Saturday 27 February 2021

Settlers 6 Custom Scenarios, Part 1

 I’ve said before that city-builders are one of my two favourite forms of video game. Unfortunately, sometimes they have “gotchas” that make you start over from the beginning (or from a many-turns-ago save file) that lead me to wish for walkthroughs that don’t give away too much but at least give me a chance to prepare for whatever the problem might be. Lately I’ve been playing The Settlers®: Rise of an Empire – Gold Edition (released April 18, 2008 by Blue Byte Studio / Ubisoft). There is a nice walkthrough for the campaign scenarios, but I haven’t found one for the custom ones. If anybody out there is still playing this almost-13-year-old game, here are a few warnings. If you want to try to reduce exposure to spoilers, just read the list immediately after the break gives the key idea of the gotcha.

The three scenarios this post covers are

  • Four Kingdoms, where expanding too far in certain directions encounters bandits who demand tribute you can ill afford in the early game. Stick with the territories immediately adjacent to your starting one until you can afford to lose a few hundred gold every so often.

  • Kagunda, where expanding adjacent to enemy territory leads them to attack you. Don’t claim territories where you can see an enemy border colour along its boundaries until you have enough troops to resist an attack.

  • Olduvai, where the quest you should do first isn’t revealed until you complete the one you should do last. Plus, bandits.

In Four Kingdoms, the goal is to achieve the highest rank, Archduke. In some games with this goal, you can win completely peacefully. Once you know the basics of how the game works, managing city growth is usually straightforward: build up your city slowly, making sure you have enough goods to keep it going without settler strikes, and trade for things you don’t gather or make on your own. It can be a little bit of work to get enough rich buildings for the higher ranks, but I found that building a few more level 3 (twice-upgraded) buildings was sufficient.

A late-game Four Kingdoms map. Starting territory has the X showing fish exhausted. Some other resources are permanently exhausted, such as stone to the starting location’s northwest, so don’t show

Unfortunately in this scenario there is a moderate “gotcha”: there are two regions with bandits who demand tribute once you contact them (in the far south, and east of the game to the northeast of the city. It isn’t a problem later in the game where you are getting substantial income, or have the troops to destroy them, but it’s a significant drain early on when your taxes and sermons aren’t bringing much in. If you don’t pay they become hostile and capture your trade carts. I’m not whether they attack you, since I kept appeasing them, but I I let them become enemies late in the game so I could attack them.

So what you need to know is this: To your west are cattle, herbs, and game. To the northwest are two stone quarries and fish. In a large territory across the north and east are sheep, game, and lots of forest for wood. There is plenty of room in these territories for one each of cattle, sheep, wheat, and beehives, leaving your original territory for all the city buildings you need.

Further north from the sheep-and-game is one of the two bandit territories, blocking you from accessing the three cities to your northwest, northeast, and east. So stick with your first four territories until you are well established and can afford the tribute – or have enough iron to hire enough soldiers to take them out (yes, there’s iron, to the southeast across the pond).

In a counterclockwise arc from the western cattle-herbs-grain are several territories you don’t need until later in the game: more stone, more herbs and game, and (at the end of the arc before the town of Leran), iron and more stone. However, if you head south from the herbs-and-game, you encounter the other of the two sets of bandits, so head east into the iron-and-stone instead.

I was a little concerned about how hostile the bandits might get, so build stone walls around the edges of the three adjacent territories, but it proved unnecessary. When I had enough troops, I refused tribute, let them become hostile so I could attack them, and wiped them out. Only then did I go and find the three kingdoms – but I didn’t need to contact them to win the game. That might be considered a flaw in the scenario design. From what I understand of the quest mechanics, there could easily have been requirements to visit each of the four, and even to conduct some trade with them.

In Kagunda, the goal is to occupy twelve territories. You have one friendly city, Olinka, to the northwest. You can buy small quantities of iron, but everyone else is hostile – sufficiently hostile that they attack you if you claim any territory adjacent to one of theirs. I had to restart this one several times as I discovered more complexities.

Map of 11 of the 12 regions you need for Kagunda. Starting location has the leader’s shield. Final territory was south of the near-central iron.

Fortunately there are enough territories not adjacent to theirs so that you can build up to the point where you can hire enough mercenaries to capture their iron territory (near the cenre of the map) and survive long enough to build stone walls to block their attacks.

