Instructions for the Game
or How to Play

Please note! This game is still in development, so portions of these rules are unfinished, or may change. Check back here regularly, as the developers are trying to keep this document up-to-date.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction.
  2. Logging on to the Server.
  3. Starting and joining a game.
  4. The game turn and interface.
  5. Moving and Attacking.
  6. Population.
  7. Productivity.
  8. Culture.
  9. Fortifications.
  10. Gold.
  11. Paying the Troops each Winter.
  12. Control and Influence.
  13. Score.
  14. Game Options.
  15. Strategies and Tips.
  16. Currently Known Issues.
  17. Fixes, Changes, and Improvements to the Game.
  18. Player Message Board.
  19. Contact the Developers.




irca year DCCCLVIX, by the reckoning of the Christian calendar. The western Roman Empire is a distant memory of history. A Dark Age of chiefs and warlords that has taken its place. Europe is a fragmented continent, with hundreds of independent powers contesting for power, a tribal society ruled by clans and warlords.

A centralized monarchy could not rule in this chaotic age, so a new hierarchical system was born: Feudalism. A simple system for simple times, conceived by the need for protection against invaders and enforced by the threat of retribution. A vassal owed allegiance to his lord in the same way that a shop owner owes a cut to the local mafia don for his "protection". Often the protection offered also implied a threat, and the bargain made was mere extortion.

And so the more powerful nobles and tribal leaders consolidated their power by demanding tributes of livestock, fighting men, and gold in return for their pledge to protect their vassals. Much less centralized than the days of the Romans, the feudal system left a lot of power in the hands of the nobility, and keeping them in line was difficult.

It was an era of intrigue and constantly shifting allegiances, before concepts of nations such as "France" or "Spain" even existed. As the medieval age dawned, the societies of East far outmatched the West in areas of scientific and political thought. No one could have possibly guessed that this backwoods, barbaric corner of the world would soon come to dominate the rest of the world ....


— — —


onqueror! is a game we developed after playing many other turn-based and real-time strategy games. We thought that most games (e.g., Civilization) were too complex, slow, and long for an enriching multiplayer experience; while other games (e.g., Risk) were too simplistic and chance-based for dedicated strategy gamers. We wanted a game that could be played in a half-hour or three hours, and one where the players aren't bored out of their skulls waiting for the other players to make their moves. But at the same time, we wanted a turn-based game, where players had just enough time to make strategic decisions on a global level, leaving tactical gameplay to the genre of real-time strategy ("RTS") games such as Starcraft. The idea of simultaneous turn planning was one we came up with when trying to find a playable model between RTS and turn-based games.

Conqueror! is a game that is still evolving, and we've been introducing our game ideas (of which there is a very long list) one by one, as we get feedback from players and test gameplay. The idea is that a game should be played as it evolves, and that players' ideas contribute to the rule set. Please visit our message board to see what ideas others have had, and to contribute your own. All ideas are considered!

For the time being, Conqueror! is a free game, and is playable only via your web browser, using the Shockwave plug-in. We will be considering other means of distribution in the near future, however, such as a downloadable application that you can save to your Mac or PC, saving you the initial download time every time you come to our site. (Please let us know if this is something you would be interested in!)



Logging on to the Server.

To connect, just make up a user name ("nick") and hit the Connect button. The password doesn't matter at this point -- there are no permanent accounts at this time. Only one person at a time can use a login name, so you won't be able to get in if someone else is logged in with "Bob" or "John". If you have trouble then see if you are behind a firewall. Occasionally our server might be down for maintenance, so if you can't log on at that moment, please try back a few minutes later.

Once connected, you will be in the chat room and game lobby. If anyone is here, you will see them listed under the Players column. You can chat to the lobby members by typing in the Message area and hitting Return. These messages are available to all players logged into the server, though those busy playing games may not see them.

Games that are being played will be listed under Games. Moving your mouse over the game name will bring up a display containing info about the game, including who is playing and how much time is left. If you click on a game, you can retrieve an overview of the map, which will be displayed below the game list. The colors will give you an idea of who is winning the game.



