Alamaze

Alamaze is a fantasy play-by-mail game that was published in 1986 and moderated by Pegasus Productions, and later by Reality Simulations. The game is currently moderated by Alamaze.co.[1]

DescriptionEdit

Alamaze was a computer-moderated play-by-mail game designed by Rick McDowell.[2] In the May & June 1986 issue of Paper Mayhem magazine, Pegasus Productions announced that their first several games were filled and they were going "full speed ahead" with play.[3]

The rulebook listed the various orders the players could send; each order was numbered — this indicated in which priority sequence the order would happen.

When players signed up to play, they received setup information about which kingdom they would control, and the map location of that kingdom. The cost of setup was $15, and included two rulebooks, a map, and covered the first two turns. Thereafter the cost was $6 per turn. Each turn took about two weeks to process and return, and each turn covered one month in game time.

A large part of the game was diplomacy, and successful players were expected to contact other player by phone to form alliances or seek information.

GameplayEdit

Each game of Alamaze involves fifteen players, each one controlling a different kingdom. There are eighteen possible kingdoms: Giants, Paladins, Gnomes, Elves, Darkelves, Rangers, Uriks, Westmen, Halflings, Dragons, Nomads, Dwarves, Barbarians, Swampmen, the Sorceror, the Witchlord, the Warlock, and the Underworld. The inhabitants of each kingdom each have different advantages and each has a special victory condition.[2]

Each player has varying numbers of[2]

  • Troops: for conquering new territories
  • Agents: can be spies or assassins
  • Emissaries: sent on diplomatic missions
  • Leaders: lead the military groups. As they progress in levels, they confer increasing bonuses to the group's strength
  • Wizards: The only wielders of magic in the game. Each kingdom has a fixed number of wizards; their maximum level varies from kingdom to kingdom.

All these various characters can advance in levels except the troops.

The game is played out on a 26 x 26 grid map, 676 squares of various types of terrain such as forest, mountains and cities, all of which have an effect on both movement and combat. Each player only has a rough idea of what the map contains, and must explore it, square by square, to uncover the locations of special items and other kingdoms.[2]

There are three paths to victory:[2]

  1. Take control of six out of ten regions on the map
  2. Meet the specific victory condition given to your kingdom
  3. Have the greatest number of status points at the end of Turn 40.

Players can only write a number of orders each turn equal to their king's Influence, which starts at 12–15, depending on the kingdom. This can increase or decrease depending on actions of the player and his opponents. If the player is able to win a seat on the five-member High Council, the king's Influence increases by 1. However, each king hides three secrets. If any of these are discovered by another player and revealed, the king loses Influence, and if a member of the High Council, is removed from it.[2]

Each kingdom can have a maximum of four military groups, which can be composed of archers, cavalry, infantry, leaders and wizards. These military groups have 20 movement points per turn, but this is affected by terrain, and each kingdom has advantages and disadvantages in certain types of terrain.[2]

Players must pay their followers and feed their citizenry in order to accomplish anything. For example, it costs 6,000 gold to use a prince emissary. The money and food comes from human habitations: village produce a little gold and a lot of food; towns produce more gold than food; cities produce a lot of gold, but cost food rather than produce it. In the three months of the winter, gold production is halved and food production is 25% of normal.[2]

Other possible orders for player included trading surpluses of food or gold with other kingdoms, searching for artifacts, or having a wizard cast spells. (Each spellcasting has a cost dependent on the level of the spell.)[2]

ReceptionEdit

In the March 1988 edition of Dragon (Issue 131), Michael Gray enjoyed the game, calling it "a treat". Gray liked the computer moderation, and the priority number of each possible order. He did have issues with the high-level spells he was given, finding them underpowered. Gray also didn't like the fact that "an enemy player can hit and run before you can catch him. For example, an enemy group can show up at one of my towns on one turn, then attack the town on the next turn, capture it, and move away before I can catch it. I can use an agent to find out where the group went, but unless I am lucky, it can always stay one jump ahead of me." Gray also found $6 per turn to be very high for a game that might last as long as 40 turns, and warned that players would have to spend a lot of time (and possibly a lot of money on long-distance charges) in order to coordinate with other players. However, overall, he highly recommended the game.[2]

Reviewer Jim Townsend stated in White Wolf Magazine in 1988 that "Alamaze is possibly the finest PBM game in existence", noting that it was "the most innovative design since the first PBM game emerged".[4] Townsend noted at the time that even though the game still had significant issues, and experienced players had "a MASSIVE advantage" over novices, Alamaze "should still be tried by anyone who considers [themselves] a real gamer".[4]

Stewart Wieck reviewed the game in 1991 in White Wolf No. 21, stating that "Alamaze is the best fantasy PBM game I have ever played, and if not for a few problems with the program itself and a slightly erratic turn-around time, Alamaze would win my highest rating".[5] Wieck gave Alamaze an overall rating of 4 out of a possible 5.[5]

