Perhaps appropriately in the week when we've been talking about Scientology, Cryptic Comet release their Cults Of The Wasteland free mini-add-on for our favourite turn-based strategy game of 2007. That is, the ever-lovin' child of Vic Davis, Armageddon Empires. I love it. It was Tom Chick's fourth favourite game of 2007, despite the fact it only has one hot-key. It was strategy-specialist Troy Goodfellow's favourite independent game of the year. Jim - questioned as he's bringing me more tea - describes it as "a fun time". Hell, even Alec loves it, and Alec doesn't like orgasms.
Now, there's a load of links for you to explore the game if you don't know it yet - The Demo's here - and we still haven't talked about what's in the pack. Better do that, perhaps enlivened by a little "describe a game I've just played"ism.
Well, Vic talks about it over here. The Cults are basically spanners in the works of the major empires, generally causing trouble. They need to be wiped out before you can win the game. While there were NPCs in the game before, they were static entites. The Cults generally get out there and fuck shit up. The five detailed are designed to be introduced in the first five games you play with the pack, before giving you the ability to select which one you'd want thrown into the mix (or a random one).
I've had a quick game to see what I could find. And then did an ultra-quick write-up thingie. Clearly, spoilers for the first cult you'll face...
Little box at the bottom. It's got a button. Hurrah for buttons.
I decided playing Mutants, with one of the standard decks. My mandate really was to get out there and cause trouble. Everything was normal - though there was a really worryingly lack of human resources on the map, which caused all sorts of development problems for my forces throughout the game - until my scouts brought back a message.
Bloody Fist of the Wasteland. I hate that guy!
Pretty much immediately his armies descend upon my scouts, which leaves to swift, brutal engagements...
Sadly for my dino-chaps, the "Submit or die" thing wasn't really what he meant. He means "Die or... well, die". They're annihilated before I can even have a chance to examine their character sheets to see what these power-suited men are like.
There's several more encounters like this before I get some luck and hit some nomad and refugee camps, giving us some manpower to turn into some troops. Namely one of the best-cards-in-the-deck, the Mauler. This is the first battle I really have a chance to properly play them...
The Doomsayers all have Shock Attack, which means that if they manage to hit someone, they lose their attack if they haven't struck already. Since most of them appear to be in groups of 4, it's possible that they could tie down an entire front row if you're unlucky. I win, narrowly, mainly because I've got a leader so I get an initiative bonus, and strike first - also, the Razors are upgraded with a flamethrower which gives them Shock Attack, so I can play their trick on them.
The war continues, with the proper-side Machine Empire causing some trouble too - my stealthed-characters have discoevred they've managed to find a Behemoth. They actually lay siege to my capital, but by assassinating their leader and having carefully merged my forces before trying to break the siege, I crush the bots with my big mutant feet. That Mauler really is brutal.
The cult raids are still hitting some of my production camps, one of which leads to the following disturbing discovery...
They can have tac-nukes. The bastards!
I march my main army North, leaving some skeleton defences on my capital. There really has to be some manpower out there somewhere, eh? I figure by clearing some of the NPCs I may be able to find it. When I'm doing so, one of my scouts actually finds the cult's headquarters, which looks like this.
Yeah, I've got your number, Mr The Fist. Mark my works.
It turns out I was wrong. He had mine.
One of his advance Doomsayers forces had attacked my base, wiping it out and with it my chances. While I was playing fairly fast-and-loosely, it's still the first game I've lost in a dozen or so, which I suspect shows the pack ups the difficulty of the game a tad. This is welcome. Also, I clearly have to go through another four games so I can unlock the pick-a-cult mode, so I can go back in and BREAK THE FIST'S FINGERS ONE BY ONE.