“Peace” between vastly different nations all containing power can only really last for so long when they are all glued together on the same continent. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia is the perfect case of this. Taking charge of one of six nations all finding themselves on a said continent, it’ll fall to you to issue the orders that will bring your people to victory. While this strategic simulation won’t be for everyone, fans of Nobunaga’s Ambition, RISK and possibly even Disciples (yeah that’s going way back) will find plenty to love here as you move your armies across the board.
As I said above, Brigandine will not appeal to everyone. The strategy is very heavy and there’s a lot of reading in order to properly understand the system being put in your hands. You’ll also want to read the instructions as this is far from your normal experience and while you may be able to wing it, knowing what you’re doing will help you get into it that much faster. So one of the biggest elements to start off with, instead of worrying about food supplies and other materials that you would normally need to send your forces out, you’ll be relying on Mana reserves to both summon monsters to aid your knights (captain units) and to pay the upkeep fee as the turns (called seasons) move forward.
Each turn is the combination of “three” stages, move/ summon, choose to attack, and actual combat (you attack) / (you’re attacked). Within the first turn, you can summon monsters to any location that you currently occupy. To do this, you simply need to make sure that you both have the mana available and have the mana necessary to pay the upkeep fees. If you don’t have the total amount that’s alright as long as your mana income can cover the cost once the turn is over, you’ll be fine. From there, these monsters can either be left inside of the territory in reserve or they can be added to the squad of one of your knights. If the monsters are not in a knight’s squad, they aren’t going to be used. Finally, you can move your knights from one location to the next as you see fit as long as that territory is connected.
For the first few turns it can feel like a lot especially when you’re trying to get a grasp on the overall system. Monsters come in a lot of varieties so you’ll want to check out their stats. Your knights will also have different attack styles and magics so finding which monster types work best is pretty much key if you don’t want to lose in the attack phase and even then, you still can depending on chance (critical hits) and other strategic decisions.
After moving your forces around, the next phase is the “choose who you attack” phase. By this point you can no longer move any of your forces, you can’t summon in new ones, all you can decide to do is whether you’re going to send your knights out on quests for either experience training or items, make an attack on an enemy territory, or if you’re going to sit back for defense in case the enemy decides to attack you. To send knights on quests, you simply need to go into the quest tab while hovering on that territory. To attack, you pick the territory that you want to launch from and then select how many knights you want to send off. If you want to defend, you do nothing.
In any of these cases, it’s all a game of numbers, HOWEVER, it’s a game of numbers with some limitations which leads into possibly the longest part, the actual combat. Combat, for capturing or defending a territory, is the same. You can have up to three knights on the field and their monsters. That’s it. You can’t have the four, six or nine knights stationed there fighting for you so think carefully. I thought this was odd but it really speeds up the process of taking over territories as you don’t need to beat everyone there, just those that decided to actually stand in your way.
Once you’ve decided who will take to the field, you have twelve turns to either win, lose, or retreat before losing anything more. Your knights are the obvious key to it all as without them, the rest will disband. So while the obvious strategy could be to attack these first, this is still a strategy RPG so you’ll want your troops to take out as much of the enemy as possible in order to level up. Most knights start with a few leveled monsters but every summoned monster starts at level 1 and must be leveled up to be of any use.
After all of your logistics are done, combat will begin. Set on a hex-based grid, the turn order is based off of the initiative of the knights. On each knight’s turn, their monsters will be able to act with them and this doesn’t change from one monster to five depending on what that knight’s total mana cap was. Having three powerful monsters or five less powerful monsters doesn’t quite matter depending on your actions but this is still somewhat a case of the higher your numbers, the higher your chance at victory.
Each unit, the knight and their monsters, can move about the hex grid and make physical attacks, magical attacks or support moves such as mass healing or healing one target in particular for a decent amount of health. Knowing how far a unit can move is easy as the hex range will be highlighted and then the same applies for attacks. Some attacks are single targets so you don’t need to worry about where you set your unit while others will attack everyone in range so you’ll want to make sure to not move any of your own within those ranges.
It’s honestly fairly easy in concept, but until you know what each type of character can do, what each monster type can do, and what each of the abilities available do, it’s going to be a hell of a learning curve. You’re going to lose knights, you’re going to lose monsters, and finally, you’re going to lose territories. It’s not over until you lose your last bastion which itself brings about an interesting tactical premise.
The game isn’t over for a nation until their last territory has been taken which makes sense, but that last territory falls under the same rules as the rest. Only three knights can deploy to protect it. If they lose, it doesn’t matter if there are a dozen more stationed there with plenty of monsters in tow, it’s game over for that nation. There are several difficulty levels and obviously the harder you want to play, the longer the game is going to last even if the amount of turns (seasons) is lower.
To help with all of this, you can level your units as mentioned above. Sending the ones currently not defending borders is a great way to obtain more experience and be battle ready for when the time comes. Sending them on quests will get you new items that can be used by your knights and your monsters so that is also another interesting element that can play into things. As turns go by, new knights may join up with you. As you defeat kingdoms some of their remaining knights may join you as well. So while you have to pay for monsters, you’ll have to hope that new knights join up especially if you’re going to keep pushing into new territories and have even more borders to defend.
Finally, Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia isn’t all about conquering the land. It’s a giant portion of it, but there’s also a lot of story that is along for the ride. Each nation’s leader has a large introduction and will continue to be showcased as the battles continue but once you’ve won a battle, you’ll be treated to a scene that either involves them or people following them. It’s a fair amount of story and it makes taking more territories over that much more interesting as you don’t know what the world will show you next. The history is deep, but because of how long it could take, it is somewhat hidden as like I’ve mentioned above, you won’t always be winning as even on an easier difficulty to learn the ropes you’ll lose a time or three as you properly learn the rules.
With everything in place, your conquest isn’t without some performance issues. There can be a bit of lag when moving a lot of units around. The menus don’t always come up immediately. When using the “auto” function in an easier difficulty or to move your units into place that much faster, the lag is pretty bad and a few times I wondered if it was going to crash or not. Also because of the amount of dialog at the beginning being so heavy, you wonder at times if it’ll end or not. It would have been nice to have that spaced out a bit and in between turns like it kind of was once you get your analyst to tell you about the other nations after the first turn.