My forces on the battlefield are divided in half… They have been since we arrived at this cursed swamp. Some of the troops are grumbling about my past decisions as their general. Just by my mere presence, their performance is negatively affected. You can’t please everybody, I guess…
One army group is to the east, mucking through the sludge trying to chase off lizardmen. The other group, my group, is more north-northwest and were trying to skirt around a spider-infested part of the area only to come face to face with a mob of undead Legion troops. So, there’s that…
I’ve got a single group of recon infantry hidden in a line of trees heading for a site of ancient ruins, with the hope of finding sweet loot for our coffers. That loot will be needed to replenish my troll boulder throwers so they can make a last-ditch, long distant effort in knocking down the morale of a pack of lizardmen skirmishers which, in theory, will chase them off the backs of my surrounded thane and his younglings. All of this, of course, depends on exactly what the recon troops find in the ruins. If it’s anything other than gold… Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there…
My troops are exhausted. I’m down to a single unit of berserkers. My mounted lancer units are completely ineffective here. The pressure to appeal to my peoples’ ethos is mounting. I occasionally hear a menacing roar coming from the general direction we aim to go. Lizardmen are fighting with Empire troops. Empire troops are fighting with each other. This swamp smells terrible. So do my charging trolls. And I am positive I’ve caught glimpse of ghosts breezing through the trees to the west…
…And this whole time I’m thinking to myself: Would it have been a better decision to head through the mountains instead of the swamps to get to the rival lands of the Legion?
This is but a single glimpse into the quagmire that Fantasy General II: Invasion will put you. A glimpse into the turn-based, tactical and narrative land of Keldonia, where leadership is the only force that enables change… and disaster.
Fantasy General II: Invasion is the story of Falirson, son of Falir, of the barbarian lands of Fareach, upon whom the mantle of leadership has recently fallen. The other clans of the north meddle and squabble. All the while, the might and splendor of the Western Imperial Legion exerts its influence, fueled by sinister powers, of which little is known. It is upon the shoulders of Falirson to deal with the fellow barbaric clans and to face off against the western Empire.
The story isn’t necessarily a revolutionary one. But what is important is how FG2 incorporates its elements into how the game is played.
And almost immediately, Falirson is beset with narrative decision making. Decisions that only a person of influence and stature can make. Decisions that inform as well as question the makeup of the world. Decisions that steer the course of the barbarian campaign. Decisions that have an emotional impact on the troops of your army and therefore of their performance on the battlefield. Decision making is at the core of FG2, both on the battlefield and off. The dialog, through which decisions are presented, is detailed but not wordy. It doesn’t get in the way of itself. The leadership decision making in FG2 is an engaging element that encourages multiple playthroughs.
The FG2 campaign consists of scenarios – many, many scenarios – each occurring at a specific point on the map with their own primary and secondary objectives. These locations have their own geological layout and indiginous life. They are also sprinkled with ancient ruins, neutral camp sites, abandoned villages, and other justifications for exploration – All of which tell a story and are prime for looting. The scenario battlefields are rather large, often facilitating simultaneous engagements. Turn by turn and hex by hex, your troops advance, the fog of war is lifted (or closes up behind you), and your leadership capabilities are emboldened as your purpose as a barbarian High King of Fareach become more clear.
Scenarios are more than just its objectives, more than ‘clear the area of bad guys’. The scenarios are episodic and alive! They adroitly utilize the large playfield of each location.
Standing alongside Falirson is his sister Ailsa the Blind, and other heroes that join as your invasion progresses. Heroes are named, mid-tier characters with personalities and, like Falirson and Ailsa, their own skill trees. Heroes often present additional decision-making dialogs within scenarios for Falirson to consider. They too add vitality to scenarios.
Ranking below heroes are your troops. Each troop type starts as a standard unit. Their stats increase as they level up. Standard units can be upgraded to different, more powerful unit types by means of spending resources that have been looted. Units and heroes can equip special items that are randomly dropped, sharpening your force’s edge all the more. Be mindful of permadeath, though. Don’t ignorantly charge into the fog. You need stout warriors for each scenario, not green baby-faced replacements.
Good guys and bad guys come in units of various count and levels of morale. The more that morale drops the more damage that is taken. The more damage that is taken, the quicker the unit shrivels. Likewise, adjacent units will also be negatively affected by the slaughter of their kinsmen and may retreat out of pure horror. But also consider that damage begets damage. Every strike comes with a price and a morale drop of your own units from their own attack may not always be worth it. It is another cog of a wonderful and fluid combat system that makes each engagement worthwhile.
Army composition and load out is, of course, a critical consideration when endeavoring on a new scenario because, as you progress in the story, the enemies don’t necessarily get harder – their numbers aren’t higher than, say, three scenarios ago; The situations get harder. The environment changes and your enemies, typically indigenous to the area, use this to their advantage. They have the home-field advantage. They ALWAYS have the advantage — I suppose that’s the cost of being a barbaric invasive force. How well you do depends on your ability to read the layout of the land and anticipate where indigenous baddies will be.
And this is the very reason why I believe Fantasy General 2: Invasion has not only tremendous staying power, but the potential of a fulfilling future. So much of the gameplay is dictated by the world itself. Not just lay of the land but also its inhabitants. And how your leadership decision making colors how individual campaigns unfold. Trial and error in FG2 are fueled by curiosity, not perfect, deathless performance.
With a solid, fun combat system under the hood, a decision-making matrix at the reins, and a gorgeous dynamic world to adventure through, there is room for growth in FG2. Now that the Falirson’s story has been told, what adventures and conquests can we see from other clans of the north? Perhaps even a new land can introduce the Empire’s side of the story! The possibilities are many.