You, the player, can choose your King's race, alignment, temper and four ability levels. Race and alignment can generally be chosen according to personal tastes, because the powers of the different races and alignments are fairly well balanced.
Ability levels may require some more thought. It really does help to have some good martial abilities to ensure that you can expand your kingdom quickly.
The most obvious way to do this is to choose Tactical ability. Melee, Archery and magical abilities can help you win duels with the opposing commander at a battle, which helps your chances of victory. These abilities also help in Searching out features. A pet strategy of some players is to pick two March skill levels, which enables infantry to attack a second province after they have conquered one province.
Another oft-ignored strategy is to take some Naval ability, which will help you master the vast oceans of the world. Druidic ability will help you lead armies of races other than your own. About half the world is Human, so if you pick a race other than Human, you should probably take one Druidic level. For Human Kings, the Druid skill is still very useful, but can be considered optional.
Don't forget that there are 7 Imperial Offices other than World Emperor. A good idea is to concentrate on one other office other than World Emperor, and to do whatever you can for the other six offices until it's clear that you've slipped too far behind.
Your temper should correspond to the abilities you've selected. Cautious and Cowardly are good neck-saving tempers for Kings with little melee combat ability. Brave and Berserk are good for powerful warriors. But remember, your starting heroes will probably be of similar temper.
When engaging in a campaign of conquest, remember that one additional move- point is used up when conquering an enemy province (rule [6.2]). An army with a speed of 2 will thus be able to conquer only one province in a game-turn; a cavalry force, or an army led by a leader with a March ability of 2 or higher, can try to conquer two provinces. Navies must use up this movement point only when they fight a battle in the province. If you attack on phase 4 or earlier, your armies can fight more than 1 battle.
A "beginner's tip" showing an example combat situation may do some good. Let's say you start with 2 Human Legion and 1 Heavy Cavalry, and you're thinking of attacking a Prosperous Forest province defended by Elven bowmen.
Usually, you should recruit 4 units with your 10 gold, giving you about 4 Average Legion and 3 Average HC. Now let's work out what your odds are if you attack that Elven province, using the "Summary of factors affecting army strength" on the Army Type Table.
First, the opposition. Since it's a prosperous (average) province, it will probably have 2 defending Elven Bow units. Each Bow unit has a basic strength of 2, +1 because Forest is home terrain for Elves, +1 because Forest is home terrain for Bow, and +1 more because Elves get +1 as Bowmen. Total modified strength per unit is thus 5. Multiply this by 2 because all units start as Average quality, giving 10 defense points. Then multiply by 1.25 for defense, 1.25 for exploration, and you wind up with 16 points per unit, for a total strength of 32 (this won't seem so complicated, once you get used to it.)
Now let's say you invade with all your units. Your first line in the battle will be 2 Human Legions, total strength = 16 (Legion strength = 3; +1 for Humans fighting as Legion; x 2 for Average quality; x 2 units.) Your second line of 2 Legions will have the same strength; their strength will not be penalized 50% because they will be able to outflank the enemy (as explained in section 7.6 of the addendum sheet.)
The next 2 cavalry will be penalized 50% however. Their total strength is 4 (HC basic strength = 4; x2 for Average quality; halved for adverse terrain of Forest; x 50% penalty; x 2 units.) The last cavalry unit will contribute 1 strength.
So the total attacking strength will be (16 +16 +4 + 1) = 37, against 32 defense. That's about 1.15 to 1 odds, which gives you about a 55%-60% chance of victory. That's not so good! You want to look for odds closer to 2:1. Check your other skills to see if you can improve your odds: some Tactical skill will make the odds more acceptable, or some spell(s) may help. If your leader is designed for personal combat, or you have the Neutral Order of Duellists ability, consider challenging the defending hero to a duel. You might also consider sending someone ahead to explore the province, especially Plains. Lastly, consider taking on a weaker province first. That may gain you some quick tax points to build up your army, and your units may gain crucial quality levels while beating up on weaker units.
At the start of the game, aim towards taking as many provinces as possible on each and every turn. You should try for at least two provinces per turn, three or four if you can manage it. You should recruit some armies on the very first turn to help you accomplish this. If you have a skill of less than 2 in March ability, you can divide your forces into a cavalry army and an infantry army, using the infantry army to conquer one province while the cavalry horde tries to conquer two successive provinces.
A King who has a fleet should also try to take 1-3 sea provinces. You can order a fleet to move into an unknown area, which is sometimes a good gambit.
