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 Lords of the realm II

 
   
 
 
Lords of the realm II

Strategy FAQ v.1.5
Written by Dr_Asik on January 30th, 2008
Last modified February 5th, 2008

Contact info: Please write all your suggestions to blask_prawdi (at) yahoo 
(dot) ca (replacing " (at) " by "@" and " (dot) " by ".").
Copyright info: All rights reserved. Do not use any of this material without 
my permission, which I'll probably grant if you kindly ask.

The latest version of this FAQ can always be found at GameFAQs.


****************************
TABLE OF CONTENTS
****************************
I. GENERALITIES
	1. What is Lords of the Realm II?
	2. Where can I find LotR 2?
	3. Is there an expansion or a sequel?	
	4. Can I run LotR 2 on XP/Vista?

II. BASIC GAMEPLAY CONCEPTS
	5. How do I get started?

III. ADVANCED GAMEPLAY CONCEPTS
	6. Why are my wheat fields only a half/quarter of the area?
	7. What does it mean if there are 1/2/3 cows per field?
	8. What is efficiency and how can I control it?
	9. Please give me your enlightened opinion on advanced farming 
	   (Expansion only).
	10. What about "armies eat"?
	11. How do I make the game easier/harder?

IV. STRATEGY - ECONOMY
	12. What is the fundamental theorem of LotR 2?
	13. Should I use Cattle or Wheat?
	14. I don't have enough food for my population! What can I do?
	15. Why I lose so many fields to floods/droughts? AAARGH!
	16. How can I gain more crowns?
	17. What is a good level of happiness?
	18. Why is Black Death repeatedly striking county X?

V. STRATEGY - MILITARY
	19. What units should be present in all armies?
	20. What about the other units then?
	21. Well you still have half of the other units to talk about.
		21.1. But dude remember what you said about too much population 	
		      in Q14/17?
		21.2. I don't use pikemen/archers and I r0xorz.
	22. How can I become a better general?

VI. STRATEGY - EARLY GAME
	23. What should I do first?
	24. How do I divide my workforce?
	25. How do I spend my initial crowns?
	26. When do I switch to wheat?

VII. STRATEGY - INTERMEDIATE GAME
	27. How can I resist the massive waves of troops the AI sends?
	28. How can I stop the AI from pillaging my crops?
	29. Should I make an alliance with a noble?

VIII. STRATEGY - END GAME
	30. How do I massacre the puny remaining counties with my 4500+ elite 	
	    troops?
		
IX. AI DISCUSSION
	31. Which of the AI nobles are the best?
	32. I'm totally hooked, please go on.
	33. What about that curious Baron then?
	34. So that leave us with the Knight.	


****************************
I. GENERALITIES
****************************


------------------------------------------------
1. What is Lords of the Realm II?
------------------------------------------------

Lords of the Realm II is a strategy game developed by Impression Games and 
published by Sierra in 1996. Up to five players (lords) are in competition 
for the domination of a country (realm). LotR 2 is best compared to Medieval: 
Total War, since it integrates both an economic simulation of the middle ages 
and real-time tactical battles. Compared to Medieval: TW, LotR focuses more 
on economy and feature more simple battle mechanics. It is also, IMO, much 
more interesting and addictive.

Lord of the Realm II provides:
- A realistic, grim look on medieval life
- Real-time battles where smart decisions matter more than numbers
- Tactical castle defence and siege
- Deep, turn-based economics
- Detailed graphics (albeit in 640x480 256 colors)
- Some of the most awe-inspiring music in a video game
- Excellent voice acting
- Many customizations options for various challenges


------------------------------------------------
2. Where can I find LotR 2?
------------------------------------------------
LotR 2 is not officially abandonware but can still be found for free on the 
net, with some perseverance, or P2P software. You can probably also find it 
on eBay for almost nothing.

------------------------------------------------
3. Is there an expansion or a sequel?
------------------------------------------------
There is an expansion called Siege Pack and I recommend it over the
original. It features better AI, new maps and game options, and a skirmish
mode. The official sequel, Lords of the Realm III, is a very different game
and received mediocre scores. I don't recommend LotR3.

