How to Majesty

Majesty: the Fantasy Kingdom Sim is a unique and charming strategy game released somewhere around the turn of the millennium. In Majesty, you are the sovereign of a fantasy kingdom, responsible for constructing buildings, hiring heroes, and placing quest rewards to motivate those heroes to raid the dungeon that’s spawning a never-ending tide of dragons rather than wandering off in a random direction in the wilderness to see if they can find treasure chests. Different hero classes have different personalities and priorities, and understanding these personalities, as well as the usual base building and economy management of a strategy game, is critical to victory. It’s a genuinely spectacular game, and I’m going to tell you how to win super hard at it. A disclaimer: The general strategy I’m going to lay out in this post is effective on most quests, but some of the story quests and many of the expert-level random quests require a pretty specific build order to win. For example, in Quest for the Crown upgrading your wizard’s guild takes a high priority because you absolutely need a bunch of lightning storms ready to go in order to fend off a huge minotaur rush that happens almost as soon as the quest begins. In most quests, you don’t even want to build a wizard’s guild until your kingdom is practically done.

Understanding the Economy

Majesty has one really obvious resource: Gold. You want as much gold as possible so you can replace fallen heroes, construct new buildings as fast as your peasants can get to the construction sites to put them up, and pay for spells that can make the difference between victory and defeat. The backbone of the gold economy is the marketplace, which can generate over a thousand gold in just one or two game days when it’s upgraded to level 3. Cottages are also critical to the economy, but can also be its downfall. Cottages very slowly generate gold, which means that if you leave your tax collectors’ minimum pickup at zero (which is actually 1), they will spend all their time gathering 11 gold at a time from cottages while your marketplace has thousands sitting in its tax chest waiting for the dumb bastards who run your treasury to run out of cottages to tax. This is why it’s important to set the minimum pickup to somewhere between 50-100. You want that cottage gold, but you don’t want your tax collectors constantly ignoring far more lucrative buildings to make the rounds around a bunch of low value cottages. Likewise, tax collectors’ minimum return should be set to 1,000. As mentioned previously, marketplaces frequently have a thousand gold sitting in their coffers waiting to be taxed, and you don’t want your tax collectors to to give up and go home before they get their hands on it. Getting your tax collectors to get the money from the marketplace to your treasury is about 75% of having a strong economy.

There are several other less obvious resources. One example is constructors. Every kingdom has some peasants from its palace, but the dwarves and especially gnomes can also build and repair buildings. A kingdom with more constructors is more durable and can expand faster. As we’ll get into later, the utility of extra constructors is the entire reason why you might ever want gnomes: They’re fast enough to reach a market before a troll can wreck it, repair quickly enough that they can keep the market from being destroyed, and cheap enough that you don’t care too much if the troll splatters one or two of them before your real heroes show up to kill it.

Another hidden resource is sewer entrances. Every four or five buildings you construct spawns a new sewer entrance, which will steadily spawn giant rats and ratmen to menace the nearby buildings. Ratmen in particularly are aggravating, because they will rob nearby marketplaces of valuable tax money, sometimes stealing upwards of a thousand gold if given ten or fifteen seconds to burgle, and they’ll start attacking nearby buildings, including cottages, which can put a serious strain on your economy.

Similarly, graveyards spawn every 10-ish hero deaths (but only when their gravestone disappears and they are lost forever – if their gravestone is still out where they died, you can still rez them) and will spawn zombies and skeletons. Neither are as perfidious as ratmen, but they will attack tax collectors and peasants and if left unchecked can eventually build up a swarm that will even give heroes trouble. This is especially true of skeletons, who have excellent dodge and are thus nearly impervious to ranged attacks. This means that you don’t want to build a single building more than is necessary and you definitely don’t want your heroes dying a lot, because not only does every ten-ish heroes slain spawn a graveyard, but every four heroes recruited spawns a cottage, which means every twenty-ish heroes slain will spawn a sewer entrance (unless you don’t replace the dead heroes, but if you didn’t need those heroes, you shouldn’t have built their guild in the first place).

Now, these spawners can be effectively neutralized by putting a fully upgraded guardhouse down somewhere nearby. You’re going to generate a couple of sewer entrances in order to get vital buildings, and in the late game when you’ve got spare cash you can build some spare buildings just because you want them and it won’t be a big issue to put a guardhouse down on the sewer entrance you get out of the deal. The main trouble is the exponentially rising cost of the things: A guardhouse starts out cheap, costing just north of 500 gold with a blacksmith, but just like most buildings, each subsequent guardhouse costs about half again as much as the last. Guardhouses can be used to almost completely mitigate the nasty side effects of having lots of buildings and/or dead heroes, but only so long as you can keep up with their rising cost.

