Sunday, February 12, 2023

Game 484: Warlords II (1993)

Warlords II
Strategic Studies Group (developer and publisher)
Released 1993 for DOS, 1994 for Macintosh
Date Started: 4 February 2023
I covered Warlords (1990) a couple of years ago. The sequel hasn't changed much, at least mechanically. It's a turn-based 4X strategy game from the company that many people credit with originating the (computer) genre with Reach for the Stars (1983), covered a few months ago by our resident Wargaming Scribe. You compete against up to seven other players (either human or AI) to conquer a large map full of cities and ruins. Each side starts with one city and one hero and fans out to conquer a large number of "neutral" cities before encountering other factions. Each city generates income and is capable of producing units of soldiers of varying types, each with their own statistics for movement, strength, cost, and the number of rounds it takes to make them. You send stacks of these units across the map to conquer and defend cities and otherwise defeat your foes. 
The RPG elements come with one or more "hero" units who can search ruins to find allies, gold, and artifacts, receive quests, gain experience, and level up. It is, of course, primarily a strategy game; I wouldn't even call it a hybrid. But I've enjoyed the series throughout my life, and I added it to my list for a change of pace.
Some of the differences from Warlords are:
  • Graphical upgrades. 
  • A tutorial scenario that walks you through the game's mechanics.
Learning to fight.
  • A slightly redesigned interface. The game relies more on pop-up windows than its predecessor.
  • The first game had a decent control scheme, with on-screen buttons backed up by keyboard shortcuts. This one adds menus. 
The interface does a great job offering multiple ways that players can execute commands.
  • There's more transparency when it comes to unit strengths and bonuses.
  • You can set a destination for units and then just automatically move them round after round until they reach it.
  • There are a lot more unit types, and any city can be upgraded to produce any unit. I'm not sure this is an upgrade. It makes the cities lose some of their uniqueness. I believe that for Warlords III, they went back to the previous system.
Selecting from among the many units I can have a city build.
  • When conquering cities, you have the option to pillage, sack, or raze the cities for extra gold. Pillaging and sacking removes the ability of the city to produce higher-level units, and razing destroys it completely. You can not rebuild or improve cities yet; that won't come until the next game.
  • A face in a helmet periodically pops up between rounds to offer commentary on how the game is going. I think this is your "advisor," which you can turn on or off.
  • Heroes can be male or female, and you can now rename them.
Marhaus comes from the Tristan legends. He's a giant that Tristan slew in Ireland.
  • Heroes have levels and experience in addition to strength. The game also tells you explicitly their combat and command bonuses; I think these things existed in Warlords but were hidden.
A hero levels up.
  • Some of the ruins are now hidden; you have to learn about them to find them. 
  • The types of ruins have been expanded. Instead of just items, gold, and allies, you can find temples where a hero can receive either a quest or a blessing. Quests include searching other ruins, capturing certain cities, and looting specified amounts of money. You can also find sages who tell you the locations of artifacts or reveal parts of the map (if you're playing with the "fog of war" option).
  • You no longer have the option to stop enemy heroes from searching ruins.
Marhaus completes a quest.
But the most significant improvements are in the scenarios themselves. Warlords had only a single game map, and the only variety you got was the option to play a different faction each time. The sequel comes with a tutorial and five maps--Dragon Realms, Isles of Sorcery, Erythea Campaign, Hadesha Campaign, and Isladia Campaign--plus the ability to generate random maps on which you can control the prevalence of each type of terrain. The random maps are essentially indistinguishable from the hand-crafted ones. I should note that the "campaigns" are just single maps, though. It won't be until Warlords III that the campaigns string multiple scenarios together and allow the same hero to persist between maps.
Setting options for a new game.
If this weren't enough, you also have a plethora of options for each map, whether one of the scenarios or random. The enemy AI can be set to three levels, just like the original, but you also have an option to adjust the overall game difficulty to three levels. (A single "I am the greatest" button sets all the enemies to the highest level. If you don't like it, the option to switch back says: "No! I really am normal.") You can determine whether neutral cities passively sit there waiting for you to conquer them or actively generate armies and defend themselves. You can turn quests and diplomacy on or off. You can enable a "fog of war" effect that occludes areas of the map you haven't scouted. You can turn on or off the ability to see enemy movement and production. You can enable a "quick start" option that begins the game with all neutral cities conquered and distributed. You can enable an option that randomizes turn order; boy, does that screw up the best laid plans. Overall, the number of sides, maps, and difficulty levels creates immense replayability.
Starting a new game with the "fog of war" in effect.