When considering an invasion, weigh all the conditions which argue for and against success in battle. All of the modifiers to army strength are given with the Army Table. Also, remember that how many armies you have doesn't matter much in mountainous terrain because it may be that the battle will be fought in a narrow pass, allowing a frontage of only one or two armies.
After you conquer a province controlled by a neutral hero, consider hiring the hero in the same game-turn. It may be wise to wait a phase before hiring him, in case you need two battles to conquer the province.
When searching features, remember that using the Talk tactic can lead to considerable success. Some "monsters" may be willing to let you have their treasure for a simple favour, and even a vicious monster will hesitate to attack a Hero, so your chances of survival are quite good. Still, don't make risky attacks against monsters on early game-turns, and try to have a good supply of spare characters. When you make up an encounter plan which starts with a negotiation tactic, place a Flee and/or combat tactic after it, in case the negotiations fail.
Try for every Imperial Office. At the start of the game, think about which character will be your primary candidate for each office, and which offices will receive first priority. Towards the middle or end of the game, try to find out which characters are ahead of you for which offices and neutralise those characters. The winner of the game will probably be the King who explores the most avenues for advancement and takes advantage of every opportunity. Luck plays a large part in the game, so players will have to take many calculated risks to make the law of averages work for them.
If you are invaded and lose your Kingdom, it's not necessarily the end. You can fire your more expensive heroes, then travel around the world looking for mercenaries and battlefields where you can raise skeletal armies. Some features have magic items which will help you, or incredible amounts of gold to finance a comeback. Some Kings may help you in exchange for some training or a magic item, while others may have gaps in their defences which you can exploit by raising mercenaries and skeletal armies in the middle of their Kingdom!
Here's an example of a "moves sheet" which you can use to give orders to one of your characters:
Moves: Character ID Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5 1_________ (__)_______ (__)_______ (__)_______ (__)_______ (__)______ (Kyron______)(__________)(__________)(__________)(__________)(_________) Enctr Plans: __________ __________ __________ __________ _________ Special Plan:__________
The first line is used to fill in the order, for example, "(HI)re_88___". The second line is for anything else that is needed to explain the order (for example, how much are you going to offer character 88 to join you?) The third line is for more notes, and for the plans for Encounter and Search actions.
The "Special Plan" line is for encounters with random monsters and duels at battles, and will be in effect for the entire turn. Here are examples of how to write moves for each order:
[3.1] [3.2] [3.3] [3.4] [3.5] [3.6] Move Explore Search Recruit Hire Disband (MO) NE 304 (EX) 304 (SE) 33 (RE) for 22 (HI) 88 (DI) 33,44,. ( Burgundy )( Burgundy )( Dungeon )(LE,LE,HC )( Lancelot )( 112,113 ) FI,ME for 3 gold . [3.7] [3.8] [3.9] [3.10] [3.11] [3.12] Fire Leave Pick Up Cast Spell Use Item Encounter (FI) 88 (LE) 8,9 to (PI) 33,34 (CA)-BL (US) 19 (EN) 88 . ( Lancelot )( Garrison )( )(on 304 )(Magic Wand)( Lancelot ) on 88 TA,FL . [3.13] [3.14] [3.15] [3.16] [3.17] [3.18] Practice Spy Defend Pursue Trail Give (PR) TA (SP) 304 (DE) 304 (PU) 88 (TR) 88 (GI) 19 . ( )( Burgundy )( Burgundy )(Lancelot )( Lancelot )( to 88 ) CA-FI,ME .
You don't really have to include the names of provinces and characters in orders, since the computer operator will just type in the number. But it may be a useful note for you and sometimes serves as a double-check.
If you run out of space when writing an order, put an asterisk (*) and continue the order on the bottom of the moves sheet.
Fire arrows, and if this doesn't win it, attempt to flee.
Attempt to steal from the monster. Then cast a fireball spell and charge into melee. If you win, Scout the feature.
Fire arrows, and if this doesn't win it, attempt to flee.
Cast Invisibility and attempt to Steal; if caught, attempt flight, and Melee if necessary. Remember: only CA-IN can come before Steal.
Cast Psychic Blast and Fireball. Then melee for two rounds, and if it still lives, attempt flight. If this fails, attempt to charm the opponent, and if that fails then resume melee. Note that this plan assumes skills of 1 in Elemental Magic and 2 in Psychic Magic.
Talk to the monster and see if it wants to deal. If possible, Scout the feature to see if something special can be found. If the monster attacks, proceed to Melee.
(assumes that Magic Item #55 is a sword, while #31 casts a Fireball spell)
Use the Wand of Fire until it runs out of charges, then switch to the sword and Melee.