What follows is the beginning of the chronicle of Lucius Aresan of Paris, beginning in the year 1400.
This Europa 1400 – The Guild Review is mostly written in story format, with commentary in italics. The Guild is a very long-term strategy game, and the player takes the role of a character from a variety of professions in a city in Europe in the year 1400. The city, once chosen, can never be changed, and you can only operate and live in that city, although Traders can perform trading between cities. The cities are Berlin, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris.
Born to a pair of thieves, Charles Aresan and Petra Yale, Lucius was a cunning man, skilled in the arts of Stealth (increasing the effectiveness of himself and his minions in stealthy tasks) and Handicraft (increasing the productivity of his workers), making him well suited to leadership of the nascent Smugglers Hole in Paris, The Bloody Dagger.
There are many professions available (9 in the standard game), with two basic types: troops (robbers, town watch and thieves) and crafters (alchemists, carpenters, ironworkers, etc.). Both types play very differently, but as I enjoy thievery the most, I’ll only be reviewing them. Your parents determine your starting skills, and you can choose from a small selection of professions for your parents. You can also choose from a small range of models to represent your character.
In the Spring of 1400, Lucius was a mere Gentlemen of the town, with little wealth or resources to his name aside from his nascent Thieves Guild.
The Bloody Dagger too was of little value, with a single Thief, Alexander to its credit; an Apprentice Thief at that! Lucius set about recruiting more thieves and set Alexander for training, thinking of the long term.
As can be seen in the second picture, there are arrows at each edge of the main screen. These serve to change your angle of the room you are currently looking at – in this case, the Training Room. While it’s quite pretty, it’s exceptionally irritating, especially as you need to click on certain items in the room in order to select various options for that room – e.g. pickpocketing, scouting, etc. These items can be all over the room, requiring you to navigate all over the room just to perform basic actions.
Soon, a new recruit was found, and Walter was sent forth to steal from those in the nearby area.
For troops, the efficiency of various tasks depends on their Stealth and Combat skills. For thieves, stealth helps with pretty much every task except for fighting and kidnapping. The more skill an NPC has, the greater chance of success/the more stolen. These skill ratings are also influenced by the rating your own character has.
At the same time, Lucius dispatched overtures towards his intended bride: the unfortunately named Lucy Braggart. Not only was she relatively well disposed to Lucius already, at least in comparison to the other potentials, but she was also already involved in the governance of Paris, holding the position of Council Informer.
Wooing a spouse is essential in order to produce children. If you die and have no children of 12 years or older, the game ends – otherwise, you continue to play as your chosen heir. Your heir can have children also, leading to a long-lived and wide-spread dynasty.
Spending more of his precious money, Lucius purchased an Endurance Drink at the market and drank it.
Action Points are used for many personal actions of the player rather than his or her subordinates: training skills, having posting lampoons, holding sermons, kidnapping opponents, etc.
Whilst his funds were quickly declining as a result of the recruits who followed Walter and had yet to steal anything of value, Lucius continued to spend his Livres Tournois by upgrading the facilities at The Bloody Dagger and his house.
Success! His thieves had found their first catch.
Annoyingly, The Guild does not deign to tell you which of your thieves have stolen money. Further, it’s not true that they have returned from their round: they have merely finished thieving. They must still walk back to your Thieves Guild, meaning that you have to either find them on the map and track them, or keep checking at your Thieves Guild to see if they have returned yet. Similar things happen when you craft items – it simply doesn’t tell you.
As the year neared its close, his additions to The Bloody Dagger were finished, and he trained in the art of Negotiation, spending his precious Action Points.
Time passing is represented by the clock and each turn spans 6 months, so you could consider every minute of the day (6am to 11pm) to be representative of the minute of each day in the 6 months.
Those floating icons over The Bloody Dagger represent building work.
With the Spring over, Lucius had clearly made a loss, but well worth it due to the investments made.
These figures are slightly misleading, as the instant the next turn starts, more pickpocketing will have been completed and Lucius will be out of negative money.
To keep his thieves happy, Lucius paid them all a bonus, and set about to his usual duties of training himself, dispatching pickpockets and continuing the courtship of Lucy Braggart.
Significantly, Alexander had finally completed his training in Stealth and was unable to improve, and so he was sent to scout out a nearby home to see if it could be burgled. Alas, his training seemed insufficient, and he was only able to scout the building to a modest degree.
Annoyingly, the scroll cannot be resized, so much scrolling is needed when you have a particularly full scroll.
The effectiveness of this departure without proper scouting was clear when the burglary was unsuccessful.
Once again, which thieves took part is not specified, nor have the thieves actually returned.
The rest of the year was uneventful. But hark, sufficient time had passed that Lucius could train his thievery more – and so he did!
Improving your profession level allows you to upgrade your profession’s building and increases the effectiveness of related minions. Once you have become the highest level of a profession, you can learn another one until you have them all mastered.
The good tidings were slim, however, for his first opponent achieved civic rights: Sence Bigwig. Despite this, Lucius’ thieves made good progress.
Civic rights allow characters to stand for positions in the various councils, which grant income, special abilities (such as prosecution) and certain privileges (such as cheaper training). Personal prestige (such as the ability to gain civic rights) is gained at certain milestones of overall worth; the sum of your possessions and personal wealth.
At the beginning of the next year, Lucius could apply for civic rights… although this was not free.
All other personal status promotions are free, however.
Fortunately, his thieves made their most profitable score yet, and the citizenship was quickly granted.
This pickpocketing spree actually involved multiple thieves, but there is no way to tell.
At last, Lucius had two thieves with full Stealth training, and their scouting was a success this time. Riches soon followed.
In the Spring of 1404, word reached Lucius that the office of Town Servant was available – a chance he jumped upon.
More stuff happened now, but I think you get the gist. I’ll mention only the important parts for the next few years.
At the end of the year, the election for Town Servant commenced – only it seemed that almost the entire council of Town Servants had retired from their posts, leaving the luck of the draw to decide things. Fortune favoured Lucius this day.
Matters soon improved further, with a wedding!
These cutscenes are even sillier than the ones for the town council, but there is something charming about them.
…and a most joyous occasion soon afterwards means that the dynasty of Aresan will thrive.
Overall, the game is an awful lot of fun. It is incredibly detailed, but surprisingly intuitive despite the terrible interface. Multi-player is badly supported and the endgame can become tiresome once you control too many businesses and it becomes nigh-impossible to manage them all, but it’s a great ride all the same.