Technical Tips, Start-Up & File Organization

These are general answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions. For more information on the finer points of game play and strategy, please consult the Game Help Forum rather than e-mailing Angels and Cherubs directly for help as they will direct you back to the Forum. Click on a question below to read the answer or return to the Index.

I’m having trouble installing and running Pharaoh, any tips?

You bet! We’ve learned a lot getting Pharaoh to work on different systems. Pharaoh is a very demanding game, so your system has to be in tip top shape. So, do your housekeeping chores before you try to install Pharaoh. Those are scan disk and defrag your hard disk. Be sure your system meets at least the minimum requirements. This check should also include available space on your hard drive. Now Pharaoh runs best if you can do the full install but if you don’t have the space don’t worry you can still play Pharaoh.

The operating systems that Pharaoh will run on Win 95, Win 98, Win NT (but no sound and no Direct X)

We have a great tech help forum presided over by our Tech Angel ET so if you need more help stop by and post your problem.

No Sound in Windows NT or Windows 2000

Conan from Impressions says: “It turns out that DirectX is actually the problem. Since WinNT doesn’t use a recent version of DirectX (Direct Sound in particular), Pharaoh turns off sound if you are not using an OS that supports the correct version of Direct Sound (which is in DirectX 6.1.) If sounds were not turned off, the game would likely crash. I’m pretty sure Win2000 has the same problems.”

NOTE: The Win2000 problem has been fixed in the Enhancement Pack that was recently released by Impressions. Download it here.

Sound Performance Tips & Troubleshooting

Ironrodiken from Impressions offers this advice:

Several users have reported problems with choppy or repeating sound. Please let us know if these tips work for you:

  • If you did a less than a full install, most sound is read from the CD, and access times (spin-up time) is usually to blame. Updating your CD-ROM drive drivers might help.
  • If you did a full install, all sounds are read from your hard drive. On my computer, sound breaks up when Windows resizes my swap file. If your machine starts hitting the hard drive for no apparent reason, that’s usually what’s going on.
  • I use ALT+TAB to minimize the game to my taskbar and wait for Windows to finish doing its thing. When I restore the game, sound is fine again. You can manually set a minimum size for your Windows swap file to prevent the periodic resizing, but I don’t recommend fiddling with virtual memory settings unless you know what you’re doing.
  • Make sure that the game is the only program running. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL once to get a list of everything loaded into memory, and End Task on everything except Pharaoh, Explorer and Systray. This will lessen your system’s need for swap file space.
  • Defragment your hard drive. If your swap file is fragmented, access time suffers, and therefore performance suffers.
  • Update your sound card drivers.
  • Some users report that the introductory movie “overloads” their sound cards. Clicking to skip the intro movie eliminates in-game sound problems for these users.

Finally, I’ve seen some (unconfirmed) reports that some sound cards have trouble playing .MP3 and .wav files simultaneously. Use the Options menu to turn off either city sounds or music. Sound performance on my PC improved markedly when I disabled city sounds but left music on. Again, if this clears up your sound problems, please let us know so that we can better help others.

I’m a Newbie and I don’t even know how to get started. What should I do first?

Pharaoh has two parts, a career path and a city building section. If you are brand new to the game, chose the career path as the first cites are designed to be tutorials explaining the basic concepts. Listen carefully to the mission briefing as it describes the goals for the City. Write down the name of the City you are playing. It won’t help much to come to the forums looking for help if you don’t know the name of the City.

As soon as the map shows up, use the “P” key on your keyboard to pause the game. Look up top of the menu bar for Options. Pull down the menu and set your speed on 10%. At this time you can choose the difficulty level you want to play on. If you are brand new to City building games, you can choose Very Easy or Easy. Normal is the default level. This controls the amount of money you get to start with, how much things cost during the game and basically cranks the bad things up or down a notch or two. Nothing wrong with learning on Easy, it is your game to enjoy.

Are there any hints on organizing my Saved Games?

Now, click on File and Save your game as Nubt-org or whatever city you are now playing-org. You will have this original copy of the game in your Family Registry in case you want to do it all different. Next time you do a Save, call it Nubt-1 to preserve your original map. The game will do an ‘autosave’ each January and June, and you will see a slight pause in the game play as this happens. Autosaves can be real handy.

OK, I am ready, how do I get started? Do I just put down some for sale signs?

Before building, make some plans. Take a look around. You should look around your map with the game on Pause for a while before you start building. Check out the terrain. Then ask yourself some questions. Is there a lot of water on this map? Turn on the Water Overlay and notice the blue areas indicating ground water. You will want your housing near these areas to provide them with water. How much of the coastline do you think will support fishing wharves or docks, do you need a ferry (will it be manned or unmanned)? How much farmland is there? What kind of farms can you build? Do you have water lifts and meadow farms available? You’ll need some straight coastline or a straight area on the edge of the flood plain for the water lifts. What kind of raw material pits can you build? If so, where’s the best place to build stone, gemstone, gold or copper mines? You don’t want to have your best housing near those undesirable places.

Now, take a look at your menus. What raw materials can you gather, which kind of workshops can you build? What farms are available to you, is fishing available on this map? Take a look at the World Map. How many cities can you trade with? What can you trade with them? Plan which industry to develop first for some export money.