Still, despite all the options, I found myself settling into familiar patterns. I start aggressively, sending my hero and every unit I can muster to conquer neutral cities. I breed a large number of infantry units fast, stacking them in defensive positions in the lower-right corners of the cities. Once I have between four and six of those (depending on the strategic importance of the city) defending the city, I start vectoring units to cities closer to my enemies. I generally maintain two "fronts" and conquer cities systematically. I send the hero around the map to search ruins. If a second hero joins me (you get random offers when you have enough gold), I put him in a leadership role on one of the fronts. I don't spend as much time as I should assembling my unit stacks to balance strengths and weaknesses, nor to ensure that units are fighting on favorable terrain.
Sending a dragon around to conquer neutral cities.
Eventually, I get to a point when it's clear that I'm dominating the map. When that happens, Warlords generally has the remaining factions offer to surrender. You can say no, but I usually find that the game has lost some of its luster by this point. Turns are taking a long time, and I have so many units on the field that they're tough to manage. I start to lose track of what city is producing what and where it's going. I find that if I reject the surrender, it often takes even more time than I've already invested in the game to run around conquering every last city.
Great graphic, but I've just committed myself to another six hours of gameplay.
I've never played Warlords against another player. If I did, I'm sure this pattern would be utterly predictable and I'd have to shake it up or die. But the enemy AI on its higher levels does a pretty good job shaking things up on its own. I find that the AI does a better job managing its resources than I do. I waste a lot of money and opportunity putting garrisons in "safe" cities (far from the front) because I don't want to have to micromanage the development of new units if an enemy army starts threatening them. The computer does a better job adapting to the positions of my armies (and other computer-controlled factions'), pulling, moving, and replacing units depending on where I am.
At "Warlord" level, enemies really mess up your plans. They lose interest in conquering in a predictable pattern and launch offensives in places you wouldn't expect. In my last session, I played the Erythrea Campaign with most of the enemies set to "warlord" level and the ability to see enemy movement turned off. For a while, I seemed to be doing very well. I had nearly conquered a couple of other factions and had spread far from my origin point. I noticed the Lich King seemed awfully quiet but didn't make much of it. Sure enough, the bastard had sent a bunch of armies deep into my territory where I had some lightly-defended cities. He conquered three of them quickly, and two of them were vectoring hubs, which meant for the next three rounds, my armies popped up in all the wrong places. I had to scramble to bring units back from the front, which ruined my momentum and allowed those foes to reclaim their territory.
My hero, two pegasuses, a pack of wolves, and a couple of cavalry units somehow lose to an infantryman, a wolf, and a dragon. It's probably the dragon.
Moments like this ought to be delicious. The fact that they're not, for me, shows why I'm a CRPG addict and not a strategy game addict. I love Warlords, but only when I'm winning. I feel like a true strategy game addict would enjoy a loss, admiring the challenge that led to it. I enjoy losing occasional combats in RPGs, but I wouldn't enjoy it if those losses significantly affected my progress in the game. I get anxious and angry when the computer plays too well. I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy playing against another human.
Theoretically, the hero units ought to take the edge off a bit. They're so powerful, individually and as leaders, that they alter what is otherwise a relatively deterministic combat system, making some stacks twice as powerful as with their absence. A leader with a few allies--dragons, elementals, demons--can mount a campaign of conquest all on his own. And while enemy heroes run by the computer search ruins, the AI doesn't seem to take pains to level up their heroes by including them in random combats. It's one of the player's few edges over the machine, but it's not quite enough to make it feel as flexible as an RPG. In RPGs, you rarely suffer an unwinnable game because of poor strategy; the enemy can almost never make a comeback and cause you to "lose." Here, once the balance of power tips far enough, you may as well resign.
Nothing's more infuriating than finding an enemy hero, let alone an enemy unit, deep in your territory.
There are a couple of logistical considerations that haven't advanced far enough to make much of a difference. I should mention that as a non-strategy game addict, I definitely don't want things to get too complicated. I lose interest in strategy games when I have to manage too many variables. Still, Warlords II could perhaps use a few more. The economy doesn't play much of a role, for instance. I find that if I just conquer cities naturally, I almost always have just enough income to keep up with my expenses. When there are variances, it's never enough to make me rich nor to require me to disband units. There's nothing to buy in the game except heroes and units, and heroes come along somewhat randomly, and most cities have a decent selection of default units. There's thus no real incentive to raze and pillage cities. Warlords III will introduce some greater complexity in this area, with the ability to upgrade cities' defenses and build other fortifications.
