Mount & Blade

This is the final part of our canon-destroying playthrough of Star Wars Conquest, a mod for sandbox RPG Mount & Blade.

Last week s series of successful battles against the Empire was met by the realization that Star Wars Conquest seemingly has no end. In 20-some hours of play, I ve learned that almost no amount of slaughtered Stormtroopers will significantly impact the universe. Named characters can t die, captured planets rarely stay captured, prisoners always eventually escape, and climbing the political ranks of the Rebel Alliance mainly involves playing tax collector for Mon Mothma and Obi-Wan.

Frustrated that I ve not yet been named Space King, I set out to simply cause as much chaos as possible. I chase down a huge swarm of Hutt forces. Jumbled in the pack of misshapen ships are the ships of Boba Fett (not Slave I, sadly) and Jabba himself. As I meet them on Tattooine in open combat, I gain new, instant appreciation for the face- and torso-covering properties of Stormtrooper armor.

For the first time in awhile, I ve bitten off more than I can chew. The blob of Hutt forces adds up to about a thousand, almost nine times my army. I regret my armor s trade-off in durability for sex appeal; jesus, there are a lot of dudes.

Neither tasteful nor protective.

I get captured and lose a bunch of items. But again, we ve already covered Conquest s impermanence I escape after being carted around the Hutt Cartel for a few days, presumably after serving as Jabba s personal froyo machine.

Back in my ship, I buy a new army at a cantina, and I m off and running again. I catch Boba Fett s ship isolated from any escorts, and take the opportunity to engage him without the aid of his hundreds of Hutt comrades.

Well, that felt nice. Let s see what other irresponsibly outmatched battles I can get into.

Yes, this ll do.

Yawn. I ask Luke Skywalker for a mission, hoping that some sort of unique questline is coded into his character that distinguishes him from the mod s other figures.

Nope; he wants me to do more money collection. Man, for an underground, anti-government organization, the rebellion sure are a bunch of capitalists.

I do a bad thing, and take out my ennui on some mostly-defenseless Jawas.

Still bored, I remember that there s a feature of Conquest I haven t tried before: arena combat. Maybe this ll prove more interesting or challenging than the game s mundane, open-area warfare. I chat up the Arena Master on Endor and arrange a fight against other lightsaber wielders.

The first few minutes of arena combat are, I ll admit, mildly entertaining. Lightsaber attacks do a fair amount of damage, and new combatants are constantly respawning, fighting each other, then ganging up on me when I get close. I have to be wary of new enemies silently approaching me from behind.

Unfortunately, the incentive for fighting here is tiny: my health takes awhile to replete, and the money reward for clearing out the arena is just a few hundred credits. I take my boredom out on Vader.

I dig through Conquest s menus for any signs that I might ve missed. Then, in the Take actions menu I find a glimmering rectangle of hope: an option to retire from adventuring. Could this be a way out of this interminable, Star Wars-colored, DirectX 7 hell? I click.

The decision is made, and you resolve to give up your adventurer s life and settle down. You sell off your weapons and armor, gather up all your credits, and depart into the sunset

A score screen appears.

Good lord. Not only is retirement the only way to end a game, but apparently I've come nowhere close to winning. A weird difficulty penalty (for what, I m not sure I had every in-game setting cranked up) drains my accumulated points, which earns me a sad, depressing prologue: It doesn t take long to fritter away what little you bothered to save, and you end up a penniless drifter, going from cantina to cantina blagging drinks form indulgent patrons by regaling them with war stories that no one ever believes.

Remember me not as the Droid Hobo I am, but as the brave, unscrupulous Droid Jedi I was.

Read the rest of our Diary of a Droid Jedi series.
Mount & Blade

This is a chronicle of our absurd, canon-destroying playthrough of Star Wars Conquest, a mod for sandbox RPG Mount & Blade. Our campaign to ruin Star Wars appears each Tuesday.

Twenty hours into my Star Wars Conquest campaign, I realize that I have no idea what the game s win state is. Is there one? Am I meant to crawl the galaxy until the end of time, endlessly gutting Stormtroopers, endlessly pillaging space farms, endlessly watching planets trade hands like used Toyotas between the immortal commanders of the Star Wars universe? By now, I m positive that it s impossible to actually kill off any of the game s main figures defeating a commander in combat results in either them escaping or being captured and eventually escaping. Hmmph.

