Populous is easy, and you don't even need the cheat at the end of
You should be able to win almost every world without doing anything
but raising and lowering land. Spells can be used to speed up the
winning process. ( But see 3d ).
The key to winning is getting a Big Start, and avoiding excessive
use of "Go To Leader".
Let's handle the second point first.
Walkers get stronger in buildings. ( Usually.... :-)
Walkers get weaker by walking.
Walkers who find places to settle increase your total power.
Walkers who go to join the leader decrease your total power.
The computer beats itself because it uses GoToLeader much too much.
INDEX TO SECTIONS:
0. General Advice
1. Big Start
2. What to do about Spells
3. Offensive Tactics That Work
4. How The Computer Cheats; Bugs
5. How You can Cheat Right Back
0. General Advice
It isn't cheating to slow the game down with shift-S. The game was
designed to run full speed on a much slower computer than yours;
don't create an unnecessary disadvantage for yourself. If you run it
fast, the computer gets extra turns, but if you run it slow, you
never get more than your fair share of turns.
It isn't cheating to pause the game by hitting 'z'. If you shift
focus without pausing, you lose a turn. The computer doesn't lose
turns this way, why should you? Use the Pause key a lot.
If you're left-handed, re-map it.
Know the characteristics of the terrain. In the basic game, there
isn't as much difference between the kinds of world, but in the
Promised Lands, look for something very special about the Silly
World ( It would be a spoiler to say what ), and since castles grow
so incredibly fast in Bit Plains, you can often go for a blowout
( your first two castles give you enough energy to make earthquakes,
and you can make sure the computer never gets even a single castle ).
1. Big Start
If you read the manual, you will find that castles grow more quickly
than anything else, though they take longer to produce a walker
because their capacity is so large.
Therefore, you must begin by making castles.
Let's suppose you start with just one walker, your leader.
He settles right away and you turn him into a castle.
Your Anchor is right in the center of the world.
If you change to "Go to Leader", you know which direction your
leader will go when he comes out of the castle.
Smooth out some land in that direction, just outside his castle.
Look at the castle's power bar. As soon as it's not completely
empty, *and* you have enough energy to raise and lower some land
( I recommend at least 5 turns more than "empty"; so I added step 1a ),
do the following:
1. Change to "go to leader";
1a. Wait 5 turns. Watch your power gauge, it moves a bit every turn.
2. Raise a little bump near the castle to turn it into a smaller
building. You may have to raise several.
I call this "pushing out".
3. When your leader comes out, lower the bumps and turn the
building back into a castle.
4. As soon as your leader steps off the castle grounds and onto the
place you made for him, change to "settle".
5. Turn your leader's new building into a castle.
6. Clear some land where he will go.
7. Wait for your leader's castle to show some green in the
8. Repeat from step 1.
By the time you've made several castles, the oldest one is ready to
have another walker pushed out. If the computer has earthquakes, it
may *help* you make more walkers right around this time. If not, you
have to smooth little places on all sides of the oldest castle, push
out, and hope the walker finds one of the places you made. Do this
while waiting for the leader's castle to grow ( step 7, above ).
"Go to Leader" is no help in guiding the walker onto the good land
in this situation because your castles are all in a straight line.
Don't waste time smoothing big areas; with big areas, your
walkers make one castle and are finished, but with small areas
each walker may make two or three huts that you can turn into
By the time you reach the middle, you have enough energy to move
your anchor. I recommend having your leader make a 45-degree turn,
so that you can guide the walkers from earlier castles onto new
It's not at all bad if you also have a bunch of smaller buildings;
you only have time (and magic energy) enough to do so much, you may
not be able to turn them all into castles in any case -- and this
combination of Big Start and Creeping Huts is well-nigh unbeatable.
2. What to do about Spells
2a. Computer Attacks With Leader
Ignore him; help him, in fact! Go to the border between your peoples
and raise bumps under the castles. These castles will turn into
walkers and go to join the leader; just what the computer wants. The
border will be empty, and your walkers can settle there. You might
want to push a few walkers out near the border and hope they find
Whenever the enemy leader conquers one of your castles, its
neighbors turn small and push out walkers. Raise a bump under the
enemy castle to erase it and turn your buildings back into castles.
The enemy leader will go conquer another castle, and one of your
walkers will make a new castle in the empty spot.
Check for drowners and save them. Fix up the land. Now you have as
many castles as you used to, but you also have some walkers.
