Fantasy General was a 1996 wargame for people who rightly felt that the otherwise excellent Panzer General didn't have enough dragons. And it threw in wizards, undead and—just for the hell of it—mechs, to boot. More than two decades later, it's getting an unexpected second wind in the form of Fantasy General 2 later this year.
Set 300 years after the first game, you'll be commanding armies of fantasy warriors as the son of a barbarian chief, trying to prove yourself to you tough old man and your clan council. You'll fight hex-based battles again, but this time with an evolving army of rookies and potential champions, each a sum of their experience, abilities and gear, rather than being defined by their type.
"We move away from a simple rock-paper-scissors to a more 'logical' model," explains designer Jan Wagner. "If a unit has a spear, it can break a charge—that will make it useful against cavalry units, but also a number of light infantry, berserkers or some animals. You don’t simply 'get good against cavalry' because you are a certain unit type."
You'll be able to hurl trolls, shamans, ancestor spirits, elementals, werebears, stag riders and all sorts of fantasy tropes at the opposition. More than 75 unique units could join your burgeoning army, some just cannon fodder, others heroes that you won't want to lose.
While everything from morale, the terrain, magic and decisions you've made in the campaign will have an impact on the battles, developer Owned by Gravity is aiming to make the complexity easy to parse. Glancing at the tile and the weapons of your enemies, you should be able to make an informed decision about whether or not you should engage and what unit you should use.
The original Fantasy General flung its universe together, but Owned by Gravity says its taking the world and story seriously in the sequel. It's "central to the game," says Wagner. Between missions you'll be making decisions that heroes and soldiers will react to, and factions will have unique abilities and wrinkles based on their backgrounds. The barbarian clans are raiders, for instance, stealing the resources they need, while the Empire has arcane tricks and the ability to summon undead armies.
Wagner says the team want to create the Fantasy General that existed in their heads. After hundreds of hours of playing the original when it came out, they'd constructed all this backstory and imagined decisions that the game didn't actually have. "We added depth to areas where, looking at it now, there was more of a thin layer of setting and context on top of the classic General series gameplay. The new iteration is basically the game we had played in our imagination, so we are very excited to make it reality."
You can see more of the game on publisher Slitherine's Twitch channel. The stream's live now.
Fantasy General 2 is due out this year.
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Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.