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Nan o’ War CH5: A Miner Complication

By Rutskarn
on Tuesday Mar 28, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play


On returning from the set of Sister Act 3: Wait There Was a Sister Act 2?, I stop in to the tavern and the Suspicious Man asks:

That’s a good question! In no particular order:

An explanation, an apology, two hours of my life, a day’s vacation, a medal, and your shifty ballsack hanging off my new vessel’s prow like a pair of fuzzy goddamn dice. What I am going to settle for is my money. I’m in it for the piastres, so quit flaking and hand over the dough.

And he does! The full, reasonably large amount. Suddenly I’ve got some actual capital to work with. I’m now blessed with enough to buy a boat, get out of town, and find me some content that isn’t fundamentally weird and broken.


Well, I dunno. How about another one first?

That’s right–I’m turning around and signing up for another mission. You might think that’s berserk, given the pimento chili nightmare that was my last nundertaking, but there’s a reason for it. Allow me to explain one significant deviation between the standard Mount and Blade design and Caribbean!

Questing in Mount and Blade is not designed with efficiency in mind. First, you have to find someone Generally one of the lords, who move around constantly. with quests to offer. Mostly they won’t have one for you, so prepare to trawl the countryside for a minute or two. Eventually you’ll come across some errand on a scale of time-wasting ranging from insultingly menial (delivering a letter) to simple and lucrative (collecting taxes). Having failed or succeeded, you return to your employer Assuming they’re not captive on the other side of the continent by the time you’ve finished, which, yes, isn’t uncommon. and collect your reward.

Here we have 'With Fire and Sword,' wherein the king of Poland asks me to deliver his mail. Complete this quest twice and you can buy the cheapest good in the game.
Here we have 'With Fire and Sword,' wherein the king of Poland asks me to deliver his mail. Complete this quest twice and you can buy the cheapest good in the game.

So you get some guaranteed money and XP for completing missions, but the time spent doing that is dwarfed by the time spent riding around looking for lords, riding around accomplishing the objective, and then riding around asking every aristocrat you run into if they’ve seen your questgiver anywhere. Then you generally have to ride around looking for some other quest.

This isn’t as aggravating as it sounds. This riding around block on your schedule is still spent engaging the mechanics; I mean, riding around is just the base medium through which the game is conducted. While roaming you look for more quests, buy supplies, check out the scene in local towns, fight patrols, trade goods, and build up your warband. You’ve got a month or more to complete most quests, so what tends to happen is you get a bunch of quests and plan an efficient route to hit all of them, lending a touch of structure to your character’s journey. Quests exist as a diversion and source of rewards, but more than that they’re a way to keep you bouncing around the environment scoping out opportunities.

This brings me to Blood and Gold–which, to be fair, does seem to have some similarly-designed quests. It’s just that apparently, it also has a questgiver in a fixed location in every town who will give you unlimited missions and teleport you to and from their instance immediately. If Mount and Blade’s quests encourage structured roaming, this quest structure encourages me to park my ass in this tavern until I stagger out with a solid gold wardrobe and muscles the size of panthers.

Hit me, Spishy.

So…escort mission. I’ve got to take this demo guy to three separate locations in an enemy mine, he sets them up the bomb, we get outie? Sounds borderline reasonable. We’ll take it!

Now, it’s my understanding we’ll be escaping back the way we came. I’d like to introduce a tactical consideration, if it’s not too bold. Rather than light a fuse, walk, light a fuse, walk, light a fuse, walk, then run backwards past all those other fuses before that first bomb goes off, why don’t we


do that plan, sure, fine, that’s great. No better place to go for a sprint than an enemy-infested booby-trapped tunnel. Right, guys?

So how's thugging? Is there really this much market for thuggery in this small colonial community?
So how's thugging? Is there really this much market for thuggery in this small colonial community?

So, are each of these other legitimate freelance specialists ALSO getting paid 7,000 piastres, or…? Because I’m just saying, this mission seems like it could get real expensive if the boss expected to pay, I’m going to say any of them.

You know what, I think I’m seeing where the light-the-fuses-first thing is coming from. The aggressive recruiting. The improbably high promises of payment. The mobs of disposable labor. I’ve stumbled into some kind of fucked-up syndicalistic Caribbean(!) Hooverville, and as that first fuse sputters to its terminus inches from my bloodied nostrils, my last cogent thought will be of Blackbeard breastfeeding an old man. You know what, guys, I’m having a second–whoa!

The demoman–he’s booking it! I can’t actually keep up!

There’s a blink. Two guards spawn, I hear simultaneous gunshots, my demoman dies, he is dead, what?!

I just failed the mission!

It’s not–okay.

It’s not actually that I couldn’t have done anything to prevent that. I suppose all I had to do was–one instant after the two guards popped out from thin air–fire my flintlock pistol on the run from long range and hit, uh, both of them.

This wouldn’t happen to be a salt mine, would it?

At this point, I’ve got a choice. I can give you two more posts of trial and error. Alternately, I can give you two words of fuck it. Having tendered due and sober consideration:

Fuck it.

