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Video Game / Seven Kingdoms

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Seven Kingdoms is a Real-Time Strategy game, published in 1997 by Enlight. This game puts you into the role of a king of one of originally seven civilizations: Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Norman, Vikings, Mayans or Persians. You build your army, mine and manufacture goods, secure trade routes, expand your kingdom, research technologies... and send spies to your rivals to get information on your enemies or other benefits. There are also monsters named Fryhtans which roam through the lands, who can be attacked to gain money. And sometimes, it gives out the Scroll of Power, which you can use to call forth your civilization's God/Greater Being.

Later on, a patch added another three civilizations, the Egyptians, Mughuls and Zulus, which was later bundled with the game as Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries.

There's also a 1999 sequel named Seven Kingdoms 2: Fryhtan Wars. Gone are the Mayans, Mughuls and Zulus... and the naval option that was available in the first game. Enter new Civilizations in the Celts, Romans, Carthaginians, Indians and Mongols, as well as civilization-specific units (such as Shaolin Monks for Chinese, Ninja for Japanese, etc) and more close-to-myth Greater Beings (such as Amaterasu for the Japanese instead of the generic 'Mind Turner'). The biggest feature, however, is the ability to play as the Fryhtans themselves, giving a new gaming experience.

The last part of the series, called Seven Kingdoms: Conquest, came out in 2008. It vastly simplified both the distinct features of the series such as spying and diplomacy, essentially removing the ability to win diplomatically, for instance. Moreover, the regular RTS gameplay was primitive as well, and so the game tanked, ending the series. However, the first and second game can still be played via Steam and An HD edition of Fryhtan Wars was later released in 2015.

Not to be confused with the band, the visual novel, The Twelve Kingdoms, The 10th Kingdom, or The Three Kingdoms.

This video game provides the following examples:

  • A.I. Breaker: In the first game, when attacking, the computer will most likely attack a structure (most commonly Fort). If you can guess which structure they're going attack, you can cancel their whole attack by selling/demolishing your structure before they're close enough to see anything else in sight, and thus retreating (otherwise, they may even try to attack others or your unit instead attacks them and they start defending themselves), and then you can simply rebuild your structure. Very useful in multiple Scenarios when you were put in a disadvantage in the beginning (and almost every AI are already at war at you or more than happy to declare one shortly after you start the game), or if you're trying to expand to a region far from your home, at worst it'll be just a mere annoyance of demolishing and rebuilding (with minor loss of loyalty if they target a Fort controlling villages), especially when multiple enemies are at war at you and trying to attack the same area with multiple structures. This is averted in 2, where now they will target a village first and you can't just manually demolish your village.
  • Alliance Meter: There is a relationship meter between factions and that depends on how many times you accepted/rejected a request from the enemy kingdom. Accept more and they will be more likely to keep a friendly/alliance, but if you reject their request too much, they may just broke off their alliance/friendship or flat out declare war to you. The value is annoyingly invisible in the first game, but became visible in 2 for easier alliance management, but it's still not a guaranteed permanent alliance: You never know when an enemy spy decided to make an incident between you and your ally, and they break off war anyway.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The game has a lot of discrimination and it seeps into the gameplay. In the first game, different civilizations can coexist together, but it can be a big liability: To maintain loyalty, you'll need a General of their civilization, a Mayan civilian is less likely to obey a Norman General when compared to a similarly capable, but MAYAN General. Therefore, capturing a multiracial town requires you to get high leaderships generals of the matching civilization, it's a lot more efficient to eventually separate the town and only making sure each towns only had 1 civilization. For this hassle, the second game removed multiracial towns altogether so a town can only accept one type of civilization and rejects everyone else, so the trope is still at play.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Played with a twist: Cities can hold up to 99 people (60 in the original), forts can hold up to 18 units (whether Infantry or War Machines, also 8 in the original), but once you reach the capacity, you can just send people off to build a new city or promote a soldier into a General, and begin anew with more forces.
  • Artifact Title: The game started with seven playable Kingdoms, but a patch added three more. SK2 ends with 12 in total, but subverts the trope by claiming that there are now seven kingdoms... of Fryhtans. Not to mention that each game can only contain seven kingdoms, humans and Frythans, at maximum.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI is... A mixed bag. In peacetime it has excellent skills at expanding and planning, but come war, and it will start foaming at the mouth to kill you. If you can survive the Alpha Strike of everything the AI throws at you, usually by turtling, the rest should be a cakewalk...unless another kingdom (or Kwyzan, word for Frythan kingdom) absorbs the losing side. If the AI is a human kingdom, it will do its damnedest to kill your civilians in villages even when its armies are being pelted by your ranged units. If he wins and slaughters, his reputation will be ruined. It's not an uncommon tactic to sacrifice a village to let the AI's reputation ruin to the point of his own people will rebel everywhere.
