Copyright © 2008 Ben Asselstine
The entire realm is holding its breath -- war is coming, and the citizens know what that means; cities will be sacked, towns will be looted, and flags will be raised. There will be a shortage of food supplies, high taxes, and fire burning on the horizon, if not even closer. The best thing to do is to join the army before getting drafted.
Several factions will vie for total control of the realm. Talented generals will be needed to lead forces against the enemy. Plans will be made, and lands will be conquered. Heroes will emerge to fight on behalf of their general. Large seige engines will be constructed and rolled to distant cities. Great ships of war will take to the seas. Infantry units will be sent to the front line to face the enemy in battle.
The future is uncertain. The lords of the realm are warring. The lords are a-war.
LordsAwar! is a turn-based strategy game where up to eight players strive to conquer all of the cities on the map. The player has three distinct roles in the game:
Army units are arranged into stacks of up to eight and are moved around the map through varying terrain; forest, hills, swamp, or water. Each of the varying kinds of terrain cost the stack some of its movement points. Some stacks may even have the ability to fly over troublesome mountains.
Some army units are special Hero units. Heroes sometimes emerge spontaneously in cities at the start of the player's turn. Heroes can search ruins to obtain gold pieces or magical items, or go on special quests. Powerful allies often accompany a hero.
The objective of the game is to conquer all of the cities on the map. This is accomplished by producing army units in cities and making ever more powerful stacks to conquer neighbouring cities. Strategy is employed to know which city, or player to target next, on the way to total victory.
Below the mini-map, there are a set of buttons that allow the player to control stacks:
LordsAwar! games can contain a large number of stacks, and it's easy to forget about a stack. These buttons help the player manage large numbers of stacks. Here is what each of the buttons do:
Clicking this button causes the stack to travel along it's path.
Clicking this button causes the next stack to be selected.
Clicking this button causes the stack stop here. Clicking this button means that the stack will not be visited again as the player clicks the next-stack button for the duration of this turn.
Clicking this button causes the stack to be deselected. This stack will be visited again as the player clicks the "next stack" button.
Clicking this button causes the map to be centered on the selected stack.
Clicking this button causes the diplomacy screen to pop up. When other players make diplomatic proposals to you, the diplomacy button looks like this:
Clicking this button causes the stack to go into defend mode. This will put the stack into a tent for the next turn.
Clicking this button causes the stack to explore a ruin or temple.
When exploring a temple, the stack needs to be on a tile that has a temple; and clicking this button will cause the stack to be blessed (all army units will receive a bonus of 1 strength point).
When exploring a ruin, the stack must contain a hero. Exploring a ruin means the hero will fight a monster in the ruin, and if successful will be given a reward.
Clicking this button causes all stacks that have a path set, to travel along their paths.
Clicking this button causes the player to end her turn. This means that the player is finished moving stacks for this turn.
Clicking these buttons causes the stack to move in the given direction. These buttons are tied to the keypad; pressing keys on the keypad activates these buttons. Often it is preferrable to move stacks by clicking on the map instead of using these movement buttons.
Cities are important because conquering cities is the key to winning the game. Each player typically starts with one city, with the remainder of the cities being unowned. Each city can produce army units that the player can use to attack other cities. Each player has a capital city that other players can target and take over for bragging rights.
Cities appear as castles on the map display; they occupy four tiles on the screen; a two-by-two square. Cities appear as little shields on the miniature map.
Cities have a name, a defense level, and they provide a number of gold pieces to the player's treasury every turn.
The income is in the form of gold pieces, which happens to be exactly what army units require as their upkeep. Conquering more cities gives the player more money and enables the upkeep of more army units.
The defense level for the city is not important and is ignored by all battle calculations.
Each city can produce one of up to four different army unit types. After enough turns have passed the army unit shows up in the city and can be moved around the map as the player sees fit. Changing a city's production of army units is one of the main ways that a player affects the outcome of the game. The player can also choose to add a new army unit type to the suite of army unit types that the city can produce; which can cost a lot of gold pieces.
