Geryk Analysis: Rise of Legends: Bruce Geryk couldn`t Caylus
Brooski - Features - Comments - 06/01/06

In the time it took you to read that, you could probably have beaten me at Rise of Legends. Tom Chick sure could, and he has done it. Each time, the only thing I know for a fact is that he has a big hero and some sun jaguars, and those prehistoric flying battleaxe things that shoot lasers and kill all my guys. Itís pretty boring, and yeah, he probably did a lot of really clever strategies. Who knows Ė maybe he was even wearing fruit on his head. Iíll never know, because each time the endgame looked exactly the same.

Did you decide your favorite Alin research track? Great. I guarantee you that if you donít tell me, Iíll never know what it is, because if youíre successful, all Iíll see is a high-level hero, a bunch of fire elementals, and a glass dragon blowing up all my stuff.

Did I say glass dragon? I guess I did. Itís one of those game words that doesnít really make any sense, but sounds vaguely cool just based on the possibilities. Which you use to enhance the stuff thatís going on in the game itself. Thatís really the whole point of computer games. You can do so much on screen, but youíve wasted your screen time if you donít evoke something in the playerís mind that goes beyond whatever demon art your artists managed to draw up from their years of teenage angst.

I have to sincerely apologize to you right now and admit that the whole Caylus thing isnít about building a castle. Itís about building a church. A French church. Frankly, when Iím playing, I often forget. The best boardgames (of which Caylus is certainly one) can get away with thin themes if the game mechanics themselves are really compelling. When everything is out in the open, you can appreciate every skillful manipulation of the game, regardless of what it means in the game world. Watching some guy take penalty after penalty and still beat me was all the more amazing because I could see him doing it. He would even make comments, like ďOops, I guess I forgot to build a castle this time.Ē The first time I thought he was serious, until the fruit on his head became obvious. From then on, he won major style points for ostensibly ďplaying the game wrongĒ but still cleaning my clock. If someone were to try that against me now, I could probably stop him. But I would be focused on the mechanics, and not so much on the castle. I mean, church.

Real-time strategy games donít work that way. Sure, if your opponent builds fallen priests, you build afreets, but the whole deal is about the presentation and not the mechanics. When I look that the endgame stats and see that Tomís resource gathering was twice mine, I never think back and say, ďIíve gotta hand it to him Ė I needed to play the joust before the merchantsí guild, and he beat me to it.Ē

If I did, that would be weird, since that kind of thing only happens in Caylus. Sometimes I think about Caylus when I play Rise of Legends, which is what I said when I started this whole thing. I think that means Rise of Legends failed in some way, despite the fact that it has a lot of really intricate mechanics that fit together just so. Iíve been playing it for three weeks and I think I have the Alin pretty much down. The rest is up to my speed-clicking. No matter what I do, though, youíll either see a bunch of Alin cities blowing up, or a bunch of Alin monsters blowing you up. Thatís all there is.

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