TWM's Lords of the Realm II FAQ 1.2, January 23, 1997
                   by Wendell Martin (wendell@bham.net)
  The latest version of this FAQ can be found at www.bham.net/users/wendell

Below is my FAQ file for Lords of the Realm II (in the original sense of
"Frequently Asked Questions" - it's largely a compilation of questions I've
answered in various public forums/newsgroups).  I hope you find it useful.

First, an introduction.  Lords of the Realm II is a strategy game developed
by Impressions and distributed by Sierra.  It retails for $54.95 and requires
Windows 95 or DOS 6.0+, 486/66 or better (Pentium 75 [or equivalent]
preferred), 8MB RAM (12 MB preferred), local bus video (i.e. a PCI or VLB
video card), 34 MB HD space, 2x CD-ROM drive (4x preferred), mouse, and
soundcard with DAC (i.e. SoundBlaster or better).  PC Gamer gave it a 92%
rating in their 2/97 issue.

It takes place in England in the late 13th Century (plus there are maps for
France, Germany, all of Europe, and 20 other locales).  Gameplay is turn-
based (four turns per year) during which you feed your population (with cows
and/or wheat), build weapons, re-distribute peasants to different tasks,
conduct diplomacy, work on building castles, and raise/move armies.  When two
armies meet (or a siege is resolved), the game switches to a real-time,
tactical battlefield.  All gameplay uses a top-down, map-based interface,
with soldiers/peasants represented as well-detailed figures.  Solitaire play
is rewarding, and up to five people can play on a network (two via modem).
One copy of the game will support up to three players (two copies are needed
for four or five - fair enough).

Some people have reported that the game won't run well on their system
(though it seems to work fine for many/most folks).  A patch is available at
www.sierra.com and in the Sierra Forum (GO SIERRA) on CompuServe.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

>I have the demo and I find it very enjoyable and the idea of sieges sounds
>great, but I was wondering if the game's little additions soon wore off.

I had already ordered the game before I looked at the demo, and it made me a
little worried due to its sparseness (at least compared to Master of Orion II
<grin>).  When I got my full version, though, I wasn't disappointed - it's
much more full than the demo and I like it very much.

>What are its pros and cons ?

Pros:

 I find it faster and more "fun" to play than a game like MOO2 (which I also
 like, but it can get to be a bit much at times).  There's less bookkeeping
 than that game (though this can be exploited a bit - if you buy weapons from
 a travelling merchant in a distant county, they're immediately available for
 use when you build an army across the map, etc.).

 The overall atmosphere is quite enjoyable.  I find the voice acting is well
 done and actually adds to the game.  Pretty graphics, too.

Cons:

 The AI doesn't seem too bright at times (sometimes clumping together on
 the battlefield and just letting my archers pick its men off for a while,
 or letting one of my small armies run around in its territory, tearing up
 its villages and fields, without trying to stop it).  However, I've only
 recently begun playing at the harder difficulty levels, and the AI seems
 rather more assertive and reactive now (more prone to maneuver on the
 battlefield, and it sent an army to track down my pillaging army in the
 last game).

 There's a certain sameness after a while, but that's true of all games of
 this type.  There are two dozen maps and lots of adjustable parameters,
 though, which helps.

>Are the battles always exciting and tense?

If you're slightly outnumbered, combat is quite exciting, otherwise it falls
off depending on how lopsided the army sizes are.  You can choose to
statistically resolve the really uneven contests, so you can just fight
the "fun" battles if you like.  I find that most battles are worth fighting,
though.

>Do battle terrains stay the same, or do they vary depending on your position
>on the map?

According to Sierra, there are 48 battle maps.  The first map in a game is
chosen at random from the first few, and the others follow in a set order.
From what I've seen, some have rivers and bridges, some have lots of woods,
and some are relatively open fields.

>How long do games last?

A game on a small map with one or two computer players can be run through in
about two hours.  A large map with four opponents can last over six.  The
game's designer mentions that he tried to avoid the "sagging middle" that
many strategy games have, and he succeeded as far as I'm concerned.  You
move from scratching for survival, to balanced struggles for control, and
have just enough time to enjoy watching your mighty kingdom begin to thrive,
then you've won <g>.

>How big are playing maps?

Each strategic map has four to 16 counties, each large enough to usually
require two turns for an army to cross.  Each county more-or-less fits in the
map window, and there's a zoom-out option so you can see the whole map along
with armies, fields, etc.

The battle maps are large enough for a good bit of maneuver before engaging
in combat (perhaps 6 x 6 screens).  There's also a mini-map in the corner
so that you can always see the entire battlefield and all units (as dots).

>How do sieges work?  Can they go on for a long time?

