The Empire Has Fallen…
The evil forces of Lord Bane and Lord Sartek have formed an
unholy alliance intent on overrunning the prosperous Selentine
Empire. Darkness sweeps across the land as the evil lords send
their hordes of zombies, ogres and skeleton warriors to conquer
and pillage your beautiful homeland. The end seems near.
But wait, there is one hope. (You knew I was going to say that,
didn’t you?) As the Lord Paladin, you can turn your tiny army
into a major power, ally the feuding factions of knights, and
purge Lords Bane and Sartek from the land.
Warlords III: Reign of
Heroes is a turn-based fantasy strategy game produced by SSG and published
by Red Orb. Up to eight players control cities, armies, heroes and magic while
attempting to expel all non-allied players from the game. Each game begins with
each player controlling one or more cities and one or more armies. Your cities
can produce eight army types, which depend on which race you chose. During the
course of the game, mercenaries can approach you and offer to join your side
for a fee. You also start the game with one hero and can hire more later on.
Warlords III is subtitled “Reign of Heroes”, and it is the heroes in
Warlords III which help keep it interesting. Heroes are
practically essential to building an army which is truly of the
highest caliber. Heroes are able to explore ruins and mystical
sites in order to find allied monsters to fight for you, as well
as enchanted items and that perennial favorite, gold. As heroes
explore ruins and complete quests, they increase in ability
levels, an effect that anyone who has played RPGs will be familiar with.
Whenever a hero gains a level, he or she gets an ability point to
spend. Ability points can be used to buy greater strength,
leadership skills, or knowledge of magic spells.
Once you have amassed a large enough army, you can take it out
into the world and try to capture either the cities of enemies or
of neutrals. Combat is handled by comparing the adjusted
strength of two opposing units and applying a random number to
yield the result. A unit’s strength is adjusted up or down by
bonuses and penalties such as morale, fortification, leadership
and the like. Once you capture a city, you may pillage, sack or
One of the major complaints
from players of Warlords II was that the game did not let them improve
their cities. Warlords III has addressed this point, but only in a very
minor way, because Warlords III lets players increase the fortification
level of a city. It does not let the player build a new city, or build docks,
or mines for an existing city. It’s a good step, but I wish the folks at SSG
had given the player a little more power to improve cities.
Game play itself is pretty good. There is a total of 64 units so
things rarely get dull. On the other hand, of the 64 units, many
of them are a lot alike, which is a shame, because with a
fantasy setting like Warlords III has, there was room to make a
truly rich cast of creatures. The individuality of the heroes
helps to compensate for the sameness of the creatures. The
game’s AI is unexceptional but does make a good effort to kill
off your heroes.
Warlords III is a good game for anyone who likes Warcraft
II but was annoyed by the real-time aspect of the game. The lack of a good
unit mix is made up for by a good group of scenarios and a multiplayer feature,
which includes play-by-email. Gamers looking for an extremely detailed strategy
game should look elsewhere, but fantasy gamers who appreciate simple rules and
a wealth of options will find that Warlords III is right in their realm.