Warlords is an eight-player struggle for supreme power in the fabled kingdom of II-luria. The game may be played by one to eight humans with the computer filling in the empty seats.
Illuria is divided into eight zones. The players each start with one castle and a hero to lead their initial army. In the early stages, there's a mad rush as players attempt to claim as many of the remaining castles as possible while avoiding enemy confrontations.
After all the castles are claimed. Stage 2 lets players analyze their situation and begin mobilizing armies to attack nearby enemy installations. Each player's ultimate goal is total conquest.
Players take their turns in sequence until everyone has had a chance. Early on, players use their turns to produce armies and send them out to claim neutral cities. Each castle a player obtains brings income and new armies to control. However, gamers must be careful not to produce more armies then their income can afford to sustain.
Each player has a hero: the key man early in the game. The hero may search the dungeons and altars for treasure or allies to join the quest. Searching these places is risky; there is always a chance the hero will be slain by an angry dragon or other unfriendly creature. Should this happen, gamers must play without one until another hero offers to join their side.
Warlords is a very intense strategy game that should not be tried by those who hate long and actionless games. However, those who lust to be armchair generals will be delighted by all the game offers. The graphics are very colorful and the representations of the different armies are well-thought-out and easy to distinguish. The control system is amazingly simple to use. Players click their way around, moving armies by simply pointing to the desired destination. A full game can take anywhere from two to eight hours so be ready for an epic challenge. Thank goodness SSG included an excellent save-game feature, which remembers up to eight games at once.
The sounds, though scarce, are digitized recreations of swords swinging, trumpets blasting and other assorted battle sounds. It is this mixture of crisp graphics and imaginative sound effects that helps make Warlords a game players can play for hours.
The experienced game designers at Australia's Strategic Studies Group have produced a new strategy game that's easy to learn, dynamic in play, and darn near as addictive as Empire.
The setting is a mythical world called Illuria. Eight nations are vying for domination of Illuria, and only a fragile truce has kept the peace. But now that truce has collapsed, and each of the eight warlords (controlled by the computer or up to eight players) has but one objective: to slaughter the other seven and emerge as the sole ruler.
The warlords are represented by heroes who can move swiftly through the land to uncover hidden artifacts and supernatural weapons. Their armies come in various types, including wolfriding cavalry and flying dragons. There are 80 cities to be conquered, some neutral and some controlled by the enemy, and each city can produce one of several types of reinforcements. There's an economic dimension, too. It costs a lot to maintain a large army, and if you don't have enough income from loot and taxes, you'll have to disband some units until the books balance again. Naval power also plays a role. Ships can carry infantry to strike deep inside the enemy's heartland.
Fortunately, you can adjust the belligerence of your computer opponents. On the easiest setting, your enemies tend to be cautious and predictable. On the most ferocious setting, you'd better be prepared to think fast and fight hard.
Although the combat graphics aren't very exciting (a box with flashing icons accompanied by a few sword-clanking noises from the speaker), the game permits some fairly sophisticated military tactics.
Warlords' point-and-click player interface is simple but effective. The graphics are crisp and colorful, including a lovely map of Illuria that shows how the strategic situation shifts from turn to turn. The excellent manual tells you everything you need to know to jump in and start conquering. And with eight different starting points to choose from, the game stays fresh for a long time.
Even on its least aggressive settings, Warlords is an action-packed and high-spirited game that's very hard to stop playing once you start.