But then again, of the main figures in the Empire, I ve only crossed laser swords with Emperor Palpatine and Grand Moff Tarkin, and I defeated neither. Maybe hunting them down will result in some sort of meaningful change in the state of the war.

I continue to roll with the main Rebel fleet, led by Mon Mothma and Han Solo s ships, with the hope that our hilarious swarm of 500-some troops will be able to bulldoze through anything that gets in our way.

Our first fight is on Endor, where I notice a familiar hairstyle fighting bravely alongside me.

Jesus, Leia is vicious. She wades in with a knife, gutting any Stormtrooper in reach. Go Leia! Stab! We re right behind you! Your reckless, unprofessional violence inspires us all.

Well, damn. Leia takes one too many blaster shots (about seven, for the record) to the gown and crumples into the ferns of Endor. She's fine just wounded and rejoins the war effort after our victory. This battle sparks a full-on rampage of defeating and capturing mid-level Imperial commanders. I get my hands dirty.


I stop to chat up Mon Mothma in between all the victory and killing and glory, hoping she has a high-level assignment for me.

Likewise, Commandress. Oh, what a battle that was! I remember it well. I liked the part where I cut 78 Scout Troopers in half and your army mostly stood around and got shot. So, do you have any dangerous, tide-turning special operations for me to go on? Kidnappings? Assassinations? Any suicide missions for which I'll be celebrated for bravely completing?

Let me make sure I ve got this: you want me, the badass Jedi robot who captured the Death Star last week to shake down your own citizens for money. Does the Rebel Alliance not have TurboTax? Have you heard of direct deposit? It s very convenient.

I run the mundane credit-collection mission for Mon Mothma, then return to the crowd of ships to resume our work of sieging battlestations and minor planets. Everything is going smoothly until a certain, shadowy Sith Lord interrupts our conquest.

Oh my god! You probably get this a lot, but biggest. fan. ever. I mean, my mom named me after you, even despite us being loyal servants of the Rebellion. I m so flattered, Vader.

Well alright then. Let me get my Rancors, we ll be right with you.

I charge Vader s army with my weird menagerie of Baby Rancors and mercenaries. Ever the tactical mastermind, he sits on a ledge in the corner of the map the high ground.

I cut my way through his mob of bodyguards, expecting a tough fight at the edge of the map.

But I slash at his legs twice, and Vader falls easily and clumsily to the ground. Mon Mothma sends her regards, Darth.

Everyone is pleased, particularly the Rancors.

Good work, everyone. Vader escapes captivity, of course, but I chug along anyway, looking for more high-level Imperials to shine my weaponized flashlight at. More of that next week. In the meantime, remember my name (and my fearsome Ewok skin hat).

Mount & Blade

This is a chronicle of our absurd, canon-destroying playthrough of Star Wars Conquest, a mod for sandbox RPG Mount & Blade. Our campaign to ruin Star Wars appears each Tuesday.

It s always embarrassing to be defeated by the elderly. Last week Emperor Palpatine gave me a lightsaber-whipping on the wooded arena of Endor, gutting my army with his formidable gang of gutless thugs and fascists: Stormtroopers, Imperial Navy Troopers, and Imperial Pilots.

But I d learned an important lesson: to gain renown in this war-torn universe, to survive, to bring glory and liberty to the Rebel forces, I was going to need my own formidable gang of gutless thugs and villains: Mandalorians, assassin droids, Wookiee warriors, and baby Rancors.

With recruitment as my goal, I get to work looting smaller civilian planets, which aren t typically defended in Star Wars Conquest. After a few hours of stealing melons and precious metal from helpless villagers (a menu action--I don t even have to get my hands dirty with in-game combat), I amass enough of a war chest to hire some A-grade space marauders.

Now 120-strong, I notice for the first time that Imperial ships in the galaxy are fleeing from me rather than chasing me down at every opportunity. I want to use this force to put a dent in the Empire. I want to start knocking over planets and outposts.

I ve never sieged before, so it s probably smart to start somewhere modest, and undefended. Somewhere remote, a vulnerable weak point in the otherwise broad, durable armor of the Empire, guarded by fewer and less experienced Imperial forces.

That ll do.

