Rising Lords is a medieval turn-based strategy game developed by Argonwood that recently entered the Steam Early Access phase. The team plans for the game to stay in EA for about a year to allow devs the opportunity to work closely with the community and collect invaluable feedback.
We got a chance to dive into the tapestry-like landscape of Rising Lords to try the game out for ourselves – bring our little town to prosperity by collecting taxes, gathering resources, bringing happiness to citizens and guarding the borders jealously from any who might want to bring harm. This is our Rising Lords Steam Early Access preview.
The first thing you might notice upon getting into the game is the lack of an actual in-game tutorial. Instead, the game urges you to watch a short video on Youtube. Hopefully, it will change by the time the game releases a full version.
In scenarios, you start on a freshly generated map with a tiny town and a number of peasants reflected by its population. Every 250 citizens flocking to your banner give you an extra peasant unit that you can use to harvest crops, gather lumber or stone, mine for metal, etc. Additionally, it is up to peasants to build new structures, ensuring that the unit in question is out of commission for 2 to 9 turns unless you assign multiple workers to speed the process up. Except, in the beginning, it might be next to impossible because you have to take care of food both for your population and for the cattle, which automatically cuts at least two peasants from your number of available units.
In short, in the early game, it might be next to required to lower taxes and increase the rations in your lands to add to the overall happiness and health of the population and prompt it to grow.
Sometimes it will take only a few turns to give you the boom in the population you are looking for to get some fresh peasants, but other times the RNG will not be on your side and your numbers will be ravaged by famine or other unlucky events that will hinder the already slow start of the game.
In addition to the peasant management and city building, Rising Lords also features turn-based combat with the elements of CCG. Once you’ve reached a point where you can comfortably produce enough resources to sacrifice a portion of it for the creation of spears, swords, crossbows, light and heavy armor and more, it is time to build up an army and get more regions under control (and from your neighbors).
From time to time, you will get visited by a traveling merchant that can sell the supplies needed by your army or general resources or even hire a group of mercenaries for a hefty sum of gold.
The actual battles are somewhat like Heroes of Might and Magic – you place your troops on the battlefield as your opponent does the same. Then you can control units according to their initiative to move them across the battlefield or attack the enemy army.
You will also have a number of cards in your hand that allow you to perform an action such as swap two adjacent units or increase the damage of your archers or something of that effect. As your character wins battles and grows in levels, more cards become available in the army interface.
You can practice in combat by choosing the Quick Battle game mode that allows you to choose a difficulty and dive right into the battlefield with your troops.
Currently, conquest is the only way to acquire new territory, although the developers promise the addition of diplomacy into the full release version of Rising Lords. In addition to it, the full version is said to feature more cards, units, events, maps, buildings, victory conditions (currently represented only by conquest) as well as a story campaign.
Rising Lords snuck a peek at various games of the strategy genre, took some of their mechanics, threw them into a pot, shook it with vigor, and got a unique mix generously flavored with unique medieval tapestry-like graphics. There is a lot of promise in the game although it has certain problems as well: the start of a new map is excruciatingly slow, you might get an unlucky RNG string that may feel like the game is actively punishing you for playing, there is no in-game tutorial and the music gets repetitive.
Note: the Early Access key was provided by the developer for the purposes of this preview.