If you are micro-managing your villagers, then you're not doing it right! The following notes will help you understand the game, and get more fun out of playing it. Click on a heading to find more. Also, have a look at my separate Creature Training Guide and a list of recent updates.
These hints and tips have come from many people on the bwgame.com discussion boards, and at the lionhead.co.uk discussion boards, and from the comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic newsgroup. Thanks in particular to Caton Little, Debaser, Torbjorn, Sean Childs, Ice Potato, Mystic1999, Alexandre Michelot, Code Monkey, I2aveN, Matt Wilson, Joel Harrison, Julian Midgely, Phong, Xaa, Gamefreek, Karl H, Kingbane, Raingod, Mighty Turtle Head, Robman325, Coren, Absolute, Merkuri, Ian Bush, Tarogstar, Samuel Kite, James Davies, Phizuol, PieAreSquared, Sofus Bach, Matt Krieger, Michiel Soenen, Sputnik, Mark Nash, kceaton, Keith Ellis, Djura, Sam Groves, Vurtscribble, Strum, Rundmz, Go180, Debaser, Atrixwhite, Gaswell, Canis Aureus, MX90, Horned One, Top Deck, Pop Rawkz, Topegole, Drengor, Yeldrig, Lord Corwin and Ollie from Lionhead. Although I'm thanking them here, I haven't actually asked everyone for permission to use their ideas or (in some cases) their words. If I've used yours and you'd like more credit or changes, please say. This page is maintained by me, Lucian Wischik: if you can contribute any extra hints, please email me. But don't ask for advice, because I won't answer.
The villagers in B&W are more chilled out than other games. Idle villagers are not necessarily a bad thing. It's often best just to let them go about their business.
Once a village has reached a happy balance, with food, wood and expansion desires at 30-50%, you can remove all your disciples (except the crafstman) and they'll manage fine on their own. Food+offspring desire together total 100%. Expansion+wood desire make 100%. That's why you should keep them all balanced. Disciples destroy the balance. And if there's no forest left then a wood disciple will just sit around idle, but a non-disciple forester will figure out something else to do.
If you keep doing everything for your villagers, they'll become lazy. If they are lazy, they will sit around doing nothing. The nicer you are to them, the lazier they become, and the more micromanagement you have to do. Sometimes they get so lazy that when you raise the totem they run off and hide at your worship site! Your job is to encourage autonomy. Don't given them food; give them fields. (One field per ten people, roughly). Don't give them wood; give them a forest. (When you've placed a scaffold, give them some wood, but not all! let them cut down trees and collect wood themselves! If you cast miracle wood and they should say "wow! miracle wood!" not "ho hum. more wood.") Also, greater belief will make them less lazy. Throw some artefacts over their heads to impress them.
If everyone's idle, check that there isn't a resource bottleneck. If there's no resource bottleneck, then it means they're simply lazy. To cure this laziness, let them starve. After 20mins or so they'll get the hint. Warning: letting them starve is an evil act! Best not to let them become dependent in the first place.
To stop them whining about breeding: take away their excess food and give it to your worshippers. If there are too many villagers, sacrifice them. Child sacrifice is the best!
Starving and healing: starving villagers is Bad, so be careful. Healing villagers is Good.
You can get your creature to fulfill villager needs (or worshipper needs) by leashing him compassionately to the appropriate "need" flag. For instance, when tied to the wood desire, he might go out and water forests and take trees into storage.
If the creature is getting in the way, and you want to focus on your villages, you could take him to his pen, leave him some food, then clog up the entrance with a boulder. (He grows quicker if he sleeps in his pen). Or, adjust the leash length and tie him to the temple, or somewhere.
You can place teleports at all your towns and at your worship site to reduce travel times. Or in a distant forest as well. Villagers will use a teleport only if they see it and it reduces their journey time. So if your worship site is to the west of a town, then the town's portal must also be westward. Your creature will only use a teleport if it has learned how they work. So, force him through with a leash.
