Manor Lords is at its best when 'players craft their own stories' and don't rely on a dev-made tale, which 'quickly became repetitive'

Woman selling meat at a market
(Image credit: Slavic Magic)

If you've experienced the dramatic highs and lows of Manor Lords, then you'll understand just how nail-biting this city builder and management game can really be. But instead of relying on a set story, the real drama comes from letting players live their best lives and create catastrophic situations all by themselves. 

The developer of Manor Lords, Greg "Slavic Magic" Styczeń, told players via Reddit that he "experimented with a story, but it quickly became repetitive, just like Tropico was for me as a player (subjective personal preference). My hope is a sandbox where the players craft their own stories via gameplay." 

Manor Lords does have a very loose story when it comes to all the shenanigans surrounding rival Lords who have falsely tried to claim your land as their own. Although this serves as a way to include small battle sequences in the game rather than forwarding any story. 

I'd like to see a greater storyline emerge as the game continues in early access if only to give players more incentives to grow their town and conquer neighboring lands. But I don't think some overarching and impressive story is necessary for Manor Lords to be enjoyable. I've found that some of the greatest stories just happen naturally, and when players are left up to their own devices, hilarious things can happen. 

We've already seen a local celebrity rise to stardom, going by the NSFW name Cuntz. This name can be randomly assigned to any villager and even your ox, and has made for some hilarious situations where you can even rule over your lands as the great Lord Cuntz. While it may seem pretty childish it's still pretty funny and an unforeseeable way to get fun out of Manor Lords. 

I do have a Cuntz working as a sheep herder, but all the action and drama I've experienced has come from my crops so far. After a few summers of slowly expanding my village, I realised that hunting and gathering couldn't support my growing population, and that farming grain and barley was my best shot at actually retaining citizens. This meant I had to expand all my farmsteads and increase the amount of workers on them. But more resources draw greedy eyes, and ever since the expansion happened, I've been plagued by irritating bandits who keep ambushing my supply lines. 

Every time I looked away to tend to my market, woodcutters, or sheep farm, these pesky bandits struck and ferried away all my grain and barley. It's been an ongoing and frustrating battle of wits, which ended with me spending quite a bit of cash on a mercenary group to stamp them out once and for all. Now, the battle that commenced was nowhere near as impressive as this player's last stand with just five villagers, but it did get the job done. 

This little interaction may not seem like much, but the fact that for a short amount of time, a group of made-up bandits became my arch-nemesis and the most frustrating thing in my life is quite funny, and just one example of the fun stories that can emerge from Manor Lords if you just sit back and enjoy your time trying to grow and manage a budding medieval town. 

Elie Gould
News Writer

Elie is a news writer with an unhealthy love of horror games—even though their greatest fear is being chased. When they're not screaming or hiding, there's a good chance you'll find them testing their metal in metroidvanias or just admiring their Pokemon TCG collection. Elie has previously worked at TechRadar Gaming as a staff writer and studied at JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs about Smash Bros. or any indie game that crossed their path.