Polytopia Wiki
For the technology, see Strategy.
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This article contains general strategies applicable to all games and links to other useful resources. NOTE: These pages are not updated frequently, and may be outdated for the current game version.

Recommended Resources[]

By eisthefifthletter.
  • Combat#Damage Formula: Detailed information about damage.
  • Map Generation#Spawning Rules: Spawning rules that can be used to predict the locations of ruins, villages, and cities.
  • Movement: Detailed information about movement.
  • Polytopia Hints and Tips from the Polytopia 1v1 League on Facebook: Unlike many other resources, this guide focuses on practical gameplay advice and includes example screenshots. This guide is highly recommended for beginner to intermediate players.
  • Polytopia Resources by Nathan Amiet: A comprehensive list of Polytopia guides, resources, and competitive multiplayer communities.

YouTube videos: (Some game mechanics have changed since these videos have been released, most notably Clear Forest, but they are still great case studies.)

Developing Economy[]

By Espark. Some language is taken from Gerenuk's Polytopia Guide.

Building a strong economy is crucial, especially in the early game. There are two aspects to the game economy, “Income," also called stars per turn (SPT) and stars which you get once “Stars”.


You get income from cities and ports. The value of income can be best thought of as “turns to return” (TTR), i.e. how many turns it takes until you get your investment back. The lower, the better, of course.

  • upgrade city to capacity 3 = 2 TTR (choosing workshop)
  • upgrade city to capacity 4 = 1 TTR (provided you choose 5 Stars instead of Walls)
  • port with customs house = 5 TTR (slightly worse if there is less than one port with 2 customs houses per city)
  • upgrade city to capacity 3 instead of chopping = 4 TTR (3 TTR if a road is used and only 1 chop)
  • upgrade city to capacity 4 instead of chopping = 7 TTR (not great; 5 TTR if road)
  • sawmill, forges, windmills may have okay TTR
  • if Polaris, ice banks are very good for your economy in the late game, but not very good for short games
  • everything else has worse TTR and does not help economy. so it is mainly for getting giants later or creating ports with markets

Therefore, upgrade your cities to capacity 4 as soon as you can. You do not have to upgrade beyond that, unless you start thinking about having giants. In particular, upgrading your capital to Workshop makes a big difference, since at first you have rather little Income.

Keep in mind that some games may be over before turn 20, so choose the turns to return wisely.

Remember that income is lost forever, if you do not increase it this turn, whereas Stars can be taken any time later just as well. So not upgrading a city soon as possible makes a difference, but taking whales/ruins/chop later often does not.


You get stars from starfish harvesting (10), chopping trees (1) and ruins (10). While you can take them any time, it does help having them early, since you may research tech early and avoid the penalty of research from your number of cities.

  • Starfish Harvesting: If researching Navigation costs you less than you would get from the starfish stars, get it right now.
  • Chopping trees/disbanding: Getting the Free Spirit tech to disband or Forestry to chop trees is less of a means to gain stars as it is a path to knights. Since the v45 update and balance pass 1, usually it makes more sense to leave enough trees to upgrade cities to at least capacity 4 (there is nothing better than 1 TTR income). If you are on the path to knights and don't need the forest to get a giant or upgrade your city, then feel free to chop.
  • Ruins: There is a separate section for it
  • Upgrading a city to Level 3: Choose the 5 Stars unless you are really expecting this city to be under heavy siege soon. Most cases, choosing walls is not worth the lost stars.

Clear Forest[]

Only chop "unused" forests:

  • If you cannot upgrade a city (keep in mind your capital can get road connections) and there are still forests without lumber huts in it, feel free to chop the remaining trees.
  • If your opponent is about to capture one of your cities and you don't think you will get it back for several turns, chop all the forests in the city borders, as this severely hinders the economic progress in that city because they now need to grow forests (5 stars) and then place a lumber hut (2 stars) to start leveling it up. This is known as the scorched earth strategy.

Expansion vs. Development[]

Keep in mind that getting more cities will also improve your economy, especially if you can take advantage of the workshop and 5 stars resources bonus for leveling a new city up. In general, it's good to upgrade cities to level 3 at least, but the balance between more expansion and more development of existing cities (especially in the early game) will depend on the resources, technology you have, and the map layout.

Researching Technology[]

By Espark. Some language taken is from Gerenuk's Polytopia Guide.

Research tech only when one of the following applies:

  • you need that tech to make a particular unit
  • you want to upgrade a city to the next level with such resources and you have enough money to afford the tech and the full upgrade
  • you are just about to capture a village, since tech gets more expensive with more villages, and you know you will use the tech reasonably soon (especially for Sailing/Navigation)
  • it's Navigation and you are hoping to see starfish
  • you want to get a resource before an opponent steps on it and blocks it
  • If someone will kill you if you don't

If none of this applies, definitely wait for later -- you may change your mind for various reasons that may appear.

