The Kingdoms Bundle Is Strategically Impressive

The extent of my knowledge and understanding of strategy games is the breadth of smile they create on little Adam Smith’s cherubic face. So glancing at Bundle Stars’ Kingdoms Bundle, I could see a lovely, warm grin.

For £2.18 you get Europa Universalis III Complete, Europa Universalis: Rome Gold Edition, The King’s Crusade, Hearts Of Iron III, Sword Of The Stars Complete Collection, and Magicka.

None is particularly new. Sword Of The Stars goes back as far as 2006, and most fall in around 2009. However, when it comes to games about maps, the passage of time is far less cruel. It strikes me, as someone who’d rather launch himself off a 30-storey building onto an upright stick to poke himself in the eye than play any of them, as a fairly impressive list of last generation’s hardcore strategy games for a teeny price.

All the games unlock via Steam, and it appears to be a 95% discount. That’s a lot of discount.

Bundle Stars have a couple of other new bundles running for the next fortnight, but they’re rather more mixed bags. The Brutal Bundle stars off well with Tropico 4, Stealth Bastard Deluxe, and King’s Bounty: Legions True Tactican Ultimate Pack, the variously drifts off with Port Royale 3, Dungeonbowl, Iron Sky: Invasion, Day One: Garry’s Incident, Steel Storm: Complete Edition, Naval Warfare and Earth 2150 Trilogy. £3.64 for that lot.

The Outer Limits Bundle seems a touch weaker, with UFO Extraterrestrials Gold, Blades Of Time Limited Edition, Insane 2, Hydrophobia Prophecy, Race Injection, Warfare, Puzzle Kingdoms, Gumboy Tournament, Supreme Ruler 2020 Gold and Razor 2: Hidden Skies. Although eight games for £2.93


  1. skyturnedred says:

    Bought for Magicka, rest is just a bonus.

  2. tmargul says:

    Not a bad deal by any means, but it’s worth pointing out that Europa Universalis III Complete isn’t actually complete, so if that’s your primary interest you may want to look elsewhere.

  3. Jomini says:

    HoI3 without the expansions is a travesty.

  4. Kinch says:

    Magicka is a hack’n’slash, not a strategy game, d’oh.
    Wish I could buy the time to play all of these (apart from Magicka, I’ve played it inside out).

  5. Ross Angus says:

    I don’t understand: where are the plushies, John? WHERE ARE THE PLUSHIES?

  6. Turquoise Days says:

    Can anyone offer an opinion on Sword of the Stars? GalCivII and Sins of a Solar Empire are my two forays into the zero G strategy, and neither quite did what I was looking for. Sins was too much of an RTS, and GalCiv always seemed to degenerate into a tedious slog.

    • Awesumo says:

      Sword of the stars isn’t like sins of a solar empire or Gal Civ. It’s… well, it’s different. Personally I didn’t like it, certainly not on the same level as the two legendary games you mentioned.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I found it pretty fun, though it’s got a pretty heavy focus on warfare. Diplomacy was barely in the basic game, but expansions added a reasonable system along with other features like orbital facilities, trade routes, etc. It’s still primarily a game about aggressive expansion however; a great deal of the tech tree contributes towards the outfitting of your ships (which you can design from mixing hull segments and assigning weapons to hardpoints). Combat is Homeworld-lite, with movement largely locked to a 2D plane, while the rest of the game is turn based.

      One of the most notable features is that every race has a different form of FTL, ranging from regular hyperdrive to using networks of pathways through subspace to Slower Than Light slogs which culminate in the deployment of a gate that allows instant travel anywhere on your network. The tech tree is also somewhat randomised; many techs have a percentile chance of being available, the exact probability depending on your race. This is supposedly to stop people from pursuing a perfect build every game. There’s multiple chances to unlock some techs and you can reverse engineer stuff you don’t have from salvage, but it is possible to be completely locked out of some options. If the RNG is particularly unkind you can end up with a research tree full of poor options and dead ends.

      If you do go in for it I recommend playing on smaller maps (late game on big ones tends to be a slog) or trying one of the scenarios. Playing with friends makes things better of course, though once battles start to become more frequent you may have people kicking their feet while others resolve encounters.

    • tikey says:

      SotS is brilliant.
      It’s a 4x empire management with real time battles.
      Each race has a different travel method making each very different to play. The empire management part is very streamlined (you don’t build structures on planets for example, you just decide the percentage of that planets production that goes to building ships or industrialisation for example). Combat is quite peculiar, every bullet is modelled and has a real physical effect on enemy ships (your bullets will alter the enemies flight paths and can change their course).
      It’s a game with a lot of personality and with a very alive galaxy. You and the other races aren’t the only thing out there, from mysterious AIs to millenary space horrors.
      It has it’s quirks and vanilla game was pretty flawed but all the expansions really polished it.

    • Arona Daal says:

      I second everything Snidesworth said about Sots 1.

