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.