Review: Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North

Kingdoms of Camelot, originally a Facebook game, is a strategy affair that’s quite addictive in nature. While it isn’t particularly welcoming to new players, it’s an engrossing and surprisingly deep exercise in what social gaming can accomplish. It’s only natural that an iOS iteration should follow, then, and Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North is the logical next step for this fledgling franchise, which borrows most (if not all) of its ideas from the infamous browser game Evony. If you’ve entertained any sort of game in the genre, you should have a working knowledge of what’s up for grabs here in Camelot.

The original Kingdoms of Camelot called on players to create their very own vision of a bustling medieval kingdom, from the plots of land each building would occupy to the armies raised to fight for their dear land. As always, resources are required to get ahead. Lumber, food, stone, and even human beings factor into your ability to prosper. Each thread works itself seamlessly into the next: you need food to fuel your workers.

Without those workers, you’d have no farms, strongholds, or even armies. Without armies, you can’t protect your kingdom. Stores of gold are a must as well. You’ll rely on taxes to pay for many of your whims, so it’s prudent to gauge how much money is spent on building up reserves and keeping the populace fed, strong, and ready for battle or construction.

From a small plot of land you’ll gradually reap the rewards of hard labor, watching your kingdom grow at an exponential rate– that is, if you grasp the mechanics as quickly as you’re introduced to each aspect of the game. There is much to learn and there isn’t always a crystal clear window in which to learn it, which is why beginning players may find it difficult to keep up. Most of your actions, after initializing them, are automated, so you needn’t continue tending to them over and over.

Questing and additional amounts of resources and/or gold pieces offered to neophytes are a good incentive, however, and offer a great reason to keep on going, even if things aren’t immediately understood. It’s a resource management simulator, through and through, and that admission alone can be a turn-off for potential players.

Unfortunately for new players, this is a massively multiplayer affair, and while in the midst of rallying the troops, familiarizing themselves with the intricacies of Camelot’s expansive gameplay, and gradually becoming sucked in, newbies must also worry about the threat of other, often significantly more experienced, players. It is often said that man’s worst enemy is another man, and Battle for the North proves why.

There is a seven-day grace period in place to gradually ease players into defending their hard work from others, though that often isn’t enough time. This is a tremendously frustrating but concrete fact of gameplay: you will lose, and lose often.

Despite player-to-player alliances and the existence of “gems,” available through monetary means to power up and aid those with fewer earnings and defenses, it’s still an uphill climb. It’s a battlefield that unfairly puts experienced players in a position to roll in and usurp all of your hard-earned gold and destroy your belongings in the process. This will likely eliminate a good portion of those interested in playing, and irritate even those who decide to stick it out for the long haul.

The game is best played in longer sessions, and though its tap-to-place control scheme is a perfect fit for iOS devices, it’s not recommended for players who want to get in a few “quick rounds” and head off to a meeting. It requires a much bigger commitment, though the chance to take the game along rather than stay chained to its Facebook counterpart is an enormous boon.

If you’ve got the time and patience to potentially build up your Camelot only to continuously lose it all, Battle for the North is a perfectly serviceable resource management title that rewards patience and diligence.

Unfortunately, it also slights newer players who need help the most, making it only a title suitable for recommendation for those who have played the Facebook title or those who simply don’t care to keep rebuilding from the ground up. Some of us like to build from ashes– are you one of those people? If so, come on down to Camelot.

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