• Fantasy Kommander – Eukarion Wars

    Fantasy Kommander – Eukarion Wars

    The fun is invisible

    Bottom line, I generally lurves me some turn based strategy wargames. I also favor fantasy. So, I’m a sucker for turn based strategy wargames, whether they’re hard core like Dominions 4, or light fare like Eador, Masters of the Broken World. I’ve poured massively excessive hours into these types of games, eager to bash the enemy one more time.
    Fantasy Kommander, however, just doesn’t pull me in to “one more turn” mode. Instead, I find myself wanting to save off and do something else after a few turns. Let’s walk through and see what the problem is.
    As far as complexity goes, this game is on the light side, and there are heavy influences from wargames like Panzer General (another game that’s soaked up plenty of my time). You have a core army, with units that gain experience through play. As they gain levels, their offense and defense increase (you pick how), and they get bonus abilities, like self-healing, improved defense for a turn, or whatever; using these abilities is key to combat. These improvements happen between battles, where you can also resurrect slain units, and recruit more troops to your army.

    For some humor....-kommander_1-jpg

    "For all their fragility, units are fairly detailed"

    Troop types, at least for humans, are the usual mix of pseudo-medieval units. Light infantry are cheap, and all-around second rate. Medium infantry are better. Footmen are even better, but expensive. Similarly, there are two types of cavalry. There are also archers (just one type, and very squishy), catapults, siege engines, and monks (healers, and very vulnerable in combat). Heroes vary wildly, but are fairly awesome in capabilities.
    Troops that don’t move can entrench, granting a defensive bonus, and there are terrain modifiers. Archers provide defensive support to adjacent units…again, this is all stuff right out of Panzer General’s playbook, and I don’t have a problem with stealing good ideas. One difference is the importance of which way the units are facing—attacking from behind is tough to get, but great when it happens.

    For some humor....-kommander_2-jpg

    "A typical battle...not much there"

    What kills it for me is the one sidedness of the fights. Your troops are sluggish. Your enemies, trolls and orcs and goblins and whatnot, are alarmingly fast, and constantly outflank your army, flinging themselves at your weak units no matter how you try to protect them, even if your counterattack is certain to destroy the bad guys. Yes, it’s easy enough to win, but every map is a “play first, get slaughtered while you see what random unfairness you’re up against, then load from a save to “play for real” situation.
    Combat is also wildly random. Units have between 20 and 120 hit points (also, most units have a self-heal ability, and trolls naturally regenerate), and damage varies from 1 to 80 or so, with a marked tendency towards “1” for units in a defensive position. So, an entrenched enemy in a city might hold out against twenty attacks…or be destroyed by three attacks. Since victory is determined by capturing key positions as quickly as possible, the only solution is to save and reload until you land a series of critical hits. Repeatedly.

    For some humor....-kommander_3-jpg

    "For all the nice artwork, the campaign is fairly linear"

    There really needs to be more to do than simply bash units against other units repeatedly here, and, ultimately, this is my main problem with the game. Battlefields are small (perhaps 10 by 10 hexes), and your army is around a dozen units. Granted, this keeps the battles from becoming trudging slugfests (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it also means there isn’t that much room for strategy. Your only option is to keep your army together (to protect those fragile units), and concentrate your attack at one victory point at a time. Toss in the “save and reload” strategy that seems essential to the game, and the play is just a little too repetitive, with too little payoff and too little variety, for my taste.
    Fantasy Kommander doesn’t have an A title price, but it’s also not an A title…if you’re looking for a turn based game where you can play out whole battles in a half hour, it serves well, but otherwise I just don’t see it as worth the price of admission.