit on the board.

Some turns have special considerations, like the first turn, the last turn, and turns when you should maximize temples (18, 21, 24, 27 and 30). But generally speaking the order is the same:

  1. Purchase new tech. Most turns you will want to purchase at least 1 tech in the tech tree (in some cases 2). Always purchase techs before you build anything or capture new cities, because it often rises the price! As you spend stars, leave enough stars to level up cities and buy enough units to attack in the next next turn.
  2. Capture cities and ruins. Now that you've purchased tech, you can capture cities and ruins which your units are sitting on. In some cases the ruins will add 3 population to your capital, in some cases you will discover a new tech, powerful unit or explorer.
  3. Move, heal or sell all remaining units. Move giants quickly to the front, do hit-and-run or hit-and-steal with your Rider. If you see any unit that is very badly injured (less than half) or will take several moves to make it to the front lines (to earn their stars) then sell it for half its cost. In other cases, you might decide to heal a unit from 6 hit points to 10 so it has better attack in the next turn. Try to have only as many units as you need to advance an immediately sell any unit that isn't useful. When you attack you should prioritize:
    1. Undiscovered villages.
    2. Enemy cities that are easy to take over.
    3. A unit that is about to level up. If a non-giant has 2/3 kills, then even if it has a tiny bit of health, make sure it grabs a kill because it will then restore all its health plus 50% more. You're able to be more aggrieve with a 15 hit point veteran Rider than your starting 10 point Rider.
    4. Enemy units that you can kill without losing any of your units.
  4. Build . It's now time to strategically build. The main consideration here is never build anything in a city territory unless you have the stars and placement to level up the city with as little spending as possible, and enough stars left over to buy any necessary units for the next round of attack and defense. When building you should prioritize in order:
    1. Monuments: Monuments are buildings unlocked by completing specific tasks that produce 3 population, are worth 400 points, and can only be built once in every game. 3 population is often enough to level up on of your cities, and so a common pitfall is to forget to immediately place a monument you were awarded in the previous turn. Place it on a mountain whatever tile has the least potential value.
    2. Level 2 cities: If you can upgrade a level 2 city to level 3 you're rewarded with five stars, so if you can upgrade your city with 4 stars you'll actually make a profit. In some glorious early game moments you might start with just 6 stars but you'll be able to "make a profit" and/or upgrade 2-4 of our level 2 cities to level 3 in the same turn.
    3. Level 1 cities: It usually take 4 or 6 stars investment to get a new city to level 2, but when you pick workshop (which I do for all but my capital city), that city will generate an extra star per turn, so the investment will be returned in or 2-3 turns, plus you might need the extra population spot to create a new unit.
    4. Level 3 cities and whales: The upgrade to level 4 is more expensive, but almost always you should pick Expand instead of Population (only pick population if expand gets you no extra squares). Sometimes, just sometimes, for coastal cities you will gain access to one or two whales are is worth 10 stars each, and so you might make immediate profit on your invested stars. This extra land and sea will give you more opportunities for ports and CHs. Hopefully your capital is the first city you upgrade to level 4, and pay attention in the late game that sometimes you should Expand the population instead of your inland territory, because you won't be gaining much land against adjacent territories.
    5. Newly captured cities. The city you just captured might be just a few population points away from an upgrade, so often you can just connect a road immediately.
    6. Custom House opportunities. Leveling up a city earns an extra 1 star per turn, but it gets more and more expensive each level. Each port is 10 stars, and each CH is 5 stars... so for 15 stars you can get 4 stars per turn, plus building the port might help update your city also. Factoring in population points, a port with a CH "more-or-less" earns its cost back in 5 turns, or 3 turns if you have 2 CH sharing an adjacent port. Each CH you build pays for itself in 2.5 turns, so build CHs up until move 27 is usually worth it.
    7. Level 4 cities and above near the front line. The reward for level 5 cities and above is either a Giant or Park. The park is a massive 250 points, huge in helping your score, but if your city is close to the front line, a Giant can be amazing to move along roads and take the next city. As the game progresses, if you are already winning only buy Parks as Giants only get a few points and are thus a waste.
    8. Whatever city has the least stars to upgrade: Your capital always upgrades the fasted as you connect cities, but if you don't have any cities that are a few building away from upgrade, work out which of your cities have the lowest level as the one that are usually the cheapest to upgrade, depending on the tile layout.
  5. Buy new units. Hopefully you've left enough stars for new units, because if you spent all your stars and left a front line city undefended you'll feel very silly. Sometimes a 2 star warrior comes in handy as "good enough" defense for one turn, but for attack I like to look for where a Knight could clean up several units, or where a Rider might get the most value for discovering new land and new tribes with hit-and-run attacks.


