Lords of the Realm logo AGA

There are kings to defeat, lands to conquer and crops to be harvested. And the peasants are revolting - but not half as revolting as Steve McGill.

Starcing peasants are never happy. So ends the section on food in the Lords Of The Realm manual. In that pearl of wisdom lies the driving foce behind this compellingly engaging medieval war game.

Cosmetically and strategically, it bears a passing resemblance to the ancient Amiga classic, Defender Of The Crown, your aim being to become ruler of England and Wales. To do so you have to conquer 32 separate counties. And just to add some spice, five other opponents, either human or computer-controlled, are out to do the same.

The means to achieve victory are similar to Defender, but the mechanics and preparation behind building armies and castles are much more involved. They call upon the player's management abilities, both with resources and people.

Happy, well-fed peasants are more productive at tending grain, breeding livestock and paying taxes. When self sufficiency in food production is achieved, excess monies can be channelled into profit which pays for miners, armourers, quarryers, foresters and builders. All of whom contribute towards your defence and attack capabilities.

It's a slow process. With ambitions such as keeping the peasants happy and the fields fertile being modest at first. But these goals grow with the success of the player at controlling and manipulating the productivity of the populace. Each season requires new tasks to be entered into.

Cabbages and kings
Combat has a manual all to itself and it's worth studying closely. Defeat of a county is a matter of marching to that county's town cross and fighting the opposition. The situation is more complicated if they have a castle, for that has to be dealt with as well before the county becomes yours.

With all of this conquering going on, it's wise to be diplomatic and make temporary alliances with other opponents. In this sense, the game plays like the board game Diplomacy. Only instead of passing hastily scribbled notes to each other, messages are sent by telegraph.

Lords Of The Realm has loads of potential for a play-by-mail system. It would also lend itself well to having a serial link option installed. The PC version has this latter mechanism, yet the option has been omitted from the Amiga version, which is a shame.

Lords won't set the world on fire, but it will grip many people and not let go until they've united the Kingdom under their beneficent rule.

Der Königsmacher

Lords of the Realm logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Deutschland braucht einen König! Was, wir haben doch unseren Helmut? Stimmt, aber im Mittelalter hatten wir laut Impressions nicht einmal den - weshalb dieser Mix aus Strategie und Handel einen Thronenanwärter produzieren soll.

Bis zu sechs Blaublüter dürfen hier um die Krone rangeln, wobei der Rechner fehlende Adelige ersetzt. Jeder erhält nun zu Beginn eine von 32 Grafschaften wie Burund und Pommern und muß diese Rune um Runde bzw. Jahreszeit um Jahreszeit wirtschaftlich und militärisch auf Vordermann bringen. Denn nur ein stramm geführtes Ländle kann hoffen, sich durch Steuereinnahmen eine forsche Armee leisten zu können - und damit die restlichen Ländereien zu erobern.

Via Iconmenü und die zoom- und scrollbare Draufsichtkarte verpflichtet man die Untertanen also erst mal zum Frondienst auf den 16 Äckern seiner Region. Dort sollen sie durch Getreideanbau sowie Schaf- und Rinderzucht für die Ernährung und Vermehrung der Einheimischen sorgen.

Sinkende Erträge sind dabei durch ab und an auch mal brachliegende Felder zu vermeiden, während überschlüssiges Futter bei den jährlich anrückenden Händlern versilbert wird. Wer von der Bevölkerung nicht nur Nahrungserzeugung benötigt wird, findet Arbeit als Holzfäller oder in den Erzminen, werden derlei Rohstoffe doch dringend benötigt, um Waffen und Burgen zu produzieren.

Ohne Burg ist unser Reich nämlich ein gefundenes Fressen für die Konkurrenten und andere im Überfallgewerbe tätige Banditen Als Grundriß für so ein Rittereigenheim kommt entweder eines der fünf vorhandenen Instantdesigns in Frage, oder man zimmert sich sein Bollwerk am Reißbrett selbst zusammen.

Doch ohne Militär nützt die schönste Burg nix, also werden auch ein paar Leute zum Wehrdienst eingezogen und mit acht verschiedenen Waffen ausgestattet. Sie sind auch der Karte dann als einsamer Einzelkämpfer zu sehen und können per Mausklick in eine angrenze Grafschaft beordert werden, wo sie bei ihrer Ankunft sogleich das anvisierte Ziel (Hauptstadt oder Burg) belagern. Sollte sich der Feind nicht so einfach aushungern lassen, erteilt man den Befehl zum icongesteuerten Sturmangriff; bei Erfolg hat man so oder so eine Länderei mehr unter den Fuchsel.

Da man es jedoch schlecht mit fünf Gegners zugleich aufnehmen kann, bekommt der Großfürst noch Spione und ein diplomatisches Corps an die Hand, um etwa Bündnisse zu schließen.