If you have monuments to build in the mission where would they fit best? Since some monuments have very special requirements for placement it’s a good idea to place them before you even put in any housing blocks. The other item that can cause some placement headaches is a Temple Complex. You need to plan ahead for the placement but don’t place it right away since it’s expensive and requires 50 workers.

Remember what your goals are. To attract immigrants, you will need some for sale signs next to a road. When the folks get there and make little huts, they will want water. They will need fire protection and want some food. Set your speed back up to what feels comfortable. Get used to looking at the various overlays and overseers. Watch your little people and right click on them to see what they are saying. Remember you are in charge of the city and if they have no place to live, put down some more for sale signs. If they want jobs and the Overseer of Workers tells you that you have 30% unemployment, then realize this guy just hasn’t gotten the word yet. It is a balancing act to feed and employ and entertain and provide for the entire city and meet your Pharaoh’s goals… but that is why we are playing, isn’t it? The adventure begins!

What is the difference between Classical and Egyptian names for the cities?

That option does not affect game play, but does change the names of the cities as they appear in messages and on the world map. Some examples:

  • Nubt = Naqada
  • Perwadjyt = Buto
  • Men-nefer = Memphis

There are two different naming conventions — one mimics the names that the Egyptians called their own cities, and the other consists of the names that the Greeks and Romans used for Egyptian cities. It’s just a matter of personal preference. You’ll probably recognize some of the names better than others.

What’s the difference between the difficulty levels?

Generally, depending on the difficulty setting, risk of fire, disease or damage increases or decreases, as does the strength of enemy armies. On the Very Easy setting, some buildings and types of foods, religion and education requirements are not required for housing evolution. Tax sentiment and prosperity values are also affected. See Grumpus‘ fansite for a more thorough discussion of the differences between the difficulty levels.

What does the new “Enhancement Pack” change/fix in the game?

  • Download it here.
  • The Mortuary and Valley Temples now have 0 employees. The old files say they had 6 and 4 respectively although I have never checked to see if that really happened.
  • All difficulty levels now require Scribal Schools or Libraries for both Common Residences and Spacious Residences. Previously, they were not required for Common Residences at Very Easy, and they were not required at any difficulty level for Spacious Residences (which was strange since you needed them for Common Residences which come first)
  • Palatial Estates now need access to 3 Gods on Easy just like the other difficulty levels. The old files said they needed 4, although I never checked to see if that really happened.
  • Hunters’ attack value has been increased from 1 to 2.
  • Hyksos Chariots and Hittite Chariots have had their hit points reduced to 262 on Very Hard and 260 on Hard (that should be good news to those of us who have yet to face them). Hyksos Chariots used to be 375 on Very Hard and 315 on Hard. Hittite Chariots were 330 on Very Hard and 275 on Hard.
  • Mission Editor: You can now access Pharaoh’s powerful mission editor through the main game menu. Please refer to the mission editor manual (Mission Editor Guide.txt or Mission Editor Guide.pdf) for instructions. You can view the Mission Editor Guide via selecting Help: Mission Editor Guide from the Mission Editor menu bar.
  • New custom missions: New stand alone custom missions have been installed in your Maps folder. Many of the missions have text files associated with them that briefly describe the mission. All of the January 2000 contest missions are included.
  • Required Housing Level for mission completion is now displayed on the Ratings Overseer panel.
  • Windows 2000: Sound is now enabled under Windows 2000.


  • Some campaign missions have been tweaked to allow players to recover from decisions that lead to critical trade goods becoming unavailable. A campaign mission must be started fresh for this to take affect; loading a saved game (including selecting Replay Mission) will not start an updated campaign mission. If you are in the middle of a campaign, missions you have not yet played will be updated.
  • Some campaign missions have been tweaked to make them more playable.
  • Monument construction foremen are more intelligent when giving feedback on why monument construction has halted.
  • Missions can no longer be won if all ratings are achieved and a monument is nearly complete.
  • An uncommon occurrence where stone masons disappeared while working on pyramid complex causeways has been fixed.
  • Rotated Temple Complexes can no longer cause crashes if an overlay is selected.
  • Dock trade problems caused by Ra blessings have been resolved.
  • Caravans will no longer become stuck near Storage Yards if the Ferry Landing they would like to use is unstaffed.
  • Situations where monument construction could be halted due to stone/brick mason behavior have been fixed.
  • Storage Yards and Granaries can now spawn labor seeking walkers while the buildings have two cartpushers active.
  • A problem with very long load Pharaoh start up times related to network settings has been fixed.
  • Carpenters Guilds only consume 100 units of wood when creating a carpenter.
  • A situation where soldiers embarking/debarking on transports caused the game to freeze was fixed.

I’m having trouble installing the Enhancement Pack and Mission Editor.

Buddytep of Impressions advises:

“The Enhancement Pack will not find Pharaoh.exe if it has been moved from its original location, modified by hacks/cracks/virii/or other third party programs, or previously patched with any of the Enhancement Packs (unlikely at this point being that it just came out). If all else fails, a simple uninstallation and reinstallation will do the trick. Don’t worry, your games will be saved (unless you manually delete the folder).”

Regarding the mission editor:

The expansion pack installs a file called “mission editor guide.txt.” Also, there is an editor FAQ on this site at:

Please make sure you read through both of these these before posting here. Not only will they answer most of your questions, they will also help you get the most out of the mission editor. Thank you.”