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As the title suggests, I extended my interest towards challenges and switched to SH2, inspired by old pal Hypno-disc.

The King is a seemingly tough character, seen in both SH2 campaigns. Is that true to Kingmaker as well? Well, it isn't.

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The King is the very turtling AI opponent. It builds up a good defense and patrols his territory heavily, but never ever attacks. After he built up his defenses, he switches to harassment mode and sends groups of a few pikemen and some catapults every now and then. There is no human player in the world who couldn't dispose of these groups: pikemen are the worst offensive unit (only better than spearmen and armed peasants). Catapults? You just shoot them down before they could even retaliate. Take 7 Kings and be prepared for a very long-lasting, albeit boring game.

I chose a custom map called 'Island War' and played on 'Duke', with 5000 gold for every player. Let's see how it turned out to be.

1. The setting out

This map is a big array of valleys, each of them bordered by rivers, which meet in the center and enclose a central estate, Zennor. All estates can be reached via Zennor, but attacking the neighboring estates can prove hard, as an impenetrable wall of cliffs reach the skies. Every estate has a good number of preplaced hovels, a large forest and iron deposit and a moderate-sized stone deposit. The only entrance is well-defendable.

I started by containing the usual communal problems (human waste, rats and crime) then built a good number of bread producers and woodcutters. I quickly ran out of wood so additional wood were bought in and some quarries and iron mines were built. I could only site three quarries, but it could have been definitely done better. I sealed off my keep with a single layer wall, a main gatehouse and connected the barracks to the walls so my troops had easy access. I brought my initial troops and trained some archers, crossbowmen and knights from the starting weaponry. I couldn't finish the wall in time, so I faced a good number of sneaky troops trying to get in. These attackers were mainly spearmen, but some swordsmen and archers joined the fun too. They found tough resistance from my troops and they were soon outgunned by my archers and crossbowmen. I had some losses, but my units prevailed and the attack failed. I quickly sealed off the entrance and placed a handful of statues to provide honor.

As wood came in, I placed more iron mines with their oxen and laid down a modest weapon factory of fletchers and tanners, who fabricated equipment for crossbowmen and archers. I also laid down the mercenary post and started recruiting horse archers. I extended my food production and I sticked to extra rations while setting taxes to -2 / -4.

2. Close neighbours

As I was chilling out and built my empire, the two neighbours decided to visit me and give some presents. They were very generous, as they set up some towers and started bombarding my properties heavily with mangonels. Although the terrain absorbed many shots and the mangonels hit more often than not, I lost quite a few buildings to catapulted rocks. I tried to counter this by setting up some square towers and snipe off the mangonels by tower ballistae, the ballistae couldn't see them at all. I had to replace some destroyed buildings, but I knew that I can't afford those mangonels to pin me down, so I decided to dispose of them first.

I accumulated 60 horse archers and marched to the purple King first. He had his mangonel facing the bridge, which was busy hurling rocks towards me. It didn't even retract its aim and attack me, as my horse archers arrived and killed off the small garrison from the tower. The ballistae didn't see my troops, but it was inevitable to destroy it as it could have shot my knights off from the keep while fighting the Lord. So, I waited for more horse archers and took half of the army to kill the ballistae. The King relentlessly replaced these tower engines and my troops also got welcoming fire from ground troops, so I was in need of constant reinforcements. Eventually, a small force of 3 laddermen came and my knights got horses, so I quickly marched to an open section and created a way into the enemy keep. My knights were forced to dismount, but they carefully worked their way in and killed off the few swordsmen that guarded the King. Finally, the Lord was killed.

I gathered my troops and moved to the orange King's lands. He was a bit harder to kill, as I had to fend off his weak counterattacks of spearmen and swordsmen that he got as initial troops. After that, I stormed the upper-left section and killed the ballista, then split up my army and cleared the entire defence off the walls and towers. More laddermen were hired, who quickly set up ladders against the walls and my knights could easily butcher the King and his bodyguards.

3. Disposing of the other Lords

The Kings were busy retaking Zennor and the estate formed in the fallen Kings' lands, but my crossbowmen and leftover troops made sure that they die very soon. I decided to recruit more horse archers and bowmen. I sold bread, weapons and iron to reinforce my army, then started wandering and steamrolled the remaining lords that dare call themselves Lords.

The sieges were almost always the same: horse archers were sent in to clear out the wall defenses and kept destroying enemy ballistae and mangonels, while laddermen set up ladders and the archers were taking either towers and sniped off the remaining defenders or captured gatehouses to provide free access for my knights (so they didn't have to dismount that early). Swordsmen had no use against my knights and I barely got any losses. My horse archers were constantly dying but reinforcements quickly took their place and stood their ground. Soon, no enemy King remained and I won.

A very dull challenge, even if the Kings were given a huge stockpile and land. They just don't pose any threat and can easily be fought back. I will move on to my next task, hoping that it will definitely be better than this one.

Note: Wikia had database problems and lagged when pictures were attempted to be uploaded, at the time of the blog was written. Pictures will come soon, as soon as the problem is resolved.

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