Humankind is one of the best 4x strategy games to come out in years, but it’s still a daunting genre. Even if you’re a veteran of Civilization, Humankind adds some interesting wrinkles into the formula. We’ve compiled some tips and strategies to help get you started on the path to fame and fortune.

Fame and Fortune

The single biggest element to Humankind is Fame. Fame is basically a scorecard for each empire, and the civilization with the most fame by the end of the game is declared the winner. Fame is primarily earned through three different methods: earning fame stars, accomplishing deeds, and building cultural wonders.

Fame stars come in seven different flavors shown on the culture screen (clicking on your symbol in the upper left corner). They include building districts, growing your population, earning money and influence, and defeating enemy units. You can earn up to three stars in each category per age, with each additional star rewarding more fame. However, the culture that you chose for that era always prefers a certain category, resulting in more earned fame for achieving those stars.

Deeds can be found on the same screen, and represent competitive achievements that all players can strive for. They include circumnavigating the world, researching certain technologies, and discovering natural wonders. Exploration is a big part of earning these deeds, so be sure to explore your world as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Cultural wonders are those classic mega-structures you can build in each era such as the Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower. Cultural wonders require a hefty amount of fame to claim, but once locked, no other civilization can build it, even if you never do. Find these wonders in the empire management screen in the upper right corner, then clicking on unclaimed wonders.

Each wonder provides a number of big benefits, including fame. Any of your cities can use their production to help build it, regardless of where it’s being built.

Tip: Don’t advance to the next age right away. This is especially true if you’re within a few turns of earning more fame stars. When you advance, fame stars reset, and requirements increase exponentially. Try to shoot for at least 10 stars in each era to maximize your fame. On the other hand, if you absolutely need a certain culture in the next age, grab it before anyone else does!

Born a Travelin’ Man

The other big element to Humankind is the evolution of your civilization throughout each era. The exception is the precursor Neolithic age, where everyone begins as a tribe of nomadic people. This is a unique period of the game where your goal is to earn food to create more tribal units, and use influence to plop down outposts.

Discovering curiosities on the map can result in food, units, influence, and money, so it’s a good idea to explore as much as possible. Your goals are to have five population (by earning food, mostly by defeating wild animals), accrue 10 knowledge (found in curiosities), or hunt five animals.

Though you only need one fame star to advance, it’s a good idea to acquire all three to earn as much fame as possible before the start of the Ancient age. Remember, you don’t have to advance to the next age right away. The knowledge star is especially valuable because it unlocks a Neolithic legacy trait that stays with you for the entire rest of the game, and scales with your ever-growing population.

Tip: Grow as many tribes as you can during the Neolithic Age. Once you start establishing cities, disband some of them within the city radius to add them to the city’s population and get a jump-start on growth. But always keep some scouts searching for curiosities and natural wonders!

Through the Ages

Starting in the Ancient era you can choose from one of ten different real-world civilizations, inspired by their cultural relevance during that era. Each civ belongs to one of six different affinities: Aesthete (influence), Agrarian (food), Builder, Expansionist, Merchant, Militarist, and Scientist. Each affinity has a special ability, such as forcibly annexing adjacent territories, or converting all money and science production into industry.

Additionally, each culture has a legacy trait, and emblematic quarter, and an emblematic unit. Emblematic means only that culture can build or produce that district or unit, and they’re uniquely powerful — sometimes to a ridiculous degree. The Ancient Egyptians, a powerful Builder culture, can construct their Pyramids to earn extra industry and influence, and their Grand Planners trait makes constructing any industry tile cheaper and more effective.

Tip: If an Emblematic Unit or District is currently being built when you advance to a different culture, it will still complete like normal. 

Tip: A solid strategy is to focus on food in the early game to grow your population, making the Agrarian Harappans an excellent Ancient culture. Move to industry with the crazy powerful Khmer and Mughal cultures, which produce bonkers amounts of industry with their powerful traits and Emblematic Districts. In the late game you can effectively switch to science with any scientist culture using the Collective Minds ability to convert all that sweet industry into research.

Manifest Destiny

The world of Humankind is divided up into similar-size territories, outlined in white lines. Territories are claimed by establishing an outpost anywhere in that area, which costs influence (or gold, if you took a certain Land Rights civic upgrade).

Outpost locations are critical, as they can become either future cities, or attached to existing cities at the cost of influence. Be on the lookout for strategic and luxury resources when claiming territory. The former is necessary for fielding more advanced units and structures, while the latter will keep your population happy and provide additional food, industry, and science benefits.

