10 Manor Lords tips to help you survive your first year

Manor Lords tips
(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

These Manor Lords tips and trick should make things easier for the aspiring land baron. This sprawling RTS city builder is rammed with such dense management systems and intricate strategy tools that getting the lay of the land and everything you can do in it can be daunting, to say the least. And, as it's in early access, it's not always the clearest at explaining things. 

Things start simple enough. The first big choice you make is which Manor Lords scenario to play in before designing your character's coat of arms, but that's when the real fun begins. If you've already grasped the basics, like how to get more people in Manor Lords approval to get more people and what exactly Manor Lords regional wealth is, this guide is here to let you in on some time-saving tricks that will serve you well throughout your first year in the game and beyond. Trust me, I've been there, so here are the Manor Lords tips I wish I'd known earlier.

1. Press Tab for a quick overview of houses, worker placement and construction 

Manor Lords tab overview

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

This is the sort of thing that's easy to forget but if you hold Tab it'll bring up numbers for just about everything that has them in Manor Lords. So house occupation, construction completion, worker assignment, and so on. It's a quick way to get an overview of everything in your town if you want to make changes or check why something isn't working. 

2. Pull people out of places and jobs and move them around depending on what you need  

Manor Lords jobs and assignments

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Much of the time you'll never feel like you have enough people for what you need so don't be afraid to pull people out of buildings or tasks to free them up for construction or something else you need done. Got 11 months of food? If you have all the fuel in Manor Lords you need, maybe you don't need an army of woodcutters. Storage is always a good reservoir of workers to check as it takes time to cause any issues if you pull people out. Just remember to put whoever you move about back later when you don't need them anymore. 

3. Storage needs someone assigned to make it work 

Manor Lords storage assignments

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

While a building to put things in sounds like a fairly inert thing that should just work, it needs a worker assigned to it to keep it functioning. So if you're getting messages about lacking storage despite having a load of buildings for it, check they all have someone assigned. 

4. Don't upgrade all Burgage plots or you'll lose general workers

Manor Lords burgage plot upgrades

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

While you might be tempted to upgrade all your Burgage plots/houses, you need a mix of levels. That's because if you upgrade a home to level 2 and make it an Artisan workshop the people that live there are locked into the job you give them and you'll lose them from the general worker pool - so they can't be placed in other buildings or help out in construction when unassigned. Keep that balancing act in mind, as you'll need the best of both worlds for a successful town.

5. Distance matters if you want the most work done

Manor Lords work and distance

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Because families physically travel from home to wherever they're working, you ideally want them close to minimise the amount of time they're travelling. This is especially important if they have yards with vegetables or animals in, as more travelling time means less time to tend to these resources between travelling to and from work. It'll also take longer to forage or hunt if you place these buildings too far from resource rich areas, meaning you'll risk your Manor Lords food supplies running out quicker.

6. The size of your Burgage plot matters for vegetables but not for animals 

Manor Lords Burgage plot size

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

If you make your housing zone big enough for a yard then you can eventually get some basic level 1 farming in there, either for vegetables, chickens (eggs) or goats (hides). Only vegetables are affected by garden size, with large gardens producing more goods but taking longer to work. Chickens and goats produce the same regardless of size, so consider that when zoning out your housing. 

7. You can toggle the UI for cinematic mode and walk the streets in third person

Manor Lords third person

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Manor Lords is a beautiful game, so it would be a shame for all of your scenic screenshots to look a little cluttered. To toggle the UI off in Manor Lords, press Ctrl+C and move the camera about however you wish. This is a great opportunity to scroll right into your town and follow the villagers as they go about their day-to-day lives, or give yourself a front-row seat the next time your Manor Lords militia heads into battle. You should also check out Visit mode – just click the little eyeball icon that overlays your lord's avatar in the upper-right corner of the screen, and you'll have full third-person control over a visiting noble as they stroll about your village!

8. Build burgage plots around markets

Manor Lords burgage plots and markets

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Markets are massively important to villager satisfaction, but their influence doesn't travel very far. Even if your residences are on the same short street as a market, they may well not benefit from the stalls unless their boundaries are basically touching. Because of this, when city-planning it's always best to make the market the centre of your residential area, with burgages surrounding it to ensure you're not missing out on the shopping benefits and perks that access provides.  

9. You can avoid some battles by writing letters to rival lords or bandits 

Manor Lords diplomacy

(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Accidentally starting a feud with a neighboring lord is not a great way to start your first couple of years. If you've written an offensive letter or challenged a lord or bandit's claim on a region without being prepared for battle within the year, use your mouse wheel to scroll all the way out to map view and click on the avatar of whoever has started a war with you. You'll then be able to craft a letter to plead forgiveness, hopefully getting them to call off the attack. The letter-writing tool is still in development, but it's still very useful as a last-ditch resort to try and smooth out regional tensions!

10. Don't get frustrated if you can't do something – some tools aren't in the game yet

Manor Lords early access

(Image credit: Slavic Magic)

Manor Lords is in Early Access, which means it is still a work in progress. That means that you might come across certain management systems or gameplay elements that are mentioned, but not actually implemented in the game yet. Some examples are King's Favor, building town walls, and some of the more in-depth manor construction tools. Most systems in Manor Lords operate as part of a chain, so if you've clicked around and come to a dead end, you might be trying to do something truly impossible…for now.

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Leon Hurley
Managing editor for guides

I'm GamesRadar's Managing Editor for guides, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website. 

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