A Second Warlords II Deluxe Review

(Another email contribution by Jay Han; I've done some basic Web formatting to make it look decent.)

Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 15:26:01 +0200
From: Jay Han 
Subject: Warlords II Deluxe info (again) [Part 1/2]

Hi Bob.

I've finally installed W2D and played around a bit. Here's a review I
posted on comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic.

Warlords II Deluxe has been out for three weeks in Australia, and I've ordered it as soon as I knew how (Note: I think it's scheduled to hit the shelves RSN in the USA). I've got it installed now, and I've been looking around some. Here are my first impressions.


Personally, I had a big problem: I don't have a CD-ROM drive! So what I did was get hold of a PC with a CD-ROM drive (accessed through NFS), pack everything (but the intro and final animations) onto floppies (it took a dozen) and unpack them onto my HD. There's one magic thing to do. You need to create a file named install.wl2 in the base directory. At that point, all the binaries believe that the installation is genuine.

For the happy owners of a CD-ROM drive, it looks like the installation should be easy. There are 4 "levels" of installation, called Minimal, Minor, Major, and Total. The Total installation involves copying the whole CD-ROM onto HD, minus the animations. It takes about 44Mb. Major installation gets you only 6 scenarios and associated army/city/shield sets, but you can play entirely off the HD, without the CD-ROM. And you can always use the Librarian to install other scenarios. Major install requires about 23Mb. Minimal install takes 8Mb and must be terribly slow. To speed things up, Minor install requires another 5Mb to put time-critical files on the HD.

I recommend doing a Major install and using the Librarian to install some of the scenarios left. Only half of the scenarios will be interesting to you, if even that.


There are a total of 5 programs (not including the intro).

The Terrain Editor and the Geomorph sort of go together. As the manual says, I can believe that creating a terrain set is an involved task, but now we can't complain, it's possible if we dare! The Geomorph is a helper. It supports the "smoothing" algorithm for coastline and such. I think it's used for the random map generation also.

The Librarian replaces the ADDSCEN and DELSCEN utilities. It can be used to install, remove, and pack scenarios.

The intro is a series of FLI animations of fly-bys of rendered landscapes. I can do without it. But then, I'd happily have a lame intro for a better game engine!

The Game

The interface hasn't changed much. There are a few new options, such as Undo Move and Hero Deeds. The path calculator seems to be a little smarter. There are quite a few newer panels with nice pictures in them. The program seems a little faster too, especially the setup and I/O part, but also the AI computation.

There is a modem/network option. I haven't tried it. There is also an EMail mode that makes it easier to run email games. The program automatically generates a single save file, and I believe there are a few restrictions that prevent cheating, if that's a concern. The manual describes how to set up an email game.

Random game options have been improved. You can choose now between three map scales with as few as 18 cities up to as many as 100. The randomly generated maps still look pretty good. I even tried this with the "castle" terrain set and it generated a reasonable map! Creating a random game actually generates a new scenario named "Random" (you can change the name, so as to have several extant random games). That means you can easily replay, share and even edit random games.

It took some time getting used to not seeing the fireball marked "WAR!" when a combat takes place. Or maybe it's disappeared because I selected the "Fast Move" option, meaning that AI moves will be shown as fast as the computer can handle it.

BTW, the menu item SSG->About your computer shows the computer speed as Warp/Impulse numbers. I believe they represent CPU and video speeds.

All in all, the general look has improved, although the interface remains virtually the same.

The Rules

The basic rules haven't changed. One noticeable change though is about naval units. Their strength is now MIN(original,4). I.e. it is either the unmodified strength of the unit or 4, whichever is lower.

Another change is that you can't Plant Standard and direct production there anymore.

The combat rules are explained in the manual in detail, including the effect of the Intense Combat option.

Armies, cities, terrain, etc.