Starting and joining a game.

The best way to learn how to play is to play a game by yourself, against AI ("artificial intelligence", or computer-controlled "robot") players. The game will still be happening on the network, so other human players will be able to join at any time. So you may want to name your game "Just Trying Out" or "Test Game" so that others aren't tempted to challenge you while you're learning the ropes.

Create a new game by selecting Create in the red Games area. A screen with New Game Options will show up. If you join a game, the host player will have already set these options, but it's good to know what they mean so that you join a game that's appropriate to your tastes and time constraints.

Here's a breakdown of the game options:

Game Description: Whatever you want to call the game. "Just Testing" lets others know you're not ready for a serious game yet.

Map: right now there is only one map.

Maximum # of players: Don't be afraid to set this high, as AI players will fill unused slots, making the game more interesting.

Turn limit: This is how many minutes and seconds comprise the part of each turn that each player has to plan and make moves. When the timer runs out, you won't be able to make any more moves until the next turn. When learning a game, set this as high as you want — you can end your turn before the timer ends by hitting the End Turn button inside the game.

Game limit: This is the total amount of time that the game is allowed to take. This timer does not stop at any point in the game, and is useful for limiting a game to your lunch hour, or any other period of time. When the game timer expires, the game is over no matter what, and the player with the best score wins.

Once you've completed the options, or connected to someone else's game, you'll get a list of colors and countries for you to pick from. Pick one at random if you don't have a preference.

If you're the host player (the person who created the game), and you're waiting for other people to play the game with you, stick on this screen until you see that they have picked colors, too. In other words don't hit the Begin button until everyone is ready!

Also after picking a country you can choose your Leader's name, sex, and flag. These are all cosmetic decisions and none of them affect gameplay in any way whatsoever.




The Game Turn & Interface:
A Quick Walk-through


  1. When the game begins your home country will be selected, and it will be set to "recruit soldiers". The information in the yellow area (Population, Troops, etc.) shows the current selected country's stats (See image to the right.)
  2. To select another country, click on it. Its info will appear on the left side of the screen.
  3. To move the map around, use the cursor (arrow) keys, or click-and-drag while holding the Space bar down. You can also use the mini-map in the upper-left hand corner of the screen to jump to another part of the map. Zoom in and out using the appropriate buttons.
  4. To place orders to send troops, click on the country you want to move from, then drag or SHIFT-click to an adjacent country. If the destination is not one of your territories, a battle will ensue. A green arrow shows a planned move between two friendly countries; a red arrow shows an attack.
  5. You can plan five moves per turn; however each troop can only move from one country to one adjacent country each turn.
  6. Click on the Change button to change it to a different type: soldier to raise an army, gold to raise taxes, learning to increase culture, defenses to increase fortifications, food to develop the population, and diplomats to build loyalty and influence. The green bar underneath the build icon shows your progress towards building the unit or improvement. The Buy button can be used to rush the job.
  7. When you are done, click the End Turn button at the bottom of the screen. When all players have submitted orders and pressed this button, or their timers have run out, all orders will be processed. Your orders will be processed in the same sequence that you submitted them; however, some or all of another player's orders may be processed first.



Moving and Attacking.


Planning Your Moves.

Each turn begins with a planning phase, during which "Place Orders" will be shown in the turn status area, and the turn timer will begin counting down.

Each player may use this time to plan up to five (5) orders. All players plan their moves simultaneously, and none will see the results of their moves until all orders have been given. You may order any number of troops to move (or attack) from one country to an adjacent country per turn, but each troop can move (including attacks) only once per turn.

To place a move order, click and drag -- that is, select the from country then while holding the mouse button down, drag to the to country. A green or red arrow appears while the mouse button is held down to signify the direction of the move. Green signifies a move between friendly countries, and red signifies an attack. Alternately, you may shift-click on the to country if the from country is already selected.

A dialog box appears allowing you to select how many armies will be moved between the two countries, or will leave the first country to attack the second. You can use the + (plus) and - (minus) buttons to select the exact number you wish to send.

