Before it can even launch, Steam's most-anticipated city-builder is forced to patch an economy-busting 'exploit' by hard-nerfing sheep

Manor Lords
(Image credit: Slavic Magic)

The developer of Steam's most-anticipated city-builder says he had to nerf sheep at the last minute to prevent crippling economy exploits.

Manor Lords is due to release next week. The medieval city-builder is on an incredible trajectory, having recently topped 2.5 million wishlists to become the most-wishlisted game on Steam (despite its solo dev's girlfriend predicting it would only garner a fraction of that attention). As it gears up to release, developer Greg Styczen is getting it ready for its early access launch. That means that a select group of players have had their hands on the game, and they wasted little time in breaking the economy.

According to Styczen, a handful of those early players have been raising awareness of issues surrounding 'infinite money'. A quick scan through YouTube brought me to the video below, which explains that with a few dozen sheep and a trait to help increase their numbers through breeding programs, you'd gather up enough wool to make yourself a medieval millionaire.

In a tweet responding to that exploit, Styczen says that "personally I don't have a game design problem with 'infinite money'." In his case, it's accurate - sheep do produce theoretically infinite amounts of wool, and the ability to create an entire economy simply by trading is part of the game's structure. However, he also notes that so many people offered feedback about the "export abuse" that "I decided to yolo a last-minute feature."

That feature is essentially putting sheep on the no-fly list. A screenshot reveals that wool is in critical global oversupply and is no longer available for foreign exports. Again, historically, it makes some sense—why would other countries continually buy up a resource that was in plentiful global supply?

Exactly how the feature will be rolled out for other resources, or how it'll impact the wider early-access playerbase, remains to be seen. There's some discussion as to whether it should be optional due to the amount of micro-management it'll require later in the game, but Styczen also suggests it could be used to help introduce "random events impacting prices." A particularly cold winter could see wool demand spike, for instance, which might suddenly see those sheep become a very valuable resource.

I played the medieval city builder-meets-RTS game that has 2 million wishlists on Steam and it blew my tiny mind.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.