A complete selection of hints and tips - By Simon Burrows
Well, it's a little time now since this smart little strategy
game from Blue Byte software was released. It is said to be a
cross between Sim City and Populous, but also has links to games
like Utopia, Powermonger, Genesia, and more vaguely to Theme
Park, Mega lo Mania and even another of Blue Byte's creations,
The game itself has two titles: "The Settlers" being the English
release, and "Serf City: Life is Feudal", the American. It is
really a sort of medieval foray in which you must build your own
little settlement with the aim of ultimately attacking, and
defeating, your enemies.
After my successes in writing about games like Sim City 2000,
Theme Park, UFO: Enemy Unknown, and Desert Strike, I've now
decided to create this huge selection of hints and tips to cover
the widest area of features deserving of mention in this game.
This documents covers the main aspects of the game in parts 1 to
nine, (for example, buildings, roads, food, mines etc.) then the
final part, part ten, covers a very loose step-by-step guide you
could follow to help yourself through the first few minutes of
Anyway, enough chat. Onto the tips...
Part One - Placing your castle
Obviously, the first building you've got to worry about is your
castle. The positioning of this at the start of the game is a
big factor in how successful you can be later on - so choose your
Firstly, take a bit of time to survey the whole area to see what
the possibilities are. There are a few obvious hints in location
choice like you must be near mountains, forests and lakes. Also,
remember that deserts are completely useless, so it's no good
building in one of these.
There are two options available to you really: either you place
your castle quickly before his, or you let him go first to give
yourself longer to think. The first of those two can lead to
your opponent placing his castle near your border to limit your
movement once he knows where you are, but if you take the second
option you could find that your opponent takes the prime spot in
the landscape leaving you in a less desirable position. I
recommend that you take this second option, because, although you
may lose out on the best spot, this is far better than being
crippled by your enemy starting up near your border and shutting
you off from some vital resources.
Part Two - Starting up
When you have your castle down you need to start building up your
little town. It's quite likely that the area around your castle
worth building on (ie, the flat land) is cluttered with rock
and trees, so by placing a quarryman and a lumberjack you can
clear the area ready for building, and generate some useful
building materials at the same time. When the area is clear and
ready for building on, burn down the two huts, and you're ready
Probably your first job after doing this is to build some guard
huts at the limits of your territory. This will expand your area
quickly, which is, or course, one of the main ideas of the game
in the first place.
Now you need to think about creating the rest of your town. When
you initially start up, don't try to build too many buildings at
once. If you do this, your workers will be slowed down and your
knights spread thinner over your territory.
At the beginning of the game you will find that you will need
quite a lot of everything, but things should get easier as you go
through. Just remember that you WILL run out of wood, for
example, if you forget to build a sawmill early on, so always be
on your toes and build everything that you're going to need.
One of the best layouts for a town is to have your castle near
the centre, and the different 'industries' to each side. So, for
example, you could have your castle in the middle, then mines and
metalworks to one side, food and farming to another, and forestry
and saw-milling to a third. This will reduce travelling time to
a minimum, and avoid clogging up roads.
Part Three - Construction
One thing to think about before constructing a new building is
enemy presence. Do not build anything new if you know that the
enemy is within reach, especially if that enemy is building, or
is about to build, a watch-tower or guardhouse. If you do do
this, and you are unlucky enough for his building to be completed
before yours, his border will sometimes approach and invade your
territory, cutting off some of your buildings. This leads to
the building being destroyed, together with all the stock inside
it, which is a big loss to any player unless you're cheating!
As well as putting buildings near to the stocks they will use
(Eg, fisherman's huts near to the lakes), it is also important to
think about where to position them in relation to other
buildings. For example, buildings that rely on each other would
be much better close by to save lots of time travelling between
them, and buildings that go together to create a little
'production line' would be best in that order, with the last
building near to where the final product will be used. Two useful
examples of this may be :-
ж A lumberjack, a forester and a sawmill close by will create an
almost constant stream of building planks ready to be sent off
to wherever they're needed, and it involves no interaction
with the castle, saving time, and reducing congestion.