------------------------------------------------
4. Can I run LotR 2 on XP/Vista?
------------------------------------------------
Probably, but I don't guarantee it, it depends on your hardware. I have seen 
it work correctly on both XP and Vista; it runs almost flawlessly on my Vista 
machine with a Geforce 8, widescreen monitor and a Chaintech AV-710 sound 
card. Problems I've seen: static animations running too fast/irregularly; 
movies not playing; sound glitches. If you have an old PC with Windows 98 or 
95, it's certainly your most compatible machine.

*********************************
II. BASIC GAMEPLAY CONCEPTS
*********************************

------------------------------------------------
5. How do I get started?
------------------------------------------------
In-game tips, the help file and the manual are excellent resources to get you 
started on the basic concepts of the game. Right-click anywhere on the map or 
even most interface elements to get quick descriptions, often containing 
crucial information. Other guides/faqs provide explanation of basic concepts. 
This is not the point of this FAQ.

**********************************
III. ADVANCED GAMEPLAY CONCEPTS
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
6. Why are my wheat fields only a half/quarter of the area?
------------------------------------------------
This is a sign that harvests will be sub-optimal. Without advanced farming, 
the only possible cause is that you did not assign enough people to wheat 
during the year. With advanced farming on, even if you always assign enough 
people to wheat, your crops can be damaged by bad weather, which is random 
(storms, droughts).

------------------------------------------------
7. What does it mean if there are 1/2/3 cows per field?
------------------------------------------------
This represents herd crowding. If you right-click on the field you get a more 
detailed report of the herd crowding status. Intense crowding means more 
deaths and less reproduction of the cattle. Overcrowding or even massive 
overcrowding is not an alarming sign (as long as you don't rely 100% on 
cattle, but you shouldn't), but it means you reached the maximum amount of 
cattle for the number of fields you allowed. It will not cause disease or any 
other adverse effect than the cattle population stabilizing.

------------------------------------------------
8. What is efficiency and how can I control it?
------------------------------------------------
Obscurely enough, efficiency does not exist without advanced farming on. Thus
all my advice concerning it only applies with advanced farming on.
If you visit your blacksmith, you'll notice an info such as "30 serfs working 
at 15% efficiency". You always want your serfs to work at 100% efficiency. To 
boost it, make sure to always have a couple serfs working there, even if they 
are not producing a single weapon. Efficiency will slowly rise up. The minute 
you leave the smithy unattended, efficiency drops back to 15%. This applies 
to wood, iron and stone production as well, but NOT to castle building or 
agriculture.

------------------------------------------------
9. Please give me your enlightened opinion on advanced farming (Expansion 
only).
------------------------------------------------
Advanced farming makes the game easier by allowing you to systematically 
produce extremely abundant harvests every year. You simply need to leave 
about 1/3rd of your fields to fallow. Contrarily to what other FAQs have 
stated, you do not need to actually switch production in your fields every 
year, or at all. Crop rotation is a myth. Fertility will remain excellent, 
and your harvests abundant, as long as you maintain about 1/3rd of crops to 
fallow; it doesn't matter if it's the same crops as last year.

Using more fields will reduce fertility and that will drastically reduce 
harvests. Don't get greedy.

Advanced farming also introduce the somewhat unrelated concept of
efficiency in your industry, which is discussed at Q8.

The only problem with advanced farming is that it requires you to monitor 
your workforce much more closely. In autumn, about 95% of your population 
will be needed for harvests (if fertility is excellent and storms didn't 
wreck your crops that is). Each season will have its own requirements on 
how many farmers are needed, so you will be constantly re-adjusting your 
food/industry slider in all your counties. As your domain grows larger, 
this can get tedious.

------------------------------------------------
10. What about "armies eat"?
------------------------------------------------
If you really want to make the game as hard as possible you could always turn 
this on, personally I never use it. It opens up new tactical possibilities, 
like ruining an opponent's economy simply by moving a large force in his 
county. But it also makes it possible that your armies melt like butter, that 
you're not able to invade a country because of lack of food, etc. Give it a 
try, if you're fed up with the game being too easy on Impossible playing 
Crusades and starting out in Jerusalem.