Villagers want to expand if there is no space for adults. Also if there is no space for children. So if they have no child capacity they'll ask for more, even if there is spare adult capacity. The capacity shown above houses is only for adults. The villagers will go through a cycle of having children until full, then wanting more buildings, then filling them. It doesn't effect your alignment to ignore the requests.
The villagers will sometimes build their own buildings; you don't always need to do it for them. It seems that some or perhaps all of their building decisions are scripted. They have been seen to build houses and graveyards but not other things. Lazy villagers don't build anything.
Villagers don't need scaffolds to build. You can use a disciple craftsman but it seems they'll build even without one, and even without a workshop. Having a good number of disciple builders and a huge supply of timber (and therefore scaffolds) makes building a fairly painless process anyway. Warning: Do not accidentally barricade your creature in with buildings — it will destroy them to get out.
Workshops have three spaces in their yards into which scaffolds go when completed. (They look like little black squares in the ground). If the workshop has enough wood it will create scaffolds until all these places are filled. You can take one of the scaffolds out of the yard, and the workshop will build a new one to take its place. Also, if you want to place a scaffold outside without deploying it, simply shake your hand from side to side as though cancelling a spell. You can combine scaffolds without deploying. To deploy, manually pick it up and put it down again.
The number of people that fit inside a house varies according to tribe. For instance, a Japanese size-2 house fits 3-4 people, while a Norse house fits 4-6 people. Note that houses don't show children capacity, only adult capacity, leading to a mismatch between housing spaces and the capacity the totem reports. Houses hold about two children for every three adults.
When you place a scaffold the game will choose the largest possible building that fits in that area. If there are several, it seems to pick a possibility randomly. If the area's not large enough, it picks a smaller building. With 1 scaffold: small house. 2: a variety of large houses. 3: civic buildings (in order workshop, storage, creche, graveyard). 4: farm. 5: new town center. 6: football field. 7: wonders. You're not allowed to build many 2-scaffold houses if there aren't enough 1-scaffold houses in the village already.
The graveyard needs a lot of space when you place it, and I think must be outside the town. Otherwise you'll only be given the option of a large house.
The key to success in Black&White is proper forest management. Wood is what drives your power because it dictates your village growth rate and hence your sphere of influence. At the start of a map, look around. Guess how much wood your growing town will require, and start your National God Reserve Forest. Most of these hints come from Samuel Kite and MX90.
All trees grow if you water them; if the tree is far away enough from the village it will also be able to grow on its own. You can tell that it's able because there's a puff of green smoke when you plant it. If you zoom in close, it seems that the tree will grow with every single water miracle, though above a certain size it grows more slowly.
Mature trees sometimes drop seedlings. They drop more readily when you replant the tree, and when you water it. (But the higher power water miracle doesn't seem to help). You can force-grow those seedlings to maturity with a single shower. Sometimes they're so small you can't see them without zooming in. Watering makes it fairly easy to maintain a good-sized forest anywhere you like (including the middle of town).
You can quickly create forests by planting trees and watering them. (1) Scout out a good location, away from the village, with the right kind of soil. Different types of tree like different soils. (2) Grab, say, three fully-grown trees. Plant them in a triangle about a tree-length from each other, and water a couple of times. (3) Leave it for a while. Later on, come back to this new forest and replant the saplings to give them more room. If the map has natural rain then your forest should grow very nicely. Whenever you need a new civic building, take the fully grown trees, and water your forest to get the saplings growing again.
Space out your trees. When trying to grow a forest, you can water the outside trees to encourage saplings, or grab trees from the middle and move them to the outside. Saplings would appear to sprout only where there is room for them to get sun and water from rain.... On the other hand, if you have a dense forest of ten or more trees together, it seems to grow more quickly and you can easily water most if not all with a single water miracle.
