is a board game published by TSR
in 1979. The game is set in a mythical land called Minaria
. Minaria, as laid out on the board's map, bears a striking resemblance to Greece
, the Balkans
, and Asia Minor
. Thematically it's similar to Avalon Hill
's King Maker
and the venerable Diplomacy
Players (from 2 to 6) use diplomacy
and military force to rule Minaria. However unlike King Maker
's historical war between the House of York
and House of Lancaster
's battles between pissy Europeans, Minaria is firmly set in a fantasy realm with human, elvish, dwarven, and troll (trollish?) kingdoms.
The game is turned based. Each turn is made up of movement, diplomacy, siege
, combat, and random event phases. Each player has twenty of these turns to amass as many points as possible. The player with the most points wins. Points are awarded for surrounding and sacking towns and castles as well as capturing foreign monarchs.
There are 15 kingdoms in Minaria, of which a maximum of 6 can be commanded by players. The remaining kingdoms are controlled via personality cards. To win against other human players, one has to send diplomats to these kingdoms and get them on side or at least remain neutral
in a fight. How your diplomats win allies is determined partially by the randomly generated personalities. Sometimes bribes work. Sometimes they fail and result in random parts of your diplomat
returned in a box.
Loyalty is not assured, however, and chance favors those making bold, calculated moves. Waiting too long to amass allies can result in a sudden shift in allegiances on the turn you decided to launch your massive assault. A player suddenly finds himself not marching along side an army of dwarves but having an army of dwarves attacking your flank
The game did not last very long in TSR's catalogs. They discontinued the game in the early '80s. Although Divine Right
never really found a D&D
-sized audience it remained, like Junta
, a cult classic
for decades. Part of the game's cult appeal was its extensive back story. For a couple years TSR's Dragon
magazine ran an ongoing feature called "Minarian Legends
". While the column was no doubt a delight to hardcore fans who finally had a history as rich and as mythical as King Maker
's attendant back stories, to non-players it was probably one of the least read and most confusing columns to ever run in Dragon
. People unfamiliar with the game had little to no idea what a Minarian was and what the legends were about or why they should care. Still it beat the ass off of Darlene Pekul
's mercifully short-lived serial cartoon Jasmine
Part of the game's problem was it was highly complex and the rules did little to aid novice
players. Also the game tended to be most playable when one could drum up
4-6 players. As a two or three player game, the game played out like a staid
game of tic-tac-toe
. Everyone knows the next move and counter move. A larger number of players, however, creates a very fluid, ever changing game.
Drumming up 4 or 6 people created another problem. It's easy to find another lonely soul to hunker down for a Saturday night over Avalon Hill's Squad Leader
with a PBS pledge drive Doctor Who
marathon running in the background. However, if you were able to get 6 people willing to get together to game in a fantasy milieu
, they probably wanted to play D&D.
Nothing is ever final in fantasy gaming, of course. A newly expanded 25th Anniversary has been released. More kingdoms and races have been added to the game along with some rule expansions.