Serf City

Life is Fuedal

(Blue Byte Software)

I downloaded this FAQ from GAMECENTER.COM's Underground.
Back to Serf City page.

It's fun winning

         Sheesh!  See, this is what I was talking about earlier.  People
can find hacks, cheats, cracks, etc, but they can't find FAQs.  It's
amazingly inefficient.  Anyhow, here is this Serf City FAQ.  Also, I
want to give a personal *THANKS* to the person who said he was starting
a games FAQ site, and also to the person who actually wrote and distributes
the Serf City FAQ.  

***************  End Of babble  ***************

NOTE:  This FAQ is under construction.  If you are interested in helping
with writing various sections or if you have suggestions, please do not
hesitate to let me know.

Jack Vinson

Last Update: 8 July 1994

                Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about

                                 SERF CITY
                                DIE SIEDLER

This is an older German game that has recently been ported to MS DOS and
imported to the United States.  Written by Blue Byte Software and
distributed by SSI in the United States.  For the purposes of this FAQ, I
will call it Serf City.

Jack Vinson

0) Thanks
1) What is this game?
2) Strategies
        2.1) The Basic Strategy 
        2.2) Soldier strategies
3) Questions and Answers (This is really the FAQ)
  3.01) Redistribution of goods
  3.02) Long roads or bucket brigade?
  3.03) Geologists and ore veins
  3.04) Depleting ore veins
  3.05) Can you deplete nearby ore veins?
  3.06) When is quarryman done?
  3.07) Over fishing
  3.08) Serf reproduction
  3.09) How can I tell what produced items are lying on the ground?   
  3.10) How do I know when I can or cannot do something (tools/supplies)?
  3.11) Which knights are used in raids?
  3.12) How does knight training work?
  3.13) How does knight morale change
4) Game Operation Details
   (for demo players and people who can't be bothered to read the manual)
        4.1) Serf Buildings
        4.2) Statistics Menu
        4.3) Distribution Menu
        4.4) The world map
        4.5) Geologists, or How do you find a good spot for mines?
        4.6) Transporting goods by sea
5) Interesting Worlds 
6) Reported Bugs and Problems
7) Where can I get this game?
8) Differences between demo and commercial release

0) Thanks

Thanks to the following people for help with this FAQ:

Richard Abbott
Ake Possiel

1) What is this game?

Serf City (Life is Feudal) is a strategic simulation of feudal empires
vying for space on the same "world."  You are the king and direct your
serfs to expand your empire buy constructing a variety of buildings from
farms, various mills, mines and guard posts.  These buildings give your
serfs more food, raw materials, tools, etc so that you can continue
expanding your empire.

The game is played on a randomly generated world (which wraps in all
directions).  The numbers used to create the world are given, so that you
can replay the same world against different opponents, with different
starting conditions, or challenge friends to play the same world.

The game can also be played with two players working together or as
opponents at the same computer (one on the mouse, one on the joy stick).

So far, I can't tell whether the computer cheats, although it doesn't
appear to do so.

2) Strategies

2.1) The Basic Strategy:

[Thanks to Ake Possiel and the manual for the basic ideas here.  I've
rewritten some things based on my experience.]

The basic strategies are outlined in the manual.  There are several
economic considerations happening at once in a fully developed game:
        ranger --> plants new trees for lumber jack to cut down
        logs --> lumber from the saw mill
        stones and lumber --> new construction
        wheat --> flour at windmill --> bread at baker
        wheat --> pigs at animal farm --> meat at butcher
        food (bread, meat, fish) --> mines (ore and stones)
        coal and iron ore --> steel bars from steel mill
        coal and steel --> weapons from weapon maker
        lumber and steel --> tools from tool maker
        coal and gold ore --> gold bars from gold smith
        gold bars --> guard posts 

So, for a well-developed game, one must take all these factors into account
and develop a road and storage network that doesn't get too clogged with
goods moving back and forth.  Initially, you want to produce building
materials, so you'll want to set yourself in a location good for these