Train your creature to manage forests. This will save you a lot of effort. He can remember specific forests and can water them differently. He can uproot trees and take them to the store. Or even move a tree and water it to create a new forest. Samuel Kite offered this programme for forestry training. As with all training, it works best if you have brought up your creature to be curious. (1) On the learning leash, have your creature walk over to a standing group of trees. While he watches, quickly uproot and replant all the trees not too far away. If your creature expresses any interest, like pointing or laughing, reward him. (2) Water the trees. Again, reward interest. It helps if he already knows the water miracle. Repeat steps 1 and 2, rewarding him when he gets it right, punishing when he gets it wrong. (3) To test his training, take him to a forest somewhere, uproot a tree, have him follow your hand to a new location, plant it and water it. Unleash him and see what he does. If you've taught him well he'll run back, get another tree, plant it, and water until he gets hungry or sleepy. (If you want a permanently forest-dwelling creature you could train him to eat trees and poo in the forest!)
There are different tree types.
The type affects how quickly they grow, how dense,
and how much wood they give. Different types do better in different locations. The
types are as follows.
Coniferous trees: pine (lighter green) and fir (taller, red trunk). Grow fastest; medium density; 500-700 wood per adult tree, with the pine giving a bit less. Seem to grow best on darker green rough terrain.
Deciduous trees: generic, maple (darker brownish leaves), birch (white bark, several trunks). Grow medium speed (birch fastest, maple slowest); low density; 1000 wood. Best in bright green grass.
Tropical trees: palms. Grow medium speed; very dense; 200-400 wood. Doesn't respond as well to water as the other trees. Best by the beach. Pity there are no coconuts!
Bushes. Give the least wood. It's not clear whether they grow by watering.
Trees grow faster if they're located in their favourite terrain, if they're not squashed next to another tree, and if they're still young. After a certain point they become "adult" and only grow very slowly. You can tell an adult tree because it's big (!) and takes a bit of mouse-wiggling effort to uproot it. (If you throw a tree around, or shake it, or hold it too long, then its roots fall off and you can't replant it). There are some very old and enormous trees around the place. I wonder what the largest possible tree is?
The ancient forests are the dense ones you find around the islands. They don't seem to grow at all. Samuel Kite suggests replanting them! Grab the forest so you get a tree. Plant it back. Repeat over and again until all the ancient forest has been replanted as a new forest. Because you've done so many replantings, there'll be an enormous number of saplings. And the forest will be dense and easy to water.
As for the forest miracles, Impetus writes: "I rarely use the spell in my own villages. It's nice for impressing people, but half my village feels the need to stop what they're doing and enjoy its splendorous shade. No matter how many trees I have decorating their village already, they're drawn to the the miraculous ones like tourists to... something shiny." Miracle forests are filled with miracle trees, which disappear when the spell ends. But the saplings that grow are real and won't disappear. So you should encourage lots of saplings by replanting the miracle trees several times, and watering. Also, miracle trees turn into real wood when you put them in the village store.
You can put out a forest fire with rain or storm, or simply by uprooting the burning trees and throwing them away. (Be careful where you throw it! If a field catches light, it will still burn even though burned to the ground.) Be careful of the storm — it can be very destructive.
Fisheries are an abundant source of food. If you're playing a map where the food miracle is not available (or hard to come by), make village near the fish with a bunch of disciple fishermen and continually swipe food from their supply.
Animals thrive in herds, reproducing faster. And they don't disperse much. PieAreSquared, succesfull purveyor of meat and meat by-products, offers these tips on animal husbandry. Animals seem to like being near water, and they grow much faster if you feed them. This is a good investement since they produce more food than is fed to them. (The opposite of real life, where it takes far more resources to produce a meal of meat, than it does of vegetables and fruit.) Also, shepherds will look after herds, and slaughter them for food, but I don't know if they'll add free-roaming livestock to their herds. You can see baby animals, often very small and hiding underneath their mothers. PieAreSquared notes that cows make particularly good missiles!
Poo is fertilizer. If your creature poos in a field, it will help the crops grow. Apparently it doesn't have the same effect if you place the poo there manually. And wash your hands afterwards!
Influence is based on the number of non-homeless people in a village, and their belief.
