December 04, 2011

[Game 009] Romance of the Three Kingdoms (NES - 1988)

Oh good!  Another not-RPG.  Whose idea was it anyway to do strategy games as well?  Oh right.  Can't I just say that this is the same as Nobunaga's Ambition but set in China and call it a day?  No?  *sigh* Alright then.

Another grand strategy game from the history buffs at Koei, Romance of the Three Kingdoms takes place between 170 - 280 AD after the Han dynasty had fallen.  Many warlords vied for power during this most bloody period and three major states came to be dominant.  These were the Cao Wei, Shu Han, and Sun Wu empires.  As is common in most Koei games, players can pick from different start dates with the empires at varying degrees of power.  It should surprise no one that I will be donning the garb of the ruthless Cao Cao in my bid to unite the lands.

No wei can I lose with badass
base stats like this.

Starting in the year 201 (scenario #3 of 5), most of the empires are well established while still having plenty of unoccupied states to take over.  Cao Cao (blue) soon starts to send his intelligent but militarily weak generals to govern over the nearby open territories.  Defense is largely unnecessary as these states are not adjacent to any enemy states.

Primo beach front estates in 8, 9, and 10.

Gameplay structures are similar to other Koei games.  Commodities are rice and gold.  States can improve their land for greater rice yields and increase protection against flooding.  Troops must be trained and armed and generals kept happy with gifts of gold.  Battles are also very parallel to other Koei titles with one very important addition — FIRE!  Great for smoking defending units out of their castles or keeping attackers at bay.  It cannot always be used though.  The prevailing winds may not be at the army's back or, even worse, a blazing inferno could come back at you if the winds shift.

Even the mountains burn in China.

Diplomacy between empires is limited to borrowing rice, sending a gift, arranging a joint attack, or establishing a marriage by offering one of your daughters.

Well, you should have been born a boy then.

Arranging any of these options requires sending a general to negotiate. A high charm attribute increases the chances of success which is crucial since a bad impression can mean death for everyone involved.  Not only is there an option to recruit or kill the messenger general (having strategic ramifications) but you can also kill the bride-to-be which only serves to piss off the opposing ruler even more.

I don't like that slight scowl
she has. Kill 'em all.

As the empire expands, more and more generals need to be gained in order to protect vulnerable borders or just to make runs to interior states for gold, rice, or troops to be brought to the border states.  This can be done by either seeking out free generals that may be residing in currently owned states or by capturing enemy generals in battle and then gaining their favour by dump trucking golds onto them until they like you.  With many generals having a propensity to having the same family name (and similar portraits), it can become difficult to keep track of everyone, resulting in multiple trips to the status screen.  Only a few names really stick out at all.

♫ Everybody Wang Shuang tonight! ♪

In order to win this scenario, Cao Cao must conquer and rule 40 of the 58 available states.  Currently he holds 14 territories and has plans to start a massive offensive to the northern states of his arch-nemesis Yuan Shao and to the southern empire of Sun Quan.  Losing a two-front war doesn't happen very often, does it?