The Lordz Games Studio must have woken up one morning and said, “let’s get Civilisation, Warhammer and Total War in the boardroom then come up with a game”. With that in mind the studio created Sovereignty: Crown of Kings, we were impressed even though it’s not as graphically heavy as the Total War series.
The Lordz Games Studio has a background in modding Total War games and co-developing a massive list of war and strategy games. They took everything they’ve learned and put it into one unique strategy experience. All the tools that you expect and have ever wanted in your quest to dominate are here. Some additions had us wondering why they hadn’t been added sooner.
In Sovereignty: Crown of Kings you control one of many races that you would expect to find in a Warhammer or fantasy game. Humans, Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Undead are all there plus there are 35 factions to mix it up even more. Both are picked by choosing a region to start your campaign of pain and diplomacy. Each has their own win conditions which we found creative and just the right amount of challenge. For example, the first campaign we played had us gaining, then helping an ally to become a global power. This was a brand new challenge that we haven’t seen before.
The artificially intelligent (AI) controlled factions seemed responsive and able to use the full range of tools at their disposal. When we attacked a small faction that a neighbour liked it didn’t take long for it to declare war on us. Once we proved that it had made a powerful enemy it provided a deal for a cease-fire. That and we had wiped out the faction’s friend anyway. Both ourselves and the opposing factions also provide items to a marketplace making for a new tool that we didn’t realise we needed. Using the diplomacy screen is slightly clunky to use yourself, though. Rather than just clicking the faction you want to discuss relations with or take actions against, you need to find them from a long drop down menu. A very small fault that we feel could be improved.
You get resources from either the provinces you control or the marketplace. Specific resources are needed in addition to gold to increase the ranks of your army. On top of that, the provinces that provide these resources are a great distance apart, this forces you to use the marketplace or diplomacy to acquire the items you need. In turn, you need to decide early on what you will aim to take for your own and who you will ally with. We didn’t realise how much this would engage us in the diplomacy of war until we saw it for ourselves.
Recruitment and training are also approached differently in Sovereignty: Crown of Kings. Training is global and centralised. Once you purchase a unit it takes a certain amount of turns to train after which you can deploy it to any province you control. Oh, the armies we massed in a short time! It really took away the tedious, although realistic, mechanic of having to train units from provinces with certain buildings. The centralised mechanic really freed us up to do what we wanted and sure up our borders faster, increasing game speed.
Heroes are not recruited, instead, they turn up at your court and offer their services. If you choose to accept these offers you can place the hero with any army not currently with a hero and bolster the army’s effectiveness. The hero isn’t a unit or bodyguard on its own which again, was surprisingly freeing. A big bonus of the hero unit is that you need one to resolve a battle in tactical mode. If you don’t have a hero attached to an army, you’ll need to resolve the battle automatically which is explained a little later.
Related: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review
Sovereignty: Crown of Kings doesn’t have the graphically chugging beauty that we’ve become accustomed to in the Total War series, but it proves we love the strategy more. It matches Total War but outclasses traditional Civilisation games by giving you control over the battles your armies take part in.
Once you choose to tactically control a battle, as opposed to automatic battle, Sovereignty: Crown of Kings zooms into a map of the province. Your armies line up on the border to your liking and the enemy is in various positions around the map. The units are represented by counters so if you need the graphics and animations of Total War you may not like this system. If you like strategy in a chess-like style, you will love this battle system. You win the province by occupying all capture points on the map or wiping out the enemy. The tutorial explaining this system bugged out on us but the actual game worked perfectly. We were totally surprised to discover that we love the strategy of this top-down view over an entire province as much as we love the cinematic view satiated in Total War.
When you battle automatically you still get a tiny amount of control. There are three waves, skirmish, assault and melee. In each battle, you’ll get to choose the formation of your army on a grid, after this it’s up to your units. At any time, you can choose to skip any wave or speed up the attack, but you can’t retreat until the assault wave. In the skirmish wave, ranged units attack automatically. In the assault wave, your front-line troops attack each other while ranged units continue to fire. Once you get to the melee wave, it’s all-out war, major casualties will ensue. It’s a brilliant tweak to the auto-resolve system and as mentioned, if you don’t have a hero attached to an army this is your only option.
The map is deceivingly huge, it will keep you going on epic campaigns that will rival your Total War grand campaigns, although a little faster thanks to the game-play tweaks. You’ll find yourself controlling a lot more armies than in Total War and your computer will more than handle it.
Sovereignty: Crown of Kings is finally out of early release and even comes with a Mod editor. We expect nothing less from a studio born out of the modding community.
Faster army generation
Ability to control so many armies at once
Won't please those who love graphics
No focused story lines for factions
Clunky diplomacy interface
Broken tutorial at time of publishing