Very quickly, you want to move towards mountains for mining.  For a
successful game, you must find gold and iron (and coal, but that is the
most abundant ore).  These raw materials are used to produce swords and
shields for your ever-expanding army, and to pay your troops.  Once you
find iron and gold, set up the mining operations and begin construction on
the buildings that process these materials.  You may want to build the gold
smith and steel mill before the mines get built as there is frequently some
ore stored in the castle.  Once you have steel build a weapon maker and
tool maker.  If you start several iron mines, you may be able to build
multiple steel mill + tool maker combinations, but make sure they are near
your castle or storage houses.  Weapons must go to storage to make soldiers
(a sword and shield for each soldier).  You should only need one tool

Don't forget to have a food supply ready once you start mining.  Fishing
huts are the easiest, but the farm combinations seem to produce more.
The ideal situation is to have food go directly to the mines,
bypassing the castle and store houses to lessen traffic congestion.  If you
have difficulty finding clear areas for farming (crops), destroy any ranger
huts in the area and build a lumber jack or two to clear-cut the forests,
providing more land for farming.  Make sure not to build too many buildings
near the farm.

2.2) Soldier strategies

I have found myself over building guard posts and running out of soldiers
to populate new posts.  Solutions to this include not building garrisons
which use up lots of soldiers and take too long to build (sometimes getting
burned down by the encroaching enemy).  They are useful in protecting
important real estate or in launching attacks on the enemy.  To get more
soldiers, you'll need to get the weapon smith moving early along with the
steel mill.  

If, at some point, your guard posts are not getting filled stop building
new ones and concentrate on improving your transportation infrastructure.
It may also be necessary to change the transportation priorities in the
distribution menu so that weapons, steel, iron ore and coal move faster
than building materials.

To gain in soldier strength, you'll need to send existing soldiers back for
training.  Training only works if there are existing better-trained
soldiers already in your storage huts and castles.  (Someone please make
this clearer, I'm not completely sure how when training helps.)  Also,
giving your soldiers gold will make them happier and they will fight

Okay, people, give me your best strategies!!!  You will get credit for the
write up.

Here are some ideas:

What to do when an aggressive computer player is nearby.
How to play with low initial supplies.
How to best take advantage of mountains and lakes.

3) Questions and Answers
  3.01) Redistribution of goods
  3.02) Long roads or bucket brigade?
  3.03) Geologists and ore veins
  3.04) Depleting ore veins
  3.05) Can you deplete nearby ore veins?
  3.06) When is quarryman done?
  3.07) Over fishing
  3.08) Serf reproduction
  3.09) How can I tell what produced items are lying on the ground?   
  3.10) How do I know when I can or cannot do something (tools/supplies)?
  3.11) Which knights are used in raids?
  3.12) How does knight training work?
  3.13) How does knight morale change

In this section, we attempt to answer common questions about the game.
This is really the FAQ...

3.01) Redistribution of goods

Q. Is there any way to redistribute goods from one storage facility to
another?  I have three warehouses.  One has over 200 units of lumber, and
the others have none.  So ALL construction has to wait for delivery from
the first warehouse.

A. Yes, but it is a bit tricky.  In the distribution menu, second row, right
icon you get to specify which items are most important to get out of the
castle or store house when it's being emptied.  Set that to what ever you
want to get out of a particular storage facility, then special click on the
facility and go to the third screen.  The top section lets you tell the
serfs whether they should deliver to, not deliver to, or empty the
facility.  If you tell them to empty (needs a special click), you will then
see goods start piling up in front of the facility while it is emptied.
When you want to stop, just go back into the menu and tell them to start
picking things up again.  The stuff removed from the building will
(generally) go to other storage facilities.  It may be wise to give
transportation priority to the items you removed so they don't clog the
road ways too long.