Second, the diplomacy system is a bit under-developed. You generally start out with a couple of overt enemies, but other nations remain at peace with you until you attack them or send too many armies through their territories. You can declare war and offer peace, but I found that there was rarely an advantage to the former, and enemies hardly ever accepted the latter. You cannot make alliances. I don't remember if the next game allows for alliances, but I know the overall system takes on a greater degree of complexity.
I don't even know what to do now. Everyone is at peace!
Despite these slight misgivings, I had a lot of fun with the game and its scenarios, winning three of them at modest difficulty (40-60%) and resigning one that I played at 80% difficulty when I got to a point where my losses started significantly outpacing my wins. It's certainly better than Warlords if only for the greater variety in maps and options, and Warlords was a pretty good game.
The "backstory" is kind of silly and doesn't seem to go with all the scenarios. After years of bloody fighting in the original game, the warlords of Illuria agreed to a fragile peace. But they grew restless, and a new war seemed inevitable. The sorcerers of the realm decided not to stand for it. They cast a spell of incredible power that transported the warlords and their armies to a brand new world called Etheria, where they could fight among themselves without devastating Illuria.
The first game had eight factions drawn from Tolkien archetypes: Sirians, Storm Giants, Gray Dwarves, Orcs of Kor, Elvallie, Selentines, Horse Lords, and Lord Bane. This game uses some of the same crests as the original, and the crests are the same for each scenario, but the names of the factions differ. So the white cross shield that belonged to the Sirians in Warlords also belongs to the Sirians here, if you play the Erythrea Campaign. In other campaigns, it belongs to Lord Silver (Dragon Realms), Magicians (Isles of Sorcery), the Dream Knights (Hadesha Campaign), or the Cloud Knights (Isladia Campaign). The faction with the black shield and skull belongs to Lord Ebon, the Necromancers, the Lich King, Nightmare, or the Zhoraghians here. Lord Bane isn't mentioned at all.
An adoring family, soldiers to follow my orders, and the world in my grasp. Life is good.
The closest campaign to the original is the Erythean one, where the factions are the Sirians, Stone Giants, White Dwarves, Ussyrian Orcs, Dark Elves, Kingdoms, Horse Tribes, and the Lich King. I know that in Warlords III, the main campaign takes place in Erathia (only a slight difference from "Erythrea") and restores the original factions. [Ed. Mixing up my strategy games. As commenters pointed out, it's "Etheria"; the "Erathia" games are in the Heroes of Might and Magic series.]
Warlords was conceived by Steve Fawkner, who designed a prototype game before shopping it to SSG. For the final version, he was joined by SSG veterans Roger Keating, Ian Trout, and Gregory Whiley, all of whom have credits on both the original and the sequel. One of our frequent commenters, László Bényi, wrote an article about Fawkner and the Warlords series on his "Retroland" web site (Google translated version here). The article offers a lot more details about both games' AI, credited primarily to Keating. Unlike your foes in many strategy games, the enemies in Warlords have the same information as the player and have the same resources, options, and restrictions. For II, Keating apparently programmed different "personalities" for the factions, including "diplomatic values, economic savvy, and military aggressiveness." I didn't really notice this, but a casual player wouldn't.
Checking out an enemy city.
Many interesting-sounding items were cut from the game, including more nautical mechanics like ports, shipbuilding, and naval combat. (Fawkner couldn't figure out how to ensure that a port was properly located on every landmass on randomly-generated maps.) Other ideas included wildfires that could consume armies and cities, a roaming water vortex that would consume ships, and an unstoppable Tyrannosaurus Rex, who would eat the closest army (friend or foe) and could be lured into enemy territories by lining up sacrificial units in a chain. Frankly, I'm glad that most of the cut content was cut.
Warlords II became SSG's best seller to date and got fantastic reviews and fan feedback. Computer Gaming World gave a rave review in November 1993 and eight pages of analysis and recommendations spread across the November and December 1993 issues. Reviewer Ed Dille's only major complaint is that there isn't much of a victory screen. Other reviewers and players complained at the lack of online multiplayer support; for games involving more than one human, they had to be at the same computer.
I would not have known this world was randomly-generated.
SSG dealt with this latter issue, and others, in Warlords II Deluxe (1995). I suspect most modern Warlords II players try that version. In addition to online and play-by-email features, the game has a couple dozen new scenarios. The weird "I am the greatest" setting is gone, but there are a couple of new game options, plus a scenario creator (originally released as a standalone product in 1994). There are some graphics "upgrades" that just seem to me to make things more complicated--for instance, instead of lining up on a plain gray background, opposing armies fight on top of a shield--but others, like the cities, look nice.

