Preview code used, with many thanks to Polymorph Games.
Foundation was released in February 2019 on PC by developers Polymorph Games. Since the early access release, the game has had a few updates. I recently got to try out the game with the new update, version 1.9.
It is a laidback medieval strategy simulation game where you play as a lord or lady who the king has just given a land grant too. But, of course, with the land grant also comes some expectations, such as building out a sprawling, self-sustaining settlement.
So you are tasked with setting up a village for a small group of serfs (people). In addition, Foundation has elements from old favourite sim/strategy games such as Settlers, SimCity, and Pharaoh.
Hexagon Free Map
If you’ve never played Foundation, one of its most standout things is that it’s an entirely gridless city builder. Gone are the hexagon-tiled maps that strategy players are used to.
Instead, you pick a starting area, and your village grows naturally. You don’t build roads in Foundation as your villagers build their own houses and paths that connect your city based on their needs. The map you choose does not have strict restrictions on the terrain for the construction of buildings. The only limitation is the territorial boundaries that you can build on.
Once the game starts, a tutorial walks you through being lord or lady of the land. So when your first serfs arrive, the tutorial prompts you to construct buildings like lumber camps and stonecutter’s huts. However, the villagers won’t be able to cut down trees or quarry stones until you specify land that can be used for resources by zoning it for extraction, deforestation, and stone extraction.
By zoning out areas, you can let your villagers know they’ll need to clear trees in certain spots and build homes while keeping off the grass entirely in forbidden areas. Later on, you’ll be able to mark hunting and reforestation grounds as well.
I like how resources are handled in Foundation, as it gives you much more control over what areas to cut down trees and mine stones.
Unlock New Territories
As time goes by, you’ll unlock more territories in exchange for gold, which means more growth, more settlers and more work for them.
Your villagers have needs that must be met. Otherwise, they leave your village if they are unhappy. So you’ll need to ensure they have a home, food, water, and other requirements met. In my playthroughs, I’ve starved all my citizens when they ran out of food; they weren’t too happy about that. I’ve also run out of cash occasionally, but sometimes I’ve managed to turn that around by trading with passing traders.
You will have to build a Tax Office, assign a Tax Collector and strike a balance between filling your coffers without tanking the global Happiness of your citizens. Adding in a tax office is excellent, but unfortunately, on a couple of my playthroughs, I’d already run out of money before I could build the tax office, so it wasn’t much help at the early stage of the game.
Another of the elements the new version 1.9 has updated is the progression paths in Foundation. In the beginning, you unlock buildings from a common progression path, and then you will have to choose from the three Estates, Labor, Kingdom or Clergy, you want to invest towards.
As I had never played the game before the update, I can’t compare it to what it was before. However, I have tried out the different progression routes, and I like them all. For example, the clergy route is interesting. You build a monastery and a Hospitum to host visitors, a Scriptorium to produce Manuscripts, a new resource and Nun Dorms to send female citizens to turn them into Nuns.
Change the Buildings
Some more significant buildings can be changed to other uses once constructed. For instance, you can build a Chapel inside your Monastery or a Great Hall in your Manor House. Both buildings are made from multiple parts.
You can also switch sub-buildings functions at will should you require so. Switching the role of buildings caught me off guard, and I was a little confused when I found out I could change an already constructed building to a different use. But after playing the game for a while, I like that addition as space can be at a minimum when you have a thriving town, so being able to change a building’s use instead of having to construct a new building saves on space.
Narration and Events
If you have played Foundation before you will notice that the game’s narration has been added to and expanded. With the addition of events, ranging from hosting fairs to improving trades with neighbours. Also, quests are included and you can choose to complete quests or not. I like having a choice of whether I want to quest. The quests are great for new players to complete as they help you get your bearings in the early stages of the game.
Foundation is turning into a solid simulation and strategy game that is definitely worth investing in. The game isn’t stressful to play even though it can be challenging at times. It is a pretty relaxing game. I love watching the villagers’ houses pop up in the zoned residential areas and then tread a path to their workplaces.
You can find the Steam page for Foundation here, where you can take part in the version 1.9 playtest if you wish by purchasing the game.