With these turns, don't worry too much if you fall a couple of turns before, you will probably still get 3 stars. If however, you fall more than 3 turns behind, consider restarting the game early and try again to get a strong start. In rare cases you might pull a few turns ahead in progress, and that's pretty exciting! Also, keep in mind that you should change up my suggested order of techs here depending on what's around you. The more you play, the more you'll realze that the lay of the land dictates what tech you should aim for next.

Turn 1,2,3 - Your 1st city upgrade and only explorer

If your starting tech lets you level up on turn 1, then do that immediately and pick "Explorer", otherwise invest immediately in whatever tech ("Hunting", "Fishing" or "Organization") can get you two population in the first 3 moves and then pick "Explorer" as your bonus. You will only pick Explorer for your first city... for each subsequent city that hits level 3, you are probably better picking "Workshop" because Explorer is likely to just show you territory that you've already discovered, and because one extra star for each extra turn of the game is too good to pass up.

If your explorer has picked up an easy 6 or 9 stars, I suggest you immediately pick Rider tech and Climbing tech, and if you have left over money make your first Rider. Generally speaking Riders are always best, because they traverse terrain quickly and the hit and run ability means that a full health Rider can often reduce a warriors hit points from 10 to 5, or from 5 to 0, then either retreat or move to high ground, or sometimes even jump directly onto a city or village or ruin to claim in the next turn. In Normal difficulty you can be way more aggressive, in advancing behind enemy lines and sometimes the AI will randomly decide to not kill you. Generally you shouldn't attack any enemy unit in the first few moves unless you can do the 1-2 knockout punch. Click on the enemy and then the info button to see its Defense stats. If an enemy is on a city or mountain they probably have x1.5 defense and you might not be able to take them out, and you should instead heal and improve your position.

Turn 4,5,6 - Capture at least one city

If not already, research Climbing to take the high ground for additional view and additional attack and defense damage, and with enough Riders you can hopefully capture your first city by turn 3 or 5. If you can afford it, research whichever of the least expensive (tier one) techs (hunting/fishing/organization) will help you level up your cities from L1 to L3.

Turn 7,8,9 - Roads or bust

If not already, research Roads and focus on connecting cities to your capital and leveling up all your cities to at least L3, and always pick the 5 stars reward. If you have the money, you can get Meditation and then Philosophy in consecutive turns so that all future techs will be 33% cheaper. In a Hard or Crazy difficulty, you probably wouldn't be able to do this because you'd need to invest in units and defense techs, but instead we want to focus soon on attack tech. If you have wounded soldiers and are struggling to get your third city, do Free Spirit instead, sell your low health units, and then in the next turn try to get Chivalry and let your Knight take cities for you.

Turn 9,10,11 - Philosophy & forests

By turn 9 you should hopefully own 3 or 4 cities. If not, you might want to restart now, because each turn gets slower with more pieces to move. Focus on getting Meditation + Philosophy and Free Spirit + Chivalry tech, then purchase all the first level techs that are useful to get all your cities to L3, and expand. Also get Forestry if you can, because you probably have lots of forest which you either want to turn into lumber mills for 2 stars, or clear to get 2 stars.

Turn 12,13,14 - Knights & sailing

By turn 12, hopefully your star income is at least 24 and you should have your first giant. Purchase Knights as necessary, and build your capital city up to L4. If you have enough Lumber Mills you'll probably want Mathematics for the Sawmill, or maybe it's time to get Mining if you see lots of mines. If you have lots of water around you, purchase Sailing as soon as possible, ideally you have 10 stars to spare afterwards for your first Port and hopefully upgrade a city to the next level in the process. If you're doing well you own 7 or 8 cities and have unveiled half the map by turn 14.