Occasionally a sewer entrance will spawn in a tiny nook between existing buildings and you won’t be able to do this. If this happens, just hope your heroes take care of it. A guardhouse on the other side of a cottage from a sewer entrance won’t intercept more than the tiniest fraction of the monsters it spawns, and it’ll make the next guardhouse you build that much more expensive.

Getting Started

Some quests are kind enough to start you with some buildings. Others just give you a palace and a bunch of dosh. If the former case, don’t demolish any of the buildings you start with in order to get extra money to build the standard setup, even if you start out with like a library or a temple of Helia or something else that you wouldn’t normally bother with until the very lategame. It’s not usually worth it in the long run, and very often (especially in harder quests) you need the buildings you start with to win. Sometimes you need them immediately. If you’re playing Tomb of the Dragon King and you rip down your temple of Krypta to help get a warrior’s guild out faster, you are going to die.

The very first thing you need to decide is whether or not you want gnomes. Your first gnome hovel is cheap. Once you build one, you’ll get two more for free. If there is a single living gnome left in your kingdom, your gnome hovels will repopulate up to three automatically. Gnomes are by far the cheapest heroes in the game, and they’re also by far the fastest constructors. Their base stats are rubbish and they have no combat abilities, but they level from construction and will usually beat your peasants to a construction site because of how fast they are, which means the gnomes you recruit now can get a few levels just out of building the rest of your kingdom. A level 7 gnome might be rubbish compared to other level 7 heroes, but they’re still level 7 and will be perfectly capable of handling most monsters at that point (although heavy hitters like beholders, vampires, and dragons will slaughter gnomes of basically any level – but it’s not like dwarves and elves are particularly effective against those either).

There are two major drawbacks to gnomes. The first is that they lock you out of getting dwarves and elves later on. The second is that they die a lot, and will thus generate lots of graveyards. Generally speaking, gnomes aren’t worth it. They’re very cheap, but only at a point in the game when you’re horribly strapped for cash, which makes their relative cost pretty comparable to dwarves or elves, who you only start recruiting after you’ve got your economy going, and it’s pretty rare that your peasants can’t handle construction in your kingdom. When they can’t, it’s usually because you’re spread out across the map to start, which will only kill more gnomes as they get ambushed by monsters on the way to your outlying villages. Having gnomes to speed up earlygame construction is almost never worth having an extra graveyard or two that you need to put guardhouses down on, especially since they lock you out of ballista towers, which can otherwise take the heat off of your need for guardhouses. If you’re on a time limit, gnomes will help you build your kingdom up much faster, especially compared to your measly two peasants from a level 1 palace, and that can get you out of the earlygame lightning fast. Once you’ve reached tier two buildings, you can probably just let your gnomes die and not bother replacing them rather than constantly paying for more of them to fill your graveyards.

Once you’ve figured out whether you want gnomes or not, your priorities are basically always the same: Start with a blacksmith towards the nearest corner of the map (where monster density will be lower) and a ranger’s guild towards the center of the map. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be right next to your palace, just that you want your palace between your blacksmith and your ranger’s guild, and you want your rangers between the monsters and your palace. If you have the misfortune to be situated dead center of the map, build wherever you like, all options are equally terrible. The blacksmith will make all buildings and upgrades 5% cheaper, which adds up to a free warrior by the time you’ve upgraded your palace to level 2, and the rangers are a good early defense against monsters. They’re fairly cheap, fairly durable, and most importantly, their guild can be very quickly constructed. Warriors are going to be the staple of your early game defense, but if you put a warrior’s guild down before the rangers, you may find that your peasants aren’t able to finish it before the first monsters show up to kill them and rip the half-built guild down. Your palace will follow soon after. This need for early game defense is also why you should put a blacksmith and ranger’s guild down at the same time rather than letting the blacksmith finish construction first to get the discount on building the ranger’s guild.

Once you have those two down, your next priority (besides pumping out rangers until the guild is full) is a marketplace and then the warrior’s guild. Just like the blacksmith and ranger’s guild, put the heroes towards the center of the map and the helpless shops towards the nearest corner. Build both simultaneously if you have the funds (you probably do), and immediately start working on upgrading that marketplace to level 3. Don’t bother researching the teleportation item once you get there, as the main goal of marketplace upgrades this early on is not to provide your heroes with sweet items (though it is also very important to give your heroes access to healing potions ASAP) but to get your economy going.

