Oh, those Stardock scamps! Skipping the post-announcement, pre-release build-up of people muttering how they hope new Stardock games are less buggy than Elemental's initial release, they've jumped straight to release with their latest. Or Early Access release, anyway. Yesterday Stardock both announced and released Sorcerer King. It's a 4X strategy, as you might expect and hope from Stardock, with the twist of pitting players against a Left 4 Dead-ish AI director. Rather than fighting similar AI civilisations doing similar things, it's an asymmetric war against the mighty Sorcerer King.
Building cities, strengthening armies, grabbing items, completing quests, and rallying independent factions, you're trying to grow strong enough to off the Sorcerer King before he can destroy the world. Though he's more powerful, like any good villain he doesn't outright crush you. Stardock say:
Sorcerer King is built around the concept of asymmetry. Your goals (kill the Sorcerer King) are wholly different than the Sorcerer King's goals (destroy the shards and therefore the world). The rest of the game revolves around this central concept.
The Sorcerer King doesn't play by the same rules – he operates on a completely different level than your scarce resources allow you to. A sophisticated "Game Master" AI controls his forces and other events in the world, managing pacing and generating threats to ensure an engaging game from start to finish.
Assuming it works well, that sounds quite exciting. This is still an early access release, though. And, dare I say, still a Stardock game. They say it's "functional but incomplete," and plan to add "polish, balance, and content" during Early Access before a launch in early 2015.
Sorcerer King is £25.49 on Steam Early Access right now, but will go up to £29.99 in a few weeks.