Castle Clicker is pretty straightforward game. There are few pitfalls, which could seriously hamper game progression later on. With these instructions, you should be able to avoid falling into one.
You should concentrate on worker levels on building and refining. Completely ignore sailing. Sailing seems to profit early on, but becomes wasted levels later on. You will get sailor levels by building Sailor's guilds. You can reset worker levels and assign levels as you please by paying 15 gem stones. You shouldn't need to do that for a long time.
Building and refining workers are mandatory, because early on only workers can build your inns and a bit later on when you unlock paper mill only workers can refine paper. Without decent levels this can lead into impassable bottleneck.
If your approach is more offline or idle playing, you will need harvesting / mining worker levels, as well. Balancing between levels slows down overall progress, but you don't have to micromanage the game that often.
If you can concentrate on building and refining with workers, it is quite obvious you concentrate on mining and harvesting on clicker levels. Never choose faster ships or 10% more xp. You gain - before Growth guild bonuses - 1 xp for each action: e.g. harvesting 10 lumber yields 10 xp. Building Dragon Statue with 20 materials yields 20 xp and so on.
The xp-bonuses for faster harvesting while harvesting overtakes faster xp. But of course, 10 % xp bonus is all-round, but it will lead into severely slow progression later on.
Ideal line of play is that you choose faster harvesting every time. However, it is not always on the menu. Try building as a secondary choice.
Inns, Coins And Population
For having some automation - preferably building and refining - you need two things: coins and population (or population cap increase).
Coins you can get from inns or you can trade your resources on foreign cities. The latter choice can be quite significant in the beginning, but later on you will get infinite source of coins from inns.
Inns get their coffers filled in 6-hour time. After that its coffers are full and the inn(s) cannot produce more revenue. You can collect coins from the inns whenever you choose to. There is no penalties of collecting "early". The coin growth is linear during these 6 hours.
Workers consume coins per second. At first it is mere 1 coin per second (cps) but later on it grows into billions and beyond. Don't worry, so does you income.
By building more inns you increase the cap for the coins inns produce. So by building more inns you will get faster cps, although this halts after 6 hours. Remember to collect coins every now and then.
For workers you need also Keeps, which means settlements for the workers. The more you build, the more workers can be assigned. At first, low level workers consume only one population, but it starts to balloon quite early.
You cannot assign more than 100 workers at any given time, so keeping a horde of low level workers running everything around becomes impossible.
At first it is important to build different ships in order to search for new mines. If you need one specific resource, e.g. 20k stone, try to resist temptation to send your ship into 4-hour-long journey while you play actively. You will get disappointed if you find a coal mine instead.
In the beginning you can assign sailor to a ship, which increases travel speed significantly. This means more resources in shorter time. However, sailors consume coins. Later on one high-level sailor increases the travel speed only a tiny fraction, while sailor still consumes your coins. Therefore it is not advisable to level the sailors at all. The more advanced vessels travels faster. Remember to check prerequisites for upgrading ships. Do it. It is essential.
Contrary to other construction, be sure to have all the materials at hand for finishing the upgrade. The ship will stay on drydock during upgrade and be thus unavailable for journeys.
You can also click the ship during a journey for a slight travelling speed bonus. You can also find an artifact by clicking a vessel (holding down left mouse button instead of clicking separately can ease your stress levels).
In addition to mines, you can search for new cities, sell resources (found cities) and search for treasures by having a treasure map. You will obtain maps from level-ups and later on by building observatories.
After you have built every different type of buildings you can access to New Game.
In this new game you can build all the previous buildings yet again, but a higher cost. After completing all these new buildings you have access to the second new game and this goes on and on.
You can choose the new game level of buildings clicking the correspond arrow.
Few things change after first "new game": you can purchase a seer which opens Paper mill, Library, Universities and Observatories. Seer costs 25 gem stones, so try to have those ready and avoid spending gem stones for other purposes. This transaction needs to be done only once.
You will also get Reset Stone for each "game" you complete. With this you can reel back into lover new games with bonuses. The price for this soft reset climbs up, so avoid resetting immediately.
Library allows researching which takes time to accomplish.
Universities increase all worker levels. Mind the population cap! Observatories produce treasure maps.
In order to get the best bonuses from every new game, hop back into earlier level. Under the basic buildings there is Whole City. These produce various bonuses including building per click, mining per click, refining per click and the fourth building increases all the above three.
The first three Whole Cities also provides various benefits.
If you can, build all the Whole Cities allowed before more Dragon Statues and different (new game) guilds. Whole Cities provide fixed boost to clicks. Building guilds afterwards yields significantly bigger bonuses.
Here are few miscellaneous tips for smoother progression:
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