Northgard Ultimate Guide – 10 Beginner Tips and Tricks

Not Your Average RTS

Northgard was discounted on 2020’s Steam Summer Sale. I had been eyeing the game as I have a well-documented love for real-time strategy games.

Purchasing it was an easy decision. It has a combination of abundant positive reviews, cool theming, and unique mechanics.

Because of its uniqueness, I wanted to share some of my early observations and keys to having a successful campaign. Here are 10 beginner tips for a fruitful Northgard experience!

Be Happy and Don’t Worry

In virtually every RTS game I’ve ever played, it was imperative that you boost your economy early on. Spamming workers/peasants/villagers/civilians to start gathering resources would give you a potentially insurmountable competitive advantage. 

This idea is no different in Northgard. However, the means to do so is!

In Northgard you are unable to simply queue up 20 villagers and give them a waypoint directly to the nearby forest. Northgard’s population growth is similar to Banished, another game I recently got into. Your population grows at a set rate automatically. This rate is dependent on the two factors. First and foremost, the happiness of your clans dictates the growth rate, with an additional factor on your Town Hall’s upgrade status.

There are many ways to ensure that your clan is happy so I won’t dive into all of them here. I will say making sure that everyone is fed, warm, and healthy will go a long way!

Scout Thoughtfully

If you haven’t noticed already, Northgard’s maps are tile-based. On each tile, there may be a dominant resource such as a forest, lake, or ruins. To take control of the tile, you must first explore it with a scout and then defeat any potential enemies before ultimately claiming it as your own.

One of the first buildings you have access to is a Scout Camp. Once you convert one or two village people into scouts, they take off in every which direction trying to uncover the map. Well, if left to their own devices, they walk off and do so quite randomly. One somewhat hidden tip that I stumbled across is the fact that if you manually control your scouts they are much more efficient. Rather than walk, they run to undiscovered tiles!

So when I say scout thoughtfully, it is worth it to pick and choose where the scouts go. When done, make sure you convert them back to more useful roles for your budding clan. That leads us straight into the next tip…

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Scouting is not only vital but, within Northgard, can also be fun. Following a ‘knowledge is power’ sentiment, having visibility of the entire map seems like a no-brainer goal. Regrettably, I may be bursting that bubble when I say, don’t do that.

Rather than wasting very finite manpower in having your scout galavanting all over the map, they are almost always better utilized to gather food or wood. Additionally, just because you uncovered a tile, you don’t need to spend the resources to claim it as your own. Each tile can hold 3 to 5 buildings and 3 to 4 tiles should be more than enough for a great portion of the early game.

As a bonus detail, try to maintain a border of neutral tiles. This will give you additional time to react to your adversaries.

Be a Viking

Vikings are known for a lot of things. Most notably, perhaps, was their tenacity on the battlefield and explorative nature. Otherwise known as raiding.

Northgard emulates this importance and really puts a burden on raiding to sustain your monetary resources. For that reason, a Longship Dock is one of the first buildings you should craft as soon as you can fit one on a coast tile. It’s the most reliable way to earn Kröwns outside of a Marketplace or Trading Post.

Building on the Coast in Northgard
Idle Hands are the Devil’s Playthings

I’m not sure Ben Franklin had a chance to play Northgard. It was released nearly 237 years after he died, after all. Even still, he had the wisdom that would lead him to be a successful RTS player. The number of actions has a strong correlation to your chances of success.

In Northgard, there are seemingly more ways to have idle workers than in other games I’ve encountered. Here are a few examples:

  • New members to your clan are unable to be auto-assigned to a task.
  • As previously mentioned, the efficiency of scouts is reduced if you aren’t manually controlling them.
  • When mines are depleted, workers will sit idly.

To combat this, you need to utilize the interface which does a good job of notifying you when workers need attention. Stay vigilant. 

Defense Towers Have Dynamic Range

This may not be apparent in how the game presents defense towers, but they can cover the entire tile that they reside on. For that reason, it would behoove you to place defense towers behind your normal buildings and furthest away from the borders.

This gives them the most opportunity to mow down any opposing forces. Defense towers also don’t count toward your building quota for each tile. So, bolster up your defenses now!

Spread Out Your Houses

Viking villages are somewhat iconic. If your history classes have touched on the Nordic people or if you’ve watched Vikings or The Last Kingdom, you’ll have a lens into these proud folk. In Northgard, you need to abandon the idea of these dense villages. Rather, it can be much to your benefit to spread your houses out.

Houses have a non-obvious utility in-game. They act as a facilitator to reset workers back to regular villagers.

This means if you have a miner that you’d like to switch to a fisherman, you can’t simply click the miner and then assign them directly to a fisherman’s hut. You must first reset the miner back to a villager via your Town Hall, or a house.

Having all of your houses in one spot could make this assignment much longer than it needs to be. Instead, try to place at least 1 house in every newly claimed tile and you will never have to send your people. 

Building on the Coast in Northgard
Forge Your Upgrades

We’ve already covered why you shouldn’t expand faster than you can effectively defend your land. For that reason, you may run into a production dilemma when you aren’t producing enough of a specific material. If running low on lumber produced from your only Woodcutter’s Lodge do you:

  1. Build a second?
  2. Upgrade your first?
  3. Forge better tools to be used?

While there may be scenarios where you disagree with the order in which you approach these, a safe way to approach this is to focus on options 2 and 3 before option 1.  The idea is that you’d like your existing buildings and workers to be performing at maximum capacity.

This will free up another clan member to do another task before absolutely necessary. Again, because you can’t easily control your population size, this becomes paramount. 

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Dinner’s Served

While playing Northgard, you’ll notice in your control panel an “Organize a Feast” button. Again, Vikings were known for greatly celebrating their victories with giant feasts involving a ton of food, alcohol, and good times.

In Northgard, you can initiate one of these to act as a stimulus for your clan. Feasts provide the following for 1 month:

  • +20 Fame
  • + 2 Happiness
  • +2 Flat Production Bonus To: Food, Wood, Lore, and Kröwns
  • +20% Production Bonus To: Food, Wood, Lore, and Kröwns

In case you need it spelled out, this is a significant boost to the morale and economy of your clan. You could use it when resources are being strained in the winter. You could also use it to push your already booming economy over the top as you make a push toward victory.

One thing to remember is that Feasts have a cost that increases after each usage. Be strategic when using one.

Know Your Clans

There are several Clans in Northgard. Each has an animal counterpart.

The game itself breaks down the difference between each clan and there is a ton of material in wikis and videos highlighting the important differences. For that reason, I won’t reinvent the wheel. Since there are a handful of paths to victory in Northgard, there isn’t one consensus best clan. 

I will just say, read about each, consider your preferred playstyle in RTS games, and choose wisely. If your playstyle isn’t being accentuated by your clan choice, you are putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. Knowledge is power!

Building on the Coast in Northgard
Just the Beginning

Now, while I plan on pumping many dozens of hours in this well-crafted game, I’ve only managed 10 in July. As I get more experience under my belt, I may revise this for an overall guide. For those that have recently added Northgard to your library, this should get you started! 

For any veterans who stumbled upon this article, did I miss anything? Let us know your favorite tip for Northgard in the comments below! Feel free to join the conversations on our social media platforms too!

Also, we just started a new podcast! Check out episode one here, where we talk about the free-to-play gaming model!

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