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Kingdoms is not a particularly difficult game, but it can be hard to get started at first - the purpose of this game guide is not to show you how to complete the game, but to give you some a decent outline of how to plan your strategy throughout. This guide concentrates on the warlike ending. There is a peaceful alternative to finish the game also.
First thing first, pick your race. As far as I can see, there doesn't appear to be any significant difference to the player regardless of who you choose, and the source code seems to back this up. However, there appear to be differences in the races when you're opposing them. The elves normally seem weaker than the other races, and the dwarves are more easily bribed than the other races.
You'll start off on the main game screen. Depending on your difficulty mode, you've have a certain amount of gold, soldiers and population. Your tax rate defaults at 2%, and your army will be classed as "useless". You should have one farm, one garrison and a level one fort.
At a tax rate of 2%, it won't really be possible to make money. However, if you raise your taxes, your citizens will leave! The citizens won't leave and will pay a higher tax if they feel that they're well protected, and the only way to do this is to build up your army. The peaceful way to do this is to pay for training, but this takes ages to build up thier strength, and is a risky tactic.
The solution? While all the other races peacefully build themselves up, work on your army. Spend half your money on recruitment. (go to the second option on the main screen, soldiers, and go to the first option, recruit). Repeat until you have an army over 100 people. You may have to build a garrison. If you need more money, you can select the 8th option (do nothing) and let your money build up. Note, if you really need money, set your taxes at 99% for a few turns until your population leaves, then set the taxes back to what they were. This will give you a lot of money very fast, depending on what you population was, however, you'll have to rebuild your population from scratch. Once you have a decent sized army, select soldiers and go to flee factor, set their bravery to 100%. Now spend the rest of your money on training. Your army is ready to pick it's first fight!
Pick an enemy. The elves are usually quite easy, but if may help to fight either the orcs or the humans to get them out of the way for later on-- It just takes longer. Attack and hopefully, your 100+ soldiers will be up against an army of no more that about 25, and it'll be a masacare. Attack every turn until the fort has 0 HP left and there are no people left in the city - Death will eliminate this player from the game.
The result from this little show of power? You army will have increased in strength signicantly, probably to "poor" status or maybe even "mediocre". You can now afford to raise your taxes! Raising your taxes is really just trail and error - aim high, and keep coming down in increments until people start coming into your city. For example, if your army is 'poor', set your taxes to about 35%, and come down by 5% every turn until people start coming back.
At this stage, the game will be more difficult. Chances are you've already had a few natural disasters, but while you're building yourself up, they seem to happen more often. Keep at least 100 soldiers to keep your army strong, and build plenty of farms - more than you need, because you never know when a flood will come along and leave you destitute. You could be thankful for that food later. When you have a little excess money, spend it on training so that you can raise taxes.
You'll probably also be approached by a few NPCs. Say no to Boozal and Hector, they're a waste of time. I have no idea what Kyrstal does, but if you have 100 gold to spare you might consider taking her and working that out for yourself. If you manage to get more than 600 gold, get Vlad, the orcish war commander who will build up your army!
Whenever you've got a healthy population, lots of food, farms and garrisons, and a well trained army of over 150 soldiers, and plenty of gold, it's time to pick your second enemy. Do a little survey to find out which of the two remaining races prefers you. Offer them a handsome amount of money (if it's the dwarves you can afford to be a little stingy), and that'll keep them out of your face until you crush the other race :) Invade the other race and hope for the best - this will likely be a more difficult job than last time. Like last time, invade every go until you crush them, although this time you may have to recruit new soldiers half way through. Once you finally crush them, your army should be nearing "superb" or even "warlord". You can now have your taxes quite high - spend your new found wealth recuiting soldiers - the last battle will be the toughest.
When you think you're ready, and have enough resources to withstand a tragedy in your city, try and invade them. Good luck...
Strangely enough, you have to win this game quite fast! If you manage to survive a certain period of time, the game will end the peaceful way instead.
Kingdoms Game Guide by Terry Cavanagh
V Planet! Archive