Corgatha's Tips to starting the game
Please note that there are numerous ways to win the game, and I am only giving a set of guidelines as for what worked for me. If you find something else that works for you which involves ignoring large parts of this guide, great! But I have won this repeatedly on Harsh with no re-loads, so I'm rather confident in this overall plan of action. Also note that this will be a guide towards attaining wealth and power quickly. How to actually win the game will not be spelled out on this.
What you'll need to survive.
You have four basic needs towards your road to wealth and influence. First and most important and perennial is food. If your people are starving, it doesn't matter how great everything else is going. Unfortunately, there is no way to passively maintain a food balance that will keep your clan going. You can minimize the number of times you need to trade for food or go on foraging expeditions, but you can never do away with them entirely. Second is defense. You might not want to pillage your neighbors, but you can't say the same about your neighbors looking at your clan lands. At the very least you want to be able to win most of your defenses, keep people from plundering your lands and butchering your people. Third is herds; which loops back into the food situation, the larger your herds the more dairy you produce and the more food your people have. Last is the portable goods, which you will be exporting to your neighbors in the forms of bribes and trade, you never want to sell your herds if you can help it. In the early part of the game, the first 10 years or so, every action you take should be helping you get one or more of those four things.
With that in mind, here are my recommendations for what choices to make at clan creation.
- Your first god should be Nyalda. This will give you the crafting blessing and a shrine to Nyalda to run it . If you took Yelm you get a shrine to Elmal and the Steadfast blessing. Right at the starts, you need goods more than the marginal bonus to defense that Steadfast gives you.
- Your Famous Event should be the Milk Gift. This gives you instant access to Busenari's milk blessing, important to help stabilize your food situation
- Your worst enemies should be the forces of water. This starts you off with the "Taming the River" ritual, which will enable you to cross the Black Eel river quickly and make contact with the other clans. Furthermore, there is very little to gain by being nice with the Weeders, unlike other groups, all of whom can give you nice things if you're nice to them.
- Take either the Glassmaking or the Red Dye secrets from Nivorah. This will start you off with an exotic good, something the other three choices do not, which makes establishing trade routes early easier and reduces the need for early game exploration, which is highly random and therefore something you want to do more when you're better established. As far as I can tell, there is no practical difference between the two recommended
- When the First Clan divides, your ancestors were the most Warlike. You want this for two main reasons. Firstly, you will start with 20 swords instead of 10. In addition to that equating to 30 goods, you also do not have to spend at least 3 seasons building up forces. You also start knowing the Elmal Guards the Sunpath Ritual, a very useful one.
- During the Second Migration, you encountered Goat Herders, and took them in as citizens. This will allow you to absorb visiting populations without trouble, but more importantly, you will start with the milk blessing for Uryarda. This combined with the Busenari one will go a long way towards stabilizing your food situation
At the start of the game, you can do one venture a year. Once you get a clan hall finished, you can do 2 ventures a year. Getting that clan hall done ASAP should be your top venture priority, because more ventures=better. Besides a ritual, a Venture is probably the most powerful thing you can do on a given action, and makes the most efficient use of time, ultimately the main limit towards your quest for unlimited growth. With that in mind, I would recommend the following venture order, with recommendations of magic in parenthesis to help you accomplish them:
- Plant Fields (Fields)
- Clear Pastures (Pastures)
- Finish Houses (Harmony) Note, embarking on this option will cost 25 goods; it is not clear from the venture description that this will happen
- Clan Hall Sacrifice (Ritual) Note: When you accomplish the above 3, you will get an event detailing which of the three successive ventures to finish the clan hall you want to do. While not any better than doing it yourself with an action, this does give you a "free" move for one year. I tend to do sacrifice first because I will often not have enough goods right at Sea Season to do the Decorations. If, however, your food situation is very good, you might want to do the feast. This option will cost you some of your goods, herds, and horses, but not too much in any one category.
- Clan Hall Decorations. (Crafts) This will cost 50 goods, so have them stockpiled.
- Clan Hall Feast (Harmony). You also need to have some food stored, so the year prior to this, be sure to put magic into wilds and send out a few foraging expeditions
While Plant Fields and Clear Pastures always work, the other four all have a chance of failure. The odds are reasonable that one of the four will flub its first attempt, even with the best preparation, so you should plan on having your clan hall up within 7 years. Once it's finished, you have more operational freedom, and I would recommend every Dark Season doing two ventures. Dark Season is generally good for ventures (unless you want to do one of the food gathering ones, but you shouldn't have to), because it's so much more difficult to do anything else. Whenever a "Convert Pastures to Fields" comes up, you should do it ASAP, as your crops will not do well until you do. Other important ventures are, in no particular order
- Ceremony. Successful ceremonies will give you two magic and make Ritual performance easier. Ideally, although not always in practice, you should be trying to do a ritual every year, and the main reason not to is shortage of magic. Ceremony will also identify if the omens are bad for Ritual performance and warn you away from doing them.
