How to Play "Northgard": A Starting Guide and Tips for the Gameplay, Clans and More

Updated on July 22, 2019
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Red is a computer and video game enthusiast working as a Freelance Computer Troubleshooter. When not tinkering, he is gaming.

This article contains guides and tips for new players of Northgard. Contents include guides for:

  • setting up a game.
  • choosing a clan.
  • understanding the user's interface.
  • gameplay rules.
  • tips and tricks of the game.

This article is updated up to the recent expansion called Relics.

The Menu Screen showing the recent expansion released on March 2019.
The Menu Screen showing the recent expansion released on March 2019.

Setting Up a Game

Northgard's Story Mode feature is a good place to start learning the mechanics of the game. You can now play the Multiplayer but I would not recommend it for first time players. Playing Single Player against AI is a good way to begin.

There are two game modes available in single and multiplayer.

  • Northgard: This mode is is the normal mode. World Hostility in this mode ranges from Low to High.
  • Ragnarok: This is a harder game mode. World Hostility ranges from Medium to Extreme. Ragnarok mode adds additional gameplay rules and content. You can read more about the additional content here.

Map Type

The Map Type does not add any significant value to the game except for aesthetics.

Map Size

  • Small: Good for duel games.
  • Medium: Good for three to four players.
  • Large: Good for four to six players.
  • Huge: Good enough for eight players.

Did You Know?

All maps are randomly generated. It means that when you start another game, it would be a different map each time, with different starting position, monsters and resources.

Victory Conditions

You can tick off what you do not want.

  • Domination - Win the game through sheer force. Take out all your opponents. You defeat an opponent by taking out their Town Hall. This is a default condition. It cannot be unchecked.
  • Wisdom - Win the game through research (called Lore in-game). The first to research Ancestral Knowledge wins the game.
  • Trade - Win the game by taking all the Commercial Influence. This means you got to have a decent amount of Krown (in-game Money) income.
  • Fame - Win the game by becoming the highest ranking player. You win by being the first player to reach 1200 Fame or the rank of Jarl.
  • Map Special - Win the game by completing a special map objective.

The story mode helps the player get acquainted with the mystical world of Northgard.
The story mode helps the player get acquainted with the mystical world of Northgard.

Choosing Your Clan

There are six free clans and three DLC clans available to choose from. Each clan has different bonuses and specialties that can contribute to your strategy in winning the game.

Fenrir (The Wolf Clan)

Suggested Playstyle: Aggressive Expansion, Balanced Offense and Defense

The Wolf Clan's unique relic is the Horn of Managarm. It allows the player to summon up to three player-controlled white wolves. White wolves act like Skirmisher units.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
The Fenrir clan starts with the ability to get meat from killing animal monsters in the game such as wolves and brown bears. Meat is Food which is an an important resource in Northgard. Fenrir's military units also eats 30% less food and their unit provides Happiness.
At 200 Fame, Fenrir clan's special unit, the Berserker, can colonize cleared areas without cost. Reaching 500 Fame, gives Fenrir's military units 15% attack bonus when fighting outside their territory. Also lowers down the Berserker's colonize ability by 50%.

Eikthyrnir (The Stags)

Suggested Playstyle: Aggressive Expansion, Trade Focus, Fame Focus

The clan's unique relic is the Hlidskjalf. It gives the player's warchief the Annexation ability: colonizing a recently decolonized territory is free.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
The Stags start with 75 more Food, Wood and Krowns. They also have the Hall of the Skalkds, instead of the brewery, which not only gives Happiness but Fame as well.
At 200 Fame, the Stags gains 150 Food, Wood, and Krowns on top of 10 Stone. Reaching 500 Fame gives 10% more production bonus for upgrades buildings.

