February 25th, 2013 | By Tom Christiansen
Last September, Expeditions: Conquistador was successfully funded on Kickstarter, raising $77,247…seven-thousand dollars over the goal. Danish development studio, Logic Artists, have been at work finishing development and polishing the game, getting it ready for its February 28th release. I managed to get my hands on a preview-build of Expeditions: Conquistador, and as one normally averse to tactical strategy games, I was pleasantly surprised with what Logic Artists did with Expeditions.
Expeditions: Conquistador puts players in the position of a prominent Spanish conquistador, setting off to the New World. The game starts off by letting you define your character name, his traits, and who you want on your crew. I chose the historically accurate name “Olympus Mufasa” for my conquistador, and I decided, with a name like that he isn’t too keen on diplomacy, but would be above average at survival and leadership. I left the other three traits (tactics, healing, and scouting) alone. From there, Expeditions allows the player to choose their crew: ten slots are available, and there are five classes to choose from. My crew ended up being composed of two doctors, one scholar, two hunters, three soldiers, and two scouts. I just wish I could have named them too, perhaps as a nod to the days of Oregon Trail.
The tutorial begins as soon as your ship docks in a port, in what I think was Santo Domingo. One of my initial fears going into Expeditions: Conquistador was that I would spend more time learning the game than I would actually playing it. I like to spend about an hour with a preview-build before I start forming opinions; I didn’t want to spend forty-five of those sixty minutes reading about attrition or supply-lines. Luckily, the tutorials in Expeditions are incredibly noob-friendly, and I had no problem keeping track of what was what and where it all was.
One thing that I particularly liked about Expeditions that I normally dislike in any sort of game, was the text-based dialog. As much as I like to read, I don’t like to in video games, and normally I skip through texty chat windows. But, the dialog in Expeditions was so engaging: you are given options of what to say that are not clearly paragon/renegade, and what you say affects how some members of your crew regard you, and can go on to affect their moral for better or worse. This system helps you to grow familiar with your crew, so when they all die at the hands of your less-than-skilled strategic moves, you feel a bit bummed about it. Not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything like that.
Once the tutorials are over with, I progressed out into the jungle, and got my first feel at how the rest of the game would play out. Basically, I could move Senor Mufasa (has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) a certain distance every “day” before I would have to set up camp. Setting up camp involves choosing which crew members take over what responsibilities for that night. Based on where your campsite is (road, jungle, beach, mountain, etc.) there are a number of options available. The tasks include posting guards to keep out the thieving natives; sending out patrols which can result in nice bonus discoveries from time to time; having hunters go out and gather extra rations; and having crew members tend to preserving the meat or putting together medicine from the collected resources (both animals and plants). If a crew member has sustained a wound in combat, assigning a medically-proficient crew member to care for them at night will help improve their condition.
Then there is the combat. Say you don’t post enough guards one night and some pesky natives sneak in and attempt to make off with rations or valuables; Expeditions switches into its combat mode, which will look familiar to anyone who has played a turn-based strategy game before. Of the combat scenarios I played in, I was only able to select up to six of my chosen ten crew members, to take into battle. I had no trouble gradually decimating my crew over a few combat scenarios, but that’s more to do with my ability than the difficulty of the game.
The combat gameplay is very straightforward, and I wasn’t overwhelmed with minute details about combat maneuvers and avatar placement. There are only a few “tricks” to learn, like using a ranged character to attack a melee-based character in a neighboring tile allows the melee opponent to immediately counter-attack (I’m assuming to simulate the reload time that was an issue with arquebuses). All together, the part of the game I was most hesitant about, was not a bad experience at all.
Expeditions: Conquistador has a planned release date of February 28th, and while the Logic Artists website is currently under construction, which could be disastrous for their sales if they don’t get that back online, I suggest that you all give their Facebook page a look for where to find Expeditions, upon its release. Even if turn-based strategy isn’t something you normally go for, I fit in that demographic and I still had fun with Expeditions: Conquistador.