Basic strategy guide based on game release on December 5, 2021
Overall Game Concept
This game is more of an economic simulation that rides on top of a city builder. Your important goals as the Lord is to stimulate trade among your villeins and to safeguard that they will survive through the long winter with enough food and warmth. Other external challenges (as for the current release) include wild animals that will attack your villeins and possibly eat your crops.
Be very cautious in how and when you expand. You have to make sure you have the resources in your economy or in your store house to support the expansion, or your villeins will suffer and your community will quickly fall apart.
The base of your economy will be the professions that can produce products from the ground, forest or water – Farming, Foraging, and Fishing. At some point, Mining and Brewing will also be included in this base.
I try to start off with 8-10 growing tiles and 5-8 trees per farmer. Family sizes of 5 and 6 for your first farmer is a preferred starting size. Adding feeders and livestock is not advised early game. If you want to add livestock, keep it to only 1 or 2 animals, preferably a cows. Farmers will have secondary products of cheese, milk and butter. Butter will require you to build a butter churn. These are their “Money” products and additionally are edible as food. You want to limit this production the first year or so, until you get a good food storage and base to support your growing colony.
An additional note on livestock: you will want to build a fenced in pen for these animals BEFORE you option to include them on your farm. At this time, there is no in game method for getting them in the pen if the pen is built after they are added. If the pen exists before, and the feeder is in the pen, the farmer will bring the newly obtained animal to the feeder and it will stay in the pen. To do otherwise, will risk the animals eating from your growing plots. Sheep and wool are critical for tailors, but should not be a focus until you have 1 or 2 additional farm families.
The balance challenge for your farmers will be to produce enough food to feed your villeins through the year vs making money. For this reason, for the first few years I force 50% tax on my farmers, to prevent them from selling off too much of their product and starving the colony through the winter. You will use your storehouse to save a good chunk of the yearly harvest for feeding your peeps in the winter and early spring.
Build 1-2 barrels, 1 silo, 1-2 flailing spots and 2-3 ground storage near your growing plots. Having a storefront near will also make it easy for your villeins to sell their produce. You eventual goal should be to set up your colony to be able to purchase their food directly from your farmers, with you as the “storehouse” to only save food for winter and early spring. It will take a few years for this to get set up enough were you can safely back off on the taxes and allow the inner economy to take over.
Build this families residence as close to a water source as possible to minimize “walk to work” time and keep them fishing. Build 1 fishing pole and 1-2 nets per fisher. Build barrels near your poles and nets for fish to be easily stored. Max 2 barrels. Build a storefront near, similar to your farm. I also set a higher tax rate for the first year or so to save fish for the coming winter and spring. Like the farmer, you will back off on this in the later game to support inner economy.
Aside from farming, this will be your next most critical family. A large family size is an additional bonus here, but the farming family should always be the largest. Set up the house as close to a forest plot as possible, and include some non forest area near your residence for cutting lumber and storage. In the early game, you should not focus on anything but wood logs and planks. Set up at least 2 saw horses and 4 ground storage and set the plank to log ratio of around 4 planks for 2 or 3 logs. In the first few years I typically tax high of around 30 – 50% and have my Lord build new buildings for incoming families before I take them on (see below). After the first few years, I back off on the tax rate to support the villeins buying directly from the forager. Like the farmer and fisher, you will want a storefront near the ground storage with logs and planks for easy sales.
I typically make my household plots 11×11, with the house making up 9×9 square off to one corner of the plot. This gives room for a cutting block and storage on the outside of the house. Pay attention to the villeins that are married, as they will get the double beds, where kids and singles get single beds. Early game you want to build straw wall buildings and beds, and move to wooden walls, once you get a good economy moving and people are buying directly from your foragers. Once you get masons and miners up, you will want to start replacing walls with stone. You may have to give grants to support this. More on grants below.
In the early game, you will support your villeins with all the building materials. Use grants to do this or set up to sell to your villeins for free. MAKE SURE you do not set to sell to caravans for free. Set up the households first, before you set up the production plots (Farm, fishery, forager). At this point in the development of this game, there is no apparent advantage to roofs or floors, so do this construction only when you colony is well established. Later in the development, this may have a greater impact on happiness or warmth.
I always build a cooking table, cauldron, fireplace, shelves, chest, well and barrel in each household.