All orders placed before the turn timer expires will be sent. If you hit the cancel button on the dialog, or the timer expires while the dialog is still up, that order will not be sent.

To retract all your move orders for that turn, press Clear Orders.

It is during the "Place Orders" phase of each turn that you can allocate or change production for each country as well. See section VI, below, for more information.

If you're done placing orders before the turn clock runs out, be sure to press End Turn. Other players might also be finished, and that will keep the game moving along.


Who moves when?

Once all players have submitted their orders, the computer decides which orders to execute first and then calculates the results. Orders are always executed in the order that they are placed; keep this in mind when planning your strategy. If you have an urgent need to move armies, these should be placed at the top of the stack.

Each player's set of orders is analogous to a separate stack of cards, with the first order on top. The computer picks one of the player's stacks at random, takes the top card, and executes that order. Then it chooses another stack at random, takes the top card, and executes that order, and so on, until there are no stacks left. It should be pointed out that it is entirely possible for the computer to execute all of one player's orders before it gets to another's. But the orders within each stack are always executed in the order in which they were placed.


Who wins the battle?

A move from one friendly country to another is executed exactly as you planned, unless the country from which you had planned to move has just been attacked this turn, or you no longer hold the country to which you had planned to move your armies.

An attack results, naturally, in a battle in the province that is taking place. The battle will rage on until all armies on one side have been eliminated.

Armies in the invasion force will fight one-to-one with the defender's armies. Each army is the same strength, so each has the same chance to win as the other, except for a 10% additional bonus that the defender gets for fighting on his home turf. This means that the defender will win a one-on-one battle eleven times out of 21.

Fortifications in a province will also help the defender. See the section on fortifications for more information.





Each province has a population which will grow only if you build farms there; it represents the total number of peasants living in towns and villages in that domain, and participating in your society, but not those who are not settled on its lands or unable (the aged, children, etc.) to contribute their labour. The greater a population that a province has, the more productivity you will be able to coerce out of it, but also the more difficult it will be to make sure the populace does not revolt if you leave them unattended.

For the sake of simplicity, one population point represents roughly 10,000 people. You may see a reference to a province having a population of "5" or of "50,000" — they are the same thing.

One of the first things you may wish to do with a new province is to build farms there. Provinces with very low populations are never going to be worth much or able to build anything in a reasonable time. It's easy to get a province up to 3 (30,000 people) and at that point you can start to think about switching to raising troops or improving the culture there.





Each province has a productivity rating that represents the total output capability of its labour force. A country with high productivity will raise more troops or taxes, or build improvements such as forts or farms quicker.

Keeping the production rate high in each of your provinces is key to success in this game, so it's probably the thing you should look at most when assessing the value of each of your fiefs, as well as those that haven't yet acknowledged your sovereignty.

On the map when you've selected a province, it will say that a country is "Barely", "Somewhat", "Moderately", "Highly", or "Extremely Productive." But it can also be more precisely expressed in labour units per turn, where one labour unit equals the amount of labour it takes to produce one gold. This table will give you a better idea as to what those descriptions mean in numeric terms.


Productivity (in labour units per turn)







5-9 10-14 15-19 20 or more


So, a country that is "highly productive" will produce somewhere between 15 and 19 gold per turn, or contribute the equivalent amount of labour towards another building project or raising troops.

But how is the productivity of a country decided? Is in an arbitrary number? Not at all!

Each province's productivity is determined by a formula which is basically a multiplication of its population (plus resource bonus) and its culture level (see Culture, below). The higher your production level, the faster the province will make something, raise troops, or otherwise improve local conditions. The basic formula, before special modifications, is this:

(labour units/turn)


(Population + Resources) * Culture


A province with a population of 3 (30,000 people), and a culture level of 2 ("developed"), would produce 6 labour units per turn, since 3 x 2 = 6.

So, doubling either the population or the culture level in a province will double its production rate.

