Stronghold Kingdoms is an MMO version of the popular Stronghold RTS series
It’s a castle building MMO set in medieval times, where players are tasked with fortifying their village against attacks, optimizing their resource pipeline and fighting against AI and other players for world domination. If you were to distill Kingdoms into one simple sentence, it would be: build your castle and prepare for battle.
You start the game with your territory split into two halves. In one, you build your village, with farms, quarries, mines and various craftsmen who turn these resources into weapons and tools. This village is where you grow your in-game economy and support your war effort. Thanks to a complex research tree, you can lead your village down several different paths, like farmer, warlord or diplomat. It gives you a chance to commit to a certain play style and reap the benefits that come with it.
The second half is reserved for your keep, which needs a lot of tending to before it can be called a proper stronghold. You constantly juggle between your village and your keep. You need a prosperous village in order to gain more resources to upgrade your keep, and you need a strong keep in order to defend your village and said resources. No matter how big you get, and how far your territory expands – things always boil down to managing your economy and strengthening your castle.
As in many of these types of MMOs, battle happens in real-time, but without direct interference by players. You set your defenses or assemble an attacking force, and watch the battle unfold. Both the AI and other players offer a real challenge, and if you neglect your castle for too long, you’ll have a hard time catching up in the future. You don’t need to play Stronghold Kingdoms 24/7 if you want to be among the best, but you can’t disappear for a few days without some serious consequences.
Luckily, the game gives you plenty of ways to gain allies that will help in a time of need. Kingdoms is very community focused (as long as you play on a decently populated server), and it’s easy to get together with friends and play. It can be by creating a small parish or a community hub with your allies, or attacking common foes together. Serious players should consider joining a Faction, and capture new territory under its banner. There are plenty of advantages for being part of a Faction, with extra resource or “tax income” being just some of them.
Unfortunately, doing all the stuff I mentioned so far can be quite a pain in the beginning, mostly thanks to the lack of an extensive tutorial. The initial tutorial is pretty decent, but once you’re done with it, you still don’t know how to do a lot of the things that need doing. There are active online groups, forums and wiki pages that can help, but the lack of in-game guidance can lead to a lot of costly mistakes. The outdated, and frankly ugly, graphics and UI don’t help either.
As Stronghold Kingdoms is a free to play game, it’s entirely possible to play it without spending a dime. However, after the first few hours, you might feel compelled to spend some money to progress faster. Pretty much everything can be sped or buffed up with the right playing card. These cards will cause your armies to march faster, builders to complete upgrading your castle quicker, defenses to be erected instantly, and more. You’ll get some of these cards for free by completely certain tasks, but the best ones are only available for cold hard cash.
Fans of the Stronghold series, or of castle building games, will find Stronghold Kingdoms to be right up their alley. If you can get past the graphics and UI, you will find deep building and research systems that set Kingdom apart from most other games in genre. You won’t be compelled to play this game for hours on end, but as long as you check up on your castle every day or so to keep things moving, you’ll do fine.
Build up your castle, manage your resources and prepare for battle!