Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia: Japanese turn-based strategy game

Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia has gotten little attention around here. The title came up in the Games like Heroes of Might & Magic thread, and that is where I first heard about it.

It does not remind me of HoMM particularly, beyond being a turn based strategy game with an overland and a tactical map, but it has struck me as having great gameplay. @Lykurgos @belouski know the game better than I do, but I figured I would start a thread and let them chime in if they like.

The strategic level features lots of interesting decisions. A wide array of troops (they are all magical monsters) to summon. Armies to assemble. Towns (called bases) to attack and conquer, with quite a lot of battlefield variety. Heroes (called Rune Knights) of various abilities and potentials to find, train, level up and multi-class, assign quests, and send into battle. There are six nations to choose from, with differing starting heroes and experienced monsters, and to some extent different monsters available for summons.

The tactical level is the heart of the game with lengthy, competitive combat which turns on both preparation and use of terrain and unit abilities. Personally, I find it very satisfying.

The AI is middle-of-the-road. Easy difficulty seems too easy, most people seem to play on the highest difficulty but then go into custom difficulty settings and remove the time limit on conquering the map. Regardless of difficulty level, though, you can only take three heroes into each battle, and each hero can only have a limited number of monsters under their command (leveling up heroes raises this gradually, but the monsters level up and become more expensive at about the same rate) so you can never create a true stack of doom.

Although the game just released for PC on May 11, it has apparently been out on Switch and PS4 since late 2020, so this is no Early Access, work in progress sort of thing. The game is an update of a 1998 Playstation game.

Tutorial worked fine for me, introducing everything important, and then explaining more deeply the first time I encountered specific situations. Well above par. Voice acting is in Japanese, and I turn down the volume on that, but the text is all in English, quite well translated and clear.

So what’s not to like? Well…

It’s got a lot of JRPG to it, which some people like, some do not. I usually do not. The story line goes into wordy detail with a level of sophistication roughly matching the grandkids’ Disney movies. But personally I don’t care because I can skip through those screens at high speed.

More seriously, the interface is aggressively annoying. I’ve played lots of games that were more difficult to figure out the navigation, and I have a rare ability to be confused by game interfaces. Here, I am never lost. But omg, could they possibly have made routine actions more click intensive? Up and down through game menus, both in and out of battle. And item management, once you’ve got a lot of knights and items, is just egregiously inconvenient. I’ve heard that this is because the game originated on Switch – I don’t know the first thing about Switch, or how GUIs work there – but it would have to be a mighty good game for me to put up with such crap.

But as it turns out, Brigandine gameplay has been striking me as that good.

I still think the core gameplay is good, but I’m currently struggling with the post-core gameplay. Turns out after uniting the continent, there are secondary and tertiary objectives. You’re not allowed to even try for the final boss until you beat the preliminary bosses. I united the continent on normal difficulty in less than a year, so my knights and their troops weren’t that high level. I was able to beat the first round of the secondary objectives, but might need to grind some before being able to beat the second round of secondary objectives. Then, apparently after that, I should most likely be able to handle the final boss of the secondary obfectives, before finally being allowed to take a shot at finishing the game.

So, if that doesn’t completely scare you off, I still recommend the game for unite the continent gameplay. It is really solid. I’m currently debating if I should just restart on Hard, and see if that leads to high enough levels to make post core-gameplay less grindy.

Does PC offer anything more than the switch version (besides being 10 bucks cheaper?) After reading the thread I am very interested just not sure which platform would work best.

Being a huge fan of the first Brigandine on the PS1 (i think it came out in 1999), I preordered a physical copy of this for the Switch from Limited Run Games and… I still haven’t played it yet.

But this thread reminded me, so think I will check it out this weekend.

It offers full mouse and keyboard control including the ability to click and drag to move around on the battle maps. Everything loads a lot faster. Unsure if there is anything else. As a mainly PC gamer, I tried to play on Switch, prior to PC release, and gave up in frustration with the combo of less familiar controls and the UI.

I do not know of any gameplay differences.

Somehow, I enjoy the game a lot without really ever getting into this, but for those inclined, I understand there are a lot of choices available on how you develop your Rune Knights, for examples -

  • When and with which Knights to quest for experience
  • When and with which Knights, at which bases / sites, to quest for rewards, including equipment and other Rune Knights that can join your faction
  • Which monsters to group together with the questing knights so they gain experience without fighting
  • Which monsters to ‘curate’ so that you develop them into the evolved versions of themselves, with better stats and new abilities
  • When to switch between questing for experience, questing for rewards and being a front-line Rune Knight

There are guides of course, and there appear to be some “optimal” approaches. I just pick some promising looking Knights, pair them up with “good” monsters I like using, and make do.

You could lean more heavily into the RPG elements too. I read of people creating battle groups of Rune Knights based on their (in-game) back stories and characters. Cool. I skip past most of the narrative!

My gaming personality is so, so far away from “Completer Finisher” that despite buying a freakin’ console just to play this game, I have never even gotten close to this end-game you are describing hehe.

New thought . . . another “hook” that Brigandine offers is taking a little gang of favourite units / knights / monsters and carefully nurturing them from weaklings into death dealing machines, not just by levelling but also by evolving and equipping. You do not have to do this and it is probably highly inefficient, you just can.

Games in which you can do something similar include Battle of Wesnoth, probably the closest match, also to some extent Fantasy General and Panzer General, maybe Disciples 2? Probably other games I cannot think of too?

Those are good comparisons.

I’ve restarted the campaign on Hard and 2x Experience. That should give me the experience I need to hopefully blast through the post-unification gameplay without having to grind. Have you noticed the ??? Quest in your capitol? Those apparently get unlocked after defeating the level 30 phantom knights. I don’t know what they are at that point, but I aim to find out.

I have noticed it mentioned as a New Game + style unlock. I will rely on you and others to help me experience it vicariously. No chance of me committing to . . . . oooh look shiny new game over there!

Ha, I thought it was just me. Ever since I started playing this, my mind has been going back to Panzer General. Of course, that game had fog of war, which this one does not. And the time limit for victory in tactical battles was much more central to that game – here, there is a time limit, but it rarely makes much difference. But the feel of the battles is still quite reminiscent.

I haven’t gotten that far. I feel committed to clearing the continent. And thought that that unlocked a new game with some sort of “Creative Mode” Origin Chapter, and I thought I would look into that. But I am unaware of this thing you are talking about. Is it part of the Main Mode, or is it part of the Challenge Mode?

I think that’s the name of the whole Disgaea games, from what I recall of the first one.
I couldn’t get into this one, even into the demo, for the acute clickiditis virus spreading through it that @FinnegansFather described. It was aggravating, and I’m a Switch fanboy.

I can 100% understand that. I have an ever decreasing tolerance for inelegant game UIs, and this one is inelegant! If not for experiencing the Switch version as “worse” I might not have persisted with the PC version.

For potential hope, a lot of the clicking is front-loaded given the necessity to spend a chunk of time setting up at the game beginning. There is less of it, relative to “action”, during your run and maintain phase, and battles themselves are relatively okay.

Played a full campaign of this one and thought the tactical battles were well done and enjoyable. Plus you have strategic considerations on which castle keeps to take next and what needs defendeding. Add in character and monster progression with a wide assortment of hardware choices and it made for a good bit of addictive fun.

So much so I’ll probably take another nation for a spin in the near future.