I failed a ton at this game before figuring out some basics. Here is a collection of tips to hopefully help other folks similar to myself. Included is a step by step guide for if you're just starting out and can't get a handle on why things are broken, and later I go over common beginner issues in each section so you can look them up if you basically get it but are struggling in one area.
Are You Blind
I'm vision impaired, so yeah, the default settings for this game are really, really hard to use. Here's how to make it a bit better!
First, open the Menu by clicking that tiny white box thing in the top right corner of your screen. Click on the third icon down, which looks like a TV or computer screen, to open the Settings.
On the very first tab, you have Scaling! Go ahead and make everything bigger. I selected 2.00, which makes it 1.80 but hey, much better than the default.
This does cause some issues with some windows, particularly the Market window, which gets rather long and even though a scrollbar shows up, you still can't see the bottom. You also can't drag it higher up, because you can only drag from the top of the window. But, a minor frustration compared to not being able to play at all.
Under the Graphics tab, you can also mess with your resolution and various other settings if you're having framerate issues.
What to Do First
- Build a village center.
- Assign Builders-- I usually start with three and then give them new jobs after I've done the initial building.
- Build a stonecutter camp. You should, like all resources, place this camp as close to the rocks as possible. Basically on top of them is fine! This reduces travel time and generally makes everything more efficient.
- Assign a villager to the stonecutter camp once completed. Just one for now. You won't get any stone until you assign someone. You need to use the paintbrush over the stone, as well as any trees or berries nearby, or else your people will ignore them.
- Build a well, your people need this for water so it's always important to do it first.
- Build a lumber camp, again right along the trees, and assign one Woodcutter. You need wood to build everything else, so this is an important next step. Make sure you used the paintbrush to assign the trees-- I like to just use the fir trees because you can reforest them later on, but the other kind can't grow back. I use them for decoration, though you don't get any Splendor for it.
- Now that you have wood, build a gathering hut right on top of those berry bushes. Now you've got food and ideally your people will not starve.
- However! Your people can't just eat berries from your inventory. Therefore, you need to set up a market and sell berries for them to eat. Or else they will starve and abandon you. One might think a minimalist approach is good for the market, but that will actually cause you some problems later on when you want to build a church. So put in a food stall, but add a few decorations-- at least four, that way you have 2 Labor Splendor (Splendor is separate for each group) to unlock fisher's huts. (You cannot upgrade to Serfs without fish or bread and fish is generally easier as long as you have water nearby, if not trade for bread.) When the food stall is done, you need to click on it and assign berries as the item you are selling. You may also choose to assign a shopkeeper to man the stall-- I think people will buy anyway, but they help refill the shop's stock when it goes low so it's important.
- At this point, you can build a sawmill and stonemason hut. I always do a sawmill first, since stone comes a bit later. But you do need lots of stone for a church and you can't get Commoners without a church, so both is good. I assign one person to each at start, then add another one or two people to each of the camps to make sure I'm getting enough materials.
- Next you will want to build a warehouse! You can unlock trading once you have 20 planks, but I recommend building a warehouse first. DO NOT build a forester camp before you have one completed warehouse. I don't know why, but this breaks things and your Carpenters will stop producing planks forever. Do the warehouse first, then use planks to unlock your first trade gig.
- It's time to give your people houses. Use the paintbrush to designate some residential areas for them to build. I recommend getting basic building out of the way early because housing takes up a lot of your builders' time. OF NOTE, individual houses can be upgraded to fit more people-- there is a checkbox that controls this. For now, leave it on, but later, you will want to remember to turn this off for old areas so people actually move into new territory.
- Build a forester camp, as you are probably running out of trees at this point. Make sure you paint areas that you want reforested, and assign a worker to plant trees.
- If you have enough stone, I recommend building a church! This will allow your Serfs to level up to Commoners, and that gives you some new territory to work with. You will want to have at least 2 Clergy Splendor through fancy building, but hey, go for more if you can. Church is very important in keeping people happy, and you can build up Clergy Splendor for later on. I usually make this high priority if I have nothing else going on.
- Now that have free territory from completing quests. Go ahead and select some land! It will increase your taxes, but you'll have more space to expand and hopefully more resources too. You should make sure your people have their basic needs covered before you start using these resources, however. If they have food, water, and housing before you start using the resources, things will go a lot faster because they don't have to run back to your old town center for every little thing.
- To that end, the first thing you want to set up is a well, followed by a market. Decorate the market! Then use the paintbrush to assign housing. Once the houses are done, you can start exploiting those resources! You should also have a fisher's hut unlocked, since you made a church, and that can help bring in more food. Add a second food stall to your first market and all markets after. You should have about one market per hex, with housing close to the market and well. Make sure to assign fish to the second food stall.
Alright, that is the very basics of starting a new game. By following this advice, you should be able to survive long enough to start figuring other things out for yourself.
If you don't want a whole list, and are having beginner problems with just one specific thing, feel free to skip down to the appropriate section below.
The very first resource you want to get is stone, so you can build a well. After that, you won't need tons of stone until you build your first church, so concentrate on lumber instead. You will want to place your camps right next to the resource in question-- this makes everything much more efficient and is more important the longer you play.
In the beginning, each camp can employ up to three people-- if you want to stock up more than that you can build multiple camps. So that you have room, make sure NOT to build your houses right on top of your resources-- give them a little breathing room.
