The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom


Settlers 7 is a game that delivers a more complete experience (Ubisoft)

Any seasoned real-time strategy (RTS) gamer will be able to tell that “The Settlers 7” is a whole new experience the minute they start playing.

Most other RTS games on the market are all about building up the biggest, strongest army
you possibly can, then marching it all over your enemy.

This isn’t the case in “The Settlers 7.” Not only is the military combat not the most prominent part of the game, but it actually takes a backseat to gameplay geared more around building up your economy and expanding your kingdom.

The game boasts the unique quality that a player can potentially win the game by either
traditional military might or by earning victory points through trading or research. The idea
that a player can sit around in their base with virtually no army and still manage to win the
game may seem silly to some, but the game actually manages to balance the three possible paths of military, trade or research development quite nicely.

Every player will need a basic army to capture territories and provide defense. However, players
taking the military path can choose to unlock and train much more powerful units that
will give them a distinct advantage against enemy units and fortifications in the late game.

Players taking the trading route will eschew military might in favor of carefully managing
the collection and production of the game’s many different resources. They will send trading units all over the globe to unlock newer, more favorable exchanges, collect rewards, and be the first to earn the relevant victory points scattered in the far reaches of the map.

For those disinclined to micromanage resources or field an army, there is always the research
option. Once a church is built, you can train clerics that spend their days studying and unlocking
improvements for your kingdom. Some are practical, like increasing the rates of gathering or
improving fortifications. Some are strategic and like trading, involve rewards and victory points.

You can mix and match the different play styles to your particular taste. The gameplay can
fluctuate wildly as you try to adapt your kingdom to employ different strategies. However, one thing every player will have in common will be the need for space.

The playable maps are divided into smaller regions, each one representing a province of your
ever-expanding kingdom. Once your troops have booted out the current inhabitants (which is why everyone needs at least a small army), the area becomes yours to build up and collect
resources from.

You will desperately need to expand. Not every resource is available in every region
and all resources on the map can be depleted without the proper research. On top of that, the
regions are small for an RTS game, forcing players to manage their building space carefully
and constantly look for opportunities to nab some more prime land. Neglect either of these necessities for too long and your economy is going to tank faster than you can say “national

All this can seem daunting to someone new to the game, and to tell the truth, there is a lot to wrap your head around. Trying to manage the collection, production, and refinement of so many
goods and materials, all while worrying about maintaining a military presence and pursuing your
intended strategy, is a healthy challenge at best and a monstrous task at worst.

Despite this, the game delivers an experience that is more complete than other RTS games
out there. Other games will have you pour 100% of your resources and manpower into some huge war machine like you’re an extremist that believes battle is the only path to greatness. “The Settlers 7” feels more graceful–like the kingdom you’re controlling is actually a kingdom with realistic and varying needs.

Even though the entire game isn’t punctuated with canon fire, I still believe that “The Settlers 7” is one of the most riveting strategy games I’ve ever played.