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Classic Game Review: Lordlings of Yore

Lordlings of Yore (LOY) is a game of strategy, tactics and diplomacy set in the era of knights and chivalry. You and your opponents start the game with the same number of troops and wealth, but with a different geographic location in your respective county (you can also impose handicaps on game players if you wish). Your goal is to eliminate the opposing Lordlings and finally become the Lord of the Realm. You control your county, in a manner similar to that of a feudal lord, and taxes from the peasants in the area are your main source of livelihood. Your army represents your main element of control in the game.

LOY is played on a 14×14 grid map. The grid is divided into four 7×7 counties. At the beginning of the game, you can request changes to the computer generated settings (i.e. more trees and / or mountains). Then the computer generates the grid (so each game is different). Each county is represented in high-resolution graphics that resemble a chessboard, but the screen only represents one county at a time. There will be one castle per county where the Lord and the Necromancer reside at the beginning. As your men begin to travel in the other Shires, you will get a glimpse of the other Shires, but only the parts that would be visible to your troops at ground level will be shown to you. You also won’t see enemy troops or their movement unless you are in sight of your own troops.

Troop movements are also affected by terrain. You start the game with 5000 peasants in your home county. Each peasant you control contributes a piece of gold to your treasury each turn. Control of these peasants in their home county is considered automatic unless there are enemy units in the same space. Each turn is divided into 6 phases. Are:

1) Necromancer: here you can cast spells. For example, you can create fog, a storm, or a dragon. Or you can cast a variety of combat or transport spells.

2) Treasury: during this phase you spend your money. In addition to buying spells, you can hire knights and men-at-arms to increase the size of your armies. You can also return money to the peasants to avoid discontent and uprising. This is not required, but your county’s estimate is calculated each shift for your donations. A very negative number (little or no donation) can have a detrimental effect.

3) Deployment: When you buy troops for the first time, they are stored in the castle. This phase allows you to configure your armies, give them numerical designations, and commission them.

4) Movement units, other than those deployed this turn, now move.

5) Combat – Battles caused by your movements are determined at this time. You will watch each battle as it is fought.

6) Options: If you want, you can send a secret message to one of your opponents to form an alliance against another opponent or to try to buy it. You can also print a map of the county, yes, that’s right, along with a list of their armies. This is a huge plus and something that more games should consider. Computer controlled counties tend to be grouped into human controlled counties.

The initial forays into your county are typically small armies that are scouting or trying to control the peasants. You must first send armies of 50 men at arms each to protect your borders and attack during these first encounters. While this is happening, form a large army and send it through your lines to one of the other counties. As you conquer new territory, leave behind armies of one unit to control the peasants and increase your tax dollars.

Use the money to accumulate your supply of knights and transport them with a spell to your large unit located next to the enemy’s castle. With so much support you should be able to conquer the region. While LOY has used a fresh approach to this type of game, I was frustrated by the long wait while the computer players moved on. The game would be more fun if a way could be found around this.

The graphical presentation of the game is excellent and, in general, I found the game pleasant. There are enough alternatives and actions in this game to keep it interesting to play over and over again.

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