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Kingdoms Week: Total War! Day Four

Jerusalem!

Welcome to the final part of our ongoing look at the Medieval II expansion pack, Kingdoms. This latest addition to the Total War pantheon focuses the epic sweep of Medieval II down to some highly refined and localised campaigns, one in Britain, one on Prussia and the Balts, one in the Americas, and one, as we're about to see, in the contest Middle East.

The idea behind the Kingdoms pack is to provide us with a richer, more challenging experience than we can glean from the vanilla game. There will be more historical events, a smaller, more varied selection of local regions, more complex politics and a cast of historical figures who will change the course of your campaigns with their abilities and access to special units.

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Heroes in the Holy War campaign will include the big names from the crusades, including Saladin and Richard Lionheart. These will be major figures in the war, which will see the Crusades, including the big-name monastic orders, taking on the power of central Asia and the Saracen armies. Dozens of new units will be making an appearance, including some from the Byzantine Empire. Are Byzantine flamethrowers historically accurate? It seems not: but they're bound to make the battlefield more interesting. What could be even more interesting is the fact that leader characters like Lionheart will have one shot special abilities, like the ability to rally a faltering army. There will also be the option to fight for specific cities and their inherent importance, with victory dependent on holding Jerusalem for thirty turns.

More controversial still will be the existence of Holy Relics, which will give specific boosts to the side that holds them.

Ultimately Kingdoms is looking like a highly desirable tract of strategy gaming. It has tonnes of new content and threatens to make us better generals. In fact, the very idea of it has had half the office downloading Medieval II on the Steam accounts. Just to brush up on our skills, of course. It's research. Honest.

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