Beasts and bumpkins is settled in a fictional medieval land, with all the trimmings: peasants, knights, huts, priests and so on. The story is that the king has just kicked out you and your people because you're rude, offensive and constantly annoy all the other lords. Your task is to get your lands back, in 30 missions, which is quite good considering how short some other RTS games have been in the past, (and lately).
The base-building and management is all very much like the Settlers: you build huts to house your men and women, construct food buildings like the farm and bakery, and guilds to help train builders, tax collectors, prison guards, and the same guilds also train your fighters like footmen, archers and knights.
There are a couple of differences: your peasants will grow old as they go, eventually they die and so you need to continually replenish your population. This is done in a rather realistic fashion: Your men and women must, ahem, partake in 'Nookie' in order to keep the village going, and that's what the peasant huts are for: to provide privacy. The Cultures series does it in a similar way.
The interface is quite intuitive, with all buttons all carefully laid out and easy to understand. The Economy screen (where you set prices for goods and punishments for crimes) is no different, with graphs, buttons and sliders all laid out logically. The music and sound is also very good, with all the daily nuances of the people (i.e. farts, burps, and conversation between people). The music only comes on in certain missions, but is very medieval-oriented and enjoyable.
As for the missions themselves, they range from easy to hard. Some involve wiping out an enemy town, or killing an evil vampire or giant, while some have you collect a certain amount of cash or finding a holy relic. The enemy AI is poor however; usually they will attack strongly, but use up all their men at the same time, so once you defeat their attack, it's a simple matter of waltzing up to their town and killing the women (occasionally just woman).
Another gripe is in the form of respawn points for wild beasts. A few missions have points where beasts like wolves and bats reappear after they are killed. In mission 18, you have to escort a cow to a healer so as to stop the epidemic of Exploding-Cow syndrome (no, really!). Near his home deep in the forest, is a couple of these respawn points, each of which that spits out a group of three wolves. Needless to say, I found it extremely galling to find the one and only cow in the entire level being killed constantly as I tried to get to the healer.
Despite these small gripes, Beasts and Bumpkins is an extremely enjoyable and fun game.
Written by: ~Avalon