    • Carthaginian AI is this. It will randomly summon Baal Hammon, which itself is a very gamebreaking God, and spam earthquakes randomly, leveling entire kingdoms on the map even if they are allies.
    • The human AI in the second game has a habit of doing things that negatively impacts it's reputation, such as attacking enemy villages and violently taking over independent villages. If their reputation reaches negative values, this then encourages their existing villages to rebel. These rebellions then get violently put down, causing a further drop in reputation and more rebellions. This is a situation that the AI is usually unable to recover from.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Your initial King is automatically possessing maximum Combat and Leadership points. However, should your king die, you can choose anyone to be the next King, but the trope may end up subverted if you chose someone less capable, they don't suddenly gain maximum stats upon coronation. Played With in the sequel: The King always start with 100 Combat/Leadership stat, but it's not the maximum value, some units may possess a stat beyond 100, but for the most part, the other stat will be below average as well. Of course, there are rare cases that there's a unit with both Combat/Leadership greater than 100...
  • Blessed with Suck: If a big Kingdom surrenders to you and they're not the last kingdom standing between you and total conquest, that means you will be saddled with all of their scattered soldiers and vast former empire that you may have troubles micromanaging your new domain to make sure everything runs as smooth as before there was a merger. And let's hope your treasury and granary can handle all those extra surplus of population and management!
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Several civilization soldiers start out with close range weapons, be it sword of spear (for their 'sword' part) and after gaining enough combat experience, then they start using their ranged weapons (for their 'bow' part) from afar, but still use their close range weapons when the enemy gets too close.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Deities use their own HP to do their special abilities. This gives more incentive to summon them after the prayer bar is high enough. Otherwise, you can summon a deity that either didn't last long, or practically useless.
  • Charged Attack: In the first game, the Japanese, Vikings, Mughuls and Egyptians have power attacks that only occur after a certain amount of time constantly attacking.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Qi Lin, Isis, Mithra, Amaterasu, Thor... to name a few of the Greater Beings.
    • Thor already appeared in the first game. Kukulkan (spelled as Kukulcan) was the Mayan Greater Being in the original game, and when the Egyptians debuted in Ancient Adversaries, they also had Isis.
  • Deus ex Machina: In the second game, the Seat of Power can be used to bring you unpredictable miracles rather than limiting it to summoning your Greater Being. It can include things like a powerful item or soldier or spy popping out of nowhere, getting a bunch of gold or food instantly, or a village suddenly surrendering to you, or many more.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: The game allows you to easily reproduce each race's buildings and units, with the exception of the powerful Seat of Power, which can only be built if you have the respective scroll (and each human nation starts with only one). However, human players can't build any of the demonic Frythans structures even if they control some of their units, but it works the other way around. (Getting a large enough number to operate the structures is another issue entirely, as well as keeping them from rebelling).
  • Excuse Plot: Basically, your empire has been ravaged by civil war and the Frythans, and you must reconquer everything.
    • Scenarios mostly work like this. You were given the background of what caused your current condition (like why you start out with super low reputation, or how your King is fighting his Last Stand alone), but that has no bearing to the gameplay. Just go conquer the region or fulfill the winning condition from that.
  • Fake Defector: If a unit joins you and the message said that they betrayed their kingdom to join you... well, the chances are VERY BIG that they're a spy because the computer did all they could to make their units as loyal as possible. The chance is lower if you have way higher reputation than the computer and they're in the middle of battle (that they're losing) against you or you have a Heartchanger artifact so that looked like a genuine Defector from Decadence scenario, but even there are times that the computer used the chaos to slip in some genuine moles.
  • Fake Difficulty: In the second game, human kingdoms need money to build buildings and war machines, train enemy troops, pay workers, pay maintenance costs for war machines and buildings, and hire mercenaries at inns. The only three ways to make money are to tax your towns (which gets you a few pennies), have a mine and factory to manufacture goods to sell, or kill things. Thus if you can't find a clay, iron or copper deposit to build a mine on, you're going to constantly have to send your troops into combat to make money to keep building up your forces (which is not a long-term solution since they need time to heal between skirmishes).
