As an interesting counter to the constant dragonslaying you’ve hopefully been doing in Skyrim recently (you definitely should have been playing Skyrim a lot), this week’s CPCG involves you playing as a dragon. Rather than attacking Dovahkiin, however, you’ll be collecting gold, princesses and gigantic gems.
Yes, princesses. Hoard is a game in which you, wait for it, hoard gold, usually by destroying things, to achieve a high score. The wealth is amassed by destroying various objects, including farms, towns and castles, as well as kidnapping princesses and stealing giant gems. The princesses are found in fancy ornate carriages that are transporting them from one castle to another, whilst the gems appear when you destroy a wizard’s tower.[drop]Allow me to explain. When you start a level you’ll have no gold at all, and towns and farms will start popping up around the map. You destroy these towns and farms, as well as the carriages they send to transport gold between them with your fire breath shout- uh, your dragon-breath and pick up the gold. You then deposit this gold back in your hoard. As you deposit more gold in your hoard you will level up, giving you skill points with which to upgrade your stats; enabling you to fly faster, breath fire for longer (while causing more damage), carry more gold and withstand more of a beating.
The stats are all useful in different ways, as you’d expect, but your dragon is not persistent – that is within every new level your dragon will be a fresh new flying reptile of doom, allowing you to adapt how you level yourself up on each level. Is the map rather large? Better level up your speed so you can get around it quicker. Lots of possible castles? Upgrade your armour so you’re not destroyed too easily. As you collect more gold you’ll also get a multiplier (to a maximum of 3x) that, yes, multiplies the gold you deposit into your hoard.
Castles, when they spawn on the board, will create knights, which will lance you right between the scales as you fly on by if you’re not careful. Towns will also spawn archers who’ll nail you between the eyes when you try to pass by, whilst wizard’s towers will shoot magic at you when you get anywhere near you, almost like it’s some kind of…magic…missile.
You can’t just ignore them either, as castles and towns will spawn more knights and archers the longer you leave them, whilst the wizard’s tower will eventually upgrade, bringing a massive boost to its range and damage. Get hit too much and your health bar will empty, forcing you to drop that gold, automatically return to your hoard to recharge and lose your multiplier. Those knights will also bother you when you’re stealing a princess. As soon as you grab the princess every knight on the board will home in on her. What you have to do is stick her in your hoard and protect her until the ransom is paid. As you can imagine too many knights can quite easily make this difficult.
Thankfully, destroying a town or castle will drop gold as will killing a knight or archer, and the wizard’s tower drops a very large gem that fetches a rather large price when you get it back to your hoard, though it’ll slow you down considerably and stop you carrying any gold. If you’re willing to take the risk an upgraded wizard’s tower will drop a gem that’s worth even more gold, whilst an upgraded castle will drop more gold too.
Towns don’t just bring archers to the mix, they’ll also spawn thieves that will attempt to steal gold from your hoard. If they’re successful, you’ll lose that all-important multiplier and a bit of gold, so you’d better burn them alive before they get away with it. Towns that have an Inn in them (there are ten squares for buildings to appear in around the town centre) will spawn thieves more often, so it’s in your best interest to pay close attention to the buildings around the towns. You probably shouldn’t destroy the town centre though, as it resets the town meaning it will export less gold; obviously an issue for your potential wealth.[drop2]A building you might find useful is the marketplace, which will cause all the gold carriages that that town sends out to other towns to be stocked with considerably more gold than they would be normally, so you should leave the marketplaces to their own devices.
As you can probably tell, Hoard has a lot of layers to its gameplay, ensuring that every game ends up being quite frantic and busy towards the end, though only in a good way. It’s good then that you can play the game cooperatively should you want to tackle the cooperative maps with some friends. Alternatively you can battle against your friends in some competitive gold grabbing, complete with dragon battles and princess stealing.
In competitive multiplayer a whole other mechanic is introduced. If a village fears you enough, it will send you offerings of gold in a vain attempt to appease your firey appetite. You make a village fear you by destroying its buildings until your logo appears above the town centre. However, should your slimy enemy come and do the same until it has caused more damage than you, the fickle-minded village will start sending them offerings instead. Don’t fret though, you can always go and do the same again or, should you be the type to hold a grudge, destroy the town centre, effectively resetting the town.
Hoard is game mechanic upon game mechanic upon game mechanic, but it’s never too much. Instead the mechanics all overlay peacefully, each complementing each other perfectly, making Hoard very much addictive and a surprisingly deep little game that’s totally unique. Still in the realm of originality, its presentation is that of a board game, even to the point of the maps literally being a board on a table, with you looking down on your dragon and the level from an isometric perspective. It doesn’t look bad either, with there being an impressive amount of detail in all of the textures down to the grain in the wood of the table.
Hoard is addictive, unique and easy to learn yet difficult to entirely master, which makes it a pretty much perfect candidate for your precious gaming time. There are four game modes plus online multiplayer and a few DLC packs for some more content should you desite it. Plus, you get to play as a dragon. Seriously, how cool is that!?
Hoard is available on the Steam store for PC and Mac for £6.99.