Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ruining History for Fun and Profit (minus the profit)

I promised last post that I'd tell you more about the whole "taking over China" thing, and I'm sticking to that. DM and I have always been fans of Koei's "Warriors" series - Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. All three are hack-and-slash games against enormous odds, one man against an army. The first two are based in factual history: Samurai in events from 1500s Japan, and Dynasty in events from 200AD China. Particularly, the latter is based on the books Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of China's four great epics and the history behind it, recorded as the History of the Three Kingdoms. The games always give some of the actual history or novel's details behind the characters and events, making them somewhat educational as well as enjoyable (if you enjoy running around as a supremely overpowered person slaughtering enemy armies and generals singlehandedly. Which I do.)

On the other hand, if that's not up your alley, Koei also made companion games to both historical series: Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. As opposed to a single-man bloodbath of the Warriors series, these games are strategic simulation games. In these games, you can either pick a preexisting army to control or you can design your own characters and build your own army. In either case, your ultimate goal is to capture all of the cities and "unite the country" under your banner by building up your cities and your army, recruiting officers from the giant pool of named characters from the eras to lead your men, and one by one conquering your enemies' cities until the last man falls.

I did not expect to like this game, honestly. I'm horrible at strategy and have a hard time thinking more than one move ahead. Watching DM and our friends play it, it looked enjoyable, but overwhelming. And then they convinced me to sit down and play. So one day, home alone, I made an army. I made characters for Ravi, me, DM, and many of our friends, I ran the tutorial, and that weekend, with DM around to help out, I started the game.

8 hours later...

Okay, I don't know if it was actually 8 hours later, but I played a long, long time that first day. I kept saying "just one more turn." One more turn turned into two, into five... It's an immediate addiction. To watch the game, it looks simple, it looks dull and slow, with lots of time devoted to using your few action points to administrate and build up your cities. To play it though, to struggle to hold off 100,000 men from an invading army with 10,000 of your own in your own personal Battle of Thermopylae, to have a newly acquired city suddenly put under siege by the neighboring enemy when you don't have nearly enough men, food or gold to defend it, to march a giant army against the former ally who just betrayed you and squash his entire force into the dirt, to personally behead the leader of the former largest force in the game who decided that your little one was the first on his To Conquer list, to go from the smallest underdog to the largest army with more than double the rest of the remaining makes you feel like a queen. You feel like you're actually doing something, and that something is kicking history in the dick. You want to stand atop of the mountain of fallen enemies, your mismatched army of officers from all other forces behind you and tell History "Kiss my ass, this is my story!"

Even now, so far into the game, I still end up playing straight through the evening until common sense tells me I need to get my butt to bed for work. The one-more-turn syndrome doesn't go away. It's all about sieging one more city, taking out just one more group of attacking soldiers, sending out one more wave of your own,  trying to recruit one more officer whose loyalty to his lord is failing, seeing if any new free officers have shown up in your territory, seeing what your enemies did last turn... for a game that looks so simple, it's so easy to get drawn in. I will say that it does help to know the characters as they're portrayed in the novels or the Dynasty Warriors games, to know who's good to try and recruit when they show up on another team with low loyalty (for example, if he's a major strategist for an opposing side or the warrior that scared away an enemy army with a war cry, the kind of people you don't want your enemies holding onto for long), but you don't need to. You'll pick up names and strengths on your own from how the game is laid out. It just adds another level of fun to yell to DM "Hey honey, guess who I just got!" I can't count how many times he's seen me either punch the air or do a little happy dance from a specific successful recruitment. Yeah, I'm a dork.

I haven't been able to win yet; it's down to myself and two other forces now and stupidly, they're fighting with each other. Like I said earlier, I've got more than double their men, their cities, and their officers combined. With the fighting in the north, the one closest to me has left his southern side almost completely undefended. I've got alliances with both of them, but one is barely there and the other strong. Guess which one's the not-so-hot relationship? Mr. Empty Southern Bases. Next time I play, he's going to regret some life choices...I'm looking forward to squishing him completely between my army and the other remaining army. He joined with the large army in trying to bring me down at the beginning. He's about to pay for his indiscretion.

Happy Rolling!

1 comment:

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