Hack and slash strategy

Warlords logo

Publisher: SSI Price: £24.95

If your idea of a relaxing evening in is to guide an army into combat, hacking and slashing its way to victory, then SSL's latest release is for you. It's based in the days of swords and sorcery, dragons and fair maidens, a time when men were men and women were most certainly women (if a tad butch).

In true armchair general style, Warlords is a strategic wargame that can be played by up to eight human players, all of whom must outdo the others to gain eventual control of the lands of Illuria.

You can, of course, play it on your lonesome, with the computer taking control of the remaining armies, but playing with your self is no where near as fun as taking on a group of friends.

Take it from me, to get the most enjoyment from Warlords, it really is worth inviting a few like minded friends to partake in a little feudal conquest. This way, you get the opportunity to smile at them smugly as their armies are slaughtered at your hands.

To win the game you must gain control of the cities of Illuria. Sounds simple enough, but there are 80 of them in all, most of which are heavily defended. At the start of the game there are many which are under neutral control.

These tend to be easy picking, so it's worth grabbing as many as possible to build up your influence at an early stage. It's not necessary to control all 80 cities - if you have control of more than 40 and your nearest opponent is still at least 15 cities behind you, all seven remaining armies can choose to surrender and accept the inevitable.

Each time you overrun a city, its resources fall at your disposal. Each is capable of producing an income which is automatically used to keep your armies at their peak of performance. If you start to lose these sources of income (enemy forces capture some of your cities, for example), then this can have an effect on the fighting ability of your armies.

Money isn't the only thing that a city can produce. If nurtured, some can also produce armies which can be sent into battle to achieve further conquest. All this costs money though, so it's just as important to keep your eyes on your finances as it is to maintain a decent plan of campaign.

If your finances become dire, you will be doomed to failure - without sufficient funds, you'll be unable to keep your armies supplied, which will eventually make them too weak to defend themselves against attack.

In true fantasy style, you can enlist the services of wizards and dragons, both of which will add a bit of extra kick to your army's fighting potential. You can also send your knights off on quests to search out magical swords which can be used to tip the scales of success in your favour.

These prove to be particularly important as your opposing forces become more powerful. Anyway, if you don't use magical weapons, you can guarantee that your opponents will!

I'm not the greatest fan of wargames, but I must admit that Warlords had me completed engrossed. Most of the time my feeble attempts at military strategy ended in my entire forces being wiped out, but there's something very satisfying about it all when your do eventually succeed.

Unless you've got a really deep-rooted hatred of wargames, Warlords is very definitely wort checking out. It will not appeal to everyone, but if you persevere with it, you'll find it to be a real cracker of a game.