The peace is broken - now the eight mighty empires of Illuria must contend for supreme power!
One of the truly classic computer strategy games, spawner of many sequels, produced and developed by Strategic Studies Group Inc (SSG) in 1990. It is set in the ancient kingdom of Illuria, where old animosities flare up again when the archmage that enforced the peace died. Each player takes over a charakteristic group, with the rest played by the computer. The goal is to
destroy your opponents and unite the land under your rule.
In the beginning, every player controls one city, one military unit, and one hero, the other 72 cities are still neutral, but that will soon change. At first, all players scramble to take control over as many neutral cities as they can to ensure enough military prowess when it comes to fighting each other. The heroes can also search ruins to uncover allies, gold or treasure. Every unit is unique, with special abilities, favorite fighting terrains and movement speeds. The setup doesn't change (excepting the contents of the ruins), so exploration is not necessary. Tactics and strategy are more important than luck, although that plays a role as well, when it comes to fight. I fondly remember the day when my last Elvallie archer shot down 5 enemy dragons in succession. I honor his name still...
The following factions were available:
Orcs of Kor: Strong, fast, dangerous.
Lord Bane: The Evil that returned
Storm Giants: A strong nation, with a large area of territory in it's immediate backyard
Horse Lords: A people of Riders of the Steppe. Highly mobile and cheap units.
Grey Dwarves: Strong but slow, great defenders, fastest on hills
Syria: The Good Guys, boring, Infanty units and pegasi.
Elvallie: Elves. Cheap, fast and fairly strong basic units, therefore able to expand quickly.
Selentine: Human kingdom of seafarers.
As the Elves of Elvallie breed like rabbits and have good follow up units as well, they were always my favorites. Let others play the Orcs of Kor, Bane or the Grey Dwarves, Mine will always be Elvallie. My usual approach was to breed simple archer units, ready after one turn, and secure the nearby forest castles, while making to the four castles on the east with my hero. Then assemble a great army and flank south, towards the Syrians usually crushing them without difficulty, and using the units produced in the meanwhile to build a second army to stand against the Storm Giants. When that border is secure, switch to producing Pegasi, and soon one should hold the entire south-western continent, having 1-2 flying heroes able to strike deep into the enemies territories, preventing them from expanding to quickly. And so, victory will be assured.
There are also simple but effective systems of economics and diplomacy, which add to the feeling of the game, but like in most games, when you start winning, the other players will start to dislike, even hate you, even though you never broke a treaty yourself... The AI was amazing for that time (and better than some games today), with the computer launching concentrated attacks on target cities, and units finding the actual fastest way across any given terrain. The interface was simple and easy to use, all in all, the game made a junkie for weeks, always trying out new tactics and winning earlier, better, grander... Ah those were the days...
Although Warlords 1 is said to be included in the Illuria scenario of Warlords II Deluxe and Warlords III: Darklord Rising, I found this to be not so. The feel of the game is very different, and the same tactics do not apply anymore. As any city is able to build almost any unit, and special units can be built as well, the strategic factor of Warlords 1 is lost. In the original game, you had to work with what you were given, every race had their specialities and to get to new units, you had to conquer the cities that built them. I preferred that.. Warlords II is an excellent game in itself, but ill-equipped to emulate the feel of the original...