King of Dragon Pass

Beginning a game involves defining your clan. These choices may seem to be RPG, but diving into the manual reveals they really define strategic aspects of King of Dragon Pass, which is more of an oddball cross between strategy and role-playing. These strategic details range from your principal god to whether you keep slaves.

2_1Play in King of Dragon Pass revolves around managing your clan. A single year cycle consists of seasons of Sacred (allocation of magic), Sea (planting), Fire (raiding), Earth (harvesting), Dark (hibernating), and Storm (anything can happen). In each season, with the exception of Sacred, your clan can perform a pair of actions. A variety of options exists for action choices. Some examples are building shrines and temples to your gods, sending diplomatic or trade missions to other clans or planning a raid on another clan.”

On top of normal activities, many random events occur, each needing a decision. These random events give King of Dragon Pass a heavy RPG flavor. Dealing with these events also has consequences that may not be readily apparent at the time of your initial decision. As an example, you might find weak neighbors, easily cowed. Do you befriend them, or make them pay tribute? Making them pay tribute may cause their big bad cousins to come down hard on you later on. Events can range from petty personal disputes to outright criminal behavior on the part of one of your carls (lords).

Normal management areas for you are farming (basic allocation of people and per cent of grain types), relations (who are you friends with, who are you enemies with), trade (do you need more cattle?), war (recruiting, building fortifications, detailing raids), clan (changing your ring, holding a feast), magic (learning new mysteries, building temples, initiating heroquests), and exploration.

3_1By now, it should be apparent there is lot to handle as clan leader. Fortunately, your ring will chime in with individual advice on almost any matter. However, a ring member on a mission outside their tula (home territory) won’t be able to offer an opinion. The clan ring contains seven members, and in the wings are usually two dozen available candidates. Each member is rated from fair to heroic in several categories, but just picking the best available person for a ring seat may actually hurt you. Each member worships one god and a solid ring has balanced representation of the available deities.

The major drawback of King of Dragon Pass is its graphics. Although touted by the developer, the hand drawn art used for the graphics mostly falls flat. Strategy gamers, after viewing current offerings, are likely to feel little affinity for this type of presentation. Another drawback is the recycling of names and events. Plan on seeing the same event, with the names changed to protect the innocent, many times over the course of a game. This adds to the repetition, which isn’t enhanced by the general static and text-heavy nature of the game.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, DOS

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