Kingdom Design

By: Rick McDowell

Issue #19

If you are thinking about playing a “PBM game” you are not familiar with and that your friends haven’t played, well, why should you play? You exhale, thinking, this is going to be some work.

PBM games are complicated! There may be 60 pages or more of rules, but there are some with only 4 pages though I don’t quite understand those, as paradoxical as that might sound.

Let us assume you are thinking you might want to take on a new PBM style game: you are back in the saddle again. You know what you like, which I will assume means a fairly deep game of strategy, at intervals processed simultaneously, where the attraction is to both hope for both your tactical choices and the purveyor’s program producing perfect execution, your strategic outlook considering many possible scenarios that may unfold and your superior utilization of resources, and as reward for serious play, in turn receiving results that both make sense and enthrall. Most importantly, joining a strategy game that draws you in more deeply with each turn, where each turn new knowledge is gained, and more possibilities unfold. In a great game there are no “meh” turns and you must be focused, carefully choosing from among dozens of potentially viable orders to produce that perfect set of commands. Intimidated? No? Good, you are our kind.

In my game of that type (Alamaze), you choose both a kingdom from among 24 available including some staples like Dwarves, Elves, Dark Elves…well, that’s about all the expected ones, or Tyrant of Gor, Warlock, Sorcerer, Necromancer, Atlantians, Underworld, Pirates, Gnomes, Sacred Order, Black Dragons and at least a dozen others.

You choose your kingdom carefully, considering its strength not just as a number but across its characters and kingdom traits, along military, economic, covert, magical, divine and esoteric characteristics. Of course, who doesn’t?

Now you pick your region in Maelstrom, the continent in play. There are 12 to choose from, each with different characteristics. There are Capital Regions, Free Trade Regions, City States, Savage Regions. Which terrain mix is preferred? Major city like in the large capital regions, or more secluded island regions? Lots of coast and sea, or perhaps more mountains or forest?

In Alamaze, kingdoms are defined primarily by more than 24 Cultural Traits, as well as terrain adeptness, magical proficiency, and special abilities. Each kingdom is very much distinct. As The Underworld, you feature intrigue and have special orders unavailable to other kingdoms. You will steal, assassinate, kidnap, and reveal skeletons in the closet on your enemies. As the Atlantians, you can control the seas and have powerful nobles to usurp control of PC’s. As Red Dragon, all fear you will bring your wrath to their kingdom as even cities with high walls hardly concern you.

Alamaze perhaps has gained most distinction by differentiating its kingdoms and letting wildly different strategies succeed in the right hands. Despite so many gigantic differences between kingdoms across all aspects of play, and so many thousands of possibilities with any kingdom in any region, no kingdom has become dominant or shunned, and the same can be said of the regions.

Alamaze is famous for not just staying power for 30 years and the design and interface enhancements through four generations that sustains that appeal, but for the quality of its elements – including its magic system, where each kingdom has unique spell lists over nine levels of power. That’s just a hint on one aspect of Alamaze. Your brigades will gain experience and become veteran and with further success rise to be elite. Your leaders will rise from captain to general to marshal in increments and may eventually become game-changing Warlords. Your agents at the highest level can enter the castle of your enemy and slit the throat of their king. Your wizards will rise in power to cast incredible magic.

But all this will not overwhelm you, you instead will be drawn in. Alamaze will flow over you, and you may join those with us that have played on for decades, always discovering something new. Its been around now after winning Game of the Year at Origins and GAMA, for 30 years, now in its fourth generation with all web-based interaction (no snail mail)

Find us at Alamaze Signup there. You are never asked for credit card info and won’t be invoiced until after you do the tutorial, and at least one Duel (against likely a mentor), and only when you get it your first game that begins are you then invoiced for $9.95 for a month. Yes, ten turns in a month for $9.95. You owe it to yourself to give Alamaze a look. There is nothing to risk.

See you soon!


Alamaze Designer

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