The computer helped you!
The computer swamps only your leader. Keep your info shield on your
leader's castle and keep a finger poised over the 'z' key.
The "Save Game cheat" works well here, but you don't really need it;
by the time you lose your leader, you won't really need him anymore.
Swamp the sucker. Use the "Save Game cheat". After a while, you will
get good at swamping, and you can do it without saving.
You'll never get enough practice unless you start by saving.
If you can't swamp, make sure the Knights don't conquer any of your
castles. Push out a walker first, then just before the Knight
reaches the castle, raise a bump underneath so there's no building
there at all. By the time the Knight finishes fighting, you probably
have a new building elsewhere. Once there are three Knights, you
won't be able to do this anymore, so change to "creeping huts".
Just keep building. Knights are not as strong as they seem. You have
many castles growing, the enemy has only a few Knights destroying;
even better, the Knights like to bump into each other and make a
single strong one. You just have to grin and bear it until some of
your castles mature, and start sending out strong walkers without
being pushed. Soon after that happens, the Knights all get beaten.
To deal with multiple Knights, build long, narrow ramps out into the
sea in all directions. As your walkers settle on them, extend the
ramps. The idea is to get settlements as far away from each other as
possible. It's great when the enemy Knight beats up a hut in the far
south corner of the world and then decides to attack a hut in the
far north corner; the Knight will walk all the way across the world
without attacking anything -- putting it out of action for that
amount of time! If you have several huts on a ramp, and free space
at the end, turn the building closest to your homeland into a
castle; this will dispossess one or two of the huts, and the walkers
may settle at the end of the ramp.
Make sure you resettle the burned land as quickly as possible.
If the computer can *only* do volcanos, just build at the top of the
world and enjoy the useless noise. Building at the top takes more
energy, and you'll be behind for a long while and the game will take
longer; but it's fun to hear those volcanos doing nothing.
The normal way is to treat them almost like earthquakes. You must
clean them up because if you leave a bit of a hill another volcano
in the same place will be as big as a double-volcano:
Position your viewpoint with a building on the edge and the volcano
in the middle. Click madly on "lower land". Make a small flat place
in the middle of the volcano. Use the "computer helps build castle"
key to turn the buildings around the edge back into castles, then
turn the new building in the middle into a castle. Clean up the rest
by hand. He only hurt you a little.
Once you get close to the enemy, your problems with volcanos lessen.
Sometimes the computer hits more of its own people than of yours.
Don't build at sea level. I love the world where water is fatal and
the only thing the computer can do is flood. All you have to do is
wait for suicide.
Only if the computer has no other spells do you have to worry about
this. In the only world where this is so, you have only earthquakes.
The earthquakes you do in that world force the computer to build a
bit more land, using up some of its energy, and gives you just a bit
longer to catch up. This is one of the few cases where you might
*need* something besides building land to win.
3. Offensive Tactics That Work
3a. Border Harassment
On the border, make sure *your* buildings are castles, and the
computer's buildings are smaller ones: raise a few bumps.
This has a big effect on the game.
Raise twice if you really want to cause trouble; you'll never
believe how much trouble you can cause with micro-volcanos until you
When your walkers start to surround the enemy, you're winning.
Border harassment at this point of the game is really deadly.
3b. Fake Flood
When water is fatal you can assassinate any enemy by lowering the
land out from under his feet. When terrain is harsh, you can kill
weak buildings or walkers this way.
Earthquakes when water is fatal can be used to finish off the enemy.
Fake floods can be used for border harassment when water is fatal.
3c. Fake volcano
Raise raise raise raise raise raise raise raise!
It's got no rocks, but it's as big as a double volcano.
Make a whole line of them along the border, and keep them walking
forward. Make real volcanos beyond them. Play "creeping huts" in the
hills so that you can walk the line of fake volcanos forwards.
If the computer "has fast reactions" it will fight by lowering as
you raise, and this tactic fails; however, you can still do border
harassment. In effect, the fake volcano is nothing but the ultimate
in border harassment.
3d. Real volcano
Never use just one. Save up your energy for a double. Or a triple.
This is the only spell that can turn victory into a loss.
( The computer recovers too well from floods; it may take several
floods to win, which is no fun ).
Often the computer leaves enough garbage from an old volcano that
you can get a free double by vulking once on top of the garbage.
