Battle of Norway Conclusion

Norway Finale

In the South on Turn 8 we start with a weakened unit of combat engineers guarding the only supply point.  After stiff fighting, the Brits capture the supply point and almost manage to kill or capture all of the defenders remaining in the vicinity.  North of Lillehammer some out of supply German infantry manage to destroy a small Norwegian blocking force and are close to linking up with another out-of-supply unit from Trondheim.  But with no supplies, the Germans cannot reinforce and will have weaker combat effectiveness in the South for the remainder of the scenario.

Big picture – by the end of Turn 8 the German position is hopeless.  Trondheim is surrounded with overwhelming force.  The Battle of the North Sea is going well.  The remaining forces in the South are out of supply and out of luck. 

On Turn 9, the Southern Force destroys the last German defenders around Lillehammer and turns North to capture the remaining holdouts.  In the North, one of the two remaining German infantry units is destroyed at Trondheim as the noose tightens.  The Brits finally get the airfield operational and purchase a land-based, tactical bomber. 

On turn 10, a French Ski unit almost destroys the last reminants of the northern German forces while a large British force moves North from Lillehammer.  The only goal left in the scenario is mopping up. 

Victory is achieved on turn 14 when the last German survivors are captured! 

Specialization Points & Research Strategy

I obtain two specialization points for achieving secondary victory goals in Norway.  Two points is not enough to purchase any advances.  IMHO, getting scrambling is the key early technology.  Scrambling allows your aircraft on the ground to move half speed when they take-off.  British fighters have small gas tanks and can only stay in the air for a limited period of time.  For this reason, getting scrambling technology improves your fighter usefulness about 25%.  Germany has superb, early war tactical dive bombers.  Being able to keep control of the skies (or at least contest control of the skies) prevents the Germans from repeatedly destroying your damaged units from the air.

But scrambling costs 10 specialization points compared to a five point purchase for other early technological advances.  It is hard to wait when you can purchase something NOW that helps your troops.

Others think that War Economy should be purchased first.  War Economy gives you a small number of additional command points on the air and ground.  Through extensive play, I’ve found that having control of the skies is more important than one additional unit (at best).  Ceding air superiority means your heavily damaged units die, instead of being pulled out of the line and reinforced.

With this strategy you purchase the first researchable advancement for your forces later than if you chose the less expensive, five point advances. 

Battle of Norway – Part 2

Turn 3 – In the North, British troops face two damaged German units.  The other two spotted German units are attacking a strong Norwegian fortress and are in danger of having their supply lines cut. Both weakened units are eliminated and the North force advances towards Trondheim.  The most serious impediment is the concentrated naval firepower from the Kriegsmarine.

In the sea North of Trondheim the screening German destroyer is sunk and it goes under the waves in an unusually good screenshot.  The carrier based scout plane and fighter head towards Trondheim.

The Southern force continues their advance towards Lillehammer.  I risked advancing one infantry unit by rail.  In OOB you can load units onto rail if they start their turn in a town with a rail line.  Infantry can disembark anywhere on the rail line, but armor and artillery must disembark in towns.  Rail transport does increase unit vulnerability.

Turn 4 to Turn 7: In the North the allies steadily advance against outnumbered German infantry.  The strongest impediment to advancing UK and French troops is naval bombardment and Luftwaffe bombing and strafing.  But the constant air attacks make it easy for the mobile UK anti-aircraft unit to damage and eventually destroy the tactical bombers.  Eventually the carrier based fighter reaches the battlefield and destroys the last vestiges of Nazi airpower.  German infantry concentrated too much on the Norwegian fortifications which allowed allied forces to surround and destroy them.  On to Trondheim!

In the South advancing forces ran into a screen of armored cars.  Pushing them aside is challenging because they easily retreat and suffer little from having their supply lines cut.  My careful advance kept the Matilda brigade in front closely followed by the anti-tank guns and artillery.  The result?  Easy destruction of the German light armor unit on turn 6.  By turn 7 German infantry guarding the supply depot is heavily damaged.  The German commander makes a critical error by assigning a weakened unit of combat engineers to guard the supplies.  This will probably doom the German units from the South attempting to link up with the Trondheim force.