Public Space, Marketplace
You will want a public space located near your town center, along the major paths. Build several benches and fires in the area to allow you villeins to warm up during the cold months as they move about the town. I usually set up one bench for every 3 citizens, assuming that they will not all use at once. It is more critical to have this set up during the mid-Fall of your first year, for the purpose of keeping everyone from freezing during the winter. If you build a storefront at each of your production sites, you can minimize the marketplace to 1 or two storefronts and a 4×4 area.
Critical building that allows you to store all the taxed items from your colony and purchased items from caravans. Make sure you have enough storage space with multiple types of storage devices: Ground storage, barrels, shelves, chest, etc. Build a store front if you want your villeins to be able to purchase or receive sale goods for free from you. You do not need a storefront to GRANT items, but only to sell (even selling for FREE). Build a fireplace in your warehouse, as this will be a primary path early game for your villeins early game, and a good spot for them to warm up. As of the date that this guide is being written, there are no penalties for missing walls, roofs or flooring here, but I suspect this will be a changed game mechanic at some point in time.
Inn and Caravan Marketplace
In simple terms of your micro-economy, this is the way money and goods enter and leave your colony, as such these two facilities are critical.
Always use your warehouse and lord to build both of these and try to have this done by the early fall of the first year. Shoot for the larger size inn, 15×15 or above. 14-20 beds are good, as you will attract caravans and new citizens. Each visitor will pay for the use of the beds and food, so this is money that is directly injected into your economy and is very critical.
Caravans will buy and sell with your citizens, also injecting money and goods into your economy. 2-4 storefronts and 4-6 caravan storage units will suffice. As of the date that this guide is being written, there are no penalties for missing walls, roofs or flooring here, but I suspect this game mechanic will be changed at some point in time. I make my caravan markets open air for this reason.
Be cautious about selling warehouse items to caravans, as these are lost sales between your villeins and the caravans. You citizens need to make money to buy and sell things within your community. Too much government interaction here will cause money problems for your citizens at a later time. Sell from your warehouse with moderation and foresight about the downstream implications of the sale. If you sell 100 fish to the caravan, and your fisher family can not sell what they have, they will run into money problems later on. Think of the caravan as a money/product stream to both the Lord AND the Villeins, and must be shared.
This category will include professions such as mason, windmill and tailor. These professions will require intermediate products from miners (stone), farmers (grain), and farmers (wool) for each. If you do not have these resources being generated in your colony, these families will not be able to be productive and you will constantly have to support with grants and aid. Higher tier manufacturing will always require goods from the prior tiers to be productive, so manage your expansion accordingly or suffer the consequences. This means you will have to patiently wait for the right families to join your colony. BE VERY SELECTIVE HERE.
The exception here is miners and masons. If you have a stockpile of stone, you can jump start your mason with stones you find lying around and what you have in surplus at your warehouse. Be cautious of using up all your surplus, as items such as cauldron and well require raw stone.
Notes about production and efficiency
Your villeins tend to be overworked, and will not be able to accomplish all the tasks you have set for them. This becomes a problem when you want them to focus on a specific colony goal. Keep this in mind. For example, a farmer will not be able to tend to crops, cook for family, cut fire wood, tend to trees, tend to livestock and make cheese, butter and milk/wool, sell and buy goods, and build buildings. You will have to manage priorities based on households to support your overall colony goals. I find it better to specialize each production site to a specific purpose, instead of trying to have each site produce everything possible.
I also try to use my Lord and their family to do as much building as possible, to take this burden off the villeins, and allow them to focus on producing goods. ANY PLOT THAT IS NOT OWNED BY A FAMILY, WILL BE BUILT BY THE LORD, USING GOODS FROM THE WAREHOUSE. Use this to your advantage and allow the lord to build households, and other buildings before you grant them to families. Be cautious of the items you have in storage, so you do not run out in the case of an emergency. I try to build households slightly before I take on new families, so they can move right in and be productive. This is also true for production buildings (mason, bakery, windmill, ect.).
Once a family owns a plot, and you are looking to upgrade, think in terms of stimulating the economy. Instead of granting the materials, give them some money and have them buy the materials from your other families. This is also a consideration for later in the game. You will want your families buying food directly from farmers and only use your Warehouse for necessary winter storage. Adjust your tax rate down to optimize this balance.