Age of Realms2: Magic
Age of Realms 2, also known as AoR2 or "Magic" is the second in a series of maps with the objective of uniting the Realms, each having a Castle, Village/Docks, a Resource Pair, and “Simple”, Dead Space regions.
In “Magic”, the Realms have been put under an icy spell that changes assault paths between regions and, in some cases, within regions; and adds the opportunity to win by breaking the Sanctuary spell.
Size: Small to medium. While the 93 regions make this map appear, at first glance, large to very large, the lesser size classification is based on the relatively small number of important play regions on the map, which is 26-30.
Bonuses: Heavy. Bonuses can be taken in the first two rounds; multiple bonuses in every realm; bonuses accumulate quickly. Complexity: High Features Autodeploy – Troops are automatically added to specific regions (Castles) at the start of each turn Conquest Gameplay - Players only start with a small number of regions and must conquer most of the map away from neutral troops to reach opponents. Dead Space - Numerous (Simple) regions are not part of zone or other bonuses. Decay - (Frostbite) in (Simple) regions will reduce troops by 1 troop per turn until only 1 troop remains. Ranged Attack - Some regions (Docks) , on the map are connected without touching. Starting Positions - Starting regions, (Castles), are preset, although which opponent lands on which Castle is random. Strategic Resources and Collections – Instead of bonus zones, specific regions or a combination of regions (Castle, Dock/Village, or Resource Pairs) provide bonuses. Victory Condition - Win by holding a set of specified regions (Hold Sanctuary at the start of turn) as an alternative to eliminating opponents.
Resource Pairs – both must be held to achieve the Resource Pair bonus (+3 for every Castle held and +3 for every Village/Dock held while holding a valid Resource Pair.)
Rabbit Farm and Butchery (White edges) located in Aoria Realm Berry Field and Basket Weaver (Pale Pink edges) located in Xi Realm Log Camp and Timber Mill (Green edges) located in Figye Realm Fishery and Market (Blue edges) located in Mua Realm Iron Mine and Blacksmith (Black edges) located in Ghyr Realm Gold Mine and Coin Mint (Yellow edges)located in Borun Realm A Village or Dock (a Village at the water, capable of attacking other Docks) will enable a smaller bonus (+1 for every Castle held). Villages and Docks are the dark pink-edged shields on the map. Bonuses can quickly explode. A player with Castle Aoria, Castle Xi; Resource Pair: Rabbit Farm and Butchery; and Village Fick; would receive 14 troops to deploy (in addition to Castle autodeploys): 3 troops for regions held. +3 for Aoria, Rabbit Farm and Butchery +3 for Xi, Rabbit Farm and Butchery +3 for Fick, Rabbit Farm and Butchery + 1 for Fick and Aoria +1 for Fick and Xi Game Play
AoR2 "Magic" is fun for all types of play because each player begins roughly equally; but, like Feudal War, there are only enough starting castles for up to 6 players. The general strategy is the same regardless of team or individual play.
Some realms appear easier to win from than others, but all have benefits and faults. A player in a smaller realm may capture bonuses more quickly, but the nearby opponent with strength may be able to neutralize that bonus. No realm guarantees a win, and no realm is a sure loser.
Reinforcements are a matter of preference.
Chained – Forces the player to choose, but enables flexibility. Adjacent – Limits the player’s ability to move stacks from Castle to front lines, so can slow the game. More likely to result in loss of troops due to frostbite. Unlimited – Enables player to adjust reinforcements from a variety of places, but unless the player has conquered the neutral regions between owned Castles, unlikely to be of great benefit; risk of chaining singles between player Castles may outweigh benefit from unlimited reinforcements.
The map can be fun with or without spoils, and spoils of any type may not affect the outcome at all.
Flat rate has both the greatest and the least potential to affect the overall outcome. An early rainbow (10 troops) set can ensure bonus protection, while the opponent may not get a red (4-troop) set until 5th spoil; but bonuses can build up so quickly that a ten-troop cash is ineffectual. Escalating spoils seem more in line with the game play; but because bonuses can accrue so quickly, Spoils may not escalate high enough, soon enough, to be effective. Nuclear Spoils are unlikely to affect the game. The map includes 93 regions, only 32 of importance (Castles, Resource Pairs, and Villages/Docks). The outcome will probably be obvious even when only 10 to 15 of those important regions are owned by either the player or the opponent so the odds of nuclear spoils changing the game are slim. Then again, it does happen... Game 7364932 sometimes twice in the same day! Game 7364242 No spoils make a balanced game.
