Three players met one afternoon to compete in the fine art of empire building.
We started by setting up the map, not entirely according to the rules but not after a plan either. Every player was assigned one pile of tiles, and we took turns in placing the top one from our own pile where it fitted. Some tinkering was needed to make the rivers and coast fit. Six capital tiles where evenly distributed and we threw dice on where to start.
The coast ran along the south and southwest edge of the land, with one Great bay in the central part. East of the Great bay was a forested lowland, north of the bay a massive mountain. West of the Great bay a vast mixed area of lowland, rivers and scattered highlands was stretched out.
The Eagles realm was in the middle part in the mountains.
The Skulls realm was in the east part in the woods.
The Lilies realm was in the southwest part close to the coast.
The first year there where no spring equinox magic.
The first half of the campaign season:
The middle realm of the Eagles expanded south and west, there where much misfortune with independent settlements and barren tiles and only a pair of villages and a fort.
The east realm of Skulls expanded by annexing the neighbouring villages.
The west realm started of bad by awakening a huge hoard of dragons that fortunately soared over the ocean. Then they slowly scouted the surrounding coast with meager result.
The second half of the campaign season:
The middle realm worried about the great river that made up its western border, they had two banners out west but only one could be sustained during winter. Never the less they pursued further and enlarged the empire with a couple of villages all the way to the next river that unfortunately the Lilies got to first. Leaving the hostile settlements behind they pursued further south over the barren Central plain to the western coast of the Great bay and encountered their second independent city.
The east realm got in serious trouble along the northeast border that was inhabited by strong-headed mercenaries that took up arms on the intruders, often capturing the armies’ scouts. The east coast of the Great bay shown to be mostly uninhabited or hostile. Relentlessly they tried until they had control of the strategically north coast of the Great bay. As the Skulls now occupied the southern border of the Eagles mountain realm, war was sure to break out the next year, with the Central plain as the battleground.
The west realm discovered a great river basin with a large city in the north and on the coast to the east bordering the Great bay there was also a great city, but this was more wary on its freedom. The greatest of the Lilies armies laid the city under a relentless siege for the rest of the year and into the following spring.
The autumn equinox appeared and the great magic was set loose resulting in mostly good things. During the following winter retreat did the middle realm tragically lost one of its banners while trying to pass the angry border river to get back into the realm.
The middle empire of the Eagles gathered revenue of 21 crowns
The east empire of the Skulls gathered revenue of 20 crowns
The west empire of the Lilies gathered revenue of 19 crowns
During winter the Eagles and Skulls were busy on the diplomatic scene. The north independent realm on the Central plain stayed steady on their neutral ground, despite the diplomatic bombardment from both neighbouring empires. The southern independent city on the Central plain was convinced to join the Eagles empire. The western empire rejected diplomacy and kept their siege of an independent city alive during all of the winter, but the population did not sway.
The stage was set for the second year.
The Eagles deployed troops at all corners of their empire,
fortified their mountain fortress on the east border of their realm, the threat of the eastern empire where imminent. As an extra precaution they put the spell of withershins on the eastern empires outpost to the Central Plain.
The eastern empire deployed for a march to the west, in the two villages between the Great bay, the Central plain and the Eagles mountain realm. They also deployed a series of expeditionary forces to expand the empire in all the other directions.
The western empire could not recruit much, since the winters siege of the independent coastal city with two banners demanded a reserve of twelve crowns to be used on baggage. The rest where deployed at the northern river valley for more exploration or defense against the bordering Eagles.
The Eagles launched an attack on the Lilies forces at the western river valley, the battle hit the Eagles with heavy losses and they could not claim the tile but they managed to drive the Lilies frightened into their neighbouring city. The other offensive was against the rebellious independent city on the Central plain but their outriders kept the Eagles forces away.
The Skulls tried unsuccessfully to climb the mountains to reach the Eagles’ nest, without success. That army remained below the mountain the whole year, in case the Eagles would come swooping down. The great army defied the spell and advanced into the Central plain, seemingly also heading for the disputed independent city. On the southern peninsula reaching out over the Great bay, the Skull forces would spend the year subjugating the defiant and stubborn fishing villages that had stood against them the last year.
The Lilies continued their siege of the independent city in the south and gathered their troops in the north for a counterattack on the Eagles after they had denied a peaceful solution on the border dispute. This resulted in a long war lasting all year long, where the originally 1110 lily-men in battle after battle pushed the originally 950 eagle-men eastward over the lowlands.
The coming months the middle empire did overrun the independent city on the Central plain.
The eastern empire great army skirted along south of the independent settlements and suddenly crossed the plain and occupied the undefended city of the Eagles in the south. The Eagle defenders where on a unification tour on the nearby fortified islands south of the Great bay. The bloody aftermath of the treacherous move would dominate the scene for the remainder of the year.
The western empire finally rushed the walls and could raise the lily banner over the war weary independent city. The great army’s next destination was clear, eastward to the clash of empires in the Central plains.
The battles raged on until the fall. The Eagles closing in from two directions on the treacherous Skulls had notoriously bad luck with their scouts, not participating in any battle but kept sure that the Skulls would remain behind the walls of the city. Meanwhile the Lily army forced a march and attacked the Skulls straight on, their experience in city battle came in handy. In a bloody battle on the walls the 1500 lily men slaughtered the entire garrison of 1500 Skull-men.
Thus ended the second year and so the game, as it had taken five hours to come so far.
We made the winter retreat, collected our revenue and summed it up:
The Middle empire of the Eagles: 16 crowns and an army of 3000 men equal 46 victory points.
The East empire of the Skulls: 27 crowns and an army of 2600 men equal 53 victory points.
The west empire of the Lilies: 28 crowns and an army of 2800 men equal 56 victory points.
This was an introductory game for one player, the Middle empire of the Eagles. The two other of us have played this extensively in the 1990:ies but not since then.
We could have made a better map, maybe skipped the random drawing of tiles. We skipped the agents as it is possible to play without them and that they make the spending of the revenue somewhat more complicated. Afterwards I remember a house rule we sometimes employed in the past, giving every player some points of agents for free. Also in the line of simplifying, we didn’t use racial rules.
This is rather simple to learn to new players, as soon as they realize that all they have to do is to come up with a plan, hard enough, deploy and move the troops accordingly and then let the dices decide the rest. There is no need to understand the odds of things. Most things are easy to understand; don’t let the troops starve, attack only if you have the upper hand. One thing that we failed to tell was that any other player could move in and take over any of your settlements without fight if there isn’t a banner in it. There was some confusion on this, since the independent settlements didn’t have banners but defended themselves anyway.