Europa Universalis: Crown of the North Review (PC)
First off, things rarely are darkest before the dawn. Things are usually darkest right before you black out. I found this little gem out when I had a vasectomy, took the drugs cause..”hey, why walk when you can fly?”..right? Anyway, after the operation I stood up too quick and voila…Great Truth Number one.
Number Two, Faint Hearts may have never won the hand of a “fair maiden” but I can bet they didn’t blow a wad of dough on stocks a naked hermit on top of ‘Ol Smokey could have figured out were ripe to tank.
Numero Trois; What goes around comes around…and herein lies the lesson for today.
Now when Magpie decided he wanted fresh meat, I immediately thought of my ol’ pal. Chappy has recently retired from the service so I knew he was pretty much a ward of the state and had plenty of time on his hands. He has a degree in finger painting or something so I suspected he could string a few words together (one normally has to scrawl their name on the bottom of the canvas). So I dropped him a line and sure enough, between sampling recreational pharmaceuticals and growing his hair to his ankles, he was more than willing to try out the fast-paced, girl-a-minute career of “Game Reviewer”.
I received an e-mail from Chappy about a week later, thanking me for sending him MOO3 as a first review. He finally had a chance to get in touch with his inner-rage, the game really opened up a new portal for him.
Well I laughed so hard, I damn near pee’d myself. Then my wife saw it and she had a similar reaction. Then the kids wondered what was going on and let’s just say the entire Capt clan had one helluva good chuckle. And then along came Europa Universalis: Crown of the North…..
Landing with a “thud” in my Inbox, I was a little nervous as the game looked to be very high-level strategy which can be a good or bad thing. I for one am a little shy of these types of games as they tend to overwhelm those of us who are casual in our approach and quickly become too much like work.
EU: Crown of the North is high (and I am talking the cold dark vacuum of Outer Space here) strategy. The game is based in real-time, as days will click by in seconds or faster as you can set the speed of the game.
The game itself is played from an Axis and Allies/Risk-boardgame point of view. From here you are given provinces to rule over and do all of the normal things one would expect; collect taxes, build forces, grow wheat and deal with clergy. You purchase improvements, which rather than being actual new buildings are in fact upgrades to existing structures that allow for more taxes/soldiers/ships/wheat/whatever.
This makes the game rather linear in my opinion as you really are stuck with what you have with limited ability to strategically disperse resources. New units are interesting but as the combat consists of watch numbers flick downward, you don’t get any real feel for their capabilities.
You build troops by mustering them in your provinces and then send them out to lay siege and overthrow other provinces. Meanwhile you must manage your resources at home to ensure you can keep the lads in the field. Combat is a strictly die-rolling affair where forces clash and numbers counting backwards represent losses. Sieges are much the same except it takes some time to bring down enemy walls and in the meantime enemy defenders may sally forth for some more vigorous dice rolling.
Honor is an abstract in the game that impacts your victory points based on your actions. Declaring peace or war will have positive or negative impacts as will how you react to the random events.
The game played a lot like those “reading adventures” which were popular when I was a kid…”if you want to go in the castle, turn to pg 73..if you want to gut the troll turn to pg 76” the impact of your decisions are too blunt and combat is positively mind numbing.
There is a multiplayer aspect to the game but boardgames are fun because you can drink beer, bad mouth each other, make deals and generally interact with other human beings. Doing this over the net is somewhat of a pale comparison.
EU: Crown of the North is not a complete loss, the soundtrack was very cool, the graphics crisp and colourful if somewhat dry. The game ran very well and shows quality in production so no complaints there.
Most of my problem with the game lies at its heart. EU: Crown of the North is a boring game…there I said it.
Buy it for EU: II if you really want too (or go get EU:II in a better package deal) but I would steer clear of EU: Crown of the North if you are in the market for a computer board game. If you want an excellent fun strategy board game in a great package, go buy a box of Cheerios with Computer Monopoly as freeware.