Army unit production can be viewed and modified in cities that the player owns. The production in enemy cities can also be viewed if the game is started with the "view production" option turned on.
Movement in a city that the player owns is the same as moving on a road; it is the easiest mode of transportation. Cities that are adjacent to the water act as a port; a jumping-off point for naval operations.
Army units located in the city fight as a single force when the city is attacked by the enemy. Some army units will have a special fighting bonus if they are defending a city, or attacking a city. To attack a city, move your army units to an adjacent tile and then attempt to move into the city.
Army units may not move through a foreign city without conquering it first.
When the player left-clicks on a city the following screen is displayed:
The most noticeable thing in the screen is the miniature map that only shows all of the player's cities. At a glance it shows; which cities are producing an army unit (shown by a white shield with an anvil), which ones are not (shown by a white shield without an anvil), and which city the player is currently visiting (shown by a black shield, with or without an anvil). The player can visit another city by left-clicking on it.
The screen contains information about the selected city. The title of the screen is the name of the city. To the right of the map the defense level is shown, along with the amount of money in gold pieces that this city provides. Next is the army unit that is currently being produced, and how many more turns until it becomes available for use. The set of buttons in the middle of the screen represent the set of army unit types that this city can produce. Below that are statistics about the army unit currently being produced.
A number of buttons appear at the bottom of the screen. Here is what they do:
Stops the production army units in this city. Stopping production is a good idea if the player's total upkeep is higher than the total income.
Make a new army unit available for production in this city. Warning: clicking this button will replace the currently selected production unit.
Buying new army units is a good idea when the player needs an army unit with a particular capability and that capability does not exist in any of the other army units that the city already produces.
Produce the unit in this city, but have it show up elsewhere on the map. Vectoring is useful when the player's "front line" is far away from this city. It can be used to quickly get new army units into far-away battles.
Burn this city to the ground, and make it uninhabitable for the rest of the game. This operation is only available if the razing policy in the game options is set to "always".
Razing an own city is useful to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. It is a last-ditch effort because no player can own the city after it is razed.
Change the name of this city.
Renaming a city can be a way of taunting another player. e.g. The Impregnable Fortress of Wog.
Army units come to life in cities after they have been "produced". Every army unit takes a number of turns to be produced; typically one to four turns. The city can produce one army unit at a time, for up to four different army unit types; these are shown as pictures in the boxes on the right side of the city screen. The button that appears to be pushed-in is the army unit type that is being produced in this city. When there is one button pushed-in, that army unit type's picture appears, with the number of turns left until the army unit appears in the city. If none of the army unit type buttons are pushed-in, then the city isn't producing an army unit at all.
To select a new army unit for production, left-click on it's button. The button will become pushed-in, and any other army unit type button will become pushed-out. This will cause production to stop on any prior army units in this city. This means if the player has one turn left before some dragons are produced, and then the player selects Pikemen, the dragons will not show up next turn. The player can right-click on each army unit type button to get more information about that army unit type's capabilities.
Conquering cities is important because it leads to the player winning the game. After fighting the forces in an enemy city and winning, the player is presented with some options about how to take the city:
Here is what the various buttons at the bottom of the screen mean:
Take the city and leave the production in the new city unchanged.
Take the city and cash in the weakest army unit type that the city can produce for gold pieces. This will prevent that army unit from being produced in that city.
Take the city and cash in all except weakest army unit type that the city can produce for gold pieces. The army units that are cashed-in will not be available for production any longer.
If this button is not available, it is because the city has fewer than two army unit types available for production.
Don't take the city; destroy it instead. This will make the city uninhabitable by any other player. Other players may not appreciate this course of action.
The easiest cities to conquer are the ones that aren't defended at all. The player can win the city with the weakest army unit.