Battle of the Norwegian Sea – The Royal Navy approached the forts protecting Trondheim while the Cruiser Admiral Hipper with two destroyer escort squadrons cleared the straits into the Norwegian Sea. One of the keys in naval battles is to guard your capital ships from torpedo attack while launching close-in torpedo attacks on enemy capital ships.  Turn 7 the British DDs screen the British Cruiser. The Royal Navy concentrates their fire on one Destroyer Squadron nearly sinking them.

The German fleet directed most of their fire on the British Cruiser, so the UK starts Turn 8 with a mildly damaged cruiser, the German destroyers have fired their torpedoes, and the Admiral Hipper is wide open to torpedo attack.  The British close and hammer the Admiral Hipper almost sinking her.

Turn 9 the British sink one German destroyer squadron, heavily damage another taking some additional damage on their Cruiser.

On Turn 10 the Brits sink the final German Destroyer Squadron and their tactical bomber squadron (a land based Fairy Battle) arrives in the area.

After heavy naval gunfire the Fairy Battle sinks the wreck of the Admiral Hipper. Note, three air command points for several turns before I purchased and deployed the tactical bombers.  I waited until the land airfield was captured and restocked.  This allowed me to deploy a land-based bomber unit instead of a sea-based unit.  Since most battles in Allies Defiant are land based, it is better to wait a bit and deploy land instead of carrier based bombers. 

Order of Battle: WW2 – Allies Defiant Campaign, Scenario 1: Norway

Allies Defiant is the latest “official” campaign in the Order of Battle WW2 Series. The first scenario is Norway. You command British and French troops. There are a few, weak allied Norwegian units not under your direct command. The Germans launched an audacious attack to secure Norway considering there was no common land border and the UK had a much stronger Navy.

Norway is a straightforward scenario. You have three groups of units. Your North Force is a combined French/UK force which must take Trondheim. The North force must also capture the only airfield. Your opposition is German Infantry, Paratroopers, Dive bombers, Fighters, and a significant German Naval Force which can hammer your ground troops. Your South Force must expel the German ground troops and light armor moving north from Lillehammer. On Turn 2 the Royal Navy Arrives in the seas north of Trondheim.

You command noncore units and core units. Core units follow you from scenario to scenario throughout the campaign. Noncore units typically appear in a single scenario within the campaign. It is important to distinguish between core and non-core forces for reinforcements, elite reinforcements, and deciding if it is worth sacrificing an experienced core unit to achieve your mission. For Norway I mostly purchased British Infantry. One armor unit was purchased, a Matilda Tank. Early war UK tanks offer the choice between fast and highly fragile, or slow and well defended. Matilda’s can stand up to medium German tanks such as the Panzer 3 – although they are much slower than motorized or mechanized infantry. I STRONGLY SUGGEST renaming your core units so you can quickly identify your core units.

The Matilda is sent to the South forces along with some UK infantry. The rest of the infantry leading with a Heavy Infantry unit is sent to the North group to join the French ski forces.

Turn 1 – In the South I start movement with the Matilda. It is so slow that if you don’t move it first it is easy for it to get shifted to the end of your column instead of leading your forces. In the North my forces are unable to launch direct attacks because a very weak Norwegian infantry unit blocks the road.

Turn 2 – The Royal Navy appears with a carrier, cruiser, destroyer escort, a scout plane and a fighter. Destroyers move to screen the cruiser from torpedo attack from the nearby German destroyer squadron. In the North the UK ground troops maul the Germans blocking the South road while the mobile AA gun shoots up the German Dive Bomber. In the South, advancing forces destroy one German infantry unit and almost destroy the second.

Korean Pork Cutlets

For the last couple of years, boneless pork cutlets have been very inexpensive. They are relatively low fat – which makes it easy to overcook them on the grill. This is a Korean style marinade that is wonderful for boneless pork cutlets. This is spicy, but not hot.

