Author David Lester pays unashamed tribute to the classics Defender Of The Crown and Kingdoms in his program notes. He felt that there was plenty of scope to produce a splendid game that not only consisted of gaining territories and defending your population, but also included a proper land management game and an impressive castle builder. Something that Interplay's Castles failed to do. You start out in control of one of the 32 counties of medieval Britain with five other opponents, either human or computer controlled, with the aim of mastering the whole land and becoming king.
To do this you have to become involved in four different aspects of the game. The first is to win the respect of the people who serve you and keep them contented and well fed. Within your county, you get 16 fields which can be used either for growing wheat, or grazing cattle and sheep. As each season goes by your fortunes will change. Your crops need to be planted in spring (when also most of your livestock will be born) and harvested in autumn. Crop rotation will be needed to allow fields to regenerate, and this is taken care of by the program. So, a well fed and fairly taxed community will support you. Their mood is represented by the number of hearts displayed; get five and your in business, under that and revolts will break out. You must tax your people to gain revenue for buying food after a bad crop or buying materials whenever a merchant passes by.
The second factor in your success is in building an army. Drafting untrained peasants into the fray will not do wonders for morale, let alone put a dent in the enemy. You'll need to supply them with proper weapons. Iron needs to be mined and then made into swords etc. The other option is to hire mercenaries, but they don't come cheap. The third factor is in castle-building. Without them, your enemy can just toddle along and take over your land without as much as a by-your-leave. Early on you can only afford a humble construction, say an outer wall and keep. Eventually you get to build a very impressive home, something that will frighten your enemies to death, not to mention your finance minister who will have to pay for its upkeep.
All through the game you need to change your workforces. Come harvest time you will need hundreds of workers to bring in the crops whilst only a few will need to watch over the growing fields. Attacking another county will take a very large army, as that county will automatically staff up every person to defend it. The rewards however are worth the bloodletting as you obviously get more people and more land to grow even bigger and richer.
This bring us on to the fourth option - the siege. This intrinsic part of medieval combat requires you to lay siege to your opponents castles with all manner of weaponry including catapults and battering rams. This aspect of Lords Of The Realm is so tactical that a separate manual is given over for it. Creating war games is what Impressions do best, so you would expect this level of complexity. By the time you get to this stage, you would have been well into the game and more than happy to sit down and think out a good siege strategy.
A lot of thought has gone into this game, and they have succeeded where Defender Of The Crown failed. Lords Of The Realm covers just about every aspect of a medieval war game that you could wish for and then some.
The English throne is emtpy in 1268 A.D. You and five lords have to fight for the throne in this great strategy game. You have to build a town with a castle, control your people with feudal and fighting tasks to conquer your rivals and claim the kingdom.
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