ж By having foundries on the foothills of mined mountains, and
then blacksmiths and toolmakers in between there and the
castle, you create a little production line. Basically, the
iron ore from the mine goes to the foundry, the coal from
another mine and the iron from the foundry go to the
blacksmith and the toolmakers, then the weapons and tools from
the tool-maker and blacksmith can be transported directly to
the castle for distribution.
...Creating these little set-ups will save time, reduce
congestion, and probably increase output as well, so it's worth
thinking about it when laying down your buildings etc.
Part Four - Buildings
Early on it is advisable to set building occupancy to weak,
because there is no need to guard buildings which won't get
attacked this early on in the game. It is far better to leave
your knights in the castle where they will get trained up
quicker, and be ready for attack. Later on in the game when the
enemy comes close in a threatening mood, increase the occupancy
level again ready for the oncoming attack.
Boatyards are only important in those levels where there is lots
of water about. Remember that you will only need a certain
amount of boats, so to conserve wood, turn off it's delivery to
the boat-yard as soon as you have enough boats, otherwise you're
just wasting it.
Obviously castles are very important, and you will undoubtedly
know quite a lot about them from playing the game and from the
manual. One thing I can add is a little cheaty tip you can use
when placing your castle. If your enemy finds an excellent place
to put his castle in a level, immediately restart the level and
place your castle there before he can! Ooooh, what fun!
Farms are the other main food source for your settlement. A farm
can produce corn for flour then bake the flour for bread, as well
as growing corn straight for pig food. (Don't you ever wonder
where they get the yeast from??) You should find that two farms
will suffice for a small settlement, but after a while you will
find the need to build more as demand for food increases.
Obviously, the best place for farms is in wide, flat areas where
farmers can have the best fields.
Fishermen's huts are also very important at the start of the
game, because fish are the easiest way of feeding your workers.
As an added problem in the game, it is quite possible to 'over-
fish' a lake, so it's best not to build too many huts around one
lake, and, instead, to conserve stocks by allowing reserves to
re-build after each fishing spree.
Sawmills are very important buildings because they process the
trees cut down by your woodcutters into planks ready to be used
in building. You are really going to need a sawmill right at the
start of the game to get straight to work at creating the
necessary materials for early building.
A warehouse is very similar to a castle, so is a very important
building and should be protected by at least one stronghold. If
you lose a warehouse it can be a very big blow to your campaign.
One of the best 'uses' of a warehouse is for training knights
because they will be taught much faster in a warehouse than in a
These two are obviously also very important because without them
you won't even have the wood for the sawmill to plank. Because
the two do completely opposite jobs (ie, one cutting down, and
one planting trees), it's a good idea to have the two working in
harmony with each other, so that as one chops down an old forest,
the other can start planting another. If you're wondering about
the best place to start a new forest, one that grows on the
slopes of a mountain is your best bet since this uses up
otherwise useless land and conserves the flat land for building
Part Five - Roads
If you are to become successful in this game you will need to
have a good road network at all times. If your network is poor,
or non-existent, things can get completely clogged up as you
build a bigger and bigger empire. Important goods can get slowed
down as transporters move less-important goods out of the way,
and this leads to everything slowing down and becoming much less
The best road-network to construct is a little Milton Keynes type
grid of roads that covers your whole land. This is best as it
gives your workers and transporters the best chance of a direct
route to their destination, saving valuable time and helping to
The worst road-network you can build is one where all roads lead
to and from your major buildings in sort of star shapes. This
doesn't work at all because, for anyone to go anywhere they have
to take long routes to places they don't want to go to, before
they can then go on to their desired destination.
One thing you musn't do is to change the path to a building
whilst rock or wood is being transported there. This will
bewilder the men doing the transporting, and more than often
they'll just turn around and head back the way they came!
Another aspect of transporting is the 'flags'. Transporters will
always take the shortest route possible to their destination, and
this is calculated by the number of these 'flags' that are passed
- the more 'flags', the longer the journey. Because of this,
reducing the number of flags to the minimum will also minimise
When laying roads, try to keep them as flat as possible. If it is
a necessity to lay a steep road (appearing red), then put a flag
either side of the hill, so you have one transporter going up and
down the hill slowly, while other transporters can go further,
Whilst building roads, you must take into consideration the land
that they take up. If you build too many roads you will start
taking over more and more land leaving less space for planting
new trees to replace those already cut down. The more and more
you do this the less and less trees you will have in the future,
and as trees are the most important ingredient in expansion, this
is no good thing. Basically, although you do need roads, you
need to be a little careful in where you put them, so you need to
plan ahead and not just chuck them down all over the place.
