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Mount&Blade: Warband – The Verdict

Mount&Blade: Warband – The Verdict

An interview by the universe

You’re late.

I know.

It’s been fucking five months.

Yeah, I noticed.

So – what the hell?

I was busy. Er. Playing Spelunky? You should play Spelunky.

Did you even get round to playing Warband?

Of course!

What prompted you to finish it now?

It’s on sale on Steam, and you should buy it. You still have time!

Oh. So now that you’ve had lots of time to think about it, maybe you can at least tell us what it is first?

It’s an RPG about horses and hats, largely. And swords and arrows and ladies and mercenaries and honey and villages and kingdoms. Or khanates, if you are so inclined. Despite what I said about hats last time, here they’re a reasonable addition to the game, as they’re mainly made out of metal.

Ladies? There weren’t any ladies in the original game besides the useless wives of the lords.

It’s not just the original game with added multiplayer. They’ve redone almost everything to some extent, not to mention all the additions. They’ve gone to lengths such as redefining how much happiness a jar of butter inspires in your soldiers. If you’re used to the vanilla M&B, the changes in the most minute details will strike you at times. It’s not often you see how difficult it is to balance a single-player game.

This might be a good time to remind you that there’s absolutely no point in buying the vanilla version of the game. There’s not one area where the original is better. Everything feels like a better thought-out game and they’re also heavily supporting the game. New, large patches are sent out every few weeks, even though the game is quite old. And unlike with The Creative Assembly, the patches don’t meant that the underlying product is broken.

I want ladies, not game balancing.

But yeah, ladies. It’s perhaps one of the most prominent, if also one of the least useful additions. Wives can serve as a secretary of state of sorts, but that appears to be it. Strictly no sex. Hilariously, when I married my in-game wife, her relationship to me got a severe hit and stayed at -14 until the end of the game. I’m actually rather happy that they didn’t give women a more strategic part in the game, as you generally don’t want those kinds of distractions in M&B.

Then again, you can now play the game as a female character, and it’s more than a cosmetic change. The game warns you that it’s actually a (mildly) sexist bastard and will treat you differently if you choose against beards.

Ladies are more boring than I hoped. Any war stories instead?

How convenient that you’d ask that. Let me walk you through a short period of one of my kingdoms.

Only three nations remain. The Khanate does not count as they hold no cities and most lords have been captured. The Rhodoks, despite their majestic spears (pervert), pose a minor threat with three cities close together and no easy access to my territory. The Sarranids are a different matter as i have never actually fought them for long. Can they keep up with our war machine? How will their mamlukes fare against our knights? Do they have any considerable super units that i don’t know about?

A far-away land until recently, both our and their conquests have now bound the borders of our nations. Minor skirmishes by bored lords over looted villages and attacked caravans have been raising the tension for a while. Open war is near. It’s just a matter of who mans up first.

The Sarranids invade. I lose three cities on the first day of the war. Fortunately I’m a sore loser and end the game, so I don’t get to see how I’m utterly murdered, probably to death.

Your kingdom?

Mine, yeah. Gone are the days of simple rebellions and the other kingdoms take upstarts relatively seriously now. It’s as you’d expect of course, with huge territories being increasingly difficult to maintain and control. In the end, I was losing as many castles to treason and my knights deserting me as to direct enemy action. Unfortunately, the mood of your knights and lords has more to do with your interpersonal relationships than the success of your kingdom. There’s also an annoying see-saw effect: if you get along well with one of your lords – say you give him a village – your relationship with the rest of your subjects will suffer.

So I found myself in an idiotic position where I didn’t want to designate rulers for my lands as my relationships would suffer too much. Besides pillaging, lands are the best source of income, so I was struggling to raise anything but very basic armies.

Fortunately that brings me back to the good parts of the game, as they’ve actually greatly streamlined the way you actually gather money from your lands. It was really satisfying to see that it’s now automatic, so you don’t have to travel from one side of the map to the other to get money from a few poor villagers. Mount & Blade: Warband officially features automatic horrors of feudalism!

Actual war stories, as opposed to this strategy nonsense? I want to kill men with sharp objects.

As I’m sure you will. While the battles have improved, they’re still somewhat basic and get repetitive after some time. But not more than other in most other action games! I really think they’re excellent, but could be much better. As of this iteration, they don’t make for wonderful war stories. You tend to try to single out enemies, kill them during short dogfights and then turn to the next. The fighting mechanics are still really fucking good and that’s what the game originally shot to fame with. It just puts any other medieval/fantasy game to shame. I’ve been playing Oblivion lately and it’s just completely pathetic in this regard.

Right. And that extends to Multiplayer?

Yes, it’s got multiplayer.

Yeah, but, you know, talk about it. This is supposed to be a comprehensive review.

Nay. I specifically decided not to talk about it at all besides saying that in my opinion, it’s different and excellent. If you want the details, go read other blogs or reviews. It’s all the web is talking about.
I’m a terrible salesperson. CAN YOU SEE? Telling people to go read other resources online. Sorry Chris.
I’m also out of ideas on how to end the revi

Boredom Mounting, Blades Dulling: The Eagle and the Radiant Cross

Boredom Mounting, Blades Dulling: The Eagle and the Radiant Cross

The bear is gone, to be replaced by an extremely dashing moustache combo.

