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HOARD is Out, Give it a Shot.

Just a quick note, since I know Free and Worth Every Penny has been on hiatus for awhile (Mike and I collaborated on something last week, that'll be written up and posted soon) to say that the indie action strategy game HOARD by Big Sandwich Games is now out on Steam, and after playing around with the tutorial and a couple of single player maps, I really recommend giving it a look.

HOARD got a fair amount of podcast buzz when it came out on PSN late last year, but not having a PS3 I didn't get the chance to check it out.  I remember hearing about it on the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call and thinking that it sounded like a lot of fun, though, so when it showed up for pre-order on Steam at under $10, I jumped on it.  I'm glad that I did.

The gameplay is fairly simple, which means it's quick to learn and easy to jump in and start playing.  You control a dragon on a fantasy-themed map that looks very much like an animated board game (which wins it some points with me right out of the gate).  As a dragon, your goal is straightforward: you want gold.  You want all the gold.  How you get it is up to you.  Towns and other structures on the map can be destroyed, and their wealth collected.  These towns also send out carts you can raid, though, and if you let the towns live long enough to upgrade, they'll send out higher-valued carts.  You can even convince the towns to pay you tribute, by doing enough damage to them without destroying them.  Castles can be sacked, and princesses kidnapped and held for ransom.  You're up against the clock, which means deciding how to invest your time will determine your success or failure.

You're also up against the other players - one to three other dragons vying for the same resources as you.  Spend time trying to inspire fealty in a town, and another dragon may come along and destroy it, ruining your efforts.  Fail to snatch up a princess making her way across the map, and you can bet someone else will get to her first.  The map itself will fight back, too, sending knights to try to rescue their damsels in distress, robbers to try to steal from your hoard, and other nuisances dragons must deal with as a matter of course.

None of it on its own is terribly complex, but put it all together in a fast playing game (a round might take 15 or 20 minutes, not long at all given how much is going on) and you have a compelling system that forces you to make quick, fun decisions routinely while you play.  I haven't jumped into multiplayer with other humans yet, but I'm looking forward to it; both cooperative and PvP modes are offered.

Here's a rather frenetic trailer, if you'd like to see it in motion:

For $8.99, the current asking price, I think it's not a bad deal.  Best of all, there's a demo you can download and decide for yourself.

Go!  Go burn stuff!

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