Neutral cities are typically the next easiest to conquer; they are the unowned cities on the map. Neutral army units never stray from their castle; they never come to the aid of another neutral city nearby. Athough neutral cities can be active in that they produce army units after an attempt to attack the city fails (this is a game option that can be turned on).
When none of the army unit types that the city can produce are desirable, the player can purchase a new army unit type for production within the city.
When the player clicks on the buy button in the city screen the following screen is shown:
After making a selection, click on the buy button to purchase the unit. Take special care because purchasing a new unit will replace the currently selected army unit type in the city screen!
Some army units are not shown because they are not purchasable. Special units like dragons or ghosts cannot be purchased, and instead must be awarded to a Hero, or already present as production in a city.
Army units are used to attack cities and other army units. It is an important distinction of the game that all army units are not made alike. One city might make Giants that have a strength of 5, while another city might produce Giants with a strength of 6. Inspecting the statistics of an army unit will state the abilities of that particular army unit.
When the player right-clicks on an army unit in a stack, the following information is popped up:
Here we can see a unit of Giants. It fights with a strength of 5 (more strength is better), and has 18 movement points left of a maximum of 18. The Giants cost the player 10 gold pieces per turn.
Below the picture of the Giants, there is an image of mountains. This means that this army unit moves more efficiently over hills. Other terrain movement bonus pictures are: water, flight, forest, as well as forest/hills.
Army units can get medals for fighting with distinction in battle. Each medal confers one point of strength to the wearer.
Army units also have a fighting bonus that only take effect during battle. For example, a unit of Giants fight more effectively in hills. There are many varieties of fighting bonuses and they are all covered in more detail elsewhere in this manual.
Army units can have a fortification bonus that is conferred after they are put into "defend" mode. When the enemy sees a stack with the fortified bonus, it appears to be in a small tent or tower. The fortification bonus is one point of strength per army unit during battle. Fortification has the added feature of masking the true size of the stack in the field to the enemy.
Army units can visit temples and get blessed. The blessing confers a single point of strength upon the army unit. An army unit can only be blessed once by a temple, but may visit many different temples for many blessings.
Battles usually happen when attempting to capture a city, although it can also happen outside of a city "in the field" with one stack attacking another.
The player initiates combat by moving a stack to a tile immediately adjacent to a foreign city or a stack, and then attemping to move the stack onto the foreign city or stack. The cursor will change from a pair of walking feet, into a sword or into a heart if the diplomacy game option is turned on, and the foreign stack or city is a friend). More information about diplomacy can be found elsewhere in this manual.
When attacking a city, the player needs to attack one of the four corners of the city; it doesn't make a difference if that corner contains an enemy stack or not. All of the army units in the city will fight as a single force against the attacking stack. When an army unit attacks another stack from a city, it only attacks with the other army units in it's stack, and not that of the entire city.
There is a military advisor that can help the player decide if a given combat should be entered into or not. After the stack has moved adjacent to it's target, and the cursor icon is a sword (or a heart), press the shift key; the cursor will change to a question mark. When the player left-clicks when the question mark is being shown, the military advisor will prognosticate on the outcome. Beware that the military advisor doesn't see the future, and is offfering advice that the player can choose to accept or ignore. The military advisor is a game option that has to be turned on when the game is created to be available in the game.
When combat is entered, all of the combatant army units line up for battle. The two frontmost army units duel each other until one of them dies; the army unit that remains standing fights the next enemy army unit. This continues until a player has no army units left to fight with.
The player has some control over how the army units line up for battle: it is called the fight order. The fight order is controlled by the army unit type of the combatants; this is why scouts often fight prior to heroes. The fight order can be seen by opening up the fight order dialog:
Army units have other capabilities that are not shown when the player right-clicks on them. One of these extra capabilities is the fighting bonus which can be seen in the Army Bonus dialog:
+1 str in open, +2 str in open
The army unit is stronger when fighting while standing on grass. When the army unit is fighting on grass, it fights as an army unit that has one or two points more strength than it was produced with.
