17 July 2016

I captured a Boyar

Lord Margaer of Ulburban. Don't all queue up at once, ladies.
Indie fantasy RPG Mount & Blade Warband, which I picked up in the Steam summer sale, is a lot of fun but there's a steep learning curve. It's frustrating how comprehensively rubbish I was at combat at the beginning. And in a game mostly about combat that could be considered something of a liability. Like many others starting out, I was captured and imprisoned by more puissant warrior-folk four or five times in a row when I first ventured out into the perilous kingdoms of Calradia. This quickly became irksome. The only solution was finding the wandering ransom broker to sell off some bandit hostages for cash, then track down my two freebie hero companions, Katrin and Ymira, who I was split up from when captured for the first time by some Khergit Khanate pillock with an overwhelming stack of doom. Plus I needed to raise enough to buy another horse, because being a medieval pedestrian totally sucks.

Part of the solution to these problems was capturing a Boyar. Having learned a few of the combat ropes by trial and a lot of error, I barged into a relatively even fight between a raiding Vaegir lord and a Swadian count with whom I had a passing acquaintance, and my 30 meagre chaps tipped the balance. A few days later before I could track down a ransom broker I got a message offering me 3800 denars for my noble prisoner! At the time this was an enormous sum to me, and I wasn't sure what to do with all the dough, but I vowed not to blow it all on a fancy pony.

At this stage I was only just tinkering with giving battle orders, preferring a simple and straightforward approach of going at 'em and trusting to fate. This seems to have worked so far, perhaps because my warrior, Margaer, became somewhat more skilled in evading stronger pursuers.

Not long afterward I noticed a fleeting game message saying Margaer had graduated to the lofty realm of those with ‘right to rule’. This seemed to result in more effusive greetings from nobles who knew me relatively well, and was presumably aided by my recently captured another unlucky Boyar for ransom. This latter gambit didn’t pan out though, because my captive vanished from my inventory before I could cash in when Swadia declared a truce with the Vaegirs.

Having really enjoyed graduating to the ranks of the slightly less insignificant, I particularly relished how the game remembers your dealings with various lords. One Rhodok lord who I’d pleased by laboriously training up six Veteran Spearmen sent me on a message errand to a Khergit lord, and after traipsing for days to the Khergit’s court at the edge of Calradia I was told that we’d met previously on the field of battle. Presumably I’d fled!

By this stage Margaer was keeping a strong well-trained force of around 40 to 45 men including six named companions, and was broadening my search for missions into Rhodok lands. This led to a foolish leap in the dark when on a whim I pledged my allegiance to a Rhodok usurper, seeking to depose the current king. I didn't realise this would mean revoking my hitherto profitable allegiance to the king of Swadia. And the situation became doubly entangled when I cut loose the would-be usurper, without realising the huge impact would have on my character's honour and standing.

However, after this string of mis-steps, things started to look up. Venturing north into the snowy realm of the Vaegirs, I chanced upon King Yaroglek and pledged my allegiance to him. Margaer could've been knocked down with a feather when the king offered him a village of his own to support his efforts in the king's service. Sure, Ulburban is a desolate, poverty-stricken, isolated, snowbound hovel, but it's my desolate, poverty-stricken, isolated, snowbound hovel. Lord Margaer of Ulburban now sports a well-trained fighting force of 60 men in the service of the Vaegirs, and has befriended several influential Boyars, including the current marshall, Boyar Naldera. Things are looking up!

See also:
Games: Elite Dangerous, 2 March 2016
Games: Civ 5, 11 February 2014
GamesXCOM, 25 January 2014
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