Pride of Nations is an empire management turn based game (With one turn lasting half a month) set during a 70 year period (1850-1970).
The era in which several of the more developed nations embarked on gigantic quest for the control and exploitation of land, natural resources and people; and the tensions caused by this behavior.
The game is substantially simulation in nature with a bewildering selection of information stored about territories, armies, naval fleets and other aspects of the world.
The depth of choices and decisions and by extension the complexity of the interface makes for a game that has huge detail but great room for confusion.
In a situation like this a strong tutorial is absolutely vital otherwise the game itself can become impenetrable simply by overwhelming the player with too much choice. The tutorial spends too much time simply giving you text to read, rarely telling you to do anything.
It seems like it would’ve been far wiser to teach a person how to play the game through learning by doing in a specially created small tutorial world with faster loading times.
Instead it refers to a manual on several occasions (In an age where many games are sold through digital download places such as Steam this seems unwise) and talks up the grand campaign which I felt the tutorial leaves players ill equipped for.
Gameplay is divided up into four main gameplay modes that you switch between during each turn, these are Economic Mode (Managing empire production, factories, etc), Decision Mode (Particularly playing decision cards on the map), Colonial Mode (Managing what your colonies are doing and handles the challenges of creating colonies) and Military Mode (Ordering and building armies) and each of these has its own sub-mode. The names are pretty self explanatory as to their purpose so you might still be wondering how this game is supposed to be so complex.
A game like Civilization will typically start you off with a settler wagon (effectively this is your first city) and you build up from there. Pride of Nations will give you an existing pre-built civilization and though it may be setup so that there is nothing to be massively concerned about at the outset of play taking over an existing established empire can be daunting in itself.
The interface has 8 different map filters that serve different roles, the collection points filter (CTRL-1) gives you an overview of places suitable for storing collected resources and where resources have to travel a long way before they can be collected up as part of your nations resource pool.
The trade status filter (CTRL-2) which deals with trade connectivity such as access to trade via land or sea. You’ll have to compete for some trade resources by offering more for the trade or having faster/better trade fleet.
CTRL-3 brings up a display of trade areas/regions, for instance all of the United Kingdom is one trade area but a larger continent like Africa has several trade areas.
The colonial penetration display (CTRL-4) shows how far along you are on a path of a region being a protectorate or even complete dominion. The CTRL-5 key gives a display of colonial status, including if the region is a protectorate, colony (etc) and who the owner is.
CTRL-6 displays the value/worth of making a territory a protectorate or colony (which gives you prestige points) as some territories are historically considered as having greater worth, though this can be disabled when creating a game.
The remaining two map filters are CTRL-7 which informs you of any riot risks (Your activities may cause riots in a territory, putting any soldiers stationed in the area at risk) and CTRL-8 which gives a display of contentment among the populace in that area along with information on ethnic groups on a per-territory basis.
There are a lot of buttons on the interface that may be rarely used, the depth here is astounding so whilst it is clear that there are plenty of interesting decisions to be made and consequences to be dealt with, getting past the interface will be a huge undertaking.
It’s difficult for me to recommend this game to anyone who has a shortage of the spare time required to learn such a complicated setup of mechanics, setting and interface. Consider yourself warned!