Outposts can exploit resources in their territory by spending influence. When attached to cities, they expand your city’s territory, with the outpost converting into an administration center. You can start constructing districts in the new territory. Don’t add new territories, left and right, however. Every new territory decreases stability by a sizable 30%.

Tip: Powerful emblematic districts are one per territory, not city. If a city has three territories, you can build three of those districts on one city!

Tip: The city cap may seem aggressive, but don’t be afraid of going over. Having one city over your current cap only bestows a -10/turn influence penalty. An additional city jumps the penalty by 10 fold, however, at -100/turn.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is reflected by the stability rating listed in each city, ranging from zero to 100 percent. A calm city has over 90% stability, and produces extra influence per population per turn while generating extra positive random events. If a city falls below 30% stability it will turn mutinous, preventing any new districts from being built and generating negative events.

Building districts and adding new territory to a city depletes that city’s stability — and newly conquered and annexed cities always start out pretty darn angry at their oppressors. Thankfully stability growth and decline is always gradual, giving you time to build stability-producing infrastructure (such as public baths) or districts (garrisons and commons quarters).

That being said, don’t stress too much over stability. Anything between mutinous and calm is considered strained, which has an equal chance of positive and negative events. As long as you stay above 30% stability, you should be fine adding territory and building districts.

Tip: Builder cultures earn bonus stability when completing districts, helping to offset the negative hit when constructing many districts at once. Religious projects and wonders can boost stability by a large amount. Look our for any civic upgrades that provide bonus stability to existing structures as well.

War Support

You’ll find it hard to make it through a game without having to go to war, even if you’re playing as peacefully as possible. Many of the AI traits include “cruel,” “aggressive,” or “militaristic.” Expect other civs to begin ramping up their unit production around the Classic era, and be prepared for skirmishes throughout the Medieval and Early Modern ages.

War in Humankind works a bit differently. It all comes down to War Support, a number between 0 and 100 that each civ has for each other. War support represents your people’s willingness to battle the other civ. If that civ angers you (and vice-versa) you can use grievances to make demands. Be careful, if met these grievances will generate war support for the other empire. Common grievances include worshipping other religions or claiming nearby territory.

You’ll need 80 war support to formally declare war, so look out for any civs who have earned that much and are angry, though anyone can declare a surprise war and grant the other empire some bonus war support.

War Support is an important metric throughout a war. Winning battles and taking cities increases war support and decreases the enemy’s. When one side has reached 0, they are forced to surrender to the winner.

The winner can annex any nearby territories or occupied cities for a cost, deducted from their final war support score. You can even make the loser your vassal, denying them any outside diplomacy. Any unspent war support is paid in gold. This can be a frustrating system for those used to simply rolling over enemies and conquering left and right, but Humankind attempts to make war a bit more realistic and manageable for both sides.

Tip: Units can quickly be produced with gold if you suddenly need an army. But remember that producing units depletes the population of that city. Conversely, when the war has ended, disband excess units to add population back into the nearest city, and save on army maintenance.

Theater of War

Winning a war involves winning battles, and to win battles you’ll need to understand tactical combat. Whenever opposing forces meet, whether it’s neolithic tribes hunting a bear or a dozen infantry lining up, the game shifts to tactical combat for that area.

Each side deploys units, followed by three rounds of moving and attacking.

Terrain is in everything in these battles; mounted units cannot go up cliffs or through city walls, and units get a bonus attacking from the high ground. Forests are great defensively, while crossing a river imposes a penalty. Funneling units into a single series of tiles between mountains and hills is one of many ways a smaller force could defeat a larger one.

Pay attention to unit special abilities and tactics. Archers and ranged units are incredibly powerful in any era, but are susceptible to charging cavalry, while pikemen make short work of mounted units.

After three rounds the battle temporarily freezes until the next turn. It’s important to note that you’re still fully in control of the rest of your empire while these battles play out, allowing you to bring in reinforcements if they enter the war zone. Bring units close enough, enter the battle, and hit the plus button to officially add them to the tactical field of war.

Tip: The Huns’ and Mongols’ ability to suddenly field large swaths of self-sustaining, mounted archers is a huge power spike for those empires in the Classical and Medieval eras. Beware any neighbor who chooses them. Or pick them yourself and start wrecking havoc with your neighbors! 

With these tips you should be well on your way to forging an empire that will stand the test of time.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.