Ignore the rogues guild. Rogues can do a couple of cool things: Their extortion guild option is a great way to get most of your tax money out of the marketplace when you need it right now and cannot wait any longer for your idiot tax collectors to figure out there’s five thousand gold sitting in there (or worse, it’s being swarmed by monsters so the tax collectors can’t survive the trip and the whole building is about to be lost along with all its stored gold), a level 2 rogues guild can poison weapons which helps give your heroes the edge, especially against monsters that are hard to hit or which regenerate health, and the rogues themselves are both cheap and easily motivated by rewards, so even if they’re cowardly and run away from strong monsters, they’ll also loop back around to start raiding the dungeon or heading for the explore flag as soon as they’ve shaken their pursuer, even if the reward isn’t very high. The problem with them is twofold: Number one, they’re very fragile and are often tempted to bite off more than they can chew by reward flags, and number two, as helpful as rogues are you’d almost always be better off putting the two thousand-ish gold it takes to get a full guild of them towards getting a level 2 palace and second tier heroes instead. By the time you make your way down your list of priorities to where rogues would be helpful, you don’t really need them anymore, because your economy is probably powerful enough that you don’t need extortion, your hero roster varied enough that you don’t need expendable and easily motivated heroes, and your treasury deep enough that you can throw a few extra gold onto bounties in order to motivate less greedy heroes.

Once you have a blacksmith, a level 3 marketplace, a ranger’s guild, and a warrior’s guild, upgrade your palace to level 2. By now you’ll usually have run out of gold and will have to wait on your economy a bit. Replace any heroes you lose (except gnomes, if you have them), but otherwise don’t spend gold on things like blacksmith techs or any reward flags that aren’t absolutely necessary. If a dungeon is practically on your doorstep and spawning monsters that threaten to overwhelm one of your buildings, then sure, but otherwise, your primary objective should be to race to tier two heroes as fast as possible.

Dauros vs. Krypta

Once you’re at level 2, you need to decide whether you want to go Dauros/Agrela, Fervus/Krypta, or Krolm. Your rangers should have explored enough of the map to give you an idea of what you’re dealing with by now. Dauros is the right choice when dealing with swarms of small enemies, as paladins are practically invincible to their attacks and healers can help keep other heroes on their feet when they would otherwise die a death of a thousand cuts. Paladins are also great against vampires, whose magic mirror means the usual solution of powerful enemies – let the wizard handle it – is counterproductive. Monks aren’t very useful. You need the temple of Dauros to get paladins, but it’s usually best to leave it empty. When building for Dauros, start with a temple of Agrela, then a temple of Dauros, then focus on upgrading the temple of Agrela to level 3 and replacing any fallen warriors with paladins. It’s not usually worth it to build a second warrior’s guild for paladins until after you’ve already got access to blessing and resurrection. It can also be worthwhile to upgrade the temple of Dauros to level 2 for stoneskin, but petrify isn’t usually worth it.

Krypta is the right choice if you’re facing a smaller number of very powerful enemies. A priestesses’ skeleton swarm is lots of small bags of HP instead of one big one, which means an attack that does 50+ damage in one hit is mostly wasted, and their life drain attack does nearly as much damage as a wizard, which means a priestess can quickly kill powerful enemies, especially dragons, while they’re bogged down by her skeletons. Cultists of Fervus are less awesome, but still well worth their price, especially if you’re on a map where giant rats, rocs, hellbears, or vargs are a common enemy, as cultists can charm these. Cultists face a lot of early attrition, but once they reach level 4 they can handle themselves, and once they reach level 7 they become valuable tanks with their hellbear form. Warriors of discord are only worth their price if you have plenty of cash. Once they get a few levels on them they can be almost as terrifying as paladins, but they’re very vulnerable in early levels, so popping them for 900 gold rather than a more durable warrior for 450 is usually a bad idea unless you’re already swimming in money. When building for Krypta, build a temple of Krypta first and get your priestesses out, then a temple of Fervus. The temple of Fervus is important for the healing spell, but its higher level spells aren’t really worth it. Focus on upgrading Krypta so you can get reanimate. As mentioned earlier, it’s probably not worth bothering recruiting warriors of discord in the first place, let alone building a whole guild for them.

Krolm is the wrong choice.