Part Six - Mining, Tools and Weapons
When deciding which mines to build, remember that coal mines are
far more important than the other, so you should have at least
twice as many of these that the alternatives.
It is important to get a tool maker up and running BEFORE you run
out of tools because he cannot make them quickly. It doesn't
really matter where you build his hut, so just slot it into any
When attack is impending, it is important to build several
blacksmiths with their support structures, plus mines and gold
foundries. If you don't take these precaution you won't have
weapon stocks when battle arrives, and it will be too late then
because weapon production is very slow.
It is best to space your blacksmiths, gold mines and foundries
widely around your land so that your enemy cannot halt your whole
production with just the capture of one of your guard posts.
(Ie, he may stop the production of one mine, foundry or
blacksmith, but you will have many others, a long way from the
captured one, which can continue production for you.)
Part Seven - Food
At the very beginning of a new game then the best food to produce
is fish, because this is a quick and easy way to feed your mine
workers. All you need to do is build your fisherman's hut near
the water and you're away.
One of the silly parts of this game is the fact that the only
need for food is in feeding miners. But, hey, don't complain;
this means that if, for some reason, you don't have any mines
working, you don't need to produce any food at all!
The above means that you don't need to produce as much food as
you might think. Over-producing just wastes time as your little
men lug bread, bacon and fish around your roads, creating
congestion too. It also means that if you are busy making too
much food you're wasting land with farms that you don't even
If you do have mines running (which 95% of the time you will),
then I recommend that you don't bother with pig farming.
Instead, once you've got up and running a bit, rely less on your
fisherman by building up until you have three corn farms, a baker
and two windmills. This lot should do the job of feeding the
workers from at least ten mines all year round.
Part Eight - Attacking
Unlike in other, similar games, battle isn't the best way of
doing things. It is far better to hang on and not fight until
you absolutely have to, in order to give yourself the best chance
of winning. Also, there is no point in fighting for small
pickings, so only fight when there's something good to be won
like a mountain containing a vital material.
Instead of directly attacking your enemy (ie, sending in your
knights), it is better to keep enlarging your territory by
building guard posts on your border. Doing this gives you the
opportunity to rotate your knights between the castle and the
guardpost, so some are defending the guardposts, whilst the
others are training in the castle. You can then keep rotating
this, ensuring that the guardposts are always satisfactorily
defended, and you will ultimately get a good strong army of
highly ranked knights ready to attack when needed.
Getting your knights into good nick before making your first
attacks is vital. At the start of the game you'll find that your
knights have low armour, and are in bad training. The best way
to get them trained up is to build plenty of warehouses, because
they offer the best training. If that's not an option, knights
can also be trained in the garrisons, although this is less
proficient. The best rule to use is that your knights should be
used as late as possible to give them the best chance of being
The first thing to remember is that only 'military' buildings
(watch-towers, strongholds, and guard towers) can be attacked
during play. The first thing to do when weighing up the
possibility of attacking a building, or just when trying to find
out about it, is to look at the flag that is flying outside it.
Of course, the colour of this immediately shows you who occupies
the building, but you'll also find that the higher the flag is
flying on the pole, the more soldiers are defending the building.
This allows you to see whether it's likely you'll be able to
capture the building or not.
The best attacking tactic is to save your game before every
battle, and then again if you win the battle. That way, if you
lose, you can re-load and be none the worse for wear. This
allows you to try some more risky attacks like using only one
captain to attack an enemy castle. This kind of battle is
possible to win - one in about five tries usually - so you can
keep restarting until you make it.
When you do come to make an attack, don't just attack anything -
it is important to make the attack count. Try to select targets
that will cause the most problems for your enemy if you control
them. For example, if you can find a well-used road in his
empire, then attacking and controlling this means that whatever
used to pass down it cannot any more. An example would be a road
where raw materials go from a mine to a foundry - after all,
it's no good your enemy mining iron ore if he can't get it to a
foundry to process!
