Took a gamble on a game on sale on GOG.com.

Elemental: Fallen Enchantress

It’s a neat little game. There are some interesting mechanics at work here. My first game was a disaster, as I couldn’t figure out how to create new bases. I’ll admit I didn’t bother with the tutorial. I expected to figure things out on my own.

Pioneers. Basic unit, right under ‘Militia.’

Second match is going okay. Of course, I dug into some of the mechanics more before I started. I made a custom faction and a custom sovereign.

I was like, “dark elves? How is it there are no dark elves?”

Purple skin, white hair. No clothes. So I figured I’d make some. My first attempt (just to create them, mind you), triggered a Crash-to-Desktop error. My second attempt, I saved before I realized I couldn’t edit a saved faction. Sigh.

My third attempt — just to make my custom faction/sovereign — worked.

And then I got super-lucky. Placement on the map was decent, and I found a complementary champion (the brute to my mage) immediately. Then I found like, three of these “summon golem” gems. And then a quest gave me archers.

So I have this cute little army running around with solid melee and ranged attacks, slaughtering things that should probably be over my level.

Pioneers, I learned, could enable you to harvest materials on the map by building an outpost nearby. So, that was cool. It took me a couple tries to figure out why I couldn’t simply build new settlements.

Once I did though, wow. Just as broken as any Civ clone.

You know, thanks to 3e, Dungeons & Dragons players caught on to the “action economy” problems. I’ve also seen a number of modern board games address the action economy problem. Why hasn’t this knowledge reached the Civ genre?

Fallen Enchantress is cool. I like the inclusion of the “Quest Victory” idea. It lets you play Civ like an FRPG instead of uh, well, instead of like a Civ clone.

That enough should make it worth trying out.

But this is a game, I think, that’s better for designers than gamers. It’s deeply flawed. I don’t even really know where to begin.

It’s like, they wanted to make this sprawling fantasy milieu, but then they let the art team write the story. I mean, it has a bunch of magical races but I don’t know what they are, and I don’t care. One, I swear is “troglodytes.”

But everything looks human. Or like Darth Maul.

I think they could have done a lot worse than revisiting the bog-standard fantasy races. Elves. Dwarves. Humans. Orcs. Halflings. Half-dragons. Et cetera.

Instead, when you load up for a quick game, you’re confronted with a bunch of ugly, blocky weirdo human things with a Borderlands overlay.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m going to play this game. As terrible as my first match was, my second match has been great. But I’m not playing for fun, I’m playing to learn. This game does a lot I thought I would do — but poorly.

I need to figure out why something I thought would work . . . doesn’t.