Heidrun (The Goat Clan)

Suggested Playstyle: Aggressive Defense, Turtle Expansion

The clan's unique relic is the Gefjun's Jar. The player can summon villagers at the expense of food. It reduces the required Happiness of the player's population as well.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
Goats start with 1 Sheep, a source of Meat. They can also build a Sheepfold, which is unique to their clan. Goats also have 30% increase of production bonus when Feasting.
At 200 Fame, the Goats' workers tool improvement costs zero Krowns and Iron. Forging speed of upgraded tools are improved by 50% as well. Reaching 500 Fame gives the Goats 1 free feast as well as an effect of 20% more resistance for your towers and military units when feasting.

Huginn and Muninn (The Ravens)

Suggested Playstyle: Harassment, Expansionist, Trade Focus

The clan's unique relic is the Naglfar. It gives the ability to send Mercenary Giants. The units have an Area of Effect attack that damages and scares enemy units.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
This clan colonizes territories using Krowns instead of Food. They can also build the Harbor which give you the ability to explore coastal areas and send Mercenary attacks.
At 200 Fame, the clan gains 3 villagers, 3 max population, and 1 happiness for free. 500 Fame allows you to hire Mercenaries you can use to raid coastal areas.

Bjarki (The Bears)

Suggested Playstyle: Defensive, Survivalist

The clan's unique relic is the Scabbard of Gram. It gives the clan's warchief a legendary sword with 15% bonus attack and defense. The sword freezes enemies upon hitting.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
Bears have 30% reduction from winter penalties on Food and Wood as well as 10% resistance bonus for your military units during winters. They also have the ability to summon Kaija, The Armored Bear at the Training Camp.
200 Fame, gives the Kaija or the Shield Maiden production bonuses to the territories they are stationed. Upon reaching 500 Fame, Shield Maidens give +3 Fame per enemy killed in territories they are in. Moreover, the Bears military units also gain 1% power per 100 Fame and Kaija gains the ability to go to your enemies' territory.

Slidrugtanni (The Boar Clan)

Suggested Playstyle: Lore Focus

The clan's unique relic is the Mask of Gullinbursti. It spawns giant boars in every forest in the map revealing every tile they are in. Giant boars in allied territories defends allies and attacks enemies.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
In place of the Healer's Hut, the Boars have the Mender's Hut. Menders produce Lore when not healing wounded units. The boars also have +2 max population in every territory colonized and they don't have Happiness penalties for non-upgraded houses.
Upon reaching 200 Fame, the Boars gain 1 free knowledge which can be use to unlock one tech research. Reaching 500 Fame gives them a bonus in every Blessing. 70% reduction of blizzard penalty on food and 30% on wood from Freya, +5 Happiness from Baldr, and +10% attacks of towers and Warchief from Jord.

Svafnir (The Snakes) *DLC

Suggested Playstyle: Harassment, Domination Focus

The Snake Clan has no access to Fame. Intead, their hero Signy grows and unlocks abilities.

The clan's unique relic is the Gungnir. It allows unlocking another military path after having one.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
At Age 15: The Cunning, the Snakes start with a war chief called Signy. Iron is nor needed to summon a Spy. Snakes don't have access to Fame but Signy grows up and unlocks new abilities and gets stronger.
At Age 16: Signy gains 5% move speed and gains the ability to attack at range. At age 18, Signy can use Scorched Earth to burn any area during 3 months. A burned area provides 50% production penalty and Snakes' units and buildings gain 50% attack bonus. Signy gains the ability to move faster as well as go through tiles even when there are enemies there.

Nidhogg (The Dragon Clan) *DLC

Suggested Playstyle: Aggressive Expansion, Domination Focus

The clan's unique relic is the Skull of Hrungnir. It allows the summoning of an undead Jotnar.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
The Dragon's civilians can go into neutral territory. They don't have happiness and production penalty if wounded. Dragons start with a Sacrificial Pyre and can build a Dragonkin Altar instead of military camps. They also start with 2 Thralls and only 3 villagers. Thralls can be bought from the Longship Docks.
Upon reaching 200 Fame, Dragons receive 5 Thralls as well as extension to your gauge and bonus increase. At 500 Fame, Dragons gain 10% attack against enemies who are ahead of them in any victory conditions.