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 Tbsp Asian sweet chili sauce

1 heaping teaspoon of fresh minced garlic (we routinely have a pint of the stuff in our fridge).

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp. ginger juice (optional – but Lynn loves the taste of ginger).

Wisk the stuff together. Put it in a gallon sized strong ziplock bag. Add four boneless pork cutlets.

You can marinade this for anywhere from a couple of hours to 24 hours. We found little difference between the short and the long marinade time. You should turn the bag every hour (or six hours if you are marinating for 24 hours.

I heat my gas grill to approximately 500-550 degrees. I cook them for three minutes per side for cutlets less than a half inch thick.

Our recipe modifies a 2007 Southern Living recipe. The fresh minced garlic and ginger juice are improvements in our eyes.

Highlands Botanical Garden & Arrowmont Stables

We had wonderful, dry Spring weather this week with highs in the 60s. Lynn decided that we were going to do fun things outside before the heat and the tourists plague us this summer. We did three outdoor things. We went to Highlands Botanical Garden; we did a walkthrough on the lot beside our home in Franklin during the due diligence period, and we took an hour long ride at Arrowmont Stables.

Highlands Botanical Garden is within walking distance of “downtown.” It has several plague-closed learning centers, picnic and boating areas, and multiple garden trails. The Garden is centered around a small lake fed by two creeks with quite a bit of bog. Aside from a lady walking her dog, a couple beside the lake and some workers – we were alone. Being early March, nothing much was blooming. The previous week had lows in the teens. Botanical Garden | Highlands Biological Station

Pathways take you around the lake:

We spotted two different pitcher plants. These carnivorous plants capture rainwater and make it poisonous to insects. The digested insects provide nutrients.

The Garden is owned by Western Carolina University and they probably have labs in the garden for various classes. There are also nice picnic areas, many birdhouses, and bear warning stations.

It was a lovely walk. Quiet enough to hear the wind and the ducks chattering.

Later in the week we took an hour long horseback ride at Arrowmont Stables. The Stables are about a half an hour drive from our home in Franklin on the road to Cashiers. The Stables are open year-around. I rode “Betty,” the smallest adult Belgium that I’ve ever seen. She was content to follow the horse in front – until we got into the stable yard where she energetically dashed towards the hay and feed. Our ride went through a laurel forest with multiple springs and several hundred feet of elevation change. The stables had sheep with lambs, multiple barn cats, and a middle-aged dog named Tyson.

The “safety video” was one of the funniest I’ve ever seen. This old guy showed us on horseback all of the idiot things riders could do to confuse the horse. He did this without a script, on an extremely well trained horse who probably thought he had lost his mind. Lynn has taken riding lessons and we ride once or twice a year on vacation. Still, I learned a couple of things that I did not know and the suggestion on where to put your hands while mounting made more sense than anything I’ve ever been told before. The horses were very well trained with good equipment and a good leader. The ride was very scenic. http://www.arrowmont.com/

After our ride we went to Innovation Brewery in Sylva for Beer and Pizza. Those who visited during our house-hunting month in Sylva should remember the brewery & the pizza. Innovation Brewing—Sylva NC Brewery (innovation-brewing.com)

Do You Feel Lucky Punk? A Vigilantes PC Game Review

In Vigilantes you become Sam Contino – a vigilante determined to rid Reiker City of violent crime gangs.  This is a small squad, turn-based, combat heavy game.  Sam collects allies, builds his base, and puts a beat-down on three gangs: the Mafia, the Survivalists and the Church of the Final Exodus.  As you raid city blocks controlled by one of the gangs your squad battles a gang to the death (or to the knock-out) to loot the gang’s money, weapons and items.

[Sam Level 1 & Sam Level 17]

This review is based on completing the game after 20 hours of play.  I bought the game when it was on sale for $7.50 (50% off) on Steam.  The controls were intuitive if you have experience with turn-based squad level combat games.  The game was very stable and I experienced no locks, freezes, corrupted saves or other problems with my new Falcon Northwest Talon.  The art is traditional comic book style but not anime. 

