Posted by: Ben | October 2, 2010

Lords of Midnight Part 4: It’s On

This is Part 4 of my playthrough of Mike Singleton’s Lords of Midnight. Read Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Day Thirteen

It’s Day Thirteen and Corleth the Fey is hanging around the general region of the Downs of Despair and the Mountains of Death. This is all rather depressing. He approaches the Citadel of Vorgath, which is at the back entrance to Doomdark’s personal little valley, but he won’t be storming it owing to the three thousand warriors guarding it.

I guess that's why they call them the downs.

Time to send him over the mountains instead. The ice-giant infested mountains.

His relative Thimrath the Fey has run into some trouble with the Doomguard on the Plains of Isenrath. And Lothoril is still in the thick of battle, too. We’re calling it the Battle of Glorim.

Lord Blood has been hiding, on his own, in a keep for about four days. Although the enemy have been hanging around outside the gates, they are yet to attack. Could this be an exploit?

Day Fourteen

The Shadows of Death appear to be spreading, and have now affected Luxor the Moonprince.

Corleth is in the Mountains of Death (no relation), where he has personally slain sixty-five unspecified bad guys, at the cost of his horse. That’s the kind of dedication we need. Finally, he descends from the mountains into enemy territory, making it all the way to the front door of the Tower of Doom, where his aptitude for combat finally fails him as he is slain by a bunch of skulkrin. Grr.

There hasn’t been much good news, but at least Lothoril won the battle of Glorim. He heads onwards to the Domain of Korkith to liberate another keep. Elsewhere, Thimrath and Rorath are still engaged in ongoing battles, and Shimeril and Blood are still valiantly hiding. Most of the enemy activity has now left the Plains of Blood and the armies are now crossing the adjacent Plains of Iserath, to the south-west.

Day Fifteen

Luxor has somehow reached the Tower of Coom (sic), on the far right of the map. This tower is another fount of useless information, specifically that the Lord of somewhere or other is to be found at the Citadel that bears the same name. Well, duh.

Rorthron the Wise is still meandering around friendly territory like a man with no purpose in life. I could send him after the Ice Crown, except for the fact that that would mean certain death and he is supposed to be Wise. On the other hand, he now has a sword called Dragonslayer, which must count for something.

Thimrath the Fey and Lord Rorath were both killed in battle overnight. Lothoril reaches the Citadel of Korkith, where he had hoped to find more Fey, but instead comes across another enemy army.

Morale is low and it seems as though all that’s left to do is wait for the enemy to finish me off. Let’s see how long it takes them.

Day Sixteen

Luxor arrives at the Citadel of Dregrim, home of the Fey Lord Dregrim and over a thousand utterly invigorated warriors, none of whom are prepared to lift a finger to help him. Utterly useless.

Lothoril’s entire army has been killed. Also useless.

Day Seventeen

Lothoril is now as dead as the rest of his army.

Day Eighteen

There’s an upturn in my will to continue as Luxor recruits a new lord to the cause. The Utarg of Utarg is a stocky Nordic warrior-king type accompanied by one thousand riders. My new, slightly less ambitious plan is to send him back down to Xajorkith to help defend the place. Luxor proceeds to the Tower of Kumar, where the Towers continue their reputation for useless advice. “Looking for the Lord of Lothoril , you must seek the Plains of Korkith.” Thanks, unseen voice. When this is all over, I’ll head right up there and look FOR HIS CORPSE.

Now that all the bad guys have gone from the Plains of Blood, it’s time to move Lord Blood. He legs it across the Plains in the general direction of enemy territory, with no obvious goal.

Day Nineteen

The Tower of Athoril is next door to the Tower of Kumar and contains no more useful information. On the plus side, Luxor also manages to recruit the Lord of Kumar.

Heading South, the Utarg finds Lord Dregrim alone outside his castle, which is now occupied by the enemy. I feel Lord Dregrim has learned a valuable lesson about what happens when good men do nothing. The Utarg decides to have a go at liberating the castle anyway, in the interests of controlling enemy numbers.