Another possibility might be to attack and cut off a little
'pocket' of your enemy's territory, so there's no way he can
expand it or try and get it back. This allows you to destroy it,
or keep it and gloat to your enemy for as long or as little as
Finally, when selecting a post to attack, look to see whether
your opponent is fickle enough to have but one blacksmith or
foundry. If he does, and it is possible to attack these, it is
possible for you to halt your opponent's entire weapon or tool
production in one fell swoop!
Another good reason for attacking might be to take control of a
guard post which has an extremely valuable resource piled up by
the flag outside. It may get to the stage where it is worth
doing this at the loss of a few knights, because the resource is
so valuable for you to get control of. (Or, if you're mean like
that, so your enemy can't have it!)
If you are looking to attack a big enemy fort, you must have a
strength and morale level of at least 90%. To increase morale,
collect gold, as each piece collected will increase your knight's
morale, and you'll also find that winning battles has a positive
effect on morale. Another thing to think about is your supply of
weapons. I suggest that you build a weapon maker as soon as
possible to give a large collection of weapons. The raw
materials needed for swords and shields are coal and iron, so
take these into consideration when you position things too.
Another thing to bear in mind with knights is their tiredness.
If they have to walk a long way to the front line they will get
tired on the journey and be less effective in battle. Their
status is shown with four symbols ranging from active on the left
to sleeping on the right, so refer to this to help you plan out
Part Nine - Defending
Defensive possibilities in this game are rather limited to say
the least! If you find yourself in a situation where your front
line has an unsatisfactory number of knights, you can reduce the
number manning third line and inner guard posts, and some will
then leave these areas and go back to the castle. From the
castle the knights can then go onto the front line and man the
unsatisfactorily defended guard posts. The main problem with this
method is that the knights will spend a long time walking around,
so you must act quickly so you don't get attacked before the
If it comes to the situation where you can see the enemy marching
upon one of your guard posts, there is little you can do about
it! As long as the enemy is still a fair way away, (if they're
close you won't be able to do this) you could destroy the
targeted guard post so that, although it will be lost, it won't
get into enemy hands.
Another possibility would be to find the nearest enemy garrison
and attack this. If you are lucky, your troops will begin to
march on this, but they will meet the approaching enemy army on
the way, and begin to attack them there. This means that your
building stays in safety - at least for now. The only thing to
worry about is the fact that your troops must see the enemy ones,
or vice-versa, for the confrontation to occur, so if there's a
mountain in the way, for example, the two armies could march past
each other and you'll look incredibly silly!
Part Ten - An Example Step-by-Step Start
The following guide by no means compensates the tips in parts 1
to 9. It does not cover many aspects of the game, and misses out
some vital tips. It's just a quick piece to help you get into
the game and start your own little civilisation.
The first decision is placing your castle. It might be a good
idea to survey the different mining locations first, and position
it at the best of these; one with water and forests if possible.
The first buildings to construct should be guard posts on your
border to expand territory.
After this you can loosely say that you now need at least one of
each construction except for the boat yard, butcher and pig farm.
The first to get up and running should be some mines, so get the
geologists out and find some good mines, then get them set-up.
Next you'll need to find some food for the miners, so build 1 or
2 fisherman's huts by a lake.
Next you need some building materials. Build a woodcutter with a
forester so that one compensates for the other, then build a
stone cutter. When the latter of these has exhausted the surface
stone in the area, burn down his hut then build another for him
somewhere else, otherwise he'll be forever perambulating around
your land trying to find his way home!
You now need to convert the logs from the woodcutter into some
wood planks ready for building. To do this, build a sawmill
close to your castle. As well as this, build the other
manufacturing buildings, going in the order of production, with
the final building closest to your castle (ie, mine furthest
away, then foundry, then tool-maker, blacksmith and goldsmith
closest to the castle).
Soon you will find that your miners start running out of food, so
get a corn farm up and running. To process it's corn you'll also
need a windmill or a baker nearby.
As your power becomes greater, it would help to build a new
goldsmith to get more morale-boosting gold, and another armourer
to increase your fighting power.
That'll do for now folks...
Hope this increases your success in this smart game...