Goblins get a bad rap. They're the trash mobs of RPGs, the entry-level enemies of fantasy strategy games, and generally thought to be just as killable as, say, Nazis. Developer Lost Goblin doesn't like that. They want to see goblins in the spotlight, and they intend to put them there with Goblins of Elderstone, a city builder and "goblin tribe simulator" where goblins are only as evil and stupid as you want them to be.
Part 4X strategy and part building sim, Goblins of Elderstone is about characterizing and controlling your goblins. You can assign them roles like warrior, chief, shaman, or worker, then order them to collect resources, build villages or defend territory. They're not entirely under your thumb, though. You've got to threaten, coax and bribe with equal measure, otherwise smaller tribes are liable to revolt, possibly violently.
Similarly, you get to decide how your goblins interact with the other races of Elderstone, like elves and humans and orcs. The classic good, neutral, and bad alignments make an appearance, but you can also specialize in fighting, trading or religious proselytization.
"Use a combination of fast-talking, gift-giving, violence, and just the right amount of threats to keep your clans in line," Lost Goblin writes on Steam. "Failure to do so will likely result in a fair amount of murder and potentially the destruction of your entire village. However, diplomacy doesn’t stop there. Other races, and even the gods, can be convinced to do your bidding."
Forging alliances might make exploration or trade easier, but crushing rivals outright will surely make for quicker expansion. You could argue for either, but total world domination is ultimately the goal of Goblins of Elderstone. You win by seizing control of key locations, but not necessarily by force.
Lost Goblin is a relatively new New Zealand-based studio, but Goblins of Elderstone has some bigger names behind it. The music is being handled by Hyperduck Soundworks, who you may know from Dust: An Elysian Tail and Cosmic Star Heroine, and the narrative is being handled by Edwin McRae, lead narrative designer of Path of Exile.