I went to war in Manor Lords all so my city-builder civilians could get a proper drink

Manor Lords
(Image credit: Slavic Magic)

I didn't set out to be a Manor Lords warmonger. From the minute I first booted up the hit city-builder, I was prepared to settle gently into my region and oversee an era of peace and tranquility. Unfortunately, as I was soon to find out, developer Slavic Magic and Mother Nature had different plans for me, and they all revolved around a cool mug of ale.

I started Manor Lords with an unfortunate surprise: the very first region I was dropped in was a vast, barren desert. A building overlay shows you the fertility of your land for Manor Lords' various crops - wheat is crucial for food, but you can also assess how successfully you'll be able to grow rye, flax, and barley. Sadly, I could barely grow any of them. My starting region was massive, but only one tiny pocket of it was capable of growing wheat. The rest was a swathe of reds and yellows that denoted horrific soil quality.

Help, thankfully, was at hand in the form of a large herd of deer. Manor Lords dev had already explained to unfortunate farmers that not every region is cut out to do everything, so I set to work specializing around what resources I had available to me. I employed a pair of hunters to gather meat, some tanners to treat the hides, and even took an upgrade for my herd so they'd breed faster. I survived the first winter, and then expanded, my village growing fat on copious quantities of venison. Life was good.

Oh deer 

Manor Lords

(Image credit: Slavic Magic)

Hours passed, and my village thrived. I built new houses and welcomed new arrivals. I built a church and my own manor, and started pushing through the upgrade levels as my settlement grew increasingly large. I even set up a farm to take advantage of my paltry patch of fertile ground. But then I hit a roadblock: I wanted to upgrade my village further, but to do that I needed level 3 houses. And to get those, I needed a tavern.

A successful tavern has a plentiful supply of ale - it's not enough to simply open up an empty beer hall. To make ale you need malt, and to make malt you need barley. But if growing wheat was difficult, growing barley on my salted earth seemed next to impossible. I could buy malt and pass it on to my brewer, but doing so was extremely expensive. I hadn't designed my settlement with trade in mind, preferring to live off the fat of the land than out of someone else's pocket. My temporary solution was to buy a one-time batch of malt, turning that into enough ale to get the tavern running long enough to upgrade my first group of houses, but I knew that that couldn't work in the long run. I needed a longer-term fix, and I knew just how to get it.

From Lord to barren 

Manor Lords

(Image credit: Slavic Magic)

While my own region's fertility was a sea of red and orange, it turns out that the grass is sometimes greener on the other side. While my own home was never going to be a farming utopia, next door offered rolling terrain of dark green, indicating the strongest possible fertility, with fields that could stretch for miles. Unfortunately, I had sought peace, and that region had long since been claimed by another lord.

Thankfully, I'd been tanning hides from all those deer for years. The artisans I'd employed when I first started leveling up had been hard at work turning those hides into shields, and my thriving village was building up a nice little militia. After years of eating venison and vegetables, my villager satisfaction was at an all-time high – certainly high enough for me to risk dialing up the taxes and tithes enough to employ some mercenaries and make my claim on the fertile fields of that new region.

I marched to war. While my opponent tried some underhand strategies by attempting to flank me with a horde of brigands that he'd employed, my mercs swung the balance, and in the end I chased down and killed his final band of archers to finalize my claim on this new region. The road to establishing myself here will be as long and difficult as it was in my first settlement, but at least this time I know exactly what my plan would be. Just as soon as my new villagers have set down roots, they'll be spinning up a barley farm to send a nice, cold one over to their neighbors.

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Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.