------------------------------------------------
11. How do I make the game easier/harder?
------------------------------------------------
Besides adjusting the difficulty directly, the main factor is the map you 
play. In my experience, England is always easy. Germany and France can be 
hard, and Crusades in Jerusalem is atrociously difficult because you start 
out in the weakest county surrounded by all the nobles and as such you are 
their primary target. You can win, but don't expect fast expansion (in fact, 
this game took me weeks to finish). In other words, for a different 
experience, try a different map.
Reducing your starting resources doesn't make the game harder per say, but it 
sure makes it much slower to "start". You'll spend years painfully improving 
your economy, and as the AI gets some obvious bonuses on Impossible, it might 
indeed make things very challenging. But it's fundamentally a different style 
of play. If you start with a strong county and a large army, the AI does too 
and while it's dumb, if you make glaring mistakes it knows how to exploit 
them.
The more AIs, the more likely it is that you'll be threatened early in the 
game. Two or three nobles on a large map is usually easy because you can make 
better profit of extra land than they can.

**********************************
IV. STRATEGY - ECONOMY
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
12. What is the fundamental theorem of LotR 2?
------------------------------------------------
The fundamental theorem of LotR 2 is that your power is directly proportional 
to the skill with which you run your economy. If you have a powerful economy, 
you could always send throngs of knights and pikemen at your enemies and 
autocalc battles, and you'd probably win, in most cases. That would be dumb 
tactically, but it'd work. On the other hand if you're just a 1337 commander 
from Medieval:TW2 and don't know how to make your population happy and 
productive, even though you're a fine tactician on the battlefield, you won't 
have much troops to command and will get owned by the AI on even normal 
difficulty. 


------------------------------------------------
13. Should I use Cattle or Wheat?
------------------------------------------------
Everyone agrees that you should not use only cattle, because when your 
population grows in size, you'll be forced to divert a very large portion of 
it to taking care of the cattle, and your industry will suffer from lack of 
workforce (especially with advanced farming on). It is also dangerous to rely
solely on cattle because as soon as the herd is insufficient to provide
dairy for your whole population, then the people start eating the cows. That
makes even less dairy next season, so the people eat more cows, until you
completely run out of food. 

Many people think you should switch to 100% wheat as soon as possible, as it 
require much less workforce and is more reliable. While I prefer 100% wheat 
over 100% cattle, the best strategy is to keep a small amount of cattle, 
between 2 and 4 fields (40-120 heads), and leave the rest for wheat. The point
is that such a small amount can feed around 300 people easily, and that's a 
significant relief on your grain stock. The smaller the county, the more 
useful cattle becomes. In fact, very small counties are safer using 100%
cattle. Large counties that keep a small amount of cattle are still less 
vulnerable to famine. If you need to raise a large army and population drops
to a number insufficient to make a good harvest, the cattle will help feed a
good portion of this population.

------------------------------------------------
14. I don't have enough food for my population! What can I do?
------------------------------------------------
Usually this happens when a county has only few usable fields and you've 
managed to make the populace happy and healthy nonetheless. Unfortunately, to 
keep a large population healthy, there's no other reliable way than clearing 
as many fields as possible (all of them, ultimately). Thus you should 
prioritize clearing up land (and then using it to grow food, of course. 
Didn't you actually read the manual?!?)

But what can you do right now? Reduce rations, and taxes so that people don't 
become too unhappy. If you have a couple weapons, raise an army to reduce 
your population to a sustainable number. If a there's a merchant around, buy 
some grain, or cattle if the county doesn't have any. Small populations can 
easily live off a small herd, with dairy products. If one of your nearby 
counties has large stocks of grain or cattle, send some supplies. With 
perseverance and time (lots of time!), the county will become prosperous 
again. You just need more fields and that can't be done very fast.

------------------------------------------------
15. Why do I lose so many fields to floods/droughts? AAARGH!
------------------------------------------------
I totally empathize with you, randomly losing a field is really frustrating 
because it's so much work to clear them. But, you can't do anything about 
natural events. Floods happen during winter and spring, while droughts happen 
during summer. I don't remember losing a field to natural events in autumn, 
but I suppose a drought could happen.

------------------------------------------------
16. How can I gain more crowns?
------------------------------------------------
Crowns are really useful and rather than stockpiling them ad vitam eternam, 
you should invest them wisely throughout the game. Buy ale to make small 
counties happy, wood/stone to speed up construction of castles, weapons to 
give you an advantage in the early game. Remember that money is not your most 
important resource, like in Command in Conquer or many other strategy games. 
Low funds usually isn't dramatic.

