Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Inspiration: Arklyrell

City States of Arklyrell (halfling not included)

In 1983, Task Force Games published City States of Arklyrell, a fantasy wargame.  Like many such games of that era, players move cardboard counters (representing military units) around a hex map.  Like many such games, conflict is resolved by comparing 'combat strength', rolling a die (possibly modified due to terrain), and consulting a table.  Not so typical is that each player starts the game with a single unit – one of four unique 'Leaders' (Eorl, Cor, Arete, or Arion).  Leaders are unique because each has a different combination of 'Combat Factor' and 'Morale Factor'.  Combat Factor (as might be expected) measures effectiveness in combat; Morale Factor “indicates how persuasive the Leader is.”

In order to gain additional units, a player must recruit them by moving his or her Leader adjacent to a unit (not controlled by another player) and rolling equal to or greater than said unit's Morale Factor.  Strangely, a Leader's Morale Factor is not considered when recruiting units.  The only time a Leader's Morale Factor comes into play is when a unit accompanying the Leader suffers a 'disruption' result in combat; with a greater Morale Factor, a Leader has a better chance of maintaining control.  (Maybe a Leader's Morale Factor was meant to improve recruitment chances but that part was left out of the rules?)  Since all units other than Leaders begin the game as unaligned, they are not color-coded.  It is difficult, therefore, to track who owns a given unit – or if it is owned at all.

Anyway, “The game revolves around the conquest of the eight great Citadels, the seats of both political and economic power on the world of Arklyrell.”  I assume that 'Citadels' equates to the 'City States' of the title.  The object of the game is to simultaneously control a certain number of Citadels – the exact number depending upon the number of players.

There are various types of men available for recruitment – Berserkers, Barbarians, Nomads, and City Men; there are no humanoids/demi-humans, contrary to what the halfling on the cover might suggest.  Otherwise, there are Ships, Rocs, and Ice Worms.  Ships and Rocs can be used to transport troops.  Troop mobility is important in that – as the map below shows – the 'world' of Arklyrell consists of various islands and two coasts.

According to page 5 of the rules,
The mapsheet represents an entire world.  Players may move units off the east or west edges of the mapsheet.  The unit will then enter the opposite edge of the mapsheet, on the hex which corresponds with the hex it exited.
I have “cleaned up” the map slightly and in my efforts I made certain that no island was divided by the map edges.  As can be seen, the north boundary is ice.  The southern boundary is desert, perhaps geographically tropical.  This suggests not “an entire world,” but the northern hemisphere of a planet.  If we accept this hypothesis, then it follows that the map is a Mercator projection and distances of northern latitudes are exaggerated compared to the southern latitudes.  Alas, the distances are uniform.  Of course, since this is fantasy, we are not constrained by conventional logic.  Perhaps Arklyrell is cylindrical.  Another possibility is that Arklyrell is a sphere, but with one side constantly facing its sun.  In such a case, the map would represent the 'twilight ring' between the searing day side and the frozen night.  This would explain why units cannot exit the map along those edges.  Instead of the left/right edges of the map representing west/east (as the rules state), they would represent north/south.

There are seven locations where magical items may be located.  Magical item counters are randomly distributed, face-down at the locations.  Any Leader visiting such a location may reveal the counter in order to take the item.  However, there are only five magical items; the other two counters represent “poison wells” which cause the revealing player to lose a turn.  The five magical items are: 
  • Orb of Battlelust – Automatically recruit Berserker units
  • Diamond Ankh – Automatically recruit Ice Worm units
  • Sword of the Elements – Combat bonus
  • Mace of Kra – Combat bonus (usable in conjunction with Sword of the Elements)
  • Haser's Dust – Can be used once to negate an unfavorable combat result or to retry an attempt at recruitment
In an effort – I suppose – to keep the rules manageable, some situations may arise that do not appear to make sense.  For instance, Ships cannot be attacked unless they are in port.  Ships in port cannot attack and Ships at sea cannot attack one another; however, a Ship not at port can attack a Ship at port.  Perhaps every fleet on Arklyrell represents a distinct 'pirate tribe', but each tribe is free to align with whomever they want.  They do not attack one another on the open sea, but Ships at port are a valid target.  Even so, Ships attacked by ground units cannot retreat to open sea; they can only retreat to coastal hexes.  However, a Ship attacked by another Ship can apparently retreat to open sea.

Movement happens before combat, except a retreating unit could conceivably continue movement in a favorable direction.  Since Rocs must end their movement on land, they cannot attack Ships at sea.

There is no stacking other than a Leader with a ground unit or a Leader and/or ground unit on a Ship.  Therefore, after a Roc unit transports another unit it must have enough movement to continue to an unpopulated hex.  Also, a ground unit cannot embark upon and disembark from a Ship in a single turn.

Leaders cannot be killed; however, they can be trapped if the hex they occupy is surrounded by enemy units.  Rocs cannot rescue trapped leaders because, in order to be transported by a Roc, a ground unit must enter into the Roc's hex.

Lastly, there are two cities/citadels in the 'Arctic' region.  Although not a 'rule' question, why would they be in such an inhospitable place?  How do they sustain themselves?

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