- Easy - Six families. A large amount of clothing, food, firewood, building materials, and tools are provided. Homes and storage areas have already been built. Seeds for fields and orchards are available as well as a herd of livestock.
- Medium - Five families. Clothing, food, firewood, tools and construction materials are provided. A storage barn has already been built. Some seeds for fields and orchards are available.
- Hard - Four families. A small amount of clothing, food, firewood and tools are provided. No seeds for farming are available.
The default starting mode is medium. On this mode, I found it somewhat challenging to get enough food and firewood for the winter. Fairly quickly I built a Hunting Cabin, a Gatherers Hut and a Herbalist. I also built a Fishing Dock as well as a Woodcutter. This got me through the first winter - just. I ran short of firewood twice, but no one died. I counted that a success. That was the hardest winter I had.
Over then next seven game years everything went well. I added a Blacksmith, Trading Post, Tailor, School and a Forester Lodge. I also created a farm. My average health and happiness remained at four and a half out of five. It was at the start of my eighth year, when I began converting wooden houses to stone houses, that I noticed my first problem. It was not a disaster or anything like that. My population had grown a little since the settlers founded the town, but that had stopped around year five. Now the children had all become students and there were no more children. Then my first adult died of old age. Soon all but one of my students were adult and there were no more children.
It turns out there was a very easy to understand reason for this. My houses were full. I had eight people per house. Guess what? People don't fool around in such crowded environments. No hanky panky, no children. It's as simple as that. So I went on a stone house building spree. I increased my first five houses to twelve. That should fix the problem I thought.
And it has, sort of. The second surprise I got from this game is odd. One year of game time does not equal one year of citizen time. The townsfolk age three ot four times faster than the game progresses. When I started looking at their ages, I realized most of my female population had passed into menopause - yes, I believe that is actually programmed into it. I've not seen any children born to a woman past that age. I have 28 people in the village. Only three adult women are under that age, and they all have a child; one actually has two. I did discover they will have children at the medieval correct age of twelve, so that was good. But I am currently looking at an aging population who will soon die off leaving my town without enough people to do everything.
So I am currently stock piling and hoping I can hang on long enough for the children I do have to become adults and have children themselves. I'll need at least two generations to fix my population problem. I'm not certain they'll make it. While they struggle to procreate, I will not be growing the town, that's for certain. My quick start turns out to be a longer range handicap. The game demands a more nuanced strategy than I initially gave it credit for to be honest. Well played Shining Rock Software, well played.