You start the game choosing your difficulty level and the general campaign length.  I strongly recommend playing a regular game due to the combat system which I discuss later.

[Game Options]

Through combat and other activities, Sam gains experience which can be used to improve various attributes and skills.  His teammates stay one level behind Sam accruing a smaller amount of improvement points per level-up.  Sam’s team maxes out at seven total members.  A maximum of four can go into combat at a time including Sam.  The others use investigation skills to determine gang presence in a city block, heal wounded comrades, and other base activities.

[Henchmen Options Screen]

The game starts with each enemy faction having a leader and three lieutenants.  The names and locations of these leaders are unknown.  After playing Russian Roulette or administering beatings to captured faction minions, Sam and his crew start to identify and locate the gang leadership.  If Sam’s Gang wipes out the four leaders of a gang, the gang becomes insignificant.  Sam wins the game if his group wipes out all leadership of the three gangs terrorizing Reiker City.

[Survivalist & Church Leadership Screens]

Sam’s allies follow common meme’s from vigilante movies and books.  Ray Case is a hard-boiled, film noire detective.  There are two bent members of law enforcement who are determined to use any means necessary to stop the gangs from terrorizing Reiker City.  There is a firebug Fireman who wants to incinerate criminals.  Plus two civilians who have picked up weapons determined to mow down the opposition.

[Blocks of Reiker City]
[Ray Case: Noire Detective Henchman]

Weapons are melee, grenades, or firearms.  All weapons take action points to use and individual weapon skill determines hit percentages.  Sam goes on every combat mission, so players should build Sam’s combat skills.  Since you can only take three team members on combat missions, some of your gang are better used as medics or investigators.

[Inventory Screen at Base]
[Character Item Screen]

All game weapons can be used to kill or knock-out opponents.  Setting the “kill switch” does more damage per hit.  Using bladed weapons and even incendiary grenades to “wound” bothered me.  Since I’ve done a lot of shooting and hunting over the years, it makes me wince when game designers invent a “shoot to wound” combat system.

Like most combat games with RPG elements, Sam’s allies have different motivations.  Some hate one gang more than the others.  Some don’t want to kill the enemy (unless a team mate is knocked out in battle).  Others become happier if they go on a killing spree.  Sam cannot maximize everyone’s happiness.  But a happy team member gives Sam attribute boosts.  Sam will be more tolerated by the police and most of his team if the group shoots, bashes, knifes, explodes and incinerates enemies “to wound.”  But one ally becomes cranky if not allowed to occasionally kill members of one faction.

[Occasional Ordinary Citizen Encounters]

This is a very combat heavy game.  The combat system is turn-based, squad level combat.  Think X-COM Enemy Unknown or Jagged Alliance 2.  The environment has cover which can lower accuracy from some (but not all) sides of the cardinal compass points.  The map uses squares which are inferior to hexes. 

Combat strategy is pretty simple.  Take cover.  Have over-watch with your ranged weapons.  Use a blocker with lots of health and a melee weapon to keep your ranged shooters from being swarmed.

[Turn Based Combat Screen – Blue areas mean you can fire and red areas are max movement with no shot]
[Sam’s Team Takes Cover]

Unfortunately, the AI is weak.  Your enemies tend to rush in one (or perhaps 2) avenues of attack.  Enemies make poor use of the terrain.  Enemies bunch up.  And enemies do not concentrate on eliminating the blocker.  As a result, instead of “smart” survivalists, cult members, or mafia the game combat is more like mindless zombies rushing the nearest enemies.  Your foursome is outnumbered in every combat, but the enemy is so dumb that setting up kill zones is easy.  Overall, I found the combat AI to be much weaker than the X-COM or Jagged Alliance series.

[Dumb AI Tactics. Rush Forward on the same axis of attack with poor use of cover and no flanking attack]

In sum, the game has good atmosphere.  The incorporation of base improvement, weapon and armor upgrades, and leveling up different skills is well done.  The architypes of Sam and his henchmen will feel familiar.  But the combat leaves a lot to be desired – a bad thing for a combat heavy game.

