Retrogaming – Genghis Khan (NES)


Everyone knows about Genghis Khan, right?  I mean, he killed a lot of people and conquered the world.  Mean horse warriors doing bad stuff to Europeans who thought they were the kings of everything.

In this game you get to take the insanely complicated reins of conquest and prove that you’re better than the master of military strategy himself.

The game presents two game modes, Mongol conquest, or world conquest.  The difference being that the map is larger in world conquest.  Everything else is exactly the same.

Reading the manual is basically required to play the game.  There is way too much for me to enjoy re-explaining it all so I’ll just give an overview.  The game is broken up in to years and seasons.  Each year has 4 seasons (just like real life!).  Each season you can give 3 orders, ranging from war, to promoting your son to a prince (governor).

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You begin the game selecting your family (essentially).  Creating stat distributions between the six different stats that are used in the game.  Each time you perform an action, one of your stats will lower depending on what action you performed.  So during the game you’ll have to re-train constantly to keep them topped up.

Two stats will never decrease (battle and body).  Body will actually increase as you play through the game – mine maxed out before I conquered the world.

You also get to pick the game level, if it’s your first time I don’t recommend picking 3 (like I did) – holy crap the game is long and apparently gets exponentially harder on higher difficulties (so I’ve read).

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I started on the Mongol conquest, since it looked like the starter/tutorial level.  It is, but it also kicks you directly in to the World conquest once you’ve finished it.  If you start the world conquest directly you can pick your country,

Strategy –

I really struggled with this game, with a lack of online help and basically no guides telling you how to actually play the game.  I found some guides telling you which countries to take over first, but no one telling you how to actually accomplish that.  So I’ll do everyone else a favour and tell you how I did it.

First, you need an army, to get an army you either need to spend forever training your people to raise a militia, or buy mercenaries from the merchants.  Buying mercenaries is by far the most efficient, but requires lots of money.  The only way to earn money is by getting taxes, or selling stuff to the merchants.  Playing the market is possible, but extremely complicated.  I tracked high and low prices for items, but since merchants will only buy and sell a small selection of items each season trying to buy low and sell high takes patience and is rarely rewarding.  Genghis Khan (USA)-3

Food though, can be reliably produced, and always sells for at least 1 gold per, often 1.8 or 2 gold per.  So set your population to grow your economy and produce a bunch of food and I don’t even know why the game includes masons and artisans.  Sell food to buy soldiers, re-assign soldiers in to the economy to repeat the process.  You only need to keep 80-100 soldiers in reserve for the majority of the game to deter invasion.  Keep an eye on your neighbors to see how they are growing and you’ll be fine.

Once you have a good stock of people, you can re-purpose them to soldiers, and attack, all in the same round.  Make sure to leave the same stock of soldiers in your originating province.  If you take them all you’ll be invaded before your next turn and lose the original province at the price of the new one.

You’ll also need to have enough leftover soldiers in the new province to deter attack, because people like to attack immediately if you’re low and you may win the province, only for someone else to take it from you afterward.

For the majority of the game, I found sending 200 soldiers was enough to beat anyone, and have plenty leftover.  Though at the end of the world domination I was fighting with 500-800 unit armies against provinces of the same size.

Once you take over a new province, fix the population structure (re-purpose your military and just keep the reserve), and sell off all the materials they’ve accumulated to the merchants to raise money.  No point saving all that junk.

Genghis Khan (USA)-2I find appointing a prince to run your provinces is way more efficient than direct control.  You have to worry about rebellion, but unless you want to spend the rest of your life playing the game you don’t have many choices.  Marry your daughters and promote your sons ASAP to get loyal family.
Make sure to assign policy to your provinces and prevent your border princes from attacking.  I usually prevent them from doing diplomacy either because they’re always demanding tribute etc.  You can also set them up to send resources to other provinces, so use your inner provinces to stage supplies for your border provinces.

Rinse and repeat, moving forward one province at a time.  Make sure to keep your border provinces strong (you can move people and troops from inner provinces, but don’t leave them defenseless in case of rebellion).

Once you’ve conquered your first province, just rinse and repeat.  The process works consistently.  If you have 200 spare troops you can even skip the re-staging and just keep attacking forward.

Combat –

Before you set out for battle you can set up your troop configuration.  You can use infantry, archers or cavalry.  I was expecting a rock/paper/scissors configuration, but it doesn’t appear that any unit is particularly strong against any other unit.  Other than archers which are just weak.

By far the best configuration is to select one large unit of cavalry.  There is no point dividing your forces.  Having overwhelming forces causes more casualties and prevents deaths in your own units.  A unit of 200 cavalry can kill an army of 400 split up enemy troops.

Archers are basically useless.  Their arrows only ever do 1 or 2 units of damage even with almost 100 archers against a relatively small enemy force.  100 cavalry can destroy opposing troops wholesale.  Which would you rather?Genghis Khan (USA)-4

The actual combat is actually pretty straight forward.  The way it’s done really sucks.  You move your troops forward, adjacent troops can attack each other (archers can shoot one square over).  Archers have limited arrow supply (based on your combat stat).

Moving over terrain other than fields makes you lose troops.  The bigger your army the more you lose per square.  Mountains and desert are the worst, followed by water and forest.

Defending units inside cities or castles have defensive bonuses and really suck to attack.  With close to equal numbers they will destroy your attacking forces.

Your command unit has the option to duel the command unit of the enemy force.  Use this to your advantage.  Training your Body stat up over 400 will pretty much guarantee you win.  Winning a duel means you take over the enemy, losing less troops and absorbing their troops back in to your army.  Often enemy forces will refuse to duel you, so kill off their supporting forces until they agree – or until they’re all gone.  Often the enemy command group will run away once they get low on troops, and it’s a pain to catch them if they have supporting troops to help.

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The game takes forever, even with a good strategy.  Dealing with supporting forward provinces at the end game takes hours.  Just figuring out what to do to prevent rebellions and build up troops against countries that have huge armies is complicated and often ends in failure either way.  Losing ground you’ve worked hard for is difficult, but with perseverance you’ll make it.

I was bored long before I finished, and mostly kept playing just to see the ending screens so I could post them for you guys.  I hope you like them!  The very end screen was a circle of women, the pictures constantly flipping and changing to new women, all thanking me for taking over their countries and turning them in to my concubines.  My kind of ending.

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What did you think?