Seeing as how I did a lot of complaining in my last post, I promised myself that I would maintain a positive focus in this update, because I really don't hate Age of Wonders 2, and I'm worried that my negativity might have led to that impression.
So what do I like about this game?
I like the exploration. I like moving my units into the fog of war and uncovering new terrain, expanding my map of this densely populated fantasy world. I like seeing the different special units possessed by the various fantasy races, the dragons and Pegasuses and nymphs and whatnot that populate the warring kingdoms. I like researching spells and building up my cities. I like fielding powerful units of high-tier soldiers. I like the tactical combat when I'm the one who starts the fight (primarily because the playing field is even or stacked in my favor). I like the early game, before the AI assembles enough of a fighting force to come after my shit.
The biggest hurdle for me is accepting the game's premise of eternal war. It's like a mental block. I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that I should be taking the gold I'm earning from all these windmills and mines and then subsequently spending in a whimsical attempt to recruit dragons, and put it to use killing people and taking their stuff.
But I'm going to try and stay positive here. Taking endless war as a given, Age of Wonders 2 is probably as good a way as any to go about it. Territory changes hands pretty easily, making true stalemates difficult, and it's possible to build up enough momentum to win decisively without becoming entirely invincible in the process. It's a paradigm that favors offense and mobility, and requires a great deal of active attention. I expect that if I were better at the game, I'd also be a better general in real life.
I expect what I'll do for the next 14 hours is start a series of new games, rage-quitting each one in succession until I develop the instincts to keep the AI under control, and then maybe I'll prefer to focus on a single map to systematically dominate. If I can get to that point, I'll probably find Age of Wonders 2 pretty satisfying.