I have noticed that when the kingdom I am in comes up on the screen, I have a red flag by my character, which I know means I am logged in, but I also have a small Gold shield and no one else does...what does it mean?
When you first start out you are in protection mode, That is what the shield means, no one can attack you, Sorry I do not remember how long it last, it is also known as holiday mode later on but when in holiday mode you can not do anything in MK
You have to complete all your construction and research options. Eventually they will be replaced with new options, and then they will go away entirely. So its nice to be under protection for a while initially. Hope you enjoy the game.
Consider your kingdom ripe for picking! ALthough only those with a score near yours could dare attack you. You should fare well for quite some time, although eventually you might want to consider joining a clan. Beware though, there be vermin among us and have fun.