I was originally going to wrap up my coverage in a single entry, but reading László's article made me realize that I hadn't been getting the most out of the game. As a non-strategy game addict, I've been playing it too casually, winning through blunt force and lower difficulty settings rather than through true strategy. So I'm going to offer one more entry in which I chronicle my experience, win or lose, on the highest difficulty setting I can muster. Stay tuned.


  1. There is a Warlords II spreadsheet online. Army, Levels and Options can be clicked without spoiling anything and are more like a supplement to the manual, while clicking Scenario and Erythea Campaign will reveal the hidden maps and faction strengths.

    The random map generator was pretty good, as you note, and greatly extended the life of of Warlords II. I'll avoid mentioning the strategies that break the game, although I'm sure another commenter will be down below dropping spoilers. I really liked the diplomacy setting, as it was nice to do something other than be at war the entire game. The back of the box of Warlords I showed "Friendly" as one of the attitudes, and I tore my hair out trying to figure out how to do it. I understand now that that was misleading, as a common practice back then was to remove features but still advertise them as existing.

    Playing multiplayer co-op at the same computer was a great way to use the "I am the greatest" option. All the computers ganged up on the humans and it was much better than the usual "get a good position on the map, conquer a bunch of neutrals and a weak empire and then use that mass to grind down the other players until one of them loses a hero stack and quits" that multiplayer usually was.

    For those of you who do want to play other humans, there is a modern remake at It's active and has regular competitions.

    1. That spreadsheet is exactly the sort of thing I would have made if I were more addicted to the game.

      I'm sure some publisher do deliberately include cut content in advertising, the same way that movie trailers have scenes that didn't appear in the film, but I suspect the explanation is less sinister than you intimate. Screenshots for the box probably had to be delivered months ahead of time. It's likely unrealistic to freeze game development at the point that the promos start.

    2. Yeah I still remember doing all sorts of crazy things in Heroes of Might and Magic II back in the day to get the mysterious building beside the knight's port that only shows up on the back of the box. It's obviously some cut content, but still makes me wonder what it was supposed to be.

  2. I think Erathia is the setting for Heroes of Might and Magic III. Is Warlords III Etheria? Talk about confusing.

    1. Erathia is a country or continent in HoMM3, yes. It also appears in M&M7.

      Intentional reference by the HoMM devs or coincidence? Who knows!

    2. "Etheria" is also the name of the world in which She-Ra takes place (both in the 1985 original and the 2018 reboot).

    3. Yeah, I also found this confusing back in the day - I didn’t play Warlords 2 back in the day so I’d played HoMM 3 before noticing the world had the same name in Warlords 3. Etheria (the Warlords one) is also the setting for the Puzzle Quest games, funnily enough - or at least the first two, I haven’t played the free-to-play awfulness that’s the notional third installment. The first one actually goes reasonably in depth into the world and lore - it’s fun but very, very generic.

