This past weekend I picked up a really great city-building strategy game called Banished. The concept is simple: You are a banished group of exiles who have to settle a new area to survive. Will you die or start a new thriving civilization that will go on for hundreds of years? If you’re me, you’ve probably died a dozen times already.
Banished looks and sounds simple on the outside. You simply have to make buildings and keep your people healthy, happy, and their bellies full of food. There’s so much more to it, though, when you realize each of those mechanics are fully developed and very close to reality.
It’s all about risk and resource management. Want to plant crops? In other games it’s only a matter or assigning land to be farmed and workers to tend the crops, but in Banished you have to worry about which crops can survive the temperatures when it gets cold or be harvested in time. An early winter will ruin your crops. Working in the snow will lower worker efficiency, cause them to become ill, and then the least of your concerns will be whether or not your pumpkins withered. Oh, and I should probably mention that if you farm in the same place for too many seasons your soil will be ruined.
Every resource requires real thought. You need firewood to stay warm in the winter. Firewood comes from wood logs. Chopping down trees is simple, but once you chop them down they take time to regrow and mature to the point of yielding good wood again. Distance matters so it’s not like you can just run to another big section of forest. Reducing your forests will reduce the deer population… and then you might starve. See the trend? (more…)