The impressiveness of an action depletes when you first do it, and recharges over time. Two consecutive flocks are a waste of power.
Here's a fun way to impress villagers. (more enjoyable than repeatedly throwing rocks around!) Have you creature set fire to them, so they're scared. Then get a storm to put out the fire, so they're impressed.
Instead of using missionaries or traders to convert a village, get your creature to impress them. He can help with mundane tasks like wood and food if you attach him to their "need" flags with the leash of compassion. But for fun stuff like handstands, dancing and storytelling, (1) attach him with the leash of learning. While he's watching you, (2) impress the villagers yourself with a heal or flock. Hopefully he'll get the idea and try to impress them himself. (3) Reward him when he gets it right!
Use holy artefacts to impress enemy villagers and your own. Also, if you build a Wonder next to an artefact or two, it has the same effect has high village belief: the Wonder will become even more powerful. And apparently if you leave wonders next to your worship sites, it increases your prayer power limit.
To keep worshippers alive you have to feed them and also heal them. Every miracle you charge takes life from the villagers. Therefore, either heal them or let them go home to rest. Use the S key to see how well they are; if they're all hurt then heal them; if just one is, pick him up and take him home. Or, just lower the totem periodically so they all go home and rest and eat something. (Three minutes for a villager to regain health). This micromanagement is intentional; it is the price you pay for using miracles.
If the alter glows red with sacrifice then the worshippers will eat more slowly. You can sacrifice livestock, humans (children are best!), trees, bushes. Matt Krieger suggests training your creature to pick up the dead and sacrifice them for you. No need to build a cemetery! But be sure to punish him if he accidentally throws in a live villager.
Villagers will apparently worship more slowly if they are old, tired or unhealthy. And build more slowly, and harvest more slowly, and loose their sex drive.
There seems to be something like a 1:2 or even 1:1 relationship between food consumption and prayer-point generation. That is, if your bowl is full, worshippers will eat at the usual rate but while they're generating prayer points they consume much more. Casting a lot of expensive miracles will cost you a lot of food. (If anyone can figure out what determines the maximum number of points that can be stored, please tell!)
Some people only raise the totem when they want a miracle, and leave the totem lowered the rest of the time. It helps to bookmark all of your totems. This only works if you cast miracles only sparingly, when you need them, not all the time. You might want to leave the villagers worshipping for just a bit longer, to build up a bit more power.
You get a higher maximum prayer-power if you place artefacts by your worship site. Hold your hand over the sacrifice bowl to see. Someone claimed the formula through worship alone equals 4000 + belief*10, but this has been questioned by others.
Creating a one-shot dispenser — basically a miracle storage device — is a bit tricky, since they need several scaffolds (six on land two, three on other maps it seems). Some people have had the most success with them by placing them in built-up areas like between houses (where no other buildings are possible). Place the charged miracle from your hand into a spell dispenser. Then you can put the miracles through the vortex to give yourself a head start on the next level. (Also put villagers, and wood, and combined scaffolds). If you build dispensers in your construction yard, remove one as soon as it is finished so the builders can start on the next one. It seems you can't build a dispenser until you've built workshop, storage, creche, graveyard.
Keys: R repeat spell. M cast spiral spell. P pause. Alt+1 slow down time. Alt+2 speed up. B,V cycle leashes. L automatically attach leash to creature. TAB move to next town center.
Tip on doing the heart gesture: the bottom is made of two straight lines meeting at a definite point; it is not round.
Watch where the fireflies go in the morning... Also, notice how fireflies come from planting trees near your village? They also come from repeated replanting... Has anyone managed to spookify a graveyard by getting fireflies to move in?
Try playing music on the singing stones. Whenever you hear a villager whistle or hum a tune, try that tune on the stones. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas (565456789). Twinkle twinkle little star (118899866552212) followed by the funeral march (22225442212). Mary had a little lamb? Any others?