    • The berserk AI sending everything at once in Single Player Campaign, sometimes in levels where you are supposed to build up can be this.
    • If you have a Carthaginian AI on the map, pray he doesn't summon Baal and earthquake the world (including itself) to oblivion.
    • Playing as a sole Human Kingdom against tons of Frythan Kwyzans in 2? Good luck. Aside the lack of diplomacy or improvements or trading partners to generate your resources, the Frythans are not interested in doing any diplomacy to the sole puny human kingdom. It is mentioned that turtling is the best strategy, but they have a tendency to declare war against you in almost the same time, so you are very much bombarded with constant assaults without breaks to which even the most seasoned Generals, or even Kings will die in a short order (and you won't have enough time to either train your army to have enough Combat points to survive or to research and then mass produce the war machines needed to withstand the assault). Even moreso if your Greater Being isn't the type to do direct offense. Thinking to appease the Kwyzans with tributes so they won't wage war? That won't save you, they could just declare war right after accepting your tribute. This also applies for the inverse: If you're the lone Kwyzan against tons of Human AI Kingdoms, they will want to eradicate you at once.
  • Four-Star Badass: Subverted. A General is ideally required to have high Leadership, but that doesn't take account to Combat which rules how a unit can use their special ability (ranged attack or Charged Attack) and it is possible that a General has high leadership/charisma but poor in combat. Can be double-subverted for the fact that the AI rarely made it that a soldier has less Combat point than their Leadership point, and you're often taking the General to the frontline and have them gain combat points by fighting and surviving.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: How to get the Greater Beings' help: Build a Seat of Power (after destroying a Frythan lair with a race of choice), gather villagers and assign one General to lead the prayer to your deity. After enough points, the deity will appear.
  • Hard Mode Perks: In the 1st game, you can set the Frythans to be more offensive instead of holing up in their lairs defensively, hoarding their treasures and Scroll of Power. However, their offensive force still drops gold so they can end up giving you more cash than mere trading and tribute/aids and they can be taken care of with even two forts that just had fresh soldiers.
  • Historical Domain Character: Generic hero unit tends to use names from the historical domain, including Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Achilles, Alexander the Great, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Cu Chulainn, Guan Yu, Ramesees II, Genghis Khan, etc. The catch is that some of them had different spellings that either makes sense or a result of "Blind Idiot" Translation (Guan Yu becoming 'Kuan Yu' actually felt like how he's actually spelt, but Tokugawa Ieyasu becoming 'Tokugawa Leyasu' is... well...)
  • Horny Vikings: As usual, the Vikings, they also have a special boat for their own, and in-game, you'll be doing a lot of plunders.
  • Ninja: In Fryhtan Wars, the Japanese's special unit take form of these. They throw shurikens for long range attack, use ninja bombs when threatened at close range and walk as fast as horses while on foot.
  • Karma Meter: The reputation meter, ruling out just how loyal your subjects will be, how likely a non-spy random unit will join you and how easy an independent village will surrender to you without excessive force. It doesn't affect how other kingdoms view you though, you can be a saint or a scumbag, but they're just as likely to break alliance, declare war or gang up against you. It's still useful if you are going to prevent rebellions. Go crazy and kill civilians like animals, and chances are that even your own nationality will start hating you. Stay a saint, and you can tax the happy peasants as much as you want and never worry about rebellions. The problem is, keeping the reputation high means never declaring war first, and keeping your attacks on the military infrastructure (and making sure your spies never got exposed). And slaughtering civilians can quickly propel you to victory if you plan a good rush.
  • Living Lie Detector: The Phoenix in the first game (Greek's Greater Being), it'll let you know the true selves and potentials of the enemy, including their status as a spy, and it does that by merely existing. Amaterasu in the second game is a toned down version. She can reveal and kill spies, but you have to make her use her ability.
  • Luck-Based Mission: A lot of missions are randomly generated, so victory boils down to being fortunate enough to spawn in the right spot with resources or towns nearby.
  • The Mole: Espionage and sending in your spies form one of the more unique cores of the series in general. Of course, the computer will especially do that to you as well, even when you allied with them.
  • Magikarp Power: Human fighters are woefully inadequate against early Frythans and are not as replaceable as war machines. But as training catches on, a 100-Combat skilled lone human soldier can go toe-to-toe with a frythan and win whereas a war machine can be swamped and destroyed easily, and doesn't improve.