+1 str in woods.
The army unit is stronger when fighting while standing in a forest. When the army unit is fighting in the forest, it fights as an army unit that has one more point of strength than it was produced with.
+1 str in hills.The army unit is stronger when fighting while standing in hills. When the army unit is fighting in the hils, it fights as an army unit that has one more point of strength than it was produced with.
+1 str in city, +2 str in city.The army unit is stronger when defending a city. When the army unit is fighting in a city, it fights as an army unit that has one or two more points of strength than it was produced with.
+1 stack in hills.
All army units in the stack are stronger when fighting in the hills. When the army unit is fighting in the hills, all of the army units it is fighting with have one more point of strength than they were produced with.
Cancel city bonus.
The army unit nullfies the city bonus of any defenders.
-1 enemy stack.
This army unit nullifies one point of strength from each of the army units it is attacking.
+1 stack, +2 stack.
All army units in the stack are stronger when fighting. When the army unit is fighting, all of the army units it is fighting with have one more point of strength than they were produced with.
This army unit nullifies any fighting bonuses an ememy Hero brings to the battle.
This army unit nullifies any fighting bonuses an ememy army unit (except for a hero) brings to the battle.
Stack composition is a key factor in winning the game. There is no such thing as the perfect stack in LordsAwar!; only an ideal stack for a given task. The wise player will make careful choices about which army units will be included in any given stack.
Generally it is best to maximize the total number of strength points in the stack. However if a stack of strong army units cannot move very far, the player might be more wise to construct a weaker stack that will reach the target in a more timely manner.
It generally makes sense to have army units that have city fighting bonuses to reside in cities. The trade-off here is that these armies are unsuited to traveling overland to attack remote cities; the player also needs to create units that are offensively suited. The player can only afford so many army units at any given time.
Here the yellow player wishes to attack the red player. The yellow player has selected a stack that has one Orcish Mob unit. The yellow player wishes to attack the enemy Light Infantry unit to the southeast. Either the yellow player will succeed in destroying the red unit, or the yellow unit will die trying.
The yellow player commits to the battle by left-clicking on the red army unit withe sword cursor. The battle ensues:
The battle finishes, and the yellow unit of Orcish Mob fails to kill the unit of red's Light infantry. The yellow player loses the unit of Orcish Mob:
Here the yellow player wishes to attack the red player. The yellow player has selected a stack that has one Orcish Mob unit. The yellow player wishes to attack the enemy city to the northwest. Either the yellow player will succeed in capturing the red city, or the yellow unit will die trying.
The yellow player commits to the battle by left-clicking on the red city withe sword cursor. The battle ensues:
The battle finishes, and the yellow unit of Orcish Mob succeeds in killing the final Light Cavalry unit. The yellow player captures the city:
Heroes are special army units that can do fun and interesting things in LordsAwar!. Every player starts out with a single hero that will carry that player's battle standard. Subsequent heroes may emerge during the course of the game; their showing up will cost the player gold pieces, and they may have some allies who accompany them. Typically new heroes will not offer their services to players who do not have many gold pieces in their treasury.
Heroes have a command bonus that gives a strength bonus to all other army units fighting in the hero's stack. The command bonus increases for more experienced heroes. It is a good strategy to have other army units to travel with heroes.
Heroes can increase levels as experience is gained in battle. When a new level is attained a hero can increase it's strength, it's movement points, or it's sight (when playing a scenario with fog of war). Powerful heroes are hard to kill, and are often targeted by other players.
Heroes can find and carry useful items. Items can give the hero more strength in battle, or a larger command bonus; they can also give the player a gold bonus (per city), or double the movement of all army units in the hero's stack, or give the stack the gift of flight. Heroes can drop items to give to other heroes. A wise player will distribute powerful objects among heroes.