    4. I felt something was wrong even as I was typing that. Correction appended.

    5. What's a little Etheria/Erathia errata between friends?

      A pal introducing me to Warlords 2 was almost certainly what later led to me getting horribly addicted to Master of Magic for a few months. There's definitely a throughline to draw there, and to HoMM and Age of Wonders and beyond.

    6. Well, not a throughline but convergent evolution, maybe -- HoMM's immediate precursor was King's Bounty, which came out in 1990, the same year as Warlords I, so probably there wasn't time for whichever came out later in the year to take too much inspiration from the other (MoM was 1994 so while it's clearly riffing on Civilization most directly, I wouldn't be surprised if the Simtex designers were looking at one or both of those two games too).

    7. Not even sure I'd call it convergent evolution past the first games. The KB/HoMM series and Warlords series were the two big strategy with hero units games and they definitely were reacting to each other once they were both going.

    8. Erathia and Etheria both sound like products of putting random fantasy syllables together. I think it's most likely they they were all conjured independently...

    9. I'd say "Erathia" is "Earth but spelled funny" (just like how Oerth, Aerth, Dirt, Terra, and various variations of the above are all the names of fantasy worlds); whereas "Etheria" is "Eternia but sounding softer and more feminine" (because Eternia is the setting of He-Man, and She-Ra is basically the genderflipped sequel).

    10. I'd agreed with your rationale on 'Erathia' being a form of 'Earth', but Etheria is pretty clearly a play on 'Ethereal/Ether/Aether', a term which has associations with spirituality, magic, and the heavenly upper atmosphere (among other things) going back to the ancient Latin and Greek roots of the word.

  3. I remember staying up all night playing this with a couple friends in my youth. Went to see the Lion King the next day and fell asleep in the cinema.

  4. Hmm, sounds like something I might give a try. I also enjoy a bit of 4X strategy from time to time, but many modern games of that type seem too complex and too heavy into micro-managing for my tastes.

    Contemporary German reviewers liked it, too, but weren't swept off their feet by it, giving ratings in the 72-79% range. Besides better graphics and sound they would also still have liked more innovations and improvements / strategic depth after the first game (the lack of a linked multiplayer mode was among them as well), comparing it to 'Empire Deluxe' and 'Civilization' (

    For another more current look at its 'Deluxe' version see e.g.

    Just to mention, without link, that the W II Deluxe version is sold on gog bundled with the first game for a couple Euros (/ USD I guess).

  5. The random map generator is pretty nice, but I think the premises scenarios have more logical roads and a nice amount of making each faction a bit more unique.

    The high tier fantasy units (wizards, ghosts, dragons etc) are still not purchasable as a production option, so cities able to produce them are valuable and unique.

    There is also a deluxe option with a lot more scenarios and an editor, bit I think the graphics of that are slightly less pleasing.

  6. I played this to death in my year after high shool (having just discovered Abandonia in the early days of the web) and can certainly attest to its replayability.

  7. As mentioned above, this reminds me of Civilization, which came out in '91. The latest of that series that I've played is Civ 3 which shows how up to date I am.

  8. AlphabeticalAnonymousFebruary 12, 2023 at 1:54 PM

    Speaking of strategy games, I was inspired by the Digital Antiquarian's recent coverage to load and play through Master of Orion 2 (1996). It requires far more attention to minutiae than does Warlords 1 or 2, but I was amused to realize that it might technically qualify as a CRPG because it also has 'Leaders' who give bonuses to your colonies and fleets.

    Specifically, following the old criteria at (i) although there is no 'character creation' (unless one counts creating a custom species) one dos have a choice of whether to accept a given leader's services, and there is at least one event-triggered leader (Lothnar) that one can reliably recruit at the same place; (ii) though the Leaders have no 'inventory' per se, one could consider that assigning a Fleet Leader to increasingly souped-up fighting vessels counts after a fashion; and their abilities definitely increase as they gain experience; (iii) combat is based on probabilities, and the game is reasonably transparent about damage statistics, to-hit bonuses, etc.; (iv) the game (usually) progresses through combat, as well as dialog and (v) interaction with NPCs (i.e., the rulers of the computer-controlled empires); (vi) the game is certainly full of random encounters, and (vii) the game world changes based on one's actions -- i.e. one can change the climate of planets, construct new planets, or vaporize them entirely.

