Written by  :  Simon Haller (17)
Written on  :  Apr 25, 2004
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

A Quintessential Bridge

The Good

Warlords I was a near perfect game. It was funny. It had massive variety in units and racial abilities (Elves moved better in the woods...). Different cities produced units, say cavalry, better than others, or cheaper than others. Leaders could explore ruins and if they survived, return with Dragons or obscene amounts of Gold. Units could be blessed at one of four different altars (Control of the Altar was therefore strategic. The Map was not random, but well planned. In its first dozen or so plays, we utterly forgot Empire ever existed.

The graphics folks used dithering in this game to greatly improve the realism level over earlier efforts by game designers. While I'm pretty sure this was a 16 color game, it appeared to use many more colors than 16.

This was the first game I'd played that required a mouse. I remember teaching my roommate how to double click.

One thing I loved was when the AI would explore someplace and get a stack of dragons, which it would then use to fly around the map razing cities. Once it lost a dragon, that stack would stay where it landed forever.

Oh yeah, you could stack units in this game, and the units affected each other's performance. So, start with a stack of Loran wolf riders, bless them four times prior to use, stack them with a hero and some demons, and you were ready to go after Lord Bane...or stack a hero on some griffens and you could fly. Wizards moved 50 (Shadowfax???). If you razed a city, you got some wild sounds from your PC's built in speaker--this was before the soundblaster card was expected to be on a PC. This game had a fabulous number of new ideas, many of which have yet to find their way to even today's turn based favorites.

The Bad

For all the good work, Warlords, just like Interstel's Empire, failed to constrain unit production. Each turn took longer than the preceeding. Cities became more and more difficult to take, and I do not remember any multiplayer games ever being finished, even after weeks of get togethers. Nonetheless, Warlords is better fantasy game than can be created with the scenario editor of Civilization III.

The Bottom Line

This is still worth playing. I found Warlords I better (and far more stable) than later Warlords releases, and preferred the original map to any that I played in Warlords II, which incidentally, did have a great scenario editor). I have only just recently discovered that Warlords has had versions since version II. Yes, I am interested!