I finally lost my patience with Battle for Wesnoth, which I’ve been playing lately. While I’ve usually been able to endure playing a scenario per day, the latest scenario in the campaign, the Trial of the Horse Clan (or some such; playing the Finnish translation here) almost made me break my mouse in frustration. I doubt that I’m going to return to the game again.
The concept of the scenario is long distances and units with plenty of movement. Due to how the game doesn’t support real skirmish units (which you’d expect of plains nomads), the horse lords of the plains wield large numbers of heavy-hitting lancer units instead. This means that the whole scenario is a total bloodbath with units exchanged 1-to-1 with the enemy. Consider, the four methods of protecting your own troops in Wesnoth:
- Positioning the units into defensive lines that protect their flanks is not useful against an enemy that does not care about their own casualties and is capable of killing my units with one or at most two attacks. The best protective line the hex geometry allows still leaves each unit with two open hex sides; more than enough for the lancers to focus their attacks on the most valuable unit in the defensive line.
- Positioning the units in protective terrain is difficult, as such terrain is scarce on the plains. Furthermore, terrain only reduces opponent striking probability in this game, which isn’t that useful when most units the opponent wields are kamikaze stuff capable of taking all but the most robust units out in one hit. Even the best terrain only protects an unit at a 35% probability against a lancer who strikes 3 times for massive damage.
- Putting sacrificial units in front of your valuable ones still works on the plains, but you need humongous numbers of those units here: each lancer kills one low-level unit per round, so even if you always manage to kill the lancer after its initial charge, you’re going to lose something like 20 units before the scenario is through. I don’t know if I have the patience for this style of play after shepherding my army through a dozen scenarios with something like half a dozen fatalities in total. Actually, I don’t even know if I’d have the budget for that sort of thing in this scenario.
- The most efficient tool of defense in Wesnoth is to position your troops so far away from the enemy that the enemy can’t reach them. Unfortunately the concept in this scenario is mobile enemy, so this is not an option; fast light cavalry doesn’t hit hard enough to actually eliminate those lancers, while heavier-hitting units are all so fragile and slow that I end up trading one expensive elite unit for one of those lancers every time the enemy gets a turn with a lancer in hitting distance of my lines.
In some other game I’d enjoy this sort of challenge, but here the user interface of the game makes that pretty impossible; reloading the position takes so long that it’s practically impossible to try out a sufficient number of plans to figure out how to approach the scenario before I lose my patience. As cumulative bad luck can force a reload as well, I’m looking at spending almost an estimated hour simply waiting for the game to load in between attempts at solving the scenario. Not my understanding of a good time by any means, as I’d somehow have to know how to solve the scenario before I actually play it to avoid having to reload.
I could reduce the amount of load breaks by playing much more conservatively with the hero characters (the ones you aren’t allowed to lose) and by intentionally sacrificing low-level units to the grind, but I’m a bit doubtful as to why I’d want to. Surely I have better things to do at this point.