The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 6th

RPS-calendar-6th

Winter is not coming. Winter has come. It’s here, it’s cold and it shows no signs of letting up. Perhaps the contents of door number six will warm us..

It’s Northgard!

Matt: I haven’t played an RTS since Starcraft, so Northgard was a great reminder that not every game in the genre has to be about constant micro and maximising your actions-per-second. Northgard is a much more sedate game, where you can’t even attack your opponents until you’ve sent a scout to map out their territory.

You have enough to worry about without antagonising the other factions, anyway. Wolves and Draugr present a constant threat if you don’t commit to wiping them out, but focusing too much on your military can result in your people starving and freezing when winter comes. On top of the harsh food and firewood penalties, every winter also brings a calamity like an earthquake or a rat plague, which will wipe out your food stores and spread sickness amongst your clan. They’re a nightmare to deal with, but boot up the multiplayer and It’s all worth it to hear the panicked screams of your friends.

Brendan: God, I love competence. Northgard is a viking strategy that simply knows what it is doing. It is competent. If that sounds like faint praise, it shouldn’t. This land-grabber is merciful to dabblers and those new to the RTS, while also being faithful to the genre that Company of Heroes so excellently reformed. You nab bits of a randomly-generated island, each plot having its own benefits. Maybe there’s some fertile land there to grow a farm. Maybe it has a stone circle you want to examine. Maybe you just need it for longhouse real estate.

Whatever the case, you expand to expand. But conquering isn’t a simple matter of rolling over everything with troops. Victory can be achieved through military might, but because of the low population cap each warrior lost to the axe feels like a harsh blow. And since you’re often re-assigning villager’s tasks, each fighter is also a potential hunter, merchant, or witch doctor. That makes it tempting to go for other types of victory conditions. A good trading plan or lore-farming strategy can also win you the game. Although there will still be challenges. Harsh winters can leave you without food. Giants can ally with your foes and come stomping into your territory. An armoured bear can eat all your fishermen. Like all good map-based strategy games, Northgard is about staying in control when everything is going wrong.

Head back to the calendar to open the door to another of 2017’s best games.

8 Comments

  1. Spider Jerusalem says:

    I suppose the Advent rules on the outness of Early Access games are rather lax.

    • caff says:

      Considering Kentucky Route Zero won RPS GOTY in 2013 when only two of the five acts were released, and STILL isn’t finished, then I’d say that this is a fine choice.

      • kwyjibo says:

        I’m still waiting for KRZ. I bought it this year (I think) in a Humble Bundle, and am waiting for it to all be packed together with the accompaniments next year.

        KRZ started off as a commentary on the impact of the financial crisis on ordinary people. So I guess in the last chapter, they’re all going to don hats and MAGA.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          How to make America great:
          Make Purto Rico a state.
          Rename it ‘Little America’
          Rename the continental US ‘Great America’
          Done!

          (Britain is Great Britain, because it’s bigger than petite Bretagne, aka Brittany)

    • mmandthetat says:

      Early Access games are available to purchase and play, so they’re out. Get over it.

  2. wackazoa says:

    Ive seen it on my recommended list on steam but have never really looked hard into it. By the sound of it I might have to look a bit harder.

    “that not every game in the genre has to be about constant micro and maximising your actions-per-second”

    To this point, perhaps the reason I have always found RTS to be my preferred gaming genre is that I never feel the need to min/max. I have always found that I just enjoy trying to survive, or make it to the end, in these games moreso than trying to win. I have read on plenty of forums (especially Paradox’s) where intense discussions occur on the correct builds or what policy’s/decisions are the best to take and which ones you should avoid. And I find that I always do things “wrong” according to these threads but the best thing about RTS, to me, is that you can pick a path and have fun watching it work out. If it was wrong then the chaos of failure can be just as fun!

  3. Zorgulon says:

    I may just pick this up this Christmas, it looks charming and I haven’t really played an RTS in years.

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