I elect to siege the Death Star. What can possibly go wrong? It s guarded by 278 troops.

Oh god does it get bloody.

ENDLESS TROOPER CARNAGE. For the first time, reinforcements (presumably from my ship) join the battle mid-way to counter the enemy s own waves of reinforcements. My army and I kill an unprecedented 124 enemies, leaving only the commander alive--some doofus named High General Cassio Tagge, who I take captive.

I lose just seven of my warriors in the first fight--a Defiler, two Mandalorian Crusaders, three Power Droids, and a brave Baby Rancor.

Yes! And whoa, I might get to own the Death Star? Holy shit. I'd love to say something encouraging to my troops along the lines of "Great shot, that was one in a million," but the reality is that my untiring, undiscriminating lightsaber swinging was what turned the tide. My success in battle is directly proportionate to my ability to spam the left mouse button.

The battle won, I allow myself a moment of celebration. I walk the bridge of the Death Star, now sentried by friendly Rebel guards.

My power is endless. I upgrade my troops, give them a bit of time to heal, then move on to neighboring planet Endor, which is actually even more heavily defended than the Death Star. Luckily, I find some help on the surface.

I take Endor in a similar rout. It isn't easy, but finally having competent, durable troops makes a massive difference. Endor flips to Rebel colors, and a bit later I get a message from Mon Mothma.

Hmmph. I get a similar message about the Death Star, which is gifted to Biggs. Well fine, then. I see how this organization works. At least I know the value of capturing the Empire s spherical mega-weapon you've all been plotting tirelessly to destroy.

Feeling under-appreciated, I stroll away from that corner of the system, and stumble into the biggest formation of ships I ve ever seen in Star Wars Conquest. Nine Rebel ships roll in formation from an outpost, including Mon Mothma s flagship. They seem to be crawling the galaxy, knocking over planets. I join the mob, wondering where this massive war party will take me.
Mount & Blade

This is a chronicle of our absurd, canon-destroying playthrough of Star Wars Conquest, a mod for sandbox RPG Mount & Blade. Our campaign to ruin Star Wars appears each Tuesday.

Last week I received a missive from Mon Mothma, Rebel Commandress. Her invitation was exciting: an invitation to join the Rebel Alliance. I d receive my own planet (okay, okay technically just a moon) in exchange for swearing some trivial loyalty oath.

I push my crude transport ship all the way to Dantooine, avoiding major trouble along the way.

Sure, whatever. GIVE ME A MOON, MON

Well, that was easy. I m now king of Dantooine Moon, which means I ll collect tax revenue each week from it. Free credits! However, the political consequences of becoming best buds with Mom Mon Mothma are big--my relations with the Galactic Empire plummet from a few negative points to a full -70, the reputational equivalent of stealing all of the Empire s puppies. I am hated; for the first time, Empire-held corners of the galaxy will be outright dangerous to move through.

I leave Dantooine and do what any untrained, newly-appointed military leader would in my situation: I lead a wave of hooligan-style violence against whatever mid-level Empire forces I can find. I bring my 40-some gang of mixed Rebel, Hutt, droid and alien goons to bear. Hilariously, I also have Empire recruits in my army--Star Wars Conquest doesn t seem to care about faction relations when recruiting villagers from planets.

I'm a huge fan of how Star Wars Conquest handles blood decals. Stormtroopers bleed all over their armor when hit.

Nevermind my dual-bladed lightsaber handling technique.

"That tickles!"

All this battle experience is tremendously useful. The troops that don t get annihilated by blaster fire (sorry, boys) rank up at an amazing rate; when a unit levels up in Star Wars Conquest, it upgrades to an entirely new class. Rebel Recruits eventually become Rebel Pilots, who inexplicably ride landspeeders of their own. My army quickly becomes more durable, but Conquest still feels like sci-fi Dynasty Warriors--I m doing 90 percent of the killing.

With the battle earnings I invest in new weapons and some even tougher troops: HK droids, assassin droids, Mandalorian Crusaders


...and and a lovely dress. Then I find a shipyard and go spaceship shopping.

I am a pretty, pretty Droid Jedi Princess.

Phew. Even modest upgrades over my current ship are thousands and thousands of credits. I ll have to make looting Empire planets my full time job to save up, but at least I have a goal to work toward.

