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Civilization 6 and Cities Skylines 2 have a new strategy game rival

Civilization 6 and Cities Skylines 2 have a strategy rival in Manor Lords, one of the top Steam games, now with a fixed early access date.

Civilization 6 and Cities Skylines 2 are, respectively, the biggest strategy and city building sims out there. But there’s a stunning new rival on the way. Already one of the most-wishlisted games on Steam, and now with a confirmed early access date for Steam, GOG, and Game Pass, this is Civ 6 with a deeper historical focus, or CS2 but in the 14th century. From the minds behind Xenonauts 2, Workers and Resources, and Terra Invicta, welcome to Manor Lords, a city builder with a twist.

Manor Lords is absolutely ruthless. A city builder and strategy game all in one, to begin with, it seems relatively calm and kind. We’ve been waiting on the Manor Lords release date for a while now, partly because it looks so pleasant. You lay your roads. You establish farms. You build your houses. Of course, the gorgeous, 14th-century architecture is something to admire, alongside the soothing European countryside and atmosphere, but in its opening phases, Manor Lords feels like a nice, straightforward strategy sim.

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And then it gets nasty. This is the medieval era after all, and if the neighboring lords and warring local clans don’t kill you, the disease, starvation, and harsh winters will. In Manor Lords, the survival of your village rests on every single decision. If you try to cultivate a bigger food surplus, the herds of deer you rely on for meat will migrate away, and the soil will go bad because you’ve spent too long growing a single crop. If you try to make more money by manufacturing luxury goods like leather boots and honey, you won’t have enough available labor for the basics like harvesting and hunting.

And then there’s combat. Again, this is the 14th century, and everyone’s fighting over the best land, the best access to water, and the best resources. You can trade with other settlements to try and keep things calm, but in some cases, Manor Lords erupts into war. Using real-time combat, this isn’t a case of throwing anonymous units at the problem, and mass-producing replacements should they get killed.

Manor Lords Steam Early Access Date: A villager on horseback in Steam strategy game Manor Lords

When your village goes to war, your villagers go to war. These are your individual subjects, who have to abandon civilian life to join your militia, and every day they’re fighting is a day they’re not farming, hunting, or manufacturing. If they die, it has a big impact on the stability of your settlement. A long conflict can lead to an even longer winter of rationing and starvation – you can win the battle in Manor Lords, but the long-term consequences might still be grave.

Already number three on Steam’s most wishlisted chart, the Manor Lords early access release date is now set for Friday, April 26, 2024. It’ll launch on Steam, GOG, and PC Game Pass, where it will be available from day one.

As we wait for Manor Lords to arrive, check out some of the other best city building games. You might also want to try the best management games, if you love drilling into the details.