A little over a year ago I stumbled upon a Facebook ad for Tribenet and decided to give it a try. Shortly thereafter, I found myself in lockdown with extra time to immerse myself in the game. It really was a fantastic escape from the monotony of staying at home and I created a Discord server for easy communication, which turned out to provide a real sense of community during a time of isolation. It also gave me the appropriate avenue to express myself through dancing GIFs, to the joy of all.
Now, you have seen helpful guides for new players written by those who have been playing the game for a very long time, pontificating behind their 20 foot walls while they sit on a throne made of steel scimitars. That’s great and all, but they have grown fat on cupcakes and branded mead and have forgotten what it was like to struggle to feed their meager tribe through their first winter. As I enter my third winter, I wanted to offer a different perspective; guidance for new players from a relatively new player.
You want to do lots of different stuff and do it well, but you have a limited number of skill checks each turn and the better you get at something, the harder it is to improve further. So what do you do?
Specialization is a must, particularly early in the game. If you are playing on a budget, make an alliance with your closest neighbors and agree on diversified specialization. There is no need for you and your allies to all spend precious skill checks on armor, for example. One tribe can specialize in armor and supply everyone in the alliance while other tribes focus on keeping a steady supply of coal and iron. If you are not concerned with the higher costs, get your additional 4 tribes as quickly as possible. This should be your second priority the first year, the top priority being the avoidance of starvation your first winter. With 5 tribes instead of 1, you have now gone from 2-3 skill checks per month to 10-15 each month. Like interest on a bank account, the sooner you can increase your skill checks, the better the pay-off in the long run.
There is no single answer here as it all depends on what you want your clan to do. Do you want to explore the world as nomads? Settle down in one place? Do you want to make things? Sail the high seas? Have you developed a taste for the flesh of your enemies? All these would suggest different areas of specialization. If you are not sure what you want to be when you grow up, browse through the research guide and see what research topics appeal to you (or ask an experienced player for suggestions). This will help inform you what tribe specializations you may want, which leads me to…
If priority 1 is to not starve through your first winter and priority 2 is to get to your maximum tribe count as quickly as you can, priority 3 is the race to 10. Pick a skill for each tribe (again based on your research goals) and make it your primary skill check every month until you reach 10. Be relentless. Be unwavering. Sure, there are lots of other cool things you will want to do, but those can come later. Get that first 10 for each tribe and then go back and learn those other skills you’ve been coveting. Research topics will open an entirely new world for you to explore, but you can’t begin until you reach 10. And don’t forget, each tribe can research a separate topic, so get that 10 for each tribe as fast as you can!
Unless your race to 10 is for a skill in column A, you should have each tribe making three checks each month. Again, this is interest in the bank that will pay off in the long run. Spend your silver on teachers. Spend all of it if you have to. This is the key to making the skills bottleneck a bit less constraining. Of course, teachers start to get expensive, which brings me to…
Sure, there are lots of goodies to buy at the fair, but your silver is for teachers! Until you have enough silver to cover your teacher costs and cover you
buying spree desires, plan to be primarily a seller at the fair. Don’t worry, if you stay focused, it should only take a year or two before you will have enough silver coming in to cover your teacher costs and have plenty left over to buy goodies. A recent article covered items that are easy to acquire and sell early in the game so I won’t rehash it here, but you should also spend some time studying the fair price list. What items have a high return (either a high price per unit or a high volume available to sell). What skills and resources do you need to be able to maximize the sale of those items? Focus on the skills needed to produce those high value items and soon silver will not be an issue.
And my last thought to share…
try to have some of every item you can get your hands on, even if you don’t have a need. Do you have idle hands in the winter? Gather fodder. Dig clay. Make shafts (or staves if you are lucky enough to be in a deciduous forest). Mine some tin ore. It doesn’t matter. Just have a bit of everything you can. You never know what will be valuable to someone else, or what item will be used in an auction. Who knows? Maybe an auction for your commodity will be posted in the tribe news in exchange for tin ore. If you are the only newbie sitting on a stash of tin ore, the commodities are yours!
Hopefully, this reflection on what I learned in my first two game years has provided at least a nugget or two for new players to ponder. And if it provided nothing, then you have probably gotten fat on cupcakes!