      Turquoise Days:
      The two most wellrounded 4x Spacegames imho are:

      1. Master of Orion 2 ,*the* Classic . Gog for Example has it for 6$.

      2. Distant Worlds with Addons ,but this one will be *really,really* expensive (around 100 Moneys) with all the Addons.

    • beikul says:

      I’ve got a spare key for SotS you can have so you can try it for yourself

      • Turquoise Days says:

        Well that’s very kind of you, thanks! You can find me on Steam as (suprise) Turquoise Days.

        As for everyone else, thanks for the advice – I’ll be adding the other suggestions to my list of Games I Should Have Played By Now.

        • beikul says:

          You’re welcome but I don’t think I can send it via steam as it’s not in my ‘inventory’ (I’ve just got an unused key that I can’t add to steam because I already own it). Is there an email address I can send it to?

    • Arathain says:

      I love Sword of the Stars. It’s one of my favourite strategy games. It strips away a lot from the empire management side of things in order to focus on making increasingly large and well armed spaceships to blow each other up with a wide variety of weapons. Things I like:

      The tech tree is big and lovely and full of toys. Many techs only have a chance of appearing on your tree (different odds for different races), so lots of variation between games.

      The things you research in the lovely tech tree go into the ship builder. I normally dislike building custom units in strategy games: too darned fiddly. SotS is the least fiddly. Pick modules for the front, back and middle, then fit weapons in slots. Quick and easy, but also very powerful. The module and weapon variety means you can make a very diverse fleet and really opens up the tactical and strategic space.

      Those fleets you researched and made go into RTS battles rendered in 3D. These can be pretty interesting and intense, especially later in the game. Plus, you get to see every individual turret you picked do its thing independently. Ships have a nice damage model too, so you appreciate the damage you’re doing.

      The universe has a lot going on. You’ll find various remnants of ancient civilisations, presenting a mix of threat and opportunity. Beware the Grand Menaces- you’ll only get one per game, but it’s a game changer.

      Nice variation between the races. Each has a different FTL travel system, which very much alters how they move about and interact. Their ships are constructed quite differently, to reflect the differing racial attitudes. I also really like the lore. There are vast threads on the offical forum discussing the races in great detail, and it shows the writer really gave it a lot of thought. Some nice twists on some cliches, too.

    • Biscuitry says:

      I can’t add anything to the above, really. Sword of the Stars is great. Just don’t go anywhere near the abysmal sequel.

  7. WinTurkey says:

    Translator’s note: EU III Complete actually isn’t complete, it’s missing one or two of the latest expansions. EU III Chronicles is complete.

    Avoid disappointment.

    • The Random One says:

      How significant are the unincluded expansions?

      Wait, let me rephrase that like a witty bastard: How incomplete is EU III Complete?

      • Zwebbie says:

        Divine Wind isn’t absolutely necessary for Europa Universalis if you’re not planning to play any exotic factions, but playing without Heir to the Throne would be a shame; the casus belli system introduced in it makes all the difference in the world.

      • lomaxgnome says:

        There are some bugs in EU3 that are only fixed if you have Divine Wind. Some can be gamebreaking.

  8. The Random One says:

    I had a lingering sensation that Garry’s Incident was kind of shady, trying to trick people into thinking it was the then-unnamed Online Multiplayer Bastard Environment game being developed by Garry’s Mod’s creator (now known as Rust), but even as news of them shutting down YT reviews with copyright claims hit I thought I just had a hunch that luckily proved true. But now I realize the source of my hunch: they specifically named their game using Garry’s unusual spelling of his name, and I must only have noticed it subconsciously, since Gary isn’t a common name where I live.

    Therefore, I am the world’s greatest detective. Give me a pipe and a sidekick who’s slightly less clever than an average mystery book reader.

    • Shodex says:

      Was it really actively trying to fool you into thinking it was (the then unnamed) Rust? Or was it just people making assumptions upon seeing the name?

      The game interests me not and looks pretty bland, but I’m curious as to how much of “Day One: Garry’s Incident” (awful name, I might add) is just angry misunderstanding instead of honest to god deception. I mean, I never assumed it was Garry’s zombie game.

      Should we really be banning the name “Garry” from all indie games on Steam just in case people who don’t want to pay attention to anything won’t get all flustered when it’s not made by their precious Garry Newman? Granted, it is a weird spelling I will give you that. But I’m not ready to accept it as a conspiracy. That said, I myself haven’t dug very far into the topic as neither Day One: Garry’s Incident or Rust interest me in the slightest.

      • Baines says:

        Considering the reviews and publisher actions around Day One: Garry’s Incident, I wouldn’t be surprised if the name was an intentional attempt to sucker fans.

    • strangeloup says:

      I did actually think it was said GMod bastard-’em-up, and then subsequently found out it wasn’t, via this very site I believe.

  9. Hahaha says:

    Oh look it’s the same games that have been bundled a million times before…… *yawn*

  10. BlueTemplar says:

    I bought two of these bundles just for SotS1 keys to re-gift to people that would potentially be interested to play it with me in multiplayer (as is it where SotS1 really shines). At 2.66€ it’s totally worth it.

    The somewhat misleading thing about this bundle is that only SotS1 and EU : Rome GE are actually complete games. All the others games have DLC’s that aren’t included, a LOT of DLC’s for some…