Well, Lords and Villeins is an adventure, I can say that. I am a lover of sim games, a lover of city-building games, but have never mastered the strategy genre, and this game is nothing without strategy. Whether its gaining gold, materials or just making sure everyone has a roof over there head, there is no time to relax, and balance is key.
Diving into Lords and Villeins I thought I was in for a fun little city-building simulation, building a medieval town that I was in full control of. In the game you will be responsible for peasants, servants, noblemen, clergy, and a number of different kinds of businesses. Forest, fishing and farming are the big three, but in just the tutorial (which you could spend an entire day in and not complete), you’re introduced to carpenters, innkeepers, miners, hunters and more. It is your mission to make sure all your villagers have what they need, produce what they should and work together to create a booming economy.
Easier said than done. If you don’t have MMO-amounts of time to play Lords and Villeins, don’t even try. I usually play simulation games because they are easy to put down and come back to as I please. While this may be true somewhere very far down the road, just getting the basics down pat is a major undertaking. Just when you think you have a system in place in Lords and Villeins everyone runs out of straw and no one is impressed with you.
All that being said, I don’t want to put Lords and Villeins down. I want to run the tutorial over and over, so I truly master the basics and can build a thriving community. I want to fill the map with buildings, have dozens of farm animals and hoard straw to my hearts content (the straw shortage really got to me). I want to make it to a point where everyone can have floors, and walls that are made of solid materials. I’d like to see my peasants happy and comfortable, or maybe hang out with a noble or two. Right now, I feel like a slum lord.
“I don’t want to put Lords and Villeins down.”
If I’m playing this poorly and still want to play, it really speaks to how interesting and in-depth Lords and Villeins is. There are definitely some issues with the beginning hours of the game. The tutorial wants to bring you through every step of a very detailed game, yet somehow misses so many steps along the way. It teaches you about some items used in the homes or farmland, but not all of them, so you never knew you needed a flailing spot to create straw (seriously, still mad about it).
Most importantly, it never explains the type of renting systems available in the game. Socage, Fee-Farm, Stewardry or Frankalmoigne is one of the first decisions you have to make, and this far into the game, I’m still sort of guessing what each means. This isn’t plain and obvious, though it may be to some, and it can really start your game off on the wrong foot if you aren’t sure what’s going on.
“Lords and Villeins already has a really strong community on Discord and Steam…”
The same goes for any fees and taxes in the game. I knew there WAS a tax day, but I didn’t know when and I wasn’t sure what I’d even get. It isn’t explained how high you should set your taxes, so I moved everything up only slightly and barely received anything when the time came along. The game could definitely use a pair of fresh eyes diving in blind to see where some things may not be as clear as they hoped.
The good news is Lords and Villeins already has a really strong community on Discord and Steam because of its early access. When I was out of resources and couldn’t figure out why, someone walked me through a few steps and got me back on the right track. There are also ample guides, though some things may change when the full game launches today.
I’d like to see a little more control over what my townspeople are doing, as their jobs and relationships are heavily AI based. Being able to rush them to do certain projects would be ideal, especially building. I’m very curious to see how Lords and Villeins progresses over time. In early access alone there were several new family types added, though I still need to master the ones I have.
With so many zones, almost 100 different resources, family management, community management, animals, relationships, seasons and more, you will never run out of things to do in Lords and Villeins. You will, however, have to find the time to dig deep and really understand this strategy-based city-building simulator, but I think it will be worth it.