- Combat Training. Like it or not, you will have to fight fairly often in this game. This venture will make your troops fight better for a year.
- Exotic Good Crafting. A good performance of this venture will get you 30-40 goods. Even a poor performance will often get you 20-30. Overall, this tends to net you more wealth via venture than its competitors namely Herding, Crafting, Trade, and Trap For Furs
- Share Exploration. This will help you diplomatically if you've been exploring. A good performance might also have one of your neighbors reveal a new exotic location to explore, thus keeping the gravy train going father
First few years
Remember the original principles; food, defense, herds, wealth, and in roughly that priority order. You will also want to do ventures that get your clan hall built. Tame the Black Eel river right away, because you want to be sending caravans everywhere, and having to pay a magic to visit about half of your neighbors gets expensive real fast. Try to send 3 caravans a year every year until you've visited all the Wheels and Rider clans, start with the wheels. Keep establishing routes until you have your maximum. After that, take stock of how good your best bargainer is. Most clans you encounter seem to trade at around an Excellent rating. If you have someone better than that, you're likely to make long term profit by trading with actual exchange caravans. Sell goods for herds to one clan, herds back to goods to another, and you'll probably end up with more goods and herds than when you started. Since the goal here is mostly to get caravans out so you can support more trade routes, small caravans are probably the way to go. If you don't have anyone in the clan who can bargain well though, you should probably just send your guys out to establish trade routes over and over. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who you're trading with. When the Rams show up, send them caravans too.
The end goal of all this trading is to wind up with 9-10 trade routes, a market blessing, and about 1,000 or so Herds. This will be enough wealth to support further initiatives, enough herds to command respect and to keep your people (mostly) fed, and you'll probably make some friends along the way.
I would recommend the shrine/sacrifice priority to be more or less as follows
- Erissa; until you get curing. Hope is useless, Healing will only be important when you're fighting a lot, but sick people are always going to happen and you will always need to keep it in check. Once you have curing, build a shrine and keep it forever. Sacrifice to get Healing once the Rams show up, as the game gets a lot more aggressive then. Get this year one.
- Busenari; you will probably want to know "Busenari Finds the Light" by year 3, so get cracking once you have the shrine to Erissa. Get this year two.
- Ekarna. Trade routes = free money. Temple to Ekarna = two more trade routes. It doesn't even matter what you get (although Market is the best blessing by a fair amount), just get two blessings early. Get this year 3-4.
- Osara. Firearrow is great for battle, and unlike the other battle blessings, you know exactly what you get when you sacrifice to her. Get this year 4 or so.
- Zarlen. Pathfinder is almost a requirement to not get half of your explorers killed if they leave your own lands. Get this year 4 or so.
- Elmal. You want Flaming Lance. Sacrificing to Elmal is a somewhat lower priority because with the starting setup you already know both rituals you need to sacrifice to him for, and you can't be sure of getting Flaming Lance until you've made multiple actions. Still, all of them are useful, and you will want a temple for Flaming Lance, so you may as well build the shrine after you get the first one. And hey, you might get Flaming Lance right away. Try to get this around year 5 or so.
After that, you will probably want to sacrifice to get the Rituals you don't know, in the order of people that you have who are good at performing them. Rituals are actually one of the best diplomatic tools in the game, and once you've sent emissaries out (we'll get to that later) you want to at least try a ritual a year to cement those friendships. But you will want to learn them all.
Be sure to get at least a Watch Tower before the Rams show up (some variability, but usually around the end of year 5)
For your ritual practice, you should do Taming the River on your first year, Elmal Guards the Sunpath on your second, and Busenari finds the Light on your third. The first is to make trade routes practical. The second is to groom a warrior up to Heroic, and the third is to just grab 100 cows. After that, you'll have to exercise some discretion about your ritual usage, as you'll have to build up which ones you know and which ones you'll be good at performing is likely to vary a lot. (Of the three mentioned, Taming the River and Busenari finds the Light are both really easy. And you probably have a lot of Elmal and Osara worshipers with good combat scores.)
Along the way, you'll probably have to forage for food a few times. Send out someone with a high food score into that forest north of you, and be sure to prepare with as much wilds magic as you can. If you have it, use Inilia's Rootle blessing (but I would sacrifice for it, you won't be sending foraging expeditions out often enough to justify a full time shrine), and Inilia worshipers as leaders tend to get bad events less frequently than others. Still, I would send out a non-Inilia worhsiper with a much higher food rating than an Inilia worshiper with a lower one. Do this when you think food is going to run low, but you shouldn't need to send them out more than once every 7-8 years or so.
If you've got all that, you've got a lot of flexibility as to what to do next and you should do well. What your next course is likely up to playstyle. Maybe you want to make friends with all the valley. Maybe you want to beat up your neighbors and extort tribute. Maybe you just want to sit and buy every treasure you can. But you should have a clan capable of supporting those ambitions if you follow this loose guide.