This page contains installation and first game moments information, also some general information on what players may expect from the game. It does not feature a tutorial, as the game has quite an adequate tutorial of its own. For information on basic player-game interaction please see Controls. Also, the game package contains a very detailed and useful user guide and manual.
Assuming you got your game the typical way, i.e. on a [legal] CD-ROM, the installation is very simple and not dissimilar from many other games of the period:
- Insert disc into drive - the Autorun feature should kick in and load the install screen automatically. If it doesn't, find "setup.exe" on the disc using a file manager program (Windows Explorer, Total Commander, etc.), and run it.
- Click "Install" in the initial screen, then follow instructions - you only need to choose the size of the installation (full/limited; on modern systems full is recommended - it is still quite small for today's standards and it is more convenient to have all the files on your HDD, it prevents the game from freezing up intermittently when loading from the CD with a limited installation). Also, you can choose the install directory if you don't like the defaults. The setup will force some late-90s game demos on you, but you can refuse them.
- Wait 'till it finishes - the full install takes about 2-3 minutes (or less) on modern systems. When it's finished, you can view the Readme file, you can choose where program shortcuts should be placed, and then you can play right away.
Ways to install pirated versions will not be discussed here, as this wiki wants to keep out of the shady areas. As a fact, software protection on the turn of the millenium was nowhere near as advanced or as obnoxious as it is now.
First Launch of the Game
When the game launches, a cinematic is run automatically. This may be skipped and is not necessary for gameplay or storyline knowledge, but first-time players are encouraged to watch. Then, the main menu shows up. The campaign is started by clicking "Play Pharaoh" ("Play Pharaoh/Cleopatra" with expansion installed), then "Begin Family History". The player is then asked to name his family. Any name will be accepted, but for those wishing to go with the game's atmosphere an extensive list of real ancient Egyptian family names is provided to choose from. These include the family names of historical pharaohs and high court officials, e.g. Ramesse (pharaohs) or Imhotep (a famous vizier).
After naming your family a shorter cinematic is run to introduce the Predynastic period, which is the setting of the first batch of missions (see Walkthrough). The first three missions are tutorial missions, ranging from the first, trivial one, designed for new players to get a feel for the game, to the last, where a simple yet relatively developed city is built. From the Archaic period (missions 4 to 7) on the missions are non-tutorial.
For those for whom the tutorial isn't enough, there is always an extensive in-game help, accessible by clicking the Help button on the menu tray in the game screen (see Controls), then selecting the Help submenu. Also, the printed manual contains a lot of strategy tips and guide-like information.
Basic Strategy Tips
These are intended for new players, just some essential concepts necessary for successful play, regardless of strategy or player style. Advanced players will likely not find these very helpful, as they don't cover the more complicated issues.
- Money - be sure you do not run out early. To that end, start your city small, with just the basic services. Keep room to expand later on. If you do run out, rescue funds (usually about 2/3 of starting mission funds) are granted once per mission. This lowers the mission score, but otherwise does no harm. Once you run out of those too, you get into debt. Maximum debt is 5000 db. (db. = debens, the in-game currency). You have to pay interest on debt, and Kingdom rating keeps dropping all the time you are in debt. Stay out of debt at all costs! To win a mission, you need to be profitable, i.e. year-to-year your total funds must increase, not decrease. Achieve this by exporting commodities with a high profit margin. High-level homes with high tax income are most of the time not enough to make the city profitable.
- Planning - plan housing areas and industrial areas separately. Housing is recommended to be built in blocks, not on random. In industrial areas, keep only small housing slums to provide workers (1-2 homes in a given industrial area are enough). Use roadblocks to restrict service workers patrol routes to where they are needed (that is, the housing areas). When building industry, keep the distance between the raw material source and the corresponding industry small, generally within the width of a single screen. When trading by water, keep your industry close to the docks.
- Sentiment - keep your citizens happy. A positive sentiment ("people like you") is enough, they don't have to idolise you as a god all the time. To that end, do not raise taxes above the default 9% (at least not by much, i.e. only a couple percent at the most) and pay always at least the same wage as the kingdom average (default is 30 db.). Keep the gods happy. Throw festivals regularly. Use lavish festivals as much as possible if you don't want to waste beer on grand festivals. Make sure to have enough temples, the same number for every local deity and one or two more temples to the patron god. Keep the pharaoh happy - have a Kingdom rating at least above 50 at all times. Send gifts from your own savings only when needed.
- Steady services - whenever you decide to start a service in a certain area, make sure you can sustain it and keep it stable indefinitely. The waves of housing evolving and devolving all the time do quite a number on your city's economy. If you can't keep a service steady, don't start it in the first place. Again, the use of roadblocks is crucial.
- Basic development progression - use this as a rule of thumb, in some missions you may have to bend the schedule, mostly to repel early invaders. Develop your city roughly in this progression:
- Make 50-100 housing lots, preferrably in 1-2 blocks.
- Build Firehouse, Architect's Post, Police Station. Do this immediately after designing each new area of the city.
- Provide water supply and at least Apothecary service to prevent an epidemic.
- Start producing food, build a granary and bazaars.
- Build a festival square, start throwing festivals regularly. Build temples in housing areas. Build entertainment venues in housing areas (one per area). If you cannot afford Pavilions, use Bandstands. Juggler stages alone are not really adequate.
- Build pottery industry if possible. Do not import finished pottery, import clay if you must.
- Build a palace and start collecting taxes. Try to have all major housing areas covered by tax collectors. If you can mine gold in the mission, start mining it before setting up pottery industry, as many mines as can be built. When mining gold, build the palace as close to the gold mines as possible, as the gold is always taken there.
- Choose your primary export good. It should be one that you can make entirely in your city and that has a high sell price. Also, you should be able to sell at least 2500 units of it yearly (25 for block-unit goods). Start producing it and open trade routes to export it.
- Build at least one fort and one warship (provided you can in the mission), two and two are recommended. Use archer forts to start. If you can have a military academy, build it before commissioning your first military company.
- After all these tasks, you should still have at least a little of your initial money left in most missions. At this point, wait a year or two of game time and money from your exports should get your treasury back in shape. Then, you can start importing a few needed goods (ideally raw materials, finished goods are too expensive for most cities) and developing your city further, if that is still needed (it isn't in the first seven or so missions). See the entries on the various areas of city economy (main page, "Appendices" section) for details and tips on how to handle the individual tasks listed here.
Enjoy the game!