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Kohan II: Kings of War

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by Ian Morgenheim - December 11, 2015

Hero units have long been a fraught feature in RTS games, especially in single-player campaigns. Since they're generally vital to the story, speaking in cutscenes and generally justifying the game, it's usually necessary to keep them alive - making them a serious liability in battle. Hero death in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal and Starcraft almost always ends the story - but Warcraft III changed the status quo by more or less adapting the cavalier, respawn-friendly attitude towards death familiar to Diablo players. Nowadays, purely narrative RTS games are fairly rare, and the MOBA phenomenon is a direct result of modders taking advantage of Warcraft III's novel hero philosophy.

RTS games have also experimented with economy, even as mostly automated, individually controllable resource-gathering units remain a core feature in the Blizzard model. Both Dune II and its immediate heir, Command and Conquer, feature a single resource collected by autonomous units. Peasants and peons in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans gather lumber and mine gold. In 1995, Warcraft II shook things up a little by adding a third resource, oil, to the familiar gold and wood economy. Age of Empires really raised the stakes - it features four resources, and a vast array of units and buildings dedicated to and relying upon each resource.

But with great economic diversity comes great vulnerability. As any Starcraft player will tell you, managing SCVs, drones, and probes on both a macro and micro level is critical to success. Without a streamlined economy or the ability to avoid harvester losses through quick tactical thinking, victory is impossible. Total Annihilation made resource gathering a function of structures rather than units in 1997, and Cavedog's Ground Control (2000) emphasized tactical positioning over quick inputs, while eliminating in-mission base-building and unit purchasing altogether. Even so, the bulk of the first decade of RTS games involved a lot of unit babysitting and precision base-building.

Kohan: Ahriman's Gift (PC)

Timegate's Kohan series answers both of these questions with compelling designs that sadly made less of an impact on the genre than they should have. The first two titles, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns and Kohan: Ahriman's Gift, combine an innovative economic model with an intriguing take on hero units, resulting in a deeply strategic 2D RTS mostly free of micromanagement. Kohan II: Kings of War drops the languid pace of the first two titles, as well as some neat worldbuilding details, but retains much of what made the originals so great.

All three Kohan titles are easily worth playing - and replaying, for that matter. With decent campaigns, inspiring skirmish and multiplayer modes, and extensive mod support, the Kohan trilogy is as rewarding an RTS experience as you'll ever find.

A big thank you to Chimaeros for both maintaining the invaluable resource of The Awakening and graciously allowing me to use his painstakingly captured unit portraits. Immeasurable gratitude goes to Vanessa for editorial and emotional support.

Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns (PC)

Kohan: Ahriman's Gift (PC)

Kohan II: Kings of War (PC)


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Characters

Although the Kohan number in the dozens, they tend to blend together after a while - a selection of significant Kohan follows.

Ghalen Mordecai

The very definition of a sidekick, Ghalen plays a strong supporting role in Immortal Sovereigns and Kings of War, where his fortunes take a terrifying turn. Chivalrous to a fault, his troops deal less damage to routing units.

Darius Javidan

Bland but heroic, the dual-wielding Darius is the perennial savior of Khaldun. Regaining his lost memories in Immortal Sovereigns, finding him is a campaign objective in both Ahriman's Gift and Kings of War.


Eben Baruch

Wise and nature-loving, the ranger Eben Baruch shepherds Darius Javidan to victory in Immortal Sovereigns as the mysterious Custodian.

Roxanna Javidan

An early ally of Darius in Immortal Sovereigns, Roxanna's connection to our hero is significant, to say the least. She blends arcane skill with inspiring faith.


Gideon

The first Ceyah Kohan that Darius encounters on his quest, Gideon doesn't seem to make it to Kings of War. It's a shame - his grimace would have looked great in 3D.

Mistress Javidan / Mistress Vashti

Known by at least two names, the duplicitous Vashti burns with hatred for the Kohan - and later for the Ceyah who abandoned her. But she returns as Roxanna to Darius' side by Kings of War, her soul restored.


Sebak

Debuting in Ahriman's Gift, this Ceyah's reputation for madness is well-deserved. His loyalty to the Shadow leads him down a truly dark path in Kings of War.

Vulgari

Vulgari's avarice is unmatched among the Ceyah. Surviving Darius' war against the Ceyah, Kings of War sees him become Sebak's partner in madness.


Amon Koth

Father of the foul and fecund Rhaksha, this Ceyah summoner is seldom far from his twisted children. Defeating him is key to purging Khaldun of the Rhaksha menace.

Sijansur

Scarred long ago, this Ceyah warrior boasts resistance to Khaldunite in Immortal Sovereigns and Ahriman's Gift. His role in Kings of War role is subtle, but significant.


Naava Daishan

This passionate priestess serves the will of the Creator throughout the series, and is the first protagonist you meet in Kings of War.

Jonas Teramun

Afflicted with profound amnesia, this newly resurrected Kohan is one of the key characters in the Kings of War campaign. Naava knows something about his past, but isn't telling...


Melchior

Although he serves the Ceyah throughout the first two Kohan games, this consummate hunter's loyalty to the Shadow is tested in Kings of War.

Ilyana Aswan

One of the Kohan to adopt the graceful, Haroun-like magic form, Ilyana Aswan is an archer without peer.


Mahrdol

Kings of War heralds a new breed of hero - immortal like the Kohan, but demonic in essence. Although loyal, Mahrdol did not come to the Shadow willingly.

Durash

Not all servants of the Shadow transform against their will. The savage Durash bears more than a passing resemblance to the Darloks of the Master of Orion series.


Slyys'Stok

Greatest warrior of the reptilian Slaanri, Slyss'Stok vows to use the gift of immortality to free his people from the corruption of the Ceyah.

Yss'Tok

Contemplative where her mate Slyys'Stok is ferocious, Yss'Tok guards the energies of aja - the lifeblood of Khaldun - in battle.


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Characters

Page 2:
Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns
Kohan: Ahriman's Gift

Page 3:
Kohan II: Kings of War

Discuss on the Forums!

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