I’m now past day 650 in my Mount and Blade PoP game, and I’ve basically won. I control over half the map, only two factions remain, and I have enough lords on my side to dominate. To officially end the game I just have to clean up the other two factions, and the only factor holding me back is time; there is absolutely no chance I can be defeated now.
And it’s pretty boring to be honest.
I’ve reach the point in a sandbox where I’ve become too powerful, and due to the design of M&B, there are no controls in place to curb my power and create a new challenge. Part of me wants to finish the game just for the sake of finishing it, but knowing how long that will actually take (herding lords together for a campaign takes forever, as does keeping the bastards happy-enough to follow me), I doubt it’s going to happen.
I can think of a few ‘quick fixes’ to this problem, such as the remaining factions banding together to fight you, a minor faction taking over a holding and becoming a new power, or simply having the remaining enemies acknowledge your power and accepting defeat, but none of these fix some of the core flaws with the game.
The major issue is how your lords behave and what must be done to keep them happy. For instance, if a lord gets defeated, that’s -1 relation automatically. If you help a lord in combat, that’s +1 relation automatically. But if you fight with a lord in a siege, you only get the +1 relation if you talk to him after, and if you go on a second siege without talking, you still only get +1 when you finally talk. With one lord, it’s not that big a deal, but when you have 5-10 lords per siege, that’s a lot of click-lord-talk-exit-click-lord-talk-exit-etc. Making just this automatic would be very helpful.
Then there is the issue of lords becoming really angry with you (-50 or so), where even if you help them in combat, you don’t get the +1 relation boost. There is basically no way to improve your status, and eventually that lord is going to leave. Not a huge issue by itself when you have dozens of lords, but with dozens of lords you are likely to have multiple -50+ lords, and more and more of them as time goes on.
In my game right now I only have 7-8 lords with high positive relation, and surprise surprise, those are the only lords that show up for campaigns or feasts (both of which help to further raise relations). Basically it’s a downward spiral, and while not game-breaking, does almost defeat the purpose of getting a huge kingdom with lots of lords.
The really ‘game-breaking’ issue is assigning cities/castles/villages to lords. Whenever you do so, you get +10 relations with that lord, and minus 1-5 relation with basically everyone else. The more lords you have, the more crippling it becomes to assign property, yet without property lords can’t fund troops and get better armies. Plus if you hold the holding yourself, you have to garrison the castles/cities and pay for the troops, which after a certain point becomes almost impossible. It makes taking over new territory more of a pain than a bonus eventually, which just feels very backwards. Right now I have 10+ villages without an owner, simply because assigning them to someone would be way too costly in terms of relations. I could see keeping a relations penalty for rival lords, but to have EVERYONE be upset that you are giving holdings out is a little extreme.
I’m hoping PoP 4.0 fixes some of these issues, but this really is a Mount and Blade problem carried over into PoP rather than being native to PoP itself. If lord relations were less harsh, the end-game ‘clean-up’ would be much faster, and ending the game would be far more enjoyable.