Vikings: Fields of Conquest


Title		Vikings: Fields of Conquest
Publisher	Krisalis (1992)
Programmer      Brian Vodnik
Game Type	Strategy
Players		1-6
HD Installable	Yes
Compatibility	All Amigas
Submission	John Burns (john@jgb.abelgratis.co.uk) Profiled Reviewer

Review
First off I'd like to address the issue of this game's title. It is
actually prefixed Kingdoms of England 2, which it most definitely isn't.
It is in fact an updated version of the original Kingdoms of England
(1987) rather than a true sequel. Another reason for dropping the prefix
and staying with the title Vikings is that the sequel (IBM only) was
titled Vikings 2. So, any complaints on the back of a postage stamp please.

The game is most reminiscent of the later title Lords of the Realm and
given this similarity I will be comparing them frequently. I would venture
that the designers of Lords had in fact a good knowledge of this game such
is the similarity. Like that game this is a turn based strategy game set
in medieval times. However, one important difference is that this game is
set not only in England and Wales but also incorporates Ireland, Iceland,
Scotland (so you know you're gonna have to be tough) ;) and parts of
Scandinavia. Remember it is called Vikings and this is yet another reason
for dumping the KoE prefix.

The game begins with the usual selection of leader and kingdom's name,
difficulty level etc. then it's off we go. Unlike Lords, where your
starting location is random but always in one of the predetermined
positions, in this game you have the option to either choose a starting
territory manually or have one given at random. Obviously when you have
played the game a bit manually choosing can be a bit of a cheat but hey,
you don't have to and it is nice to be given the choice. There are some
150 or so territories to choose from and in addition to getting a Castle
and Army in your homeland you are also given some adjacent territories to
rule over. Taxes are set by territory and are not adjustable but this is
not a hindrance. Turns in this game represent a year and unlike in Lords
there is no micro management of the population in their endeavours. Your
people farm the fields and harvest the crops without your interference.
However, before you can get ores (silver, gold and iron) you have to pay
to search a territory and if some are found a mine is created and manned.
Some resources such as wood and stone are automatically produced in
territories that can produce them. In Lords of course all territories can
produce the same but here they cannot so in that sense this is more
life-like. Okay, I could go on and list all the other features, their
differences and similarities, but I think you get the drift.

Of course this is primarily a strategy game so let's talk about fighting.
As I stated above you are given some armies at the start. You can send
these forth immediately to conquer new territories or buy some more troops
to strengthen them; your money, your choice, though obviously where your
neighbours are will play a part in this decision. So what is the combat
like, well nothing much really - a window appears in which both side's
forces are detailed along with the option to retreat. As you watch you
will see the figures for each side modifying as combat is simulated, not
very exciting granted but reasonable enough. Unlike Lords there is no
siege option when besieging an enemy territory which contains
fortifications, (Castle, Tower, etc.), a definite oversight in my view. On
the flip side an Army in this game must be equipped with catapults when
attacking fortifications something missing from Lords.

Vikings does have one other feature which some of the more astute amongst
you may have been wondering about, The Sea, or to be more precise the
crossing of it. Yes, in this game you have to build ships for fighting and
transportation. Of course you will also have to build a port to access
these options. All of this eats into your precious resources and money so
this is yet another element which you have to juggle when making your
decisions.

Control wise it's pretty intuitive being mouse/icon driven with the
exception of loading and saving which are accessed via the keyboard.
Clicking on a territory for instance will bring up an information window
giving you details about that territory and some icons which allow you to
buy troops and build items such as the aforementioned ports and
fortifications. The buying and selling of produce; wood, ores and food is
managed on a kingdom wide basis from icons located at the left edge of the
screen which affects mouse actions. These icons are used to select the
troop, territory or mining modes when using the mouse on the main map. All
in all it works well and only takes a few minutes to learn and become
accustomed to.

Overall then this is a game which I, and will continue to, enjoy.
Ultimately though one has to ask the question is this better or worse than
Lords and also is it worth having both. If I was really pushed and had to
choose only one to keep then I'd probably opt for this title, albeit with
much regret. That said, my view is that though very similar in many
respects, there are still enough differences to enable both games to
co-exist within your software collection without either being overshadowed
by the other. Certainly a game worth owning and playing.



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