3.02) Long roads or bucket brigade?
Q. The manual leads me to believe that having one non-stop road is a
more efficient way to get goods delivered from point 'A' to point 'B',
but it seems to me that if you have lots of 'x' that has to be moved,
you're better off having a sort of bucket-brigade method.

A. The computer decides when you are moving too much along a particular
routes and assigns more transportation serfs to that route to relieve the

3.03) Geologists and ore veins

Q. I'm not too thrilled with the way a geologist tells you about the
"underground riches".  In many cases, I'm looking for something in
particular, like iron.  I'll send out a handful of geologists, and
they'll tell me about all the stones and coal that they found, but
is there any appreciable iron in the same locations?  They also tend
not to dig where I want them to dig.

A. The various types of ore tend to collect, mimicking ore deposits of the
real world.  Geologists seem to do random walks, so I try to start them
from a couple different locations in the same mountains.  Note how
many mines can be placed on the mountain before laying paths and flags.
This will give you some idea how many mines may appear.  It also seems that
the more of the mountain you own, the longer the geologist will search.

3.04) Depleting ore veins
Q. Once you excavate all of one resource from a spot, is that spot
useless for any other mining?  I could swear that at the beginning
of my game, one area showed "Very Much" in all of the resources.
Then after I exhausted the gold, the geologists planted blank signs
in all those spots.

A. Basically, yes.  Each spot only contains one type of ore and they become
depleted, although I have been able to get up to 25% output from a second
mine at the same spot (geologist told me there was more ore).  I don't
trust the assessments at the beginning of the game, since they never seem
to be completely accurate with the findings of my geologists.

3.05) Can you deplete nearby ore veins?
Q. If you set up one mine and exhaust that spot, do you also exhaust
the surrounding sectors?

A. No.  I've mined out one spot, destroyed the mine and surrounding paths
and then been able to mine in nearby locations.

3.06) When is quarryman done?
Q. How do you know if/when a quarryman has exhausted all of the
local resources?

A. The easy solution is if all the rocks in the area have been removed.  If
there are still rocks nearby and your quarry man has done nothing lately,
destroy his house and build another somewhere else.

3.07) Over fishing
Q. They speak briefly of over-fishing an area.  How do you know if 
you've done this?  Is there some way to get the status of a lake?

A. The Statistics menu can give you some idea of your fish output.  This
would be the icon in the lower left.  Click on the fish symbol to see a
graph of recent fish output.

3.08) Serf reproduction
Q. I'm a little confused about the way that serfs are generated.  Do
you only have so many to draw on?  If I ask for 100 geologists,
will I get them?  And if I only have a certain amount, how do I
know how many I have?  What can I do increase my population?

A. This depends somewhat on your initial set up.  Each player has three
bars under their picture.  The first is supplies, the second intelligence
(humans are always max intelligence) and the third is reproduction rate.
If the reproduction rate is high, you will get Serfs faster than if not.
Food has no affect on reproduction rate.

3.09) How can I tell what produced items are lying on the ground?   

A. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to find out.  If there is
a serious log jam, it will show with a minus on the flag's status screen
(special click the flag).  Create more paths from that flag or make more
routes that bypass the area.  The serfs will use them, if they need/can.

3.10) How do I know when I can or cannot do something (tools/supplies)?

Q. I built several mines at one point and since my city was rather large at
the time, I just let them go on their merry way.  It was nearly an hour
later when I noticed that two of the mines weren't producing because they
didn't have miners.  This was due to the fact that there weren't any
available picks.  Is there somewhere that will tell me if something cannot
happen due to a lack of something else?

A. This isn't easy, but the statistics menu, top row has information
telling you (via those dials) whether your production is high or low.  This
is talked about in the section about the statistics menu, but not very
well.  It may be better to just check your current storage to see if you
have to tools/supplies required for the particular job.  I've also noticed
that if the tools are far away from the structure it takes quite some time
before the serf gets there.

3.11) Which knights are used in raids?

