Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kings Bounty the Legend Again

For the last few weeks I have spent most of my gaming time in Kings Bounty the Legend. I started playing the game back in 2009 and loved it but I managed to burn out fairly quickly. This time I have stuck with it and I have over 70 hours clocked up. I play very slowly so even with this I am only half way through the campaign.

The game is wonderful for its art, its humour, its challenging implementation of turn based strategy and for it's ability to keep things varied with a variety of locations, enemies and troops. If you have never tried it I strongly recommend it particularly now that it can be bought for a few euros and is regularly on sale.

One feature of the game that has provoked much comment both good and bad from players is the limited availability of troops and the constant need to travel the lands in search of replacements.  I myself have noticed that this one feature has a huge influence on how I play the game and I am not convinced that the benefits outweigh the advantages.

Most locations in the game sell a few troops but the number a available are strictly limited and rarely if ever replenished. In addition each location only offers a few different types of unit out of the dozens available in the game. In order to replenish troops after a battle you need  to travel back to the locations that hopefully still have reserves of that kind of troop for sale. You need you do the same every time you increase the leadership stat which increases the allowable size of  armies.  This constant travelling back and forth to restock gets very tedious which is one of the biggest complaints about the game.

One argument in favour of the limited availability of replacements is that it gives an incentive to play more carefully in order to reduce losses. Another is that it encourages players to experiment with different troop types using whatever is locally available.

Unfortunately the replacement difficulty has led to experienced players almost always recommending a "zero losses" playstyle. This is achieved by selecting battles carefully, prioritising defensive tactics and using spells to resurrect any fallen troops. I think it is a pity that such a cautious approach is required and it definitely slows down the game.

A much more positive feature of Kings Bounty is the way that low level units are balanced to remain useful throughout the game. Even though an individual level 1 unit is much weaker and does less damage than a level 5 unit the leadership stat allows a player to control much larger numbers of them so they remain a threat. In fact as a rule a stack of low level units does more damage than a stack of high level units but has less survivability. Low level units have fewer special abilities and are more at risk of hostile magic so you cannot use them exclusively but often one large stack of low level damage dealers can be used to quickly take out enemies.

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