If there's an occupied castle in the county you want to take over, you must
siege it (instead of just attacking the town, which results in a field
battle).  You're given a choice of what siege weapons to build (battering
rams, siege towers, and catapults) and how many you want.  Depending on
how many you choose and the size of your army, it then takes one to several
turns to build the weapons (I find that a single battering ram is usually
enough, but the other weapons are fun, too).  The siege is fought like a
field battle (except for the presence of the fort/castle).  I usually move
my archers up to engage the enemy archers while my battering ram knocks down
the gate, then send everyone flooding in to capture the flag.  If there's a
moat, it needs to be filled in first, of course.  The castle owner can send
forces sallying out to engage the sieging army, and also has cauldrons of
boiling oil to use <whee!>.  Sieges usually last about twice as long as a
field battle of comparable size (a good-sized siege battle takes about 5 to
10 minutes).

>Are the besieged affected by food loss, etc.?

That's why I send my armies pillaging around my opponent's territories <g>.
While he's cooped up in his castle, I destroy his crops so that his
villagers starve (armies garrisoning a castle are always fed). The villagers
move away or revolt and he thus doesn't get enough money to pay his troops,
which then desert.  This can take many turns, though.

>The manual says that you can downgrade castles, but I can't do it.

See the README.DOC file on the CD-ROM.  It explains the last-minute changes
that were made in the game which aren't reflected in the manual.  These
include the fact that castles can't be downgraded, and other items such as
the fact that troops can be formed into groups with ctrl-<#>, so that they
can later be selected with <#> and formed into horizontal or vertical lines
with H and V.

>I was hoping to get the combat stats (attack/defense/speed) for LOTR2
>sometime.

For what it's worth, below is an (obviously unofficial) table I put together.
The Movement is based on a "race" I ran with one unit of each type; I didn't
include a crossbowman, though (I usually don't build them).  The relative
combat rankings are from the LOTR2 manual (A is better than B, etc.), and are
somewhat subjective.  Resources are what's needed to build one unit.
Hopefully this will provide a starting point for building a better table.

             Melee   Ranged  Melee    Ranged             Resources
             Attack  Attack  Defense  Defense  Movement  Iron  Wood
Peasant        E       -       E        D         5        0     0
Maceman        C       -       D        C         7        4     4
Pikeman        D       -       C        C         3        3     6
Swordsman      B       -       B        B         4       10     3
Knight         A       -       A        A        13       18     4
Bowman         E       C       E        D         5        0    13
Crossbowman    E       B       D        C         4?      10     6


>Perhaps you could help me by pointing out some of your starting strategies
>and ideas.  I seem to have difficulty managing my populations and
>transitioning from dairy to grain/beef - really elementary stuff.

You asked for it <g>:

I immediately buy 10-20 sacks of grain from a merchant (if possible) and
prepare 1-2 fields for it.  Put together an army consisting of all weapons
(usually 25 swords & 25 bows) plus a similar number of peasants (I like
to keep my county's happiness at least at 30).  Invade the nearest neutral
county (preferably one that doesn't directly connect to an enemy's county).

Once I've conquered that county, I go about raising both counties'
happiness with 1% taxes, double rations (for a little while, if feasible),
and ale (when available).  I also get my blacksmiths producing bows and
maces.  Make sure that crops have enough farmers, and cows have enough maids
to increase 1 or 2 per season (also try to avoid herd overcrowding by
assigning fields to cattle when needed).  As the people's happiness goes up,
increase taxes (around 3% for happiness in the 70's, 4% in the 80's and 5%
in the 90's).  When your people eventually hit 100%, you can set taxes to 7%
or 8% (depending on their health) and keep them at 100%.

After one or two crop cycles, I'll probably have enough surplus population,
happiness, and weapons (both built and purchased) to raise a fair-sized
army (50-100) in each county.  I combine these and take over a third
(neutral) county.

If I can achieve this (which is usually the case), it's smooth sailing, since
my enemies usually still only have one county each.  I keep my people happy,
redistribute grain and cows among counties as needed, build maces and bows,
quarry ore (to sell - I almost never build castles), and generally out-
produce my enemies.  I don't maintain a large army; I let my would-be
soldiers work the land until they're needed (and keep a large mix of maces
and bows in the treasury).  Once I have the free population, I start
reclaiming barren fields.  When I find myself with too many people, or an
impending shortage of food, that's the sign to go take over something <g>.

I also keep an eye out for opportunities.  If an opponent tries to take over
a county but fails, then that county's army has usually been weakened
enough for me to take over easily.  If an opponent has a line of counties,
I'll send an army to take over the middle one, causing the cut-off part of
his domain to revert to neutral status.  I also like to sent a minimal army
raiding deep into an opponent's counties, destroying his villages and fields.

>The problem seems to be just how to get started. I have a feeling that once
>I got off on the right track I would probably be swept up in the game just
>as I was with MOO2.

