The first game in the Strategy RPG series known as the Ogre Battle Saga, relased for the SNES.

The full name of the game is Ogre Battle Episode V: March of the Black Queen. The plot is something like this:

At the beginning of time, the Gods pitted man against demon, in an epic battle to the death. The victor of this battle would become ruler of Earth and would be given peace and prosperity. With the aid of some wizards mankind defeated the demons and sealed them into the underworld. However, one of the wizards was tempted and created an artifact known as the black diamond. With it, the seal could be broken and the gates of hell opened. The white wizards take the diamond and give it to the angels, so as to be sure it will never fall into the hands of evil.

Meanwhile, mankind happily prospers and, on one continent, four kingdoms emerge, coexisting in peace. However, an evil mage named Rashidi takes matters into his own hands, he manages to steal the black diamond and then coaxes the princess of one kingdom to invade the other three to build a single empire. With Rashidi on her side, the princess succeeds, and all seems lost.

But, a handful of knights of the former kingdom of Zenobia hope to launch one last desperate rebellion against the empire. With a handful of men and one brave leader, they set off to return peace to the countryside. That brave leader is, of course, you.

The battle system is quite different from many RPGs. Each scenario is one big map. On the map are speckled temples, towns, fortresses, roads, etc. You and the empire each have units, which consists of 1-6 characters moving as one, under the command of an officer. You have to pay salary to each unit, and money comes from towns you liberate. You can edit or create your own units, and then deploy them on the map. Then you order them to go somewhere (such as an empire-controlled town) and they go about their business, moving at a speed based on the terrain and the home-terrain of their officer.

Actual combat between units is rather straightforeward. You give your unit a specific style of tactic (attack the weakest, attack the leader, etc.) and the battle goes on for a few rounds. You can also cast some spells via tarot cards (of all things) for added effect. The battle ends after the allotted number of rounds is over or when one or the other unit has been completly decimated. Victory is based on who dealed the most damage (again, barring decimation.) If the officer of either unit has been killed the rest of the unit will ignore any orders and retreat to headquarters, the loser is moved back a few spaces on the map in any case and the game continues as normal. Damage from battles does not heal on its own, characters must stay in a temple or town for that. Dead characters can be revived at a temple as well.

Finally, night and day also plays a role. A "day" is a few minutes long. During the night, chaotic (evil) units with low alignment are deadlier, during the day, lawful (good) units with higher alignment are effective. Neutral units are unaffected.

As you can see, battles are not won most of the time by who has the highest level characters or the coolest sword (although all of that is there), but rather, by whoever deploys the better units and to the best effect.

The other interesting aspect of Ogre Battle is the way the plot can branch. At the beginning of the game, a Gandalf-like character named Warren will read your fortune through tarot cards while asking you fortune teller-esque questions. The way you answer these questions affect what kind've leader you become (chaotic, netural or lawful). Moreover, throughout the game you will be presented with choices which will effect the path the entire story will take later on. All in all there about eight different endings to the game.

kettu: That would make sense, since, AFAIK, none of the games in the Ogre Battle Saga involve any Ogres battling.

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