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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:Better resource management game than a first impression would indicate, December 26, 2019
by SpikeI had more fun with this game than most other players seem to have had, judging by its current ratings and its placement in IFComp. I suspect many players were turned off by some noticeable bugs (some cosmetic, some more serious that affect gameplay), as well as the bare-bones interface. Looking past those, I found The Chieftain to be a decent resource management game.
My sense is that writing a good resource management game is all about the mechanics. What makes the various resource levels go up or down? And, more importantly, how much of this is under the playerís control, and how much is random? Too much control for the player, and the game becomes less interesting: You just do the same thing over and over again until you hit the goal. On the other hand, too much randomness starts to feel either unfair or like youíre simply tossing dice to see what happens. A good game of this kind needs to strike the right balance.
And I think The Chieftain mostly does get this right. The major random activity is scouting the surrounding area, and this can lead to many different outcomes. Some of the resource-gathering activities also produce a variable amount of goods. And then several of the activities are deterministic: The game tells you, for instance, that throwing a party consumes 5 food and increases happiness by 3. It took me quite a while to settle on a strategy that was consistently effective; I had to try a lot of the different activities over multiple days to see what they led to. Yet this process didnít feel unfair, either; it was clear when I was taking a risk and that that risk was my choice. This seems to me to be what you want the player to experience.
There are also intermediate goals to keep the playerís attention. For instance, I saved up my coins and bought a longsword for display in the village. I also built a shrine and raised it a couple of levels so that it was generating more resources for me.
However, once I did finally settle on my strategy, it was mostly a matter of just doing the same things over and over until I hit the happiness level required to win. Some tweaks to the gameís mechanics could have improved this. It did take me a while to realize that this would be an effective strategy, though.
Overall, I think The Chieftain does most of what you want a resource management game to do correctly; that is, its mechanics are pretty sound. But there are places where those mechanics could be made better, and some more testing and changes to the presentation could have greatly improved the player experience as well.
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