Thea: The Awakening Guide – Spoiler Free

Thea: The Awakening is a very unusual game. Part 4X, part roguelike, part deck builder, part survival game, it can be difficult to get started and make progress. This is a spoiler free start guide to help you establish your village, create a useful raiding party, and make sure you are prepared for the mid and late game.

I won’t go into too much detail, and it will also assume you have played the game a little. The goal of this Thea: The Awakening guide is to give players who have some familiarity with the game some helpful tips to become more efficient or have a better chance on the harder difficulties. There are plenty of guides online for specific crafting recipes and how to get past events. If you want to know how to do better while keeping the mystery of the game hidden, this Thea: the Awakening guide is for you.

Expand Your Village

The first thing you want to look at is expanding your village’s buildings. No buildings are completely worthless, but depending on your play style, some are more useful than others. For example, the watch tower lets you see more in the spaces around your village, so if you have an expedition gathering nearby, you can get them back to safety and protect the village.

Despite this, there are 3 buildings you probably want to focus on first:

  • Cabbage Patch / Pasture
    These two structures are there to help increase the size of the village. Cabbage patches help with generating children, pastures generate a small amount of meat. However, if you have wheat or certain other food resources nearby, the pastures can also attract humans. Since followers can die quickly and are not easy to replace, building one of these is a good start.
  • Smithy
    The smithy will help you increase the likelihood of crafting superior items. These items will have higher stats than their normal counterparts. Since there will be a lot of crafting, it is beneficial to get the Smithy up as fast as possible.
  • Well
    The well generates 5 units of a random resource a turn. Building a well early allows your village to stock up on items which they will not have access to in the early and mid game. This really helps when you are crafting to grind research points.

After these 3 buildings, you are free to build whatever you need. Remember that you can deconstruct buildings and rebuild them. This is useful if you hit the 10 building cap and want to build something new, or if you want to rebuild a building using materials that can attract a goblin, dwarf, orc, or something else.

Some building bonuses stack, but keep in mind that only one well is needed to get the 5 random resources a turn.

Manage Your Resources and Items Carefully

You should turn off the option to auto-use fuel and food, which I recommend. One thing you want to do before you pass your first turn is manage your expedition and village’s resources. Go into the resource screen and turn off all fuel except basic wood, and make sure that all food is set to be used.

You don’t want to run around the map collecting rare materials just to have them be used up when camping. Wood is usually plentiful and keeping it in the party’s inventory should be easy to manage. Keeping certain foods that you want to save for cooking, and herbs for healing, is a good idea as well.

The downside to this is that every time you set out as a new expedition, you will have to manage the resources, but in the long run it is worth it so you don’t lose that sweet Ancient Wood.

Getting by When Carrying Too Much

When exploring, it is likely that your party will eventually become overburdened as it gathers massive amounts of loot. This reduces the movement speed of the party and can be quite annoying, especially if you need to get somewhere quick.

There are two things you can do to relieve your party besides sending a second party out to meet them and do some heavy lifting:

  • Get rid of your fuel and other unnecessary materials
    Chances are, you are carrying too much wood or some other basic material that you have a plenty in your village. Since the expedition is most likely returning home anyway to drop off their loot, unloading a lot of the fuel can help.
  • The second is in items. Most items will weigh more than their resources, so if your party is carrying any unneeded items, recycle them into their components.

Don’t Stop Crafting

Crafting is the most consistent way of generating research points, which are used to unlock new buildings, materials, and recipes. Each item you craft generates a certain amount of research points based on the difficulty and the materials used.

Therefore, even if you do not need any items at the moment, your craftspeople should always be crafting something that generates points. If you can craft a recipe that is worth points and use the resources your city gathers, you can set the amount to be crafted to “infinity” and this will generate a set amount of points every turn.

To help generate materials for your crafting, you want to recycle all items that are either:

  • Inferior
  • Bad Quality
  • Not needed

After a battle or challenge, you can also click on any items you find before adding them to your inventory. This will put a white recycle arrows symbol on top of them, and those items will be broken down into their components instead of being added to your inventory.

thea-the-awakening-cooking

Cook Like Your Life Depends on It

Cook often and cook a lot. The more different types of food a village or expedition has, the more bonus the people have. This is true even if there is just one unit of a food. Gathering food from the countryside only goes so far. Mixing and matching those food items into the recipes will dramatically increase the number of food types and the bonuses.

Another reason to cook all the food is that cooked food usually weights less than raw food (with a few exceptions) meaning that parties can carry more food and more types of food. Also, remember to always be crafting.

Equipping Your Characters at the Start

At the start of the game, you want to make sure each character has a piece of armor and a weapon. The best weapons in the early game are swords, because they give attack and defense in combat.

The best armor is the lightest armor the character can carry with the highest defense (shielding) and any other bonuses given by the armor should also be considered, especially for non-combat characters. On a craftsperson, plus to crafting might be more worthwhile than an extra point of shielding.

