As of writing my war band has gone from a respectable 64 to a pitiful 1-person army. That would not be so bad, but I do not have any money to fund an army.
Mount & Blade: War Band is a strategy war game unlike any other I have played. You start with a small company of recruits and over time you build your army and increase your influence across the land. It is a mix between an RPG and a strategy game. Your character has many different stats that benefit himself as well as the army. As you fight enemies, he grows in levels and becomes stronger as a result. The more soldiers you have in your army the higher the cost to fund them, so you must be actively searching for quests or battles to fund your army.
Money is not just found from fighting other tribes, there is a trading aspect where if you buy low and sell high you can eventually work up to a small fortune. Another way is to buy some land from the various towns and start a business, these businesses provide weekly profits while you play. Which can be especially useful should you ever lose your army…Which I did, and it is painfully slow to get back to where I was.
What I Liked
I have been looking for a game where you build an empire for a while, and I was able to get this on a good offer. Building and training your army keeps you invested and even though you cannot die losing everything you have worked for really does feel like a loss.
Amongst the nameless soldiers there are a few individual soldiers that have their own backstories and have their own stat progression which really makes them feel like they are captains amongst your band. When you die however, you have a chance of losing them.
The reputation system is also particularly good, primitive, but enjoyable. You can win favour with various factions by doing quests for them. If you are willing to gamble, you can side with them during a war which reduces your reputation with the enemy while giving you and your band a weekly wage. I recommend doing this as well as building on land so that should anything happen you have money stashed away to build a new army.
What I Disliked
When you get a big too big for your own boots, and you attack someone with a slightly larger force but is better trained. When they wipe you out you are left with the weapons/armour on your back and truly little money. Once you get to this point you have an awfully hard path ahead of you. Especially if you have gotten away from the starter area and are trying to survive in an area where the smallest band of warriors is eight or more and you have not one villager in your team.
Another aspect I did not like is where you must go find a band of enemies or locate an ally. Unlike most games, they will not stay in one place and will somehow travel great distances that seem unrealistic. I spent two in game days trying to track down my marshal just so that it he could give me a simple quest.
This is exactly the type of game I have been looking for, and if you can pick it up under £10 then you have got a cracking deal with a lot of content. The only improvement I would like Is if you could build your own villages/towns/cities and start your own tribe that way rather than trying to take over existing lands. I am awarding this game a 4/5 rating; however, I will revisit this review when I ‘Complete’ it and see if it still stands up.