Kohan II: Kings of War Review

If you didn’t get a chance to play Kohan the first time the game came around, then you missed out on an excellent strategy game. Now that the game’s sequel has been released you have another chance to play a strategy game that is different than any other strategy game out there, and a game any real-time strategy fan should take the time to check out.

Kohan II plays differently than the innumerable real-time strategy games that follow the model first developed in Warcraft all of those years ago. Sure, you still have resources, must build bases and production centers, and have to lead armies into real-time battles against your foe, but all of these facets of the genre have been streamlined. The result is a strategy game that actually leaves you free to concentrate on, well, strategy.

Defenders at the gate.

First let’s take a look at base building. Cities can only be built at designated spots, so you don’t have to worry about your opponent playing dirty pool by setting up a couple of barracks just out of sight of your base. Each city has a set number of available “slots” for production, research, and other types of structures. Once you’ve filled these the only way to get more is to grow the city. This adds a strategic element to the game that isn’t even found in other games. You’ll have to think carefully when deciding which resource centers and structures to build because you won’t be able to build everything that you want. And since the resources are generated for your side as a whole, you can even have cities specialize. For example, a city safely tucked away at the back of your kingdom can be set-up as a resource center while frontline cities are built to create troops. Not all resource generation must be done in cities – there are a few special resource sites scattered about each map. Sending an engineering unit out to create a mine or lumber mill at these sites will cause them to begin generating resources for you. In all cases though there are no peasants to collect the resources and haul them to a city center – all resource collection is automatic so you can build them and forget them as long as you defend them.

Unit production is also handled differently than in most strategy games. Units are created in cities, and the units available will depend on the structures present in the city. There’s no hunting for a barracks when you really need one – all units are created in the city center instead of in individual structures. But the differences go much further than that. In Kohan II you do not create individual units, but rather entire companies of units. These companies do not instantly appear at full strength; instead the company’s rank is filled man by man in succession allowing you to field under strength companies if you’re in a real pinch. Another nice feature of companies is that they will replenish their losses man by man in much the same way that the company was created in the first place. As long as the company is in supply, that is.

Kohan II is designed for the strategy gamer who likes to emphasize strategy over mouse click speed, and one of the ways the game enforces this is through supply. Each city in the game exerts a supply zone whose size is dependent on the size of the city. Units within a friendly supply zone will slowly recoup their losses until they are back to full strength. Companies out of supply will not replenish their losses until they are once again in supply, so the advantage here is definitely to the defender. Supply can be extended by building fortresses beyond the edges of your land, so you’ll best be served by a methodical approach to invasion.