Celtic Tales: Balor Of the Evil Eye

Discussion of other Three Kingdoms games (e.g. Destiny of an Emperor and Dynasty Tactics) and other games by Koei (e.g. Samurai Warriors).

Celtic Tales: Balor Of the Evil Eye

Unread postby Gray Riders » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:43 pm

I was wondering if anyone else on the forum has played this old Koei classic. It's a DOS game from the mid 1990s that seems to have been made by Koei America, rather than Koei Japan.

For those who never played it; it's a lot like their historical turn based strategy games (revolved around characters, turn based) but instead of a historical subject it deals with Celtic (mostly Irish but with some Welsh) mythology. It has some cool things like the ability to have your champions (the games version of officers) create items to be handed out to your loyal followers (there are also unique treasures of greater power, but "common" items as they're called are still vital for buffing out the 80% of your followers lacking them, and since a champion can only have one item at a time there's strategic considerations of what to give them), cattle raids, and the ability to peacefully take control of other tribes (though you probably can't clear the whole game that way since you need some muscle to do it).

One oddity is that the game has more clear RPG style-elements than most of Koei's similar games; Champions have classes, being Warriors (no magic but good fighters and able to fight one on one battles; the ability to duel lets them potentially do more damage in a turn than any other class, and foggy weather causes them less trouble), Bards (use Air and Fire magic; they have excellent "domestic" spells and useful support magic in battle, such as a Speed spell that seems to often gives a champion an extra action per turn) and Druids (use Earth and Water magic; they can heal injured champions, revive dead soldiers, and wield devasting attack magic). Characters have a level from 1 to 15, with leveling making them better at what they do (but doesn't change most of their visible stats, though it raises their "strength", a form of hitpoints, and their magic points). They also gain skills by performing related tasks, with both "inborn" skills that cannot be learned and more common (generally weaker) skills that anyone can gain, which boost their efficency at various things. For instance, anyone can learn "Might" by playing hurling or doing hard physical labor by mining or chopping lumber, which makes them better at said mining and chopping, as well as better at fighting, but a few great warriors have "Heroism", a similar skill that seems to give greater results (and it seems very difficult, though not impossible, to double dip with both an inborn and regular skill, for those wondering). The manual explains what skills can be gained through what actions, as well as what the skills effect, though seemingly with one or two errors. Oddly, Champions have no Loyalty stat and don't get paid in any way; they'll never desert you out of anger, and you can't hire them away from another tribe unless they're caught in battle, at which point they seem to defect frighteningly fast if the enemy leader is higher level and/or has high Charm.

The story is (very) loosely based off the second Battle of Magh Tuiredh from Irish legend. As the game tells it, the Fomors, a race of not-quite-human beings, have beaten down the people of Eire (Ireland), extracting tribute from their leaders and spreading terror. Their brutal leader is the titular Balor, whose "evil eye" was a weapon of terrifying power. Everyone lives in fear of a Fomor raid, which cannot be defended against and will bring the sorrow of robbery and kidnapping (in the game, it's said a few times that the Fomors eat children!) The player is tasked by the Goddess Danu to stop him; you can pick up to four (allowing multiplayer) of several champions--each the leader of a tribe--with the goal of becoming High Ruler through both militaristic and peaceful means, than defeating the Fomors in battle and slaying Balor himself. The game takes figures from different Celtic myths and throws them together; Finn and Cu Chulainn are both playable rulers; Tristan (of Arthur's round table, and other stories) is a free champion. There are a few notable figures missing though; for instance, Ogma seems nowhere to be found. Interestingly, even ignoring the Fomors, many champions are non-human characters; for example one seems to be a Leprechaun, and there's even a number of gods. They still have the same models, though; you can potentially having Leprechaun dueling a supposed giant and they'll look the exact same!

One very cool thing is the game has an attempted answer to the problem of the end game being a runover; after you unite Ireland you have to fight two final battles with the Fomors; the Fomors always have high level Champions, a full army, good stats, and the best common weapons in the game, meaning your last fights won't just be running over a small number of weak enemies, though if you carefully pick the best champions available, armed with great treasures and all at level 15, it's still rather easy. But you may well enjoy it anyways; the Fomors are not lazy villains, being seemingly responsible for every bad random event, and at the start of every year one of their champions visits to demand tribute from your ruler (and presumably, all the AI rulers). You can try to fight them, but until you have a talented, well armed and high level warrior (only warriors can fight them here, since it's a duel) it's futile. Your first victory over a Fomor is quite sweet, and aside from keeping what he would have stolen, their are other rewards for successful defiance.

The magic system is interesting; every spellcaster has the same Runes in three sets of four; you pick one rune from each set (the last set mostly effects the spells range, and most spells can use any of the four, though some require specific power) and then an element to cast. If you picked an invalid combination, the spell fizzles out! Luckily, free Druid champions will teach you spells at a price, but you can just look it up online nowadays. :P
The big innovantion is that in battle, your runes can break, preventing it from being used until the battle ends. Did your Druid's "Life" rune just explode (edit: Come to think, Life might not be part of that spell)? They won't be casting Heal until the battle ends. Higher level champions (and presumably those with a better "Mind" attribute) are better at keeping their Runes intact, while lower level ones sometimes break one (or two!) per spell. However, each rune type has one Stone rune in existence, which is unbreakable and powers up spells cast with it. These are in the hands of (usually powerful) champions, but if you defeat or hire their wielders you an reassign them to other champions in the province at will.

So, anyone whose played it, we can discuss it here! Anyone whose interested about the game can ask questions and I'll do my best to answer (though I'm running off about of a month strenuous playing, and memories over a decade old!)
Gray Riders
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
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