A random battle in Northgard (I wrote about the game yesterday) has multiple victory conditions, similarly to Civilization games, beside the obvious: kill them all! You can turn them off at the start except the mentioned domination. You can constantly monitor the progress of other players or AIs:
The AI of Northgard is very good. It’s not your usual cheater AI that creates units out of thin air, it seems to be bound by the game rules (I’ve seen them starve on a long cold winter). On the other hand it’s pretty smart, it waits for a good opportunity to attack.
You might have guessed that my favorite win condition is trade, which is kind of easy-mode, because the game wasn’t balanced for it, probably just assuming that if the players don’t like it, they will just turn it off in their own single player game or multiplayer with friends. It just needs you to turtle up and generate gold, loading it into the “lighthouse” which turns gold into points and you win by reaching 2000.
It’s easy to defend yourself if you aren’t leaving your starting pocket. You start in a corner and have a few zones that are easy to conquer (undefended or defended only by a few wolves) and surrounded by mountains, making them safe. Then on one side you face lands owned by the undead who are much harder to defeat and those central zones are accessible to all players. You can see this in these series of map screenshots from the victory replay, all taken in Novembers of the consecutive game years:
For a trade or science victory all you need is the ability to adopt to the unique qualities of the map to start up fast, conquer your pocket, take maybe a few undead lands before anyone else does, then the towers will do the rest. One piece of good early-game advice: you don’t need a standing army. You can raise a pair of warriors, use them to defeat some wolves and then convert the injured warriors back to civilians. They’ll still be injured, but they won’t stand around uselessly, but for example heal themselves after turning them into healers.
Any enemy trying to take you out needs overwhelming force, not only because of your towers and the bonuses of the “guardian” military path, but because if he enters your pocket, his army will be away from defending his own holdings, making him easy to backstab. The AI is pretty good in backstabbing and “relations” you’ve risen with trading means nothing to him.
I tend to believe that to fully master the challenges of the game, you must win a domination victory, by disallowing every other victory type at start. To explain the difficulty of the task, I’ve played 40 hours before winning my first of those on hard mode. I find this game extremely fun, because it’s challenging. This game has the best anti-snowballing mechanics I’ve ever seen:
- To conquer a land, you must first kill its defenders (other faction or wolves or undead), then pay food (or gold for one clan) to make it your own. Capturing the first land takes 20 units of food, but the price goes up fast, so you can’t just conquer and chain-capture. Even if the enemy can put up zero resistance, you must either wait between captures or leave zones uncaptured. Attacking a land not adjacent to yours is hard, because you can’t just retreat to heal and your soldiers get a penalty for distances. Also, the compressed enemy can cheaply recapture the empty lands and set up towers.
- The military unit costs go up. Buying your first warrior takes 20 gold. The second costs 25. So if you have 10 warriors, you’ll be paying 65 gold for replacement, every time one dies.
- You don’t just “buy” soldiers. You turn civilians into soldiers for money and civilians arrive to the town hall in time. The time is depending on how much happiness you have (you don’t get anyone if you have negative) and how many citizens you have. So replacing the lost 50th person takes much more time than replacing the lost 10th.
I plan to win the game with all clans with domination, we’ll see if I can make it. Please note that I can’t remember when did I say “if I can make it” in a game. The games of today became so easy that only the speed or optimized minimum effort to win is in question, not winning itself.
Northgard is a game I can really recommend if you don’t hate the RTS genre.