King Arthur: The Druids

Review

posted 2/28/2011 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
King Arthur – The Druids is an expansion of King Arthur – The Roleplaying Wargame (KA).  It is not clear why a wargame would role play, exactly; perhaps it was bored of the standard “move your armies around” mechanics and wanted to get up close and personal.

The original was generally well-received by both critics and the general gaming public.  This had a lot to do with the hybrid style KA brought to the table.  On the one hand, it looks like “Lords of the Realm” or “Total War”, in which you are presented with a map of Olde England divided up into various territories and each territory provides men, money, food, and the like to its owner.  As a would-be king it is your job to build these resources into an army with which to conquer other territories until you have vanquished all before you in real-time combat.


On the other hand, you are a king (or at least want to be one) and have to deal with people.  There will be lieutenants to appease, rebellions to crush, marriages to arrange and quests to undertake.  Your kingdom's status on the strategic map can determine what options you are offered (more territories can lead to better marriage prospects) while success in a personal quest can lead to a powerful martial artifact.

As a bonus, the whole thing is set in early Arthurian times.  Arthur has just pulled the sword from the stone and is embarking on his quest to rule England.  The primary conceit is that Arthur is not particularly Christian – he represents a pivot point, with the ability to lean toward Christianity, follow the Old Faith, or steer a path in between.  Go Christian, and the Saxons will love you and you will get access to special Christian-type units.  Go Old Faith and the Druids will love you and you will get access to special Sidhe-type units - the warriors of Faerie.  This is all rather fun and makes for lots of replay value as you try out different routes to victory.


All in all, KA laid out an interesting game system - there was no real reason to change it much, so they didn't.  “King Arthur – The Roleplaying Game: The Druids” sticks with what worked in the original (and its various expansions).  There are a few key additions that might point to what will be in “King Arthur 2" which, if they pan out, show great promise.

First among these is an expanded diplomatic system.  Each ruler now views you through the prisms of reputation (religion, family ties) and fear (growing armies, expanding borders).  It is not a great system, but at least it is clear who likes/hates you and why.  It can be beside the point at times – Saxons will pretty much  always hate the Welsh – but it is a vast improvement over the war of all against all which was all the original offered.
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