Northgard: UI design fail

All RTS games have some form of resource management. Northgrad has a very unique, engaging and “realistic” system: in winter your food generation ability is limited, while your firewood usage increases. So you must stock up for the winter. Just like the real life vikings had to. There was a reason why raids happened in wintertime: they didn’t have to attend their crops. “Winter is coming” was real back then.

I play a lot with this game and here is my closest defeat in the “defeat 7 AI on Hard with Domination Win only while they are allowed to win other ways”:

I really believe that Northgrad has something to rise it over the flock of RTS-es and make it a success. However the horrible UI ruined this mechanic and made it a frustrating nonsense. To explain my point, I restarded the game until I got a food-rich starting pocket and set up a testing colony:

I checked its summer (March – November) and winter (December – February) productions and consumption:

  • Simple villagers: 4-3
  • Farmers: 5-3
  • Fishermen: 4-4
  • Hunters: 4.5-3

So far, so good, the specialists are actually better than this due to upgrades and silo bonuses. But 4-3 what?! It’s clear that 4 is bigger than 3 and the total production – consumption went from +18 to +8 due to the winter. But what the hell these numbers mean? To figure out, I stopped the game right when winter hit and when ended and wrote down the total number of food and wood:

  • Food went from 232 to 359, so I collected 127 units during the winter, while my net increase (the number in the top line) was +8
  • Wood went from 579 to 651, so I collected 72 units, while my net increase was 5

If we divide these numbers, we get 15.9 and 14.4, which are close enough to be rounding errors. Now that I know that I have to multiply the consumption minus the winter production with approximately 15 and have to stockpile that to make it trough the winter.

So a villager produces approximately 20 food per month. But for some weird reason the UI doesn’t tell us that. It tells us “4” which is a meaningless number. Without doing this test, all I can do is wish and hope that I stockpiled enough, making it frustrating instead of challenging. All they had to do is use the monthly value instead of this whatever internal unit they are displaying.

Author: Gevlon

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6 thoughts on “Northgard: UI design fail”

  1. I presume in the first picture you were the green one.
    The problems with UI do not end with unintuitive displayed information. Numerical errors (hopefully, due to rounding) are present in the last two screenshots. 8+10+8+9-18=17<18 and 10-2=8<9 in the second to last and 10-6=4<5 in the last one.
    How to calculate required firewood during winter? Consumption seemingly doesn't change (whether it should or not needs separate discussion).


  2. @retsep: yes, that’s likely rounding. 0.4*3 = 1.2 but if we round everything, we get 0*3=1. This is hilarious, but common. It would however decrease if they would use the larger monthly values, because larger numbers mean relatively lower portion lost.

    Liked by 1 person

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