The map works well for both deployment methods. Because the small number of starting regions limits the number of troops available in the first round, Manual vs. Automatic deployment will not affect the outcome of the game.
show: Starting Deployments
In the first assault round, the manual deployment setting enables 11 troops maximum on one castle for single players, a negligible difference from the 9 troops with automatic deployment. Automatic - Each castle begins with 3 troops. The game autodeploys 3 troops to every castle at the start of a player's turn. The player receives 3 troops to deploy. The player can have as many as 9 troops on one castle in round one. Manual - Each castle begins with 1 troop. The game provides 4 troops to manually deploy. At the start of Round 2, the game autodeploys 3 to every castle and the player receives 3 troops to deploy. Team play can change the number of troops deployed on one castle, but the difference between manual and automatic is still minor. Recommended play is with Fog of War, Chained, No Spoils.
To enjoy the best characteristics of the game, fog of war is a must. Without fog of war, the game is almost totally a matter of dice luck. With fog of war, one must carefully analyze the game log to identify where the opponent might be (although that can be fooled by taking simple regions at appropriate times) and gauge when to assault opponents. To strike out too soon on AoR2, invites the opponent(s) to counterstrike and neuter, quite quickly.
show: General Play
Those familiar with AoR1 or AoR3 will still find AoR2 a unique game, for several reasons.
Unlike the other Realms games, AoR2 includes autodeploys on Castles for each round. Left unused, Castles can accrue a stack for effective counterstrike. Ice bridges change the reach between some regions. For example, Ieme, Qasr, and Duht Docks can reach each other, but the ice prevents any of them from reaching Sler, Aosa, Ikalu, Vesk or Eon. Of course, they can reach Voigth. In turn, Voigth can reach Sler or Aosa as well as accessing ice bridges to Simple regions adjacent to bonus Docks or parts of Bonus Pairs. Simple (non-bonus) regions are subject to frostbite; know that a stack on any of those regions loses a troop per turn until only one troop remains. The Simple regions around Sanctuary will lose ten troops per turn until only one troop remains. Sanctuary always starts with (75) neutral troops. "Break the Spell" by conquering and holding Sanctuary is a Victory Condition that wins the game. Deployment on one Castle rather than splitting forces is recommended. When and where to assault depends on what the opponent has done; Spoils; and personal preference. Wait to Assault With luck, the player might capture the first Village bonus in round 1, but if a player attacks toward a village too soon and dice do not cooperate, troops might be stranded on a Simple region before reaching the village. Simple regions will decay by one troop at the start of the next turn. If the opponent has not conquered a region and no Spoils are involved, it may be wise to build for a turn; stack troops on a castle and wait, building strength for a successful assault toward a bonus. If spoils are involved, and the opponent took a region, the player may wish to take a spoil. The question is, where to assault? The game offers many viable alternatives, each with strategic benefits and possible problems. Direction of First Assault Interior villages are easy to hold early on, but not all realms have an interior village. Taking an interior village can waste troops that one needs to assault the opponent who took a dock. On the other hand, if one has an interior village, one can strengthen to take and keep an exterior dock for future conquering. Docks provide the bonus and allow the player to stack troops at the front lines, but it is possible to strike out too soon and too weak; the opponent could annihilate the dock and the string of singles a player left behind. Resource Pairs can ensure victory if held early, but getting a resource pair usually means conquering and holding more neutral regions, so reduces defense or assault stacks. That can be fatal in this game, since the opponent need only conquer one of the pair to hamstring the bonus and strike up a path of probable singles to the castle. If you can take a resource pair when the opponent is weak, do it! If the opponent is strong, hope it is not too late. The player can conquer a simple region “behind” the front, away from the direction one ultimately plans to assault toward. This way, the player does not move any troops away from the castle. Not only will this avoid frostbite decay and keep the castle strong, but the next castle autodeploy is immediately available for assault. Then again, the player using this tactic might be wasting needed troops on an unnecessary region. This strategy is only recommended if spoils are involved or the player is trying to conceal the realm. Conceal the Realm Because each realm is unique, the game log, even in fog, can be revealing. For example, Aoria Castle considers assaulting for a spoil. If Aoria hits Butchery first, then on the next round, the lack of decay reveals position: only Aoria could take a non-simple region in its first assault. If the player plans to use Aoria, the player might consider assaulting Rhit, Dru, or Aheo first.
show: Two Player
Each player begins with two castles, and two castles start as neutral regions. At the start of each player's turn, owned castles will receive an autodeploy of 3 troops, plus the player will receive deployable troops based on the Conquer Club standard of minimum 3 troops, with an additional troop for every three regions over 9.
