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Video Game / Knights of Honor

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Knights of Honor is a 2004 medieval strategy game allowing you to build cities, burn and loot towns, earn gold or goods, spy on other nations, make and break alliances, fight crusades, slaughter rebels and destroy history! It was developed by Black Sea Studios.

In the single-player campaign, the player can choose from nations across 3 different bookmarks, each roughly corresponding to a period in medieval history.

There are three main religions which the nations are part of, and to which they can convert: Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims. note  Each have some bonuses (Roman Catholics get an income boost, Muslims can jihad and their troops have higher morale) and negative effects (Roman Catholics have to send armies to fight in crusades when they are powerful or risk excommunication by the Pope; Orthodox Christians without independent Patriarchs have to pay tribute (gold) to the Byzantines and their troops have lower morale).

A sequel was rumored for years to exist, but remained vaporware until August 2019, when Knights Of Honor II Sovereign was officially announced for a 2020 releasenote .

This game provides examples of:

  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Several.
    • You can have a maximum of 9 Knights; your royal family can have a maximum of 3 princes and 3 princesses. note 
    • Town garrisons can hold a maximum of 6 units, and every Marshal can command a maximum of 9 units and 4 siege units. Each battle allows a maximum of 2 Marshals' armies for each side.
    • Every province can have a maximum of 18 town Improvements.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Averted. Inflation causes your income to decrease, and is triggered when you stockpile too much gold, or obtained a lot of it within a short period of time (via ransoms or high income from trade as a small kingdom). Spending some gold or increasing the kingdom's income will reduce or eliminate the inflation.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Trebuchets, in normal battles. They're immobile, leaving them sitting ducks for cavalry.
    • Some buildings require so many prerequisites that there aren't too many provinces where they can potentially be built. Examples include the Cathedral and Merchants' Guild. Worse still, provinces which can potentially build a Cathedral can also potentially build a Merchants' Guild, forcing you to choose which one to build, or leaving the town defenceless if you decide to build both.
  • Berserk Button: Destroying the Papacy as a non-Catholic power will see the Catholic world's relations with said power nosedive.
  • Boring, but Practical: Making your King/ royal princes merchants means you don't have to worry about them being killed in battle like a marshal, caught as a spy in foreign courts note , or rebelled against by the population like a cleric while doing religious conversion. note  Sure, the actual scope of the benefit may vary, but it's easily the safest option.
    • The Fishmonger and Harbor series of buildings only require a province to have Fisheries (itself very common in coastal areas), and can provide food and gold income reliably. If the province has Marble, then the Admiralty (upgraded Harbor) can be further upgraded to a Coast Guard, but this is a relatively optional upgrade.
    • The Crop Rotation Kingdom Advantage "just" increases every town's food storage and production, and only requires four trade goods.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Peasants collect the available raw resources from the province automatically, but the player has to manage all other infrastructure and recruitment of troops per castle.
  • Damage Is Fire: When pillaging, laying a siege, or battling enemy forces, the units/structures/castles are replaced with burning flames.
  • Easy Evangelism: Averted for religious conversion, especially the Abrahamic faiths: converting a province to an Abrahamic faith requires gold and piety (which can be used instead for Kingdom Power), and increases the revolt risk of the province. Worse still, the conversion may fail or fail and kill the Cleric doing the conversion. In contrast, cultural conversion follows the trope, as the Cleric just requires books, while success is both guaranteed and instantaneous. Pagan kingdoms do not have Clerics; while they can passively convert a province's religion, they must remain at peace in order to remove nostalgia.
  • Easy Logistics: A weird case. Troops consume food supplies while out in the field or during sieges; When out in the field, food needs to be restocked, either by pillaging farms, or by entering a castle and restocking there. This can be problematic when laying siege to a castle, because often the castle's supply of food is larger than that of the enemy army. However, troops apparently do not have salaries as they only require food upkeep, and said food upkeep is not needed when troops are stationed in castles.
  • Fog of War: Province based in Knights Of Honor; you can see what's happening in the entire province once your marshall crosses the border. Also applies to your spies in enemy courts, depending on what they are employed as.
    • If employed as a marshal, the same rules apply as for your own marshals.
    • If employed as a cleric, builder or landlord, the Fog disappears for the specific province they are assigned to.
  • Guide Dang It!: It is not stated in the manual that loyalist rebels may spawn even if the overall revolt risk is negative. This mechanic caught many players off guard.
  • Heir Club for Men: Only men may become rulers. Thus, even if your ruler may have daughters (but no sons), the throne will still bypass the royal princesses to one of the king's knights.
