Fantasy General (1996)
Platform Played: PC
Price: $5.99/ 1.49 on GOG.com
Developer: Strategic Simulations
[MINIMAL SPOILERS, SOME IMAGES COURTESY OF GOG.COM]
Background: It has been a long time since I’ve played a ‘war game’ per se. But, I wanted something different. No thank you, Arma and Operation Flashpoint. No, not now Call of Duty, and your superb sequel before your focus from history changed to multiplayer deathmatchs where noobs are the lowest caste. It was time for something different and better. GOG.com had a lovely summer sale. This is what I found.
I had never heard of this game ever. Frankly, I’m glad I had not as it allowed me to begin playing with no preconceived notions about it. Fantasy General was developed by Strategic Simulations, and GOG.com recently began distributing this game. It runs on my Windows 10 laptop quite well via DosBox, and I am so glad I made this purchase for less than two dollars thanks to the summer sale. GOG.com rocks, I just wish they had a client that allowed for easier screen shots like Steam. That’s an aside though. This game was surprisingly easy to learn and had a neat feel that reminded me of The Banner Saga.
Accessibility: The one prejudice I had towards this game in the beginning is that it is from a genre I typically avoid. I am not fond of games like these as they are known for having steep learning curves. My time is precious. I’m busy learning new things in the real world every day. I have little time to learn complex games: electronic or pen and paper. Settlers of Catan is a fine example of this. Why is that game so popular anyway? (Excuse the aside). Rather than taking the player through a long stream of tutorials, the scenarios gradually start easy and then ramp up in difficulty. Similar to The Banner Saga, in that regard. While it is accessible it is still a hard game.
Gameplay: Your resources are always scarce. To paraphrase the story you are a field commander of a rebel force fighting against a dark lord and his Orcish puppet. You can upgrade your forces, research new units, recruit locals, and sometimes locals will rally to your banners just by appearing on their hex. This keeps things interesting. Victories are gratifying in this game. It is one of the hardest, if not the hardest game I’ve reviewed on this site yet. Defeats are not pleasant at all obviously, and this is where one of the only flaws in the game comes to light.
Flaw: When you have essentially broken the enemy forces and seized almost all of the town hexes on the map, and one remains, you still must take this last ‘town’ or objective. When the enemy is scattered, and you have essentially laid siege to this last objective and the enemy is cut off, it would be more practical to declare the player the victor. Alas, this is one of the conditions of victory for the game.
Final Analysis: I am enjoying my time playing this old classic. I highly recommend buying it before the sale is up. I am also going to track down the old Panzer General games as well. What are you waiting for get yourself to GOG.com and buy this today.