When a race becomes a civilisation, there's only one clear path forward: war. Warlords is a fantasy-based war-game. Eight players battle it out to become the ruler of the fabled land of llluria. Each has the same aim: to kill their chosen race of peoples to until they are the only ones left in the land. (So much for love thy neighbour.) This end is met, in the main, by fighting each other and capturing one another's territory. A number of castles cover the landscape. 80 in all. The key to the kingdom is to capture every last one of these strongholds. At the offset all but eight are neutral (but still, these are no push-over).
Captured castles produce troops, which can be sent out to capture yet more fortresses. This is the way that the empires expand, inevitably encroaching on to each other's territory and leading to conflict. It's not all down to brute force. There are other more subtle ways to further your cause. Being fantasy based, the search for powerful magical artefacts can aid you in your war efforts. Alliances can be made between human and computer players - and just as easily broken.
An awful lot of computer intelligence is apparent. When moving from one location to another, for instance, the computer will work out your most movement-efficient route. Simply click on your destination and the piece will skirt round rivers or along roads if that's the quickest, rather than the most direct, way. Make no mistake, Warlords is a long and involved strategy game, taking days rather than hours to come to its conclusion. For this reason the save-game command is jolly useful, and allows you to return to long campaigns at your own convenience. As you get further and further into the game you get more and more pieces, inevitably, under your control. It gets difficult to remember exactly what all your pieces were supposed to be doing. There are a number of special functions that are intended to make this somewhat easier, but it still can be rather confusing.
Playing at war
For a war-game of such obvious complexity Warlords is surprisingly intuitive to use. Right at the beginning of the manual, a step-by-step tutorial guides you through your first movements. From there on in you quickly get the hang of things, and you soon will be slaughtering your foes with a vengeance. Not that they're that easy to slaughter, mind. To win you have to be victorious over the seven other clans. Each computer player can be independently set to play at a variety of difficulty levels, and you can vary the competence of the opposition to provide as easy or as challenging a game as you like.
Playing against human opposition adds more to the game, as you can gang up on the computer players (or, depending on how treacherous you are, you can go straight for each other's throats). Warlords is a deep and challenging game that can be picked up almost from the word go. It does take a long time to play, but that will be a bonus, rather than a disadvantage, to the serious wargamer.
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