“Commander: Conquest of the Americas” by Mazer

I found this little gem thanks to one of Steam’s specials (got it for 60% off!) and it looked like it could be a fun game so I picked it up. From the About the Game write-up, it looks like a more in-depth ‘version’ of Sid Meier’s Pirates! which was a fun game in it’s own right. So, let’s get on with it!

What I Expected:

I’m thinking that this will be the game that Pirates! was not: a fun ship game with some cool territory/RTS elements. Pirates! had the fun ship game down pat, but it got kind of boring after a while just conquering cities for some foreign power. The About the Game states that you take control of one of the European powers, so here’s hoping that this game will eliminate that annoyance. It seems like it’s going to be a fun trading/strategy game and I couldn’t wait to start playing it.

What We Got:

Well, first off let me say that I was very disappointed in the game. I thought it was going to be a lot more like Pirates! and not like watching paint dry. The game definitely has a great game play behind it but it’s not really based on anything that I would consider fast-paced. Or normal-paced. Or even fun really. It feels more like a game aimed towards players who like to meticulously plot out every single little detail of what they’re doing.

The basic story is that you are an European Power who is trying to make colonies in the new world in order to make a huge sum of money. You do this by, obviously, making colonies and then having them produce goods. You can then sell these goods to your home port and turn around and sell your home port’s goods to the colonists. So far it sounds kinda fun, but trust me, it gets really tedious after a while. -before I go any further I would like to point out that the learning /difficulty curve on this game is insane- It seems impossible to make your colonies self-sufficient: by that I mean, in order for them to stay content (they’re happiness directly affecting how many goods they supply per time frame) you have to pour more money into each stupid port than is coming out of it innately. Ya, I was still making money off of each of my colonies, but it wasn’t enough for me to expand more than once every 2-3 years. In order for the colonies to be happy you have to build buildings; these buildings also cost upkeep. There is no way, that I can tell, of making your colonist’s tax rate high enough to pay for a significant portion of that colonies upkeep (especially if you add in a Palace, which you have to do by year 30 or so, or you loss the game outright). To try to give you a good perspective: I was able to make between 20,000 and 50,000 coins a year (profit), but each building costs at least 30,000 to build plus each new ship costs 30,000 to build. Those numbers are from the crappy beginner’s stuff too; the higher end buildings easily cost 50,000+ and that Palace I was talking about? Ya, 125,000 plus an insane 19,000 upkeep.

It didn’t help that my colonists didn’t seem to get happier as I built them more happiness-producing buildings. So I felt like all that gold was wasted when I could have just built more ships that actually gave me more incoming money. And then I had to bring in more colonists into my colonies from my home port in order to make more colonies. Ya, I still have no idea why I need to have 3,000 (or was it 5,000?) colonists between 2 colonies in order to get a third. So, the issue with this was that colonists take up space: space that would be better used for cargo that I can make money off of. So I had an entire fleet whose job was to basically ferry colonists to the colonies and then sell goods from those colonies to the home port (where you get colonists). This worked out pretty well except that the trip from home to the colonies took a while and I could only ferry 50 colonists at a time…

Conclusion:

The game does seem to have the ability to be a fun game, but you have to really try to get good at it in order for that to happen. I’m not sure if I like games like that: I think you should always be having fun, even if you will have more fun when you get better at the game. I think the main annoyance I had while playing was the fact that your home port ran out of goods (and didn’t tell you). So my automatic trading (which is a nice feature) was buying 0 goods from the home port meaning that fleet was wasting half of its time on doing nothing. This was very frustrating since I had to keep a close eye on each of my fleets to make sure they’re cargo was what it was supposed to be. This makes the automatic trading mechanic kind of counter-intuitive in my mind; if it’s automatic, then I shouldn’t have to worry about it unless I want to specifically change something.

Overall Rating

I didn’t want to give this game a Forget It. I would have much rather gave it a Rent It like I did with Metro 2033 but the fact of the matter is that there just aren’t very many gamers who would find this type of game appealing. So, unlike Metro 2033 (which I think everyone should at least play once), I’m going to just say avoid this game unless you think you’d enjoy this slow-paced, detailed trading game. Oh and there are ship battles in the game too, though I never had the money to support a half decent fleet so I’ve never seen that part of it. If I do after this review goes live, I’ll update the review and maybe put something about it in the comments as well.

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