Elves vs. Dwarves

If you’ve gotten this far without getting gnomes, it’s now time to decide whether you want elves or dwarves. Elves require a marketplace (of any level, but yours should be level 3 by now anyway) and an inn. Dwarves require a level 3 blacksmith. You probably want to upgrade your blacksmith to level 3 around now anyway, both to get some good equipment out to your heroes and to make the blacksmith itself more durable and less vulnerable to being rushed down by a goblin or rat swarm. The inn isn’t super helpful, but is also a pretty trivial cost to pay at this point in the game.

The main decision here is whether you want a really powerful economy. If you’re in a quest where having gobs of gold is useful, like A Deal With A Demon where making tons of gold within the time limit is the goal, or if you’ve decided to wipe out the neighboring sovereign in Quest for the Magic Ring (you monster) and thus need tons of lightning storms, you want elves. Otherwise, you want dwarves. If you’re facing dragons and went Dauros, you definitely want dwarves, as their powerful, static defenses are your only hope (really, though, why did you go Dauros if you’re facing dragons?).

Just having an elven bungalow in your kingdom drastically increases the amount of gold all of your marketplaces generate. At that point, actually recruiting elves is somewhat optional, and they’re overpriced for being basically just rangers who are more responsive to reward flags and do not go exploring. Elven bungalows also spawn an elven lounge (and, if you have a rogues guild, a gambling hall). Heroes can spend money in an elven lounge, but the transaction cannot be taxed (for some reason), so unlike heroes spending money at the marketplace, blacksmith, or inn, it does not translate to tax income for you. This is notable because ordinarily when heroes find a ton of gold in the wilderness or a dungeon, that gold will eventually make its way back to you either as income tax when they return to their guild to bank the gold and set aside some of it for your tax collector right away or as sales tax when they spend their banked gold on services at your various shops. Or, if they go home and then go shopping, both. If they go home and then blow all their gold at a lounge, you only get the initial income tax, and if they blow all their gold at the lounge before going home, that gold just disappears. This isn’t a big deal, taxing hero income isn’t a critical component of your economy the way marketplaces and cottages are, but you don’t really have to put up with it anyway. You can just set the lounge not to be repaired, put a bounty on it, and let your heroes rip it down. It won’t respawn and the elves don’t seem to mind.

While the elves have one big advantage, the dwarves have many small advantages. First of all, they’re actually worth their price as heroes, being fairly powerful and tanky melee fighters nearly on par with (slightly cheaper) warriors, and additionally being rapid constructors. Dwarves are slow, so unlike gnomes they won’t be first responders who show up to repair a building in danger of going down, but they also grant a massive amount of hitpoints with each repair, so they’re very good at repairing or building buildings very quickly once they actually get there, which can help take the strain off your peasant workforce when repairing for an attack on multiple fronts. You can also put a dwarven settlement down on a distant outpost in order to make sure you’ll have at least a few constructors to repair the nearby buildings. Neither peasants nor gnomes can be positioned like this, only dwarves. Finally, a dwarven settlement not only defends itself with powerful ballista bolts, bit it allows the construction of ballista towers, which always cost 950 gold (1,000 if you lose your blacksmith). Ballista towers are rubbish against skeletons, but you can plant a pair of them on either side of a sewer entrance to get protection against the rats that’s at least as good as what guardhouses provide.

I’m Melting!

Wizards are very powerful but very fragile, and are best suited to a kingdom that already has lots of other heroes so that they’re less likely to get into a fight on their own. As such, it’s usually best to save them until after you’ve built up your tier two temples. Wizard’s guild spells are also phenomenally useful, especially on small maps where most of the territory is within their unfortunately limited range. While farseeing is mainly only useful if rangers are unavailable or incapacitated, invisibility can help keep fragile wizards alive long enough to reach level 3 or 4, where they’re usually powerful enough to vaporize most monsters before being torn apart by them (especially since you hopefully have enough other heroes in the kingdom by now that wizards rarely adventure alone).

Lightning bolt is situationally useful when you need to throw money at a specific monster before it destroys a valuable building (like your palace, for example), but the main benefit of the second level upgrade is that its anti-magic field is the only reliable way to kill vampires if you don’t have paladins, making it absolutely vital to a Krypta kingdom facing any undead baddies.

The level 3 guild’s supercharge makes all other spells more useful, and the lightning storm is the single most useful spell in the game. With a level 3 wizard’s guild and 3200 gold, you can turn Armageddon into a walk in the park. This is so much the case that winning the Fertile Plain largely comes down to surviving to the end while still having enough gold stockpiled to lightning storm down the mob of rock golems that rush you at the end (6400 gold for four castings usually does the trick if you’re careful with placement and still have lots of powerful heroes left over from getting this far).

