Sunday, November 19, 2017

Two games finished in one day !

Today was somewhat unusual in that I finished campaigns in two separate games: Total Warhammer 2 Lizard men campaign and Vanquish single player campaign. Of course I had played the majority of bot games over the last few weeks and it is just coincidence that I managed to finish them on the same day.

The Lizard-man campaign (Kroq Gar to be exact) is perhaps my favourite Total War campaign of all those I have played. I just love the tough Lizard units and big stompy dinosaurs are awesome. The Vortex campaign is much more story line focused than previous Total War games which is an great direction for the series to go in. You race other factions to take control of the vortex through a series of rituals which spawn increasingly challenging waves of Chaos and Skaven armies. The race is a bit artificial because apparently even if one of the other factions beats you to the final ritual you get a second chance to stop them in a fairly easy final battle. I guess Creative Assembly had to include this  get out of jail card to frustrating players who spend dozens of hours on a campaign only to lose at the very last hurdle. I am happy to say I won the race fair and square although the Dark Elves of Naggaroth were only three turns behind and the High Elves of Lothern were right on their heels. Through out the race I made several attempts to slow my enemies down by sending intervention armies to stop their rituals but enone of the 10,000 gold intervention armies achieved anything before being wiped out. I can't help wondering if the intervention army mechanic is deliberately crippled to ensure the race stays tight.

I have a soft spot for scifi shooters and Vanquish fits the bill nicely. You play an augmented soldier with an array of weapons and some cool bullet time abilities tasked with stopping some evil Russians from blowing up NewYork with a big space ray gun. The movement and shooting are all fine but the game has horrible quick time events at key moments during boss fights.On several occasions I survived a challenging fire fight only to die instantly because I didn't mash button "E" fast enough. For this reason I got completely stuck on the final boss fight because of one QTE. Today I switched to game controller for that QTE and found I can mash "X" on game pad faster than I can mash "E" on keyboard. I finally completed the game but I still really hate QTEs.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Total War Dinosaurs

I have been playing a lot of Total War Warhammer 2 and I am really enjoying Kroq Gar's Lizardmen vortex campaign.

As seems to be the case with every Total War game it took me a few false starts to find a rhythm.  Initially I started a Skaven Campaign but made some early strategic mistakes. I expanded too rapidly leading to problems with money and food supply and I wasted even more money on intervention armies.  Bankrupt and running out of food I have put that campaign on hold. I still love Skaven game play:  swarming enemies with cheap disposable units while pelting them from afar with magic and powerful artillery is very satisfying as is the ability to spawn clan rats(menace from below) behind enemy lines. I was able to pull off several heroic victories against impossible odds using spawned spawned clan rats before food shortages made this tactic un-affordable. I will definitely come back to the Skaven but I may start a fresh campaign.

Second attempt was a High Elf campaign. This went more smoothly but I didn't warm to them. I guess the snooty Elves annoy me and I am not a big fan of their ranged play style. The High Elves actually have some excellent if expensive melee units but High Elf game play is summed up for me by the fact that even their most popular infantry unit (Lothern Seaguard) is good at archery as well as melee.  On the other hand I do like their special mechanic that allows them to influence diplomatic standings. You can use this to secure trade agreements and alliances on your own behalf but perhaps even more interestingly you can use this to interfere with the relationships between third parties. This is definitely something I want to explore further.

My High Elf campaign was put aside when the Mortal Empires expansion came out and I started a new campaign with Volkmar Grim of the Empire on the expanded map. I had no intention of playing him beyond the first dozen turns or so but I did want to experience the huge World of Mortal Empires (which combines the maps of TWW I and TWWW II).

Returning to the Vortex I started a new campaign with Kroq Gar and his Last Defenders (Lizardmen) and I am absolutely loving it. Saurus Warriors are fantastic melee infantry and they are complemented by massive dinosaurs smashing into enemy lines. Even the lowly Skinks can help out by harassing the enemy and adding to the general hurt. Lizards have strong magic options as well although I have yet to properly explore the Slan Mage capabilities.

Lizards do have ranged units but these have very short range and are designed more for harassment than for winning archery battles. I am not too sure about the point of Lizard Artillery units yet. These are big guns mounted on top of dinosaurs. In the first instance the guns have shorter range than competing artillery and in the second instance they are mounted on top of dinosaurs. You can generally do more damage charging the dino in to smash enemies around than standing off firing the gun. Lizards do have two nice aerial terradon units however one with javelins and one with bombs.  These can be sometimes be used take out enemy artillery and to otherwise compensate for the lizards general lack of range.

Lizardmen and dinosaurs  have a habit of losing self control and running amok but this has advantages as well as disadvantages. Careful micromanagement goes out the window if half your army is on the rampage but as long as they are in the middle of a bunch of enemies when it happens the it can be useful because rampage seems to hold off units from breaking.

Lizardmen's unique gameplay mechanic is called the Geomatic web which gives extra bonuses for fully owned provinces. It does give great bonuses at higher levels but I don't find it as interesting to play with  as the Skaven or High Elf special mechanics. Nevertheless Lizardmen and their massive dinosaurs are still a really fun faction to play.