Warlords Battlecry III Review
The Warlords Battlecry games have always been a favorite of strategy gamers. The games provided solid RTS gameplay with some unique elements, persistent heroes, and a large variety of units. Warlords Battlecry III (WB3) continues the tradition of its predecessors to the point where it will look very familiar to players of the previous games, although it does add a few new twists to the gameplay. If you’re one of those strategy gamers much of what follows in this review will be very familiar to you, just as the game itself will be.
The central figure in WB3 is your hero. The hero is the most versatile unit in the game - he or she provides a leadership bonus to nearby units, has the power to cast spells, can wear magical armor and items and wield special weapons, and can capture resource sites. Your hero also improves with experience, gaining levels and earning points that you can spend to improve the hero’s attributes and abilities. What’s more is that your hero is persistent and can be carried over from one mission to the next, as well as between the campaign and skirmish games, accumulating experience all along the way. Heroes can also extend this persistence to a limited number of units after completing a game, allowing you to select a few high level units to accompany your hero to the next game.
When creating your hero the game provides you with a myriad of classes from which to choose. Each comes with its own specialties, whether it be class-specific spells or bonuses such as increased leadership ability. This provides you with plenty of leeway in creating a hero who fits your style of play. If your hero should fall in battle, it is a tough blow for your cause in that battle but not a permanent loss as your hero will be resurrected for your next game. There is an iron man option for those who prefer a greater challenge by making death permanent.
The philosophy of choice used with hero classes extends to the races appearing in the game. There are 15 in total and they are each different and not merely the same units in different colors. Each race has unique units and structures, prefers a different mix of resources, and lends itself to a different stratagem or style of play. This not only provides you with plenty of options when selecting a race, it also adds an additional layer of strategy to the game as you’ll need to adjust your game to counter the strengths and exploit the weaknesses of the races you are playing against.
The four resources in the game are harvested in a different manner than most strategy games. Resource sites already come with the necessary mine and invisible workers to harvest and collect the resource in question. The sites are captured by converting them to your cause with your hero – after your hero spends a little time waving his flag, the resource site will fly your colors and begin providing your treasury with a steady stream of its resources. You can assign special units to resource sites to increase the flow of resources, but the sites will work just fine without them. Resource sites are scattered around the map instead of being clustered around base sites. As a result, a major component of gameplay is getting to the resource sites and converting them, and then converting your opponent’s sites to your side while trying to protect your far-flung resource network.