To gain more crowns, don't SELL your weapons or resources. It's stupid. 
Crowns are used to BUY these, and at double the price. 
First, optimize your taxes: a county in good health (+1 happiness) with 
normal rations (+1) and 100 happiness can pay 7% taxes (-2) and remain at 
100%. At perfect health, they can pay 8%.
Next, raise taxes where it matters: in the countries with castles and larger 
populations. 
Next, build small castles (like a Motte and Bailey, or Norman Keep if you 
rather have abundant stone) in all counties. A simple Motte and Bailey boosts 
taxes by 75%, and a Norman Keep by 100%.
Finally, don't raise armies just for the sake of it, and especially 
mercenaries. There are heaps of good reasons to raise an army, but often you 
can delay it by a turn or two. That's more crowns into your treasury.

------------------------------------------------
17. What is a good level of happiness?
------------------------------------------------
Simply put, 100. If your county is not at 100, raise happiness (through lower 
taxes, better rations or beer).

Of course, when a county has few usable crops and thus can't produce much 
food, then having optimal happiness is less of an issue since you usually 
want to reduce your population.

Another situation where you might want a lower happiness is if one of your 
nearby counties has very low happiness (as a result of recent conquest); 
you'd like to prevent massive emigration to your happier county. You'll find 
out, though, that through good rations, 0% taxes and regular doses of ale, 
you can quickly make a population happy again so that's not much of an issue.


------------------------------------------------
18. Why is Black Death repeatedly striking county X?
------------------------------------------------
This happens and is frustrating, but it looks completely random nonetheless 
and you can't do anything about it. If you have a better theory, please 
contact me.


**********************************
V. STRATEGY - MILITARY
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
19. What units should be present in all armies?
------------------------------------------------
The backbone of any army meant to fight battles (not one-man armies for 
slaughtering villagers) is a strong force of pikemen and archers. Pikemen are 
cheap and have the strongest armour in the game. They can win battles after 
battles and remain almost unscathed. But, pikes are no good for killing. This 
is where the archers come in. A single arrow is weak, but archers shoot very 
fast and have very long range. The army with the largest number of archers 
can pick off enemies from afar and force them to charge, usually into an 
impenetrable wall of pikemen. In other words, enemy troops will get massacred 
by your archers and not kill much of your troops, and that's exactly what we 
want, right? Pikemen are also the best unit for digging up the motte in a 
siege. I used to use peasants, but I now consider it waste of population.

So, that makes the pikeman the most useful unit, followed closely by his 
inseparable companion, the archer. 

------------------------------------------------
20. What about the other units then?
------------------------------------------------
The next most useful unit is the maceman. Maces are the cheapest weapon (4 
wood/4 iron is nothing), and they produce the most damage after knights. 
Macemen are, in fact, very similar to knights: they are fast, hard-hitting, 
but rather vulnerable (yes knights don't have that much armour). They are 
your cheapo unit of choice for flanking enemy archers or charging through a 
castle during a siege.

The only problem with macemen is that being shock units and vulnerable, they 
usually suffer massive casualties.

------------------------------------------------
21. Well you still have half of the other units to talk about.
------------------------------------------------
Yup let's get this done. Ok the next most useful unit is the knight, for the 
same reasons as the maceman. They are extremely fast and hard hitting. They 
also have decent armour, although not nearly as much as pikemen. The only 
problem with knights is that they are very expensive to make and maintain and 
tend to suffer large casualties, so in the early game, where crucial 
decisions are made, you will usually get macemen instead. By the time you're 
rich enough to afford knights, you're already in a comfortable situation.

Next you have the arbalester, which would really be the most useful unit if 
the archers didn't kick his arse all day long. Of course, he can kill 
armoured units in one shot, but he's slow and expensive, and he has a 
tendency to get killed by enemy archers. Arbalesters can be deadly in large 
numbers if fighting highly armoured troops such as pikemen, swordsmen and 
knights, and if you can manage to get them in range while safe from enemy 
archers and melee troops (this large number of conditions is the main problem 
with arbalesters). Anyway you'll mainly fight poorly armoured troops such as 
peasants and archers, so even used optimally, arbalesters are not often very 
useful.

