Not to sidetrack this discussion, but on your Barbarossa game the site talks about optional rules but these are not found. Can you reprint them here or in another thread?
We always play Barb with the standard rules. While we invited folks to send us their house rules, almost no one ever did. The ones we got were really generalized, but we put them up in anticipation of adding more as they came in; it just never happened so that page is pretty sparse.
We have no High Grounds remaining, and no plans for more.
I’ve got links to the maps I (ab)used while making the Warlords map here.
The number of cities in a fief is equal to the fief’s gold production and to the number of peasants to fight, if empty. Originally the cities were just going to be map flavor, but then we got the clever idea to make them represent gold/peasants and do away with big ugly numbers (a real plus for the game board’s rustic map aesthetic, IMO).
I’m actually working on a complete list of fiefs/cities this week. Should have it ready soon-ish. Will post a link when it’s up.
We test played it with 5 and 6 fairly regularly until we got our first production quotes, then realized to get a reasonable MSRP it would have to be 4 players. We really hope that high demand will allow for expansions/extensions.
I personally enjoy the peasant phase for several reasons: it forces strategic use of warlords, it gives an exploratory vibe, it gives you some cards before player conflict, it discourages monolithic armies early on, and it gives new players a chance to get familiar with the combat system prior to important battles. There’s also occasionally some really tight peasant fights that add tension early on. Big wins/loses can shape early informal alliances. You can execute 2 diagonal player turns simultaneously to speed it up.
Our perspective on Warlords was always more of a “what if” a few of the many existing minor powers could have really pulled things together and tried to create a broader hegemony than ever really existed in history. The reason our “kingdoms” start out empty instead of full of your troops is because they were not unified political entities; you make them into that through conquest. Though you could even (very loosely) interpret the peasant phase as expanding your hegemony through non-violent methods (when you hit and the peasants miss entirely, maybe that represents a successful marriage deal). Don’t think of our “kingdoms” as anything but empty shells, or progress markers if you will…broadly generic people groups that perhaps could have been united in such a way that together they were far better than the sum of their parts (hence our kingdom bonuses in spearmen and gold).
If Warlords has a prayer of scratching the true historian’s itch, it will be in the purely theoretical realm. Maybe if the Normans had taken all of Italy instead of just the southern half, they would have achieved a Roman-Empire-esque synergy and gone on to dominate all of Europe. And maybe they still can with you/me/player3 at the helm calling the shots. Warlords definitely has a different design philosophy than a historical simulation, even a rudimentary one like A&A (different being neither inherently good nor bad).
While I’m trying to describe some of our design thinking and processes, I’m also trying hard to not come across as hyper-defensive of our particular implementation of medieval themes applied to Warlords. I am really interested to see what you guys end up doing with all the mods you’re talking about. It’s really gratifying to see folks take a look at our stuff and say “Cool!”, then see the light bulb go on with an “I can do this with that and something else with that other thing…”