Some fun things to do with the dead: get your creature to pick up corpses and pet them. Steal corpses. Drop them through teleports. Dancing skeletons! Worshipping skeletons! Farmer skeletons! This is how to do the teleport trick: Have one teleport by the village center and another somewhere else. Make sure there's some free space in one of your houses. At night time, drop a corpse into the second teleport. The skeleton will crawl back home, go to sleep, and recover life. Press S to see stats. Don't touch him until he's fully rested. If he can't find somewhere to sleep he will become a vagrant, not part of the village. Skeletons still eat, but don't die of hunger. You can't heal them or make them disciples, but if they were disciples in life then they will also be in death. Female skeletons can give birth to live babies. (Yuck!) A town with skeletons will sometimes become cursed, with children being stillborn and adult villagers suddenly dying. Thanks for these tips to Xaa, the Skeleton Master.
Sometimes, creatures will happily eat trees (and like it)... considering how readily available trees are, perhaps a strictly arborarian creature would work well! Also rocks and miracles.
You can grab fireballs out of the sky. Shake them around to regain prayer points. Or teach your creature to grab them and throw them back where they came from.
For the pyromaniacs out there, Mystic writes: "If you set a rock on fire it will eventually go out. But if you tap the rock to break it, each rock has the same heat as the original, and they also heat each other up. I set fire to a single rock, set it in a pit so that all the pieces would stay close to each other, and tapped relentlessly on the rock. Eventually it burned white and I could no longer see any rocks. It has never gone out! Also, setting fire to the dice found in the childrens creche in Land 1 is like setting fire to a rock that will never extinguish, even if thrown into water. Drag it over anything and, as long as you have influence, it will immediately burst into flames."
To throw someone from a great height — pick him up, use the scroller to zoom out, and let go. If you don't have a scroller on your mouse you can bookmark zoomed in, then bookmark zoomed out; pick someone up, go to first, go to second, then release. Ouch!
Inferno: Surround an object with trees, and fireball them.
Landscape your garden of Eden! Arrange rocks, bushes, mushrooms... maybe a different theme for each tribe. Landscaping your worship site gives you more potential prayer power. MX90 says: "I hate to garden. But planting trees in B&W is so much better because I don't have to wait eight years to get one. And I don't get dirty. Fewer bugs."
(Sputnik's first landscaping lesson) If you want you can replant the smaller blue mushrooms, but apparently not the largest ones. Pick them up, put your hand where you want it, and wait a couple extra seconds for your hand to stop rocking. When you drop the mushroom it should stand on it's end again! I do not know if they grow or reproduce afterwards, but it is suprisingly difficult to replant those. Only the smallest of the red mushrooms seem to actually stand on their stem when placed with the same method.
(Sputnik's second landscaping lesson) Place a rock by your town center and break it into little pieces. The rocks will glow with a light of their own, after the villagers have worshipped and danced around the rock for a time. You could use this holy artefact to impress other villages, but it's more fun to decorate your worship site or to mark out imaginary dirt roads through town and to your temple. (Others have used them to light up an imaginary airport runway!)
(Samuel Kite's landscape for evil Gods) Look at the black trees. There are some on the first land, near where the ogre waits. They look burnt but are actually living. You can make an undead forest. Best of all, they make black scorch marks where they're planted. But they still respond well to watering!
(another landscaping lesson) Make a path by having your creature run or walk somewhere very often.
(Canis' landscaping) "I made a very elaborate stone circle and the villagers are more than happy to dance there. That can't just be coincidence. What it is good for...? Well, I haven't figure that out yet, but something is happening in my big circle of stones. I made the circle round with four big stones in the top/bottom and in the sides and smaller one in between. Very small stones form a cross in the middle, where there is a big stone. Some people may say it's all a waste of time."
(Go180's landscaping) "It is really nice to know that there are other 'foresters' out there in the world of Eden. You can grow bushes. I have grown a lovely patch of shrubbery interlaced with long palm trees. A very interesting garden indeed. I'm thinking of submitting it to a garden magazine."
BWGame.com has a funny not-found error message. Go to a non-existant page like http://www.bwgame.com/download/canteloupe.html.