Raids are conducted by those knights which are nearest the enemy guard post
being attacked.  Each of your guard posts will let a number of knights go,
depending on their capacity information which you can set from the
distribution menu.  For example, a hut on the frontier has a default
setting of Full/Good which says that in normal situations there should be
three knights (full), but on raids and for training there can be two
knights (good).  Therefore, if you raid an enemy near that hut, one of the
three knights will attack.  Similar checks are made for all posts that are
close enough and they will supply the number of knights you request in the
attack menu (one each from several huts).

Which knight in the post attacks?  You can tell your posts to send out the
strongest into battle, or keep them at home (for defense) and send the
weakest into battle.  This is done from the bottom middle icon of the
distribution menu (knight running amok).  Within this menu, there is an
icon in the lower-middle section which has a check-mark and a "-".  The
default check-mark is in the top for "stronger knights stay home."

3.12) How does knight training work?

Knights can be trained by sending them back to storage houses (or the
castle) which have excess knights.  To train knights and find whether there
are extra knights in storage, open the "knight running amok" menu from
within the distribution menu.  The number of knights awaiting assignment
is found in the top half, to the right of the percentage which indicates
your troops' morale.  Training is conducted by clicking on the icon in the
lower right which shows a picture of soldiers going to and from the castle.

Troop morale is also affected by taking enemy castles or by losing your

Knights may also train while sitting in the garrisons without clicking on
the training button.

3.13) How does knight morale change

As far as I can tell, the morale of your troops is only affected by how
many gold bars is in storage at the guard posts (and in storage
facilities).  When knights take over enemy guard posts, morale only goes up
if there is gold in that hut.  The reverse happens if a hut with gold is

Morale is indicated in the knight training and recruitment screen as a
percentage.  The number just below morale is how many gold bars are in
storage and at the guard posts.

4) Game Operation Details

This is basically information that is available in the manual and not
written as well.  Also, the European release has 132 pages (with 20 blank
pages) to the US release with only 50, so eventually there may be some
information from that as well.  If you have the demo, this much more than
the one page README.

4.1) Serf Buildings.  
4.2) Statistics Menu
4.3) Distribution Menu
4.4) The world map
4.5) Geologists, or How do you find a good spot for mines?
4.6) Transporting goods by sea

4.1) Serf Buildings.  
This section describes each building that can be built in Serf City, along
with what it creates and what their inhabitant need to be able to do his
job.  Buildings are listed by screen and then left to right, top to bottom.
The buildings in the second and third screens take up more land and must
have the land leveled (by a shovel-wielding "leveller") before construction
may begin.


Quarry man - he goes out and cuts up the rocks surrounding, brings back
some stone for building.  
Needs a pick.  
Two loads of lumber to build.

Guard hut - they push the boundary out, and keep you safe.
One lumber and one stone to build. 
Holds max of three guards and two gold bars.*

Lumber jacks house - he chops down trees, and brings back logs.  These can
go to the lumber mill to be made into lumber for building.  
Needs an axe.
Two lumber to build.

Ranger hut - cutter will run out one day, so he replants them.
Two lumber to build.

Fisher - he goes fishing if water nearby and increases fish in castle, need
that to retain birthrate.  Also need food for miners.  
This guy needs a fishing pole.**
Two lumber to build.

Windmill - Takes the wheat from crop farmer and grinds them into flour
bags (for the baker).
Boat maker - Makes boats from lumber (not logs).  
Needs a hammer.***
Two lumber to build.


Butcher - takes dead pigs and makes meat (food).  Needs a butcher knife.

Weapon maker - takes coal and steel to make swords and shields.  Needs
hammer and pliers

Steel - Takes coal and iron ore to make steel for the weapon maker and tool
maker.  Needs hammer?

Lumber mill - cuts up logs to provide lumber.  Needs a saw.

Baker - takes flour bags and makes bread (food).

Gold - takes coal and gold rocks and makes gold bars to pay the soldiers,
making them fight better.  Needs hammer (?)


