Voted Fair. Ok, got around to playing it. First game I started was a large world with 4x anti-aliasing turned on. Boy game was irresponsive and choppy. Guess my dual core 2GB winxp rig doesnt cut it hehehe. Retired and restarted a medium world without AA on normal around 21:00, looked at the clock around 02:00 and thought well one more turn... that turn ended at 06:45 to my total disbelief and utter shock.
General impression I got is that it feels like a streamlined version of WoM and is well done in that sense. Unfun stuff gone (away with the tedious city management and caravans), fun stuff expanded/made better. Also like the artstyle a lot more, it definitely feels like a fantasy world now.
Playwise I actually got into exploring and found an awesome quest (dungeon!), (-start-old-fart-alert-)it really felt a bit like adventurer kings (PBM)(-end-old-fart-alert-). My champions mattered.
I did make a couple of classic mistakes, I kept all my champions together (I think the game should have an one champion per army limit) and explored and looted the world with them whilst building up my city and teching along quit happily. I did not defend my city at all, taking my champions back when threats appeared.
Then I decided it was time to expand and build a second city. Errr what... Cant build a second city? Can only build outposts? Like the outpost mechanism but why is the CPU able to build cities; I must be overlooking something. Also it's a bit wierd how far you can build outposts, but alas.
Outposts build I feel content about my city layout and progress. Then finally I meet 2 CPU's, both Empire (im playing Kingdom). As expected the threats start and are ignored (heh paying them only helps them and they will delcare on you anyway so why give them anything). Soon the first war declaration comes in. And nothing happens. Err what? You declare war on me and it takes 50+ turns maybe even 100 for you to send some lame ass troops over? (AI really should only declare war if he has troops 1 or 2 turns away from my borders). Anyway as the war declaration comes in, I switch to teching military (standing army etc); by the time the first army arrives I have 4 armies of 5 defenders plus my three decked out champions. Defense is still a bit hairy but I survive the noob-wave. During this period I also meet the Capitar, jeah for Kingdom buddies.
From here on it's a constant mess of patrolling my kingdom, teching up and creating a better military.
Then my forces are up to speed and it's counter attack time and cleanup time. I easily walk over the enemy forces untill out of the blue my buddy the Capitar starts extorting me en sure enough declares on me too... errr what??? why??? Ass!
I cant handle 2 empire enemies and capitar who are the strongest in this game so I decide to retreat my armies. Then it all goes down the drain. My main army gets stuck; pinned between some armies and a city I think (not sure since I gave that army the order to walk home but never check on them). Then suddenly my main army is attacked it seems and dissappears.
30 plus turns later with a kingdom that is in trouble now; my capital is fending off the attacks but loosing outposts and resources as capitar goes on a destroy all bonanza with no champions to lead an army my forces are stuck in the capital. I find out that my main army didnt dissappear but attacked a city by itself (and conquered it LOL). Mean while my second army (which was now my main army so I thought) gets caught on the way home by an Earth Elemental. Stats wise the elemental should be a walkover... Wow was I wrong. Second army obliterated.
So it's back to bringing my main army home; easier said then done. The captured city is completly surrounded by armies from 3 different enemies, i'l have to fight my way out. Which I do, quit succesfully too I may add. Untill General Capitar comes for a visit with an army 3 times the strenght of the remains of my main army. Since he has a boatload of archers I decided I better not risk my army. So I decided to sarcifice the city and use the scroll of escape I had been saving for a moment like this.
Buhbye General Capitar, hahahaha, ow wait where the feck is my army??? It's not in the capital where it should be... What the *#^#$.... Not again... I scroll back to the city I just sarcificed only to find my main army standing in a tile cornered by a mountain and the city... There is no way out unless I fight General Capitar. Some bleeding scroll of escape that was (allready reported as bug). So I end up throwing my crippled army that did take some damage trying to get to his archers at the city, finding it defended by a much smaller force then expected. I retake the city and get attacked instantly by General Capitar the traitor of the Kingdom. I loose; badly...
So now im back in my capital with 3 champions recovering, not a single healthy one and only a handfull of archers left since i lost all other units trying to clean house a little; that were meant to supplement my main armies, all because I send my armies on a march home but didnt check on their progress.
From here on the struggle is on, wave after wave after wave of Capitar troops fill my lands, destroy my resources and make my kingdom a living hell. I manage to pull out some amazing victories but the fact remains that my city is barely able to keep up producing replacements for the losses. Somewhere in this struggle I offer peace to the 2 empire factions (at a cost of 4 diplomatic capital; huh), they accept. Finally when I start to get a hold on the situation and am chasing the remainder of Capitar his troops around in my borders those backstabbing Empire rulers declare on me again (bought off by Capitar?) and one of them easily walks into my lightly defended city with my main army 1 step out from the city. This causes me to loose my 2 champions as there is no city left for them to respawn/recover in.