Next, the swordsman. Swordsmen are "great", "balanced" units, fairly 
expensive, fairly hard-hitting and not too slow, not too vulnerable either. 
None of their attributes really stands out so they're just a decent all-
purpose fighter, if a bit expensive. They look nice on the battlefield, but 
I'm more scared of large forces of macemen than swordsmen. Swordsmen will 
often suffer casualties similar to macemen, not because of a lack of armour, 
but of a lack of speed.

Finally, peasants. Peasants are, simply put, a waste of population and 
happiness. All they do in battle is getting slaughtered in massive numbers. 
If however you have a large number of archers and can't afford a decent line 
of pikemen to defend, peasants could do the trick, but I'd recommend getting 
less archers and investing on pikemen. The AI likes to send throngs of 
peasants, but the AI plays like it has population to spare. Unless you do 
have population to spare (and trust me, you don't), use pikemen instead.

------------------------------------------------
21.1. But dude remember what you said about too much population in Q14/17?
------------------------------------------------
Yes, but that doesn't mean you should WASTE those people. Raising 50 pikemen 
+ 50 archers right now to relieve food pressure is a good idea; raising 100 
peasants is not. If you don't have weapons, buy some; if you don't have the 
money, keep the people in town, even if they'll be hungry, at least you can 
get them to chop wood or do something else useful.

------------------------------------------------
21.2. I don't use pikemen/archers and I r0xorz.
------------------------------------------------
If you're already rich and winning, you can do completely without archers and 
pikemen, because anyway you have troops to spare. However in the early game 
where every resource counts, archers and pikemen are simply the most 
efficient combination because they suffer the least casualties. When you play 
a very difficult map, this becomes more evident.

Whatever the situation, you'd be a fool to defend a castle without archers 
and pikemen though. Taking a castle with no such defenders is insultingly 
easy. Just pick off the clueless guys off with your own archers ;)

------------------------------------------------
22. How can I become a better general?
------------------------------------------------
Don't autocalc battles except in cases of extreme outnumbering or boredom. 
Use the terrain to your advantage. The AI is stupid. Wait for it to settle in 
place, and then carefully advance your troops. You can usually flank their 
archers, or pick them off with your own archers since you have more and you 
can shield them with your pikemen. Once the ranged attackers are neutralized, 
rain death on the rest of the army with your archers and wait for it to 
charge into your pikemen. When they make contact with your pikemen, flank 
with macemen/knights if you have them, for maximum damage.

If taking a Norman Keep or inferior, just make a battering ram, send it alone 
against the door(s). Once the first door is breached, send in a knight or 
macemen to spill the enemy’s oil (just attack the oil barrel and move away 
quickly). If possible, kill some of the archers before they have the occasion 
to retreat to the primary keep. If the castle is defended by many archers, 
wait for both doors to be breached and the battering ram to be dead or out of 
the way, and then charge with all your macemen/knights. If you don't have 
them, sorry, but you'll suffer a lot of casualties and be forced to send 
pikemen, swordsmen and your own archers. 

Sometimes the AI leaves the flag exposed; in this case, run for it with your 
fastest unit, repeatedly clicking on the flag until you automatically win the 
battle (the remaining defenders are lost).

If taking a Stone or Royal Castle, make catapults and attack by a side. Use 
pikemen to dig, only four units at a time, retreating when they spill oil on 
them. Make a passage at least three units wide, both in the motte and in the 
wall. Then send in macemen/knights, archers, arbalesters, everyone can give a 
hand. Taking a Royal Castle will always mean taking substantial casualties if 
it's decently defended.

Using siege towers will usually mean utter chaos and many casualties, I don't 
recommend them. The units are forced to come in one at a time, making them 
very vulnerable and disorganized.

Don't try to pick off defending archers with your own archers, you are at a 
disadvantage and will lose many troops.

If defending the castle, simply position all your archers so that they can 
slay attackers, and use your boiling oil to maximize casualties among the 
enemy troops. Don't let the computer get to the flag by surprise! If you have 
a secondary keep (in all castles superior to a wooden palisade), retreat your 
archers there when the enemies breach the first door. When all are breached, 
a few pikemen can serve as a secondary door and be surprisingly effective at 
it. The AI is terrible at taking castles and you should never lose a single 
siege, provided a reasonable number of defenders (and something better than a 
wooden palisade.)