I muddle around a bit before I get back to the grisly business of war lightsabering Stormtroopers in the face by the dozen. I find a familiar face on the planet Dac. I ask my fellow Rebel commander how the war s going for us.

Well, bummer, dude. I sift through the other dialogue options, and see that there s a Pazaak minigame buried in Star Wars Conquest. I challenge Ackbar to a few rounds of space blackjack.

Then I hunt down Obi-Wan to see if he s got any sunnier news to share about the war.

Obi-Wan, true to his peaceful nature, has offered me an assassination mission. Give him what he deserves, he schemes. Damn, Obi. I don t question Kenobi s bloodlust, thinking instead only of the reputation boost I ll earn from him for completing this task. I point my ship at Kuat, conveniently centered in Empire territory.

Before I reach Kuat, I notice I m being tailed by an Empire ship--a star destroyer. Well, shucks. Who s ship is that?

Jesus. My tiny shuttle is too slow to pull away. I elect to fight on the nearby planet Endor, hoping spacious terrain will give me room to maneuver and survive.

For Mon Mothma! And to a lesser extent Admiral Ackbar!

Nope. Even keeping careful distance from ol Palpy s ridiculous battalion, one of his two-hundred-and-nine troops guns me off my speeder horse. This is the last thing I see before I m cut down.

Left: Palpatine, the jerk.

Okay, maybe the dress was a bad idea.

Read Diary of a Droid Jedi - Part 1.
Read Diary of a Droid Jedi - Part 2.
Mount & Blade

This is a chronicle of our absurd, canon-destroying playthrough of Star Wars Conquest, a mod for sandbox RPG Mount & Blade. Our campaign to ruin Star Wars appears each Tuesday.

Note: there's an issue with Chrome that causes GIF-laden pages to crash. If you stop the page mid-load, all content will populate anyway. Opening this story in another browser will work too. Sorry about that.

To summarize the adventure so far:

I am a Droid Jedi, wandering the universe with a band of brave but ultimately disposable space-brigands
I became sparring buddies with Grand Moff Tarkin, inaugurating a friendship of deep respect and admiration
Minutes later, Grand Moff Tarkin killed all my dudes and shot me a bunch

My pride and HP wounded by intergalactic jerkbag Grand Moff Tarkin, I slink back to the comfort of the cantina, hoping to find refuge in drink. Perhaps companionship will await me here, fellow warriors disillusioned by the haphazard scripting that s native to this strange, anything-goes Star Wars negaverse.

I walk up to the bar.

Ho! What s this? A fellow droid. I power on B-2HO, not bothering to wonder why he s turned off in the middle of a cantina. He immediately calls me master. The notion of droids subjugating their own is unsettling, but I seem to finally have a real friend, someone who understands me, and will fight/die loyally alongside me. I add B-2HO to my party as a companion character.

Being a droid Jedi certainly has its value: I can pay people to be my friends and lose blood for me. Are there more space friends that I can buy here? I wander over to a table.

The first words out of her mouth.

Darth Motherboard, secret Canadian.

Oh dear. My comment is apparently so offensive that EVERYONE in the cantina simultaneously erupts into violence. Armed men draw weapons. Unarmed men draw fists. Everyone starts stabbing or punching whoever they were just talking to.

I try to separate myself from the fray, but a Wookiee and one or two other patrons assault me. I cut them down, muttering Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.

Then the brawl takes a strange turn: the cantina s Hutt bartender comes after me. The bar must have insulated him from the violence. The accidental end game boss of the cantina stares at me across the room, his eyes conveying a deep anger at lost revenue. He wabbles around, unusually agile.

I raise my sidearm. I fire into the unanimated blob of Hutt-shaped geometry. Zero damage. I fire. Zero damage. Fire. Zero damage. Fire. The Hutt-mound looms closer.

Let the record show that I drew my lightsaber only when I believed I was going to be eaten. I swing.

The bartender-blob spills over like a pudding cup. My relations with the Hutt Cartel dip by a few points. This is what happens when I try to make friends who aren t droids: a room full of lightsaber-scarred corpses. Even B-2HO lies on the floor, mangled but still operational. I buy a Jedi robe and cape to make myself feel better. It doesn't work.

They were all dead. The final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led to this point. I released my finger from the trigger. And then it was over. To make any kind of sense of it, I need to go back three years. Back to the night the pain started.