Now, I know that you, like me, have a healthy interest in 18th-century naval technology. So you will share my disappointment when I inform you that wind direction doesn’t seem to have much of a bearing on travel speed. At a glance, my vessel travels across the open ocean much like–you’ll forgive a fanciful comparison–a horse traveling on an overland map. What is it about this game that’s pirate-themed, again?

Ah, right. The pirates.




[1] Generally one of the lords, who move around constantly.

[2] Assuming they’re not captive on the other side of the continent by the time you’ve finished, which, yes, isn’t uncommon.

Comments (44)

  1. Content Consumer says:

    what tends to happen is you get a bunch of quests and plan an efficient route to hit all of them,

    Ah, yes. The famous “Traveling Quest-man” problem.

  2. “Spishy.”


    It keeps getting better and better.

  3. Ninety-Three says:

    Wait, so what actually happened with this mine quest? Did you complete it, but spare us the details, or give up on it then spare us the details of how you found an alternate source of funding for your ship?

  4. Miguk says:

    If you can just get 10 Swadian knights on that ship you’ll steamroll over the whole Caribbean.

    But seriously, I’m really liking this. It’s interesting to see how a game engine that’s inspired by Sid Meier’s Pirates fares when it’s actually used to make a game about pirates.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So…escort mission.

    Uh oh.

    I've got to take this demo guy to three separate locations in an enemy mine, he sets them up the bomb, we get outie? Sounds borderline reasonable. We'll take it!

    No!Dont do it!Its a trap!

    Two guards spawn, I hear simultaneous gunshots, my demoman dies, he is dead, what?!

    Told you.

  6. ehlijen says:

    In the final screenshot, is that two ships trying to make a boat together?

    Excellent read :) Thank you very much, Rutskarn!

  7. DGM says:

    >> “An explanation, an apology, two hours of my life,”

    Shouldn’t that be “two hours of my life back?

  8. Steve C says:

    The studio that created this game has just folded today due to an unusual amount of negative feedback. (This comment is a repost. Rather have it on an active topic.)

    • Rutskarn says:

      At the risk of being a hypocrite, I’m genuinely very sad to hear that.

      • Mr Compassionate says:

        They made a statement that said it was, and I quote, ‘Totally all Rutscarn’s fault’
        Also the GameFAQ’s guide says you need to curve the shot through both the thug’s heads Wanted style.-
        Anyways great read as always! I get hype when I see a new Nan ‘o War on the blog.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        I don’t think that makes you a hypocrite. Or at least, I think there’s a path to non-hypocrisy here.

        To summarize what their post is saying: “People didn’t like Eador very much. And that’s fair, because frankly it wasn’t our best work. The financial realities of the world mean that teams who don’t work well get fired, so now our studio is shutting down.”

        If anyone is genuinely sad that their studio got shut down, it’s the developers themselves, and even they have negative feedback for their game. You can think (or even cry from the rooftops) that the game sucks while also thinking that it’s a shame they didn’t get to keep making games and improving.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Im sad too,but its not surprising.While I liked eador,it had its problems.And the last one did not improve on the previous one much,so the negative feedback is understandable.

    • Leocruta says:

      Wait, these guys made Eador? I actually had some fun with that game. This is an unfortunate occurrence.

      • GloatingSwine says:

        Eador was okay, in a sort of “take HOMM and turn all the complicated bits up to 11” way. Didn’t find it massively engaging though.

        • Mistwraithe says:

          I thought the core gameplay in Eador was quite fun. Unfortunately Snowbird never fixed a lot of the “quality of life” problems around that gameplay. The AI was generally poor (which removed a lot of the fun once you worked out the AI wasn’t much of a threat), Snowbird seemed incapable of fixing bugs without introducing equal or greater numbers (I suspect their code quality was awful), game balance was haphazard (the return on investment on some buildings was awful) and they couldn’t seem to come up with a campaign which didn’t mean repeatedly doing much the same thing ad nauseam.

          I liked MotBW enough that I played it to about mid way through the campaign (I think) but there just wasn’t enough progression or evolution for me to keep going as the maps got bigger and more time consuming.

    • John says:

      I really want to make a “Masters of the Broken World” joke right now, but it seems kind of mean given the circumstances.

  9. Grudgeal says:

    “The Boiled Sweet”? Why do I get the feeling that name is going to be a literal description of its combat ability when you (inevitably) get into a ship battle?

  10. Eigil says:

    I guess that guy wasn’t a good Demoman.

  11. baseless_research says:

    Can I make a small complaint? The small screenshots are fine for high-contrast images, but these dark screens in the mine and the last image are very unclear. I’d prefer them be available in original size when clicking on them or something similar to that.

    That is assuming you’re not actually playing and taking screenshots in glorious 800×600 resolution

  12. AMX says:

    The top-down view of the ship in the penultimate screenshot reminds me *a lot* of the crow’s nest view in Cutthroats…

  13. MrGuy says:

    So you will share my disappointment when I inform you that wind direction doesn't seem to have much of a bearing on travel speed. At a glance, my vessel travels across the open ocean much like”“you'll forgive a fanciful comparison”“a horse traveling on an overland map.

