SummaryA great combination of Strategy and Real-Time-Strategy
The GoodFantasy Empires has the right mix of long term strategy to satisfy those who like the complications of empire building, and pretty good "top down" real-time-strategy to fight battles. For those that don't like RTS at all, the option to automatically resolve combat means that empire builders can concentrate on that aspect alone. Multiplayer hot-seat or against computer players (any combination up to 5 players) means that diplomacy takes on an important aspect. For tactical battles, two players can share the keyboard and fight the battle to the death (or at least until its time to salvage what's left of your defeated army and run!)
The BadThere were a couple of bugs in the game that caused the computer to "build" dozens of seige engines in newly captured provinces on the odd occasion. I suspect that this may be repairable via the glories of the internet (a luxury I didn't have in 1993 and sadly I no longer own the game now anyway). Apart from that - nothing about it at all that I didn't like.
The Bottom LineFantasy Empires combines strategy and real time strategy into a great game where up to 5 human and/or computer opponent scheme, backstab and conquer their way to total victory. Starting with a province, player's conquer neutral provinces using armies raised from the resources provided in each province (or provided by friends who trust you!). Development includes armouries, castles (that can be made bigger and bigger to withstand seiges) and others that I can no longer remember! Humans, dwarves, elves and orcs all bring unique talents. Battering rams and catapults are included in the siege engine mix. Heroes include both warriors and wizards, all in varying classes, who can be sent on quests to improve their level. These quests are resolved abstractly over several turns, but if they return they bring items of power and higher personal capabilities.
Combat can be resolved automatically by the computer. This is rather total however, with no retreat option for either side. Two players can share a keyboard to control their individual units or heroes, scrolling through the split screen to concentrate on that part of the battlefield that concerns them most. Castle seiges were great, with a mix of units making both attack and defence a tacticians dream. Good sound effects (for 1993) add to the atmosphere and the collapsing castle walls under the rocks of the catapults were great. Individual heroes, particularly wizards can greatly influence the battle outcomes, casting spells or striking down hordes of the enemy. And with the option to retreat to a neighboring province, battles aren't necessarily the be all and end all of typical RTS games.
The AI was quite good too as I recall.