Warlords is a turn-based strategy game that takes place in a high fantasy setting. Eight factions battle for control of the fictional land of Illuria. Each faction can be controlled by either AI or a human player, allowing for hot-seat multiplayer for up to eight people. The goal of the game is to capture or raze 2/3 of the map's 80 cities.
The Mac release of the game in 1991 featured updated graphics.
Each faction starts with a single, pre-determined city and a single hero unit on the map of Illuria. Cities occupy four tiles on the game map; units occupy a single tile.
New military units can be trained in cities. Each city is only capable of training a preset selection of units. This gives each faction a unique feel: Elvallie is the only faction that starts with the capability to train elves; Grey Dwarves is the only faction that starts with the capability to train dwarves; etc. These unit production limitations are specific to the cities themselves rather than the factions, so Elvallie may train their own dwarves if they capture a city in the dwarven region of the map.
Multiple units can be grouped into "stacks" which will fight together when in combat. Stacks can contain up to eight different units and their movement is limited by the slowest unit in the stack.
Heroes are special units that are capable of searching ruins -- 40 special locations across the map -- and carrying items. Searching ruins is another invisible dice roll: the hero may find gold, items, or rare military units. The hero may also die. Items carried by a hero may increase the heroes strength, or they may increase the strength of every unit in the hero's stack. Heroes are also unique in that they can gain the "flying" movement type if stacked with flying creatures.
When one faction's units move onto a tile occupied by another faction's units or city, combat will occur. Combat between units is determined by invisible dice rolls with a bonus based on a unit's strength value, so units with higher strength will usually (but not always) defeat units with lower strength. Combat continues until one faction's stack is completely defeated.
Diplomacy between AI and human players is rudimentary. AI players have a disposition toward every other player ranging from indifferent to hostile. Alliances are not possible (except for verbal ones between human players) and units can engage in combat regardless of the AI's disposition, so the game is effectively a free-for-all.
When playing against AI opponents, the remaining factions will offer to surrender once the human player has captured more than 2/3 of the map's 80 cities. If the surrender is accepted, the human player wins. If the surrender is refused, the human player doesn't win until he/she captures all 80 cities.
Storm Giants (yellow)
Grey Dwarves (orange)
Orcs of Kor (red)
Horse Lords (cyan)
Lord Bane (black)
Some factions are easier to play than others due to A) the predetermined faction starting locations and B) the different units that each faction's starting city can build. The varying starting difficulty can be a major factor in games against human players. The game does not inform the player of the faction difficulties. A subjective difficulty ranking is below:
Easy: yellow, red.
Normal: blue, black.
Hard: orange, cyan, green.
Very hard: white.