Review stronghold_kingdoms

Published on August 15th, 2011 | by Chris Hayes


Stronghold Kingdoms Review

Stronghold Kingdoms is a new Free to Play MMO from Firefly Studios.  Set in a medieval universe, it’s unique, and that’s refreshing to see.  On the one hand, it’s a real-time strategy game that involves resource management, strategic maneuvering, and long term planning; on the other, it’s an MMO that requires good people skills and the ability to make good deals, trade smart, and generally get along with your fellow players.  While it may not be the first RTS MMO to come along, it’s a refreshing fusion of old and new.  It’s a strategy game from 10+ years ago that’s been refitted and retooled to meet the needs of today’s social generation.  It’s an interesting system and it works well for the most part.  However, there are a couple of bumps along the road to Knighthood.

When you first start Kingdoms, you are shown a map of the UK and Ireland, and are asked to choose a starting location for your village.  Once you place your village, the work begins.  As you settle in, the game takes on a distinct Stronghold flavor.  Fans of the early games in the franchise will find a lot to love in this new title.  The graphics, the music, the battles, and more are all reminiscent of some of the first Stronghold games.  There are some changes however.  Fans will find that the MMO aspects of the game have not just been laid on top of the Stronghold foundation, but have instead been infused into the DNA of the game to create a whole new creature all together.  Perhaps the biggest change is that there is no main screen.  Everything is relegated to separate tabs.  The World Map, Village management, Castle construction and fortification, research, player to player mail, scouting reports, player information, etc. can all be found in their own tabs.  For example, instead of having a main screen where you complete all of your orders and actions, then having submenus for information, location and other details, the developer separated information into a number of different panels.  So, things like scouting and attacking are done from the world map panel, while village construction and resource gathering are handled in the village panel and castle construction and defenses are handled in the castle panel, etc.

Here we see a quaint riverside village. Hopefully it doesn’t get pillaged then burned to the ground. Unless of course you’re doing the pillaging.

While this may seem cumbersome, and overly complex for an RTS, it makes perfect sense once you start playing.  Unlike most RTS’s, Stronghold Kingdoms is not a fast paced game.  Far from it in fact.  Rather, Kingdoms takes the term “real-time” strategy to a whole new level.  Actions in the game world can take quite a long time.  Sure, constructing a village building only takes a few minutes, but scouting can easily take an hour (round trip) if the destination is far enough away, and constructing castles will easily take days.  This may turn many people off, but it really does work.  It allows players to interact with each other, in real time while preventing players from losing their carefully built castles and settlements when they are offline.

Players don’t have to compete though, they can choose to co-operate, share resources, and help each other out.  Players can create liege/vassal relationships with each other, with the liege typically offering protection, and possibly resources, in exchange for a fee.  Becoming a vassal is a good way to get a head start early in the game when resources don’t come very fast, and just about everyone around could be a threat (so be nice to your neighbors).

You may have noticed that Kingdoms is Free to Play.  That means micro-transactions.  Well, thankfully, the micro-transactions in Stronghold Kingdoms consist of “strategy cards” that provide bonuses to the player.  These are things like getting “x” amount of a resource without working for it, or doubling your castle production time for “x” amount of time, etc.  They do provide assistance for those who want to build up faster, but everything can be done without paying extra.  On top of that, everything (at least at this point) still feels fair.  The worst that’s typically going to happen if somebody uses bonuses to pass you up is that you’ll be asked to become their vassal.  Yes, they could attack you, but a smart player will have some kind of plan in place for that (typically by having allies near you to assist you in such an event).

Friends don’t let friends get besieged!  Unless of course you don’t have any friends.  Then you’re in trouble.

All in all, Stronghold Kingdoms is a solid, polished title (and I think it’s still in beta).  The game provides everything that RTS fans from yesteryear love about strategy games, as well as a full compliment of MMO features like resource trading, player to player mail, and joint play.  It’s not a game for everyone, and the long time management and deep strategy will turn a number of people away.  But those who stick with it will be rewarded with one of the best strategy experiences available.  I would urge any fan of the Civilization series, or anyone who is up for a slower, more deliberate strategy experience to give this game a try.  At a free to play price point, there is no reason not to.

