As he surveyed the battlefield Brian took stock of the men he had lost, the buildings burned and the peasants crying in the street. He thought about the futility of war, whether the castle has been truly worth the cost and whether he could reclaim the losses on expenses.
Brian is my character in single player medieval-em-up Mount and Blade: Warbands, which sees you live out your life as a medieval mercenary free to loot and pillage as you please. Having clicked through the character creation process, deciding that Brian was the son of merchants and worked in a shop, I realised that this wasn’t really the start that one would expect of a die-hard soldier of fortune.
After beating some bandits to death with an abacus (and admittedly several peasants wielding cleavers helping) Brian set off to find others to share in his adventures. The early years were spent travelling from village to village, hunting bandits, rescuing cattle and explaining the relevance of crop rotation to a back-dated agrarian community. Gradually more and more people began to follow Brian (and it had nothing to do with the fact he paid them a lot of money), farmers turned pike men, cattle ranchers turned knight errants and Dave.
Dave is a footman that looks like a large number of other footmen within the army of Brian; he has fearlessly stood by Brian’s side through thick and thin. Ok so I cannot actually name my troops, but he looks like a Dave and, given his resemblance to all the others, he seems to survive every battle.
With Dave at his side and astride his mighty horse ‘Net Present Value’, Brian has left his life as a former accountant completely behind. Indeed nothing can express the sheer joy of charging headlong in to battle lance in hand. Until, that was, Brian was inexplicably awarded one of the major cities within the game.
No Dave, that is not what I meant by Hedgehog Formation!
Having taken service with one of the kings Brian took part in a few castle sieges, his ability at strategically concealing himself for most of the battle resulted in him gaining most of the credit for the ensuing victory by virtue of being alive. This resulted in said king rewarding our hero with a big shiny city.
I am playing with the diplomacy mod enabled so I cannot be sure to what extent this is within the
original game, but having been awarded a major city Brian was then in charge of hiring defenders and sending out patrols, even building a few improvements here and there. It was a little disappointing to find that Brian was unable to rename the city ‘non-current asset’ and so it remained with the somewhat less believable name of Suno.
In fact following on from being given a city Brain (somewhat ironically) spent a lot more time looking at balance sheets and budget reports. Needing to work out exactly how much money would be coming in to which city, however the upshot of this was that Brian (and Dave) now led a troop of the hardest, most expensive warriors around. Indeed if it was not for the fact that Brian’s maximum army size is about 80 odd he would have long since deposed his employer and established a kingdom free from tyranny and fiscal inaccuracy. So off they went again, in search of more castles to capture and a vain hope that one day they would be able to command enough troops to at least stand a chance against an entire kingdom!
This game is one that I always go back to, it’s fun to feel part of an epic battle, leading from the front or a nearby sheltered position. There is a great deal of pleasure in taking an enemy lord captive and ransoming him back for a vast fortune. While combat can be a bit challenging at first charging in to the enemy soon becomes second nature, although I never quite got the hang of the shooting mechanics.
I definitely feel that I got my money’s worth with this game (given my total play time to date of 72 hours), especially since it was on sale when I bought it originally. So if you are looking for an interesting diversion you can find Mount & Blade: Warbands on steam.