Tool maker - takes steel and wood to make tools.  Needs hammer and saw.****

Farmer (crops) - creates wheat for pigs farmer or wind mill.  Needs scythe.

Store House - exactly what it sounds like.  When you city/kingdom get big
these are nice to have.  Probably not necessary for demo.  Very necessary
in the full game.

Farmer (animals) - raises animals (pigs) using wheat from crop farmer.
Produces dead pigs for the butcher.

Garrison - guard post, hold maximum six knights and four gold bars.*
Two lumber, two stone to build.

BIG garrison - holds maximum of twelve knights and six gold bars.*

* To get soldiers you need a sword and a shield (for each soldier) in your
castle or store house.

** Fishers can deplete lakes, but large lakes can handle two or three

*** Boats are pretty cool when you have lots of water in your world,
although you generally don't need more than what is already in the castle.
See below for how to use them.

**** The tool maker makes all the tools.  For the demo he may or may not be
needed, depending on how many supplies you start with.  You can control
which tools he makes, or at least the proportion of tools that he makes in
the distribution menus (click on 'computer icon' and then the middle-left
icon with a picture of a guy and some tools).

4.2) Statistics Menu
Icon with a picture of a graph (second from right).  This menu gives you
the statistics of your kingdom.

The top row describes your capabilities with those small dial-like
indicators.  Red shows that you don't have the possibility to perform a
particular function (no serf, wrong equipment, bad routing), green is that
you probably have too much.

The middle row shows how much you have in storage (left), what buildings
you have and are constructing (middle) and what your serfs seem to be doing

The bottom row shows you things like your supply of every one of your goods
(bottom left), and your overall comparison to the other kingdoms (bottom

4.3) Distribution Menu

Icon with a computer and a bunch of arrows (right icon).  This menu allows
you to set various distribution and job priority preferences.

4.31) Raw material distribution

The top row directs raw material distribution.  For each type of product
there is a bar and a picture of the building where it can go.  If you want
all the steel to go to the Weapon Maker, make his bar completely green and
turn off the one for the Tool Maker.  The size of the green bar gives you
some indication of what proportion each building will get.  If the bar is
twice as big for the weapon maker as it is for the tool maker, the weapon
maker will get twice as much steel.

In all of these distribution menus there is an icon with two very small
arrows (up/down) which you can click to get back to the default settings.

4.32) Tool maker priorities

The second row, left is for the tool maker and tells him what his
priorities should be for the various tools.  As above the amount of green
indicates relative production rates.

4.33) Delivery and emptying priorities

The other two icons in the middle row indicate transportation priority.
The one in the middle tells the "transporter serf" which things they should
pick up first, and the one on the right tells the serfs in the castles
which things they should take out of buildings first when they are being

4.34) Knights:  Manning guard posts

The icon on the bottom right (two soldiers and arrows) lets you decide how many
soldiers should be at their posts.  There is a maximum and minimum value
which both range from "full" to "bare minimum."  There are also four levels
of 'closeness' for each guard post, from close to the enemy (frontier) to
very far away (interior defense).  This can be important for attacking the
enemy and your strategy for defending your kingdom.  The default settings
tell you knights to heavily defend the frontier, and leave interior guard
posts less well-defended.

4.35) Knights:  Training and recruiting

The bottom-middle icon (with the crazy soldier) gives you a menu with several
  - At the top, you can select the percentage of serfs that become soldiers.
  - Below that are a pair of numbers: the morale (%) of your soldiers (100%
is not the limit) and how much gold (total) is in storage and at your guard
  - To the right of that there is information about how many
serfs can become soldiers according to the number of jobless serfs and the
amount of weaponry in storage.
  - The square with the numbers 1/5/20/100 allows you to "force recruit"
soldiers from your existing serfs.  Clicking on the number recruits that
many new soldiers, limited by the number of swords & shields (need both for
each new soldier) and the number of jobless serfs.
  - Near the bottom and middle is an icon which indicates whether the
stronger soldiers defend your guard posts (top half) or be used for
  - The icon near the bottom-right allows you to send your less-trained
soldiers to go back to the castle/store houses for training.
  - The bottom two numbers indicate how many soldiers remain in the castle
for defense.  The top number is how many you wish to have in the castle,
and the bottom is how many are currently there.  Click on the +/- to change
the top number.