I flee the planet, and quickly get to work recruiting from nearby planets and moons to build a new army. I desperately need credits. What s the fastest way to get credits in Star Wars Conquest? Razing and looting minor planets guarded by farmers and civilians, duh. I take everything from a few undefended worlds: melons, wheat, hyperspanners, cartons of death sticks, which raise the already low morale of my troops. I leave them nothing, selling off their belongings for a few thousand credits.

Guilt creeps in. I realize how dangerously close I am to becoming a full-on space viking. I'm a Jedi I need to uphold those values. As an act of reparation, I take a mission from a planet administrator to help a band of farmers fight off a pack of bandits. I slide along the desert in my landspeeder, felling many Black Sun pirates. B-2HO is ecstatic in battle, consumed by the adrenaline surge that only rural victory can bring.

Miraculously, my good deeds are immediately recognized: Mon Mothma, aka the war mom of the Rebel Alliance, sends me a message.

A commander lord? Dantooine Moon? How can I refuse? I start the long journey to Dantooine to pledge loyalty to the Rebel Alliance.

Read Diary of a Droid Jedi - Part 1.
Mount & Blade
Mount & Blade

The last time I played a Lord of the Rings mod, I made Aragorn marry a giant spider. This time, I'm not looking for weird fan-fiction nuptials but for massive fan-fiction battles. The Last Days (of The Third Age of Middle Earth) was originally released in 2011, but it's been recently updated and made newly compatible with Mount & Blade: Warband, transforming the game into Tolkien's Middle Earth.

As with the A Clash of Kings mod for Warband, I'm hoping The Last Days will give me a grounds-eye view of the War of the Ring. And, the way I figure it, nobody has a better grounds-eye view than someone who was just born in a hole in the ground. I'm going to play as an Uruk-Hai, one of Saruman's faithful grunts. Seriously, I can probably only grunt because I'm some kind of mud creature who was born six minutes ago. I name myself Grug A Lug-Gug Gro Chug.

Some say Uruk-Hai, but Grug say Uruk-Hai-How-Are-Ya! Ha ha! That Grug's little joke.
Naturally, my first order of business is to walk into Saruman s chamber and have a one-on-one consultation with the big man himself, and try to impress him with my go-getter attitude. Saruman says he needs a message delivered to an ally in a nearby camp -- I guess I'll be a go-giver -- and who better to deliver important missives to military commanders than a snarling naked dirt monster?
On the way to the camp, I pass through Fangorn Forest, which turns out to be a huge mistake because of those sentient trees who are not huge fans of orc-folk. As if orcs are the only ones who cut down trees! Haven't you been to The Shire? Those Hobbit-holes are wood-paneled! Floor to ceiling! Why don't you slap them around for a change?

Time to make like a sentient walking tree and get out of here.
Anyway, the Ent slaps me around until I'm unconscious, and the few shots I get in with my bare fists don't even hurt him. I eventually wake up, drag myself out of the forest, and deliver Saruman's message, improving his opinion of me. I return to Isengard, and start running errands for anyone who has one: Saruman, Grima Wormtongue, and a couple of orc generals. Things go smoothly, except for the occasional run-in with patrolling elves, who fill me full of arrows, because of course they do, because elves are a bunch of archery dweebs.

Screw you, Legolas.
I visit a few landmarks in my spare time. Argonath, also known as "The Pillars of Kings" or "Those Two Giant Cool River Statues From The Movies." I make my way to Morannon, the Black Gate of Mordor, just to see if I can meet with The Lidless Eye, also known as Sauron. I can't, but I do some errands for his helpers, including the one named The Mouth of Sauron, also known as "The Guy Cut Out Of The Theatrical Release." I even buy a shield with the Lidless Eye insignia, just to show my general support of evil. It looks quite striking on me as I lie unconscious on the ground after battles.

I think my Uruk-Hai needs some Uruk-Help.
Tired of being beaten up by trees and tree-hugging elves, I start putting together an Uruk-posse. My errand running has earned me some respect, and joining one-sided skirmishes has given me enough experience to gain a couple levels and add some points in the leadership and prisoner management department. I start recruiting orcs, Uruks, and humans at every camp I visit. It's not long before I've got a couple newborn Uruk, a couple run-of-the-mill soldier orcs, and a small cavalry consisting of goblin warg-riders and Dunlander horsemen. We win some battles and take some prisoners, which I manage.