Day Twenty

The Lord of Kumar has located and recruited Lord Athoril. It’s getting difficult, keeping track of all these lords, made easier by the fact that someone appears to have killed Shimeril, and that the Utarg’s entire army is dead. I’m actually a bit annoyed by the enemy army that’s occupying the Citadel of Dregrim now, so I send Athoril down there to see if he’ll have any more joy.

Day Twenty-One

Last night, death came to the land of Corelay, apparently. The end is getting close. The Eastern lands are brimming with helpful generals wanting to volunteer their services, and my newest recruit is the Lord of Whispers. Stupidly, my first direction to Whispers is to assault a nearby castle. Stupidly, because my only chance of winning the game involves sending him direct to either Xajorkith or the enemy’s home castle.

Day Twenty-Two

And here’s another one! It’s the Lord of Ithrorn. Having made it so far north I decide my best bet is to send this fellow with Luxor to attack Doomdark’s actual castle. He starts by picking a fight in his own territory, with a conveniently situated enemy army.

Despite his numerical superiority, Athoril does not appear to be in the mood to attack the Citadel of Dregrim. Probably a wise move.

Somewhere on the plains that bear his name, Lord Blood has been slain by dragons.

Day Twenty-Three

I don’t know if it’s the Ice Fear, but my chaps are certainly beginning to tire easily. Having hiked the vast majority of the way to the north-east corner of the map, Luxor is cream crackered, and is forced to stop for a rest dangerously close to an enemy army. Rorthron does similar, right next to the still bad-guy occupied Citadel of Dregrim.

The Lord of Kumar and his equally tired men patrol the mountains in the region of Trorn, just across from Corelay. A series of keeps stand along the foot of the mountains, all of them packed to the arrowslits with the Doomguard.

The game is hiding information from me. Presumably, individual characters have their own strengths and weaknesses in battle, and possibly also the game is measuring how healthy and close to death they are. But you are actually told about three attributes of your character, which we’ll call Fear, Ice Fear (this might be a global property or even a property of the location – it’s difficult to tell) and Tiredness, plus the size of your army in terms of warriors and riders. It’s not easy to tell from that whether you’re likely to win the next battle or not, unless you record the outcomes of each encounter very carefully. For individual combat, it’s a case of guessing that Dragons are probably tougher than Ice Trolls, who are tougher than Skulkrin, who are tougher than Wolves, but working out which characters or armies are going to be able to defeat which opponents can only be a matter of accumulating data over repeated playthroughs, learning by dying.

Day Twenty-Four

It’s on.

From the Citadel of Xajorkith, the lord of Xajorkith can see an enemy army on the horizon to the north, approaching through the gap between the mountains. None of the backup that Luxor recruited is here yet. The decision I have to make is whether to wait in the citadel or ride out to meet them, and it’s a choice that could turn the war. If I hadn’t basically already been defeated, that is.

It’s tempting to ride out and take them, but I’m not completely lacking in tactical aptitude. It’s going to be a lot easier to defend the citadel than to attack it. The only army within any decent distance belongs to the Lord of Kumar, who is slowly approaching from behind. There is no group of sentient trees on the way. We are probably all going to die.

Alone in the forest of Dregrim, the Utarg of Utarg is eaten by wolves. He will not be remembered.

Day Twenty-Five

Oh dear. That didn’t go too well. The Lord of Xajorkith has been evicted from his Citadel and his entire army killed by an enemy army five times larger. The game is only continuing in order to give me a chance to survey the damage. Luxor the Moonprince is on the cover of the new bestseller, Butchers and Bunglers of the War of the Solstice.

For the record, my surviving characters were Luxor, Rorthron, Xajorkith, Kumar, Ithrorn, Whispers and Athoril. My not-so surviving characters were Morkin, Corleth, Gard, Shimeril, Rorath, Thimrath, Lothoril, Blood and Utarg. Thanks for reading.

Total Play Time: 7 hours 30 minutes

Verdict

Extraordinary. I’ve been playing games my whole life (off and on I mean, I’ve done one or two other things as well) and I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything quite like this. Given the limitations of the Speccy, the interaction is going to be fairly limited and the story rudimentary, but this really is a must-play.

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