Early in the game, you will get the option to reforest and grow back trees. This will be important as you will run out of wood. However, reforestation only applies to fir trees, so if you like the look of the broadleaf forests, don't chop them down.
If the firs are right on the boarder of your broadleafs, you can use Q and E to rotate the camera and make sure you're painting right at the border. Also useful if you want to reforest an area and avoid your houses.
So, I didn't realize this in the beginning, but markets are just like building a multi-part building, like a church or keep. Each shop is actually a piece of the whole market-- not an individual building, the way a sawmill or stonemason hut is. You do not go to the build menu each time you want to add a new stall-- doing so will accidentally create multiple markets, and none of them but the first will be used. Instead, click on an existing stall and select Edit, then add whatever you want!
Now, if you're like me, you may think "Okay, I'll just put down a food stall so my people don't starve, I'm not producing goods yet and resources are slim, so why bother with decoration." And that is a mistake.
For you see, you cannot unlock new buildings, such as a fishing hut (gives fish) or a manor (increases money cap) without Splendor. And even though they all use the same image, Splendor is separate for Labor, Kingdom, and Clergy. So if you think building a wooden keep will unlock these buildings by adding Splendor, that is not the case. You must make your markets fancy.
I personally started with fences, because they're nice and help break up different sections visually. If you want your fence pieces to match up, there's a trick to it. Match up the top circle of the new fence post with the top circle of the old post. If you try to do it another way, such as the green outline, that won't work. Because a bunch of the fence, like when placing other buildings, is underground and thus you won't see it at all. Similarly, if you're placing shop stalls, the bottom of the stall you will see needs to be your guide instead of the green outline.
Quests / Warehouses
Warehouses store goods. You also need to use them if you want to buy things via trade. A warehouse can store up to 50 of one item, with four types of items. You can store all four of the same type if you want. You cannot complete any quests without a warehouse!
If you get a quest to provide, say, berries, and you have like 200 berries, so you think "Eh, I'll be fine!" No, you will not be fine. You must put the berries in the warehouse. Now, let's say you set one of the four slots to berries, and then click either Accept or Stock Maximum, but for some reason... Your people aren't putting anything in there?
Well, if you are only using the warehouse to trade, then yeah, you don't need to assign a worker there. In fact, you shouldn't as it's a bit of a waste. However, if you need to actually get a stock of items in there for, say, a quest, then you gotta assign Transporters.
However, even if you have Transporters and all your settings are correct, you might not be able to save up any stock! Why is this? Well, various workers may be using up your supplies, or storing them in their camps instead of in the warehouse. You can force them to put stuff in the warehouse by using the Stockpile feature.
First, open the Resource Tab (the white box next to Happiness at the top). Honestly, it's a good idea to always keep this open in the bottom right corner of your screen, or just the right side as it will eventually get pretty tall. Then, click the Stockpile button next to your berries.
Be Warned however, that for food items this should only be a temporary thing! If you're Stockpiling, no food is going to the market, so your people will starve. It's best to use this for the quest, click the green checkbox to turn it in early, and then stop Stockpiling immediately.
Non-food goods which are being stockpiled will also be unavailable for building. So it's good if you want to save up one resource for a big project, like saving stone for a church, but you have to stop Stockpiling before they can use it for said project.
Splendor / Unlocking Buildings
You may have noticed at the start of your game you do not have many buildings. And if, like me, you started playing without watching a YouTube tutorial or watched one but didn't pay attention, you may have gotten pretty far wondering why your Novices have not become Serfs or similar such questions.
As it turns out, Foundation has a stat called Splendor-- and actually this is three different stats all with the same name. You have Labor Splendor, Kingdom Splendor, and Clergy Splendor. Even though they have the same name and icon, they are in fact different.
You will want to make sure you get at least 2 of each Splendor as early as possible as this unlocks many of the basic buildings that you need to survives. In particular, fishing huts, which give fish allowing you to not be solely reliant on berries in early game (as long as you have a water source) and a manor, which is very useful as it raises the gold cap. I played quite far, and did many military missions, wasting a lot of gold, because I had not unlocked manors yet. Very unfortunate, may you avoid my mistakes.
Gain this by making your markets fancy. Getting 2 Labor Splendor will help you unlock fisher's huts and manors, which you need to upgrade your peeps from Novices to Serfs. If you don't have room for the tents, which latch onto your stalls, you can add fences. They don't take up much space at all, and form a pleasing natural barrier for your market.
If you want your fences to line up, the trick is to align them NOT by the green outline, which extends underground and is generally confusing, but by matching the circular top of the old fence to the circular top of the existing fence. It won't be exact, but it will look quite nice! Similarly, when placing your stalls, don't base their position off the green outline, instead the real position will be the non-green posts while the rest will be underground.
Early game, I believe you just get this from completing quests to help the king. I kept 10 Bread in my storehouse and 50 Berries, which allowed me to complete most of the quests that popped up. Later on, you can build fancy military installments and train soldiers. This is a great way to make money! And a good use of spare people without jobs. A basic Wooden Keep will hold up to 10 soldiers, and the King usually asks for only 5 at a time. The reward is 1000 gold and 1 free territory! But if you haven't built a manor, you can only hold 500 gold at once, so the rest is wasted. So get on that!
Early game, you can only get this from completing quests and choosing to help the church. After you get 2, you can unlock a new building-- the Rustic Church. You need this to upgrade your peeps from Serfs to Commoners.