After each character has a weapon and armor, then the next important thing to craft are crafting tools and gathering supplies. These should be crafted with the best materials you have available since they will speed up resource gathering and crafting. To get the most out of them, they need to be built as early as possible. Start with crafting tools to give to your craftsperson, then start on gathering tools for your expedition, and finally equip any people you plan to keep in the village with gathering tools.

Gathering tools should be put on everyone who is not a craftperson who is in an expedition. This is because it takes a certain number of gathering points to get a resource in one turn. If your gathering party does not have enough points, it will take more than one turn to get a resource. This means that it will take longer for your expedition to clear points of interests and monsters.

Gathering tools are not as important for villagers that are kept in the village since there is less urgency and need to move around for them.

Explore Thea on Every Turn

In the beginning of the game, Thea is not such a dangerous world but it can quickly ramp up. Where you once met one skull battles, you will meet three, four, and even five skull battles. In addition, the quest lines quickly get more difficult with each step.

To keep your villagers on the same ramp as the game, it is important to generate experience points and research points each game. The best way to do this is always be on the move. Seek out points of interest (yellow chest icons), quests (blue icons – but be careful, some early ones are deceptively hard) and combat encounters.

Ideally, you do not want to go a turn without doing at least one of those things with your expedition party.

Creating an Expedition / Party

At the beginning of the game, you can choose to focus on gatherers, warriors, or craftspeople. There is no “best” choice. Gatherers help you collect items quicker, which can be used for crafting and cooking to quickly get research points and the food bonus. Warriors for killing things and getting experience points as you move around the map. However, craftspeople develop into more rounded characters later on, and have stats for most non-combat challenges to start.

Equipment

You want to periodically check your villagers’ equipment to make sure they currently have the best equipment they can use. Best equipment usually means the highest in the main stat with the weight your villagers can handle. As your villagers gain levels, they will often get stronger and be able to carry heavier and better equipment.

For equipment, keep these things in mind:

  • Weapon and armor is the most important early unless you have a hunter or someone with social skills. Early game swords + shields are the best for defense, but piercing weapons (spears) are strong in combat if you can get spears for most of your villagers. As mid game rolls around, you want your strongest characters to have blunt and piercing weapons.
  • Warriors can carry two handed swords in one hand
  • Everyone should eventually have a Gathering tool to increase speed of gathering rare materials as you explore.
  • Armor and weapon with slightly less stats but bonuses to other skills are often more useful in mid game, because there will be more variety in the types of challenges.
  • Bows are good for tactical parts of a challenge, so put them on your weaker/tactical characters first.

Welcome Everyone in Thea to your Party

As you expand your village, try to use materials that attract non-humans as well. Goblins, elfs, dwarfs, are all better at humans in most things, particularly in magical challenges. Some options for events won’t open up unless you have a magical creature in your party or someone who uses magic.

It is much easier to get magic as an attribute on a magical creature than it is to get a Sage and then gear them up.

Beasts can be good, but are sometimes hit or miss since you can also attract weak ones to your settlement. These can still be used as meatshields and often make great support characters with the right trinkets.

Combat

The combat system is pretty unique and can be confusing, and I don’t want to go into much detail here about how it works. Generally, the battles are resolved from left to right, and characters will either get one or two turns to attack depending on if they are confused or not.

Saying that, here are a few combat tips to keep in mind to survive Thea.

  • Blunt damage (hammers, maces, staves) carries over to the next character if the first is a kill. However, damage on them are usually a bit lower than on swords so you need them in front to get the most out of them. Make sure they are in your active hand if you need them.
  • Pierce damage (spears) do half their damage to the enemy if the card is played right before an enemy card. This will also move the card to the front enemy card. This works even when playing them from the tactical side.
  • Pierce damage is useful for one-shotting smaller creatures, but do not underestimate the power of putting a card in front of another card. Do this to gang up on bigger enemies, or be boosted by your tactical cards.
  • The best tactical option is Counter Offense, followed by Confuse, Counter Tactic, and then First Action. Higher levels obviously are better.
  • Counter Offense can be used to effectively remove one of the enemy’s Active card with one of your Tactical cards.
  • Confuse is useful for denying an attack on a powerful enemy.
  • Counter Tactic is similar to Counter Offense but not as good.
  • First Action can be used to get powerful cards to the front, or to counter the enemy’s piercing damage units.
  • When able, resolve encounters with non-combat skills (social, hunting, etc.) as failing these usually don’t mean one of your characters might die.
  • Ignore the day/night cycle for the most part. Night time is no excuse to stop raiding (but be careful hat your village doesn’t get overrun)
  • Dens have more creatures than roaming packs of the same skull level.
  • When in doubt, use superior numbers. That is the easiest way to win combat encounters.

Thanks for Reading this Thea: The Awakening Guide

Thea: The Awakening is a wonderful game that brings a challenge. Hopefully this guide gave some insights to help you beat it on the higher difficulties. If you want to see a good guide in action, user Makeshiftscaffold has a great AAR Thea guide where he plays it on 350% difficulty. Remember, there is not shame in playing on a lower difficulty percentage. After all, the best part of the game is the writing and the crafting.

