Have You Played… King of Dragon Pass?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

King of Dragon Pass looks like it has been drawn by the illustrator of 1970s books for pre-teens. That is wonderful in its own way, but much of the joy comes not from the wispy beards of your clansfolk but from the insightful stocking of wheat, from the easy diplomatic tone of your emissary, from consistently robbing a group of helpless duckmen.

This is a management game, yes, but at its heart is an ongoing RPG chronicle. You make decisions for your clan not only about resources, diplomacy or war but also about moral things or sudden disasters. A giant monster is attacking your farmland. Do you fight the beast or just let it tire itself out? A horny poet has come between a betrothed couple – now what? Your councillors will like some decisions and dislike others, and often its wise to stay out of personal affairs. But maybe not. You’re the boss, you’re the King. Time to pay those ducks a visit.

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26 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    “Helpless duckmen” you say.

    Go ahead, fuck with the ducks.

    This game was great fun. It asks you to manage a tribe based on that tribe’s traditions, not on modern sensibilities. If you try to run a modern day egalitarian society, the gods will just straight murder your tribe.

    An excellently weird title that I recommend completely.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I loved this game and still consider going back to it from time to time to see if I can ever succeed at “winning” it. In general every time I get to the point where I think my tribe is in decent shape so I can set aside more time for rituals and prestige building, they go and decide the tribe is too big and split it in half and the struggle for stability begins all over again.

  2. Treners says:

    King of Dragon Pass (or KOD-Pee) is a lovely game that I definitely enjoy watching others play more than playing myself. I get too worried about min-maxing crops and suchlike and don’t immerse myself. Definitely my issue, not the games though!

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Same. I love me some choose your own adventure narrative games, and I love some crunchy systems heavy management games- but those two sides of my brain have a hard time working together in KoDP.

      Great game for killing time on a tablet though.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Not just yours, I’m afraid. I love the idea of KoDP so much, but find the gameplay completely overwhelming. There are so many options at any given moment that in the end I was paralysed by it all.

      I wish I was able to enjoy this, but unless they release some kind of version for dummies, I will just keep admiring it from afar.

  3. Kolbex says:

    Hell yes, the greatest RPG (in the truest sense of “role-playing”) of all time set in the greatest fantasy world of all time. I own it for every device.

  4. uriel222 says:

    It’s kind of weird writing an article about King of Dragon Pass without even mentioning it is set in Glorantha (of tabletop RPG HeroQuest and RuneQuest fame).

    Also, the sequel “Six Ages” should be coming out soonish.

    • Ghostwise says:

      I wouldn’t particularly expect people who aren’t pen-and-paper RPG veterans to know about or care about Glorantha.

      Unless of course a major CRPG gets set in the setting. And then I guess it’d need to be really dang good to convey the sheer density of the setting without overwhelming folks with weird names and gods and runes and civilisations and legends.

  5. Dachannien says:

    Some of the Steam reviews for this game indicate that the version on Steam is a PC port of a mobile port of the original game. Is this true? And if so, is the original version available anywhere?

    • Baron von Noodles says:

      You can head over to GOG.com to find yourself the original but it has some problems cooperating with Windows 10. If I understand right, there is a work around, but I’ve never tried it myself.

      • quiggy says:

        I’ve had no issues with the GOG version on Windows 10, for the record. It’s basically a choice between the original UI and a little more micromanagement of your tribe versus the new mobile UI and new events and such. Both versions are good for different reasons.

        • carewolf says:

          The problem with the steam version is that it is a port of an early version of the mobile port, so it has no new events or content, only stuff removed.

          • radiofreelunch says:

            The Steam version was never based on an early mobile version, and should now have all the content of the iOS version (which was indeed more story-rich at one point).

    • Kolbex says:

      GOG has it, but the new one has been updated with new scenes, etc. The only thing I miss from the old one is the little yearly overview of your settlement. Go with the Steam/mobile one.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ghostbird says:

      The original PC game apparently shows up as a dodgy download from time to time but the mobile version has bugfixes, extra story-events, and art redrawn to work at higher resolutions – all by the original designers. I’ve not tried the Steam version but I’d definitely recommend the mobile over the original.

      • Sin Vega says:

        There’s nothing dodgy about it, the PC original was available on GOG for years and worked fine (actual performance may vary, etc). There was then a mobile port a few years back, which added some new scenes and minor UI improvements. That was then ported to PC with all the new stuff. That version is generally regarded as a lacklustre update, but still a net improvement over the original.

        Every version will eventually give you an opportunity to defeat a rival clan by composing a particularly scathing satirical poem, however.

      • carewolf says:

        Not all of the mobile ports have the updated content. It was only in the iOS verions, but not in the Android or Steam versions when I tried to play it.

        • Kolbex says:

          Hmm, weird. I don’t have a comprehensive list of the scenes available, but the Google Play store page for the game says, “*** 15 new interactive scenes added! *** “

    • Archonsod says:

      It used to be available direct from A-Sharp, but they dropped it in favour of the reworked version. That said there’s no point in going back to the original unless you’re stuck with a Windows 9X device.

      • Malkara says:

        I was never more nervous about whether I would actually receive a game than I was when I ordered a disc from their sketchy looking little web shop years ago, haha!

  6. Tayh says:

    A great game. I’ve spent a lot of time playing it, endlessly starting over because I apparently suck at it, yet had fun nonetheless.
    I’d like it a lot more, though, if random events didn’t take up one of your limited “decision slots” for each season though.
    Sometimes, you just want to adjust your productions, shift a few people around or hire some warriors, but then a couple of events pop up and suddenly the year is over, and you still haven’t done what you wanted to do in the beginning of the year.

  7. liamdaly says:

    What I remember most about King of Dragon Pass is that one of the possible advisors was a dead ringer for Commander Riker. It was too exact to have been an accident.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    It’s clearly a masterpiece, kinda the spiritual ancestor of “Crusader Kings” in the way it makes individual stories important in the global flow of things.

  9. Jmnea says:

    Hell yeah I have. I play it on my phone still