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Developed by Lavapotion, Songs of Conquest is described as a turn-based strategy adventure game that fuses RPG, tactical combat and kingdom management. Which, when you get right down to it, means a game that follows in the footsteps of the likes of Heroes of Might and Magic, Age of Wonders and Disciples.
And seeing how these days we're not getting any new HoMM games, Disciples is taking its cues from King's Bounty, and Age of Wonders is experimenting with various 4X mechanics, a new game of this type is very much welcome.
So, when Songs of Conquest launched into early access, we figured we simply had to check it out.
Wielders of Might and Magic
On the most basic level Songs of Conquest is a turn-based strategy game where you have an overworld map filled with settlements and points of interest. Your goal is to use several "heroes" called Wielders here to explore this map, gather resources, develop your settlements, produce and hire an army, and defeat your enemies.
Seeing how the game wears its inspirations on its sleeve, it's safe to say that if you know Heroes of Might and Magic, and HoMM III in particular, you'll figure out Songs of Conquest pretty much instantly. And if you're new to this particular genre, the early access version already has a series of tutorials that explain how things work.
In fact, a lot of the game's design decisions seem to stem from the developers' desire to fix this or that perceived issue with HoMM III or implement certain features introduced to that game by one of its many mods.
So, assuming you know your way around a HoMM game, let's go over some of the features that set Songs of Conquest apart from its predecessors.
When developing a settlement, you no longer have a town screen with a set selection of buildings, and instead, you have these building plots around your settlement that come in small, medium, and large. It's totally up to you what you build on these plots and in what order. If you fancy a particular unit, nothing is stopping you from just planting ten production buildings for it.
Certain buildings and building upgrades require other buildings to be constructed first, but you can simply build the prerequisite, upgrade your desired building, and then delete the prerequisite and build something else in its spot.
This new system leads to some interesting tactical considerations, especially when you throw the game's approach to resources into the mix.
You see, Songs of Conquest has six resources. Three of them are basic - gold, stone and wood. And three are more precious - glimmerweave, ancient amber and celestial ore. And instead of designing maps in such a way that you usually have easy access to stone and wood, here you can produce these basic resources right in your settlement, allowing the developers to be more creative with resource bottlenecks.
Depending on which resources you can easily access, you'll have to choose between building an army of somewhat weaker but easily amassed units or the rarer more expensive ones.
And this ties into the game's Command system where unit stacks have hard caps (that you can later increase through research) and each of your Wielders starts with only three stack slots (upgrading the Command skill and equipping certain artifacts can eventually unlock up to nine of these slots).
On the one hand, this neuters the cheesy strategy of endlessly splitting your units to bait retaliations. But on the other, this makes the power gap between low-level and high-level Wielders downright unbridgeable.