Head on over to the official site to get started.


“Real-time” strategy gameplay, allowing for full and dynamic player interaction.

An absolutely massive in-game world

Random encounters with enemy AI keep players on their toes, even if they are surrounded by friends.


Getting started can be hard if you end up with a bunch of cutthroats for neighbors.

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About the Author

Profile photo of Chris Hayes

is a primary contributor (and former lead editor) of the Hardcore Christian Gamer, a longtime Christian, and a married man. Chis has been gaming since 1989, and views his contribution to game journalism as a good way to make use of all the skills he gained while writing academic papers in college.

19 Responses to Stronghold Kingdoms Review

  1. This sounds good. I never was into MMO, but would like to try one on again. Is this a good one for a “beginner?”

  2. Profile photo of Chris Hayes Chris Hayes says:

    How are you at Strategy games Path?

  3. RTS is one that I have to get my kids to help me with….Halo Wars was probably the one I played the most….bad thing is when you play multiplayer, there are a lot of people that are RTS-sperts and they kick my butt rather quickly! LOL

  4. Profile photo of Chris Hayes Chris Hayes says:

    Well, this isn’t like most RTS games. It’s not fast paced by any means. It almost plays like a turned based strategy with that time limit set on the turns. Things progress very slowly, and if you get in the right area, other players may help you out. They may wipe you off the map too, but hey, not everyone can be Santa Clause.

  5. I’ll wait for Stronghold 3

  6. Sounds like it’ll be worth trying out.

  7. dj says:

    im playing right now and i LOVE it!!

  8. SmirkingAtTheFairyWinkle says:

    Lawllll!!!! The Fairywinkle is going to be very upset. Stronghold 3 came out and after paying the 30 dollars for it i can honestly say it was the worst game firefly ever made. On second thought, it might be the worst game i have ever played,if not the worst ever created.

    That said, I appreciate the throwback graphics of stronghold kingdoms. stronghold crusader was their best game and its nice to see that they going with simple for their first mmo.

  9. I used to play this type of games in the past but they were not in real time, I can’t wait to give it a go, it seems pretty cool, I would have loved to see a single player mode to learn the game a bit faster.
    Let download steam and see how it goes, the graphics seem simple but I think it is a little normal due to the large playing area of the game.

    Let’s give it a go!


  10. Thomas Williams says:

    Sadly, this Stronghold game is “free to play, but pay to win.” You can’t compete with the paying players (you literally pay the game to play itself when you are sleeping or working or doing anything else with your life). The free players are just cannon fodder for those who shell out what must be hundreds of dollars on “play itself” tokens and magic cards that let your armies and scouts (who gather resoures) move more than four times the maximum possible speed that a regular player can, allowing the pay-to-win guy to steal every single resource in the area. You need resources to build a castle, so you will lose. Always. Unless you pay even more that the other payers, then you may stand a chance. This is the worst kind of pay-scheme a game could possible use. Avoid this trash at all costs.

  11. Jim says:

    like most free to play games this on is similar to Evony in many ways. especially the so called F2P which means those who can afford to pay real money for resources/cards will have a huge advantage that can not be over come by any amount of free to play scrounging around the in game world.

    your best bet is to be in a guild with a generous GM who is one of those who can afford to pay for the extras that are offered – they dominate all the F2P RTS games.

  12. Maldreth says:

    Im actually playing and i didnt had problems with pay-to-win guys, one of my friend has but it was of short time and it didnt spoiled his game, since even without a castle nobody messed with him, even by doing lot of gold and running your little business nobody shits on your boots if you get a powerfull suzerain.

    But once you’re more advanced in the game, i guess you got to pay a lil’ bit of money if you want to play with cards, but even with 3.50E you can buy like 30+ cards and have 1card / day, i didnt payed yet but i think i’ll just throw the money of a train ticket into this, no big deal.

