My time in Yes, Your Grace is spent in one of two ways: sighing inwardly or secretly wanting to chop off people's heads. The kingdom management game is in beta until mid-week, and it takes you through the stressful yet enjoyable opening hour of the game. As the ruler of a struggling kingdom, I'm confronted with a cavalcade of choices put to me by peasants and noblemen and visiting royalty and family members who never stop asking for things. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and after an hour of play I've decided it would lighten my load if I could just execute everyone.
I can't, which is why I spend so much time sighing.
As each new week begins, I plop my royal butt on the throne and cast a weary eye at the line of people waiting to see me. There's almost always a crowd. I call them up, one by one, to find out what they need and then decide if I want to give it to them, knowing full well that I'm going to fail to make everyone happy. In fact, I barely make anyone happy, least of all myself.
Every choice feels like a tough one. If the first person in line is a peasant asking for gold to rebuild his hovel, I'm apt not to give it to him because the next person in line might have a better reason for needing the gold. I'd like to be more generous but I'm not exactly swimming in riches—despite my expansive castle, I feel like I'm always a week away from financial ruin. 12 gold doesn't sound like a lot to hand out until you see you only have about 30 in your ledger and the line of outstretched hands is a long one.
I can't just give away all my money: part of my castle has collapsed and needs to be repaired, and I've got a wedding to plan and pay for, and there's an enemy army approaching, and I want to always have something in the bank for emergencies since I have no idea what issues might crop up from week to week. And gold isn't the only thing people want. Sometimes they want supplies, which I also only have a dwindling stock of, and other times they need assistance from my army's general—raiders may have attacked a town, a child may have gone missing, or an area on the overworld map may need investigating.
Sending my general out to help the first person who asks for one feels dangerous—what if someone else in line has a much more compelling or urgent reason? If I've already committed a general to one task, I can't use him again until the following week. And worse, if I hold the general back from someone and it turns out no one else asks for him that week, I wind up feeling like a real dick for not helping someone in need. Sigh.
And that's just dealing with the royal subjects! Once I've dispensed with the line of whiners and beggars, I also have a family (sigh!) to deal with before I can end the week and move on to the next. I have three daughters who don't get along and need constant tending to, forcing me to leave my throne and walk around the castle to find and sooth them or one might get so angry she smears shit on another's pillow (this happened). One daughter is understandably unhappy because I'm marrying her off to a prince in order to forge an alliance with another king who will provide the soldiers I desperately need to defend my kingdom from invaders. That king, by the way, is a complete asshole and spends all his time in rooting around in my library while questioning my parenting choices. He's number one on my fantasy execution list, if you were wondering.
Even the queen, who seems at first to be reasonable and helpful, eventually stabs me in the back (figuratively) by insisting on a big huge puffy wedding dress for our daughter that costs more gold than I have in the treasury. Despite her insistence I go with the mid-range dress, though even that hurts—it's 40 gold, and I've already taken out a massive loan from a banker I don't really trust. How am I ever going to pay that back? Sigh.
As annoying and needy as everyone is, and despite my constant fantasies about cutting off just about everybody's heads, the writing in Yes, Your Grace is good enough that I do manage to feel some connection to its characters. After my sullen daughter hides herself away for a couple of weeks, we eventually talk about her impending arranged marriage to a stranger that I'm forcing upon her simply because it will add a few thousand swords to my army. And she tells me she understands and that she loves me, which is a huge relief after spending an hour of the game feeling like she rightfully hates my guts. Ahh. A good sigh! A sigh of contentment, at last.
That good feeling doesn't last long, though, as the wedding—as it often does in fantasy kingdoms—doesn't quite go as planned. So I'm back to bad sighs and fantasies of putting people under the axe.
There's a lot going on in just the first hour of Yes, Your Grace, and it already feels like something I could play two or three more times just because I'd like to see how my choices might play out differently. The full game isn't due until early next year and I'm excited where its story leads. Hopefully, it'll include at least a few executions.