Crown and Council Review

April 24, 2016 Written by

The idea of giving a free game a thoughtful review is something that seems pointless.

What would be the point of reading someone’s opinion when you can just try the game out for yourself for free? If it’s not fun, fine. I can just delete it. If it’s fun, perfect! Free game!

For the most part, those ideals make a lot of sense. The amount of free titles on Steam as of late has been increasing and that is both great and bad. For every one decent free title, three more come out that exist solely to take up space on the Steam servers. Luckily, with free titles, gamers don’t need to drop $15 to find out if they like the game or not.

This leaves everyone in a tough spot.

While games can be easily deleted without remorse, there’s a certain lack of respect toward the games they are “demoing”. You download a game, try it out, think “meh” and then just delete it without giving it a fair shake and the reviews reflect this.

Crown and Council is a game published by Mojang, the studio behind a small game called Minecraft (Google it if you haven’t heard of it). The game was developed for a game jam and definitely feels like one - both to its benefit and detriment. The reviews have been “Mixed” at this point and it could potentially be due to the studio’s clout but it also has the stigma of being “Free”.

I’ve enjoyed my time with Crown and Council so far. It’s not, by any means, a perfect game, but it is certainly something that is worth a fair shot.

The game is a very casual, faster paced version of Civilization with a pixelated aesthetic. The idea is that you’re a leader of a country and you must fully consume the board with your ideals (or in this case, the color of blue). You can only attack tiles that are adjacent to one that you currently own which makes it feel like a board game. With each tile, you gain the potential of earning more gold on your next turn in order to attack more effectively. Try knocking out the other team’s color before you’re defeated.

It starts off with very basic mechanics that allow you to attack the spaces of your enemy’s territory with each subsequent level introducing a new mechanic. Mechanics range from what you can build and things that change the gameplay. You can build things like Forts, Towns and Universities which add bonuses to your defense, to your income and the ability to upgrade units. Then there are changes to the gameplay which include the introduction of Plagues, which can wipe out structures.

The base concept itself is very straightforward and with each of the new mechanics added throughout the 75 levels, it’s a pretty substantial amount of content for a free game, especially since there’s also procedurally generated maps later on.

There’s a few oddities in the game’s interface that are a little irritating, but nothing you can’t get over. For instance, in order to attack an adjacent tile you need to have the correct “unit” selected and then you click on the tile you want to attack - this action uses a piece of gold and the space is yours for the taking. Sometimes the first click doesn’t actually register so I see that it didn’t take out any gold and the space is still occupied by an enemy. I’ll click it again, and it will register. There’s also a fair amount of unintentional deselecting after choosing what unit you want to use - so there’s plenty of reselecting them in order to do what you want. These inconsistencies don’t break the game, but they’re definitely annoying.

Crown and Council is not going to be for everyone. I find myself enjoying each time I load it up because it is something that is very simple and doesn’t take a lot of mental capacity to win a round or two. The game is a board game at heart and it wears its inspiration with a sense of respectable pride. It doesn’t claim to be anything more than what it is, and that’s the beauty of good and honest indie games.

There are plenty of Free-to-Play games that involve some type of payment plan in the hopes of making some capital, but Crown and Council just exists to be something you can play and have fun with and I think everyone should respect that. I would highly recommend you try the game out and give it a fair go, there’s nothing holding you back unless you happen to not have >160mb left on your hard drive.


The Verdict

Crown and Council doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is and it does it well enough. If you’re into board games, The Civ Series or just want to take over the world one colored tile at a time, give this a go. You have nothing to lose at a $0.00 price point.

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James McKeever

When not playing video games, James is usually found playing video games. When he simply does not have time for video games, he goes to a thing called "Job" where he makes money to feed himself and his wife and to buy more video games. Since he was too scared to use the controller himself at the young age of 3, James started his gaming career as a "navigator" of sorts instructing his father when to jump in Super Mario Brothers. Since then, the fear of controllers has subsided and James can now jump freely, circumventing the middleman.