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Rising Lords was first announced in November last year when I signed up for an early demo. Earlier this year the developer Argonwood announced that an open alpha demo would be available by March 31. The Battle Alpha demo includes only a single-player battle skirmish mode in three difficulties, and nothing more. I have tried both versions of the demo so far, and while it’s still in a very early stage of development, I have found the battles compelling, and the general feel of the game has potential.
From Tabletop to Desktop - Rising Lords of the Cross-Genre
The main premise of Rising Lords is that it plays like a board game in a digital game format. There are a few games out there treading this fine line these days, and it’s still an evolving cross-genre. So far, Rising Lords has managed to retain the general ambiance of a board game while offering the capabilities and features that the computer can offer. The boards look quite lavish, and the art direction gives the impression of illuminated medieval books. It may not be fully accurate, but it’s close enough to make it compelling.
Personally, I’m not much of a board gamer, mostly because it’s a very niche medium in my country, and it’s almost impossible to find other players. So I really enjoy the idea of a digital board game that I could play by myself. Mostly I would be interested in a single-player campaign with an accurate medieval setting and plot, which is not quite that easy to do. I hope Argonwood manages to deliver a campaign that lives up to the setting, rather than just a skirmish game, which can be fun for a while but might get old quickly.
The Thrills of Turn-Based Combat in Rising LordsI wasn’t expecting the turn-based combat to engross me as it did. The skirmish battles are fairly simple, and it’s basically a matter of keeping the leader alive while defending your territory. There’s still a bit of balancing for the developer to do, but the combat generally feels compelling and fairly challenging. Gameplay with cards involve mostly simple bonuses that give your units an edge, but it fits in with the setting and it adds some complexity. I imagine the developers will add more cards and units as the game evolves further, so there will be plenty of variety to the turn-based battles.
All of this depends on how you feel about hex boards and turn-based combat mechanics, obviously. It takes some time and patience to figure out the mechanics and understand how you can optimize your attacks. You have to take the units' morale and the terrain into account, as well as the bonuses from cards. If a unit is sitting on a settlement hex grid, it will have a better defense, and so on. Overall, I think there will be a lot to like here if you’re into board games and turn-based combat in a digital format, but it will depend on other factors as well.
What to expect from Rising Lords? | Final ThoughtsThe Battle Alpha demo is probably just a very simple vertical slice of what to expect from a final release, so we will have to wait and see what the developers plan to deliver. It’s fair to say that Argonwood plans to build up to something like Battle Brothers. The difference is that it will be set in a realistic medieval world rather than medieval fantasy. I think that would be a really cool game, and it might attract a loyal fanbase. Of course, it remains to be seen whether it will manage to be as successful as Battle Brothers.
I expect Argonwood will release Rising Lords in Early Access first at some point this year, so players will be able to influence the development with feedback and criticism. Hopefully, the game will have a final release at some point next year with an interesting single-player campaign and a robust multiplayer mode, as they have promised. I look forward to trying out the final release of Rising Lords at some point in the future to review it properly.
TechRaptor covered Rising Lords on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.