Heroes can make special use of the player's battle standard; it can be planted in the ground and army units can be vectored to it from far-off cities. This can only be done with the player's own standard, and not with a standard belonging to an opponent. It is good strategy to retain ownership of the player's battle standard, so that it can be employed at a crucial stage of the game.
Unlike other army units, heroes do not cost the player anything to keep per turn.
Ruins appear as white dots on the miniature map, and as a grey stone building occupying one tile on the large map screen. Heroes can visit ruins and explore them; this is accomplished by moving the hero's stack onto the ruin, and clicking the search button (the magnifying glass).
It is a dangerous thing for a hero to search a ruin! The hero will likely encounter a monster, and the hero may or may not survive the battle. Successfully exploring a ruin will yield a treasure to the hero. The hero will sometimes be rewarded with gold pieces, sometimes with a magical item, and sometimes with powerful ally army units. Once a ruin is explored, it cannot be explored again.
Heroes can visit temples and obtain quests. Temples appear as white dots on the miniature map, and as a brown shrine occupying one tile on the large map screen. A temple is visited by moving the hero's stack onto the temple and then clicking the search button (the magnifying glass).
A quest is a mission to complete a particular task in the game. The hero is well rewarded for completing a quest. Quests come in many varieties:
Hero Assassination Quest
The hero is tasked with dispatching another hero in the game.
Kill Enemy Stacks Quest
The hero is tasked with killing a specific number of a specific player's army units.
City Occupation Quest
The hero is tasked with capturing a particular city, and occupying it.
City Sacking Quest
The hero is tasked with capturing a particular city, and sacking it.
City Razing Quest
The hero is tasked with capturing a particular city, and razing it.
Kill Army Unit Type Quest
The hero is tasked with killing a particular kind of army unit -- e.g. a unit of Ghosts. The army unit can belong to any player.
The hero is tasked with plundering a specific amount of gold pieces by pillaging and sacking cities.
Upon completing a quest, the hero is rewarded with a large number of gold pieces, or a magical item, or some powerful allies.
Some quests can expire, freeing the hero to obtain another quest.
The player can only have one hero on a quest at any given time.
Every army unit has a number of movement points that get replenished every turn. These army units are arranged into stacks, and they move over various kinds of terrain on the map. The army unit in the stack that has the lowest number of movement points governs how far the stack can move. Army units can have terrain bonsues that help the stack move more effectively over a specific kind of terrain.
Stacks are usually moved over land, and movement can be more effective or less effective depending on the kind of terrain the stack is moving on. The different kinds of terrain are:
Stacks that move on roads, or cities move with the greatest ease. Grass is the next easiest terrain feature to move through. Some stacks may have army units that provide a movement bonus that makes the whole stack move faster through forest, or hills. Mountains are usually impassable, unless the stack can fly. Swamps are always difficult to move through.
Naval operations can be a crucial avenue to victory in the game. To begin naval operations, simply move a stack into the water. The stack's remaining movement points will be completely sapped with the effort of putting into the water. During the next turn, the stack will have 18 movement points; this is how far a boat can move in LordsAwar!. When the stack eventually moors back onto land, all of the remaining movement points will again be sapped with the effort.
Stacks can get into and out of the water at different places on the map:
Battle on the open seas is an encumbering experience for land-loving army units! Those army units fight with similar effectiveness when on a boat. Flying units will fight with their regular veracity, not being encumbered by the walls of a ship.
When a hero dies on the water, the items belonging to that hero are lost to the sea forever.
There is a resting bonus that gives a stack more movement points if it didn't use all of it's movement points in the previous turn. If a stack has 2 or more movement points at the end of the player's turn it receives 2 extra movement points next turn. If a stack has 1 movement point at the end of the player's turn, it retains that point into the next turn.
Here are the options that are settable at the start of a game:
When this option is turned on, the player can right-click on enemy stacks in the large map screen and see their contents.
When this option is turned on, the player can right-click on enemy cities in the large map screen and see their production.
