1 — Prologue
2 — Roleplay vs PvP
3 — Official vs Unofficial
4 — About rates
5 — About mods
6 — Where to build
7 — How to build
8 — Basic raiding tactics
9 — Epilogue


Hello folks,

Video games in general and ARK, in particular, are matters of interest to me because of how much I enjoy them. I read my fair amount of forum posts about ARK and I thought it could be of use to try and put together the highlights that I’ve coined until now through my ARK experiences.

This guide is intended for beginners and intermediate players. Advanced players might already know most of the things I will cover.

I want to make clear that everything I will write here is my own opinion and point of view.

Let’s start!

2 — ROLE PLAY vs PvP

I think ARK, in its immense scope, offer this two clearly different game play approaches, and both have been extremely enjoyable to me.

Role Play: to me this is about low rates (lower than x10), exploring the map, discovering new technologies and the game in general, enjoying sunsets, caring about the name and aspect of your toon, beating that boss or taming a high level Giga.

PvP: is a competition for survival and dominance over the other players. While Roleplaying aspects can have a place in PvP, one will most likely want to know as much as possible from the very beginning of the game to have the edge. So is not so much about discovering the game but practicing it and getting better.


Official rates are too grindy if you are not a big group of people working together. If you intend to play solo or in small groups as I do, go for unofficial.


  • x1 — x10: The game experience resembles real life, with things taking time and long term projects.
  • x100 or more: This kind of servers wipe once every month. The game plays more like a strategy and tactics game where you have a month to place a base in the best place you can find, extend your defenses and mostly do war. At the end of the month there will be some tribes that became really big and so the pvp life will be in decline. At this point the “game” is considered ended, the dominating tribes considered winners and the server is wiped out for another game to start. This not long lasting game mode tends to attract more mature PvP players, some of them with more than 6k hours under their belt. Also the higher the ratings the less the size of the tribe matters. On a x1000 server, a solo player can build in a week a base very hard to raid.

So, if you long for a role playing pvp experience and/or you like being part of a big group of people working together, go for low rates. If you want to play ARK more like a Call of Duty war game and/or you like to play solo or in small groups, go for high rates.

Aside from the rates you choose to play with, playing some games in a high rates server will let you learn the different possibilities of the game faster (existing technologies, how to start fast, what to aim for, etc.). This is very useful to train your skills and increase your knowledge of the game at the expense of partially removing the adventure, explore and discover feelings.


There are mods that add content to the game and mods that only add QL (quality of life) changes. The latter are very important to me as I don’t like daily tasks such as moving items around boxes and machines, petting breeds, having to regularly click on buttons to craft things, configuring each autoturret individually, etc.

I will mostly not be interested in a server that does not have the following mods:

- S+

- ARKomatic (or something similar)


  • Things that make raiding harder:

- Underwater: A lot of tanking dinos cannot be used underwater as well as all the gunpowder weapons except c4. Low visibility. Slow movement. Needs Scubba or points in oxygen.

- Small portion of the base exposed (caves): Caves let you focus your defenses on the entrance and be reassured that nothing behind those defenses can ever be touched.

- No land access: Tanking dinos must be brought by Quetzal. This requires more organization on the side of the attackers and more vulnerability when they are tanking as they cannot have a fob in the air next to them.

- Extreme environmental conditions: Very hot and especially very cold areas are troublesome for extended raids as the attackers have to be specifically prepared to survive there.

So, the hardest to raid location would be an underwater cave with one entrance through which nothing bigger than a player can pass. Conversely, the easiest one would be the middle of a flat green land with no natural obstacles.

  • Start in a temporary base

When you enter a server, even if it gives you a free pteranodon from the start (kits), don’t try to settle down in your definitive place from the very beginning. Instead, make a very small and basic temporary base somewhat hidden. From there start farming the resources and looking for that one good free spot for your permanent base. If your temporary base survives keep it as an outpost.

  • Big caves with small entrances are the best dino garages.


  • TEK is better than metal.

Metal and TEK structures can only be damaged by explosives and element consuming weapons (TEK).

There is only one weapon in the game that can damage and destroy your structures safely from outside autoturrets range: THE CANNON.

The Cannon does A LOT LESS damage to TEK structures than to metal ones.

