Ravenmark: Mercenaries is a turn-based strategy game developed by Witching Hour Studios behind Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion and Ravenmark: SOE (Episodic).
In a ravaged world, players build their troops, make their banner known and save the world from destruction by evil and dark rulers. To that end, players are going to hire mercenaries, incorporate them into their battle formations and then put them into fierce campaigns. There is nothing unusual or noteworthy on that front.
Ravenmark: Mercenaries lacks in story telling, but its gameplay compensates for the lack. Players enter board-like battlefields and fight against enemy armies, hidden or not. For each turn, a player has got limited command points, with which he or she give orders to different squads and units to advance or launch attacks or perform other actions. Those points are seldom enough to issue orders to every unit in one’s formation. Actions are performed only after both parties confirm their commands and the units in the two sides follow a random order in making moves.
Gameplay is similar to that of Scourge of Estellion and SOE. Units are divided into different types based on the weapons and equipment they use. And different units have an edge over some enemies but can be weak when confronted with others. That is why players not only need to design the attacks, they also need to adjust the formation (break or form formations, to be specific) depending on the opponent’s formation.
What makes Ravenmark: Mercenaries incredible is its game mode. Different from SOE, which revolves around the campaign mode where players fight against NPCs and completes all sorts of missions, Ravenmark: Mercenaries focuses on multiplayer matches. In the multiplayer mode, players can either challenge a random player or one of their Facebook friends or WHS friends. There is also this Contracts section where players send their troops out to perform assigned tasks to earn silver coins. But Contracts is text-based and doesn’t present animations. Players only need to wait for their troops to return and be “available” again.
Ravenmark: Mercenaries retains the hand-painted art from its original, which is a special feature of the series. The infantry, cavalry, and even their weapons, shields and mounts are hand-drawn. And all the bushes, fields, cottages and everything else are also in hand-painted style. But no comic book-style visuals are displayed when troops of opposing sides confront each other.
Since the actions are performed only after both parties give orders, players would have to wait for their opponents to finish their orders, and like in Bookworm Heroes and Running with Friends, players will never known when their matches will proceed or whether their games are just forgotten by their opponents. And the best way to get out of such trouble is to fight against one’s friends.
Ravenmark: Mercenaries adds PVP to the complicated and challenging turn-based strategy mechanics. The result is very appealing, but not without any flaw. The synchronous battle leaves players in the waits and only God knows when a game can be finished.