So, one of my favourite turn-based strategy games is Disciples 2. I love pretty much everything about it. I like the units. I like how streamlined the city management is. I like the magic system. I like the combat system. I like the factions. I love the fact that it has hot seat multiplayer, which lets me play as multiple factions myself (a habit I picked up in my misspent youth liking different games than my brother did, and also liking story-based gaming). It’s a game that I keep coming back to again and again and again.
It just has one teeny-tiny overwhelming flaw: the end game sucks.
The issue is that the random monsters on the field are placed — at least in the multiplayer maps — in a fixed way. They don’t regenerate. Dungeons don’t regenerate either. So once you’ve cleared out all the enemies, that’s it for getting experience. And the monsters vary in difficulty, so this leads to the strategy of leveling up a party or two through them and using them to smash everything else, especially since for many of your party members leveling them up gives them great new abilities that can really turn fights in your favour. But the problem with this is that once you get them to a powerful level, if you should ever lose them if you recruit a replacement party they’ll be too weak to do any real damage to your enemies but have no way of getting stronger except by defeating the parties that they’re too weak to beat. Add in that you can use magic to weaken a party and leave them ripe for the taking — although there are ways to defend your party from magic — and that means that there are lots of ways to beat a party that don’t just involve a straight-up fight. Ultimately, though, the real issue is that once you’ve wiped out an enemy’s leveled up parties, or they’ve wiped out yours, the game is pretty much over … except that as far as I know you can’t surrender to them and, in multiplayer, at least, every starting city has a super powerful guardian that you need to kill before you can take that city. And since you can’t cast spells in things inside cities, that means that you have to take that out through combat. I’ve done it a few times. It’s long and painful.
Now, it’s true that I might be able to avoid a lot of this by playing better. But I think the fundamental flaw is indeed there: once the experienced parties die, and you’ve killed most of the things to kill doing that, you’re screwed. Which usually means that I end up quitting before the end. The start and middle-game is great, the end game is lacking.
I’ve heard that Disciples 3 isn’t all that great, and so never tried it, and haven’t found a game that I love as much as that one yet, so I put up with its foibles. Despite the flaw, I still love that game.