TEK weapons (TEK rifle, TEK saddles, TEK sword) do more damage to TEK structures than to metal, but you cannot reach structures from outside autoturret range with those weapons, and there is no easy way to fire them while receiving autoturret shots.

So, if you can afford it, go TEK over metal.

  • Take the fight out of your base.

If someone attacks you, you don’t want to have him beating at your base’s main door. Even if you have big defenses there it is stressful because if that fall you are done. So try to spread outposts with autoturrets around your base. If someone decides to raid you, he will have to start working on your external perimeter of defenses before even thinking of getting to your main base.

  • Condensed defenses are very vulnerable to explosives.

So try to spread your autoturrets everywhere. Do lots of small towers of autoturrets spread out as opposed to a few giant towers. There must not be a key point where the attacker knows he has to focus his attacks on but several equally important points where the raider must randomly choose one to start attacking.

  • Place autoturrets on the terrain.

Put down autoturrets everywhere on the floor and rocks and walls of the scenery. Autoturrets have 20k hp as opposed to foundations that have 15k. So, in general, is easier to break structures than it is to break autoturrets.

The best case scenario would be having all your autoturrets spread out on the natural landscape in a way that the area of effect of explosives can only reach one turret at a time.

The worst case scenario would be to have 10 autoturrets resting over one ceiling. An explosive hit there will damage all the 10 autoturrets and probably destroy the ceiling eliminating 10 turrets at once.

  • Only dinos take a lot of space.

The space requirements for a base with only a few pteras and argentavis is ridiculously small compared to the one needed to store many big tames. Also, you will only need big tames for two things: tanking enemy defenses and doing bosses. So stay small until you are ready to start doing those things and not before.

  • Protect your roofs.

Unless you have A LOT of autoturrets condensed, a bred Quetzal with a decent platform saddle will manage to collide with your roof before dying to your autoturrets. If on that platform is a box full of c4, it will explode when the Quetz dies, opening a big hole in your roof. So put turrets covering the roof or even better, build a second roof of large hatchframes 2–3 walls over your roof and, once more, put turrets on them.

  • Put turrets inside the buildings.

When raiders open a hole in a wall or roof, it is great news for them if they are safe inside. Turrets inside buildings are A LOT harder to tank, you have to open big holes in the building to get the tank dinos inside. So arm the inside of your buildings, dino pens, crafting rooms, etc.


  • Soaking the autoturrets bullets and the destroying the structures.

This is the easiest method. It requires little skill and lots of time. Try and design your defenses in a way that the raiders will feel obliged to tank your bullets as it is a slow and boring technique that will simple deter many raiders if you have enough bullets.

  • Cannon

Enemies can place a fob next to your defenses but outside turrets range, place a cannon on top of it and start firing with impunity at your stuff without getting shot by your autoturrets.

As I said before, the passive defense for this is building TEK structures instead of metal ones.

As active defense techniques you can: snipe the cannon with fire arrows, snipe the cannon operator with a fabricated rifle, counter attack with a cannon of your own, use the next technique (3) to really put pressure on their fob.

  • Quetzal / Player auto-bombing.

A Quetz with platform and lots of c4 hiding inside or a player with a rocket launcher will run directly to a wall or roof tanking the autoturret shots and explode next to structures damaging them a great deal if they are metal structures (again TEK is a lot stronger here).

  • Picking up players and dinos with flying dinos.

You can try and grab players off of their mounts with a ptera/argent. If you succeed, take them inside your base and let them be killed by the autoturrets.

You can do the same with a Quetzal and pick some of their tank dinos (trike, stego).

  • If you have the numbers have 1 or 2 tribe members constantly snipe the enemy players around.

Is a lot harder to raid under a constant rain of bullets.

  • Hitting their dinos with a Compound Bow with Metal Arrows and/or a Giga.

A good compound bow can do considerable damage to their soakers from afar.

If they don’t have autoturrets protecting them, you can just go ham with a Giga and eat their dinos very fast.


ARK is a complex game with lots of very different ways to play it available and many secrets to be learned. Don’t force yourself to low rate servers in a kind of loyalty to the Official settings. If you are willing to forsake the roleplay experience in favor of the competitive PvP one, look for rates at which it does not hurt you too much when you loose things or are wiped out. Otherwise, you will suffer more than you enjoy playing the game.

Hope this helps.

All questions, discussions and counter arguments are very welcome.

Have a nice day!