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Three Moves Ahead Episode 170: Classic Game Analysis – Kohan

May 26th, 2012 by Troy Goodfellow · 20 Comments · Design, Podcast, RTS, Three Moves Ahead, Timegate


Tom Chick comes back to the show to join Rob and Troy for a look back at one of the great real time strategy series – Timegate’s Kohan games. What made Kohan unique and what games, if any, have followed on its original ideas? Is Kohan 2: Kings of War really an inferior sequel? Cities as offensive weapons, the tricks around force posture and the mysteries of who the Kohan are are explored. Also, another one of Tom’s stupid quizzes.

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Troy’s Kohan essay from the defunct decade series


20 Comments so far ↓

  • spelk

    Thrilled to see this podcast on Kohan.

    From the wikipedia entry:
    The word “Kohan” comes from a Persian word which means “ancient”.

  • Nordramor


    Kohan 2 and Axis & Allies were developed at the same time, using a shared engine (RTSE engine). Kohan 2 was released 2 months before Axis & Allies.

    Kohan 2 was TimeGate’s IP and developed by TimeGate. Axis & Allies was Atari’s licensed IP (from Hasbro), which they hired TimeGate to develop.

    Several developers fr0m the TimeGate K2 / A&A era later worked on Company of Heroes at Relic.

    Kohan 2 was released roughly the same week in North America as Dawn of War and Rome: Total War.

  • Mistwraithe

    Interesting, good to hear people reminiscing about Kohan. Between them they understood what made Kohan great too.

    Pity they didn’t have someone who could explain the schism between KAG and Kohan 2 though, got glossed over as graphics or maybe fixed settle points which was mostly missing the point. (Got to agree with them though that on reflection it was certainly blown out of proportion, Kohan 2 wasn’t the game for me but it was still a pretty decent game).

    I facepalmed at the end when one of them called League of Legends an RTS though!

  • Gunner

    Nice episode guys. Always interesting to take a look at the so-called evolutionary dead ends and speculate on how things could have turned out differently.

    I played and enjoyed Kohan 2 back in the day, but never had a chance to give the original a try. Are they sufficiently different that it would be worth going back to on Steam?

  • Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin)

    One of my all time favorites, especially the original.

  • Stossel

    Loved Kohan. My most favorite game. Would love to see more games take elements from it. Would also love to see another RTS focused around team play rather than 1v1.

    Kohan 2 wasn’t just about static city placement but also a change in scale which limited tactical and strategic options.

  • Tom Chick

    “I facepalmed at the end when one of them called League of Legends an RTS though!”

    That’s exactly how I react when someone says it isn’t an RTS!

    I wonder where that chestnut started, BTW. I’ve had that discussion with a few people, and I still have no idea how the figure it’s an action RPG. That is the line, right? That League of Legend is an action RPG and not an RTS? Also, Star Wars is fantasy and not sci-fi! And a tomato is a fruit!

  • Troy Goodfellow

    Honestly, Tom, I’m with the “not an RTS” camp — it’s a game that grew out of an RTS but has players managing a single character through the course of a game. It’s an action/RPG more than a strat game, just with strat game lineage.

    But that’s another argument.

  • Dan

    Two new games in the same level of uniqueness in its day as Kohan are on the iPad. Ravenmark (turn-based) and Autumn Dynasty.

  • Tom Chick

    As I’ve said before, I mostly couldn’t care less what people call League of Legends. But I find it really puzzling that people who should know better don’t recognize the importance of competitive gameplay based on map control, unit choice, build orders, and resource management. Those are central tenets of an RTS, so I feel like I missed some weird secret meeting where a handful of people agreed to deny those elements of games like League of Legends, Demigod, and the Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III.

    But mostly, I can’t wait to see the faces of the Diablo III fans trying to playing League of Legends after you’ve told them it’s an action RPG!

  • Bruce

    Why is there a thread here *and* at Idle Thumbs? I don’t know where to talk.