  • Horse Archer: One of many available units, though they can only be recruited as kingdom- or province-specific units and requires the kingdom to have the Horses trade good.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Killing an enemy marshal in battle makes his troops flee. If there are two marshals, the other's troops will still stay and fight. Garrisons in towns won't flee no matter who you kill.
  • Karma Meter: referred to as Kingdom Power in game. A scale that roughly translates to your reputation, popularity with the people, and the grasp you have on your kingdom. Actions like breaking alliances (both political ones as ones formed through marriage), attacking nations with the same religion, spies being found out have a negative influence. Increasing your Kingdom power is only possible by spending gold and piety on it. If your Kingdom Power is very low, your income will decrease dramatically, rebels will emerge (due to decreased happiness from your people), marshals will revolt, and if it's low for a long time, entire provinces can declare independence or join other nations.
  • Kill It with Fire: and MANY possible ways to do it. Marshals can learn a skill that lets all ranged siege weapons and archers to do this. Gatehouses can be upgraded with burning oil that does this to large groups at one time. Enemies set on fire stop fighting and even have a animation as they burn to death.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Orthodox Christians have different bonuses/penalties depending on whether they have an independent Patriarch. The Byzantines always have an independent Patriarch and receives some gold income from other Orthodox kingdoms without independent Patriarchs.
  • Medieval Stasis: No matter how much time has passed (along with generations of kings), technology will not advance beyond the level seen in the Late Middle Ages.
  • The Middle Ages: The premise of the game. However, the bulk of the game is set in The High Middle Ages. There are 3 start points, confusingly named Early, High and Late Middle Ages, although the dates don't really match up with historical convention (The game's Early Middle Ages start at 1000 CE for instance).
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country: Comes in two flavors.
    • Your own provinces may rebel if the people are unhappy. E.g.: provinces with a different religion from yours increases revolt risk due to "different religion". As your Cleric is converting the population to the new official religion, the revolt risk will increase. When the revolt risk is 0 or negative, such rebels will not spawn.
    • Conquered provinces increases revolt risk due to "nostalgia". Unlike the first group, loyalist rebels may spawn even if the revolt risk is 0 or negative. Nostalgia will slowly decrease as long as the kingdom is not at war, while Clerics can be assigned to provinces to convert the population to the culture of their new kingdom.
  • Point Defenseless: Catapult towers, while very effective, will damage themselves if they try to fire at troops close to themselves.
  • Random Number God: Not as malicious as in other games, but some parts of the game are randomly generated.
    • The composition of rural areas in provinces and the distribution of provincial features change from game to game. This means that for trade goods/buildings which require 2 or 3 features, the provinces which can potentially produce these items may be located far away from your starting location.
    • At the start of the game, your kingdom may be randomly at war. Your opponent(s) may be weak kingdoms, or continental powers.
    • The number of provinces claimed via a royal marriage when a king dies is also random. However, the AI is more likely to accept a demand to cede one province than to cede several provinces.
  • Refining Resources: Most trade goods have a production chain. Depending on the good, it may take up to 2 province features (a province can have a maximum of 3 such features) and several buildings before the item is actually produced. As a consolation, trade goods with complicated production chains often produce other trade goods as by-products.
  • The Usurper: When a king dies with no male heir, a Knight deemed the most worthy in his court is made king. This usually means civil war as other Knights may not agree with this decision.
  • Vague Age: Only the King, the Catholic Pope, Orthodox Patriarchs, and royal babies age. Knights in general do not, unless they become a ruler. Even the King's age is given in adjectives, with "Venerable" one step before death.
  • Variable Player Goals: There are four ways to win a game.
    • The easiest (comparatively) is to get all of the game's "kingdom advantages" (basically improvements from having certain trade goods), which requires a large income and at least eight cities with upgraded harbors note , as well as many different resources, which usually take a dozen or so different provinces.
    • The second is to be elected emperor of all Europe. You need to be at least the second most powerful nation to even be considered, and you need great relations with other nations for them to vote for you. The election happens periodically, and it's rare for any nation to even vote one way or another.
    • The third and hardest way is to conquer everything including capitals like Athens, Rome, London, Jerusalem and Paris. Basically, this means most of Europe (except Iceland and the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland), North Africa, and parts of the Middle East and Asia. Obviously this is the hardest, but the most rewarding.
    • The fourth way, similar to the second, is to "claim the title". Basically, you claim to be emperor of all Europe. If you are friendly enough with the major powers and have a good army, they might vote you in. If they don't, then most of Europe hates you and you end up with a rare case of the AIs doing serious damage. Generally, by the time this can work, either number two will have happened or number three is within reach.
  • Vestigial Empire: Many kingdoms start as this in various bookmarks. Grabbing the required provinces and adopting the correct religion can re-create an empire.