D&D General Classic Gold Box D&D CRPGs coming to Steam

One thing I will say right now is that I think that, in a way, the primitiveness of the graphics is actually something of a strength when it comes to the actual battles in the game. Basically, the fact that the graphics are so sparse, it's very similar to looking down on an actual real-life table top battle mat with minis and lines that the DM has drawn for where the walls are, where each figure on the board awaits its turn on its initiative, and you have to figure out exactly where best to drop that fireball to maximize enemies hit and minimize collateral damage. Few games give you that overhead tactical point of view; these days, they're permanently wedded to 3D realistic movement and combat. Which is perfectly fine - many excellent CRPGS have sprung from that format. But the Gold Box games almost simulate what it's like to actually play the game in real life...

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So, I'm still working my way through Dark Queen of Krynn, and it is a slog. I'm definitely not having as much fun as its parallel high level game Pools of Darkness, and I can see why I never finished this game back in the day. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. The overall plot is very vague, and not linked very much to the previous games of the series. The first two games of the series had linked plots, with story lines and NPCs shared between the two. In DQK, I'm suddenly over on another continent, and I'm having to stop draconians and (I think) stop Takhisis from re-entering Krynn, but that hasn't been made particularly clear. I'm mainly running around doing a bunch of fetch quests to find the next McGuffin that will give me a clue to the next group of fetch quests, etc. Not particularly thrilling for characters around level 20 or so. Conversely, in PoD, the opening sequence gives you the plot: Bane is mad at you for messing up all his previous plans, and he's going to punish you and the entire region you've saved multiple times in the previous games as a result. The story line continues from previous games and NPCs you've met before re-appear. You're emotionally invested in the game not only because it's personal, but also the people and places that are now endangered are ones you are familiar and have helped in the past. As I said before, all this is definitely not the case in DQK.

2. The fights are just tedious and over-tuned. In PoD, you'd have a lot of relatively challenging fights, interspersed with the periodic really tough one. In DQK, just about every fight is really tough, and a large number of them are set up that unless you get the luck of the roll, you're going to eat several delayed blast fireballs and have characters unconscious or dead in the first round. Multiple re-loads for run-of-the-mill fights aren't particularly fun. Basically, every wizard already has mirror image, protection from normal missiles, fire shield, and globe of invulnerability pre-cast before the fight, and there are usually several of them, usually in the back where they are hard to get to (and if you can, your poor melee get zapped for massive damage from fire shield, while your archers just slowly pick away at mirror images). The best you can hope for is to get close enough to cast power word kill on them, or cone of cold if you can get the right angle. Again, this would be fine if this happened in boss fights, or even just periodically, but it's like every... single... fight. And it's very tedious. The only bright point is that at least it's fun when dragons appear with two dragonlances ready to go...

I'm still slogging through, and about 2/3 of the way done.

Finally finished Dark Queen of Krynn. I never want to see a Dark Wizard or, especially, an Enchanted Bozak again. The rest of the enchanted draconians were manageable, and actually a fun challenge, but whoever decided to give the Enchanted Bozaks 70% magic resistance and fire shield (which makes them shrug off any fireballs that get past the magic resistance and zaps anyone who hits them in melee with double fire damage back), and then put in encounters with 3 - 5 of them, was just plain sadistic. I can say, however, that after the middle part that I was slogging through, it did become better and more engaging in the last third or so. Although it tacked on more endings than Return of the King lol...

I'll start working on my thoughts for the two series and the games here soon.

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