If you believe in fair play and the old adage that cheats never prosper, and that honesty is a virtue, then you will not get very far in BETRAYAL. This is a game where your opponents will betray you, not to mention each other, at the drop of a hat and they will cheat, lie, pillage, kill and assassinate anyone that they can get their hands on and end up blaming you if they are caught. Nothing is sacred, plotting, spying and deviousness are what counts in the military financial and political fields.
Your only chance is to be totally ruthless, even if it means painful sacrifice. At all costs you must grow unstoppably rich and militarily powerful so that you can bribe more places for your Courtiers than anyone else at the palaces of the King and Bishop. They are old and tired, and fast losing control, and only you as one of the four great warriors of your Kingdom have the potential to take over both places of power and become the supreme leader, the Lord High Protector.
This then is the scenario behind BETRAYAL, an adventure that has gripped me and never let go. I suppose deep down there is something in me that panders to this type of approach, I mean the odd lie, a little cheat now and then when needed in real life, but BETRAYAL for me lets it all out in full nasty glory.
Let's take a look at how it works. The lands of the West Marches are ruled over by the Church and the Crown. In the West Marches the currency of power is wealth. Every citizen from humble peasants up to Palaces seek money to further their ambitions.
The source of your wealth are the towns that are under your control and tyranny. They produce crops each year which can be harvested which of course in turn produces money. Now, in the royal and religious palaces, the King and Bishop both expect the Knights of the land to provide them with money levied from tax money raised in the towns. Keeping up to date with your taxes is a sure way to keep your nose clean with the leaders and hold places in t h e courts for your Courtiers. If you do fall behind, your Courtiers will be removed, which will be disastrous. However paying more than is necessary will allow you the chance to install more Courtiers, but remember, there is only space for 24 Courtiers in each Palace. If every player pays up and is a dutiful citizen, the chance to gain an outright majority is impossible, so you must find ways to create some spaces by getting opposing players Courtiers removed. This, of course, is not an easy task as the other three players (computer or human) are not just going to remove them if you ask! No sir, you must become 'politically skillful' and get them ousted by any means you can. Gettit?
Some of those means will entail assassination which costs, of course, cutting off income source by defeating enemy towns in battle and either taking them over as your own or ransacking them so no one else can take them for a year, and collecting evidence on your travels against the opposition and taking them to court for trial for heresy and treason. Collect enough evidence (this is done by riding your horse along roads and finding evidence scrolls along the way, or bribing other Courtiers, or spying on others etc.) and the accused will be found guilty and lose some Courtiers in the process. On your travels you can pick up some evidence that incriminates you. This is useful because it means no one else can obtain it, and you can destroy it later. Ha!
An example of the clever way this game game has been crafted is that a piece of evidence is only created when a player has committed an act of atrocity, such as fighting, tyranny (hauling his own townsfolk into the stocks) spying on or assassinating a Courtier.
The four players are coloured Red, Blue. Yellow and White and the Evidence scrolls reflect their colours. The icing on the cake here is that although you might have amassed overwhelming evidence against another player, he may have paid huge amounts of dosh to the King or Bishop in bribes and therefore their decision may go against you. Or they may call in a witness (another player) who will testify against you. Either way, you must resort to low level tactics at all times.
Graphically the game is superb, and the package carries a very well-written manual that explains all the intricancies of the plot. The fight routines are displayed with huge sprite figures that wield their weapons exceptionally well, and die beautifully.
One review cannot hope to present just how entertaining BETRAYAL is, just go out buy it and see for yourself.
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