War. It's faaaaantastic!

It's not long before the elven patrols who used me for target practice are fleeing before me. We're raiding enemy towns and capturing deserters. My footsoldiers are graduating to become warg riders and I'm decked out in the best Uruk armor and shields, all with matching White Hand insignia. My crew is getting fierce.

Uruk, orc, human, goblin... I'm an equal opportunity employer.

Soon, Saurman realizes my potential. He lets me in on his plan. It involves defeating a troll, capturing it, and bringing it to him in a giant cage, where the beast will be trained to fight for The White Hand. No problemo! My army is well equipped and well-prepared. We'll get that troll toot-sweet.

No offense, boss, but you have a real dark side to your personality.

I ride out with my army in the middle of the night, nearly fifty of us, headed for Troll Cave, where we will find, presumably, at least one troll. As we cross the plains, a large party on horseback suddenly appears behind us, chasing us, moving fast. It's not good news.

King Theoden is following me? Awesome! Wait. This isn't Twitter. He's actually following me.

Theoden! I thought our side had him all bewitched and catatonic. Who cleared out his mental cobwebs? I bet it was Gandalf, that busy-body. We clash with Theoden and his men, and it's an absolute slaughter. I assume it's a slaughter, anyway, I can't even see my faithful orcs and Uruks behind the wall of horses and shields, but it's pretty clear from the wall-o-text that things are not going our way.

Theoden? Can I at least get an autograph?

I wake up alone, left for dead, and with my entire entourage gone. I scurry back to Isengard alone. Yes, I'll rebuild my crew. Yes, I'll get that troll for Saruman. Maybe I'll even meet Theoden again, only in a fair fight, and make him my prisoner. For the moment, though, I'm just bummed that I've gone from a bunch of Uruk-Guys back down to a single Uruk-Hai.

Back to being an orc-pack of one.
Installation: Your installation is going to depend on which version of the game you're using (M&B, or M&B: W) and whether you've got a Steam copy or retail. Luckily, every eventuality is covered in the mod's comprehensive installation guide, which is a PDF contained in the download folder. Either way, it's not particularly complicated. Visit the download page here. For Warband, you'll need the 3.3 Warband patch as well as the regular 3.3 mod file.
Mount & Blade
mount and blade 2

Somehow, we seem to have missed TaleWorlds' announcement of Mount & Blade II a couple of days a year ago, but we can't very well deny its existence now that it's spilling screenshots all over the place, can we? Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord is the sequel to Mount & Blade: Warband (wouldn't that make it M&B3...or even M&B4 if you count With Fire & Sword?), and so far we, zip. Stick around for some rather lovely screenshots, however, and a trailer featuring GIANT WORDS coming out of the screen.

"The drums of battle will beat again. And swords will sing their grim song." And bows will make a nice whooshing sound, presumably. OK, so it's a teaser trailer, and therefore light on actual details - I do feel suitably teased though. How about you? I'd say it's telling that TaleWorlds are name-checking Warband on the site, rather than the original M&B or Fire & Sword - I'm also quite excited by the thought of a 'proper' M&B sequel, despite deciding that the original wasn't quite for me. The lure of medieval combat/eventual Game of Thrones mods is too strong to resist. (Speaking of which, you've read Chris Livingston's experiences with Warband's A Clash of Kings mod, right?)

You'll find some Mount & Blade II screenshots below (the rest are here on the official site). It looks quite a bit fancier than the original games, and features all the mounts and blades you were probably expecting. Also: bows, barefoot urchins, cities.

Mount & Blade
Clash of Kings - Volantis

News travels slowly in the lands of medieval fantasy, which is why I've only just noticed this hiding out in the crowded mass of ModDB updates. Mount & Blade: Warband's obligatory Game of Thrones mod A Clash of Kings has (as of a couple of weeks ago) released its v1.0 build. This is just the sort of milestone that calls for some celebratory capons. And a news post.

What features were required to prompt the mod's makers to break out of beta? Highlights from the changelog include new lords, new castles, and new NPCs, including Lysa Tully, Catelyn Stark, Melisandre and Vargo Hoat. In addition, the Eastern continent has been re-done, more locations have been added, and new quests have been made available. Oh, and Jaime Lannister is now in there, too.

