Well, I'm finally back to where I was before, which is strange because it took me almost a half-hour more the second time around. I'm not sure why that would be the case. Am I just worse at games than I was three years ago? Maybe I'm just more careful. In less of a rush and more willing to take side-paths and let things happen. Or maybe I forgot I could increase the game speed for something like two out of the first three missions.
Whatever the explanation, I'm enjoying myself, and that's all that matters. And it turns out that my biggest problem with the game is not the combat. Fighting in The Settlers 7 is so bland that it barely feels like it exists at all. No, the thing that worries me most now is that certain fundamental resources - gold, coal, stone, and fish - are finite and can be exhausted. And while that turns out to be fine in campaign mode, if I ever decide to just do an open-ended map my city will have a built-in time-limit. That's kind of a bummer.
Though it's not something I have to worry about just yet. I'm not sure how much farther I have to go in the tutorial, given that there's something like a dozen buildings I haven't seen just yet, however, I think I'm pretty close to the end simply because the story is rapidly heading towards a logical act break.
You play as Princess Zoe, a naive young noblewoman who was sent to the kingdom of Tandria by her father. Tandria has recently undergone a large-scale revolt and the king's friend Balderus has become deposed. So Zoe's father (I don't think he's gotten a name just yet) tasked her with colonizing the land and defeating the leader of the rebels Lord Wolvering. In return, he will make her Queen of Tandria.
Seems simple enough, except everything associated with Zoe's father is shady as fuck. Your assistant, Bors, an "old ally" of Zoe's father is clearly holding back information, and in the last mission restrained you from talking to the Bishop about your military use of technology gleaned from his monasteries, even going so far as to say "the cause justifies the means."
So, prediction time: Bors turns out to be Balderus, Zoe learns that the people she's fighting are righteous rebels against a tyrannical regime, and that her father is the mastermind of this oppression. She must then take up arms against him and that will be the subject of the post-tutorial campaign. Things certainly feel like they're coming to a head, and I'm not sure there's much more room for Zoe to keep ignoring all these red flags without looking like an idiot. It's a little weird that none of the underlings you've fought have bothered to say anything about their motivation or ideology, but I'm guessing that's just weak writing that values dramatic irony more than internal consistency.
My next mission is the one where I learn to trade, and I'm looking forward to it simply because it will be nice to do something other than conquer for a change, though I'm starting to think that the city-building is meant to support the warfare, rather than the other way around.
Either way, I think this is going to be a pretty easy game to get through. I like building stuff and the building mechanics look sufficiently deep that I'm willing to pay the price of some occasional tedious combat if it means I get to keep exploring them.