Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria
Windows - 2003
Description of Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria
If you think of yourself as a PC gaming old hand, you might remember the Warlords series of turn-based strategy games from the late 90s. Created by Steve Fawkner and Australian developer SSG, they were responsible for many bleary-eyed late nights. Fawkner has obviously decided the world is ready for another turn-based strategy game, so after a five-year hiatus, the series continues with Warlords IV.
Like the other games in the series, Warlords IV has quite an in-depth plot. 3,000 years before the game begins, a dark elf noble called Prince Mordaine attempted to cast a new and powerful spell. It backfired, killing him and unleashing a torrent of magical energy on the world, in an event that became known as the Sundering. Now, another dark elf mage, Aravein, is trying to recast this spell, which if successful will bring the whole world under her control. She's summoned up a bunch of demons to help her, and is sending troops to raid libraries all round the world for information. It's up to you to stop her.
Your game starts with the creation of your warlord, who is your representation in the game. You can choose his race and major and minor professions - these include various types of magic and combat skills, and can be mixed and matched at will. You can research new spells over the course of a game, although these can't be carried over into new encounters. Warlords do gain experience after battles, though, so a character you've used repeatedly will become more powerful.
Whereas the Warlords name might be more familiar to today's gamers from the two excellent Warlords Battlecry real-time strategy titles, Warlords IV is a turn-based game, and is very similar in style to the original titles. Your warlord starts the game in your capital city, together with some supporting troops. He doesn't move, but can be used as a powerful defender if your capital ever gets attacked.
Each city you own is capable of producing troops. These fall broadly into the categories of general combat units, support troops like archers or siege equipment, and heroes. They don't cost any resources to build, but more powerful units take more turns to build. You can also recruit mercenaries from the groups that will come calling from time to time, or use magic to summon new allies. Each unit under your control also requires gold payments every turn, so if you build a huge army, you'll end up bankrupt.
The troops can then be organised into armies, which can consist of up to eight different units, or be left to defend your cities in case of attack. Your armies can then roam around the map, attempting to capture enemy (or neutral) cities, exploring ruins, completing quests, or fighting enemy armies that are attempting to do the same thing. Much of the strategy in Warlords IV comes from creating effective combinations of units - many troop types have passive bonuses that can greatly improve the potential of the others in the group.
Once you're actually in combat, most of the tough decisions have already been made. Your forces line up on one side of the screen, and the enemy troops are arrayed on the other. You each choose a unit to fight, and they duke it out in the middle of the screen until one or the other is killed. Then the losing player picks a replacement unit, and the battle continues until one or other player is out of troops. Some units have healing abilities that will restore some hit points from damaged allies in between rounds, and others have special attacks that cause extra damage to certain types of enemy. Your warlord can also cast certain kinds of spells to affect the progress of the fight.
Once you're done with the battle, the victor's troops will gain experience and level up, once they've accumulated enough. You can choose which of their attributes to improve when this happens, and while they won't rival more powerful troops, a level four or six basic unit is a significant improvement over their initial potential. After a mission is complete, you can choose a handful of units (usually high-level heroes) to accompany your warlord to the next game.
Each race has its own selection of troops - six each, counting heroes. If you take over a city belonging to another race, you'll be able to construct some of their more low level units there, rather than your own. This can often be important, as you'll get access to their racial benefits in addition to your own. Mixing good and evil-aligned troops in the same army can lead to morale difficulties and combat penalties, though.
The graphics do a good job of conveying information clearly and cleanly, but they are certainly functional rather than pretty... rudimentary, even. It's not exactly an attractive game, but then it's hardly an FPS. The sound, too, is best described as efficient, with the exception of the vocal taunts and phrases that the different units have, which are horrible. In other words, it looks and sounds pretty ugly, but that doesn't really affect the gameplay too much.
As the pedigree of the series suggests, Warlords IV's AI plays a very mean game indeed. The different difficulty levels are well balanced, going from a pushover at the easiest setting (good for getting to grips with the rules, and what constitutes a good army) to a very real challenge at the upper ones. Enemy turns are carried out quickly, though, and without much Civ 3-style messing about.
There's also a gratifyingly wide selection of multiplayer options. The usual Internet and network options are available, but you can also play multiplayer on one machine with "hotseat" mode, and even play over email, with each player sending their completed turn to the next.
Warlords IV is certainly an unusual offering. It's hard to shake the feeling that it would make a good board game, as the complexity of the rules doesn't seem to go too far beyond what could be accomplished in a social group of people. The AI, though, puts up a hell of a fight, and the relative simplicity of the rules doesn't necessarily mean that you'll master the game overnight. It's a little difficult, though, to resist speculating about what would have happened if the team had combined the large-scale strategic complexities of this title with Battlecry's real-time system for resolving combats -- think Rise of Nations' Conquer the World mode on steroids -- but for what it is, this game has few problems.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Skeylos 2021-05-03 2 points
I first tried to make it work directly on windows 10, without success. First, I had the same problem of freezing when installing fonts, that I could fix by going to task manager and stopping several tasks until it worked (razer synapse, overwolf, etc...). It seems that these tasks are in conflict with the font installation. However, even after the game was installed, it instantly crashed, no matter which compatibility parameters or which directX version I used. Maybe changing my GPU driver to a much older version could work, but I don't want to mess with my computer too much.
I therefore tried to install a windows XP virtual machine, first with VirtualBox and later with VMware. With VirtualBox it did not work (D3DERR_NOTAVAILABLE (I think it's because the virtual display driver of virtualBox is not compatible with some older directX functions). With VMware however, after installing windows XP and installing the game on it, it worked instantly (I didn't even have to install directX as it already comes with windows XP).
TL;DR: if you really want to play that game on a recent computer, I advise you to use VMware, install windows XP on it, tweak the settings to make it smooth (increase virtual machine CPUs, memory, etc...) and then install the game on it.
Ethereach 2021-02-08 0 point
I have the cd but it doesn't work on my pc, not even when I make it compatible with windows xp service pack 3. Even when opening with administrators rights, if you have a solutions please tell and send to email@example.com
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