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Last year saw the release of Fantasy General II , the more than two decades overdue follow up to the 90's classic. Slitherine and de...

Fantasy General II: Onslaught Fantasy General II: Onslaught

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Fantasy General II

Last year saw the release of Fantasy General II, the more than two decades overdue follow up to the 90's classic. Slitherine and developer Owned by Gravity decided to revisit their iteration of the game just a little bit quicker. The Onslaught DLC brings two primary new features to the game. A significant of expansion of the air unit roster, and a new campaign that uses branching paths and procedural generation to offer a very replayable experience. There is also an extra mission slotted into the original campaign that will get you easier access to some of the new air units. 

While the air units are fun, and I'll discuss them later, the primary reason most players will want to pick up this add on is the new campaign. Taking place after the events of the main story, this new campaign is shorter overall, but is meant to be played more than once. There are three heroes from the original story to choose from, each with a very different style. One uses the standard units from the main campaign, one uses lots of not-so-cuddly animal units, and the last focuses on hiring mercenary units from mission to mission. Each hero also of course has their own style of fighting on the battlefield. In addition to choosing your hero, during this campaign you'll be constantly choosing between different branching mission paths. The different missions will give unique rewards and also shape the story to some extent. This means that you could play through several times before you see every mission, and use a different roster of units each time.

The game recommends playing on "Iron Maiden" mode. One save file, no quicksaving or restarting missions. And, as I learned the hard way, letting your hero take one too many hits and die is an instant game over, forcing you to start from scratch. I enjoyed playing using this mode, as the procedurally generated missions here tend to play much more quickly than the missions of the original campaign. This comes with the sharp trade-off of losing all of the in-mission storytelling and events, as well as the more complex mission objectives. Most missions here are simple affairs, like moving your hero across the map, or capturing a handful of objectives.  Even without any scripted surprises or side missions, the combat can still be unpredictable and interesting. The in-game world is in a state of chaos, with multiple factions fighting for control in the power vacuum left by the events of the main campaign. This is reflected by most maps in Onslaught having the potential for three-, and even four-way fights to break out between the various factions and neutral wildlife units wandering around the battlefield. 

The story itself is not nearly as deep as last time, but still has its moments. Essentially, your hero of choice is having vivid dreams, drawing them to seek out a powerful artifact in the war-torn lands of the Empire. This prompts you to go on a merry goose chase around the game world, seeking one item after another and fighting with a wide variety of enemies. The story is the same regardless of which hero you choose, but the way you go about it can be quite different each time you play. There's always a choice between two or three missions which each have different goals and rewards, and may send you down a separate path for a while. Ultimately, you'll always arrive at the same key story moments, and the overall story itself story doesn't change all that much regardless of your choices. The story does have a couple of charming moments and fun characters, but for the most part is just there to provide context for the procedurally generated missions.

Besides the new campaign, Onslaught also greatly expands the roster of aerial units in the fray. In the base game there are some air units, but they are limited to just a few choices. Now there's a wide variety of flying fighters, including many flavors of giant eagles. These various units can act as general purpose flyers, interceptors, or bombers. Although these additions don't radically change the game, they do open up some new tactical options, especially the bomber eagles, which can fly out, attack, and return to safety in one turn. You'll also need to be prepared to defend against such tactics.

At the end of the day, Onslaught is a nice addition to game if you enjoyed the main story and want a fresh experience. The missions play quickly, getting you straight to the action and on to the next challenge. There's a good amount of replayability between the three heroes and the numerous choices of missions along the way. While the story feels like more of a glorified side-quest than an epic tale, it serves its purpose. If you want some more Fantasy General II in your life, Onslaught is an easy recommendation. 

You can pick up Fantasy General II: Onslaught on Steam, GoG, or directly from Slitherine

- Joe Beard

Fantasy General II revisits a classic title, over 20 years old, and hurls the series into the 21st century. How does the style and set...

Fantasy General II - Invasion Fantasy General II - Invasion

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Fantasy General II

Fantasy General II revisits a classic title, over 20 years old, and hurls the series into the 21st century. How does the style and setting hold up, and how have the advancements in game design over the past couple of decades been used to improve over the original? 

The original Fantasy General, as the name implies, and as you may already know, is direct re-theming of Panzer General, the game that launched a thousand spiritual sequels. The core gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played Panzer Corps, Order of Battle, Warhammer 40k: Armageddon, or any number of other games featuring turn-based combat on a hex grid, in which the player carries over units from mission to mission in a lengthy campaign. Sound familiar? I'm sure you've played something like it before. While Fantasy General II does not break any innovative new ground overall, it does offer a very satisfying rendition of this gameplay style.