    I would never argue that MOO2 is a CRPG, but funny to think that it may meet the criteria roughly as well as Warlords 2. Luckily MOO1 probably wouldn't qualify (no experience, no Leaders) and anyway the sequel didn't come out until 2006. And the less said about MOO3, the better.

    1. AlphabeticalAnonymousFebruary 12, 2023 at 1:55 PM

      Correction: I meant that the sequel (MOO2) came out in 1996, not 2006.

    2. It makes sense when you realize MOO2 isn't really the sequel to Master of Orion. It's the sequel to Master of Magic. Once you get that, a lot falls in to place.

      Master of Magic is a hybrid of Magic: the Gathering and Civilization, but I think it qualifies as an RPG under the definition because it has all of the characteristics. Also, it's a great game. The huge variance in starting conditions and available heroes makes it replayable as hell, and it's a great deal of fun to creatively find new ways to break the game.

    3. Talking about strategy games with RPG elements / hybrids, and more specifically their second instalments, James "Jimmy" Maher ('The Digital Antiquarian', also linked in the sidebar on desktop view here) is currently writing about "sequels in strategy gaming". After Civ II and MoO II he just published a piece about HoMM II:

    4. HoMM 2 is one of the few sequels that renders its predecessor redundant. It's the same, but better.

      In contrast, while HoMM 3 is a better game than HoMM 2, I've wheeled out the latter from time to time.

  9. Enjoy this little gem, that was mostly underrated in contemporary reviews, which was understandable when looking at the year and the programs released in it, but just makes fun playing.
    I still regularly play the very good iPad version which takes the best elements of Warlords 1 & 2.

  10. Enjoy this little gem, that was mostly underrated in contemporary reviews, which was understandable when looking at the year and the programs released in it, but just makes fun playing.
    I still regularly play the very good iPad version which takes the best elements of Warlords 1 & 2.

  11. Your experience with the Lich King reminded me of an epic 8-sided LAN game of Warcraft 2 I played with some friends back in the day. Was 3 humans vs 3 humans with 2 independent computer opponents thrown in. The first computer was quickly squeezed out and eliminated, the other was largely ignored as the two human groups fought it out.
    That is, until a couple hours had passed and suddenly huge armies appeared and everyone was being massively attacked by the 2nd CPU side. Even with the 6 human players emergency-allied up it took over an hour to recover and beat the computer back into submission. I forget who even won afterward, not sure if we even finished the game at that point.

  12. One of my favorite gaming memories is winning on the Dragon Isles map in 2 turns on top difficulty. Got high movement allies from ruins (wizards?) and sent them in all directions.

    1. Sounds right, Wizards have 50 movements per turn in Warlords 2, so they are the fastest units in the game.

      Probably intended to approximate teleportation? Though they get slowed down by hills and forests, so it is a bit weird.

    2. Line of sight teleportation maybe?

    3. I always thought, it was meant to represent characters like Gandalf who traveled enormous distances in the literary epics that influenced Warlords.

    4. You can look that up in the Warlords 1 manual, they ride Phantom Steeds, which is an old D&D spell.

  13. Oh, I played quite a lot of that game (Deluxe version, I think it was)... against myself. That way I could treat it as a "story" game, inventing conflict between my controlled factions, without the risk of losing :) Also, the Deluxe version featured a sprite editor to create your own units - THAT was fun! You could easily turn the game into one about tanks and rocket launchers instead of fantasy dragons and elves.

    1. Tyler Sigman, one of the Darkest Dungeon developers, made a blog post about creating a Lord of the Rings scenario for Wl2 Deluxe as one of his first steps into game design.

  14. Thanks for the link !

    It is interesting that when playing wargames, you have the same approach as I do : train a bit, then declare one session the "serious attempt" [before starting it] and plow through it. Whether you win or lose that attempt, consider the game "done" for blogging purposes. It generates good Let's Play IMHO ; I am usually confident you are going to "win" most RPGs thrown at you (and really all post-90 ones), but a strategy game ? Who knows !