[Mission Debrief]

Many may find the game unsuitable for children.  The bad guys commit horrific crimes.  The language is coarse.  Captured gang members are beaten, forced to play Russian roulette, and given truth serum after every battle.  Deadly weapons can be used to knock people “unconscious” in a fairly realistic world providing a bad example for weapons used to kill.

I enjoyed the game and do not regret spending 20 hours to free Reiker City from criminal gangs.  But I wish the combat AI was more challenging, you could rename team members, and for a variety of allies instead of the same six every game.  But if you like squad level, turn-based combat RPGs you will probably enjoy Vigilantes. 

Strategy Suggestions:

1] Sam Should Focus on Combat since he is a member of all combat missions.

2] You need one melee attack, large hit point tank. That character should lead the shooters while using cover. The melee tank blocks the wave of attackers allowing your shooters to take down opponents without getting swarmed.

3] Look at your battlefield carefully. Choose choke points for your melee tank. Quickly eliminate opposition not heading for your choke point.

4] Use the same characters for a combat team (Sam is a shooter, 2 other shooters, one melee tank).

5] Develop investigation, surgeon, and crafting skills on your “base henchmen.” Put them to work while your combat foursome goes to work in target blocks.

6] Difficulty ramps up substantially when attacking gang lieutenants and bosses. Make sure your combat group has sufficient weapons, healing items, and armor before taking on the first lieutenant.

Renovations Aug 2020 – Jan 2021

We closed on the Franklin, NC home in early August, 2020.  Although it was generally in good shape, we had to renovate to fit our needs.  Urgent things were fixed before 2021.  Although the home has oak plank hardwood floors upstairs and laminate downstairs, all four bedrooms were carpeted.  Due to allergies, all carpet was removed and replaced with oak hardwood floors or laminate.  All locks were changed to deadbolts plus a swarm of smaller changes.

We had part of the backyard fenced so Panzer and Dash could get exercise and fun off a leash.  Through various snafus, the fence took quite a while to get installed. 

We had to move or purchase enough furniture to make it livable.  We acquired some furniture and a pool table with the house purchase.  Due to allergies (cats), we cannot buy used upholstered furniture.  We went consignment and new furniture shopping.  Excepting Lynn’s platform bed with underneath storage drawers, all of the hardwood furniture was purchased used.  We bought one sofa, two upholstered chairs and a leather chair with a footstool new in Hickory.  Almost all the new and used furniture was put in a U-Hall and moved by Avery & Lynn.  We then took two months off to enjoy life.

On January 5, 2021 renovations resumed.  The first crew came in between 7:30-8:00am and work all day.  They completed:

1] The office expanded by tearing out a wall and enclosing a useless hallway.

2] A storm door fixed.

3] A poorly mounted railing taken down and mounted properly.

4] Various rotten wood replaced from the deck and the windows.

5] Entire upstairs painted.

6] A door put on the master bath (really, it had no door).

The Toilet Crisis

I hope none of you suffer from a toilet crisis.  They are wretched things.  If one toilet gets “sick,” they will complain to the other toilets through the water pipes.  Then all of your toilets will go on the sick list.  All joking aside, all four bathrooms had aged toilets from the early years of federally mandated “low water use” johns. 

Like most regulation, the Fed’s imposed this mandate without working models to replace existing equipment.  Engineers struggled with the dictate from our all-knowing Federal Government Leaders!  The initial low water use toilets had very poor performance.  Our Franklin home suffered from multiple toilet issues.  The tile was uneven.  The toilets were not level.  Unlevel toilets have bad seals.  Unlevel toilets with bad seals flush poorly.  Add in low water use toilets from the early days of mandates from our Federal Overlords – and you have a toilet uprising!

We had planned to remodel the bathrooms.  Lynn was displeased with the décor and she needed a minimal lip master bath shower for her balance problem. Here is a “before” picture of the hall bathroom followed by an annotated picture.  Does not look too bad does it? 