You will also note that the resource bonus can really make a big difference in increasing the country's productivity, particularly at the start of the game. If the same province in the above example has a resource bonus of 2, it will be as productive as if it had a population of 5, and be capable of 10 labour units per turn. Countries that begin with a resource bonus will keep it throughout the game, so those will tend to be key areas to capture early and hold.

Some other things can also affect a province's production rate:

The owner's influence in a province is also called his or her control level, and can provide a bonus to the productivity in the province. The control level can be one of five levels of cooperation, with "rebellious" countries being at the bottom and "devoted" being in the top 20%. A 100% devoted country will suffer no penalties to productivity whatsoever, but a rebellious country could have its production rate cut in half. The production rate will never be less than 50% of its maximum due to the control rate, however.


Effect of Control Level on Productivity

Control Level

Bonus to Productivity

Devoted 80-100% (double!)
Supportive 60-80%
Content 40-60%
Restless 20-40%
Rebellious negligable.


Also a country that was just conquered will have its production rate cut in half as well (on top of other modifications), so you may need to wait a turn or two to start getting results from it.

Finally, neutral (grey) countries' production rates are halved, as they do not benefit from such a organized and dynamic leadership as you bring to your people.



Production Costs


Okay, so now you know how productivity works — but that to build with it? The following table provides a menu of your options, and summarizes the effects that they have.

Build Costs

Item / Action




Levy Taxes   1 adds 1 gold to your treasury
Recruit Soldiers   5 adds 1 army to province
Send Diplomat   5 adds 10% to control level in province
Build Fort   50 fortification level 1
Build Keep fort 100 fortification level 2
Build Castle keep 150 fortification level 3
Build Farms   (pop+1)2 population increases by 1
Develop Culture   60 culture level 2 ("developed")
Advance Culture developed culture 135 culture level 3 ("advanced")


In times of peace it may be better to spend resources on increasing population and culture rather than raising troops, or to convert that labour to gold in order to keep the royal coffers full.




Culture represents how developed a province in general in areas such as technology, the arts, trade and politics. For the purposes of this game, and to keep it from becoming too complicated, it's assumed that each of these areas develops at the same rate as the others in each province, and that they are all closely related anyway. There are only three levels because the medieval era wasn't necessarily a time where there were many huge cultural strides made. (They weren't called the Dark Ages for nothing, you know!)

A province can be of one of three cultural levels. Players generally start out on developed provinces, and the vast majority of neutral provinces when the game starts will be primitive. There are many benefits to improving culture in your provinces, though it can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor to do so.

The following table will explain some of the benefits of advancing your culture in a province.


Culture Table


culture level

province effects

primitive developed advanced
culture points
(production rate multiplier)
1 2 3

influence bonus
(one time only)

- + 5% + 10%
labour units needed to advance province to this level - 60 135
allows soldier


labour cost when rushing production (buying) + 100% + 50% + 25%




There are three levels of fortifications possible in a province: fort, keep, and castle. A fort can hold one army, a keep two, and a castle three armies. (A fort is upgraded to a keep and a keep upgrades to a castle, so you can't have more than one of any of these in the same province.) The battle doesn't move to the fortifications until all the armies in the field have been eliminated. So, in a province with eight defenders and a castle, only three will fit in the castle, so the other five fight with only the usual 10% bonus in pitched battle ("in the field") and do not benefit from the protection of the castle. However if these outside armies are defeated, then the battle becomes a siege, and the defenders benefit from the protection of the castle, fort, or keep in the province.

A fort gives a 50% bonus; a keep provides a 100% bonus, and a castle extends a whopping 200% bonus.


Fortifications Table

  fort keep castle
garrison size 1 army 2 armies 3 armies
defense bonus to garrison 50% 100% 200%
labour units to build 50 100 150
culture required primitive developed advanced




Gold serves two purposes in the game.

The first reason for having a fat treasury is to have the luxury to "rush build" anything that you might need in a particular province that turn. This can accomplished by pressing the Buy button. If a province is threatened, raising troops by buying them can save it from an aggressor's ambitions. It's also a great way to speed up development of a province with low productivity but high potential or strategic value. Buying a diplomat might be a good first step to take in a province that you've just taken, so that your control of it increases, and the population becomes more productive.