Optisch und akustisch wird dieselbe Schonkast geboten, wie man sie bereits aus der PC-Version kennt - die Präsentation unterscheidet sich daher am 500er auch nur unwesentlich von der hier fotografierten AGA-Fassung. Dasselbe gilt für die unhandliche Maussteuerung und die vor allem ohne Festplatte ellenlangen Wartezeiten.

So was bremst die Begeisterung über das interessante und komplexe Gameplay natürlich etwas aus: Die Impressionisten haben hier Ritterspiele abgeliefert, denen es ein wenig an Format mangelt. (md)

Lords of the Realm logo AGA

In days of yore, when knights were knights and maidens had nothing to do with cricket, everybody fought a lot. Now you can. Too. Hooray for Impressions.

Lords of the Realm is the best wargame I've ever played. Which is quite a good start, eh? It's set in medieval Britain (well medieval England and Wales, actually). You start out in control of one of the 32 counties, with the aim of beating the other five players (under either computer or human control) in the race to take over the kingdom.

There are four main strategies (of which you may be aware if you read our preview, of if you've any knowledge of the PC version) which you must adopt in order to do this. So let's examine each of them in turn.

The first is to win the respect of your own people. Food is the number one essential. You are provided with 16 fields which can be used either for growing wheat or grazing cattle and sheep, and you will have to assign a suitable number of your people to each.

The game is played in turns (obviously - it's a wargame), each turn representing a season, each season promoting or impairing your farming (obviously again - wheat needs to be sown in spring and harvested in autumn, livestock tends to be born in the spring but is prone to dying out in the winter).

Each season requires you to re-adjust your allocation of people: Crop rotation is important but will take place automatically provided you remember to let some fields lie fallow. A well-fed community is a happy community (the happiness of your people each season is the most direct method of seeing how well you are doing); a fairly-taxed community will provide enough revenue to spend o food (if you've had a bad year), beer (instant happiness points) or materials when a merchant comes to town.

Crop rotation is important

The second thing to worry about is your army - you'd better get one. Drafting untrained peasants straight in won't do their morale much good, the self-esteem of the villagers any favours, or an enemy much damage in a combat situation.

Far better to give them some weapons. But for even a basic sword you'll need to mine for iron and then allocate some of your folk into sword production - a lengthy process. You could buy you are unlikely to be able to afford a sufficient number. The option of recruiting mercenaries is also available - these are trained and armed, and won't affect the happiness of your peasants (understandably, no-one will be too pleased at the idea of National Conscription), but are expensive.

Building yourself a castle is concern number three, else just about anybody could walk in and nick your county. A small, simple abode will be about all you can manage early on - an outer wall and a keep, perhaps. The foundations will be laid, but for any building to take place you're going to need stone and wood.

Foresters and stone-collectors are therefore required, and these people need time to work out what they are doing. The longer you leave them, the more efficient they become.

So by now, each season you will have to move people between the various stages of agriculture and mining and collecting materials, your decisions based on the various reports given. The number of people required for agriculture fluctuates the most (harvesting takes hundreds, whereas watching over a growing field takes only a few), and although it's tempting to take people in and out of preparing your weapons and castle when you need them to tend to your field, this will reduce their efficiency.

Tempting to take people in and out

You can also think about moving your army into another county, but a county under attack will instantly conscript its entire population into an army in order to defend itself so your squadron is going to have to be pretty big. But win and you'll have an entire new county to start managing, a whole new sixteen fields to take care of and a big new green area to build a castle on. Goods can be transported between counties so you should be able to set up your second a lot quicker than the first. Your eyes can then turn to a third, fourth and fifth.

And when castles have been completed, you can try out a siege - a completely new option altogether (and strategy four in completing the game). (Although, talking of sieges, in spite of the hours and hours I put in, I still didn't come close to having one. They look great with catapults, battering rams and so forth, encompassing virtually a complete mini-game in itself, warranting its own manual. But I apologise for being unable to divulge any first-hand experience).

Yes, Lords of the Realm is a wargame. And it's a good wargame. And it's going to get a good mark. From us. Here. At AMIGA POWER. Who normally find this sort of thing terribly lack-lustre.

At an at-a-glance level, the basic mechanics of the game work fine. It's all icon-based, but icon-based in that I'd-have-no-idea-what-any-of-these-icons-meant-unless-I-looked-them-up kind of way. But that's no problem because you CAN look them up in the instructions, and once you've started playing they all make perfect sense. You are only given as many otpions as you need at the time (which is nice).

And the instructions are good too, only insisting that you read one short section before leaping in, leaving the rest of the manual for you to dip in to when you want to know a bit more about something specific. The graphics are clear, with neat little pictures breaking up the chunks of text, and the game runs at a good speed.

