Okay, first of all, whatever I say here, also goes for Warrior Kings because even though they are 2 different games, they are very similar and actually, Warrior Kings: Battles is more of an expansion, rather than a sequel.
So, let's start with the introductions. WKB is a strategy game developed Black Cactus. I decided to buy it after I played a small demo that came on a local magazine. What made me buy the whole package? Well, the game itself is quite charming. I was quite impressed by the visuals back then and the way it was developed was quite interesting. Economically you need to gather only 3 main resources: food, material and gold. You can obtain food by farming, gold by digging and material can be obtained by either chopping down trees or digging stone quarries. The game features an enormous campaign. The campaign mode is basically a huge map, divided by countries that you need to conquer. I will get back to this later.
So, as you gather resources, you are to choose between 3 main factions: Renaissance, Imperial or Pagan. You may also combine half Imperial with Renaissance, ending up with Imperial Renaissance and Pagan with Renaissance, resulting up on Pagan Renaissance. Each faction features different buildings, different units and different outcomes. Choose Pagan to recruit powerful dark soldiers, charming succubus or summoning the beast from the dark. Choose Imperial to recruit mostly holy units, such as priests and inquisitors or summon the great Archangel. Renaissance is more on the economic and technological side. Whichever faction you choose, units have weakness and strengths and have to be meticulously used. Spearmen are good against cavalry but are useless against archers and ranged cavalry. Cavalry can wipe out archers very quickly but will lose to spearmen and so on.
Each faction has 3 tech-points. The first tech-point allows you to build and recruit a certain type of units. The second tech-point gives you access to most of the content of each faction but to summon the «gods» (archangel and abaddon) you need all the 3 tech-points. At the beginning of the campaign you start with 0 of each, meaning you only have access to non-faction based units, such as archers and spearmen but to recruit special units like the holy cavalry or the huntress of the dawn, you need tech-points. How do you obtain them? Keep reading.
Back to the campaign, it is based on the conquer of a world map very similar to the Europe continent, but with different countries. The thing is, you don't need to conquer the whole map to officially win the game. You only need to conquer one of the countries – Ligurensis, but, to play the Ligurensis scenario you do need to conquer a certain amount of countries because your starting scenario isn’t obviously right next to it and you can only play scenarios next to those you have already won. However, that is the most difficult scenario. You are opposed by 3 enemies, all with maximum tech points and all start with an established robust base, whilst you start with, let's face it, nothing. To win it, you need to conquer many of the conquerable countries in the map and some of them reward you with tech-points but that isn't all. Each time you start a scenario, you have a starting amount of resources at your disposal, as well as a population limit. Some countries offer an increase of starting resources, while others increase your population limit but some of them are so hard and offer so small rewards, you'll think twice before actually giving them a try.
Anyway, you win a scenario by destroying the enemy’s Manor. The manor has auto defense mechanisms (well it shoots a few useless arrows) but it upgrades itself when you advance on faction levels. Use the first tech point of imperial and it becomes an Imperial Keep. Use two and it becomes an Imperial Castle, use all of them and you have the Imperial Palace. The only difference between then are the HP and the appearance. The same applies for other factions.
The first two scenarios are very friendly. There are 2 players opposing you, but one joins you and that is already a major flaw. After these two scenarios, the game just becomes insanely hard and does it very quickly. The following scenarios are just unfair and require numerous restarts and a big pot of luck. Why? Well, on some of them there are 5 enemies and you are right on the middle of them. Others, the enemy has much more tech points than you and some of them, the enemy already has an established base, with a couple of units ready to attack, while you start from the scratch. The only strategy I found to win these scenarios was to recruit a lot of siege weapons (which have insane range) and launch an all or nothing attack. How does it work? The enemy usually takes some time to retaliate and these siege weapons are quite powerful against the main enemy building (manor, keep, etc) so before the enemy destroys my siege weapons, I raze its main building to the ground and that’s it..
After a while, I found myself doing the same strategy over and over, because no matter which scenario I chose, I just could not win in any other way.
I did enjoy Warrior Kings: Battles but using the same strategy over and over and the limited options like: why can’t you join forces with the enemy? Why must you always start at the same point of the map and so on just pulled me away from it. The game also featured some minor bugs such as units becoming uncontrollable or background music playing and stopping suddenly like crazy, but nothing major. I remember the game was «costy» back then but it's now around 10€ in gamersgate. You can get it here if you want to.
It also features a multiplayer but I wasn't able to use it, because I didn't have internet connection back then (well, I did have but my mother would kill me if thousand-euro bills started coming into my house because of the traffic limit..), so I won't say anything about it.
With impressive visuals, interesting gameplay, but limited options, no replay value, forgettable/uninteresting story insane and unjustified difficulty, I consider Warrior Kings: Battles to be just average.
Price: 5/10 (back then)
Replay Value: 0/10
Graphics: 9/10 (back then)