  13. The game is great,I recommend this to everyone,but when you start you’d better start on the newest world,because I’m sure you don’t want to compete with players that are already rank Prince. :)

    Have fun

  14. trev says:

    Since the token scheme started, there is a lot of dead space in the game now. They don’t tell you what you get for free. The first three days a lot is free, but after that, you loose a lot of those free things and have to pay tokens. You can’t even move parts of your village around anymore. You can’t set up auto scouting or auto merchant. If you set it up before the cut off, then you can’t change it without tokens. There is a saying for this, Indian Giver, among a few other four letter words!

  15. Birkinator says:

    Please do not waist your money or time on this game. The moderators are biased and they will ban your account for nothing. They banned my brothers account earlier today, and now my account for no apparent reason. We both had paid hard earned money to get the premium experience, and they repaid us with account bans and no compensation for the crowns(in game money) or the premium membership. Its thievery at its finest.

    The game is full of bugs and un-even attributes. The only thing holding players to the game, the “Glory Round”, was destroyed in the last patch when they released quests with glory for rewards. What once lasted a month now lasts about a week(Glory rounds)now with the patch, and i have seen multiple players(over 30) leave because of this. Aswell, the use of alternate accounts is atrocious. They have a one account per IP policy which makes playing the game with a spouse or kin impossible, hence the above complaint. As long as they are getting your money for premium membership, they will leave it alone.

    The admins blame glitches and bugs on the fact that it is a beta, but that is not the case. They gloat about having 1mill+ players yet they are still claiming its a beta reguardless of the massive cash flow they get from it through the use of crowns and premium. When you pay for a game, it is no longer a beta.

    All in all, this game was great in the beginning(been playing since day 1), but after they ruined it with their updates and crooked moderators, i give it a definate 1 out of 1. I hope you find this useful in choosing your next game.

  16. Ltcolumbo says:

    I agree with the previous comment, its a nest of snake not a game.
    Everyone already mentioned the bugs…so I won’t go there anymore , pretty much everything has been said already.
    The main drawback is the total lack of skill requirements, it is all about time and precisely how much time you can afford to spend on this game. Whoever is connected 24/7 will do well.
    It is also clearly a Pay to win oriented game, the fact that the admins and the management in general seem to utterly disrespect the players who actually feed them is a bit more disturbing, I heard countless number of people getting banned / account suspended for nothing…
    Finally I am convinced they use bots to keep worlds alive, bots or admins spending their time developing some factions and keeping the appearances of a busy server.

    To conclude its a junk game, don ‘t waste you time with this, all you can do is pay pay pay and spend your life there , it is the only way you can do well.

  17. Justin says:

    Have to agree with the above posters. I have not cheated, account shared, or any violation of their rules. I’ve also bought crowns. I launched an attack last night (raze) and was banned 5 minutes after. My guess is that I attacked a “moderator” or admin’s castle. The only response I got was potential account sharing, which as I said, has not happened. I’m still banned, and they marked the ticket resolved and no response as of yet.

    I may attempt to challenge the charges on my card, but I doubt anything will come of it. Been gaming my whole life and have never cheated, nor have I been treated this poorly by a game’s admins.

  18. Frozen says:

    If you’re a loner and have tons of time on your hands, no family or friends and a lot of money to spend with no responsibilities in life then this is the game for you. Long, drawn out and expensive to play once you get hooked. I’ve known many a player who just sits home playing day in and day out dumping hundreds of dollars a week on this game from their welfare or unemployment checks. It’s a pay to play game, no ifs, ands or buts about it. And every time a new card update comes out they make cards that were more popular before almost impossible to get and you get more of the shitty cards than ever before. It’s a hook line and sinker game and they know exactly what they are doing to make the max profit. They even launch multiple worlds within weeks of each other because they make the most at the beginning months of each new world.And whatever you do do not have your family members create their own accounts on the same computer or IP address. Stronghold terms and rules contradict each other. You can register multiple accounts and even play them but you cannot help each other. The game won’t allow it but, if you’re running tokens on all accounts then that rule doesn’t apply. Piss someone off in a war or fight and they report you and Firefly bans everything and you lose all the hard work and money you put in. They don’t investigate, do not contact you, they just ban you without question and there’s nothing you can do about it. I know people cheat but it’s unfair of them to do this without so much as an investigation.

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