Monday, November 26, 2012

Blood, Grain, and Steel Gameplay Review

I'm playing Blood, Grain, and Steel, a turn-based strategy game by David Walters Development.

The campaign game takes place on a strategic map where you move armies around, with tactical battles when units invade enemy territory. The goal is to take the enemy fortress (the two sides (red and blue) are identical), capturing territories along the way that produce grain each turn. Grain is used to purchase units for the battles, and it can be transferred between a province and an army, a sort of innovative manual resupply system that works vey well. You pick your units before each battle, so you can alter your strategy every skirmish (you don’t have to use three soldiers if you did last battle). The size of your army depends on the amount of grain you have in store (and unit use grain each turn as well), so keeping your armies well supplied is a must, especially after battles when they are depleted. Battles are slow, since only a single unit can move and attack each turn. Unit types include the standard soldier, fast rider, powerful-but-fragile infiltrator, captain paladin, ranged catapult, or supply depot. You lose the battle if the enemy destroys all of your supply depots, all of your paladins, or if you run out of grain because of the per-turn supply requirement (which allows you to effectively starve a stationary defender). Blood, Grain, and Steel uses a specific set of tables to calculate damage between units based on the units involved and the terrain of the conflict. Memorizing (or printing them out) is key to victory, as is analyzing the potential movement radii of each unit on the map. The AI, although inconsistent at times, does flank vulnerable units and understands the game rules fairly well. While Blood, Grain, and Steel has a very intriguing use of supply and some distinctive tactical battles with the varied unit types, most of the game is fairly bland. However, the game could appeal to strategy fans looking for a lighter take on the genre.