Manor Lords: 10 Starting Tips

As Mel Brooks said so eloquently, “It’s good to be the King.”  When you first start Manor Lords, you’re likely going to be scratching your head, wondering how you’re going to claim the crown. It’s not your typical city builder. It’s not even your typical strategy game. You’ll need to approach your first in-game year very carefully. Fortunately, we’ve got tips to make that first year a little smoother.

“So either we carve out a town in the middle of this godforsaken wilderness or starve to death?”
“Pretty much, Johann.”
“Dibs on the house nearest the public privy.”

Pause to Plan

Like a lot of city builders, you can fiddle with the passage of time, speeding up to get through tedious construction elements, pausing to get your bearings and figure out what to do next. We recommend pausing the game when you’re going to be thinking about what to build and where you want to build it. Even placement of a structure can happen while paused, so make use of that to maximize your time. The one exception to this rule is when you’re creating Burgages (housing). Because Burgages take a lot of resources, relatively speaking, you’re better off laying out the plot while the clock’s still running, then waiting for the resources to be met before clicking the last point to commit the build.

Read The Map

While the names of the different provinces are always the same, and always in the same spots, the map layouts within each province is different every time. You can hit Pause and examine the map at your leisure. Learn what resources you have available to you. Consider their positions relative to your starting point. Don’t be afraid to lay down roads (they’re free, and they help anchor buildings). Your starting resources will have a strong effect on your early efforts to survive. More than that, they’ll dictate your options as you progress.

Read The Map, Part II

When you’re building, you’ll notice a number of overlays which you can look at. Probably the first one you’ll concern yourself with is the “Underground Water” overlay, vital for properly siting a Well (and for reducing fire hazards). Beyond that, you’ll likely be using the various Fertility overlays when you start laying down fields for crops. While the fields will report their own fertility when you go into the details, it helps to have an idea of what you want to grow there.

“Lord Burgher, I don’t think we could grow dirt in this place.”
“His Majesty demands 500 tons of dirt from this spot and you’ll deliver it, or else!”

Best First Structures

It’s going to seem a little counter intuitive, but the first structures you can build should not be Burgages. Yes, they’ll get your settlers sheltered, but they’re a major resource hog. Instead, your first two construction projects should be a Storehouse and a Granary. Why these two? Because they’re going to preserve your starting resources (barring some really lousy RNG on the weather events). Storehouses handle non-perishable goods (like construction materials) while Granaries handle foodstuffs. If it’s laying out in the rain or snow, those resources can degrade or disappear. Keep in mind, however, that both structures require a Family unit to be assigned to them in order to function. We’ll get into that more later.

Supplies and Demands

Once the Storehouse and Granary are built, the next element is basic resources. You’re going to be going through a lot of Timber at the start, so a Logging Camp is the obvious call here. Food is going to be a concern, obviously, so a Foraging Camp is the next clear project, ideally close by to a Berries resource patch. A Hunting Camp is also a good idea, particularly since it provides both Meat and Hides. Once those are done, you’ll probably want to start thinking about setting up Burgages. Bear in mind, however, you need to have at least one Family unassigned in order to actually execute construction projects, so don’t be afraid to pull a family off one detail in order to build up.

Trading Spaces

When you assign a Family unit to a structure like the Foraging Camp or Hunting Camp, you’ll get a notification telling you that the Family requests a stall in the Marketplace. “What Marketplace?” you may ask. It’s a construction project that thankfully doesn’t take any resources. You simply mark out a plot, make sure it’s connected to a road, and stalls will pop up as Families get to work. You’ll also want to probably invest in building up a Trading Post (very useful for obtaining or selling off resources) and a Livestock Trader (for when you start setting up Pastures for Sheep). The Marketplace is important because that is the method by which your Families obtain things like food, Firewood for heating, and other things. Burgages which don’t have good access to Marketplaces can’t be upgraded.

The public square: a little more overrated than what you might believe.

Cottage Industries

Burgages don’t just provide shelter to your province’s residents. They’re also the source of early raw materials and food like Eggs and Hides, as well as later processed goods production like Clothes, Sidearms, and Wooden Parts. The catch is that if you upgrade a Burgage to produce those processed goods, it stops being a Burgage and becomes an actual business. Also, it locks the Family living there into that job permanently, meaning you can’t remove them from other buildings like Logging Camps or Farmhouses. Make sure you can move some people around to create replacement Burgages.

Rules For Thee, Not For Me

One element of Manor Lords is kind of opaque: the Development Window. As you improve and grow from Small Village to Large Town, each intervening step grants you a Development Point. These points unlock features which can help improve the province and the settlement you’re building, such as Burgages being able to grow Apples, or having Clay Pits never run out of materials if they’re on a “Rich Resource” point (denoted with a crown over it). However, there’s a catch: these improvements only affect the province you’re currently working in. If you start a new settlement in an adjacent province, none of the upgrades from the first settlement will apply to the new one. Plus, you can’t refund development points. You’ll have to take a close look at your province’s resources and try to figure out the best section to specialize in.

“Pick your poison, peasants: taxes to me, or deal with Albrecht The Peasant Slayer.”

Death and Taxes

OK, let’s assume you’ve survived a few years, you’ve got a decent little village built up, and you’ve got reasonably happy citizens who are slowly making money. Thing is, you are the nobleman who’s supposed to be building this place up, ostensibly to defend it from bandits and other nobles. These are your people, and you’re going to need to take a cut of that money to help defend them. Thus, you’re going to need to build a Manor House at some point. The Manor House allows you to set tax rates (which takes money from the village’s Regional Wealth and puts it in your Treasury) and gain Influence (which allows you to claim new provinces).

Unfortunately, nobody likes taxes, so by implementing them, you’re going to take a hit on your Approval rating. Make sure you’ve got offsetting benefits (nice church, Ale for the tavern, good variety of food) to compensate. Also, your tax rate will affect the level of displeasure. Tax rates for the “Land Tax” normally apply in increments of 10, though you can change that manually. Also, don’t sleep on “Tithe” rates (goods donated to the church), since those help you grow Influence.

New Neighbors

At some point, you’re going to want to spread out into new provinces, start new villages, and make more money. Or you’re going to conquer provinces held by an enemy noble. Either way, to properly start up a new village in a new province, you’ll need to put down a Settler Camp. The good news: Settler Camps only cost money (250 gold, to be exact). The bad news: that money has to come out of your Treasury (not the Regional Wealth of your existing province). And you can’t tax your existing residents too hard, or you’ll get no money at all. Expanding your holdings is going to be a slow process at the start, though in theory it should get easier when you’ve got a couple more villages under your belt.

With these starting tips in mind, you’ve got a good chance to make it to the top, and truly be the lord of the manor.

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