Realms Of Possibility: Sovereignty – Crown Of Kings

I’d be the King Bee in a spelling tournament, even if RPS’ own word management systems do insist on drawing squiggly red lines under my British “favours” and “honours”. It’s imported from the colonies, you see, the RPS machinery. It drinks coffee, we take tea, my dears. Despite my ability to put the right letters in the right order, certain words always have me reaching for the dictionary.com tab. “Bureaucracy” is a common culprit and thanks to strategy and wargame publisher Slitherine, I’ve learned that “sovereignty” is another.

Chances are, it’s a word I’ll be using quite often in the coming months because fantasy strategy game Sovereignty: Crown of Kings has just entered Early Access and demands attention.

Before listing the game’s features, it’s important to note that this seems to be an example of Early Access done well. The game plays well and is feature-complete.

The game is in a true beta stage. It means it can be played from start to finish and all main features are working and integrated. What is missing is the overall balance and key features to make the game experience more compelling and immersive. Exactly the areas where we are asking the help of the players.

I had a quick play last night – barely enough to scratch the surface – and the game planted its hooks in me straight away. There’s a huge map (I love maps), with 35 realms scattered across it. You can play as any of those realms and each has its own background and play style. It’s quite daunting. Even though the races and cultures represented are recognisable from other fantasy fare – you’ve got yer undead, yer dwarves, yer elves – I felt like I should have read a couple of novels set in the world, or at least some kind of pen and paper RPG guide, before jumping in.

The tutorial scenario has been doing a fairly good job of introducing me to a small corner of the world though, as well as the sometimes unexpected mechanics that are at the heart of it all.

Play as different cultures and races: Humans, Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Undead. Guide your people to glory and prosperity. The challenges you are going to face are intimately linked to the faction you select and the geography of your location in the world. Whether you build a wealthy kingdom or become a famous conqueror, your subjects will expect you to make the right diplomatic and economic decisions. Do you covet a precious resource produced by your neighbor? Try sending an agent to negotiate a trade deal… or your army to seize this key region.

Spies, treaties and solid alliances can prove powerful weapons. But when words fail, answer with steel and blood. Raise mighty armies. Recruit legendary heroes. Research powerful spells. And if you’re ready to get your hands dirty, you can even take direct command of your troops on the battlefield in the tactical mode! By wisely combining soft and hard power, you too can realize your ambitions and reign supreme over all others.

I’m planning to dive in properly when I’ve got fifteen hours or so to spare.

15 Comments

  1. Xerophyte says:

    So … it’s a bit like Birthright, but without the dungeon crawling bits? Not that anyone played Birthright.

    • Danny says:

      Of course I did.

      Loved that game to death as a sixteen year old. Didn’t understand the RPG bit, but the combat was awesome, just as the lore, resource management and all the available options you had during a turn.

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        Great game! I have the pen & paper rpg it is based on as well, though I’ve never actually played that one. (Yet… I hope.)

      • Xerophyte says:

        Oh, I too thought Birthright was pretty cool at the time — übergrognard D&D grand strategy, what’s not to love? — but it was a pretty terrible game to actually play. The strategy game was the best made part and had a lot of width but not a lot of depth, the squaredance shuffle tactical was quite silly and more style than substance, and the dungeon crawls were mostly just long, unpolished slogs as I recall.

        It could have been a classic and I applaud the ambition, but the game didn’t work as any sort of cohesive whole.

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          teije says:

          Yeah Birthright was an awesome core of a game, but the parts did not fit together well. The dungeon crawling piece was terrible. But one of those games that has stuck in my brain ever since. I can still see the main map in my mind.

          This one looks good, worth a look sure. I’m a sucker for any kind of grand strategy.

          In a somewhat similar vibe, really looking forward to That Which Sleeps – that’s looking amazing so far.

    • Andrew says:

      A system (if not the specific setting) that should have been turned into a proper CRPG. I had hoped that the latest Fable game was going to get there, but… Molyneux.

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    Bluerps says:

    Oooh! I hope you get those fifteen hours soon. It looks really interesting and I’d like to know more about it.

  3. misterT0AST says:

    It would have been nice to tell something more about the game in the first RPS article covering it.
    It looks like it is a Grand Strategy game, like Paradox ‘s series.
    Battles seem to be handled in a zoomed in version of the world map (no loading screen to see it) on a hex grid.
    it is entirely turn based, single player only.

  4. jasta85 says:

    Always good to see another grand strategy game, although with all the existing ones out there I think I’ll wait until this releases and then see how it reviews.

  5. Zockeredwin says:

    Somehow a love child between ‘Dominions’ and ‘Panzer Corps’.

    • RanDomino says:

      I’M THROWING MY MONEY AT THE SCREEN BUT NOTHING’S HAPPENING HELP

  6. Voqar says:

    Das24680 (good tuber for strategy games) has a series on it if anybody wants to see more. It looks kind of like dominions to me – seems interesting in theory but ultimately boring as watching paint dry. I’m also burnt on buying incomplete early access games and there’s so little reason to do so with so many games available (and a huge backlog) so I’ll wait for it to be done to judge it and/or actually try it.

  7. DeathKnell says:

    It’s 50 times easier than Dominions 4 :)

  8. eggy toast says:

    It sounds like “fantasy CKII” or “fantasy EU4” is that about right?

    • April March says:

      That was my impression too and I’d love it if it was so.

      Also, are you absolutely sure it’s not ‘sovereignity’?