The game is played on a large map of Europe which spans from Ireland in the west and Georgia in the east to Scandinavia in the north and the northern coastal areas of Africa in the south. On the map, each space is divided into provinces where each province is governed by a city with several rural areas (towns, farms, monasteries) around it. The rural areas can’t be changed but the city has room for buildings and upgrades which can give bonuses to the rural areas. Construction of other buildings are needed to recruit certain units or are used to defend the city such as walls and towers. A single city has only a limited amount of space for buildings so not all types of buildings can be built and the player must choose which to build that suits their needs. In Knights of Honor, the time it takes to build structures is rather longer than those in traditional strategy games.
In the game, there are three kinds of resources which can be used for different aspects and upgrades. The first is money which is used for recruiting units and to build buildings. Money is earned through taxes, trading and kingdom power. The next is piety which is used to increase the kingdom power and converting other provinces to your religion. Books are used to educate your knights and to take control of other provinces. The last is hammers which is generates by towns to construct certain buildings and food which determines how long a city can withstand a siege before being taken over.
In Knights of Honor, religion plays a large and important role. There are four different types of religion which is The Catholic Church, The Orthodox Church, Islam and Paganism. Since it is set during Medieval Europe, the Catholic pope has a large influence. He is able to excommunicate other Catholic kingdoms and call for crusades against non-Catholic kingdoms. When a pope dies, a successor is chosen among several clerics throughout Europe and if your own is picked, you have control of a very powerful seat in Europe.
In each kingdom, there are special units known as Knights which each has a special skills. The first is the marshal which is basically a general who is able to command the armies that has been conscripted by players. It is only through the command of the marshal that they can gain more territory besides the use of diplomacy and espionage. The marshal is able to gain skills with each battle that he joins and each level gives him a better advantage. Next is the spy who is able to infiltrate a rival kingdom and can do a variety of things that can be beneficial to the player’s kingdom such as an army revolt or attempting to seize the kingdom. Next is the merchant who is a trader who can bring in extra money or resources to be used for your kingdom. After is the cleric which is able to do two particular things which is adopting the population and converting a province to a different religion. The last two is the landlord (who is responsible for the food supply) and the builder (who is in charge of quickly building structures).