The story is same, it’s just the costumes which are different. Still the son of the Steppe
Nomad. Still the Blacksmith. Still the generic force with which I’m thrust out of my home.
Still the same snowy wastela… wait, what’s this? Was my biography adhered to, my
Steppe lineage placing me in the middle of the Steppes? Of course, this presents a
quandary; in the Renaissance period I’m supposed to live in, the Steppes are without the
new technology. Hmm.. this could be interesting.

I roam. I harvest the villages of their precious volunteers, and I slay bandits. So far, so
same. This time I’m using my bow a good deal more, and it is a good deal more satisfying,
and, unfortunately, tricky. I’m sure I’ll get it with time. The Steppes give me reason to
pillage and burn, and soon my coffers swell with the ill gotten gains of my labour. I stick
to the outskirts of the friendly armies, making sure I don’t get attacked. I’m such a rotten
bastard.

Light makes taking pictures easy.

It’s ok, though, because I don’t have to deal with my companions constantly bitching behind
my back, because I’ve only got the one. Behustruh, a Steppe warrior like myself, came to me
with little more than the clothes on his back. Ignore that, he came to me with nothing but the
clothes on his back. I gave him a horse, a bow, and enough arrows to send my enemies to
whatever religious underworld my current nationality believes in. I continue my cycle of looting
villages, selling their wares, and finding a new village. There are enough that by the time I’ve
exhausted the last, the first has recuperated. My army grows strong, and stays full, so I decide
to get a little more bold.

The King (or whatever the equivalent of the Steppe people’s is) has laid siege to a nearby castle.
They’ve got a bloody siege tower. This could be most entertaining. I move in, helping
him out, and our archers display such skill that there are no defenders by the time we reach the
walls. Easiest siege I’ve ever had the good fortune to take part in. I would rather like one of those
fire sticks that the soldiers of the Lion Throne have, however.

The next battle is in the open plains. Our ruler against their’s. We have more men, but they are
better equipped. We move in, our horse archers circling their tight formation of armoured pike
men. A few fall, but not enough. I move in to slaughter them with my blade, and my horse crumples
beneath me, a pike through it’s heart. This could be troublesome. Turning, I flee to away from the
fight, eventually finding a horse without a master. With my renewed help, we win the battle and the
Grand Marshal presents me with a trophy. They call it an ‘Elephant Gun’, he tells me.

The Obligitary Battle Shot

Whatever magic the magicians of the Lion Throne possess, it is a strong one, and the Elephant Gun
shows itself to be a hellishly effective tool. An armoured knight is killed in one blow by the mammoth
cartridges, but it takes me far too long to reload. I switch back to my bow for a while, preferring
the speed with which I can send my feathered death at the enemy.

Audacity overcomes me, and I attack a caravan in the mountains. The terrain renders my cavalry
useless, and the light in our eyes makes our arrows fly wide. We are overcome, and my army is
slowly defeated. I alone remain, standing at the top of a bluff, the Gun in my hands, picking off the
enemy as they slowly advance. Boom! One crumples. A hasty reload. Boom! Another falls down. Too
many remain. I draw my sword, charge, and am ended.

It has been repeated. The tired cycle of build an army, fight battles and eventually be defeated,
only to repeat the whole thing has not ended. Perhaps that’s not what I am looking for, an end to
all that, but it would seem the obvious answer. My quest shall continue, and I shall find my
entertainment elsewhere. Guns and frills do not become me.

I managed to catch that arrow in a display of lightning quick reactions.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Boredom Mounting, Blades Dulling is a feature where I’m going through the mods for Mount & Blade,
an indie action RPG that features a very diverse battle engine. The first in the series is here.
You can get the game on Steam here or buy it directly here. You can also read up on it here.

The Eagle and the Radiant Cross is a mod for Mount & Blade that places the original game world
several hundred years forward in time, equipping many of the armies with guns after the advent
of gunpowder. As you have read, I started in the Mongol area, which meant no guns for me. I
may as well really had been playing the game as it was intended, but having enemies who were
far more advanced did present an interesting challenge. In the end it was perhaps a little too
difficult to overcome terrain when my entire army was cavalry based.

I did like the mod though, and if you have the game it would be well worth getting, as it’s perhaps
the most extensive mod the game has produced. It features entirely new units, many new weapons
and armour, and, of course, guns, which make some of the battles a little one-sided. You can
download it here, and read up on it here.

Boredom Mounting, Blades Dulling: Native

Boredom Mounting, Blades Dulling: Native

So rugged, so manly. Yes, you are inferior.

My father was a Steppe nomad. He dropped me off at the nearest town when I was of
working age, and I toiled as a smith for many years. Got my own smithy, lost it all in some
horrific event that is generic as they come. Headed off on my own, with not much more
than a big axe and a horse. It was time to vent a little frustration, chop off a few heads,
step on a few provincial pinkies. I was a mercenary captain, and by God, I’d be a bastard
about it. First things first though; I had to get a reputation, and I had to get some men.
So off I trotted to the nearest village, a fist full of coins and a head full of steamy ire.

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