* Prices may differ from that shown
Set in Medieval times, your task is to create a dynasty and have it survive during times of upheaval and war! The earliest the game can start is in 1066 - The Battle of Hastings year, and you can pick between regents, dukes or counts to start of with. Counts are the lowest form and may only have one piece of land or demesne. Above these are the dukes which own slightly more land, but may have a few counts as there own Vassals. The regents or Kings are the top of the tree with many allies and dukes underneath them.
The game itself is very, very complicated, not helped by the sheer amount of choices available to you at the start. I started with the Duke of Gwynedd at first to see if I could crate a Welsh kingdom, not an easy task for a beginner! I will try and break down the key concepts of the game.
At the start of the 1066 game your lands are not developed, with only a castle or fort to raise your troops in times of need. You can create buildings but depending on your income this could take years to save the amounts needed to build anything. With this in mind you have courtiers who are skilled in various aspects, such as intrigue for Spies are Stewardships for money making. Pick the best courtier for each job role and your own leaders stats will have these added to it - thus giving you a potential to earn more money than without.
You can develop your dynasty by research but this is a hit and miss affair. You can select what areas you want to target and this could take years, and only then one part of your kingdom will know that piece of research. However, with this the knowledge can spread to your other provinces - but beware it can also spread to neighbours - this can also work in your favour though, if you have a really strong neighbour than you can "leech" off their research.
As any medieval monarch would tell you - if they were alive today of course - marriage and blood lines are very important. With this game you can control who marries who within your dynasty. If your leader has many female offspring then they can be married into other families so that a claim can be had on the titles of that realm. Males can also be married to enhance there skills but beware, marry into another family like this and they will have claim on your titles. Characters can gain attributes that either help or hinder their progress. Tough soldiers are just that - extra health in battles, whilst characters can contract small pox and their life span is shortened dramatically - risky if it is your leader.
Wars are possible the most difficult thing in this game. Unlike others you can't just declare war, march in and take over everything, you have to have a legitimate claim for doing so. This can be done either through marriage, offering vassalation and revoking that leader's title or by "grabbing" the title. This is a more underhand process that enables a legitimate claim so that you can then declare war. It is then quite a simple process of mobilizing your armies and marching to attack. Your army itself is divided into light and heavy infantry and knights with bowmen as back up, and the battles take the form of a part of the screen showing your armies numbers against your opponents and then a battle of attrition starts, the winner being the one with troops left over in that particular area. To take over the land you then need to storm the castle which can take awhile all the time for your army to grow weaker through counter attacks and dysentery. Allies will come to the rescue of anyone you attack, so before long with your actions the whole map could be against each other - so pick your moment and your opponent wisely - otherwise strong neighbours may be knocking on your door whilst you're away.
All in all, even though I am quite new at the game and more surprises keep popping up, I think im getting the hang of it and liking it more and more. The depth and detail of the game is immense, with no two games being the same. For the price of it it is well worth buying as it will give you hours of enjoyment - or headaches - depending on if you're winning or losing.