Dwarfs!?

Having a Dwarf-obsessed friend means that a game with a title like this one gets instant attention!  That’s not to say it didn’t deserve it though..

Dwarfs!? is an arcade/strategy game which puts you in the role of Overseer of a Dwarf colony, aiming to make as much gold as possible.  To actually get the gold, you have diggers, who head off randomly in search of loot, but rather like lemmings often end up getting themselves killed in water, lava, or being attacked by various enemies!  For defense, you have warriors, which can be trained up at outposts and fired out of a cannon towards bosses!

I downloaded the demo several weeks ago, but then failed to even launch it, with so many other games to play, and an attention span like that of a goldfish.  However, the game appeared on Steam for just £2, so it ended up in the collection anyway 😉

The tutorial is voiced by one of the Yoggscast guys.. I wasn’t too keen on the rather forced “Dwarf” voice he was putting on, though I’m sure his fans love it, and it is good to see a boost for an indie developer too!  The developer is Power of Two.. a two-man team, assistend and published by Tripwire Interactive 🙂

Dealing with water or lava caves requires a sacrifice in the form of one of your diggers blowing himself up to create a hole.  Fortunately, your base produces more diggers as time goes on, so you don’t run out.. and trapping either cave provides you a bonus.

Enemies are fought off by your warriors, with bosses confronted via the awesome Dwarf Cannon, which fires warriors!

Once out of the tutorial, there are a few game modes to try out.. in Arcade, you simply aim to gather as much gold as possible in a set time limit.  The dungeon is randomly generated, so you just have to hope the diggers hit a treasure cave  before a water or lava cave.. and by the end of a 15 minute game there are so many diggers wandering around it’s hard to keep track of them all!

Other game modes include Tower Defense gameplay, Rush Mode, with crazy spawning of diggers, Dark Mode, in which you can only see the tunnels your dwarfs have made.. no guiding them towards loot, then, as well as a series of Challenges.. and Leaderboards to compare with friends.. or if I were a Dwarf, to measure my beard against 😉

 

Majesty 2

Paradox Interactive’s strategy Majesty 2 is another game I saw a long while back, via demo, and like many other games, I decided to wait till a price drop before picking it up.  The Steam Summer Camp Sale provided the price drop in the form of the Paradox Fantasy Pack, and there we have it..

In Majesty 2, you are the last heir to the throne, and the last hope of the Kingdom.  King Leonard, who held the throne previously, wanted to make a name for himself and so summoned a fearsome demon, the Baron of Hell.. who promptly defeated the King and took the throne for himself.. 😉

Your first task is to learn how to play, aided by a narrator who sounds like a rather dodgy Sean Connery, and some very easy tasks.

Starting with just the castle, you create your town by picking buildings for your peasants to get to work on, starting with the marketplace, a tower or two for defense, and Hero Guilds, such as the Warrior’s Guild.

All you have to do is place the building where you want it, and the peasants do the rest..

Once you have completed a Heroes Guild you can then hire heroes, who you can then get to do your bidding via the setting of explore, attack and defend flags.  Well.. if you offer a reward, that is..

During the tutorial, my explorers seemed to wander the map freely, but after that they needed enticing with some reward money on the flags.  An easy task, such as exploring just into the fog of war, or defending a nearby building, seemed to only need 100 gold to attract interest from a hero, while missions further afield needed a larger reward to get any interest.

More difficult tasks require more heroes to take part, and also then need a larger reward.
I failed to get enough heroes to defend the trade caravan on my first attempt at the Engine of Commerce quest, as it started off further from town and had plenty of attackers on the way.

The game has an interesting economy.. spending more gold on rewards for tasks you want completed turns out to be a good thing.  Your heroes purchase goods and equipment from your Marketplace and Blacksmith with their reward money, and are therefore more effective on the next mission.. and the money then returns to your coffers via taxes!

Taxes are levied on every building; so as your town grows, your income grows too.  Caravans, which set off from Trading Posts, also bring you more gold, although they need to be protected on their journey as they attract attackers.

The tutorial continues through the first few missions, adding a few more building types and introducing more concepts.. there’s also a multiplayer mode, though as my usual gaming buddies don’t have this game, I might be leaving it alone for now.. till I think I can beat random opponents, anyway 😉

 

HOARD

A friend bought us all HOARD this weekend, as a 4-pack on Steam.  Yay! 🙂

HOARD is a mix of action and strategy, developed by indie team Big Sandwich Games, where each player takes on the role of a dragon in a table-top style medieval kingdom with farms, towns, princesses and knights..

Every dragon needs treasure, and this is obtained through burning down farms or towns, intercepting wagons full of tithes, and capturing and ransoming princesses.

The game has a co-op mode, which allows friends to work together to gather as much treasure as possible in one shared hoard, but you can also play competitively.. this can mean racing them to the treasure, or actively trying to get in their way or kill them!  Killing another dragon forces them to drop their treasure and flee straight back to their hoard, where they are unable to move while they regenerate health.. a great opportunity to steal the dropped treasure 😉

At the beginning of each game, your dragon only has weak abilities, but as you gather more treasure you are able to spend points and upgrade your dragon’s speed, fire-breathing capability, carrying capacity and damage resistance.  I prefer to improve the speed of my dragon, as well as fire-breathing, but I think this could change depending on the map and game mode.

Upgrades cost more at each level, so you need to gather more and more gold to keep upgrading.  The kingdom also improves over time, with towns becoming larger and producing archers, who will fire on you.  If you do enough damage to a town you can scare them enough that they ‘belong’ to you, and send you tithes.. a nice way of gathering money automatically 🙂

During a competitive game, you will need to keep an eye on ‘your’ towns, as other dragons will want to take them over.. either by damaging the town enough to turn its loyalty to them, or by destroying the town centre and resetting the town’s loyalty.  Giants also appear in the kingdom.. they will attack towns they come across unless suitably distracted.. say with some fiery breath.. 😉

There are also small towers around the map, which spawn knights.  The knights will attack you if you pass by, and if you capture a princess, all the knights in the vicinity will come to try and rescue her!  I found the knights were best avoided until you had levelled up a little, as they are rather strong and can kill you easily if you stray too close.  As the kingdom grows, the towers become keeps, with more knights being spawned.. increasing the danger but also the reward, as the ransom value goes up with the level of the keep!

Another danger comes from the mage towers, which fire bolts at nearby dragons: destroying one of these reveals a large gem which is worth a lot of gold, but slows the dragon and makes you vulnerable to attack while carrying it.  I found the upgraded towers harder to destroy, as one mistake in avoiding the bolts means death.. and as the bolts can travel a long way, I sometimes got killed by a bolt set off by another dragon!

On all the maps, there are a variety of power-ups, which appear at regular intervals.  These can give you stronger firebreath, icy breath, or allow you to shoot fireballs.. another increases your speed, while the last is maybe a little evil, allowing a player to steal from another dragon’s hoard.. aside from the obvious exchange of gold, this has the added advantage of resetting the victim’s score multiplier!

As well as the Treasure game modes, there is “Princess Rush”, where you need to capture the most princesses to win, and a survival mode, which I’ve not tried yet.