Turn 15,16,17 - Ports & custom houses

Okay, now you really want to focus on Ports and Custom Houses (CH) to build your economy. Placement is everything. Along the way you may purchase some other techs, but just make sure you drop a Port early, and put a unit onto it so you can start sailing around. To get to any sea Ruins you'll need Navigation and soon afterwards you'll probably upgrade one of your sea-bound units to a Battleship. This is a whooping 20 stars total (5 stars for ship, 15 for battleship) but they can take out a 10 point unit with one hit, and that clears the way for landing a giant. In Hard and Crazy mode they suggest using Giants for Battleship, because they will attack and soak up hits and last longer, but on Normal mode the AI is less aggressive so you can probably keep your 10 point Battleships alive and use your Giants for landing. Once you land a Battleship you lose that 20 star investment which seems a waste.

Keep building those CH, and at the start of turn 17, research Aquatism if you can afford it, because your strategy is different in the next turn.

Turn 18 - L5 Temples (300 points)

This turn don't buy any new tech, just build as many Mountain and Water Temples as possible, hopefully at least 3, and in that process you might be lucky enough to level up a city (yup, maybe just one) and have a couple of stars left over for a unit. If you were unable to buy Aquatism' (for water temples), just fill up any bare mountains with mountain temples and make sure you get Aquatism on turn 20 so that your next round of temples will be all water temples.

Each city level up earns 250 points, but there are only so many cities in the game. Each temple you build gets you 100 points, but then it levels up and gives you 50 additional points for every 3 turns, to a maximum of L4 or 300 points total. In other words, each Temple you build on turn 19 is worth 50 more points than a leveling up a city with a new Park, and since you are limited by each cities level up potential, you want to churn out as many Temple points as possible. Temples come in Temple (on a field), Water Temple, Mountain Temple or Forest Temple, and they cost 20 stars, except for Forest Template at 15 stars, but don't bother with forest temples. Building a mountain temple on a mountain without gold is a no brainer, but temples only give you a single population point and so taking up valuable flat land with temples is bad. Instead you want to use up huge area of Sea - the dark colored sea - with as many temples as possible by the end of the game. This starts on turn 19, build as many Sea Temples or Mountain Temples as you can afford.

Turns 19,20 - Tech advancement

If you're in really good shape you'll already have 15000 points, which means you're already almost at a 3 star victory (when you multilpy it by 210% and add bonuses). Told you it was easy! Keep building CHs and Ports, and make sure you're aggressive enough to destroy all remaining tribes by turn 25 so you can get the Alter of Peace. Remember that you should probably buy a new tech each turn (except on water temple turns).

Turn 21 - L4 Water Temples (250 points)

Once again, build as many Water Temples as possible. Each will earn 250 points (as much as a city Park upgrade) by the end of the game. If you have an income over 100 stars and you can build 5 you are doing great.

Turns 22,23 - No more units

More of the same, but make sure you have enough units to capture the last enemy city by at least turn 25 for the Alter of Peace. You can probably achieve 3 stars with it honestly, but it's nice to get all the monuments, and this momument is about the most difficult to get using my strategy. Hopefully at this point you can see that you're going to win and can work out which units won't help. Sell these units by turn 22. At turn 22 they say it probably isn't actually worth selling units, because each unit is worth some points, and you probably won't get return on investment.

Turn 24 - L3 Water Temples (200 points)

Once again, build as many Water Temples as possible. If built during turn 24 each will earn 200 points by the end of the game. You're in the end game now! Assuming I've captured every city and explored the whole map, I personally like to sell am my units - even though it won't maximise my points it makes the board look cleaner and if I'm at 20,000 points already I know I'll get 3 stars either way. Now is also a good time to click the "Game Stats" button (which hopefully you've been doing throughout) to check that you're on track to get all the monuments (when you scroll down).

Turns 25,26 - No more custom houses

Stop building cutom houses unless you do the maths and gets you profit by turn 30. Consider what you'll build for each city in order to get it to the highest possible level. You don't get points for a half leveled up city, so at the end of each turn you should see as little "blue bar" as possible.