Let me explain.  1 = A ceiling fan/heat system that is as loud as a turbo-prop engine on a World War 2 Fighter.  Turn one on (any one of four in the house) and the noise blasts you everywhere in the house.  Just ask Jessica Abernethy if you think I may be “stretching the truth for humor.”  2 = A bad toilet with a broken seal placed on an uneven surface.  3 = The lowest possible contractor grade sink cabinet.  4 = The ugliest tile ever to curse a bathroom floor.  Not only is it hideous, the level varies by almost a half an inch from tile to tile.  5 = A slab mirror bolted on the wall.

Just in case you don’t believe me about the tile, here is a picture of our most memorable tile.  It had the impression of a tennis shoe on it – a mark of quality!

Now here is a picture after the renovation with new tile, new toilet, new vanity/sink, new brighter light and a new quiet ceiling fan/heater unit.  It was also painted.

The Bathroom Remodel

The tile crew came in on a Tuesday Morning – all ten of them.  They destroyed everything while leaving us one sink and “semi-operable” toilet.  They finished the tile and plumbing stuff in FOUR DAYS.  This was followed by the painters who worked several days.  The electrician came the following Thursday and finished in twelve hours over two days.  So from start to finish, bathroom renovation took 11 days. 

The tile work and general contracting was done by Mark Lewis (Masonry by Mark Lewis (wordpress.com)  I’ve found that there are three things you want in workmen: quality, speed and a low cost.  I’ve also learned that at absolute best you can get two of these three things – if you are lucky and hire the right people.  Mark Lewis’ crew does very high quality work very fast.

Our master bathroom shower was removed and a tile shower built from the subflooring up.  Lynn’s balance is not great anymore, so we needed a close to zero-lip shower.  We had a shelf built in which makes keeping mold and mildew down. 

This is the renovated basement bathroom. The bathroom not shown is a half bath where Panzer is bathed – and Panzer asked that no pictures be put on the internet to retain his “dog street cred” as a smelly Schnauzer.

Those who know me well know that I have no color sense or “style.”  My life exists in primary colors.  Lynn stressed and fretted over her choices since some were purchased with only internet pictures to go by.  Lynn would sometimes give me “choices” to make.  Now, if you have been married for a while you know what this means.  Lynn already knows what she wants to do.  She gives “options” only to see if I choose “the right one.”  If Avery chooses the “wrong one,” then he is “corrected” in excruciating detail for why his color/style/fashion/morals are horribly, horribly wrong.

Avery is a slow learner.  But after decades of marriage he eventually learned to ask, “What do you think Dear?” before ever answering one of these inquiries unless he noted some important practical (not design) detail.  During this renovation Avery refused to answer the “style council” questions.  His response was always, “you are the one who has taken classes in color and spent scores of hours looking over your options.  Everything else you have picked in the preceding decades looked good.  I trust your judgement.”  Followed by, “Dash and Panzer desperately need their father” and a quick exit.

The tile guys and the electrician told us we were “excellent customers.”  We were complemented for knowing what we wanted to do, not changing our minds (unless minor technical changes were necessary), and not starting work until we had the materials.  They told us horror stories about (unnamed) customers who kept changing their minds or telling them how to do their jobs.  Our checks did not bounce which is always appreciated.

So if you like these changes, all of the credit goes to Lynn.  I just wrote the checks.

Covid College Basketball

Lynn and I have had scholarship seats for Auburn’s Men’s Basketball for many seasons. This year with Covid, things got strange.

Seating is limited to 20% of capacity. When school is in session, most of the tickets are going to current AU students and player families. Even scholarship ticket holders are seeing very few games this year. This is ok with us, because for many college students this is the only time they get to see big time college basketball. Also, player families have traditionally been seated throughout the history of College Sports.

This photo shows how empty a stadium is with 80% of the seats empty. This was a conference game (Auburn versus Arkansas). The least expensive seat on the web was $115.

The doors are “literally open” so people don’t touch the door handles. All beverages are bottled (no fountain drinks). Every other toilet/urinal is closed off with tape. Feels like you are attending a zombie apocalypse.

