The first thing to note about The Last Court is that you are playing as one of two fixed characters. If you want to play as the Scholar, which was my first choice, then you’re playing as a male character. I mention this because, as someone who plays both BioWare games and Failbetter Games’ Fallen London, it was unexpected. The first four vaguely French-sounding names I tried (because Orlais, darling) were already taken; so finally I settled on Jeremias. My Scholar and I were ready to begin.
The Scholar has high Cunning and Scholarship, but low Woods Wise and Derring-do skills (so a lot like me really). Choosing the Scholar allows you to set an initial resource bonus of Freedom (the more free Serault is, the less oppressed your people are) or the Prosperity bonus that is open to either character. Since I wasn’t sure how benevolent I planned on being, I decided to opt for a prosperous realm. You must then also choose a weakness for Serault. Though tempted by Rumours of Revolution because of the tie to the wider DAI setting, I went with Twilight, as I liked the idea of evil lurking in the woods.
I made a controversial early move when I told my first visitor, Morrigan, to get lost. I’m assuming controversial because it’s Morrigan and she strikes me as a vengeful person.
Chris Gardiner (@CHGardiner) November 08, 2014
Somehow I’m not reassured!
Day 1 began in earnest with the Elegant Abbess introducing me to the Templar, Carver Hawke. I invited him to stay for dinner and pumped him for secrets. Sadly there was no word on where the elder Hawke is hiding, but I did get a favour from the Abbess.
My prosperity shot up to 100 quite quickly but I also somehow managed to get Peril up to 84 and dignity down to 8. I had to use up a favour with the Dashing Outlaw to get Peril back down and do some work on being dignified. Alas, introducing the Tourdion to my court didn’t quite cut it.
I earned a second favour from the Elegant Abbess and appointed her my new Counsellor. I had somehow got Counsellors and Accomplices mixed up and was very surprised when the Seneschal, my former Counsellor, had something of a tantrum. His departure meant my derring-do dropped by 5, which in turn meant I did a pretty rubbish job while out hunting for Viands to impress the Divine and came home empty-handed and injured. Perhaps Secrets would be the way to go after all.
In the course of trying to deal with bandits my health dropped down to 30. Since I’ve been taking the impulsive route, when the Elegant Abbess card popped up again I decided to make her my Lover. I got to keep the scholarship boost and now have a vacancy for a Counsellor.
I decided to work on getting the Kindly Knight as my Counsellor and the Silent Hunter as my bodyguard. Tricky because I’m out of Royals, and rubbish at hunting. I’ve sacrificed some dignity to pick up favours from the Well-Read Pig-Farmer so I should be able to persuade her to become my Accomplice. Unfortunately her card didn’t pop up again so that will have to wait til Day 2.
A series of impulsive and largely ineffective actions against bandits and unruly peasantry sent my Freedom plummeting to 0, suddenly putting the Divine’s visit in doubt. Could this be Game Over on Day 1? I think that might be a new low, even for me.
I gradually managed to get Freedom back up to 10 but only by sinking my prosperity down to 17. A final session to use up my actions before I went to bed raised everything, resource and weakness alike, to the 30-40 range. Crisis averted for now.
This game is all about checks and balances, and part way in I started to feel like a plate-spinner frantically running from pole to pole before everything came crashing down. I’ve never had to govern an Orlesian Marquisate in real life, but I have to think it probably is that stressful. Come to think of it this is probably good practice for leading an Inquisition.
My biggest problem is mastering my patience during the 20 minute wait for new actions. Made all the more frustrating because I’m used to only a 10 minute wait when playing Fallen London. So far I have resisted purchasing Dawn (an in-game currency that allows you to buy new actions and speed the game along) as I know the game is intended to be played over 7 days. Also I’d quite like to make these playthroughs last me til the 21st.