Not much ever seems to change

I do have some problems with Lords, though. My main gripe is that games just take ages and ages (and ages). In something like Populous (admittedly a different genre, but still the same idea - compete against someone else to take over a country) there are a thousand worlds to take over. It's pretty obvious whether you are winning or losing, and games are reasonably short. So if you try out a strategy and it doesn't work, you can quit and try another one.

But what happens if things to horribly wrong in Lords? If, after ten hours of playing, you suddenly realise that all your people are suicidal, your army is a joke and the blueprints for your castle haven't even come back from the punters? I can't see many people wanting to start from the beginning after one or two practice sessions, so re-loading saved games looks like it's the only option.

Also, having to play the game in turns can prove a little tiring, especially early on in the game when you've got your farming up and running, your army sorted, the foundations of your castle laid and your people mining away happily, and all you can do is to wait for a few years for something to happen.

And not much ever seems to change visibly. A castle may appear now and then, or a soldier, or an extra cow, but for the amount of work you do it would be nice to see a little more in the way of action.

Wargame fans often get a hard time of it. Admit you even know what 'WG' stands for and you'll be instantly branded a social reject, the chances of ever finding a partner of the opposite sex will never rise above zero, and you'll forever have to put up with people running up to you in the street and yanking the hood on your anorak (He jests, of course - Ed) but the biggest problem for WGers is a lack of decent WGs for them to play.

I said Lords is the best wargame I have ever played, and it is. Except I've never played Campaign, or Pacific Islands or Battle Isle, and I doubt it's as good as those. But I have played my fair share of not-so-good ones, including Caesar (the programmer's previous offering), and this is a vast improvement.

My problems with the game really should remain personal - of course a wargame should take ages, and be played in turns, and only have one 'level'.

But as long as they do, they are only going to appeal to wargaming fans. A fan of Populous, Mega-Lo-Mania or The Settlers who was introduced to this as his (or her) first wargame simply wouldn't see the point and I don't want to be the one to recommend it to them.

But to anyone who likes wargames - that's a different story. Play this one. Play this one with a friend. Play this one with up to five friends. Play this one over a null modem cable. Just give it a try.

CASTLES One of the nattiest things you can do in Lords of the Realm is design and build your own castle. There's actually no need to do this (you can chose one of default ones instead) but it's great fun.

One of the default castles. Pretty boring, eh? Because with a little 'artistic' talent you can come up with something much better.

Castle Car - you can make one in the shape of a car.

Castle Boat - or you can make one in the shape of a boat.

Castle Banana - or in the shape of a banana.

Castle Underpants - or as a pair of (Yes. That's enough castles. - Ed)

Lords of the Realm Lords of the Realm Lords of the Realm Lords of the Realm Lords of the Realm

MAPS Maps are an integral part of the game, and you'll find yourself referring to them constantly. Or else, you'll, er, have no idea where you are, or where you are going.

Lords of the Realm
The main map screen, showing how many of the 32 cunties are currently under your control. I'm the black flags, so I've got, er, one. Just.

Lords of the Realm
Click on one of the counties and you can take a closer look. That cow mwans that I've got some cows in one of my fields. Unfortunately, there's no way of killing it. You can eat it, but you can't shoot it.

Lords of the Realm logo AGA

Price: £34.99 Publisher: Impressions/Daze Marketing 071 372 7435

Impressions are releasing new software by the horse and cart load these days - or is it these Daze? Ho ho! Alan Dykes gets mediaeval...

Iwas sad. I played Castles and Castles II into the night. I got abuse from my colleagues for being a train spotter - but I still enjoyed myself. Like other simulations there is a great sense of satisfaction when things go your way, when you have the most land, the most awesome army and the biggest castles. It is a power thing and my shrink tells me it is OK as long as I do not confuse gaming with reality.

Impressions have a power thing about simulations. In the same way as Arnold Schwarzenegger devoted his youth to developing the most insanely exaggerated body in the world, the staff at Impressions have devoted their collective youth to getting the simulation engine right.

Be it in mediaeval world domination or car production, they are determined to feed us with the right mixture of statistics, realism and playability to develop our minds and raise our body temperatures on all those cold winter nights spent indoors running mice into the ground playing their games.

But Impressions has had its flaws. Its games have been criticised for speaking in a strange, difficult to understand manner and being over complex but under animated. Too much faffing around and not enough excitement.

According to Tony Dillon, Detroit solved most of these criticisms, but I found the game rather too boring to agree with him. It is the nature of this sort of beast though, he will probably disagree with me on Lords Of The Realm which I think is the most addictive game of its type on the Amiga.

Lords Of The Realm is based in England from the mid 13th century onwards. There are six Lords and consequently you can have up to six players. Starting off at the set-up stage you can choose one of four difficulty levels, viewing options and what to name your very own character. From here the game places you in control of a country - which one is a random choice but does actually affect the game.