You can grab the mod from its ModDB page. To see why you should, have a read of Christopher Livingston's adventures in Westeros when he made it our Mod of the Week.
Mount & Blade
A Clash of Kings for Mount & Blade Warband

Since Rich seems to be having fun with a Game of Thrones mod in Crusader Kings II, I thought I might try a GoT mod as well, but with a different game: Mount & Blade: Warband. Adding sea travel, naval battles, over a thousand new items, props, and textures, plus a massive map of Westeros and tons of characters based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Clash of Kings mod lets gamers step into a world ravaged by war as a handful of wealthy, entitled men violently quibble over who gets to sit on a big fancy chair.

While Rich's playthrough is focused on politics, intrigue, and poop-based assassination, I'm taking a slightly different approach with this mod (created by modder Cozur and a host of contributors). I want the experience that the Game of Thrones books and television show don't portray very often: the perspective of the commoners who are swept up in the drama, and moved around on the gaming board like so many checkers at the whim of would-be monarchs. Since George R. R. Martin often gives his characters slightly changed familiar names (Robb, Eddard, Tommen, Petyr, etc.) I went the same route. Meet my character, Keewristoffertt. As the son of a merchant and former street urchin, commoners don't come more common than Keewris.

His face got stuck mid-warg, apparently.

I begin the game in the city of Storm's End, with the world of Westeros already heading into the War of the Five Kings (which is the start of the second book, or the second season of the show). I'm eager to join up with a king, though even as a commoner, I'd like to do a little homework to decide which is the best king to align with. Unlike our own world, where we form our political opinions by listening to the paranoid rantings of spittle-spewing radio and television hosts, in Mount & Blade I can just walk right up to any old king and talk to him.

Under Barathocare, my hard-earned gold will go to leech treatments for peasants? I'm dubious.

I talk to King Renly Baratheon, who is polite and seems worth pledging my undying devotion to, then ride toward Lannisport to personally talk to Tywin Lannister, who is not technically a king but might as well be. Along the way, I'm intercepted by Ser Gregor Clegane, a Lannister knight. While trying to ask him where Tywin Lannister is, I accidentally click on a more threatening line of dialogue, which leads a rude reply from Clegane, which leads to a battle between me and 42 of Clegane's men, which leads to me getting slightly filled with arrows.

Um. I yield?

Okay! I think joining the Lannisters is out of the question. After I escape from Clegane, I ride back to Storm's End to pledge my sword to King Renly. Unfortunately, when I arrive, I'm told Renly has been imprisoned by his own brother, Stannis Baratheon, king of Dragonstone. Well, since Stannis is also at war with the Lannisters, I figure I might as well just join him. I head over to the island of Dragonstone (by boat!) and pledge my sword to King Stannis.

I have no honor, no friends, and the worst enemy EVER. Thanks for adding the jab about my reading habits.

As a conscript of Stannis, I follow him wherever he goes, and he's quite an active king. We ride patrols around his kingdom, fighting Forest Bandits, and patrol the seas, fighting, uh, Forest Bandits. Who are on boats. Okay. Naval combat is a lot like regular combat, only there are no horses and it takes place on boats connected by narrow planks, which can lead to a bit of a bottleneck. It takes me several minutes to even get off our boat, clogged as is with Dragonstone soldiers, and get into the fight, which promptly ends before I can even kill anyone.

I think I can see a Sea Bandit. Somewhere. Over there.

Even land battles tend to leave me out of the action. Since I don't have a horse, I get left behind during the attacks, and often the battles are over before I reach an enemy. Stannis, gracious king that he is, still sees my devotion and promotes me. After a few more weeks, King Stannis assembles a massive force of hundreds of men outside Driftmark, and we ride to Duskendale, a city under Lannister control. It's time for a siege! It's exciting as hell, though again, I'm stuck at the rear for most of the skirmish.

Follwing the seige of Duskendale, we move on to the city of Antlers (seat of House Buckwell in the Crownlands, according to the ASOIAF wiki). A little tired of being at the back of the crowd and only getting leftovers, I charge the ramp, bravely enter the city first, and yeah that was a terrible idea.


