GUIDE TO CONQUEST
A REVIEW OF THE OFFICIAL STRATEGY GUIDE TO THE CONQUERORS EXPANSION TO AGE OF EMPIRES II: THE AGE OF KINGS
Mark H. Walker’s work should be familiar to computer gamers, especially those whose hard drives contain real time strategy games. He is a prolific free-lance writer and author of numerous articles and books, including the official Microsoft Press strategy guide to Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.
He followed that up this year with the release of a new book on The Conquerors expansion kit to the game. For anyone with an enthusiasm for the game, it is recommended reading. That even, or especially, goes too for the wargamer who might differ with some of his strategies.
From the beginning, even an experienced player can
find something to learn.
Not that there is any discrimination against the
Huns, who come across as one of the most fearsome peoples anywhere in the
game. Their lack of need for houses,
As he does throughout the strategy guide,
He consistently emphasizes using monks as offensive assets, and not just as camp-following healers for the armies. The book stresses developing clerical capabilities when possible in order to convert both enemy units and buildings. For the Spaniards, that can mean using missionaries to get into the opposition’s rear areas, mounting raids of conversion similar in outlook to the Huns’ raids of destruction.
I have to say that I find clerical assets much more difficult to use than military ones. They are too frail to use alone in many cases, requiring some of sort of protection. Even the missionaries, in my opinion, are best used in concert with armies. Ultimately, when given the choice of building up a big army or amassing equally numerous monks and missionaries, I generally choose the sword and the bow over the Book.
Yet as with the Mesoamerican Jaguar and Eagle Warriors,
He and I share a very healthy regard for the Koreans. Similar to the Vikings, they have two unique units, war wagon cavalry on land and the inimitable turtle ships at sea. The former are just what the name says; heavy archers riding wagons instead of marching or riding astride horses. The latter constitute one of my personal favorite weapons systems. Lacking in mobility, they are early ironclads that can stand up to a lot of punishment in battle.
The Mesoamericans come out in a lesser light. The Aztecs lack both naval potential and staying power for a long game from Dark Age to Imperial Age. Therefore they must come out strong, and not hope to build momentum with time, which is not really on their side. The Mayans lack the military might of their northern neighbors, though they are better on the water, and require finesse to be played effectively.
If there is a place where the book drags a little bit, it
is here. It is not a real fault of
On the other hand, it does have its value. Even if a gamer never plays any of the prepackaged campaigns, the author’s lessons can be applied in standard, multi-sided conflicts, as similar situations are likely to arise sometime and somewhere in there.
There is one chapter as well that stands out as more
valuable than the others, and not coincidently it is on strategies for
multi-player games. Here,
The third part of the book is the shortest, but has the longest name: “Inside Moves: Information You Won’t Find Anywhere Else.” It starts with an introduction to the “Battlebits,” scenarios downloadable from Microsoft that tie in with the lessons imparted earlier in the book.
With or without The Conquerors, The Age of Kings is a game that demands cunning to play well. Acquiring that level of strategic skill demands experience with all the civilizations on the disks. Even if one especially dislikes playing a people, taking their side occasionally teaches their strengths and weaknesses, and those of the ones currently opposing them, from a fresh angle. There is always something to be learned.
That is the main strength of the strategy guide to The
Conquerors. In it,
With all that considered, The Conquerors’ strategy guide is a worthy addition to the library of players of all experience levels.