Surviving Northgard: A New Player's Guide to the Game

Updated on March 14, 2018
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Ryth (pronounced red) is a computer and video game enthusiast and self-made computer troubleshooter. When not tinkering, he is gaming.

What is Northgard?

The love for Vikings and Norse mythology caught my interest to play the game. Northgard is a Real Time Strategy game with elements of survival mechanics mixed in. It is independently published and developed by Shiro Games (Evoland/Evoland 2).

Gameplay is relatively easy. But without an in-game tutorial, playing the game for the first time can be tedious and stressful. That's where this tutorial comes in.

Minimum System Requirements

OS: Windows Vista or better
Processor: Intel 2.0ghz Core 2 Duo or equivalent
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia 450 GTS / Radeon HD 5750 or better
DirectX: Version 10
Storage: 400 MB available space
Additional Notes: Minimum display resolution: 1366x768

Survive or Be Subzeroed

Will you lead your clan to dominate Northgard? Or will you succumb to its Winter's night?

Starting A Game

Northgard's menu is fairly straightforward. The Campaign 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 available and a good way to begin with.

Single Player Options
Single Player Options

The Basic Game Settings is up to you. A word about the Difficulty options: Low is relatively easy; Medium is manageable; Hard is, well, hard.

Map Size

  • Small, Medium, or Large depends on how much time would you want the game to go. A large map may run for an hour or two depending on the difficulty and the number of AI opponents.

Note: 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. This is great for the game's "replayability."

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.
  • 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.

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.

Choosing Your Clan

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

Clan
Starting Bonuses
Fame Bonuses
Fenrir (The Wolves)
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.
Upon reaching 200 Fame, Fenrir military units gain a 15% attack bonus when fighting outside their territory. When you reach 500 Fame, Fenrir's special unit, the Berserker, gains the ability to colonize cleared territories for free.
Eikthyrnir (The Stags)
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.
Upon reaching 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 Goats)
Goats start with 2 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.
When you reach 200 Fame, the Goats 2 free tools to improve your unit's productivity. Upon reaching 500 Fame, Goats gain 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)
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.
Reaching 200 Fame gives you 3 villagers for free and plus 3 max population. 500 Fame allows you to hire Mercenaries you can use to raid coastal areas.
Bjarki (The Bears)
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 to give 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.
Slidrugtanni (The Boars)
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. 50% reduction of blizzard penalty from Freya, +5 Happiness from Baldr, and +10% attacks of towers and Warchief from Jord.

Which clan would you try to 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 the In-Game User's Interface

It doesn't take long to familiarize the interface in the game. Every important menus, such as the Build menu, 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:

Screenshot of a village starting up in Northgard. Will these teeny Vikings survive?
Screenshot of a village starting up in Northgard. Will these teeny Vikings survive?
  • Your player name, as well as other players', are located on the top left. Hovering on your profile name will show your clan's different bonuses. Other players who were not yet discovered by your Scout is named Unknown. When you discover them, another icon (an emoticon) will show your that player's attitude towards you. Diplomacy is not yet fully implemented in this version.
  • On the left of the player names is the Fame (represented by a gold crown) feature. You can also see the corresponding rank that number of Fame is representing. You can also see other player's Fame beside their name after you meet them. Fame is acquired through research, colonization and killing enemy units and monster. You can also acquire Fame by raiding for it using the Longship Dock.
  • Then we get to the resource icons located in the top center to top right. The first icon is the Happiness icon. Happiness is an important resource and should be kept balanced throughout the game. The number of your Happiness determines the speed of your Town Hall generating a new villager. Happiness is generated primarily by the number of your territories, houses, brewery and brewers. Happiness can be gain through Blessings as well in the Lore menu. There are also clan bonuses that helps give you Happiness.
  • The next resource is Food. This is the one of the most, if not the most, important resource you should keep on the green. Food feeds your units. Losing Food especially in Winter means doom. Idle villagers generates Food automatically when there is a place they can store it in. Other "worked" buildings that generates food includes the Fields, Hunter's Lodge and the Fisherman's Hut. Take note that these buildings can only be built on territories that have the resources, e.g. Fertile Land for Fields, Deers for Hunter's Lodge, and Fish for Fisherman's Hut. Build Silos to extend the amount of Food you can store as well as give bonuses to Food production if built in territories with Food producing buildings.
  • The next very important resource is Wood. Not only is Wood used in building structures, Wood is extremely needed for firewood especially during winter. Wood is exclusively produced by working a Woodcutter's Lodge. There are bonuses and Lore that helps you get more wood efficiently.
  • 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. Krowns are spent in establishing Great Routes if you want to win through Trade. Krowns are produced by working the Marketplace, Trading Post and Longship Dock. You can also get Krowns by killing enemy units if you have researched that tech in the Lore. You can also trade resources for Krowns in the Marketplace.
  • Stones and Iron are the next resources. Stones are needed in upgrading buildings. Iron is used to summon your special military unit/hero and in improving your units' tools. You can acquire these resources by building a Mine and working it with villagers in territories having these resources.
  • The next icon after the resources icons is the Population/Population Limit icon. This tells you the number of people you have in your clan and the limit you can generate. Population Limits can be extended by building and upgrading Houses as well as through clan bonuses.
  • The next icon is the Warband icon. This tells you how many military unit you currently have and the limit you can train. You can increase your Warband by building military training buildings.
  • Then comes the Lore menu. The icon tells you how far you are in researching the next technology and the amount of Lore you are generating. Lore is produced by building Carved Stones or by working a Circle of Stones generated on the map.

The Lore menu is where you select the next research upgrades.
The Lore menu is where you select the next research upgrades.

On the bottom right are the menus for selecting your units, improving tools, organizing feasts and building.

  • 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.

Winter is coming... always in Northgard.
Winter is coming... always in Northgard.
  • On the bottom left of the user interface is the map of Northgard. Take note of the resource icons as well as the map icons of special interest.
  • Directly above the map is the current timeline you are in. Every division in that bar is the in-game month. The green fields means summer. White and snowy field means the 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 the event coming.

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 an 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 is 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, 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.

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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What other Viking and Norse-inspired game have you played and would recommend? Comment them below! Thanks for your time. You're awesome.

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    © 2018 Ryth Lukas

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