We lose the battle, and worse, King Stannis is captured and imprisoned. With Stannis imprisoned by the Lannisters and Renly imprisoned by Stannis, I seem to have run out of Baratheons to follow around. What's a commoner to do? Find a new king, I guess. I head to a likely sounding location.

Siege, or knock? Think I'll knock.

I join up with Ser Addam Marbrand, who despite following the Lannisters seems like a nice enough guy. Unfortunately, he may be too nice: he never leaves King's Landing. After doing nothing for a few weeks, I decide to desert Marbrand and look for a king who is a little more proactive. I even convince two other soldiers to come along with me, and we head for Highgarden, hoping to join up with Lord Mace Tyrell. Before we even get there we're taken captive by some of Tyrell's soldiers from The Reach, who view us as enemies. Apparently, word of my desertion has spread. Damn ravens! Stop delivering tiny scraps of paper that describe what disloyal soldier I am!

I think surrender is a fine tactical plan, actually.

I finally escape, abandoning the two companions I had with me. Sorry, guys! Enjoy prison for the remainder of the war. I head to Sunspear, capital city of Dorne, but they won't let me in, and I get captured by another Lord who also drags me around as a prisoner for a while. Eventually, I wind back up at Storm's End, where I run into King Renly, who has apparently escaped from prison (or perhaps was ransomed by Davos Seaworth). He doesn't trust me enough to let me serve in his army, but asks a favor: could I please spring his brother Stannis, my past king, from prison in the Westerlands? That seems unusual. First, why trust me, a guy you don't trust, with this task? Second, why free Stannis when he's the one who has kept you imprisoned all this time?

Still, the opportunity of freeing Stannis, my chosen king, is too good to pass up. I head to the city of Hornvale (seat of House Brax), disguise myself as a peasant (it's not hard since I essentially am a peasant), and slip into the courtyard. There I approach the lone prison guard and ask him who he's got in jail. He confirms it's Stannis, so I cleverly beat him to death with a big stick (politics!). I free Stannis, along with Ellery Vance and Lord Clement Piper, who are also being held captive, and we storm the courtyard, taking down a handful of guards and escaping. So much for just being a simple soldier, I guess: I've just had a major impact on the power structure of the world.

This escape came to be known as The Fist of the Bald Men.

After reuniting with Stannis at Dragonstone, we spend a few days in the castle and then ride out en masse, immediately clashing with... King Renly. It's the guy who asked me to free Stannis, and we're going to war with him again. Weird. Several minutes into the battle, I actually spot Renly slashing his way through Dragonstone soldiers. I hit him with my sword, and he collapses. I should point out that these two events are unrelated: the game log tells me I hit but did no damage and that it was some Elite Dragonstone Swordsman who actually felled the king. On the other hand, after we win the battle, I'm still pretty stoked to see I had better numbers than Renly.

See, this is why I just wanted to be a common soldier. Politics are weird and baffling. I just rescued a king for another king and then defeated the king while fighting for the king the king wanted rescued. I'm just confused. I guess I don't understand politics, and I definitely don't understand brothers.

Installation: It's not hard! Download the latest version of the mod. Find the Modules folder in your M&B Warband folder, and drop the downloaded file in there. Start the game, choose the mod from the drop-down, and get your Ice & Fire on.
Half-Life 2
Indie Mod DB awards

Choosing the best thing out of a pile of really good things is always a tough decision, but hey, we're used to it. You too can participate in the careful choicemaking by voting for your favorite mod and indie game of the year over at Mod DB and Indie DB, where the top 100 nominations were just plucked from a gargantuan pool of over 9,000 mods and 5,500 indies.

With friendly vote buttons large and in charge until December 21, each database's 100 selections are sorted by genre and game for easy perusal. Numerous strong contenders vie for your mouse-click's thumbs-up, including noteworthy entries DayZ, The Dark Mod, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and Natural Selection 2.

Current favorites leading the pack are Half-Life 2's powerful mod lineup—among which Black Mesa and our own 2011 Mod of the Year No More Room in Hell count themselves among the ranks—and role-playing indie games. You'll find Legend of Grimrock, Dear Esther, Mount & Blade: Warband, and others in the latter category. But like everyone's slowly expanding backlog of shame, plenty of other potentials yearn for your attention. Head to both award pages for the full lists.