The only really stupid thing is in the yellow box in the photo. The team members are spaced 6 feet apart on folding chairs. Why? No real reason for this. The players practice without masks. Have team huddles, etc…… but then they go to individual “bad kid time out chairs” when play resumes.

This is probably the only game we will be able to attend all season. This makes it the fewest basketball games I’ve seen live since I was probably 5 years old – except the four years I was in the doctoral program.

Looking forward to the end of the plague.

Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror Review

Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror is a turn based, small group RPG.  Spiderweb is an independent software developer which offers games with a lot of story, simple graphics, and turn-based combat.  The low level graphics with a top down view may turn off many gamers, but Spiderweb’s games offer generous demos, a reasonable price, and a ton of gameplay for the gaming dollar.

This review is based on more than 45 hours of play and completion of the game at the normal level of difficulty.  I finished almost every quest in the game. 

In Queen’s Wish your main character is a lay about, youngest of three children of the Kingdom of Haven.  Your Mother (the Queen) used a portal to conquer a continent in her youth.  Then a horrible calamity struck causing the loss of the conquered territories.

The Queen had three children with your character being the youngest.  Although you had received the best training possible, you had done nothing with your life.  The Queen tells you it’s time to grow up, and has you tossed through a portal to the continent which resents Haven entirely, or resents it for abandoning them previously.

Ships with materials and a limited number of troops sailed months ago and are ready to build forts to help establish hegemony over the three groups of people inhabiting the land.

You have a four person adventuring party that breaks down into the traditional categories of mage, healer, and fighter.  The main character can gain powers which provide healing or party buffs.  Any character can gain powers in the mage, healer, or fighter groups.  But there are a limited number of level-ups (I finished at level 20).  I used the initial party and specialized with one pure fighter, one pure mage, one pure healer and the main character having the buff skills from the Haven Royalty plus fighter skills.  Eventually, all of the characters picked up some healing skills and the healer became a marginally good fighter.

There are a lot of quests and some choices to be made.  There are four areas.   You start in the central area which is marginally under Haven’s control at the start.  You must make decisions on how you wish to rule (merciful, greedy, ruthless, etc….).  In the other four areas you must decide which faction you will support to rule over the other factions within an area.  You can equivocate for quite a while, but eventually you must decide which side to back in each area.

Typical of previous Spiderweb releases, this is a very combat heavy game.  You gain experience points primarily by completing quests.  And as you complete quests more and more raw materials will come under your control (stone, iron, wood and mercury).  You use these captured mines to build your forts.  For example, you can build a carpenter shop in each castle.  There are a total of 8 castles which can be completed.  If you build 7 carpenter shops (one per castle max), then the best bows are available to your party.  However, your party can only wield weapons and equipment which they qualify for based on how many levels they obtain in the mage or fighter tracks (support track does not unlock equipment).

Building shops in your castles also consumes materials monthly.  Thus, in addition the regular complete quests and conquer areas you have a mini-game building and stocking castles.  If you build the second castle in the three initially independent areas – you start having problems with theft and raids.

I’ve played quite a few Spiderweb releases.  I enjoyed Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror more than any of their other series.  This game follows traditional sword & sorcery patterns which I enjoy.  It was different, but not so different to feel weird.  Geneforge, some of the releases which take place underground, and backing the evil Avadon empire all three were less enjoyable settings than Queen’s Wish.

I also liked the meta-story of conquering the lands by capturing resource producing areas, and building and stocking castles.  You must balance your character levels, equipment, resource production, and castle building/stocking activities.  If you let the meta-game get out of whack you cannot properly equip your party or fully conquer any of the three disputed areas.  This was an enjoyable level of empire building without becoming overly time consuming.

In sum, if you like party based, turn combat games which require minimal computing power and graphics capability you will enjoy Queens Wish.  This is a superb game to take on a tablet or a small laptop while on the road.  You will get a lot of play out of this purchase.  Last, you can try a long demo before purchase to see if this scratches your gaming itch.

Demo at: Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror (spiderwebsoftware.com)