Knights of Honor

Anyone picked up this title? A little bit Rome:TW and a little bit Civ. Played the demo, seems quite nice!

Here’s what I wrote on the Sunflowers forums in a stickied “Impressions” thread.

What’s to like:

Diplomatic AI. Nations seem to have pretty good memories of who’s treated them right, and wrong. Also the passing influence of a king with his own traits really can effect the flavor of international relations.

Castles: The castles really do a fine job of illustrating what the real role was in feudal society. They’re bases that can’t be ignored and are vital for resupplying troops and threatening enemy forces while keeping local populations in line. And the flexibility in “specializing” different cities in different ways can give each a unique flavor.

Tactical Battles: While I’ll stick with my assessment of M: TW as the best medieval tactical battle engine, it didn’t have much of a strategic game. KoH manages to keep the flavor pretty accurate and the tactical battles can grow on you. I haven’t had a chance to try a full siege complete with a well-defended castle and heavy siege engines yet but I’m gearing up to try that very soon.

Court Complexion: Being able to select a particular array of knights sets a theme for a court and really allows you to customize your own priorities in a pretty straightforward way. Marshals in particular are interesting as they can develop unique leadership skills and specialities. Almost like heroic units from fantasy strategy-RPGs. Other knights have interesting uses but you never quite feel particularly attached to them because they advance in fairly generic ways.

Interesting Twists: Trade goods, random resources/special attributes in provinces, occasional crusades, and so forth. Keeps things a bit unpredictable and engaging.

Overall: While it doesn’t have some features I’d like to see, and there are no games that have ever had all the features I’d like to see in fairness, KoH is a very addictive and accessible game. As a roleplayer I suspect it doesn’t do justice to the importance of the feudal structure (vassalage, domestic politics and internal intrigues) but if you want that you can play Crusader Kings which itself can be overly complex about rather tangental concepts and lacks tactical control over battles entirely.

Conclusion: If you want a quick and entertaining medieval fix, KoH is the way to go. For most gamers this is probably the porridge that’s not too hot (overly intense Crusader Kings) and not too cold (weak strategy-diplomacy of Medieval: Total War) but just about right. If they did more with internal politics and included vassals and subvassals as interesting as the nations and kings currently are, it would easily be my favorite medieval strategy game bar none.

In retrospect I’d even downgrade it a bit. After playing a couple games I’ve felt zero desire to reboot it. Two things keep me from getting very excited: games tend to play out along the same or similiar lines and aren’t terribly challenging once you’re the least bit competative, and tactical battles also get much less tempting over time. With little realism (no real formations, no fatigue, a too simplified morale model) and no tactical AI on the part of the computer opponent - it just attacks you in a massed rush unless defending a castle, I just can’t get excited about tactical battles either.

I’d go with Crusader Kings if you want a game that feels right (except for the overly aggressive Muslim powers who seem inclined to launch offensive jihads on countries from Russia to Iceland) as a roleplaying-historical game. Medieval: Total War for great tactical battles. Still, Knights of Honor has a nice touch with its personality driven national AIs and the tactical seige battles feel alot more lifelike than M:TW’s. Sigh. I wish someone could sort through all three of these games and come up with a functional hybrid.

The moment I read “in real time” I lost all interest.

Crusader Kings is a much better game now, especially with the beta patch applied. But it also plays out more like a role-playing exercise than a strategy game - which is not a bad thing. In fact, this distinguishes it from a lot of the strategy stuff out there.

Knights of Honor is an above average game that melds familiar elements from a dozen others. It doesn’t have a lot of personality, and will probably bore the really hardcore strategy crowd. It is, however, an excellent entre into the field of grand historical strategy. The game is fairly obvious in its presentation, there is no confusion about what is expected of you, and the diplomacy/espionage is actually pretty good.

It’s not a must buy in any stretch of the imagination, but it is a good little game with a lot to recommend it, especially for people just getting into this type of game.


Actually, it did the real time part quite well. If the rest of the game was up to par it could’ve truly been a classic, but I think for that company coming out of the closet they didn’t do half-bad for a first (or did they make more games before that?).

Some other downsides is that you can only have six marshalls, even if they were part of the royal family at once, they can still betray you later, they can get secretly bribed by the AI (you on the other hand, have no such choice). There’s a limited # of building slots, and some provinces can’t build some buildings even if your other provinces do allow you to do that (tech. export anyone?). On the other hand you can build “native” units from countries you conquer so it’s not completely bad (I would’ve liked to build special units of the native people of the province, and all regular units should’ve been buildable in any province) You can’t move armies around without marshalls either.

I could definitely see a Total War where you move your armies around in real-time totally work. Remember how they kept claiming you can outmaneuver your enemies? Well now that it’s not turn based, you actually can ;). And maybe you should be able to call reinforcements from armies that aren’t adjacent when you start the battle, like in KoH ;).

Hey it’s published by EA. I am so there!

Has a fantastic tutotial tho. The demo is worth the download for a bit of fun :)