Video Game / Tzar The Burden Of The Crown

An RTS made by Haemimont Games in 2000, Tzar revolves around Prince Sartor, a son of old king Roan, the ruler of Keana. The latter died after long conflict with an usurper Borgh and his ruthless army. After the fall of the good king, Keana became an awful place, but the spirit of Keana folk never died as they believed that there has to be someone that will be able to free them from tyrannical reign of Borgh. Aided by former captain of Roan's guard, Woolin, and an old mage Ghiron Sartor embarks on a quest to free Keana and become a king.

If you don't feel like playing campaign, Tzar also offers skirmish mode where you can play as one of the three factions: Europeans, Arabs and Asians, each of them with their own ups and downs. The game offers custom maps, a map editor to create more and a random map generator to lengthen its life.

This game provides examples of:

  • Artificial Stupidity: Units have lots of problems with tracking and tend to spread out when encountering an obstacle of some sort. This goes double for siege machines, ships and Stone Golems which are often too big to move between trees and end up walking all the way around just to reach a location few trees further north.
  • Artistic License History: Janissaries in this game are elite heavy cavalry. In reality, they were a unit of elite infantry.
  • Bears are Bad News: Bears are always hostile towards everything and pack a decent punch(though they're slow). Random map generator can be a dick and spawn one of these in your base which can slow you down at best and absolutely cripple your beginning at worst.
  • Character Level: All units(sans ships and siege machines) can level up via fighting and killing enemies, thus gaining more attack, defense and - in Europeans and Arabs' case when right technologies are invented - health. At 12th level a unit gains its own unique name to emphasize the badassery they'd achieved.
    • Europeans and Asians can also level grind by using training dummies. A unit can achieve up to 8th level that way.
    • Fregates and Galleons can sort-of level up by increasing their attack speed, though it has to be done manually and costs resources.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: All units with defense values have some sort of armor on them to represent it.
  • Glass Cannon: Ballista is incredibly vulnerable to damage, has an outrageous cost of 800 wood and like all siege machines moves at snail's pace... but it boasts an attack value of 61, in a game where normal units have 180 hitpoints at best. Fire once at the crowd of enemies and watch their lifebars melt.
  • Guide Dang It: There's a lot of bonuses for certain units when dealing with certain units that are not specified in game. Some are obvious(such as Catapults dealing more damage to buildings, ships and each other), others... not quite(such as Footmen dealing more damage against Jihad Warriors). According to Word of God, knowing well about these is vital in becoming a good player and overcoming challenges the game has to offer.
    • On the other hand, HG did post guidelines regarding these bonuses which can be seen here.
  • Hired Swords: Way of Glory lets you hire squads of mercs and heroes at the inn. They're purchased instantly and can already have some experience gained which makes them a thought-worthy(if costly) option.
    • To a lesser extent, Ghosts, Orcs and Dwarves can only be purchased in a neutral Magic Gate usually found randomly in various places of the map.
  • Instant Militia: Arabs can turn all of their Peasants into Jihad Warriors. They're surprisingly strong for what is supposedly a militia unit, exceeding most basic units and can easily Zerg Rush an opponent.
    • To a lesser extent, Asians can - through meticulous research - turn their Peasants into effective emergency fighters even without experience.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Humble European Footman has no weaknesses and some advantages against some enemies, offers decent stats(6 attack, 3 defense, 65 hitpoints) and is dirt-cheap. His only glaring weakness would be his slow attack speed. His Arabic counterpart is more of a Cannon Fodder but makes up for it with his increased attack speed.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All mounted units(excluding Horse Archers and Chariot) are this, boasting high values of health, attack and defense as well as higher speed than most units. Genies and Dragons are extreme examples of this. All of them, however, have specific weaknesses that can be easily exploited to easily eliminate them.
    • There's also Asians' Ninja that lacks weaknesses of any of the above, runs as fast as a mounted unit, can jump above walls and instantly kill a unit. Oh, and they're not lacking in a straight-up fight either.
  • Mage Killer: Priests are an effective way to reduce Mages and otherwise threatening magical creatures to nothing in a matter of seconds. They don't target any other enemies, so guard them. Asian Priests are an exception that fares well against all enemies.
  • Magikarp Power: For a kickass powerful mage Ghiron doesn't start out all that impressive, being easily killed early on. Then you level him up and he can solo groups of enemies by himself. Priests can still kill him dead though.
    • This actually extends to all Mages. At start they're simply Archers with a better range and a crippling weakness to Priests. Invent all the spells however and suddenly even a single Mage can turn the tide by providing powerful summoned units, throwing tons of damage around and generally be a unit of crucial importance.
    • Same with, strangely enough, towers. The base tower is pitifully weak and isn't going to hold long even against moderate group of enemies. Its upgrade gains a massive boost to its hitpoints, offering a decent amount of resistance. The second upgrade goes even further, upping both its endurance and damage to considerable levels. Then there's the third one that changes its nature completely.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Despite being summoned by Asian Mages, they very much resemble classical winged, fire-spewing Western dragons.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Satraps and Ronins' MO: they deal bonus damage to peasants, making them effective at shutting down enemy's economy by killing off every single peon.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Priests can be a bit of a pain, since they're not only healing, but can also buff allied units and - in case of Asian Priests - fight right back. It should go without saying that offing them is a priority.
  • Shoot the Messenger: The second part of second quest. It doesn't help that said messenger is pretty tough.
  • Siege Engines: Apart from obvious siege machines and ships, Stone Golems and Dwarves are also like this, dealing increased damage to buildings.
  • Stone Wall: Asian Chariots boast whooping 180 hitpoints and 5 armor which means they can take the beating and act as a mobile meatshield. Good luck trying to kill something with them though.
  • Tech Tree: There are four unofficial tech trees represented by four different guilds that you can build. Since the cost of those is outrageously high you will usually be able to build only one of these(two if you're lucky or the map's big enough):
    • Warriors' Guild opens a Way of Glory which lets you enhance your units even more, unlocks some high-end powerhouses or otherwise strengthens your military.
      • Mages' Guild opens a Way of Magic which lets you purchase Mages, throw powerful game-changing spells and summon dreaded magical creatures.
      • Cathedral/Mosque/Shaolin opens a Way of Religion which grants you Priests and various bonuses depending on the race.
      • Merchants' Guild opens a Way of Craft and Trade which grants you powerful boosts to your economy and allows to pull various tricks to one-up your opponent.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All units become gradually stronger with each level until at 12th they gain their own name.
    • Also Sartor. In second mission he's a Peasant with slightly better stats. In third mission he turns into Crusader, one of the best units in the game.
  • Walk It Off: Nonexistent. The only way to regenerate health is to have units be healed by Priests or by stuffing them into Castle/Fort where they can rest.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: There are five resources in the game: Stone, Gold, Wood(all different kinds of Lumber, harvested from map), Food(Gold, harvested either from map or created by yourself) and Arbitrary Headcount Limit, widened by constructing additional Houses.