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King Arthur II The Role-Playing Wargame. Chug, Chug.

I played the original King Arthur and found it to be a mostly fun game that was brought down a bit by its brutal difficulty and weird Total War-like combat model. But it had magic. Not just magic but Pagan magic. (Always the best kind.)

I started messing around with “King Arthur II The Role-playing Wargame” today and I am terribly early in the campaign. As in, I just started it and have fought one whole battle against some Sherwood Rebels. But that’s enough to make a few bullet points…

* First off: the game CRAWLS on my PC. I am running Windows 7, a Core II Duo 3GHz with 3 GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon 6800 HD videocard with brand new drivers. So is this a screaming fast PC? No. It’s not. I know it’s not. But hoo boy it’s bad. I have a Dell 24″ flatscreen monitor and when games run at anything other than 1900×1200 resolution it looks a tad weird. This sucker, when I run th egame at the medium to low video settings runs at a blistering 8 frames per second on the OVERLAND map! That’s not even the battle map! The battles, oddly enough, run around 15-18 FPS, which is still not great but a hell of a lot better than 8. 

Turns out I am not alone.

* The battle I fought against the Rebels was clearly an intro battle designed to get your feet wet. Still, this game looks to have a similar oddity that I know will be hard for me to get around.  Units don’t flee. I am so used to games like Shogun and Rome and Medieval where if a unit takes a ton of damage they up and run, as morale breaks. Here, those rebels fought to the death. No one was left alive. Cavalry charging some archers? They stand and fight. Additionally, I still have a hard time determining if I am winning or losing a battle. Total War fans are used to seeing that all important line “Winning Slightly” or some other hint as to how things are going. Here, all I get is some annoying advisor telling me,. “Your units are going to die!!!” He said this no less than 15 times in this battle.

Then I win the battle in a landslide. Um, ok. Can I fire that guy?

I think I know why the game does this “no retreat no surrender” thing. This is part strategy battle game and part RPG — it has a story to tell and you can’t very well have lingering armies wandering the landscape when they aren’t meant to be there. That’s just a guess, but that’s the best I can come up with as to why these fights are designed in such a way.

I hope to get these performance issues worked out because it’s going to be a real bitch evaluating it right now.

Time to turn everything on Low and see what that gets me.I hope it does as even with the flee issue, I want to dig into the story and kill some monsters.



Like many small boys growing up in 1980’s Britain my first introduction to computing and computer gaming was the dreadful ZX Spectrum with its terrible colour bleed, clunky cassette loading and creepily tactile rubber keyboard. Most of the games I played on it were awful, but I played them because I had nothing else, but one was different. One was so good I still play it on emulators, occasionally, today.

That game was Chaos...

Chaos was the first (and until relatively recently the last) foray that Games Workshop took into computer game publishing, back in 1985. It featured up to eight wizards each of which could be human or computer controlled, trying to kill each other on a featureless battlefield. The wizards themselves were fairly puny so each had a randomly determined collection of spells. Some buffed the wizards, some were direct attacks, some were downright odd like Gooey Blob or Magic Wood, but most summoned creatures.

One of the many interesting things about Chaos was the fact that the more powerful creature spells had a higher chance of failing, so the player could choose instead to cast them as an illusion. Illusions always worked but could be instantly killed by the “disbelieve” spell that was available to all wizards and cast-able every turn. So every summons had an immediate risk/reward choice to make alongside it, giving the game more strategy than it might first appear. It appeared a very simple game on the surface but there was actually quite a lot going on under the bonnet (hood for those of you in the states). I’m not going to run it all down for you: you can read the rules and indeed play various versions of the game on this excellent fan page.

Everyone I know who played Chaos loved it. Every turn, every move was crammed with tension, not knowing what on the board was real, or what the other players had up their sleeves to cast that turn or even whether any of the spells lined up would work properly. Inevitably we all had our own suggestions about how the game could be improved and by far the most common was that it needed a non-random spell selection as some spells were more powerful than others so starting spell selection often determined the winner. Duly a sequel to the game, Lords of Chaos, appeared which included this alongside other upgrades such as big maps with terrain and an expanded spell palette. And, whilst not awful, it was nowhere near as much fun as the original. Giving players the chance to choose spells just meant they always picked the best, reducing the variety and fun in the game. And big maps with complex terrain made it take too long as well as reducing accessibility.

But so many people loved Chaos that it was never going to be left to die. On 16 bit machines there was a little know game called Celtic Legends which was clearly inspired by Chaos and was pretty good, even if it got a bit repetitive. But with the retro-gaming explosion in later years there were numerous people making copies of Chaos, most of which fell by the wayside either being unfinished or falling into the trap of trying to improve the game and rendering it rubbish. I’ve already pointed you at one of the few successes.

It struck me recently that it’d be an absolutely fantastic tablet or mobile phone game. So imagine my annoyance as an iPad owner to discover that it’s one of the tiny handful of games that’s available on Android but not iOS! I’m off to email the author about porting it – in the meantime I suggest you go back to my previous link and get playing it.