Expansion and Technology Prices[]

While getting more cities makes tech more expensive, you can still compare the cost and benefits. A new city may give 3 or more income every turn. If you assume that the extra cost per tech is about 1 to 3 with every new city, you can certainly compensate the additional tech cost, even if you plan to get a tech every turn. On the other hand, you see that some of the city income goes into additional tech cost, so more cities is not extremely different from fewer. However, the moment when you plan to reduce tech research, it makes quite a difference when you have many cities. Once you have 2-3 cities, you can afford about 1 Tech per turn, unless you have to invest more in army. Even with more cities, you can also only afford about 1 Tech per turn, but you will have money left for more army with more cities. Assuming you get no more 1 Tech per turn, you can see that an upgraded city yielding 3 Income certainly makes up for the penalty on tech when you have a larger number of cities. Having about 20 SPT at turn 10 would be good, but requires a little luck with accessible cities and a larger map. 30 Income at turn 10 is doable under normal conditions with nice land. But even much more is theoretically possible if you are really lucky.

Looking Ahead when Picking Technology[]

Take the example of deciding which technology to pick to upgrade early cities. Often you can choose between multiple technologies to upgrade the first cities. For example Fruit or Fish. To make your choice you can consider.

  • Do other cities need the same?
  • If you leave Fruit for later, it may get blocked by an opponent by him standing on that field (which is less likely to happen with Fish)
  • If you choose Hunting, you may follow up with Forestry.
  • Fruit may uncover Crops (which is especially true for Vengir or ∑∫ỹriȱŋ)

Another example is researching tech before taking a village. Tech becomes more expensive after you take a new village. Therefore, consider researching useful tech just before taking a new village. Avoiding the tech cost penalty can save 1, 2 or 3 Stars depending on tech tier. But if you take a city and upgrade it to capacity 3 instead, you gain 2 Stars. So there are cases when you could delay taking a city or get a city upgrade instead of tech.

Grow Forest and Burn Forest[]

By eisthefifthletter.

Grow ForestBurn ForestFarm is almost always a bad deal if you are not using Windmills. At 12 stars for 2 pop or 6 stars/pop, it is the worst in the game (besides temples, but those are typically built for points, not population). However, late game, this is a great way to level up your citys. Even Ports are better, at 5 stars/pop. However, Grow → Burn → Farm next to a Windmill can be good, at 3 stars/pop once the Windmill is built. But keep in mind that if you have open shallow water tiles, Ports may maintain a slight edge since you do not need to pay for a Windmill.

Upgrading Cities[]

By eisthefifthletter.

Your economy is the center and most important aspect of your game in Polytopia. You increase your income by upgrading cities.

Do not partially upgrade cities because it just binds stars and takes away flexibility. Hanging population is a poor investment; it has no benefit at all. You may want to make other choices later. The only reason to buy city population without fully upgrading would be if you are afraid an opponent might block your resource field soon.

Build buildings in places that keep options open. For example, try not to block Market or Forge spots with Lumber Huts.

Do not build things over harvestable resources (unless you need the two stars that turn), e.g., do not build a port over fish without harvesting the fish first.

Upgrading to Level 2[]

Explorer (uncovers fog of war) vs. Workshop (+1 SPT)

Upgrading on turn 0: what to choose primarily depends on what game mode you are playing. In Perfection or Multiplayer, the best choice depends on the number of opponents. Choose Explorer in games with many opponents because meeting other tribes will grant bonuses. Each tribe you meet will give you either 3 stars, 6 stars, 9 stars, or 12 stars based on how much score they have (3* per 1000 points rounded up, capped at 12*). These bonuses can add up quickly, allowing you to further upgrade your city and/or produce more units. However, if there are fewer opponents (especially on a larger map), choose Workshop, as an Explorer will not meet many other tribes.

Upgrading after turn 0: Workshop is generally the better option. However, if you are close to enemy territory or an ocean, Explorers can help you plan your battles more effectively. (Also, ranged enemy units will not be able to attack your ranged units from the fog of war( clouds ) without receiving retaliation damage!) However, Explorers are best used sparingly since they cost 1 star for every turn left in the game, and remember that Explorers will only move towards the fog of war if there is only one tile between where the Explorer is and the fog of war; otherwise, the Explorer will move randomly. Therefore, do not pick an Explorer if there are two or more tiles between the city you are upgrading and the fog of war, or the Explorer may end up “exploring” your territory!

Upgrading to Level 3[]

City Wall vs. Resources (5 stars)

Resources are almost always the better choice. The 5 stars are very versatile. They can be used to upgrade another city, greatly developing your economy (increasing your income). City Walls are only useful when your city is besieged, so unless there is a good chance of that happening (which is seldom the case unless you are close to enemy territory with spread-out units), do not choose City Wall.

Because of the 5 stars bonus, you should in most scenarios upgrade level 2 cities to level 3 as the first thing you do in a turn, as each upgrade has an effective cost of only 1 or 2 stars and upgrading boosts your income. Check if you can take advantage of these upgrades before you do anything else each turn!

