Fantasy Kommander - Eukarion Wars

By Kristian Fischer 17 Jan 2014 0

I grew up on complicated strategy games. If I couldn't micromanage every rivet on my tank or load every 16-inch shell individually into my battleship's magazines, I didn't want to know about it. Titles like Pacific War, War in Russia, Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Civilization, Steel Panthers and on and on until finally War in the Pacific: Admiral's Edition filled my days and I loved them all. 

Over the last few years, my tastes have changed. It's partly because I've passed 40 years of age; I still want to play strategy games, but I don't like sitting for hours getting eyestrain  in front of my monitor and carpal tunnel from thousands upon thousands of mouse clicks. Thus, simpler titles have gradually crept onto my PC. 

Enter Fantasy Kommander ? Eukarion Wars from Italian development team Age of Games, recently published by Slitherine.

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This title is a ?light? turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy world, using an IGOUGO turn structure; you take your turn, and then the AI takes its turn, and you keep going until you achieve your battle objectives, or the AI destroys your army. There's no base building or resource management. 

You play the ?good? races (human, elves and dwarves) over a tutorial and four campaigns, which must be unlocked by completing the previous campaigns in the sequence. There is no multiplayer mode. 

On each campaign map, you move from battle to battle in a mostly linear fashion, with a very occasional side battle that you can unlock by winning previous battles quickly.

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The game takes place on two different main screens: the battle map and the camp screen.

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As seen in the above screenshot, the battle map is hex-based, and each hex can hold one unit. The units comprise the standard fantasy unit tropes, with infantry wielding spears and swords, cavalry, knights, archers, mages, clerics, siege engines and so on and so forth. Each campaign also provides you with a single ?hero? character (the first one has the knight Marcus), which quickly becomes an unstoppable powerhouse. 

You move your units across the map and attack the enemy units (other fantasy tropes like orcs, trolls and undead) either in melee or at range via missile troops or magic user units. 

The game implements a ?facing? system, which means that you can outflank enemy units with increasing attack damage as a consequence, as well as rotate your own units to face directly towards the enemy to avoid being outflanked yourself. 

Missile troops placed next to other units can support these units when they defend against melee attacks. Terrain contributes bonuses or penalties to attack, defence or movement for any ground unit moving through them, and line of sight is a factor for missile troops. 

The enemy AI is pretty competent, perfectly capable of outflanking you if you give them the opportunity, using missile weapons and magic just like you must do. 

The other part of the game is played on the camp screen:

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On this screen, in between battles, you can upgrade experienced units to give them such things as improved attack and defence ratings and more health, as well as special abilities such as forced marching and healing. You can also resurrect units killed in previous battles and buy new ones, all of it with the gold that you earn by fighting and winning battles. 

As you progress through the campaigns, new types of units (like heavier cavalry, war machines, spell casters and such) become available for you to buy. Later campaigns introduce elves and dwarves into the mix. 

So far, so simple. However, the game has more than a few problems with its presentation. 

Graphically, Fantasy Kommander is not very impressive. The various unit icons are very basic, and it's possible to tell the various units apart on the battlefield, but as can be seen in the battlemap screenshot, the real estate on screen is badly misused. The game operates at your native screen resolution (in my case 1920x1080p) and there's really no good reason for the battlemap to have this huge black void around it. [Editor?s comment ? different stages of the game use a larger amount of the screen so there is less ?black void? as the game progresses.] 

In my first battle, I missed out on the best level of victory because the cluttered nature of the map made me overlook the little flag that would have told me that I hadn't taken one of the objective hexes. The maps are simply too small. 

More seriously, the buttons on the interface (especially the ones to the right of the battle map that control unit special abilities) are far too small and seem to not work consistently. I often found myself having to click more than once on a button to get it to work, even after changing the batteries in my trackball, and this is in a game that does not have double-clicking. That's a frustrating problem. 

Soundwise, it's also less than ideal, especially when it comes to the voice acting. The game supposedly takes place in a fantasy world, and yet we have voice acting in English with French, German and Spanish accents (as well as individual words in those languages). Claiming that the game is supposedly set in a ?fantasy Europe? whilst using all sorts of fantastic names like ?Eukarion? and ?Adamantia? does not make up for this. I fully understand that the developer wanted to include voice acting to improve the polish of their game, but it detracted severely from my personal experience, and I turned the sound and music off about an hour into the game. [Editor comment ? I think it is worth pointing out that sounds are very much a subjective issue and that if you don?t like them the game does allow you to turn them off so you are not forced to listen to them.] 

So to sum up, this game has ambitions to tell an exciting story about a great war against ?Kaos?, but the poor quality of the way it presents that story turns what could have been a pretty good light game title into a below average one. The game mechanics are simple and functional, but the user interface and graphics stand in the way of them being used to their fullest, which is a shame. 

Age of Games has prevously made a number of free-to-play browser games, and Fantasy Kommander ? Eukarion Wars looks and feels like one. This is unfortunate. Given the game's content and presentation, I think it's a bit overpriced. 

The games I'm mostly reminded of are SSI's War of the Lance and Fantasy General, released in 1989 and 1996, respectively, but Fantasy Kommander is nowhere near as good as either of those classic titles. It's not to be avoided like the plague, but could have been better implemented.

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