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Default RPGWatch Feature: Dragon Commander Multiplayer Review

August 19th, 2013, 13:23
DArtagnan checked out Dragon Commander as well and focussed on the multiplayer part of the game. So enjoy our second review of Dragon Commander.

Dragon Commander is self-published and it's not a game with massive production values, so don't expect Starcraft 2 or Total War here.

But I think it's fair to say that the game is attractive and it pulls of the charm I think they went for. Especially during the Raven singleplayer segment - where the characters are quirky in just the right way, without necessarily winning any voice acting awards. But I'll let Kalniel's review go into that.

The campaign map looks like a real game board, armies look like board game pieces, cards look exactly like CCG cards and all in all, I think this game nails the atmosphere it's going for and it has a tangible feel like a real board game would have.

The real-time strategy combat looks decent enough, but it's not something that will make a big impression on a lot of people. I don't particularly care for the unit models - as they're too fickle and lack personality. They remind me of the units in Supreme Commander - though not quite that indistinct. But the terrain looks good - with nice water, and we all know that water should be pretty.
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August 19th, 2013, 13:23
I think this is the first time we have two reviews of the same game within a week

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August 19th, 2013, 13:43
Just wanted to mention that I'd have given the game 3.5 if the rating system supported it
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August 19th, 2013, 14:00
Nice review DArtagnan.

Interesting that the turns in multiplayer are simultaneous. In the single player they are round-robin rather than simultaneous, which I would have preferred.

I had a similar thought about stars - luckily 3.5 wasn't available or it would be a much tricker decision for me

I'll try and spend some time on the custom campaign, which neither of us have covered - it's kind of a mix between skirmish and the campaign, and was only 'finished' quite late so wasn't properly available in our review versions.
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August 19th, 2013, 14:10
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Nice review DArtagnan.

Interesting that the turns in multiplayer are simultaneous. In the single player they are round-robin rather than simultaneous, which I would have preferred.

I had a similar thought about stars - luckily 3.5 wasn't available or it would be a much tricker decision for me

I'll try and spend some time on the custom campaign, which neither of us have covered - it's kind of a mix between skirmish and the campaign, and was only 'finished' quite late so wasn't properly available in our review versions.
Thanks

Singleplayer is round-robin? That's kinda strange.

When you play against the AI - the battles happen simultaneously and the moves seem to - but since I haven't actually played the MP campaign against another human being (only tried skirmish), I don't know if you're taking turns in sequence.

That would actually mean I'd have to deduct half a point, because I assumed it was simultaneous turns with human beings based on the way moves and battles are executed.

A big part of the joy of the game is the fast and pleasant flow - and if you're waiting around in sequence - that's not ideal
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August 19th, 2013, 14:16
Thank you for the review - I agree in all points.

The cons
  • Underwhelming RTS segment
  • Units lack distinction and style

make it a 70% - 75% game for me.

A bit more real time strategy and tactics like in Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2 would have been good.

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August 19th, 2013, 14:24
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
Thank you for the review - I agree in all points.

The cons
  • Underwhelming RTS segment
  • Units lack distinction and style

make it a 70% - 75% game for me.

A bit more real time strategy and tactics like in Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2 would have been good.
Yup, it's a 70% game for me as well….
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August 19th, 2013, 14:49
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Singleplayer is round-robin? That's kinda strange.
It fits the board-game feel they're going after I guess. You go around the table in a fixed order (player first ) and the AI gets to (or seems to at least) respond to your moves. Once the move/build phase is completed for all characters the battle phase takes place (which is again sort of round-robin - certainly sequential rather than simultaneous). It would be nice if they rotated the start position each turn so that you didn't always have to go first. Another thing for the list of 'next time's

I've no way of knowing if it's actually round-robin or simultaneous - the tips in the loading screen said round-robin, and I saw a couple of instances where the AI played cards or acted in a way to seemingly as a result of my actions, but could have been a fluke.

