Manual distribution (as opposed to automatic distribution) refers to games where the game creator elects to let players choose where they want to start. Each player picks territories in the order they desire them most.
In automatic distribution, WarLight randomly decides what territories the player will start with at the start of the game.
Once all players have submitted their picks, WarLight follows the following procedure to determine the initial distribution:
- All players are put into an order based on the Move Order. For example, if there are four players named A, B, C, and D, the random list could come out BDCA. In team games, WarLight also ensures this is fairly divided between teams.
- WarLight then gives out a territory to each player in order. Each player will get their highest picked territory that isn't already taken.
- If all territories that a player picked are already taken, then a random available territory is given to that player. Unless the game is a coin game, in which case players will receive the territory that has the lowest territory ID that's available as defined by the map creator. It's recommended to ensure you pick enough territories so that this will never happen.
- The player order is then reversed. For example, in the example above the random order was BDCA, it will be reversed to ACDB. This lessens the disadvantage of being placed towards the bottom of the list.
- Steps 2 and 3 repeat until all territories are given out or the territory limit is reached.
 All of the 1s are not distributed first
Sometimes players think that WarLight distributes all of the 1s, then all of the 2s, etc. This isn't how WarLight works. However, people that think WarLight works this way will sometimes be surprised to see someone get a territory that they ranked lower than someone else who missed it did.
It's a good thing WarLight doesn't work this way, since this would mean it would be a disadvantage to pick territories that other players picked. Instead, it's better to pick the territories you want most, regardless of what other people pick.