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All I can say is that alliances have done more to make me hate this game than enjoy it. If I didn't sucker myself into buying it I'd just delete it. Judging by the other forum posts, I'm not alone.

Alliances are a feable thing. You should always show enough strength and a plan b to discourage your ally breaking but expect it. I think they're great for both focusing on another enemy and avoiding an arms race which just prolongs the game. With this said, I always make sure I don't seem to threatening but am ready to reaping with the upper hand if anything goes wrong.
It's all about strategy, when making an alliance you need to consider your position of the match and theirs. Always keep in mind that it's inevitable for either you or him/her to break it at one point so like Paul said, have a plan b ready. When I make alliances, I tend to do it as a temporary thing so we both have a mutual understanding. That way I wouldn't have to worry about them for now. As the game progresses, I tend to not rely on my mutual partner too much, just enough to know he won't attack me yet which gives me time to build up. Then I just use manipulation to get the others to attack eachother, for example if I'm allied with person A and B, I'd tell person A to attack person B and vice versa. You just need to remember, don't rely on them too much and always have a backup plan/long game plan.

Do you find this works with telling one payer to attack another? 

I've always found this to be worthless unless you're also attacking and it's mutual. In fact wearing one player down with an alliance can be one of the most frustrating and at the same time funnest parts of the game. You need to consider how many troops you lose compared to your ally, if they are trying to manipulate you by say hitting on a 1 when you've just taken a 10, and when taking on big enemy armies, wear them down by say 10 armies each per turn. This is a necessary pitfall of no chat (not that I believe in-game chat would be a good addition)

I've had a couple where if they pretend to help while just amassing troops, you hit one of their medium sized armies as a threat which has worked on occasion and brings you both to the same understanding. For this to work you obviously need defence from them and the upper hand in at least one strategical position for the threat to be credible.

The issue with playing with beginners however is sometimes these threats are seen as something more and their happy to kamikaze revenge as they don't care about winning/losing as much as you do (more to lose at a higher rank). This obviously then puts you both at the mercy of the weaker opponent who now may be guaranteed a win. 

Working out what kind of player your ally is, how much they can be trusted, and how much they can be manipulated for either personal or mutual benefit is by far one of the biggest strategical elements to the game imo.

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I hate when people tell me to attack someone. I ignore them and if they are too insistent I will block them. I will decide who to attack because I have a brain and see what's happening. I agree with what others have said that alliances are all part of the game and strategy.

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I'm a beginner player, but I always try to honor my alliances. What I see more is higher ranks joining alliance with me and then deciding to kill me off first, or building up there army so much that they are a threat so i try to warn them to stay away and then they destroy me. Or sometimes they never protect me from another player and im constantly being bombarded. Which then they turn and take me out. I've only had 3 out of 10 alliances who have been honorable and understand that when you you start being a threat to me, then I have to shave your army a bit. I never kamikaze though... I'm still learning obviously but it's very frustrating not knowing when to attack and when to not attack your allied player. When are they too big of a threat? And when do you decide just to give up 2nd or 3rd place?
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