There’s nothing all that great waiting for you at tier three, so there’s no reason not to invest spare gold in upgrading the wizard’s guild to get access to these spells, especially if you’re a Krypta kingdom with no answer for vampires until you get the anti-magic spell.

You might be tempted to build wizard’s towers all over the damn place until you can cast wizard spells wherever you want like temple spells. They always cost 500 gold (450 with a blacksmith, which you should really have by now) no matter how many you’ve already built, and they don’t even need peasants to build them, so you can string them out all over the map without putting a strain on your construction force. Do not do this. While building a tower network out to specific locations can sometimes be worth it, you should never build wizard’s towers unless you have a specific place you badly need to cast a spell. Wizard’s towers are buildings like any other, which means they spawn sewer entrances. Not only that, while they build themselves, they do not repair themselves, which means your peasants will string themselves out repairing them all anyway, or else set them to not receive repairs and constantly replace them instead.

If you’re playing the Northern Expansion, now is also a good time to build a sorcerer’s abode. Level 2 is basically worthless unless you’re playing multiplayer, which is really not Majesty’s strong suit at all, but the level 1 change of heart is good in the (fairly common) situation where you need a hero to tackle a monster and are ready to babysit them with Agrela/Fervus healing to make sure they win, but they don’t know that and want to run away. Gate can dump all your heroes onto one location, which is great for a rumble with a major boss monster or defending against a swarm that’s about to destroy a vital building (like your palace) while your heroes are all strung out across the map. You probably won’t use these spells as much just because if you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably already won, but for the same reason you have little to lose by putting a few more aces up your sleeve just in case the quest goes nuts in the endgame.

Endgame

If you’re playing the Northern Expansion, now is a good time to put down a magic bazaar and get all the available potions and/or a library and get all the available spells. They’re useful things to have around but are not generally worth rushing to over the foundational economic and defensive structures built from a level 1 palace, nor the powerful workhorses of dungeon clearing and monster slaying you get from a level 2 palace. Likewise, a level 3 palace adds an extra tax collector and two extra peasants, which are always helpful, and an extra palace guard and a bunch of extra health, which helps delay the inevitable a bit when your palace is being reduced to cinders, but honestly if your palace has taken 700 points of damage and you’re relying on having one extra palace guard to save you, odds are fantastic that you’ve lost.

At palace level 3 you get access to a fairgrounds, which is not generally helpful. It’ll allow your heroes to level in safety, but you’d generally prefer your heroes level by protecting your kingdom and it can be dangerous to have a bunch of them in a tournament instead of out where they can save your marketplace from trolls.

You also get temples to Lunord and Helia, provided that you were smart enough not to make any temples to Krolm earlier. Lunord’s adepts are fast and relatively aggressive, while Helia’s solarii are very defensive in nature, tending to garrison guardhouses and patrol nearby the town rather than go out and raid dungeons – although they will occasionally do that pro-bono like paladins and barbarians sometimes do. Solarii are more durable and slightly better as heroes, but Helia’s spells are completely useless (fire strike frequently fails to do any damage and sun scorch is not worth 75% of a lightning storm) whereas Lunord’s winged feet is situationally useful when a hero is going to where you want them to be and you really need them to be there as fast as possible, while his whirlwind can temporarily disrupt swarms to either give your heroes time to pick a few of them off in smaller groups or delay the destruction of a valuable building long enough for heroes to arrive to defend it. The Valley of Serpents quest revolves almost entirely around careful usage of the sorcerer gate spell and Lunord’s whirlwind in order to get your heroes organized and throw the monsters into chaos.

Ultimately, though, Majesty quests rarely spawn anything truly terrifying in their final stages and even when they do, tier two heroes like paladins, priestesses, and wizards are more critical to stopping them than adepts or solarii. It’s kind of disappointing. Tier two heroes need to be tier two so that they’re within reach of a kingdom blitzing for them to stay ahead of a powerful and relentless monster swarm in quests like Tomb of the Dragon King, but it would’ve been nice to have some kind of endgame shop that made them even more impressive once you had it out and upgraded. Funnily enough, the magic bazaar could’ve served that function, as it does have some rather nifty potions, but it only requires a level two palace. I guess the hall of champions maybe qualifies? It hardly seems to be that significant of a boost, though, and most of the northern expansion quests are pushing the limits of what can possibly be won in Majesty, which means that they require very specific build orders to the point where I barely even think about NE buildings in a general strategy.

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