4.4) The world map

In the demo version you can only have worlds sized 1, 2 or 3.  In the
commercial release, you are able to go from size 1 (very small) to size 8
depending on how much RAM you have.  I have 4 meg of ram and am limit to a
size 5 world.

In any case the map does "wrap" so that if you take over the world, your
kingdom is contiguous and touches on all sides.  If you look at the
overview, a size 5 world will just fit in the entire over view window.
(According to the manual).

4.5) Geologists, or How do you find a good spot for mines?

If you watch the computer players, you will notice that they have little
guys in white hats running around the mountains with a pick and placing
flags indicating ore veins (black for coal, red for iron, yellow for gold,
white for stone, and blank for no ore).  

To get this geologist, place a flag in the mountains and build a road to
it.  Click on the flag, and you will see an icon of a serf with a white
hat.  Click on him and a geologist will leave your castle/store house and
start looking.  The geologist will not come out if there are no picks in
storage (he won't have anything to dig with).

4.6) Transporting goods by sea

To use the boats, place a flag at two points along a lake and then
construct a path over the lake connecting them.  Any sea lane that runs
against the shore is illegal.  The sea lane will show up as a slightly
different color line on the lake.  They can help ease congestion if there
is lots of traffic.  They will not transport serfs, just material.

5) Interesting Worlds

This section was suggested by Bob Kollmeyer so that we could describe our
favorite "interesting" worlds.  Each world can be described by the 16 digit
starting code and the world size, resulting in something like 10^16 * 8
different worlds.

If you want to add to these, just send the 16 digit code, the world size
and a one line description of why it was so interesting (geographically).

For instance, 
xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx  - 50% water, 1 huge lake, no desert.

6) Reported Bugs and Problems

People have complained that the game will occasionally hang with Gravis
Ultrasound.  The (repetitive) music can be turned off so that you only hear
the sounds of construction and fights.

Some have complained that the computer hangs because they have just barely
enough memory.  The suggestion from SSI is to create a boot disk (floppy)
that doesn't load anything besides the bare minimums.  I've had to do this
with a few games and have not had any problem, yet.

Doesn't seem to run well under some versions of OS/2.

7) Where can I get this game?

This is a commercial game by Blue Byte Software in Muelheim, Germany where
it is called "Die Siedler".  In Europe it is "The Settlers" and is
distributed by Kompart UK Ltd.  It is distributed in the USA by SSI and
available and various software stores.  (Some have had it faster than
others, i.e. Electronics Boutique.)  Price is around $40 US.

There is also a demo version which limits you to one hour of play and does
not allow for saving or have some of the features of the commercial
release.  The demo version is available at some FTP locations.  (If you
don't know what ftp is, ask around your local site.)  /pub/MSDOS_UPLOADS/games/
[note, this site is often overloaded.  your best chances are during off-hours.]   /pub/msdos/games/gamedemos/
[yes, this is Finland.]

8) Differences between demo and commercial release

The biggest difference is that the demo only runs for 1 hour.  This really
changes how one plays the game as some strategies just cannot develop over
the course of an hour of play.

Other features in the commercial release that are not in the demo:
  - SVGA mode: smaller pictures showing a larger playing area
  - Save and load game features
  - Wide variety of sound cards are supported
  - Combats with other kingdoms: add a wonderful dimension to the game
  - Training/practice games are available
  - "Mission games" where you accomplish a given task
  - Worlds up to size 8 (really huge), the demo world is size 1,2 or 3
  - Messages about happenings in other parts of your kingdom

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