AwardsEdit

Alamaze was awarded the Origins Award for "Best Play-by-Mail Game of 1987".[6] Also in 1987, Alamaze tied for first place with Hyborian War for Best PBM Game of 1987 in Paper Mayhem, a magazine for play-by-mail gamers.[7] In 1989, Alamaze tied for second place for Best PBM Game of 1989 with Kings & Things* in Paper Mayhem magazine.[8]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "ALAMAZE: The Definitive Multi-Player Strategy Game of Fantasy Kingdoms". The Fantasy Kingdoms of Alamaze. Alamaze.co. Retrieved March 27, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gray, Michael (March 1988). "Fantasy First Class: Entering the Alamaze play-by-mail universe". Dragon. TSR, Inc. (131): 18–20.
  3. ^ "Gameline". Paper Mayhem. No. 18. The Paper Mayhem Association. May–June 1986. p. 21.
  4. ^ a b Townsend, Jim (December 1988). "The PBM Corner". White Wolf. No. 13. p. 50.
  5. ^ a b Wieck, Stewart (June–July 1991). "Play-By-Mail Game Reviews: Alamaze". White Wolf Magazine. No. 21. p. 20.
  6. ^ "The 1987 Origins Awards". The Game Manufacturers Association. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16.
  7. ^ Paper Mayhem (November–December 1987). "Where We're Heading: Best PBM Game of 1987". Paper Mayhem. No. 27. p. 2.
  8. ^ Paper Mayhem (January–February 1990). "Where We're Heading: Best PBM Game of 1989". Paper Mayhem. No. 40. p. 2.

BibliographyEdit

  • Flad, Bill (July–August 1986). "Review of Alamaze". Paper Mayhem. No. 19. The Paper Mayhem Association. pp. 20–24.
  • Flad, Bill (May–June 1987). "Strategies for the Thinking Alamaze Player". Paper Mayhem. No. 24. pp. 10–13.
  • "Gameline". Paper Mayhem. No. 18. The Paper Mayhem Association. May–June 1986. p. 21.
  • Gray, Michael (March 1988). "Fantasy First Class: Entering the Alamaze Play-By-Mail Universe". Dragon. TSR, Inc. (131): 18–20.
  • Flad, Bill (September–October 1988). "An Interview With Rick McDowell: Creator of Alamaze". Paper Mayhem. No. 32. pp. 11–13.
  • Jumbie (August 2014). "Secrets in the Sand: A Tale from the World of Alamaze" (PDF). Suspense and Decision. No. 10. playbymail.net. pp. 57–70. Retrieved April 28, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • McDowell, Rick (February 2017). "Advances in the PBEM Experience: Alamaze 3rd Cycle" (PDF). Suspense and Decision. No. 15. playbymail.net. p. 38. Retrieved May 1, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • McDowell, Rick (February 2017). "ALAMAZE: The Choosing Overview and a Glimpse at Four Kingdoms" (PDF). Suspense and Decision. No. 15. playbymail.net. pp. 42–48. Retrieved May 1, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Milliken, Christopher (Jan–Feb 1989). "Alamaze, The Second Cycle". Paper Mayhem. No. 34. pp. 10–11.
  • Moe, John (July–August 1991). "A Review of Alamaze". Paper Mayhem. No. 49. pp. 14–16.
  • Moe, John (March–April 1993). "A Detailed Look at the PBM Game Alamaze Second Cycle". White Wolf. No. 35. p. 48.
  • Mosteller, Charles (October 2015). "Rick spills the magic beans: An Interview with the Founder of Alamaze" (PDF). Suspense & Decision. No. 11. playbymail.net. pp. 49–52. Retrieved April 29, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Pitzer, David (November–December 1991). "2nd Cycle Alamaze Review". Paper Mayhem. No. 51. pp. 22–23.
  • Schawbel, Josh (March–April 1989). "Alamaze – Darkelven Strategy". Paper Mayhem. No. 35. pp. 15–16.
  • Townsend, Jim (December 1988). "The PBM Corner". White Wolf. No. 13. p. 50.
  • Townsend, Jim; Milliken, Chris; Bond, Chris (July–August 1987). "All You Ever Wanted to Know About Team Play in Alamaze". Paper Mayhem. No. 25. pp. 34–35.
  • Townsend, Jim; Milliken, Chris; Bond, Chris (September–October 1987). "All You Ever Wanted to Know About Team Play in Alamaze". Paper Mayhem. No. 26. p. 26.
  • Wieck, Stewart (June–July 1991). "Play-By-Mail Game Reviews: Alamaze". White Wolf Magazine. No. 21. p. 20.
  • Youellis, Kevin C. (July–August 1993). "Battle and Alamaze". Paper Mayhem. No. 61. The Paper Mayhem Association. p. 31.