Sorcerer King is a new direction for strategy game design, pitting the player against a single overwhelmingly powerful enemy instead of a set of evenly matched factions racing for abstract victory conditions.
Think of the Sorcerer King as the evil mage who already won the last traditional game. He has already conquered the world. His enemies (including the player) are scattered, their armies broken and cities torn down. His dark minions have free reign to terrorize the survivors everywhere except a few tiny outposts of civilization (like the one the player starts in) too insignificant to crush.
Expanding the Kingdom
What do you know, there was another one of those darn cataclysms. It's up to the player to rebuild a kingdom that can stand up to the bad guys.
The player will need to clear out monsters and bandits with heroes and armies, then send pioneers to build cities on arable land and outposts to claim outlying resources.
Expanding the kingdom via pioneers is vital, and should be one of the player's highest priorities.
Exploring the Land
The landscape is dotted with a random selection of the hundreds of quests in Sorcerer King. Completing them grants crafting components, lore for researching new spells, new units, magical artifacts, and can even increase or decrease the Doomsday Counter.
If one sees something interesting on the map, chances are they should explore it and see what it is. At the very least, they will probably get a chuckle out of the writing - Chris Bucholz of Cracked.com writes all of the quests, and he's a funny guy.
Battles in Sorcerer King are quick and to the point. Nearly every unit in the game has a special ability, from Tandis' sweep attack that hits all adjacent enemies to the Stalker's deadly maul, which hits over and over again until dodged.
The sovereign can cast spells to help the player's forces out. A quick heal or weak summoned skeleton might give their armies the edge in the early game, but later on calling down devastating blizzards or walls of living flame can practically win battles by themselves.
Saving the World
The Sorcerer King is trying to destroy the shards. If not stopped it will be the literal end of the world.
Each shard destroyed by the Sorcerer King's forces pushes the Doomsday Counter forward. If it fills up, it's game over.
Completing quests in benevolent ways will lower the Doomsday Counter and delay the Sorcerer King's victory, and the shards must be defended to keep the assault at bay.
Facing the Sorcerer King
There is only one way to win in Sorcerer King: he must be defeated in battle. Naturally, it's easier said than done.
First, one must find his two lieutenants. Don't worry, one can't miss the enormous fire and ice demons roaming the landscape. Bringing lots of friends and a full mana bank to any confrontation with the lieutenants is highly recommended.
Once both lieutenants have been bested, one must fight their way to the heart of the Sorcerer King's domain. Even more friends and as much mana as one can possibly scrounge together are a good idea at this point.
Crafting is critical in Sorcerer King. Killing monsters and completing quests gives crafting materials, which can be turned into everything from basic chainmail to epic flaming swords.
Both heroes and regular units can use crafted items. A fully equipped unit can be several times more effective than a bare one.