  • Martial Pacifist: Best human tactic against rabid AI aggression. Turtle your defenses, build warmachines to support fire around your towns and forts and take every neutral town and fortify it, but never declare war first for that would destroy your reputation. Sooner or later, you will get attacked, and attacking a fully turreted fort with ballista support is always suicide, even for Rokken crouls. Bonuses are that your high reputation will give you civilian defectors, escapees from Frythan slave towns which you can use for labor and construction, while even foreign populations under your rule will be highly loyal, yielding extra taxes when you set your loyalty tax threshold high. Doubly funny if you "declare war" on an AI kingdom by taking over a castle filled with his best troops and turtle it to high hell, decimating his forces and automatically looting the dead for even more money, with which you'll hire even more powerful mercenaries.
  • Mercenary Units: Speaking of which, there is no mechanics/wage difference between a mercenary or a drafted peasant save for skill and starting cost. A human kingdom will build many inns which buzz with tons of cheap and replacable mercenaries which are treated no different than normal soldiers once a lump sum is paid. They can even disband and join the towns. And considering mercenaries come with years of skills ahead of drafted peasants, there is no reason not to hire them around the 500$-600$ bracket. A peasant costs 20$ to train to a soldier but starts with combat skills years behind the "mercenary", needs years of feeding and paying to be as skilled as them, and could have worked a war factory, science tower, or industry.
  • Mighty Glacier: Rokken frythans, and war elephants easily become this. A cheap mercenary elephant with no leadership and high combat can be an amazing arrow sponge.
  • Mole in Charge: There's a chance that one of your spies got so chummy with the enemy King (or you bribed a particularly liked general) that they were named the successor of the kingdom after said King somehow died. When that happens, you can purchase the whole kingdom, beating out one faction in a swift move.
  • Pixel Hunt: You have basically reduced the enemy kingdom to the point that they have no villages nor buildings... but wait, they still existed! Because their king or anyone with potential to become the next king lives. Well, in that case, get ready to scour through the WHOLE MAP to see if there's ONE particular spot the enemy king used to hide so you can get there and finish off the kingdom for good. It gets worse if you activated the Fog of War feature...
  • Pragmatic Hero: The game is designed to make the player feel as such. You're given a lot of dishonorable methods to win your game. Use them wisely instead of clinging of silly honors, or you'll lose. Go full The Unfettered and you'll lose just as well. If you don't send spies, you won't be able to have an advantage in technological advancement or knowing what your enemies are up to, or when facing enemies far greater than you in number, you could've used your spies to turn them against your enemy kingdom. If you use too many spies you can go bankrupt due to high upkeep. You can tax your people and it will lower their loyalty, but if you don't tax your people at all instead of just moderately, you will lack funds and people would turn against you when you ran out of golds to pay them anyway. Tax your people and kill enemy civilians happily, and rebellions will destroy your kingdom. Take all those, and the computer (or other savvy players) will happily throw all those unsavory tactics at your face. The game's winner is usually the one who'd use everything at their disposal to win.
  • Random Event: Disasters (prominently earthquakes, thunder strikes or typhoon) exist in a randomized timing. You can arrange on how often they can happen (Often, Seldom to Never), but you can't predict WHEN they will happen. Vikings can at least manipulate any disasters except earthquakes by summoning Thor, while in Frythan Wars, the Carthaginians can manipulate earthquakes with summoning Baal-Hammon.
  • Obvious Judas: This is an Invoked Trope for the game as there is a way to spot an obvious spy: If you see a random civilian running to your structure from another town and yet you're not informed that he's joining, then that civilian is 100% a Spy, so you're free to dismiss and execute him, whereas if you're informed, then there's a chance that it's a volunteer civilian, not a spy. Curiously, the AI is somewhat blind to this: They ALWAYS welcome uninformed joinings, whereas if you use the option of informing the AI that your spy just 'defected', then there is a chance that your spy will be exposed and executed on the spot (depends on your Spy skill level).
  • Our Dragons Are Different: In the first game, the Eastern-based Chinese's Greater Being is a legless dragon (or at least has tiny limbs) who's called Jing Nung, whereas the Western-based Norman's Greater Being is a winged dragon and literally named 'Dragon'. Aside of design pattern, they function as pure damage dealer, breathing fire to wherever you direct them to.
  • Samurai: The Japanese units take form of these to absurdity: every close combat warrior is a samurai, every ranged unit is a ninja.
  • Save Scumming: Abusing this in the single player game is an effective way to utilize/deal with spies. Remember that you can't do this in multiplayer.