You can also get a free double by vulking on the side of a hill or
an old volcano; put the edge of the old one at the middle of the
Don't swamp the leader, swamp the Knight. See section 4b.
If you're way ahead, swamp the neutral country where all the walkers
are going to follow the leader.
In the Bit Plains worlds ( Populous: the promised lands ), you can
get so far ahead that you can simply make *all* the enemy territory
into one big swamp and keep it that way until you're ready to finish
3f. Taking Advantage.
The computer plays weakly because it uses Go To Leader too much.
An earthquake way back in the rear can result in an empty section of
land where there used to be enemy castles. Border harassment at this
time is especially effective.
3g. Hands off!
Let your walkers do their own thing. Let your castles grow quietly
( except when you have good reason to push out walkers ).
Be patient. One time, before I was very good at the game, I was
getting beaten badly. The computer could do Knights and Volcanos and
nothing else. I couldn't even raise or lower land because of the way
your energy goes down every time the Knights beat one of your
people. My main power bar was almost empty, and the computer's was
full. I left, but I left the game running. An hour or two later, I
came back. I had enough energy to do a volcano; one-third of my
power bar was blue; the computer had the whole center of the world,
and all the edge was volcano remnants filled with my people and
their little buildings; some of my people were coming down off the
hills and mixing in. I helped them; we won.
3h. Don't stop building.
The computer usually stops building when it fills up about
one-quarter to a third of the world; if you can't find any other way
to win, just keep building.
3i. Creeping Huts
While it is true that castles grow more swiftly, it is also true
that small buildings produce walkers more quickly ( except when you
push walkers out of castles ). At some stage of a world, perhaps you
don't have enough energy to flatten the land for a castle; or,
perhaps you simply don't have enough time to deal with all the small
buildings. Just a little bit of land improvement goes a long way
when you have a lot of little huts creeping over land that existed
at the start of the world.
First priority, make new places to settle in an outward direction.
Next, make little huts into slightly bigger huts. Just one or two
raises or lowers in this situation can make a big difference.
None of the other things you can do help when you're behind.
Even the tactics in the manual work when you're way ahead.
Armageddon is best, Knights are second-best.
I love laying down a bottomless swamp just before calling for
Or, when you can't do Armageddon or Knights, try doing continuous
earthquakes on the last few pitiful remnants of the enemy.
4. How The Computer Cheats; Bugs
4a. The computer can raise five pieces of land while you raise one.
You are smarter and more efficient; the computer has to cheat to
keep up with you. It's fair for it to cheat this way.
4b. The computer ignores the rules. It can always raise or lower
land near its leader or near a Knight. This is really unfair when
you throw down a good swamp and the computer cheats to get out of it.
See 5a: it isn't cheating when you do it to balance out the
4c. The computer gets more energy than you. This is fair when it
uses it to build land, but not when it does other things.
4d. The computer pushes out walkers from its castles without
bothering to raise and lower land.
4e. Swamp monsters always go through your part of the world, not the
computer's. Maybe it's because your part is always bigger.
4f. Bug: If you build up the whole world, your walkers never come
out of their buildings. You have to destroy a few buildings to get
things moving again. There's a limit to how many buildings and
walkers there can be.
4g. The computer ignores your input. Sometimes you have to click two
or three times. It's even worse with keyboard commands. This bug lets
the computer get extra turns.
5. How You can Cheat Right Back
5a. Save Game
As in so many games, you can save often, and if something happens
that you don't like you can try again. If the computer cheats to get
out of a swamping, it's only fair to use the Save Game cheat;
and it's so convenient in Populous!
If your swamp spell really missed, the Save Game cheat is really
cheating, but you *have* to do it for a while just to get practice
and build up your accuracy.
5b. Computer Help
There is a bug in the "Computer Helps Build Land" key that gets rid
of rocks quite easily.
Save game, change sides, see how much energy computer has, find out
where its leader is. Load game. Big deal. Not worth much.
5d. Spoiler Alert
There is a bug in the "Computer Helps Build Land" key that lets you
use it while the game is paused.
Pause the game. Hit control-M to go into keyboard-only mode.
Hit F7 to go to a small building. Hit the keypad '/' key to make a
castle. Hit F7 again and repeat.
This uses up a lot more energy than building by hand, but it saves
lots of time. You get many extra turns this way.
There is a bug in this; it won't work on buildings that are near the
edge of the world. Unpause; move the mouse to the building; pause,
control-M; keypad '/'; voila`!
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