See the Production Costs section to see the base costs of items; but remember that there is a buy penalty that is based on the province's culture level -- see the table in the Culture section.

There's another reason you need gold: every winter the troops need to be paid, and at the end of the winter turn any troops that you cannot afford to pay will desert your army. Make sure you have enough gold when winter comes along! See the next section to determine how much your troops will cost you.


Paying your Troops in Winter.


But how much will your troops cost you in support this year? You can see a current estimate of your income and support costs by pressing the Empire Info button. Generally, if your income exceeds your support costs by a few sheckels, you're in good shape.

You can ensure that you have enough income by switching some of your provinces' production to levying taxes. But the best strategy is often to keep your support costs down. One way is not to overburden any particular province with a high concentration of troops. A province of size 3 (30,000 peasants) can support up to 3 armies at no cost, as these troops are able to collect their payment from the local population. Likewise 9 armies stationed in a province of size 9 at the end of the winter turn will not cost you even one guildermark. However, each army past the province size will cost you one gold if the province is your capital, and one additional gold for each 'step' beyond. Therefore, in a province of size 3 that is adjacent to the capital, 6 armies will cost you 2 gold per army in excess, which makes a total support cost of 6 for that province.

Simplified, the cost is:

PROVINCE SUPPORT COST = (Armies in Province – Population Size) x (Distance from Capital + 1)



Control and Influence.

Influence is a very important element in this game. It's a measure of how receptive a foreign population would be to having you as its ruler. If you capture a receptive province, you will find that they are much easier to coerce to your will, and have a higher production rate and lowered chance of rebellion. The influence that the owner of a province has is called the control level, and it's how much direct control he or she has over the local leaders and serfs there.

Whenever you're looking at a foreign province, you will see both the province's attitude to both its owner and to you. If it's your province you're viewing you will only see its attitude towards you. The total of all players' influence will always be 100%, including the neutral player (a.k.a. "local leaders"). At the start of the game, all players start out with 100% control of their home province, and a moderate influence in each of the provinces immediately surrounding the capital. All other provinces will start out hostile to you — in other words, you have 0% influence there.








control level
(for owner)
rebellious restless content supportive devoted
influence level
(for outsider)
hostile suspicious neutral sympathetic friendly


Since the total of all players' influences is always 100% in a province, a 10% gain by one player comes at the expense of the other players. So if you're in a 5 player game, and you send a diplomat to a province, it will increase your control rating by 10 percentage points, and each of the other players (including the neutral player) will lose 2 points of influence there. If an action causes a player to lose influence, then the neutral player will gain that same amount to make up the difference.

An unhappy populace can rebel if your control is low, and they won't be making much in the way of gold or providing troops in the meantime either. The quickest way to improve your control of a province is to send a diplomat there; other options include building fortifications or improving its culture.

It can take a while before a people come to accept you as their ruler, sweating and toiling for your every whim, so until then make sure you supress any rabble-rousers or ambitious local lords with a strong a military presence. A few army units should keep the lowly serfs in their place, though larger populations require more troops to keep them in their place. The following table will help you to understand how this works.


Effects on Control Levels


Effect on Control Level

Conquest -10 to conqueror
Recruit Soldiers -1 per turn
Levy Taxes -1 per turn
Send Diplomat +10 per diplomat
Build Fort, Keep, or Castle +10
Develop Culture +5
Advance Culture +10
Army Deserts -5 per army


It's also possible for your influence to spread beyond your borders—this happens when a developed or advanced province is surrounded by less culturally significant provinces. How this is determined is by first assigning each province a Cultural Power rating. Cultural power is calculated by multiplying the culture level by the control level, and subtracting 5 points for each step from the Empire's capital:



(Culture * Control) - (5*distance)


Since a player always starts with nearly 100% control ("devoted") of their capital, with a culture level of 2 ("developed"), the cultural power would be 100 x 2, or 200 points. If the player also held a primitive province that was two steps away from his capital, and had 50% control of it, it would have a Cultural Power of (1 x 50) - (5 x 2) = 40 points.

