PC Game Review: Montjoie!
An excellent combination of period feel and fun, Montjoie! is a beer-and-pretzels game with serious historical lessons.
Author: Jim Cobb
A well-executed port of a fun board game to a computer platform is always good news. The fact that the game also accurately conveys the spirit of an historical era doubles the sweetness. Montjoie!, developed by Tchounga Games and published by AGEOD, is an excellent example of such a product. Spanning the Hundred Years War, this game combines old-fashioned fun with a fine feel for the aspects of that strange but crucial conflict.
Can This Unraised Monitor Hold the Vasty Fields of France?
The 53-page PDF manual is almost irrelevant because of the comprehensive on-screen tutorial and information provided in this download-only game. The graphics are all anyone could want in a game. The zoomable maps are done in color with a period feel. Provinces are clearly marked as are roads, ports and special symbols; mountain provinces that receive a defensive bonus are colored dark. Bright heraldic shields mark each of up to six players and multi-color banners appear with chance or card-driven events. When castles or fortresses are built, the structures spring up like mushrooms from the provinces. Die rolls are animated and faction order selection spins the factions’ shields like a slot machine. Event cards flash when playable. Certain events call for a spin of the Wheel of Fortune that looks good even without Vanna. The animation for battle scenes are a hoot, calling to mind illustrated manuscripts had they been animated. The event and battle cards are similar to lavish Tarot cards with explanations for each presented on screen. More prosaic but helpful graphics are the highlighting of possible target, the display of a province’s defenses with a mouse over and arrows indicating where a conquest can originate. A timeline in the historical scenario displays the events of that game while a player’s aid table can be manipulated to show such things as faction details and phase status.
The standard map
A zoomed out extreme map during the purchase phase.
The elusive “Six” combat card shown during a build phase.
The sound effects are nice and humorous. The background music is one of the few I leave on. Although not exactly period in melody, the beat and instrumentation fit well into play while not being intrusive. The tone of the game is set by the slightly fey French cry of “Montjoie!” during the introduction.
A very instructive timeline
Cards, Not Tennis Balls, Will Knock the Crown into the Hazard
Nontjoie! provides a myriad of play options. Games are divided into two major categories: historic and free. The eight historic games represent the period between 1334-1451 in the off-again, on-again conflict. Factions can include France, England, Navarre, Burgundy, Flanders and Burgundy. Each period explained by an on-screen blurb. These games have from three to six players and last from six to twelve rounds, depending on the scenario. Scenario turn-length varies in terms of years represented and each scenario can have special rules and events such as one faction getting a hero or a free raid. These events have historical basis such as the Battle of Sluys stripping French ports of their innate defense values. Victory conditions also change with each scenario, going from the standard accumulation of pretender points to instant victory when certain cities fall. Such variability assures a long life on a hard disk.
Calais is fortified.
The eight free scenarios offer even more choices. Maps include the original board game map, the standard PC map and an enlarged map. Some scenarios are designed for only two factions while other can have as many as six players. Extra mustard is added to many of these scenarios by the addition of a diplomatic phase. These games are great for multiplay.