  • Mike

    You guys were talking about the factions in Kohan. I think you were thinking of the Celtic word Sidhe which are a sort of dark-underground farie race. If you saw Hellboy 2 the villian Nuada and all of them were Sidhe. Is there any kind of relation you think or do they just sound alike?

  • Mistwraithe

    Interesting argument Tom. While map control, unit choice, build orders, and resource management are arguably elements of LoL I think they are all very simplistic compared to most RTS games.

    Unit choice is a once only decision made at the start of the game and there is only one resource to manage there is very little management of it beyond maximising it (I guess there is feeding kills to AD carries and getting gold per 5 sec items on a support but it is hardly very deep!).

    Map control matters but then it is at least as important in Team Fortress and other games which I wouldn’t call RTS’s. Build order has some depth to it (skill selection order and items) but then this is hardly definitive to RTS games either IMO, RPGs have much more depth in this area.

    My main complaint though is that it lacks the sort of strategy I think an RTS should contain. There aren’t really any big trade offs like building long term econ at the expensive of short term military (and trying to keep your opponent off balance so they don’t take advantage of your short term weakness), expanding settlements to gain map control for future gain (but being more vulnerable in the short term as a result), teching up for mid/late game units (but again being vulnerable in the short term), etc. Sure LoL has strategy but they aren’t the types of big strategies and trade-offs that I associate with RTS games.

    I’m not exactly sure what LoL should be classified as but I think Riot’s coining of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) is as good as any.

  • Tom Chick

    Did Riot coin MOBA? I didn’t realize that! I wondered who was responsible for that abomination of an acronym…

    I think hardcore League of Legends players would disagree vehemently with your Team Fortress comparison, and especially the way you compare build orders to an action RPG. The majority of action RPG don’t have the same competitive demands as a game like League of Legends, and therefore build order isn’t such a central part of the gameplay.

    As for the lack of strategy you mention, if that’s your criteria for an RTS, then you’re going to have to redefine the genre entirely. Are you going to insist Multiwinia, Herzog Zwei, Myth, and World in Conflict aren’t RTSs because they don’t focus on the traditional macro/micro split like many other RTS? What genre would they be in? It sounds to me like you have a very narrow definition for the genre.

    League of Legends came from real time strategy games, and I don’t understand why some people want to deny that. Part of the beauty of RTSs is that, like shooters, there are all sorts of subcategories that play very differently, and MOBAs are definitely one of them. I get that League and its ilk have a lot of unique elements — believe it or not, I actually play these games! — but when you “facepalm” because someone calls League of Legends an RTS, you’re overreacting.

  • Mistwraithe

    Fair enough. It is quite probably I who have the unusual definition of RTS. I expect an RTS to contain significant elements of strategy and for good strategy to be a strong determinant of victory.

    I actually think many of the games currently labelled as RTS games would be better labelled as RTT as victory frequently revolves around optimal micro-managing of combat engagements with overall strategy not being particularly important (so long as you have one). But the whole subject is up for debate and I agree I’m in the minority on this one.

    We have come full circle somewhat in that the reason I think Kohan (KAG in particular) is such a great game is that it really IS an RTS game and deserves the S. Players who are great at the strategy side but only average at tactics/troop micro can beat players who are great at the tactics but only average at strategy (although obviously both will be trumped by someone who is great at both!).

  • Mistwraithe

    BTW by RTT I mean Real Time Tactics, forgot to expand out the abbreviation.

  • tboon

    “Why is there a thread here *and* at Idle Thumbs? I don’t know where to talk.”


    I thought the comments were locked for podcasts. So confused…

  • Troy Goodfellow

    They are supposed to be closed to comments now, but Rob often forgets. As do I. Please try to carry out discussions on the forum.

  • Mistwraithe

    I guess, but in that case I would never have posted becaues I don’t have a Idle Thumbs account and probably wouldn’t have made one either.

  • Rob C

    Kohan Warchest on sale at Impulse for < $7.

    It includes Kohan 1 & 2 + Kohan: Ahriman's Gift (the stand alone Kohan I expansion)