Strategic Scoundrels: Blackguards 2

I didn’t get along with Blackguards, Daedalic’s Dark Eye universe strategy RPG. On paper, it sounded like it might be a cup of tea that was almost entirely up my street but I found the early battles a slog. Too often, I’d see my party smashed to bits and have to replay until I found the ‘correct’ method for a particular fight.

Despite that, I’ve been mildly interested in the sequel, partly because there’s a dearth of these kind of tactical combat RPGs on the PC, and partly because Blackguards felt like it might be a couple of steps from greatness. Or at least goodness. I haven’t paid sufficient attention to post any videos before now, which makes this a perfect place to plant both of the ‘New Features’ videos that have been released.

The big change is a strategic map and dynamic campaigning rather than the linear plod of the original. Slavers are attacking settlements and you’ll use heroes and mercenaries to fight back, reclaiming territory and defending areas that you’ve claimed. Maps can switch control several times during a campaign, which should go some way toward eliminating the irritation of repeated failure. Anything that opens the game up a little and allows me to experiment with characters, skills and equipment is a good thing. The original felt like it had given me an enormous banquet and then passed me a teaspoon to eat it with.

The strategic map might be the carving knife I needed all along.

The way I see it, I’ll be liberating settlements from slavers and then dropping mantraps onto every available piece of floorspace to stave off raiding parties. What could possibly go wrong?

10 Comments

  1. Shiloh says:

    Have you ever played Expeditions: Conquistador, Adam? I only ask because the gameplay looks similar. Personally I really enjoyed it, despite some late game sameness – I found I got really involved in the situations and the characters..

    Definitely worth your time if you haven’t played it.

    EDIT: I see you already did a WIT on it – and weren’t overly impressed. Never mind, YMMV etc.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Blackguards plays a lot like Return to Krondor (a lukewarm sequel to the much loved Betrayal at Krondor). I’m not seeing an obvious comparison to Expeditions: Conquistador outside of turn-based combat.

      Sure love me some Ex-Con!

  2. bfandreas says:

    I personally don’t get it why the first Blackguards was so lukewarmly received. I have played it through twice.

    Let’s not forget that the first two The Dark Eye games worked in exactly the same way. Plus 3D dungeon crawling. Blackguards did away with that but the combat(which also was the main beef in the older titles) was nice. I liked it a lot.

    In fact I had watched TB WTF Is, saw him not being too impressed and immediately snatched it up based on what I saw. Same goes for the Shadow Run game. Is it possible that the craving for tactical old-school combat is weak in the young’uns?

    • Wowbagger says:

      Not sure if it’s the barrier to entry? I didn’t get past the first hour or so because I found it a bit bland and tiresome to be honest.

      • Morlock says:

        It’s a strange game in the era of Dragon Age and The Witcher on one hand and XCOM on the other. The game does not want to be deep, it doesn’t want to be “epic” and does not want to be taken seriously. It just wants you to have a good time for a battle or two. Some scenarios are underwhelming, but I overall have a good time with it. I am really enjoying the (relative) innocence and naivety of it all.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      They manage to keep the battles interesting (some of those arena ones are diabolical). I really struggled with the difficulty though, and it’s possible to screw yourself in the abilities/spells you choose to level up.

    • Tomhai says:

      I’m on Adams boat here that it looked great on paper. Just what the doctor ordered me. But when I tried it could not get into it. Two things for me. First: the presentation – colours, visuals ,UI. Everything was kinda bland and unattractive. Second: character based initiative. I’ve ranted about it before but seems people like it. For me it has ruined several recent tactical TBS-s. It’s not that I hate it per se. Love it in HOMM/Eador and pen and paper RPG-s but not in tactical TBS-s.

      Still hope the game succeeds cos then there will probably more games like this and I’m bound to like some.

  3. Hex says:

    Ugh. This whole “take cities and then have to defend them from re-takes” thing is something I’ve been wanting to see explored.

    The closest I’ve seen to it in the past was…crap, what was it? WH40K: Dawn of War — I think it was after some later expansion, which introduced a sort of dynamic strategic campaign. Whenever an assault was made on a region the player had previously conquered, the base he’d built would remain, so you could immediately start popping out top tier units in any area where your base and research had been completed.

    I loved it.

    I would love to see more explorations of a similar concept.

  4. cthulhie says:

    Apologies for the sort of parallel topic rather than direct response, but has anybody noticed that tablets have gotten some pretty decent TBT recently? (I have android, but I’m sure apple has more.) I haven’t played too many of them, but I think it’s interesting that, for example, XCOM saw a tablet release. And for whatever reason I found it easier to play through Shadowrun while I was out and about or in bed falling asleep than during my designated evening entertainment times. I like but am surprised that what’s often perceived as a “hardcore” genre has found footing on tablets.

    Thinking of it because of the “dearth of this kind of title on PC” comment. *runs and hides after posting about tablet gaming*