**********************************
VI. STRATEGY - EARLY GAME
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
23. What should I do first?
------------------------------------------------
There are basically two ways to go about the early game, an expansive and a
defensive strategy. The expansive strategy makes for exciting, fast-paced
games, but on some very hard maps, it's suicide. Going defensive, you're
almost guaranteed a win each time, but it makes games longer and somewhat
predictable. I always try playing expansive first, then if I see that it's
too hard, I re-start the game playing defensive.

_______________________
Here's how you do play expansive:

Your first goal is to gather enough troops to take and secure a second 
county. Securing the county often means taking out the AI nearest to you. Now 
depending on your starting conditions, achieving this can take more or less 
time, but you should go as fast as possible, even if that means causing 
massive discontent or reducing your population to a very low number. To give 
you an example:

I started out in Italy on hard, with "few" weapons, "small" armies and "weak" 
counties. The army was 25 swordsmen and 25 archers, and I had 25 bows and 
swords at my disposition. The county had only a few suitable crops, average 
health, low happiness and 180 population. I immediately recruited the 50 
additional troops and headed for the nearby county, which was also adjacent 
to the Baron's starting location. Yes, that meant reducing population to 130 
and putting my county on the brink of revolt, but it was worth it: my 100 men 
dispatched the nearby county’s defense without a single casualty, as well as 
the 50 troops the Baron sent. Not a single year had elapsed and I sieged the 
Baron's castle, a Motte and Bailey with, I assumed, few defenders. Building a 
single battering ram took 5 seasons, but I was then able to defeat the Baron 
while taking only 30 casualties.

Thus I became the first noble with three counties and no immediate threat. 
Sure, my starting county would remain weak and undefended for a long time, 
but as the AIs started waging war on each other and ruining each other's 
economy, my initial advantage would slowly allow me to raise a large military 
force and then take over the whole realm without much difficulty. This is 
what happened of course ;)

_______________________
Here's how you play defensive:

Your first goal is a long-term one: concentrate all your energies on the
economic development of your first county, until it's strong enough to
provide you with large armies able to take over your adversaries. Build a 
motte and bailey as soon as possible as well as a small force capable of 
destroying the enemy pillagers, to ensure your survival.

Just be as efficient as you can. Don't let a single serf remain idle. Focus
on clearing your fields. Playing with advanced farming on makes it
significantly faster to stockpile large amounts of grain. If you can survive
the initial few years where your county is weak, you'll turn invulnerable and
be almost certain of winning the game. To give you example:

I started in Crusades on impossible against the four nobles, in Jerusalem,
with "weak" counties, no weapons, 100 crowns, and no army. On impossible the
AI gets HUGE growth and production bonuses, so there is no way I could secure a 
second county before quite some time. Soon the nobles took over every available
county and started waging war on each other. I was lucky to be spared in the
early game since I would have been simply eradicated. By the time the AIs
turned upon me, I had built a motte and bailey and their few attempts to take
over it were failures. I had to position a small army of pikemen and archers in
my fields to prevent them from pillaging my crops.

After many years of patiently building up my economy, I was making 600+ crowns
and about 30 weapons per turn in Jerusalem. My population was nearing 2000, in
perfect health (I was able to feed them double rations). The county was
defended with a stone castle with 200 archers in it. As soon as I got an
800-men army, I went south and took over North Africa, eliminating both the
Knight and the Baron. It was then simply a matter of time before the Countess
and the Knight would also perish.


_______________________
In general:

Another useful thing to do in your first 2 turns is to compliment every 
noble. After two compliments they won't accept them anymore, but you'll be in 
better terms and that makes them somewhat less likely to attack you (never 
trust them however).

------------------------------------------------
24. How do I divide my workforce?
------------------------------------------------
If your population is very small (under 300), it's not very efficient to 
clear land, so most people should be taking care of cattle/wheat, and the 
rest be divided equally between your industries. Even when you have very 
little people, always keep a few serfs in each industry to boost efficiency.

When the population grows larger, you can start assigning a good portion on 
clearing land. This will become your main activity until most of the crops 
are usable. At this point, you'll have a large population (1000+) and can 
start to assign more people to industrial activities.