When this option is turned on, heroes can visit temples to obtain quests.
When this option is turned on, the map is turned black and the player's stacks must explore the map to uncover it. This option is also known as fog of war.
When this option is turned on, the player is not automatically at war with all other players; instead some of them are allies and cannot be attacked without diplomatic consequences.
This option controls the behaviour of neutral cities. This option can be one of three values:
Neutral cities are manned by the weakest army unit they can produce.
Neutral cities are manned by the strongest army unit they can produce.
Neutral cities start to produce army units after they resist an attacked by a player.
Cusp Of War
For this option to be available, the diplomacy option must first be turned on. When this option is turned on, all computer players will declare war on human players at an early stage within the game.
This option governs when the player may raze cities. It can have one of three values:
The player can always raze cities.
The player may only raze cities when it is conquered in battle.
The player may never raze cities (not even in the city screen).
Use a slightly different calculation for battles that makes gaps in strength less evident.
Have each player start with many ciites (instead of just one), such that there are no unowned cities in the scenario.
Make the military advisor available. This means the player can get advice on a battle by pressing the Shift key and left-clicking on an adjacent target.
Change the order that the players get to take their turn. This option changes the order every round of the game.
Here is a list of all of the keyboard shortcuts in LordsAwar!. Please note that L means lowercase L, while Shift+L means uppercase L.
Load a game.
Show the game lobby (networked play).
I (the letter eye)
Open the fight-order dialog.
Move all stacks that have a path set.
Change the contents of the sign the stack is standing on.
Disband the selected stack.
Deselect the selected stack and don't come back to it.
Select the next stack in the list.
Resign from the game.
Show the Army Report.
Show the City Report.
Show the Gold Report.
Show the Production Report.
Show the Winning Report.
Show the Diplomacy Report.
Show the active quest.
Have the selected hero pick-up or drop items at this location.
Have the selected hero plant the player's standard at this location.
Show the hero levels dialog.
Have the hero search this location.
Toggle fullscreen mode.
Show the game preferences dialog.
Show the ruin status dialog.
O (the letter oh)
Show the list of army unit types and their bonuses.
Show the list of items and their bonuses.
Show the bonuses of army units in the selected stack.
Show the historical report for cities.
Show the historical events report.
Show the historical gold report.
Show the historical winning report.
Show some statistics regarding the player's battle record.
End the turn.
The number keys on the keypad will move the selected stack in the given direction.
Playing a game in hostseat mode is the traditional way to play LordsAwar!. The idea here is that there are two or more human players, and when it's their turn they are said to be in the "hot-seat"; they get to move their stacks. The other players are usually not allowed to watch the player in the hot-seat make their moves, although it certainly can be fun to do so. When the player is finished the turn, the "end-turn" button is pressed and the next player is notified that it is now their turn.
A hotseat game begins with all players agreeing on the scenario options, and then conducting their turns in order until there's a winner.
Playing a hotseat game is advantageous when all players are near the same computer.
Playing a game by email is advantageous when players aren't near the same computer and they take a long time to finish a turn.
It works by assigning one person as the "game-master", who players receive their games from via email. When a player receives a LordsAwar! game from the game-master, it means it is their turn to move. The player saves the game out of their email program, and then loads the game using the "Load Game" button in the main menu of LordsAwar!. The player then conducts their turn in the normal fashion by moving stacks around the map. When the "end turn" button is pressed, the player is asked to save a "turn-file". The turn-file is saved, and then the player is expected to attach this file to an email and send it to the game master. The player then waits to receive another game from the game-master.
The game-master uses the "lordsawar-pbm" program to process turn-files from players. The program takes two filenames on the command-line:
The game-master notifies all of the players when the game is over, and when a human player is vanquished.
One of the disadvantages of playing a game by mail is that players can't watch other players as they move.
Network play allows players to enjoy a game of LordsAwar! over the internet.