Svadilfari (The Horse Clan) *DLC

Suggested Playstyle: Defensive Expansion

The clan's unique relic is the Dainsleif & Tyrfing. It gives Warchiefs 20% attack, defense and max life. Mining and forging are increased by 20%.

Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
The Horse Clan can summon 2 Warchiefs from Volund's Forge. Warchiefs can mine and forge and 10% faster. They don't have access to mines, miners and smiths and their villagers have 25% built and repair speed.
At 200, Horse clan's upgraded tools get an addional 5% production bonus. Seling stones and Iron eartrs 20% Krowns. At 500 Fame. you discover 2 stones and two iron deposits in your inventory Furthermore, you can also build a second relic.

Which of the clans did you play first?

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The Fenrir clan is considered as the best clan to start with when playing the game for the first time.
The Fenrir clan is considered as the best clan to start with when playing the game for the first time.

Understanding Northgard's User Interface

It doesn't take long to familiarize the interface in the game. Every important menu, such as Build, Units, and Lore, are placed on the right. Starting from the top left, here's the important icons and buttons you might need to familiarize:

1. Your Name & Clan

Your player name, as well as other players', are located on the top left. Hovering on your profile name will show your clan's perks and bonuses.

2. Diplomacy

Other players who were not yet discovered by your Scout is named Unknown. When you discover them, another icon (an emoticon) will show you that player's attitude towards you.

3. Fame

Fame is represented by a gold crown. The corresponding rank is displayed beside it. You can also see other player's Fame beside their name.

4. Events

Occasionally, events and reports appear here. Click on the report to locate it on the map. Right-click to dismiss it.

5. Happiness

The first icon is the Happiness icon. It is an important resource and should be kept balanced throughout the game.

6. Food

The next resource is Food. This is the one of the most important resource you should keep on the green.

7. Wood

The next very important resource is Wood. Not only is wood used in building structures, it is extremely needed for firewood especially during winter.

8. Krown

Another important resource is the Krown. Krowns are the in-game money. It is used to upgrade buildings, hire soldiers, and buy resources in the Marketplace.

9. Stones

Stones are used in upgrading buildings.

10. Iron

Iron is used to summon your special military unit/hero and in improving your units' tools.

11. Population/Population Limit

The Population/Population Limit tells you the number of people you have in your clan and the limit you can generate.

12. Warband

The Warband icon tells you how many military units you currently have and the limit you can train.

13. Military Experience

Military Experience shows you how much experience you need to unlock the next Military Path.

14. Lore

Lore icon tells you how far you are in researching the next technology and the amount of Lore you are generating. Click it to open the Lore/Research window.

15. In-game Tips

Occasional tips appear here. You can dismiss the tips by checking the dismiss box.

16. Unit Status Icon

Icons appearing here are of utmost importance. It could be about a wounded unit, an idle worker, and other important notes for your units.

17. Units Interface

All your units are represented here. There are several commands you can issue here.

  • Left clicking on a unit icon will move the camera to its position. Right clicking on a military unit icon will select all the units of that type. Left clicking the Shield icon will select all the Warband available to you.
  • Improving tools needs Iron. If you have a sufficient amount, just left click Improve Tools and select the unit you want their tools improved. Improving tools give bonuses to the unit's production as well as the military unit's power.
  • Organizing Feast gives your units bonuses. Just be sure to have enough resources.
  • Beneath this interface is the Build button. Click it to view the different buildings you can set up.

18. Territory Information

All information about the territory selected appears here. Here you can see the units, buildings, building limit, and resources available in the territory.

19. Selection Information

All information displayed here is about the current unit or building selected.

20. Mini-map

Take note of the resource icons as well as the map icons of special interest.

