Have You Played… The Guild 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The Guild 2 does one of the best things a game can do – it takes a genre not usually associated with roleplaying and slaps a life simulation on top of it. I might be the kind of nerd who’d happily play a 15th century economic strategy game even if it were made of spreadsheets and history lessons, but throw in a spot of family management and everything becomes more immediate and personal.

Looking back, The Guild 2 feels like a tiny version of Crusader Kings. Rather than attempting to navigate the treacherous waters of faith and fidelity on a grand strategy scale, you’re attempting to carve out a name for yourself and your family as local masters of business. Instead of plotting to have your bastard son locked in a tower and poking out your brother’s eyes, you’ll be following the exchange rates of a real-time economic simulation and attempting to put your rivals out of business. It might not sound thrilling but something about the presence of characters in the game world makes the dry trade management seem like a backdrop to a story about a family rather than a coffer-balancing simulation.

It’s not a great game but it’s one of those games that I always hope will spawn a great sequel. Time will tell.

28 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Played quite a bit of the first one as a lowly innkeep whose beer and booze became the foundations of an dynastic economic empire.

    Tried the second one a few times, but the amount of bugs kept shutting me down. That was before the expansion packs and fan patches though.

  2. Dev says:

    I love the original game (1400: The Guild) and played it to bits, spent hours playing all 8 generations of the family I created first starting of as something nefarious like a thief and then kidnapping my way to a villa so I didn’t have to pay those damn inheritance taxes.

    It’s a shame the sequels didn’t quite live up to the “fun” factor as the original in my opinion. Also the later Gold Edition ruined everything with the estates / castles, other professions like the Tailor and whatnot.

    It’s a shame that the successor company, which I think is Runeforge Games, seems to be all but dead. I’d pay good money for a proper sequel.

  3. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Yes, and I was incredibly disappointed. I even wrote a scathing review on Steam, which I never do, because I felt that Nordic had completely misrepresented the game on their store page. They made a game that played like a mobile app and tried to advertise it like the next CK2.

    • HopeHubris says:

      How exactly did they market it as the next CK2? It came out well before CK2 even existed

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        …like the next CK2.”

        Where did I say they marketed it as the next CK2?

        • Mr Coot says:

          Avaunt, Sophist! Your failure to check game publishing dates has been exposed and you cling to feeble semantics. When one says: “They made a game that played like a mobile app and tried to advertise it like the next CK2”, specifically “tried to advertise it like the next CK2”, this implies that CK2 already exists… or how could an item be advertised like the ‘next’ one?

          To the matter at hand, I bought ’em all cheap on Steam but can’t get into them I’m afraid. Will give it another go at some stage.

          • TheAngriestHobo says:

            I hear you. Rhetoric and similes are just make-believe concepts, like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos. Every reasonable person knows that everything anyone says ever is to be interpreted literally or not at all.

    • noodlecake says:

      Like a mobile app? There is so much to manage in The Guild 2, and so many little systems that it’s about as far from a mobile app as is humanly possible.:S

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        To be honest, I played it so long ago that I can’t recall exactly what systems made me feel that way. I think it partly had to do with the ridiculous amounts of boring micromanagement designed to make delivering a wagon full of turnips feel like an epic accomplishment.

        Having tons of systems to manage does not necessarily make for a great game – especially when any of those systems, taken individually, is pretty shallow.

        • noodlecake says:

          Most systems in most strategy games taken individually are shallow. It’s how the work together that makes them fun.

          In the case of something like Saints Row I would agree with you. Lots of very shallow systems that don’t work very well but people think the game is good because there is SO many of them.

          The Guild 2 is hard work though. Trading is far more effort than it should be! It’s not a particularly well designed game, but it is kind of interesting to play around with just because of all the unique ideas in there that make it play so differently to other strategy games

    • backfirejr says:

      Just a correction: Nordic had nothing to do with the previous games. That was JoWooD Productions. Nordic bought the rights to the series after JoWooD went bankrupt.

      • noodlecake says:

        Oh really? That’s good news. JoWood were pretty notorious for making a mess of projects. Maybe this upcoming third game will be a vast improvement.

  4. Conrad B Hart says:

    I played a lot of the original The Guild! It’s pretty wonky in places but thoroughly charming – I think it nailed the balancing act between economics and your dynasty really well. You’d be struggling to make your perfume business succeed, while at the same time trying to forge alliances and get the head of your family elected as jailer or taxmaster so you could make things hard on your competitors. And at the exact moment success seemed right around the corner he’d suddenly croak and you’d be stuck with his idiot son.

