With the increase in purely digital acquisitions, which can also be account-bound, I can, however, take this path less and less often. I am then beaten for all eternities with a game that waits in a dark, dusty corner of the software cry for this place to itch again. Because you never know what the future will bring. Sudden enlightenment? Spontaneous gaming fun? Everything already happened!
So it happened that Harzzach, driven by the voices in his head, descended into the depths to locate the game that had deprived him of his well-deserved beauty sleep.
Hach, there it lay innocently in the shady niche. “Age of Wonders“.
Not a soul with a hair crooked. Innocent as on the day of acquisition. But I knew better. A vicious monster lurked here in secret. One of those games, which even in their best moments leave their recipient only with a helpless “What the fuck?” And in the worst moments, bitten through table edges, ruined dentures and urgent sending of urgent emergency calls to the nearest chapter of the Adeptus Astartes result.
There was no going back. Itching under the hairline. It shouted. And lured.
Come on, dare you. Play me. Coward, coward. Install me. Start me. And despair of me. Again! *mwahahahahaha*
It came how it had to come. The demon in the form of a game strikes his festering claws into my soul. The “Game Over” flickered flicker-free over the LCD monitor faster than even my worst visions could have foreseen. Not even ten rounds survived. Paff. Off.
Ok, that was it. I finally erase this game from my memory. The daemon’s gloating giggle and tickle becomes quieter and quieter as I leave the shady niche again and walk up, dejected, into the cosy warmth of my living quarters. But wait … there it still itches. Why does it still itch? What else should I do? What sacrifices does this pest still want to make me? I turn around on the landing. That was not the end. That couldn’t be the end yet.
With my teeth clenched together, I perform the necessary installation rites again. The demon laughs and laughs and laughs. Ever louder. The niche trembles from its presence. The shadows are gathering. Soon he is physical. Soon he will no longer be content with the emotions of frustrated players. Emperor have mercy on me! What have I done? What have I done? Normally this would be the moment when a Droppod of the Ultramarines breaks through the ceiling of the vault and this spawn of chaos is thrown back into the warp, boltering and chainsawing. But nothing comes. I am alone.
And at the moment of his greatest triumph, at the moment of my greatest weakness, I am granted the mercy of the Emperor. I finally know what to do. I play AoW on Easy.
On normal it decomposes me ratzfatz. I have no chance on Normal. None of the strategies proposed in forums works. Because hardly anyone in the relevant forums plays the campaign. All strategies that make sense fail in the campaign, because the campaign is almost exclusively script-controlled and you only have a chance to get normal and higher if you know the map inside and out and have found out through countless trial & error attempts which script events are triggered and what the mission designer has thought up in his slaneesh-infested brain. There is no strategy in the campaign. That’s why I never got “better” during all my previous futile attempts. Because there was nothing to learn from.
On Light, on the other hand, all you have to do is secure your cities with a few units and build walls. The AI will then be raiding the area with a few puny raiding troops instead of driving the player mad with an oversized army of fast and strong units like on Normal. Usually she’s completely passive and lets me march effortlessly from victory to victory. That’s almost CoD gameplay.
Now that the demon has been defeated, I could give myself Age of Wonders. Because the illusions that the chaos makes me think are not so bad. AoW did very well for a fifteen-year-old game. Widescreen resolution is easily adjustable up to any height. Although the UI doesn’t scale in size, so that you need a magnifying glass from 1080p, but otherwise the game will survive well for the next fifteen years.
“Age of Wonders 1 is not a bad game.” Even though the campaign has been corrupted by chaos and an Exterminatus is more than overdue for the headquarters of Triumph Studios … it’s not a bad game. It just has a miserably designed and balanced SP campaign. Maybe I should take a closer look at the successors. If I itch again. When the eye of chaos opens again. And not a day earlier.