    • Anti-Spy: Dismissing a unit also means executing the spy, if it is a spy. If you are notified that a villager is joining you, there's a chance that he's a spy. If you dismissed it, but he's not a spy, you can reload and not do that, it'll save you from throwing a senseless waste of human life. If a spy suddenly took over your fort, just reload, execute that spy before he does any more harm.
    • Spy enhancement features:
      • Bribery: If the Bribe succeeded at a certain price, reload and try a lower price until your spy gets executed, then reload again and use the minimum price without getting executed.
      • Assassination and other advanced spying methods (available in 2, like technology theft): If the method failed and your spy gets executed, reload and try another time until you succeed.
      • Information theft: Using spies with high enough skill, you can actually locate every locations of enemy main units or even fellow spies, but using that method will always result your spy getting executed. So, you simply reload after memorizing the new information given. With that, in 1, you can pretty much confirm which spies have infiltrated your army and execute them all (2 made it that spies cannot expose other spies). And in both games, locating the king and successfully assassinating them can result an instant kingdom defeat or your grand victory: If the king is killed, then he chooses a successor. Reload, then send another spy to the successor and bribe him. Then kill the king again, and the now-spy successor gets chosen and the whole faction surrenders to you.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: You send spies to enemy forts and you can bribe their generals so they join you. And with enough funds, you can actually purchase an entire enemy kingdom (Though you need a high reputation and the enemy kingdom must be weaker than yours).
    • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: A failed bribe, though (as in, trying to bribe a loyal general with insufficient money and insufficient skill) will result in your spy getting executed.
  • Stock Scream: Humans' death scream used the death screams from Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn in the first game. The second game used StarCraft's Marine death screams.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Demon hunters and Tanebrae in Conquest. The former hunt demons and cleanse their taint, the latter seek to exploit their infernal magic instead. In practice, though, they're effectively identical on the battlefield.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The computer is set to believe that taking over a fort via a spy is an in-universe Moral Event Horizon, so if you take over a fort this way, they will declare war. Can be abused to declare war on allies with no reputation loss.
  • To Win Without Fighting: If brute force won't do the job in winning things (especially because fighting wars will deduct your Reputation score if you kill civilians and betray treaties), you can try other things, such as:
    • Send in spies to the enemy. With that, you bribe your enemy generals and leaving them with diminished force and the chance to name one of your spies the successor, thus you win the kingdom.
    • Be an economical juggernaut. Hoard those natural resources, and don't give your opposition any other resources. Eventually you stay rich, the enemy gets broke and the underpaid civilians and troops start a rebellion en masse, wiping out your opposition. And you don't even need to lift a finger towards your weapon.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Keep your reputation high and never kill civilians, and defectors from frythan slavery and neutral towns will flock to you. Kill Always Chaotic Evil frythans, especially neutral lairs under great risk of losing lots of men and risking invasion, eventually neutral towns will even spawn great heroes to fight for you or promote to general and put the said town under your control quickly. The one boon that you shouldn't always expect to come by being kind is having a weaker kingdom surrender to you without offering them a sum of money. It could happen rarely if you keep up the high reputation act, but more often than not, other kingdoms (usually the more aggressive or war-mongering one) would instead offer the money first and then have them surrender.
  • War Elephants: The unique units of the second game's Carthaginian and Indians, the latter called Mahamatra and mounts Archers on it.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Gold. You only have that for your 'Vespene Gas'. Every peasant gives you taxes per year and can be taxed a bit more if they are loyal, though this is pocket change unless you have hundreds of peasants. To gear up more, you make goods from three different resources (Clay, Iron and Copper) and market it to your peasants, and these resources are finite. Thankfully, they randomly respawn over time, in which it becomes a race on who can claim the resources first. There is another form of resource you need to balance, but can't be manually manipulated: Food. Getting your villagers to work are all good and nice, but unemployed villagers are actually the ones doing the cooking for your people overall. So if you draft everyone, your food supply will drop like hell and then their loyalty falters too...
  • Zerg Rush: In the second game, most missions against Fryhtans give you a few minutes breathing room to take your army and settlers, found your opening town or two and build your first couple of forts, before the Fryhtans send almost all their forces down your throat. Survive the opening onslaught and the rest of the mission will be much less hectic.
    • The Bregma Fryhtans in particular are built for this trope, having cheaper and more quickly-trained Crouls (soldiers) than the other types of Fryhtans.