    Somehow I didn’t play much of the successor. Can’t remember if it was because I had more spare time back in the day or if I bounced off it, but I feel like the genre is underserved because I loved the concept of up-close-and-personal medieval capitalism, cronyism and backstabbery. CK2 is a bit too big picture for me.

  5. bloodystump says:

    Look what popped up on Steam over the weekend!

    link to store.steampowered.com

    • Cocoarico says:

      Wow, perfect timing. Now I am excited, I loved number two even though it seems I’m in the minority. As long as they don’t try to “modernize” the formula too much it should be awesome.

      • Hawkseraph says:

        Ha, I’m in the exact same boat :)
        I also checked out the (at this point still quite sparse) reporting on the successor and am mildy optimistic.

      • Fiatil says:

        I think 2 is awesome as well! Managing your family and building a small crafting empire is pretty great once everything starts to click. Here’s hoping they can actually get multiplayer working in this one; The Guild without constant desync issues would be great.

  6. Sin Vega says:

    Had a soft spot for these games for a while now, but yeah, they really need a tuned up sequel to work properly. They’re just a little too buggy, awkward and opaque to wholeheartedly recommend.

  7. noodlecake says:

    It has a LOT wrong with it, but it is so different from everything else, and attempts some very neat ideas. The amount of micromanagement required is absurd though. Definitely a game I only have the patience for after copious amounts of marijuana which is also true of Crusader Kings 2. Those games suit lying on your side listening to music with a spliff in one hand while you waste your life away for days. What a waste of my life that period was. :P

  8. golem09 says:

    The first one, The Guild, IS my youth. Played it so much with a friend, we keep on joking to this day, that maybe with the next generation of computers and network routerts we’ll finally be able to finish a LAN game without sync errors. Sadly Guild 2 is MUCH worse in that regard, basically impossible to play in LAN more than a short while. I also don’t like some of the design decisions they made, and all the bugs that were never fixed, even with the community stuff and all expansions.
    And sadly I’m not interested in the game without LAN.

    But yeah, a Guild III kickstarter is pretty much inevitable, after all my video game dream projects just keep appearning one after another.

    • golem09 says:

      OMG GUILD III HAS ACTUALLY BEEN ANNOUNCED IN AUGUST.

      I have been waiting for so long…

      • Hawkseraph says:

        Ha, I’m in the exact same boat :)
        I also checked out the (at this point still quite sparse) reporting on the successor and am mildy optimistic.

  9. Jakkar says:

    I have, and was just playing it before finding this article… The current owners have fixed it! THEY’VE FIXED! IT! D:

    I mean, it’s still The Guild II, but… My word, it doesn’t immediately crash, and people’s faces are merely repulsive rather than yawning into joyous screams as their cranial mesh attempts to merge, at range, with the nearest church steeple.

    This is a bizarre and highly enjoyable sim/management toy, like The Sims with business management, firebombing, the production of herbal teas, and murder.

    Play it, and yes, there’s a sequel in the works =)

    Should be about £2.20 for the next.. five minutes. Oh dear.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      The bugs as well? even the ones related to the market?

      If so, I’m giving it another go. I loved the original, and I would have loved this game as well if I hadn’t encountered so many bugs. Not just glitches, I can live with things like that, but things like primary resources simply not spawning on the market at all. I was sad to give it up, but it became too frustrating. But thanks to your post (and this article), I think I’m gonna fire it up again and see how well it works now.

      Thanks!

  10. Defectivehead says:

    Me and the wife both played a huge amount of the first one, but Guild 2 never clicked with either of us.

    I never minded my family head dying because I got to hear this:

    The door opens with a creak.
    You have seen much in your life, and now you see your final resting place.
    The flowers are exquisite – You are dead.

  11. hurleyinoz says:

    There is a Guild 3 listed on Steam for release in 2016!

  12. Fellhuhn says:

    My style of play was:

    Hire thugs, capture mine. Sell mine. Capture same mine again (within seconds because it is still damaged). Sell mine. Rince and repeat.

    Once you get accused of crimes bribe or kill the judge.

    Game won. ;)

  13. explodeydendron says:

    The Guild 2 is one of those brilliant games that lends itself to writing a narrative. I forget my stories now, but I remember when a woman whose life I was sabotaging brought my family a pie as a gift. In context it was delightfully unexpected and I had fun interpreting the story.