Fantasy General II picks up 300 years after the events of the first game, which focused on the "Shadow Wars" which ravaged the land, leaving a shattered world fought over by numerous factions. This is especially true for the various barbarian clans of the west, who have been set against themselves by the powerful Empire of the east. No one has been able to unite the clans for many years, and they instead squabble among themselves. As the player, you take on the role of Falirson, son of Falir One-Eye, who is the chief of your barbarian clan. While the game opens with some simple missions where you fight and raid other clans, before long you are swept up in a high fantasy story of mysterious wizards, forest dwelling witches, and trolls galore. 

One aspect I love about the game is how it gives you plenty of chances for some light role-playing via choose-your-own-adventure style choices. These pop up both in and out of battle, and almost always have some kind of tangible effect. Choices that benefit you in the immediate moment can sometimes have consequences down the road in a different mission. What would be a simple, meaningless dialogue choice in most games, can sway the morale of your entire army in Fantasy General II. 

The writing and story are well done overall, avoiding the common pitfalls of such games by skipping on cliche, over the top characters and instead offering a set of characters who are grounded and speak in a realistic tone, given their circumstances. Important characters and even your own troops will speak up to offer valid points about what they think you should do or say when faced with a dilemma, and sometimes choosing what you believe is "right" will be met with sharp consequences.

In addition to hero units like the protagonist, your army is yours to create and customize as you see fit. Units you recruit are retained from mission to mission and gain experience in battle, allowing them to level up and become more powerful over time. You begin with just two unit choices, young barbarian warriors that are either male or female. These raw recruits then proceed up one of the two class trees as you scrape together the resources and cash needed to make the promotions. These can be tough choices, as you only get a very limited number of these resources (weapons, armor, and mana) and you have a need for just about every type of unit. 

The various unit types you can field all have advantages and disadvantages, special traits, and distinct roles in combat. There are shock troops, skirmishers, soldiers with shields for stopping ranged attacks, mounted warriors and ranged attackers of your own. Units can pick up special items over the course of battles, and use these to further specialize themselves. For example, an early item you get is a magic ring that makes the unit holding it fight better in forest terrain. While that might sound like a minor thing, there are numerous small tweaks like this which make all of your units feel unique. Your various individually named squads can also pick up permanent perks from one-time events hidden away here and there in the campaign, making them feel like they have a bit of history to them. It can really hurt to lose a unit that has been with you since the beginning, and has accumulated multiple boons. I'll be honest, I've reloaded more than once in order to save such a unit.

The campaign is a sprawling 30+ mission affair that will take quite a while to work your way through. Though I have not finished it entirely, I can say that so far the missions offer a good amount of variety. Some have you escorting a character through hostile territory, others task you with defending against invading hordes, and of course many involved you attacking enemy positions and defeating their army. Many areas of the map are covered in fog, and hide secrets well worth seeking out. Ancient ruins, caves, and more can be explored by your troops in order to find treasure and items. Temples give your entire army a buff as long as you hold them, and mana pools offer a steady supply of mana points for your magic users. There are also usually villages scattered around the map that can replenish your losses mid mission. 

One neat thing is this game is how casualties work. Every unit has a health bar. This starts off filled with green, but after combat sections will turn red. These are "wounded" soldiers which can be restored by having the unit spend its entire turn resting. Sometimes though, the red sections will be lost as well, these units are "killed" and cannot be restored except by visiting a village or replenishing them between missions. I really liked this mechanic, as it forces you to choose between pushing your forces hard, or slowing down to let them rest and be replenished. There is another mechanic which puts pressure on you to complete missions as quickly as possible, essentially the longer the battle goes on, the more civilians who flee the area, leaving no one around to tax after the battle. Without funds, you can't upgrade your units or buy new ones.

So, what about complaints with the game? This is one of those games where there really aren't any glaring flaws to discuss, but the experience overall probably won't blow you away. It's a fun, satisfying game, but not unlike games you have played before. With at least two expansion packs promised in the future, I suspect we will see even more variety in units and perspectives in terms of the story in due time. The core game will certainly please anyone who likes this sort of gameplay and wants a fantasy version of it. It's one of those games you can load up in under a minute and find yourself having a fun time just like that.  I look forward to seeing where they take this series in the future. 

Fantasy General II is available directly from Slitherine as well as on Steam and GoG.

- Joe Beard

T ime for another gameplay video featuring some early game scenarios from the upcoming Fantasy General II ! You may...

Fantasy General II - First Look Gameplay (Video) Fantasy General II - First Look Gameplay (Video)

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Fantasy General II

Time for another gameplay video featuring some early game scenarios from the upcoming Fantasy General II! You may remember the original Fantasy General from way back in the 90's, a spin-off of the genre launching Panzer General. The series is back and looking more three-dimensional than it once did. I was lucky enough to get an early build of the game and wanted to share it with you, so far it's looking pretty sharp!

- Joe Beard