I finally figured out the winning strategy in Northgard and won with both the Goat and the Stag clan. I’m currently playing with the Wolf clan and have no doubt that I’ll win. The strategy is that I can still turtle up and slowly build up an economy in a relatively confined space and when I can support a 10+ sized army, I push forward in a straight line towards the nearest enemy capital, then to the next and the next. You can see the game time indicator on the bottom of these pictures, showing how little time passed between the elimination of the first enemy clan and the last one:
I also learned to bypass the increasing capture costs with clans different from the wolf whose leader can capture for free on cooldown: utilizing enemies and neutral monsters: if a province is threatened which isn’t vital for the economy (typically: food resource) or needed for connection with the other provinces, I evacuate my people and demolish the buildings. If the enemy takes it, it’s no longer in my province count, so the capture cost goes down.
I think the ultimate challenge in Northgard (besides PvP, which has a pretty dead ladder system, due to low player count) is to allow all victory conditions for the AIs, but restrict yourself to domination, on a huge map (the pictures are from a large one). This way you must attack fast, to prevent enemy clans win with science, trade or fame. This is one where I was on the way for a domination win, when I’ve lost due to science:
However, this is just a pretext for today’s main point: genocide. On the picture you can see the enemy capital. All those units are civilians, as the enemy military is already defeated and they are probably unable to hire more, due to gold shortage. At the bottom you can see my army. When I invaded that province, all of the civilians tried to defend it and they died to the last man:
This bothers me. It’s both evil in the XXI century sense and dumb in the contemporary sense. Back then people weren’t slaughtered for no reason, they were made vassals or slaves, especially women. While it probably wasn’t fun, it was better than being slain. Games should respect that and allow some form of defeat for the factions that isn’t being wiped out. I wouldn’t even mind some government action that limits genocidal games to 18+.
There is a similar bad mechanic: rewarding killing your wounded citizens. If a citizen has less than 100% HP, he’ll work with 80% efficiency and having more than 3 of them causes -1 happiness, which is a precious resource at the beginning of the game. So it’s better to just send these citizens to a suicide mission and let the town hall replace them, as healing is extremely ineffective early game. This is both evil and unnatural. Wounded people either die without healing or recuperate on their own. So the HP should slowly go up or down without intervention naturally.