If you have any comments or suggestions for this guide, please leave a comment below!

Orwell – Keeping an Eye on You: Review

Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You is a hybrid visual novel, detective game and point and click adventure. It puts you in the position of spying on people in an attempt to battle terrorism. The game presents an interesting mechanic while it tries to critique government mass surveillance.

The government of a fictional nation is rolling out a new system of surveillance, called Orwell. In its first real world application, your job is to use the internet, CCTV cameras, mobile phone recordings, and chat logs to collect information to find the bomber. The way the system works is you upload data chunks to Orwell to complete profiles on people. These chunks are photos, personal information such as medical history, birth date, and anything else which might be relevant. This information is then passed on to your adviser, Symes. This is outlined in the Orwell Ethical Codex, where investigators (you) have access to the data and decide what pieces of data are relevant. Advisers then take that data and analyze it before deciding on a course of action. There is no two way communication between you and your adviser, so Symes will speak to you, but you may never speak to him.

In the game’s world, this structure is supposed to limit bias by investigators by providing “just the facts” which fails spectacularly as the game goes on. Somehow whoever designed the system didn’t take into account personal biases, assumptions, prejudice, or context when devising it. Another feature of this system is that you are not a citizen of the fictional nation on whose citizens you are spying on. The justification is that since you are not a citizen, you will be more objective in judging the information you find. The assumption is that you will be able to provide better information than someone who is closer to home, so to speak. Once again, the designer of this system didn’t take into account personal biases and context. The game does not explore this particular feature too much, I suppose it provides a narrative reason for the player’s unfamiliarity with the locations and events of the world.

So the premise is a bit silly and unrealistic, but like many games, it is there to provide a backdrop to the gameplay. Let your beliefs be suspended, and its fine.

The game starts with a bomb going off and you begin your investigation by searching through the news articles and police files trying to find the people involved. There are some limitations to what you can actually use to spy on people with. For example, phones can’t be tapped unless you have the phone number, computers cant be hacked unless you have the serial code. These limitations are more to set up obstacles to the player rather than making a comment on limiting state surveillance. In a real world application, as we have already seen, such limitations would hardly be considered necessary. Therefore, much of your early Internet sleuthing is to find the targets’ contact information by creeping their social media profiles and websites until more potential information about them is revealed. For example, their social media profile may have a link to the character’s blog, which then will give you a new website to visit and new datachunks to find.

You can choose to ignore data chunks, but Symes tells us early that some data chunks are necessary to further the case. In other words, some data chunks must be submitted for the game to progress. Sometimes there will be multiple datachunks with conflicting information. With these, you can only choose one to upload which will make the other chunks invalid. These are often “forks” in the narrative that will set part of the investigation down one path and close off the other.

Like many narrative games, there is a clear path to follow and despite the game wanting to give agency to the player, there are some actions which must be done. In Orwell, this resulted in a few situations unfolding in ways that really soured me. There are a few decisions where I wished there were more options to choose from, or that they were not required for the story to progress. In these moments, the game felt constrained in such a way that it made me a little frustrated.

The story is a bit fluid, with the choices you make being dependent on on what information you provide to Symes. Since you and him can’t communicate, Symes will only be able to see what information you want him to see. This means that you can’t influence or add context to any of the pieces of information you give. Upload a datachunk about someone buying beer, and Symes might believe they are an alcoholic. To guide the investigation in the way you want to, you have to consider what assumptions Symes will make. Orwell challenges the (shitty) belief that “facts, not feelings” matter. The facts you serve up often put innocent people at risk, because facts are never enough when dealing with human lives. However, I felt that this was more incidental than intentional, and is a point that I expect to be missed or interpreted differently by a large number of players.

Where Orwell succeeds is in the mechanics and presentation, which is pretty unique and unsettling. As I was looking over news clippings and social media profiles, I knew I was being complicit in an intrusive state surveillance apparatus. I was telling myself that I was going to see how to tear it down from the inside. I do not agree with this kind of surveillance, yet playing this game felt familiar. I knew that I had done this before, in real life. Today, it is not unusual for people to scout out individuals they meet online, whether it be for professional reasons, out of curiosity, or for nefarious deeds. We have all (almost?) even Googled ourselves to see what we can find.

While there are ample opportunities to empathize with your targets, the premise feels less intrusive to citizens than what actually exists today. The message could be stronger if it was more alike to today’s realities of Internet surveillance.

Sometimes I felt the game was better at demonstrating the consequences communication breakdowns than the perils of state surveillance. When Symes interprets a piece of data in a way that you yourself didn’t, it is usually because there is no context, and sometimes because he is a bit of an asshole.

If a quick romp through a narrative story that tries to compromise your values on privacy sounds good to you, Orwell is sure to satisfy.

Unless you are looking for a real critique.

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