I broke the back of Gwynedd in North Wales and made Gloucestershire the most powerful country in England on two separate occasions, while Andy Leaning's political machinations completely ruined and depopulated Suffolk (and event from which it still has not recovered). He is now trying to get out of Devon. The only country neither of use liked was Somerset where the people continuously diseased.

Peasant stew
The object of the game is to succeed to the throne, dominating the land with your powerful armies and brilliant strategies. But it all starts off at home, where you have to look after your local peasants in order to tax them, make them build castles, keep your fields in good order, grown grain, look after cattle and sheep and breed the cannon fodder of the future.

Depending on which country you win in this lottery you will start off with a small amount of cash (gold crowns), cattle, sheep, grain and, of course, people. Each turn the player takes represents a season of the year and the distribution of your peasants will thus be different for every one.

In the spring you will need plenty of peasants to sow grain, but in summer you do not need as many. In autumn though you will need more than ever to reap the harvest. And do not forget about sheep and cattle. During lambing and calving you will need more people to increase the herd. Oh yes, and peasants eat too you know.

Pound a dozen luv
It is all about money in the end and there are two ways of making this. Way number one is to raise the tithes (taxes) and way number two is to sell produce at market.

The first way is useful but will lead to unpopularity, the second is easy if you have the gear to sell and a trader is in your territory during the season. You will need to build up a thriving economy I the first year or two before you advance across someone's border and increase your land ownership. Once there are enough sheckles in the coffer you can hire a mercenary army and knock the stuffing out of most neighbouring villages, with one or two exceptions.

The bad news is that people can get unhappy if you ask too much and do not look after them. Clicking on one of your countries in the main map of Britain (minus Scotland) will bring up a status report in the top right corner of which is a heart symbol. The happiest you can get your people is 40 hearts the most disgusted is 0. Once you drop below five hearts you have five reasons to recover the confidence or get booted out of the country - and if this happens you will lose your castle too.

Threats come from other lords and ladies, either human or computer controlled, who want your wealth and land, so you will find that it is a good idea to make peace with some of them. They may double cross you at a later date (so can you), but it is better than having everyone openly aligned against your forces. Of course, if you particularly do not like one you can taunt or insult them and deal with the consequences later.

In single player mode information on how you are doing is accessed via a court stewart who tells you how much your power, wealth and population has increased or decreased over they year. If you want you can have him give you even more help, popping up every now and then to tell you what needs to be done once you have three territories or more. You also get a status panel consisting of flags which tell you who has got the largest army and the most land etc, and, for the vain, who is considered to be the greatest leader.

If you were a Defender of the Crown or Castles fan then Lords Of The Realm is for you. Any game which has me playing 'till 1 o'clock in the morning, three nights in a row has to be worthwhile. There are some flaws though. In two player mode the stewart function is switched off so there is much less interaction.

The game does suffer from this. The manual battle mode is rather droll too, even though the strategy you use may be better and save more lives than computer control, and as such is useful. The game also tends to slow down from time to time, even on our 4000 and messages sometimes corrupt - but this should be fixed in the final version.

In the final analysis, the AGA graphics are superb, sound is moderate and the interaction and addictivity level is impressive. If you want a quick fix this won't provide it.

Lords Of The Realm will take weeks, if not months, to master and you will lose a lot of sleep in the process. Not everybody's cup of tea but one of my favourite pastimes for the last few weeks. Now, if only I could stop the peasants stop eating those damn cows!

Hey ho, noddy ho, as a popular mediaeval song used to say, probably. It is market day and Honest Jim the trader has come to town. You need to speculate to accumulate in this business so starting by buying more cattle and sheep will reap dividends at a later stage.

Lords of the RealmCATTLE
A useful livestock investment.

Lords of the RealmSHEEP
Best try to hold onto these for the wool.

Lords of the RealmGRAIN
Keep your grain stores high.

Lords of the RealmWOOL
The best item to sell. Loads of dosh.

Lords of the RealmBEER
Peasants dissatisfied? Fill them with Boddies.

Lords of the RealmIRON
Not described.

Lords of the RealmSTONES
Expensive to buy, but castles need it.

Lords of the RealmWOOD
Won't burn a hole in your pocket.

Lords of the RealmWEAPONS
Expensive but essential. Get some now!


Chit chat has its place in Lords of the Realm but the only way to increase your power is to take over neighbouring countries. This gives you access to more people, more produce and more tithes. You can engage in battle personally or let your Amiga decide the outcome for you.

Lords of the Realm


Castle building is very much a matter of personal preference. There are six different types of castle supplied in the castle menu but, if you are like our Andy, you will want to design your own> Lords allows you to do this and even to add to your castle at a later date. Remember though, the bigger the castle, the more peasants tied up in its building and the more expensive the materials needed for it. Start small and build on later.

Lords of the Realm Lords of the Realm