When you play against the AI - the battles happen simultaneously and the moves seem to - but since I haven't actually played the MP campaign against another human being (only tried skirmish), I don't know if you're taking turns in sequence.
When do you play cards for the battles then? Because they're sequential in the single player you can chose to play cards after one battle but before the next (for instance, if you were fighting on two fronts and lost the first, you might play more cards for the second to make sure you won it).

A big part of the joy of the game is the fast and pleasant flow - and if you're waiting around in sequence - that's not ideal
It's still quite fast - in fact I thought it was too fast at first, but yes, as the number of players increases and when they've got enough resources to do several things some of the turns do take quite a while to play out as the computer whizzes through the move/build phase for each AI.
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August 19th, 2013, 14:56
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
When do you play cards for the battles then? Because they're sequential in the single player you can chose to play cards after one battle but before the next (for instance, if you were fighting on two fronts and lost the first, you might play more cards for the second to make sure you won it).
Once you (and presumably the other human players) click "end turn" - the game prompts for battle input, and you get to play your cards - and when you're done - the combat is resolved with the cards you play.

The reason I assumed it would be simultaneous is that other participants have "room" for cards to be played - and it seems logical and rational that the game would prompt players for cards at the same time and resolve combat once they've all finished selecting their battle cards.

The manual states that each player gets to take his turn - but that actions are resolved simultaneously.

The MP campaign shows movement paths, for instance, but doesn't seem to resolve movement until everyone has clicked end turn.

I admit I haven't studied the turn sequence in detail - as simultaneous-turns seemed such a natural fit for what was happening, I never gave any alternative much thought.

This is how Dominions 3 works, for instance.
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August 19th, 2013, 15:01
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Once you (and presumably the other human players) click "end turn" - the game prompts for battle input, and you get to play your cards - and when you're done - the combat is resolved with the cards you play.
Ah right, but each battle is taken in turn I presume, rather than all simultaneous?

The reason I assumed it would be simultaneous is that other participants have "room" for cards to be played - and it seems logical and rational that the game would prompt players for cards at the same time and resolve combat once they've all finished selecting their battle cards.
Yup the battle doesn't start until everyone is ready.

The manual states that each player gets to take his turn - but that actions are resolved simultaneously.
Hmm OK. Not sure where the round-robin loading tip comes from then.
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August 19th, 2013, 15:03
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Ah right, but each battle is taken in turn I presume, rather than all simultaneous?
The non-manual ones, yeah. That's what it seems like, anyway.

Hmm OK. Not sure where the round-robin loading tip comes from then.
It's possible I just haven't paid enough attention to the turn sequence, though.
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August 19th, 2013, 15:09
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's possible I just haven't paid enough attention to the turn sequence, though.
I've asked on the Larian forums. It might have just been several co-incidences on my part
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August 19th, 2013, 17:41
Thanks for the review! It seems the good points as well as the weaknesses are largely the same as in SP (minus the character interaction part).
What was your impression, are people playing it multiplayer? Was it easy to find players? I haven't tried myself yet, but I remember reading a review that called the MP "dead on arrival", so I was wondering.
Also another question: how long does a strategic MP campaign take to play, roughly? Can it be saved and taken up again later?
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August 19th, 2013, 19:38
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Thanks for the review! It seems the good points as well as the weaknesses are largely the same as in SP (minus the character interaction part).
What was your impression, are people playing it multiplayer? Was it easy to find players? I haven't tried myself yet, but I remember reading a review that called the MP "dead on arrival", so I was wondering.
Also another question: how long does a strategic MP campaign take to play, roughly? Can it be saved and taken up again later?
I had the closed beta version - and not a lot of people were playing that one. When I tried the full version, not much seemed to have changed. I just checked Steam right now - and only 6-7 games were active online.

Then again, I think this kind of game is best played with friends and not strangers on Steam.

As for the MP campaign, it would depend on the map size. But it's a very short game compared to most turn-based strategy games. A game can be as short as an hour if you don't fight your battles manually - and I don't think you'd play many games for more than 3-4 hours.

You can save your progress as the host, yeah
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