Regicide is once again a topic at dinner, thanks to the release of Crusader Kings III. Your aunt passes you the gravy, and asks about council matters. Your mother comments on the rise in guillotine stocks. Your father, the king, chews his mutton with a rueful and distant glare, probably thinking about war. A cloaked advisor enters and hands you a note on parchment. “The ten worft kingf and queenf in gamef,” it reads. You cough politely, put it in your pocket for later, and continue pushing poisoned food around as if you are eating it.
Empress Rhagaea – Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
Rhagaea is a ruthless swordqueen of the Southern Empire in this biggo RPG-strategy battle ‘em up, just one of the many rulers who zip up and down the countryside with masses of soldiers in tow. She is waging total war on the rest of Calradia because of an undying belief in feudal inheritance, the emblem of monarchical right to rule by virtue of blood. She gets points for awareness of the world’s injustices. “The plague and the labor of childbirth will take more lives than all the evils of man put together,” she says when you ask her about politics. But she loses those points because she thinks daddy makes her queen. Get out.
Kyros the Overlord – Tyranny
Kyros is a ruler so aloof they never actually appear in the flesh. They are like the Prime Minister in The Thick Of It, or the President in Veep. An unseen presence from which all power trickles down like a dribble of sticky Fanta. To whom does it trickle? Why, to frightening wizard goons like yourself, out to conquer distant lands. Meanwhile, your invisible despot enacts magical edicts that physically alter land, weather and life itself, suggesting that a person with enough unaccountable power is indistinguishable from a god. Which is why all gods must die. Don’t tell Kyros I said that.
Emperor Patrick Stewert – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Great spaceship captain, rubbish emperor. Uriel Septim VII dies 10 minutes into this RPG and leaves his kingdom in the precarious hands of a random prisoner he met while wandering the dungeons like a senile fool. Crusader Kings veterans will understand the hazardous state of his realm when they discover he only has a single remaining illegitimate heir to keep his dynasty alive, called Martin. Martin is played by Sean Bean.
Ulfric Stormcloak – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Say what you like about Paddy Stewart, at least he’s not a racist.
You – Long Live The Queen
When political sim meets visual novel, we can be sure of only two things: terrible death and the colour pink. The queen in this game is a 14-year-old anime idiot child with no skills or knowledge whatsoever. It’s up to you to schedule classes to fill skill meters in accounting, demeanour, falconry, music and heaven knows what else a teenage moron might need when it comes to rebuffing the leery glares of dukes, or conquering foreign lands. Not that it matters. You will die. You will be drowned, strangled, arrowed in the belly. That’s a queen’s life, sorry.
Rachni Queen – Mass Effect trilogy
An efficient monarch, perhaps, but not a pleasant one. She is the broodmummy of thousands of hive-minded creepy crawlies. Imagine the bugs of Starship Troopers, but shrimpier. Yes, she is the last bastion of an endangered species. Yes, she will help the player defeat the vicious Reapers if she is spared throughout the trilogy. Yes, she is distinguished from her ancestors by a desire to isolate and live in peace. But listen, she is a spider wasp. I don’t trust her.
Caesar – Fallout: New Vegas
“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said latter-day Bono, Jesus Christ. He was talking about this videogame, I believe. I think he meant: “Kill Caesar”. Pretty sure.
Everyone you inhabit – Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II has seen countless would-be potentates body-hopping through history like a bargain bucket Quantum Leap. I see you, selfish gene. Hopping from one disfigured 80-year-old with three mistresses into the vessel of his 9th-born scion, oozing out of that same body decades later at its inevitable moment of death, slinking out like dysentery, which is what you’ve died of this time. And still, the country is a mess. Look at this. What kind of immortal god-prince can’t stop their nation erupting into the chaos of yet another civil war? Your line ends here.
King Radovid – The Witcher series
A larger-than-life, paranoia-driven leader who believes the witches are out to get him. He scoffs at chess and scowls at everyone. In keeping with our own world’s subset of flag-wavers who cling tightly to the fantasy of magic blood, Radovid is quite mad. It’s something history tends to do to kings.
You again – Reigns
Reigns is a fun, short-haul political sim where you make decisions by flicking cards to the left or right. It’s a lot like Tinder. You swipe and swipe and then you die alone.
One Off The List from… the best dogs in games
Last month we took the 9 best dogs in PC games out for walkies. But one of these cuddly companions needed to go live on the farm. It’s… Roach.
“I vote that we remove Roach from this list,” said dog policer Skabooga, “on the grounds that he is a cat.” It is a valid argument. We have all seen how easily he climbs the roof.
That’s it for now. Remember to comment with the King or Queen you want saved from the guillotine. Liberté, égalité, brutalité. I’ll see you next time, list goblins.