Here is a general order of priority:
1. Having some serfs (even 1 is fine) in each industry
2. Taking care of the wheat
3. Taking care of the cattle / clearing up land
4. Industrial activities (smith/wood/iron/stone/castle)

------------------------------------------------
25. How do I spend my initial crowns?
------------------------------------------------
If your initial counties are small and unhappy, buying ale (just the amount 
necessary for +5 happiness) is a good investment. Weapons are extremely 
expensive, but they take so long to produce that buying some can give you a 
decisive advantage. Remember, if you can massively outnumber your enemy, his 
troops will be rendered useless. That makes each one of your troops more 
valuable than that of your enemy. 50 archers will take out 25 archers while 
taking maybe 10 casualties, not 25. In other words, a 2:1 ratio in number 
translates to at least a 5:1 ratio in power. With skill and a bit of luck 
(that happens often with the AI's mistakes) you could take 0 casualties 
(equivalent to 1:0 ratio - infinite power!). Why is that? Because you are 
smart and the AI is dumb. On the opposite, even when you are massively 
outnumbered by the AI, you can often manage a win by playing with much better 
tactics than him. An advantage in your hands multiplies your power; an 
advantage in the hands of the AI barely serves him.

------------------------------------------------
26. When do I switch to wheat?
------------------------------------------------
As I said you should always have around two fields of cattle, so since you 
start with at least 4 usable fields, you can already seed on the first turn 
(which is winter). With advanced farming on, remember to leave 1/3rd of the 
fields unused, however. Progressively add more wheat fields as they are 
cleared. That's it!

If a county has a large amount of cattle, simply assign the fields to wheat 
when winter comes, leaving only 2-4 fields of cattle. You should go 
progressively, and try not to lose the cattle too fast, to avoid causing 
famine. Reducing the number of fields will cause massive overcrowding and the 
herd will slowly decrease to its new maximum number, by itself. Thus you'll 
have made the transition from 100% cattle to mainly wheat without too much 
trouble.


**********************************
VII. STRATEGY - INTERMEDIATE GAME
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
27. How can I resist the massive waves of troops the AI sends?
------------------------------------------------
First, to prevent such things from happening, find which AI is most likely
to attack you, and pillage his economy to ruins. Yup he'll be angry at you,
but that doesn't make much difference in practical terms.

200 archers in a Norman Keep can fight off literally thousands of AI troops. 
With your 3 oil barrels you can easily cause 300+ casualties, and your 
archers can take out the rest. In case they breach the inner door, have a few 
pikemen defend your archers.

If that is not enough, build a stone or royal castle. If you can manage that, 
then the county will be virtually invulnerable, except for pillagers 
(expansion only). I've defeated tens of thousands of enemy troops with 600 
archers in a royal castle, and the AI never even managed to dig up the motte. 
Considering that, I suppose a stone castle would have done the job just as 
well, but I rarely use them, for some reason (maybe because they look bland). 
In a royal castle you get six oil barrels and that's just death for the AI 
:P.

------------------------------------------------
28. How can I stop the AI from pillaging my crops?
------------------------------------------------
Make a few 50-men armies, but with pikemen and archers instead of peasants. 
You can autocalc most battles with almost no casualties. Send your own 
peasant armies to pillage the AI economy (yes peasants have a purpose after
all ;)). It's cheap and dirty, but it's efficient at weakening them.

------------------------------------------------
29. Should I make an alliance with a noble?
------------------------------------------------
Yeah, try it, if he is nearby. But that just means he's slightly less 
inclined to attack you. No AI can be trusted, not even the Baron. AIs will 
rarely answer requests and will break the alliance for no reason, often to 
their own disadvantage. So it's not very interesting to make alliances in 
this game.


**********************************
VIII. STRATEGY - END GAME
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
30. How do I massacre the puny remaining counties with my 4500+ elite troops?
------------------------------------------------
Ok ok, instead of saying "use the left mouse button" I'll actually try and make
an interesting point here. First you don't need to conquer every county, you
just need to defeat all nobles. Often when you're in power to take over the
whole country, a single AI (usually the Countess) is in possession in most of 
the lands. In this case, try to conquer a county that divides his realm in two
parts. On the next turn, the AI will have lost half of his counties because
they are separated from the rest of his empire.