Take advantage of the 5 stars bonus a lot! You can quickly develop many cities in one turn to level three with this bonus. Doing so vastly increases your income and the number of units you can train.

Upgrading to Level 4[]

Population Growth (+3 pop) vs. Border Growth

Reasons to choose Population Growth:

  • Get to level 5 and a super unit much more quickly!
    • Therefore pop. growth is generally preferred especially with the fast-paced play that is preferred in multiplayer
  • Border Growth does not lead to many benefits, either because the land is barren or because the city is surrounded by other cities

Reasons to choose Border Growth:

  • Get access to an abundance of resources
  • Get access to Ports
  • More places to heal your units in
  • Perfection: room for temples (Even empty or water tiles can be useful for building temples or Ports/Farms.)
  • Long/large games: better late-game potential b/c more room to build buildings and more resources

Note that border growth should basically always be avoided if the resources gained are worth less than three pop.

Upgrading to Level 5+[]

Park (+250 points) vs. Super Unit

What to choose depends on the game mode. Obviously, in Domination and Might games, always choose the super unit. For Perfection and Glory, however, only choose a super unit if it can greatly contribute to battle (during the early-to-mid-game and the city that is being upgraded is close to the battle). Otherwise, choose Park, as that increases your final score.

Exploration and Combat[]

By eisthefifthletter.
  • Opening: Make a workshop and go explore. Stay away from water. If you go diagonally twice on land, you will uncover slightly more clouds (even though the chance of finding a village does not increase. Also remember that villages are never on the very edge tiles, though ruins have an increased spawn there. Make a 2nd warrior to explore another direction, unless there is really only one direction.
  • Training enough units: A big mistake newer players often make is simply not making enough units. In most cases, it is wise to train as many units in the cities on the edges of your territory as would be useful. Units are useful if they can contribute to either exploration or battle. It is harder to have too many units as you may think: As long as your units all get to attack every turn and are not being stuck at a bottleneck, they will be useful.
  • When exploring, moving into a corner reveals five tiles, two more than moving onto the side of the fog.
  • Riders and naval units can explore much more quickly in groups of two, “leapfrogging” over each other (alternating which is in front every turn), than they could alone.
  • Warrior vs. Warrior (or Ship vs. Ship) 1v1 battle: with no defence bonus, the player that attacks first has their unit killed the following turn, while the other player’s unit survives with 5 HP. Therefore, in most cases, if you meet the enemy while exploring with one of these units and have no units to follow up on an attack, do not attack first.
  • A Warrior takes hits from units with 2 attack to kill. However, Warriors with a defence bonus take 3 of the same hits to kill. (This is important to note when trying to besiege a city defended by a Warrior!) However, units with 1 defence, such as Riders can still be killed with 2 of those hits even if they have a defence bonus, making them unsuitable for defending cities.
  • Scout then kill: If you are about to kill an enemy unit with a unit that has Dash, you often can scout first by moving to a tile adjacent to the enemy to reveal an extra fog tile, then killing.
    • A version of this also is applicable for getting Ruins or villages two or more tiles away, where you can first move diagonally to the side to reveal some fog tiles then move diagonally back. (Of course, this should only be done when doing so does not cost you an extra turn to get the village/Ruin.)
  • If there’s an enemy unit besieging your city, spawning a Super unit (by upgrading the city one level) will push the besieging unit out. Monuments are especially useful for “popping a Super unit.” (It can be annoying when bots do this, but this is a strategy, not a bug!)
  • Play fast! Grab those cities, take advantage of the 5 stars upgrade bonus, chop Forests. Both eco (strong eco→strong military) and military are important.
  • Exploit the escape ability of Riders a lot! See this video for an example.
  • If you're playing against bots, you should be able to destroy them before they get any sort of defence w/ Catapults. In multiplayer, that's a different story, but usually, the player with the higher income wins in a battle of attrition.
  • Land in enemy cities; that's the only place to bother landing. (Unless you're doing a mass landing of your troops against enemy territory that is not heavily defended.)

If there's a giant horde of warriors, riders, catapults, or anything else with 10 HP, one knight can take them all out at once because of Knights' Persist skill. However, keep in mind that Knights have very low defence and can be killed quickly if they are not well defended by other units.

  • When units are pushed from forced spawns (e.g., spawning a super unit in a city when there is already a unit in the city) they are pushed in a certain direction: see this Wiki article.
  • Besieged cities do not provide any income. However, a Customs House in the territory of a besieged city still provides income.

Attack to Kill[]

By Espark.

It isn't always a good idea to attack, especially if you leave your unit with half health so your opponent can kill it the next turn. If possible, try to attack only when you know you can finish off an enemy unit. Also, consider which unit will get credit for the kill. Three kills makes some units, like warriors and riders, into veterans. Try to stack kills on the same unit to get it to veteran status.

FrothFrenzy’s Battle Calculator allows players to simulate an attack before committing to it. It is most useful when you are not sure when you can kill a unit or not. (A unit left with 1 HP can still hinder movement and prevent you from besieging an enemy city!