    I have mixed feelings on this. I liked Sid Meier’s Pirates, which definitely took wind direction into consideration for ship movement, and also had a realistic model of the prevailing winds in the Caribbean. This added considerable realism, but it also made some parts of the map almost inaccessible – if you sailed over to the coast of Mexico, you weren’t getting back anywhere else any time soon, likely not until after you’ve had your crew starve or mutiny. Likewise, if you got too far south, getting back north was a chore.

    I spent a lot of that game cursing the wind system for making me crawl across the map slowly and painfully when I’d rather have been having fun playing the game.

    • John says:

      I know what you mean. Watching the coast of Cuba slowly crawl by as you try to make your way to a friendly port in the East Indies so that you can finally dispose of your looted goods and captured ships is not a lot of fun. It definitely affects the way I play the game. I always try to sack Campeche or Villa Hermosa and replace the Spanish governor with a non-Spanish one early in the game so that (a) Baron Raymondo and the Marquis Montabaln are less likely to travel to the region (as they only travel to Spanish ports) and (b) there’s a friendly port in the area at which I can resupply. (Ideally, I’d sack Vera Cruz in addition to Campeche and Villa Hermosa, but Vera Cruz is a very tough nut to crack.) It also affects my choice of targets. As a general rule, I don’t attack merchant vessels unless I’m in a position where I can sell the spoils of my victory in the relatively near future. (Or unless I’m running low on food.) Instead, I prefer to target warships, troop-ships, ships carrying colonists, ships carrying colonial governors, and (my favorite) payroll ships. Merchant ships are slow. Merchant ships with damaged hulls and sails are slower still. Under-crewed merchant ships with damaged hulls and sails are the worst. I like to keep my pirate fleet small and nimble.

      But despite all that, I’m rather glad that the game includes semi-realistic wind. It adds an element of strategy not just to the ship-to-ship combat but to the open-world and I think Pirates! would be less interesting for its absence.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Didnt old sailboats have oars specifically for those times when the wind was working against them?At least,smaller ships.Im not sure if you could move a huge trade galleon with oars alone.

        • John says:

          Some did, yes. And the different types of vessels in Sid Meier’s Pirates! have different sailing characteristics to reflect just that sort of thing. Sloops and brigs are the best at sailing against the wind, sloops because they are small and can be rowed and brigs because of the design of their sails. (Or so I recall.) When I play Pirates, I generally prefer sloops and brigs for just this reason.

          • Boobah says:

            The three smallest ship types in Pirates!, the pinnace, sloop, and barque, are all fore-and-aft rigged vessels; that is to say, they’ve got those big triangular sails as their main sails instead of the more common square-rigged vessels.

            A fore-and-aft rigged vessel can sail much closer to the wind before losing way; also, smaller ships can make more speed with less wind. But a big square-rigged vessel is much faster with a good wind from the stern quarter.

            I found sloops the ideal pirating vessel; winds heavy enough to allow the big square-riggers to outrun you were fairly rare, while barques tended to lose too much maneuverability to make the extra crew/guns/durability to be worthwhile. Though adding some barques to your fleet to carry the actual plunder was handy.

    • Miguk says:

      Wind is right at the core of Pirates’ gameplay but it still bugs me a lot. I never bring any slow ships like galleons with me just because I’d be bored out of my mind when I have to sail into the wind. That takes away half of my potential choices in ships and forces me to play the same way every game.

      Maybe they should have shrunk the map? Or at the very least cut out Mexico.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      In Blood & Gold, while the main map travel is unencumbered by the whims of the winds, as we will see next week that isn’t the case for the ship-to-ship combat.

      I will say little else, as I’m sure Rutskarn will describe the intricacies of that process with far more eloquence than I can muster.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I had my issues with it to, but if you take it as a challenge, it provides some interesting depth to the game.

      What I started doing was figuring out how work with the wind. I start out with big trading ships laden with supplies in the east, and follow the winds to offload the supplies at the big western trading ports (really, Curacao), and then sell the big ships.

      You can then tack north to Hispanola, and then it’s not that much beating to get back to the Antilles, where you raid for large ships to repeat the process.

  14. Disc says:

    So you couldn’t even command the sapper? At least they didn’t lack for ambition for this game. Breaking out prisoners can be very similar in regular M&B if you don’t tell them to follow your lead and then command them to stay behind and/or in cover, where they’ll just charge the nearest enemy and more than likely get themselves knocked out in the process, thus failing the whole breakout.

  15. Peter H Coffin says:

    I (had/have/intend to replace) a book called “Tricks of the Trades” by Bruce Van Sant that is literally about sailing a small boat around the Caribbean, using weird weather patterns involving time of year, time of day even, land formations and prevailing wind combined with local pressure zones moving around. And putting something of THAT level of sophistication into a game about pirates seems like a huge win. Or at least a lot less horselike.

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