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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: August 23, 1997
Good strategy games, adventure games, and RPGs can be found on the market. While many would debate which ones are the best, I don’t think there will be much argument about which game has done the best job of combining the three genres. That title, at least for this year, will go to Birthright: Gorgon’s Alliance. Birthright is a myriad of adventures, alliances, battles, and strategy that makes the transition from board game (by TSR) to computer beautifully.
Before I go any further, let me just mention that this is a rather detailed game, and as such, I will only talk about some of the key elements of the game. Otherwise, you’ll probably fall asleep or hurt yourself operating heavy machinery, and that would be bad. The premise behind the game is fairly simple. All hell has broken loose, nobody likes anybody else, and everyone wants to be on top — just like real life, right? One big obstacle in the way (actually, a very big obstacle) is the Gorgon. This large, ugly, menacing, and ill-mannered beast is the reason for all of this chaos in the first place. Many years ago he attempted to claim all of Anuire for his own. While his bid failed, he did manage to screw up any sense of order that existed. Bloodlines slowly died off and nobody is left to claim the title of ruler of these lands.
Where does that leave you? Well, right smack in the middle of it, of course. In Birthright, your job is to assume control of one of many small realms in Anuire, and attempt to work your way to the top. How you get there is your business, and the game is designed to allow the warrior, the adventurer, and the statesperson to use their respective skills to achieve the same result. You might choose to kill everything in sight and expand your realm via bloody battles, or seek great weapons and items of power and might to bend the wills of others, or even attempt to conquer through diplomacy. No matter which method, or combination of the above, you choose, you can be sure it will be no picnic.
As the regent of your realm, it is your responsibility to expand the breadth of your realm in any way possible. To help you, you can hire lieutenants, who are valuable for several reasons. First, lieutenants can perform a number of domain actions for you during your turn (i.e., diplomacy, espionage) you can use them in combat for their special fighting skills. You can also use them in battles to lead your troops to victory. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, lieutenants are used to go on adventures. Lieutenants can be recruited each turn and the type and level of the ones available is completely random. Fighters, thieves, wizards, and priests will be available at different levels, and the higher the level, the higher the cost.
In addition to lieutenants, you will also get help from your advisors. These four individuals keep you up-to-date on all of the different parts of the game. The chamberlain keeps you updated on how you are doing versus the other realms and where everyone’s loyalties stand. The general will let you know about any wars taking place and how your army size compares to those of other realms. Any available adventures will be told to you by the mage, as well as any investitures (provinces being overtaken and claimed by other realms). Last, the spy keeps you abreast of all alliances between realms throughout Anuire. Use these reports and the information they contain wisely. For example, you don’t want to start a war with a neighbor if he has several allies and you have none, because you will probably get your clock cleaned.
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