Genre: Role-playing (RPG), Strategy
Perspective: 1st-person, Top-down
Published by: Sierra On-Line
Developed by: Synergistic Software
Somewhere in the readme, the developers wrote: this game is for those who have already killed all the dragons in the world, completed quests, rescued princesses, and stopped universal evil. Sheer truth!
Let's say we're playing an RPG. Let's say that everything mentioned has really already happened and the game ends here, and the heroes ... what happens to them next? The most brave drink in taverns, someone opens a school of adventurers, and someone becomes the ruler of a small city, or even a state (most likely, by the goodwill of the inhabitants).
It is about such adventurers who do not waste time in vain that this game tells. As a setting, a relatively little-known "Birthright" is taken. Let me explain the essence: there was an empire, it fell apart, the map of the continent turned, according to tradition, into a patchwork quilt, which everyone pulled in his direction. Each shred is a separate state with its own ruler, each of which calls himself a regent and dreams of asserting his rights. A familiar, in general, situation. Everyone is in a different situation: the territory, of course, is heterogeneous, which affects its population - somewhere orcs-goblins, somewhere people, somewhere elves. However, even the largest state cannot simply wrest the imperial crown with a fight, since in the most sacred place there is the largest castle, and the most powerful villain named Gorgon sits in it. He has occupied an extremely pleasant region with swamps, mountains and ravines, and little by little terrorizes the district (about a quarter of the island) for fun. Well, as usual, he has an army of Chaos under his command.
So, initially, no one has too much chance of winning. Those who are bigger really want to gradually push and annex those who are smaller, but then such a thing as politics comes into force: others who are larger, as well as all those who are smaller, do not want to be pushed and annexed at all. Therefore, they enter into long-term alliances, and in especially tense cases, small states bow to large states and become their vassals in order to receive protection. Among other things, a small state is not necessarily weak - in addition to the province-territories themselves, there are also resources in the game. Resources are: law enforcement buildings, guilds, temples and magical sources. The first three can be developed with the growth of the province, and the last one only gets weaker with it. And here is the main snag: you can have such resources not only on your own territory, but, in principle, on any. You can easily try to build your temple on the territory of the enemy, fight (politically or financially) for the success of this enterprise, win and, having received such a valuable resource in his possessions, immediately use it - say, cast a global priestly spell there. Among other things, there are numerous independent owners of such resources in the game: merchant guilds, guilds of magicians, etc. They can and should be brought closer to oneself and made vassals, parting in exchange with large amounts of sparkling metal.
Owning such buildings adds money and influence to you. I think there is no need to explain where to let the money go, but we need to dwell on the influence in more detail. Each "regent" has such a parameter as "bloodline", that is, the purity of royal blood. The higher it is, the more energetic it is, shall we say. And he also has a state in which there are the resources mentioned above - and they increase his influence. The regent gains influence for resources in accordance with his class: thieves make great money on trade guilds, priests - on temples...
At the beginning of each turn, the lesser of the two values is taken - influence and bloodline. The resulting number is added to what is left from the previous move, and the whole thing is called "regency". This thing is the same influence, only almost material. When you try to do something risky like starting a new guild or developing your province's general wealth, you must roll a dice to determine success. So, you can spend your influence to increase your chances up to 100% or, conversely, to lower the chances of the enemy in some undertaking hostile to you.
That's how much politics is in the game. And now for everything else.
The game is both TBS, RTS and RPG. When running a state, your character does not go anywhere, and his characteristics actively influence the process. Charisma affects how often and in what quantities all sorts of minor heroes will come to him for hire - generals, priests, magicians. Intelligence or wisdom still affects the character's magical and priestly abilities on the global map.
When a battle occurs, you are prompted to choose whether to participate in the battle or automatically calculate the results of the battle (does it remind you of anything?). When participating in a battle, we get something like real-time chess - a field divided into squares in which individual battles take place. Even here everything is AD&D canon - sides meet, throw dice and hit or miss. Added to this is morale (still nothing like that?), charge for cavalry, spells for mages and priests, and so on.
In addition to the direct development of their provinces and the war, the regent's duties include setting and collecting taxes, laying roads, building, developing and maintaining castles, paying monetary allowances to the army, supporting the spirit of the population, espionage, politics, hiring new characters, using magic in global scale and... adventure. Yes, the old occupation of the regents has not gone away, and from time to time they return to it. If you wish, you can spend part of your turn searching for a lost artifact, stealing it from some baron, clearing a dungeon, and other fun walks. At the end, you always get a random artifact. The regents come along like everyone else - in real time, from the first or third person, with the party. They grow in levels, kill famous villains, rob other people's treasuries and drag it all into their treasury, learn new spells, find magical items and collect, RAKE dozens of artifacts.
All this may seem too vast, confusing and complex. And, nevertheless, the game has a pretty decent tutorial that explains everything intelligibly enough.