We've completed a year of nation-building in our Kingmaker campaign and have learned a few things about gaming the system. I will outline some basics and then suggest a house rule to make the building process more rational.
1.Build a Shrine early. It is the cheapest building unit in the game that makes items. A DC 20 Economy roll and you have 2 BP. A Shrine will pay for itself faster than anything else.
2.Pedal to the metal on Economy and Stability, Loyalty can wait. Your early goal is to make Economy rolls, so you want to up the Economy modifier with cheap units that give Economy bonuses, such as Smith, Tannery and Mill. These units also have the virtue of providing Stability bonuses as well. Missing Stability checks isn't quite as dire as missing Economy checks, but they do cause Unrest which penalizes your Economy rolls. If you start to get a few Unrest points, build some House units. You don't want to fall into an Unrest death spiral.
3.Don't expand too fast and keep your consumption at zero. Farmland reduces consumption. Claim and farm just enough hexes to keep your consumption at zero. Adding hexes makes your Control DC go up and makes it more likely you will fail your Economy rolls. You should always keep your Economy modifier close to your Control DC. I can't stress this enough, missing Economy checks sucks.
4.Take advantage of cost savings offered by big buildings. After you have a nice comfortable little barony, with Economy and Stability modifiers in the low 20s, take a few months to build your treasury and then build something big. It will save a fortune in future building costs. Also, plan ahead. Don't build a Market, then build a Waterfront. Hold off and build that Waterfront. The Market will be much cheaper.
We built our city with the intention of maximizing economic output and with little regard for logic or the wishes of the citizenry and the rules do not penalize us for it. For example, our town has a tannery, a smithy and a mill, but no shops, inns or taverns. The reason for this is because craftsmen tend to contribute to Economy and Stability, while services tend to contribute to Economy and Loyalty. Stability is more important than Loyalty, at least at the beginning, so the service sector gets neglected and the town's business profile becomes unbalanced. I think there is a simple and logical solution to this dilemma. Since the Stability of any nation depends, to some extent, on the general happiness of the people, make it a rule that the kingdom's Stability modifier can never be more than 5 points above the Loyalty modifier.
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