You start with an easy battle with hostiles at the western entrance to your stockade. This first western territory has herbs and some wood, with Olinka to the west. Clockwise, there are sheep, deer, fish, and stone, with mercenaries to the east of the stone (exhausted in the map). Further clockwise is a territory with two stone, but it is adjacent to the bandits-and-iron territory to the west.

My second strategy (after discovering you get attacked) was to use just those initial territories, before claiming the double-stone, and build up a prosperous city while clearing out the initial quarry. The I rapidly hired mercenaries, claimed the double-stone territory, conquered the iron territory, and built a stone wall (with gatehouse) to the south of the iron. Then I discovered that the enemy can attack from southeast of the double-stone despite not having any adjacent territory, and had to try again from before my attack, quickly building a stone wall (with gatehouse) to the southeast of the double stone. I then expanded southeast from the double-stone into the bandits-and-iron, building a wall once again adjacent to the southern enemy territory. This, along with the very expensive mercenary area, gives 11 territories. When ready you can attack south from the iron territory into your twelfth, which has iron and cattle.

I had to try that last attack three times. The first time I discovered that I couldn’t withstand the constant counterattacks from adjacent enemies. The second I discovered that my mercenaries didn’t have enough torches to take out the enemy outpost. Finally, I hunkered down until I had enough iron to build a larger, tougher army of regular troops, built up my castle to get the highest possible soldier limit, and put together a big enough force to protect the cattle-and-iron until I’d built an outpost of my own.

In Olduvai, you have to deal with scarce resources in an arid landscape, and eventually claim a central fertile territory. You really need Hakim with his upgrades-cost-less passive ability; you may run out of resources early without him, as you will if you try to build too many buildings. Don’t double up on resource gatherers to get faster output.

Olduvai map. The first quest is for the bandit-infested Eastern Basin. Settle the territory to its northwest frst. Starting territory is to the east

You’re told that your first goal is to claim the Eastern Basin, which requires that you pacify the bandits in there long enough to build a 1000-gold outpost. They demand 100 gold tribute once you find them, and if they’re like bandits in other games like Four Kingdoms, they will eventually ask again. So the idea here is to avoid their territory until you are rich enough to both buy them off and build the outpost right away. However, after you claim the territory, you’re then told to claim the Western basin; this is the “gotchas” I mentioned. It’s better to get the Western basin first; you will be running out of wood and food by the time you can afford it.

Head north, where there are trees, zebras, and three ruins, then head west to stone and iron and another ruin; the ruins give you money to help pay for the outposts. Once you have 50 stone for a quest (plus however much extra you need to upgrade your infrastructure before then), head south into the Western Basin and west into the city of Laetoli. They will ask for that stone, then when it arrives will ask you to kill the five lions to their south. Your leader should be able to deal with them since they don’t gang up on you, unlike the three prides of lions in the Western Basin. After this you can immediately buy game and wood from them, which you will sorely need by this point. Their supply seems to regenerate fairly fast, so you can keep buying until you save up enough gold to build the 1500-gold Western Basin outpost.

To the south of your original territory, and west of that, are two somewhat useful territories you don’t need at first. South has stone, and west of the stone is a fair bit of wood and more game. Don’t head northwest from the stone, since you’ll encounter the Eastern Basin and the bandits.

Build an outpost in the Western Basin, then develop it with a beekeeper, grain farm, cattle farm, and sheep farm. This required troops to deal with the lions (3 archer groups and 3 swordsmen groups sufficed, though all the swordsmen died). At this point you have plenty of fertile territory for wheat and sheep, which will keep you in clothing and food in perpetuity now that your original game supply is likely gone. If you gather enough stone it is probably a good idea to upgrade your dirt roads to stone ones, since the critical Western Basin is far from your storehouse.

Then, save up 1100 gold, briefly enter the Eastern Basin to trigger the 100-gold tribute demand, pay it, then build the 1000-gold outpost to claim the territory.

Reflections: I’m not sure what to say about the many games-with-gotchas. I am sure many people would prefer to find out by themselves the sort of thing I’ve outlined here, and don’t mind the game reloads as much as I do. So for the sake of that subset of gamers, you can’t put spoilerific hints in the games themselves. That’s why gamer communities who share information with each other (such as those available at HeavenGames) are be a better solution: If you can find them. I wasn’t able to find one for Settlers 6, which is why I created this walkthrough, and perhaps others in the future.

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