21. Calendar

The Calendar shows the current timeline you are in. Every division in that bar represents the in-game month. The green field means summer. White and snowy field means winter. Pay attention to this to determine the amount of resources you can use during summer so as not to get caught empty-handed when winter comes. You can also see events of special interest (usually bad ones) in that bar. This is important to prepare your clan for coming event.

22. Controls and Pause Buttons

The Menu and the Pause button can be accessed here.

23. Territory Border

The red band on you territory as well as in the mini-map represents the borders of your territory.

Important Gameplay Rules

Unless major patches came at the time of writing, these rules will stay the same. I will update this when changes are implemented.

  • The entire map is divided into territories. You need a scout to map out the entire continent (er.. island) for you. Your units cannot go to nor colonize undiscovered territories on the map.
  • Scouts die after a number of inhabited territories are discovered. So keep scouting your scouts.
  • To colonize territory, it must first be discovered and uninhabited by other players and monsters.
  • Colonization requires food (except for the Raven clan which uses Krowns) and the cost goes up the more territories you acquire. To colonize a territory, click on it and select Colonize on the menu that pops up.
  • Each territory has a limit for a number of buildings you can build there. Depending on the size of the territory, the initial limit is up to 3. You can Develop the area to move the limit up to 4 or 5 buildings by clicking on that territory and selecting Develop Area. Developing an area costs Krowns.
  • Moving your units to occupied territory is considered an act of war. There is no such thing as a free pass in Northgard.
  • To capture an enemy territory, you must first remove their colonization of the area by moving your military units there and killing off all units in it. A decolonization icon will tick while your units stay on the area. After the decolonization, you can colonize it for yourself.
  • Decolonization will cause the buildings on that territory to slowly burn and be destroyed. If you colonize the area, they will become yours. Be sure to send a villager to repair the buildings you wanted to keep.
  • Towers defending an area will shoot at enemy units (except scouts) wherever they are as long as they're inside that territory.
  • Decolonizing a territory where the Town Hall is located will destroy the Town Hall immediately. A Town Hall destroyed equals a whole player and territory defeated. Some of their units will still live though and attack whoever comes into that area.

Some Tips and Tricks

Here are some helpful tips especially for new players:

  • Scout as much area as possible at the very start of the game. More territories scouted means more options for you to decide how to develop your territories and win the game.
  • Two soldiers are pretty much enough to defend yourself in the first two or three in-game years. Focus your energy in getting as much food and wood as possible in for the first couple of winters.
  • Micromanage your military units when attacking monsters. Let them run when they're low on HP. The monster will change their target and it will save you a villager.
  • Two healers/menders are enough for the entire clan. Just upgrade their lodges and tools.
  • Be careful when using that Organize Feast button. While it gives a massive amount of boost, the cost of Food it requires rises exponentially. So use it strategically.
  • Silos the hell out of it. Build silos in areas where you have Food producing buildings. Not only does reserved food give Happiness, but it also extends your Food storage limit. More food, more chances of survival.
  • Upgrade resources buildings first, especially the Woodcutter's Lodge.
  • If you have enough influx of resources mid game, you can trade them in the Trading Post to get a decent amount of Krowns coming your way. Just be sure to watch it when the first snowflakes fall.
  • Destroy mines when resources are depleted.
  • To revert a unit into a villager (especially miners), send them to houses. Select the unit and look for a house and send them there by right-clicking.
  • Capture places of special interest on the map, Thor's Wrath for example. 5% plus power for your military units can be a deciding factor in the fight.
  • To defeat your enemies slowly, starve them. Look for their sources of Food and feast your Warband on them.
  • Build your Towers far from the border of the territory as possible. Towers hit enemy units wherever they are in the territory.
  • Likewise, take out enemy Towers as fast as possible.

Survival Is Key

The survival of your clan is the aim. There are many ways to win the game. Don't worry if you are far behind in Fame.

Check this short but awesome review of "Northgard"

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© 2018 Red Fernan


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