Turns 27 - L2 Water Temples (200 points)

Once again, build as many Water Temples as possible. Each temple built on turn 27 (before turn 28) will earn 150 points by the end of the game, so not something to sneeze at.

Turns 28,29 - City focus only

No more custom houses, a custom house give zero population towards your next Park. Upgrade all your cities as much as possible, and have enough stars to buy all remaining tech! You could probably buy the last techs on turn 30, but to feel safer I like to buy the last techs on turn 29. Shield is the very last tech you'll buy because it has no value to you now (except to get the tech monument), and Spirituality usually isn't worth getting, unless all your tiles are pretty full and you can grow a few forests with lumber mills to fill in gaps. Click "Game Stats" again to check you've ticked off every box at the bottom.

Turn 30 - Final L1 Temples and Upgrades

Destory all your custom houses, Make sure you purchase all techs and build the last few Water Temples (worth 100 points now) and any city that you can level up, level it up. Hopefully most of your sea is covered in Water Temples now, and you know that you're about to hit 5 stars. Wohoo!

Generic Strategies

In my perfection guide you've already seen that Riders, Knights and Giants are the best way to spread over the map quickly on Normal difficulty, but here's a couple more tips.

Guards to Hold Checkpoints

In an aggressive game I don't need to buy Shield tech, but if your city is under threat you might need a Defencer. Full-health defenders cannot be one-hit by anything, so it makes them good for holding cities and chokepoints. Their attack is very weak though, so you need to supplement them with other units to fight back!

Mind Bender Against Guards and Giants

When you're hoping to take a city a Defender can often stop you in your tracks. If a full health (10 hit point) Defender is in behind a city wall then a Rider or Warrior does 0 damage. In addition to 3 defense they have amazing counter attack, so attacking a full health (15 hit point) defender means you do very little damage and it punches back hard, often killing your attacking unit. So how do you take a city guarded by one or more Defenders? You could sacrifice multiple units, invest in archery or catapult tech or bring in giants but those options are expensive and slow. Fortuntely in my "Perfection strategy" you will get Mediation tech early, and the this gives you the underrated Mind Bender unit for 5 stars.

A Mind Bender converts enemy units by attacking them and has the "Heal Others" ability, which allows it to heal all adjacent friendly units by up to 4 HP. Any enemy unit (even a giant) next to a Mind Bender when your turn begins can be converted to your side. Mind benders are the first unit an AI will attack, but because a Defender has such a weak attack, you can move a Mind Bender right up to a solo Defender and it either has to move or you will take it in the next turn. If you can convert just one Defender the Mind Bender has more than paid for itself (the enemy loses a 3 star unit, and you gain one). Mind Benders can also be used for defence in the right configuation. If you move a Mind Bender next to a Giant it will one hit your Mind Bender in the next turn, but a Giant cannot attack after moving so if the Giant comes to you, you score a free giant! If you place a Mind Bender just behind a city or your wounded warrior as sacrificial you might just gain a Giant. If you're spanning the map quickly, you might get just one Convert or Heal Others out of a Mind Bender and then decide to sell it to get back 2 stars because it can't keep up. In a longer game, you might buy more than one Mind Bender at the back of your line for mass healing or to make sure anything that takes one Mind Bender gets converted by the other. Unless it's a Knight, then you're screwed.

Roads for Attack

When you first start playing, you'll get to the stage of trying to connect your cities by building as few roads as possible, and in an order which help you level up your captial and each city as quickly as possilbe. Also you'll use roads to progress your units faster. At least a few times each game though, the most valueable road is one that you build under your troops, up the bondary of the enemy territory just before an attack. With good road laying, suddenly you can advance your giant a square adjacent to the enemy city (to attack and enter the city in the next turn) or a rider or knight all the way into a city (to claim in on the next turn). Roads double land unit's move distance unless an enemy is blocking your path, so sometimes you'll have to kill the enemy in the way to get all the way into the city. Taking the next city in fewer turns is easy worth spending 2-6 stars on roads, plus when you take the city those roads will probably help you connect to it. If you have 0 stars, but see a road opportity, chop down a forest for the extra 2 stars.