Yes, Your Grace

Yes, Your Grace is one of those games where you sit in a throne room choosing option X, Y, or Z in response to petitioners, with the goal being to keep various resources above the negative. Unlike Ur-example Reigns, which seems more like a prototype for the concept than an actual game, Yes, Your Grace has a plot about assorted royal intrigues and all of the petitioners have specific stories rather than just being generic “oh, no, bandits!” (although one of the specific stories is “oh, no, bandits!”). You’re being invaded by a bandit who held you up thirteen years ago and demanded your first-born daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for letting you go, and since then this random bandit has found his way into a barbarian army and is invading the kingdom. Hilarity ensues.

In addition to the petitioners having unique dialogue and stories instead of just a randomly shuffled deck of problems, the game also has a map that you can dispatch royal agents on (specifically a general, witch, and hunter) and you can invite nobles and fellow kings to come visit you, causing them to show up in the petitioner queue in the next turn. These are both really good additions.

Unfortunately, there’s also a paper-thin mass combat system and some adventure game bullshit, which are really bad additions. The mass combat system is ultimately just a bunch of set dressing around a question of whether or not you’ve stockpiled enough resources to win. The two battles in the game are pivotal moments, so having them last longer than just “we did indeed pay for enough improvements to win” is a good idea. It’s a video game, so having that longer battle sequence be driven by player decisions instead of just playing out with no interactivity is also a good idea. The problem is that, with only two battles, the game doesn’t really have time to establish any real mechanics for the battles, which means you basically just guess what the right decision to make it whenever you’re asked to send a unit into battle. That, in turn, means there’s basically two kinds of decisions: The blindingly obvious, and the totally arbitrary.

I think there’s only two real solutions to this problem: Drastically overhaul the game to make the combats less important to its plot, then reduce the combats to “did you prepare enough resources y/n” and get them out of the way very quickly, or revise the combat system completely so that it’s a real system and not just a series of “pick X, Y, or Z” questions with no consistency to which might be the correct answer. That’s not to say that a series of “pick X, Y, or Z” can’t be the primary mechanic, just that, like the rest of the game, those questions need to be part of a system you can understand rather than trying to guess what the developer is hinting at. The simplest example would be to have three troop types in a rock-paper-scissors relationship, you can see what troops the enemy still has in reserve, and you have to pick a troop type to deploy next in hopes of guessing one that beats what your enemy has picked. I’m not going to go into another twelve paragraphs of detail, but you’d also want to add further complications like deploying an initial frontline versus keeping troops in reserve and having your agents able to modify the outcome and so forth. Pure RPS would also just be guesswork, but you can use it as a foundation for a system where you can make informed choices about what your enemy is most likely to do next and how you can counter that.

But this would require a whole lot of extra development time and resources, and I never feel good about proposing a solution to a problem in a game that requires more resources than the game as it is. The majority of games can be improved with more time and money poured into them, but those things are finite.

The adventure game bullshit, though, that could’ve and should’ve just been left out completely. You can get up off of your throne and go talk to other characters around the castle, which is a good way of delivering the story without having your daughter queue up with petitioners to have an argument over marriage right in front of the royal court. This system of walking around talking to people also gets used for a couple of “use needle on flagstone” style adventure game puzzles, though, and they’re abysmal. The best you can say for them is that at least they’re fairly straightforward and they make up a small fragment of the overall game, but the game would be better off not having them at all.

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