Introducing Warlords of Europe
This article ran in Game Trade Magazine #116.
Conquest Gaming LLC Company Bio:
Or, how Warlords created Conquest and not the other way around.
In the late 1990’s, a trio of veteran GameMaster series players sat down with a singular mission: blend some of our favorite aspects from some of our favorite games with many innovative elements of our own design into an epic game of strategic Medieval warfare. It was a disaster. Oh, the game itself was fabulously fun. The disaster lay in the “What do we do now?” postgame wrap-up session when we realized we had a truly great game with truly no means to produce it. Out of this dilemma, Conquest Gaming LLC was born.
Fast forward to 2008, and after a decade of selling expansion type games where people provide their own pieces, we were finally in a position to seriously research production possibilities and begin pre-production on the nitty-gritty game details that must be ironed out when building a game from scratch: the color and amount of individual army men in the set, the shape of their base stand, the angle of their weapon, which foot they have forward in their stance--ad nauseam, and this is just for one of the many components. We attended the GAMA trade show in Las Vegas and made some valuable contacts.
We then began the production process which has led us to our fall 2009 release date for Warlords of Europe. The very positive reception our prototype game received from attendees at GenCon, where we began accepting pre-orders, has us convinced that the game will be a hit. The game box is a commissioned painting by historical artist Mark Churms and is certain to garner a lot of attention whether featured on a store shelf or on your own bookshelf.
Warlords begins with 2-4 players flung to the edges of a map of Medieval Europe styled after the hand drawn maps of early cartographers. With land holdings totaling only 2 loyal fiefdoms and a castle manned by a meager but capable army, the players are poised for expansion into neighboring peasant controlled fiefs. Subjugation of these peasants will yield new sources of taxation for their growing armies. Careful management of this exploration and empire-building segment of the early game is critical. Once players encounter each other, they need to already have a solid economic base built and a military disposition that masses their troops in strategic areas on the map.
While liberty was taken in the physical sizes and shapes of the fiefs and kingdoms for gameplay purposes, a great amount of research went into the creation of the map. Fief names are true to the region, cities (chosen from popular period-appropriate maps) are in the proper place, and with some exception, geography is generally accurate. The map contains four terrain types. One of the most innovative aspects of Warlords of Europe’s gameplay is the combat system where the type of dice (d8, d10, d12) that the defender rolls is determined by the type of terrain they occupy. This terrain type also determines the number of peasants present to defeat early in the game, and the amount of gold the fief will yield during taxation every turn. The nature of the map itself contributes to making every game exciting, strategic, and fun while providing a high replay value due to variable starting setups.
The 3 decks of event cards keep the action interesting from round to round, battle to battle, and play to play, creating a unique experience every time Warlords of Europe hits the gaming table. Pope cards are given as a free blessing, provided the player stays on good terms with the church. Merchant cards can be purchased every turn with gold. Conquest cards are drawn at the end of a turn where the player has expanded into at least one new fief. The cards provide additional historical flavor from the time period, and generally do really cool stuff for the player of the card, or really nasty stuff to those the card is played against. However, good fortune with card draws is no substitute for a sound battle strategy and will not ensure a “victory of the luckiest.”
Sometimes during the course of play, going first or last can be crucial. Cards that don’t seem applicable at the moment can be used to increase your chances of choosing optimum turn order. Every game round, players roll a d8 for the right to choose their place in the next round’s turn order (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th), and this Initiative die is upgradeable to a d10/d12 by discarding any card and/or by spending gold.
Warlords of Europe contains over 500 pieces, 212 of which are attractively detailed plastic miniatures. Each player’s army set has a limited number of the four advanced unit types (Knights, Archers, Swordsmen, and Warlords). The basic unit type (the Spearman) has no numerical limit, hence the plastic stacking chips included in the set. This game mechanic not only helps to keep Warlords battles more historically loyal to the true battlefields of the 13th century (advanced training, armor, and weapons were neither cheap nor commonplace), it forces players to steward their limited resources wisely.
The castle piece functions as a taxation boost, a rally point for armies to muster onto the map, and a defensive bastion. As players expand their dominions, they will be able to construct new castles and conquer existing enemy castles. Controlling the majority of castles on the map at any point will get you crowned Emperor and winner of Warlords of Europe.
This will be a quality addition to any game collection. We hope you enjoy playing it as much as we do!
Russ Rupe is a full time dad of 6 years (and part time game designer of 12 years), who had lost his “day job” to Kindergarten, but was put back on task in Nov ‘09 via adoption. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Russ now "hangs his hat in Tennessee," just outside of NashVegas to be exact.
Kyle Battle is a pilot from Plano, Texas but has been in exile in Tulsa for 17 years. Kyle works part time at his church, but hopes Warlords will be a big enough success for him to retire to the good life of a full time board game designer.
Ken Griffin has been a teacher/school administrator for over 20 years in the Tulsa area. His other passion is designing and developing board games, which is like a blast from the past when playing with little green army men was so much fun.