All hail the Goblin King! Goblins of Elderstone is a tribe simulator on Kickstarter

I’ve always liked Goblins. When I first read The Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t help but feel that these industrious, creative and hard-working bunch were getting the blunt end of the stick because people let themselves be swayed by pretty elves with their golden hair and sweet voices. Goblins of Elderstone [Kickstarter Page] recognizes their merit: a city tribe-builder where you govern over a clan of goblins in their task of consolidating their tribe and protecting themselves from the violence of those prejudicial towards them.

City-builders have been a dime a dozen in recent years. Variations on the theme seem to come out every other week, from the villages in Banished [Review] to the jails of Prison Architect, they are in no shortage. Bringing something new to the genre is almost a must, now, and what drew me to Goblins of Elderstone wasn’t just the fact it has goblins, but some neat other derivations of the tribal thematic.

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Clan relations are one of the things you’ll have to manage. Goblins are a straightforward, no-nonsense people, and if they have issues with someone their first solution usually involves the direct use of a pig-sticker.

As the page claims, this is a tribe simulator, not a city-builder – that entails all the social aspects managing a political entity brings that the strict logistics of a city doesn’t. For starters, Goblins will be Goblins: disappoint them with your rule or let them get bored and they’ll seek ways to entertain themselves with some typical goblinoid leisure activities, such as killing other goblins, committing theft and burning things down, things mankind has never done. Diplomacy also plays a key role, as prominent nobles of the Goblin clan – esteemed families like the Fire-Starters and Mouse-Munchers – will require as much of your attention as your neighbors and gods, and favoring one of them over the others might incur the wrath of the other clans.

You’ll also get to choose whether you’ll specialize in trading, warfare or the divine, or whatever mix of the three you think best, and how you’ll relate with neighboring kingdoms and empires, sending them trading parties or raiders, are all central aspects of the game. Threats in Goblins of Elderstone aren’t only of the natural variation: you’ll have to concern yourself with human adventurers, your neighbors, and other dangers, such as wraiths and wolves.

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Is it villainous to act in your nature? and other moral questions will pop up as you ask yourself “Why wouldn’t I raid them for that sweet pile of gold?”

Goblins of Elderstone’s spin on the genre seems to be the direct interactivity you can have outside of the literal building of your tribe: from managing the inter-tribal politics and carrying out raids against humans, dwarves and orcs to the RPG story moments where you’ll deal with travelling strangers, dragons and everything in between. It’s more than halfway toward its $40.000 NZD goal, although there are plenty of monetary and social media stretch goals, and has 32 days left to collect that amount. I’m just glad that more people are recognizing the legitimacy of the Goblin people and their importance in fantasy worlds – they make quite good harpists, too.

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