Wow! There are now 37 army sets, 30 city sets, 12 shield sets, and 7 terrains to choose from! Although some of the army and city sets are very close or highly specialized for a scenario, and a few are lame, there are still a dozen all-purpose, usable army sets. Among the terrains, three are "indoors": Castle, Cavern and Dungeon. They are graphically very well done, and seems to generate reasonable random maps.

The default army set has been completely relooked. They now have a great, uniform 3-D feel. About half a dozen other army sets and city sets are successful in having a "feel" about them. My favorite Spectra set is there with little modification.

There are Modern and Invade city sets with matching Revolt and Space army sets for the futuristic; Jungle and Aztec for the exotic; Element, Norse and Fantasy for the esoteric; Newrus, Watloo and Europa for the historical; and Dracula for the vampiric.


Exactly 61 scenarios are provided, among which Tutoria and the base 4 scenarios. A good dozen of the new scenarios are quirky and funny but not very interesting (e.g. the infamous "Warthogs II" scenario). At first glance, there are a good dozen scenarios that I'll be playing over the coming weeks and maybe months. Another dozen I'll try out. Beside the original Warlords II and non-Deluxe Scenario Builder scenarios, there are a few new ones and several scenarios that were designed by users (e.g. Mythtec, Rainwar, Dante, Norse).

Most of all, I'll tap the random scenario generator. It can be used to generate a small and quick scenario (as few as 18 cities, about 1/2-hour play time with 3 AIs) or a huge over-nighter (as many as 100 cities). Or, if you are into this, a nice PBEM game with 40 cities and 4 players.

The AI

I haven't played enough yet to give an opinion on the AI. One thing I noticed was that Warlords were much more aggressive early on, sometimes conquering 2 or 3 cities in the first turn. Also, I've seen the AI joining two stacks right before attacking a city. On the other hand, I've also seen it sending two separate 2-army stacks to a city, only to be slaughtered...

The Scenario Builder

I didn't own the non-Deluxe Scenario Builder, so I can't compare. All I can say is, many of the wishes I'd heard on the Net have been granted. You can now copy pictures around. They are in PCX format anyway, so you can user your favorite drawing program to edit them. The built-in picture editor is quite adequate, though.

Everything can be randomized. The smoothing algorithm is impressive, and there are tons of ways to touch up the fine details of the tactical map. You can even import a PCX strategic map, so now you can scan in a real-world map, fiddle the colormap, and presto! a template for a new scenario.

There is no editor for the shield sets, but all it takes is three PCX files, and the format is fairly straightforward.

The Terrain Editor and the Geomorph is available for the very dedicated world-creators!

Problems, Bugs, etc.

I haven't seen a real bug yet. All my problems had to do with OS/2 not being able to restore the screen properly. There's this "magical" install.wl2 file thing, too.

At one point, I saw a bug that I haven't been able to reproduce. I loaded the Scenario Editor and loeaded the Erythea scenario, and it locked up so badly I had to kill it (from OS/2).

During the first turn of a game, as I was looking around the map while my hero was selected, the strategic map showed cities as white dots instead of shields. Also, the program showed some non-neutral cities as neutral and vice-versa. Going on to the next turn removed the problem. This bug never appeared again.

There are no ADDSCEN or DELSCEN utilities. Instead, use the Librarian (INSTALL.EXE). But since I have ZIPped the scenario files myself, I have to install and remove scenarios myself, then run the Scenario Builder to reconstruct the list of installed items before they show up in the game's New Scenario list.


Warlords II Deluxe is a nice improvement over Warlords II. Although many of the 60 scenarios are useless, the package is still a very good value.

I have yet to clearly assess the new AI's strength before I can give a firm opinion.

-=< Jay "Thierry" Han >=-                        Jay.Han@imag.fr 
Bull-IMAG/Systemes. 2, av. Vignate. ZI Mayencin II, 38610 Gieres.
                          Tel: +33 Fax:
Perso: 61, rue Thiers. 38000 Grenoble.