Grand Ages Medieval: 30 million square miles of pot-making.

Games have made some grand claims about their size rarely independently verified. GTA III was a miniscule three square miles, Star Wars Galaxies a modest 200, and Just Cause 2 a stonking 400, but  LotRO pegs in at 30,000 while  Daggerfall  is double that. Grand Ages: Medieval  claims a staggering 30 million square miles. That’s ten times the actual size of the Europe it’s meant to be simming. Hmm. 

Dodgy geography aside, Grand Ages certainly does cover great tracts of land, in a manner highly reminiscent of the  Total War series. The landscape you’re looking at here stretches from North Africa to Scandinavia and right over to the Middle East. Where the series differs from Creative Assembly’s games is in the emphasis on war. While the Total War metagame is a crucial part of the experience,  Grand Ages focuses more on the economy, particularly city management. Medieval is set in AD 1050, and it’s all about the rapid growth of European towns in that era. It’s very much the classic theme for a German board game.

The challenge comes from the limits put on your city’s capabilities. Consider the typical small city of Augsburg in Germany. Each city can produce up to five goods, with the rest acquired by trading between your cities. To grow this city, you need to acquire more goods so a settler is sent out into the wilderness to prospect for materials, and then found a city. A short road-building stint later and you can choose what goods this new city specialises in, to complement the rest of your civilisation, and construct some production buildings with goods sent from your other city.
The landscape you’re looking at here stretches from North Africa to Scandinavia
Throw in a singleplayer campaign, a tech tree, trading and eight-player multiplayer and that’s pretty much the game. The previous title in the series Grand Ages: Rome AKA  Imperium Romanum II was a very ordinary city-builder. This one seems more limited still, with the cities mostly constructing themselves.

All this is not to say that these games are battle-free. They do have battles and a kind person would call them abstracted. Scouts can head out into the fog of war to find bandits, barbarian hordes, lost traders and AI cities. It’s all very Anno.

My concerns, on first impression, are that there isn’t that much to do here and that those few things that I can do will get repetitive quickly. Even 300 million square miles won’t solve that problem.

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