In Great Battles Medieval you play as a general in control of English or French forces during the Hundred Years War. The English campaign is designed for new players and the French campaign is much harder so best tried once you have some experience. As the English you will fight under the Black Prince, Henry V and other heroic characters from history, and as the French you fight for Joan of Arc and the King. (Note : The Android version only includes the English campaign. The French campaign will be coming May 2011!)
The tutorial campaign will explain the basics so all new generals should start here.
The Quest map is where the story of the Hundred Years War unfolds. As you play, key missions will be introduced by movies and these must be completed to progress the story, while others are optional. Some missions are hidden away and only unlocked when you achieve special mission objectives in battle. You can scroll around the Quest map by pushing the mouse to the edge of the screen.
By clicking on the selected squad’s icon you enter the customization mode. In this mode there are many options open to you. You can choose a squad’s armour, weapon, shield, attack skills, general skills and defensive skills. You can also change the livery of a squad using the small arrows at the bottom of the wheel, which changes the shield designs. Each time you click on a choice you go deeper in to the customization menu. For example if you choose weapons you’ll be shown a list of weapons available. When you mouse over a weapon it will tell you the cost and benefits of the weapon and compare it to your existing weapon. If you cannot afford an item then it will be greyed out.
Squads gain experience for killing opponents and when they gain enough experience points they go up a level and gain skill points. These skill points are used to further customise the squad. The skill points a squad has are shown on the squad’s icon, but at the start of the game you won’t see any numbers as your squads are all new recruits with no experience of battle.
As you progress through the game new weapons, shields and armour will be unlocked and you’ll receive more money to purchase equipment and squads. You will spend a lot of time customising your army later but for now return to the Quest map and look at the Battle Cards.
The effects of a Battle Card are described when it is selected. The number of cards you can take to a battle is limited by your leader’s skill. Battle Cards are awarded for completing missions and by the end of the game you will have found a wide selection to choose from, but initially you have only 2 cards and 2 card slots. This means you can take both with you in to battle. Later on you’ll find you have more cards than card slots and will have to select the best cards for the upcoming battle or for the tactics you wish to use.
You’ll notice that the battles are split in to a grid of tiles, which further simplifies the selection and ordering of units. It also allows players to set up more refined battle plans knowing how many tiles a unit can move or shoot, removing the guess work associated with other real-time strategy games.
Each time a man dies, a small skull floats up to give feedback about the progress of a combat. The skulls are colour coded for each side to provide an overview of who is winning or losing.
You access the army editor from the main menu or inside Skirmish and multiplayer menus but you cannot do it while you are playing a game. The army editor is almost exactly the same as your army camp. It allows you to recruit, equip and train your squads in new skills. The only real difference is that the amount of gold you have to spend and experience points available are set when you create the army – the army does not gain experience or get better. You have the choice of editing one of our pre-set armies or you can create an army from scratch.
- Sandbox has a variety of scenarios but never ends so you cannot win or lose it. The scenarios are not balanced and so you can end up with some very interesting and unusual match ups.
- 3 node tug-of-war. In this there are 3 battlefields to fight over. You start on the middle one and the winner pushes the loser back to their base camp. If you lose when fighting on your base camp you lose the campaign. On your base camp you will get artillery support!
- 5 node tug-of-war. This is the same as the 3 node tug-of-war, but with more battles to fight.
Once you are logged in to the server you’ll be able to see any games that are being hosted by other players. You can either join a game or host your own game. You can play Great Battles Medieval in 2 player head to head only.
Multiplayer games are set up in exactly the same way as Skirmish games, except that the client must approve the host’s settings before he can proceed.
- Weapon & Unit Match Ups. The core concept of Great Battles Medieval is that all units have strengths and weaknesses. Spearmen are good against cavalry. Cavalry are good against infantry without spears, but best at the initial impact so suffer in drawn out fights. Archers are good at ranged combat but weak in melee. Artillery is lethal at range but cannot turn to face and have no melee ability at all. Large shields are great protection verses missile fire, but poor in melee. You can specialise your units with equipment and skills so there are units they are great against but you will also end up with a unit that is very vulnerable to some units. Alternatively you can create an all round unit with no strengths or weaknesses. The combinations are endless and so are the strategies. Try things out and see what works for you. Always take in to account what enemy squads are equipped with as there is a huge different between enemy infantry with Large shields and spears to those with small shields and axes – one will ruin your cavalry and archers, the others will be a tough match for your infantry.
- Battlefield Terrain: The terrain affects the combat abilities of your units. Forests reduce the effect of missile fire and give combat penalties to mounted and bonuses to lightly armoured infantry. Rocky ground is some protection from cavalry, but defensible terrain such as stakes is best. Try to get your units in terrain they like and your enemies in terrain they don’t like.
- Aggression: You units can be defensive, normal or aggressive. Passive units will only defend, they will not engage any enemy on nearby tiles. This is the default aggression for archers. Aggressive units will chase any enemy nearby, sometimes getting themselves in trouble when doing so – this is the only aggression setting for cavalry and not possible for units that are shaken or previously routed and rallied. Normal aggression is the default for infantry and in this mode they will engage adjacent opponents but not chase off after enemies without orders. Aggression is set using the icons on the right of the screen in battle. Be sure to choose the correct aggression settings as too much or too little autonomy for your units can win and lose the day!
- Fatigue & Walk or Run. Units get fatigued if they run or fight too much. You can toggle whether your units run or walk on the right of the screen in battle. The default is to run, but fatigued units cannot run. When fatigued units receive large combat penalties so it pays to rest your troops and rotate the units in the front line if possible. The fatigue is shown by a bar on the unit’s cards at the bottom of the screen.
- Morale. When a squad takes casualties its morale drops. Over time it’s morale will recover so rest shaken units and they may recover. If a unit routs it is beyond your control and will run from the field. Sometimes it may rally before it leaves the field and in this case you can control it again but bear in mind is probably quite fragile.
- Flank Attacks. Once a unit is engaged in combat it faces that direction. Even if attacked from behind a unit can turn quickly to respond. However if a unit is attacked from 2 directions at once this counts as a flank attack. Flank attacks are shown by a blue effect over the unit in battle. A large morale penalty is caused when a flank attack occurs and it is a good way to break enemy units.
- Trample. Cavalry units, especially lance armed cavalry, have a chance to trample enemy infantry on contact. This trample attack is applied before combat and gives cavalry a chance to sweep the enemy infantry away. Infantry armed with spears are very resistant to trample attacks, and skills such as Stand Firm further reduce their chance to be trampled.
The scenario editor lets you edit and create new scenarios. It is the same editor we used so anything we can do you can do. You can place units, choose their equipment, skills, even their textures and give them initial battle plans. You can set the weather, set rewards and more. Note – to use the scenario editor you need to have .Net, which can be downloaded for free.
All events that occur in a mission are set out in a script file. These script files are in text format so can be edited, added to and completely new scripts created.
We have included the source code for the scenario editor in the modding folder for the more hard core modders.