If you are done clearing all your crops, at some point you'll notice that you
are stockpiling huge amounts of grain for nothing. In that case, even if you
don't play with advanced farming, switch a couple fields to fallow. That will
allow to divert a larger part of your population to industrial activities and
will speed up your victory. Alternatively, you could distribute double rations
from time to time, allowing you to raise larger armies. Usually population 
isn't a problem at this point so I'd rather push my industrial production.

Since you're probably amassing 2000+ crowns per turn at this point, buy tons
of weapons.

**********************************
IX. AI DISCUSSION
**********************************

------------------------------------------------
31. Which of the AI nobles are the best?
------------------------------------------------
The Countess is the strongest AI and should always be watched with a suspicious
eye. First, she is the ultimate economist, using a mix of wheat and cattle and
always providing enough food for her people. Following the fundamental theorem
of LotR 2, that automatically makes her the strongest AI. But while she's also
quite expansionist, she is excellent at evaluating the risks she is taking and
will not let you take on her easily. Her troops are well-armed, although she
does make a little too many peasants.
The Countess is supposedly the most "trustworthy" AI, but in my book that
concept is inexistent in LotR. If the Countess is your mortal enemy (swords
clashing on the diplomacy screen), she will certainly try to pillage your
crops.
The Countess likes to make a stone castle in her favorite county, but she'll
generally stick with a motte and bailey in every other.

------------------------------------------------
32. I'm totally hooked, please go on.
------------------------------------------------
The second best AI noble is the Bishop, but that is a bit weird because
he's the second worst economist. I know this looks like a violation of the
FToLoTR (and I know my humor makes you RoTFL), but when I'll talk about the
Baron you'll see that it's not.
Although the Bishop poorly manages his counties, he is just as expansionist
as the Countess and impressively good at raising large armies (composed mainly
of peasants though) and building huge castles in minimal time. If you are ever
faced with the daunting task of taking over a royal castle filled with archers
and swordsmen, it'll probably be one the Bishop's castles. Make sure to bring
massive amounts of macemen, knights or swordsmen.
The Bishop's armies are very large, but as they are composed mainly of peasants
you can defeat them with small forces of pikemen and archers and suffer minimal
casualties.
When the Countess is not winning (that means she started in the worst county),
it's usually the Bishop that takes over.

------------------------------------------------
33. What about that curious Baron then?
------------------------------------------------
The Baron is my favorite personality, but he usually doesn't live up to his
noble ambitions. Like the Countess, the Baron manages his counties with great
care, often feeding huge populations (1800+ serfs!) with double rations and
perfect health. The fact that he only uses Cattle, though, require most of
these mobs to remain dairy maids forever, and thus it takes quite some time
before his industry speeds up.
The Baron makes, by far, the most powerful armies in the game. In my last game
I was again astonished at discovering he had built not one, but two
super-armies of doom composed of 800+ knights (yes, KNIGHTS) and 400+ archers,
capable of giving even my super-armies of doom a hard time. Unlike every other
AI, the Baron will not raise large forces of peasants.
So how is it that he is only the third best AI? Well, LotR may be a game
where playing builder-style (defensive and conservative) works well, but the
Baron pushes that style to the extreme. He'll expand so slowly and precautiously
that although his few counties are strong, he'll be overwhelmed by the sheer
numbers the Countess or the Bishop are able to muster upon him. By the end of
the game, the Baron is typically stuck with his two original counties, unable
(or unwilling) to expand, and once you've vanquished his admittedly fearsome
armies, he's dead meat.
In the rare event that the Baron does expand, he'll become the most dangerous
foe in the game, and you'll have to put up a hard fight to vanquish him.

------------------------------------------------
34. So that leave us with the Knight.
------------------------------------------------
Right. Simply put, the Knight is a terrible AI, and if I can't win easily I'll
side with him to wreak havoc on the better AIs, knowing that he'll be easy to
take out afterwards. In accordance with the aforementioned theorem, the Knight
is a very bad economist and that translates directly into his systematic
failure. He only uses Cattle and leaves most of his crops barren.
There's not much else to say about him. The proportion of peasants in his
armies is superior to that of the Bishop, so that makes them laughably easy to
defeat. The Knight likes to defend his counties with wooden palisades (!) and
although he might be inclined to build something better if he were sitting on
a pile of resources, the sad reality is that I've never seen him get those
resources. In other words, if you start out next to the Knight, consider
yourself lucky.
 

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