I retake the city but im now loosing gildar per turn and have almost ran dry. I sell off some loot, decide the game is as good as lost and decide to take my army out to go and wreak havoc in their empires/kingdoms; take the battle to them. An overlooked army sneaks in and grabs my city. Bugger that.
The first city I encounter is easily taken; I decide to rebuild my army there and root them out. Then not having paid attention to my gildars I loose the 4 ranger armies I just spend 80 turns on building due to desertion. I sell off more loot but i'm on a gliding slope here. Tons of armies come and get whooped followed by offensive messages (errr dont talk manly when you are getting your ass handed over and over noobs). I manage to level up some more rangers to support my one remaining ground force of chuck norris' and decided to abandon this city and find one that is at least capable of supporting my army.
On the way out I encounter my dear old friend the traitor; General Capitar. I send him home leaving a trail of his own blood but do loose by chuck noris' force to knights (!!! hadnt encountered them before); so now im stuck with my champions and a bunch of rangers. I find a bigger and better city which I take at the cost of 2 of my level 8 ranger armies (ouch). The production is not enough to cover my costs.
What follows is a game of cat and mouse where I basicly destroy Capitar inside his kingdom; I currently control 3 of his cities but am unable to defend any of them due to having no gildar and still loosing money per turn. So it's take and retake but completly hopeless. He keeps throwing single 5 man ranger or mage units at my cities.
The bad and the ugly
1. One major crash (report send through microsoft send bugreport) due to running out of memory is my guess (97% of my mem was in use at the time of the crash). Save game to the rescue. Occured after playing for about 5-6 hours nonstop on medium world on winxp, 2GB.
2. Diplomacy is a mess. 4-5 diplomatic capital gets you a peace treaty; completly owning them with a win to loss ratio of 100 to 1 and they still big mouth me and demand money? Seriously? Come to think of it how did they even finance all that? They incurred so much losses it must have grinded their entire progress to a halt producing all those troops. 250 diplomatic capital doesnt get you a trade or economic treaty even if it's in their favor (+3 gildar for me versus +12 gildar for them)? War declaration without sending troops for another 50-100 turns? Comeon. You move within 1-2 turns range and then you declare not before. It wasnt like Germany told France in 1850 they were going to invade them in 1918; they simply walked in and declared in 1918.
3. AI is much improved but still based on spam spam spam over quality. Also the AI seems to think that if they just lost their best army where I didnt take any losses a lesser army would do better and then an even worse army etc etc etc. I was surprised by Capitar going on a rampage in my kingdom, but it was a frustrating experience.
4. City defense wise how realistic is it to loose a city when your army is standing next to it. It's not fun. I say put the city in siege mode where all production queues are halted and no resources are being produced but let the attackers kill all armies in a 3 tile radius of the city. Just give the defenders a retreat option where they are teleported out of the 3 tile radius but loose their movement points (from exhaustion) for the next turn (so they can be caught if the desire is there). Took a look at Libya/Tripoli. The resistance walked right in to the centre city square but it took them 4-5 weeks of additional fighting before they really controlled the city. They had to purge the troops first.
5. Is it possible to build new cities? Or is that a tech I overlooked or something.
6. Counterspell spell never seems to have a valid target.
7. Scroll of Escape is bugged; description clearly says it takes you to your capital but instead when using it in city defense it teleports you to outside the city.
8. IMHO resources should be indestructable and outposts should be able to hold guard towers (granting defense bonus to the rangers based on city and tech level) where you can put in a maximum of 2 ranged combat units and can be won by either destroying the guard towers in the battlefield or by killing the ranged units inside. Either make the structures defendable or make them indestructabile. Razing is a cool feature on paper but playwise it's simply a frustrating experience that adds nothing other then forementioned frustration. Or give my armies the ability to teleport anywhere within my borders. Current implementation as said, cool on paper, frustrating and unfun in practice.
9. A separate troop building queue would be real nice, having to cancel building projects etc is somewhat of a bore/annoyance. A second build queue for troops which penalizes both queues when in use (ie construction is halved and training time doubled) would be a great solution and still effectively give the same result balance as it is now whilst removing a micromanagement annoyance.
10. Keeping in hiding is a solid tactic, in a way the game penalizes you to explore. Because as soon as the other factions find you the threats and inevitably the war declarations are allready in the writing then. Explorers are a dangerous unit to your kingdom and not worth the intell imho.
11. Took me a bit to figure out how to end a turn (turn button didnt flash at the start of the game untill way later in the game). Silly oversight on my behalve? Could be.
12. Limit armies to 1 champion per army? I mean how can someone be the champion if he has to share those duties with someone else, that sounds more like contested leader then champion and grand leader and adventurer of the army.
1. Wow love the streamlining, questing and exploring is fun now. Champions feel like champions not as some over abundant bred of unit type that require a lot of micromanagement.
2. Love not having to build caravans anymore.
3. World looks and feels like a decent fanatasy world now.
4. City management is great like this.
5. Holy cow where did the time go...
6. UI is much better now.