  15. Ah, Warlords 2!
    I understand your aversion against playing against a computer on a winning streak, but from my memories, I recall playing this game on hotseat-multiplayer against real people is a vastly different experience.
    We played this one on our school computer when we were around 10 or so, and actually seeing your mate grinning gleefully while obliterating your precious castles is actually a pretty fun experience - you know he'll be next goddamnit :D

  16. We played this A LOT in hot seat mode on randomly generated maps. We save scummed the hell out of it when exploring ruins or fighting the computer enemies but not when we fought each other. Great fun!

  17. I'm not understanding something in this post.
    "Heroes no longer have strength, but rather levels and experience"
    But the image right below that of a hero levelling up shows a stat "Str 7(+11)"
    That looks like a strength stat boosted by level and items.
    What am I not understanding?

    1. I have no idea what I was talking about. Clearly, they still have strength. Maybe I meant to put "just" in front of "strength." Anyway, I fixed it.

  18. "You can enable an option that randomizes turn over; boy, does that screw up the best laid plans."

    What's "turn over"? I can't think of anything it could mean, but I'm probably just being dense.

    1. Oh, that makes sense. I was just being dense.

    2. Wow, that makes more sense. Somehow I was envisioning a mode that randomized when turn over happens, meaning how much time you had to take your turn, so you'd have to give critical orders quickly, or the turn might be over before you finished!

  19. The map (presumably of the Dragon Realms) looks like a head of a dragon breathing fire. Do the other maps have recognizable shapes?

    1. I hadn't noticed that. Now that you've mentioned it, it seems obvious. Very cool!

    2. Oh wow, just like Mat it was hidden in plain sight for me, too.

  20. This game is probably second only to Civ II in all-time total hours-played for me (with, I don't know, Nethack a distant 3rd). It scratched a certain Sword of Aragon itch I had, I suppose, but I never would have categorized it as a CRPG. Nonetheless, glad to see Chester's critical lens momentarily brought to bear on it!

  21. The Scenario Editor wasn't stand-alone, it was basically an expansion pack for Warlords 2. In addition to the editor itself, it included 24 new maps, some of them with new terrain. All of these are included in the Deluxe version, however. SSG also released a few exclusive scenarios for subscribers to their in-house magazine Run 5, but sadly, those are lost to time.

  22. This so sounds like "Swords of Aragon" which I actually played for a LONG time after you blogged about it - so thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    1. I mention Aragon in my next entry. The major difference is that the enemies in Aragon don't play by the same rules as the PC. They're not limited by economics or time in their unit-building and they don't actually have to travel across the map to get from place-to-place. Many of their variables are scripted. Battling W2's factions are generally indistinguishable from battling a human opponent.

    2. Aragon's approach, I meant to say, makes for a more interesting RPG but a less interesting strategy game.

  23. "There are a lot more unit types, and any city can be upgraded to produce any unit. I'm not sure this is an upgrade. It makes the cities lose some of their uniqueness. I believe that for Warlords III, they went back to the previous system."

    Oh I just noticed this. No. For Warlords 3 they linked units to side.

    If you're the Sirians, you can build cavalry, knight lords, or pegasi at any town where you buy the ability to build that unit; if you're Lord Bane, you can build all manner of undead.

    If you're Lord Bane and you capture the Sirians' capital, it doesn't mean you can build Knight Lords; it means that, when you capture the city, you're offered the option to:
    * Occupy: gain no money, the city doesn't lose any levels.
    * Pillage: gain some money by "cashing in" the city's useless-to-you cavalry/pegasi/Knight Lord production abilities, the city drops one level from a citadel to a castle or from a castle to a village
    Sack: gain some money by "cashing in" all the city's production ability; if the money listed for Pillage and Sack is different, that means the city can currently produce one or more unit you can produce; if you choose Sack the city automatically drops to a village if it's anything higher
    Raze: Gain no money. The city loses all production ability and becomes a ruin, completely useless to anyone unless someone pays 800 gold to rebuild it.

    But in the case of Lord Bane capturing the Sirians' capital, the first three options will still leave Bane's player looking at: as far as you are concerned the city you just captured can produce nothing. Choose a type of undead creature to purchase the ability to produce here.


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