If the cultural power of a province is greater than 160 points, then it can add its owner's influence to surrounding provinces. This effect occurs at the end of each turn and is calculated by comparing each pair of neighboring countries, and the one with the greater Cultural Power can influence the lesser one. The loser in the comparison has its influence ratings affected in favor of the owner of the greater cultural power.


in B for owner of A


Prestige Level
owner of A











In each of the variables above "A" represents the first country (with the greater CP score) and "B" the lesser culturally powerful land. So, with all else equal, if country "A" has a CP of 400 and country "B" has a CP of 100, then country "A" adds 4 points of influence in country "B" per turn. If country "B" has twice the population as country "A", then it would be reduced to 2 points of influence.

For the type ratio, a country gets a value of 3 if it's a Province in an empire, a 2 if it's a Vassal state, and a 1 if it's a Neutral state.

Prestige Level is 1 for Baron/Baroness, which is the level each player starts at, 2 for Count/Countess, 3 for Duke/Duchess, 4 for Prince/Princess, 5 for King/Queen, and 6 for Emperor/Empress.



Your score is calculated by summing the value of each of your provinces. The province's value can be determined by looking at the following table:


Score Table

Province Contents

Effect on Score

Each Army +1
Each Population Point (10,000 peasants) +3
Each Level of Culture +5
Each Resource Point +2
Each Level of Fortification +1
Capital +20


Furthermore, you will get an additional point for every two gold florins in your treasury.



Game Options.

Click the options button in the game to set in-game options, such as map display, sound level, and which moves to show. Many players find it tedious to be shown all the other players' moves, so turning off "Show Internal Moves" is a good way to speed up the gameplay.



Strategies and Tips.

  1. Try to take two or three provinces in your first few turns. The provinces surrounding your capital will generally be of favourable disposition to you and you will already have some influence there, making them easy to keep in your empire. Take them right away. Buy some additional troops in your capital so you can get a quick start.
  2. Send troops to countries that have a high chance of rebelling; then buy diplomats there when you can afford it, until you have made them loyal to you.
  3. After making the population loyal, work on increasing the population of a province to about 5 (50,000 peasants) before improving the culture there. Others may find it more effective to improve the culture earlier, depending on your strategy, but increasing your population first is a more cost-effective way to boost productivity.
  4. Don't over-extend! If you don't have the population base, loyalty or the gold, you will find that your quickly gained empire is filled with unproductive, disloyal peasants that will quickly turn against you and troops that will desert you when they aren't paid. Remember: troops that are farther afield are more expensive to support!
  5. Build a castle in a bottle-neck province (e.g., England) to keep enemies away from your hinterlands.
  6. Your long-term goals, after territorial aquisition, should concentrate on cultural improvement; this is the best way to keep your population loyal and adjacent friendly provinces from defecting -- or make adjacent enemy provinces defect to you!


Currently Known Issues, and Unimplemented Portions:

  1. Of the troop types, only the soldier is implemented. Do not raise other types of armies, such as archers, or you will not be able to use them.

  2. Some computers (especially slower Wintel machines with limited available RAM) have difficulty rendering text to screen and may be extremely slow to process commands. If you have this problem, please e-mail us with your system specifications (including RAM and processor speed), as well as your browser version.
  3. To see a more complete list and discussion of current bugs, or track the progress and status of the game's development, please check the Bug Reports and Development Notes sections of the Message Board.

Recent Fixes and Changes:


Please see the Development Notes sections of the Message Board.
The old version history has been moved to another page.


Player Message Board.:


The Conqueror Message Board. has a forum for players to leave messages for each other, as well as forums to submit feature requests, bug reports, and ask questions about gameplay


Contact Us :

The best way to ask questions, report bugs, or contribute development ideas is via the Message Board.

To contact us professionally to license the game or contract us as developers please email us.

I have read all this, now I want to play!


This page last updated: Friday, July 25, 2003 1:36 CST
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