I think you're right (especially since you engage in the alternate lifestyle
that is MOO2 <g>).  You might try the "Play Now!" option, which is a
"campaign" of several games with increasing difficulty.  Once you get the
basics down, I'm sure that you'll find the game rewarding.

>Does anybody have any tips or cheats on Lords of the Realm II?  I am really
>having trouble.

I don't know of any cheats, but LOTR2 doesn't really need them.  You can make
the game easy with the Custom Game screen: set Advanced Farming, Armies
Eat, and Exploration all Off, set Difficulty to Easy, and set Nobles to Two
(so you're only playing against one computer opponent).  Once you can beat
this setup, you can try increasing the number of Nobles, or the Difficulty.

As for tips, I suggest reading through the Strategy Hints and Tips section
of the manual (pages 114-117).  Many helpful suggestions are to be found
there.

>I just started playing LOTR2. I'm a big fan of Warcraft. Is anyone aware of
>a code or instruction similar to the one in Warcraft that makes your forces
>hold their ground? I ran into a scenario where the computer feigned an
>attack and some of my forces broke away.

Troops in Lords of the Realm II seem to follow the rule: "I'll do what you
last told me to do, unless something more interesting comes along."  So,
if you order some troops to advance to a certain point, but they come in
contact with the enemy, they'll stop to fight.  To make them continue on to
their destination, you need to tell them to go there again (sometimes several
times).

Similarly, troops just standing around will sally forth as you've described.
To stop them, select them and tell them where you want them to go.  I don't
know of any way to turn off this "initiative" (which is usually useful, but
is sometimes a problem).  It's often useful to pre-define groups of soldiers
with ctrl-<#> so that you can select them by pressing <#> (as mentioned in
README.DOC file on the CD-ROM).

>When I tried a similar move against the computer, its forces held their
>ground and didn't bite.

Try moving some of your archers within extreme range and picking off a few of
the computer's forces.  About half the time they'll charge your archers,
whereupon your archers can retreat and lead their pursuers into an ambush by
your waiting melee forces. <g>

>I don't like how my fields flood and are affected by drought.
>I already had the difficulty settings of the game to easy and advanced
>farming to off.  Even with the above settings, every few turns a flood or
>drought will occur that cause a fallow land square to become barren.
>This really causes a lot of land management that distracts from the game.

I don't think there's any way to stop it.  Land management was an important
part of life in the 13th Century, and such disasters did occur.  As you
probably know, you can't do anything about it the turn it happens, but you
can start to reclaim the field in the next season.

You can minimize the impact of losing a dairy field by transporting excess
cattle to another county to relieve overcrowding (or by selling them to a
merchant if one is in the afflicted county), and overcome losing a wheat
field by transporting wheat in from another county (or by buying it if a
merchant is present).  It may be possible to adjust the cow/wheat ration
ratio to maintain full rations (or to readjust the number of farmers/dairy
maids).  An alternate remedy (with Armies Eat=Off) is to raise an army in the
affected county to reduce its population.  Also, going to half rations for a
few seasons isn't that bad if you lower taxes accordingly.  Finally, keep in
mind that such disasters do occur, and try not to let any of your counties
get in a state where the loss of a field would cause havoc.

Of course, a code or option might exist that turns these field losses off
altogether and renders the above suggestions redundant <g>.

[And here's a message I posted myself:]

I recently bought Lords of the Realm II, and found it quite fun, but I began
to become a bit bored with it after a few weeks of play.  The trouble was
that county management and battles were interesting, but they didn't seem to
matter too much; applying common-sense management techniques plus a bit of
strategy in battle would ensure eventual victory.  I went through the "Play
Now!" campaign and fought over several maps, but every game was largely an
(enjoyable) cakewalk.  Ho hum.  I figured that playing with more difficult
settings would just result in a longer, but similar, game - perhaps with
some AI cheating.

Then I tried a Custom game with Armies Eat = on, Advanced Farming = on, Army
Size = no army, Crowns = 500, and Difficulty = hard.

Oh, my.

Every decision became crucial.  Every cow and sack of grain mattered.  I
cursed the poor weather that damaged my crops, and rejoiced when my carefully
managed farmers were able to feed everyone full rations.  On the battlefield,
I often found myself outnumbered and forced to use every trick against the
computer (still somewhat dim, but dangerous nonetheless) just to achieve a
close victory.  I really could lose.  Also, the AI didn't seem to have any
unnatural advantages (I watched a neutral county swallow up a couple of AI
armies before it fell, just like the neutral counties I was going after
initially chewed up some of my armies).

In short, the game became fun again.  So, if you're finding yourself bored,
try boosting the difficulty settings.  This may sound obvious, but after
being disappointed by some games that increase the "difficulty" simply by
letting the AI cheat, it's rewarding to find one that honestly becomes more
difficult (and enjoyable) when told to become tougher.