General Strategies Because each Realm differs, players will find that the strategies are not necessarily one-size-fits-all. For that reason, there is a list of feasible strategies rather than one recommendation. One strategy is to take an interior village for the extra deploys. The player can choose to stack back on the castle or on the village, depending on where the next assault is planned or next defense is required. This option is not viable for realms like Mua, which have no interior village. Another recommended strategy is to stack on a castle until it seems obvious the opponent has weakened by reaching for bonuses, then use that massed strength to assault to hamstring the opponent bonus. Over-reaching toward the opponent castle at this point may result in the opponent’s castle troop stack – with its autodeploy – striking back through the player lines to overcome the player’s castle. Another effective strategy is to assault a Dock with strength enough to defend and provide for further assaults, wasting as few troops on simple regions as possible. If the opponent has a resource pair bonus, the player will hope to have stacked sufficient strength to conquer the opponent’s dock and at least one half of the opponent’s bonus leaving enough remaining strength to withstand the counterstrike. A fourth strategy is more dependent on intensity cubes. If the player can achieve a resource pair or several village/dock bonuses in the first few rounds; and the opponent tried but was unable to do so; the exponential bonuses can control the game. If the player achieves the resource pair bonus but the opponent stacked rather than weakened, the opponent can counterstrike through player regions to conquer a castle. When planning assault and defense in two-player games, remember that two of the castles are neutral regions. While taking an additional castle can increase bonuses, expending troops against neutral regions while not reducing the opponent’s assault strength, can change the game from a win to a loss if the opponent has enough strength to hamstring bonuses or take out castles that are not sufficiently defended. Assaults are best when the player can properly gauge which realms the opponent holds. Understanding how to read the game log in fog of war is recommended. The game will attribute bonuses or decay in the order the regions were conquered, which is why some strategies can include taking a Simple region that was not otherwise necessary. Intensity cubes are likely to decide the outcome of 1v1 play very quickly, with or without spoils. If one player achieves resource pairs while the other still struggles, remember, those bonuses compound fast!
show: Three-Player Games
Each player begins with two castles. At the start of each turn, each castle will receive an autodeploy of 3 troops, plus the player will receive troops based on the Conquer Club standard: minimum 3 troops, plus an additional troop for every three regions over 9.
Strategies are the same as for two-player; the only difference is, since there are no neutral castle regions in three-player games, the player will not have to guess where an opponent might be, unless a specific opponent is being targeted.
show: Team Games
Because there are only six castles, you cannot play quads or 4-team doubles on AoR2. In doubles or triples games, each player starts on one castle only. The best general strategy is to pick one person to deploy on, letting that person plan to strike opponents or for bonuses; or merely plan to counterstrike. Remember, for doubles, two castles will start as neutral regions, so the doubles team needs to accurately identify opponent realms for best success; in triples, there will be no neutral castle regions.
At some point, the autodeploys on the non-assault teammate’s castle will enable getting a bonus, but unless there is an urgent need to use those troops, they are frequently best used for defense only. If the teammates are able to link up, those additional forces could be used to fort to the stronger teammate for killer thrusts and more viable bonuses. The team who has one teammate with a resource pair and a village will get far more than the team who has one teammate with the resource pair and a different teammate with a Village – because the stronger member will get an additional +3 for the each village/dock held at the same time a resource pair is held; or if the stronger mate has already conquered one opponent castle, that additional Village is worth an additional troop. That strategy (only one person making any attacks) can vary, if only slightly, especially if spoils are involved. The general rule for team games with spoils, then, should be to do what the opponent is doing. If all members are taking Spoils on the opposing team, all members should take cards on the player’s team. Another effective, team tactic uses the weaker teammate as a lure. If the opponent takes the bait, those forces might be stretched to a thin line across the map, making an easier target for one’s teammate to conquer in a counterassault.
Remember the aim for this map is to take out the opponent’s castle(s). To strike for a bonus but end up too weak to defend an assault to one’s castle, invites the opponent to counterstrike and eliminate a player, probably resulting in the opponent gaining a substantial bonus because of that additional castle.
show: Multiplayer, Terminator or Assassin
This map plays well for Multiplayer, Terminator or Assassin games up to 6 players. Since the castles can be reached through variable Simple-region or bonus paths, it is possible to take an opponent’s Castle and bonuses in a variety of ways, making it fun for multiplayer games.
In Assassin, a player who misjudges where the target is can get stranded on a Simple region, unable to conquer a castle and without strength for future attacks or defenses. Because of the counter-strike viability in this game, Terminator can be a fun challenge: who strikes first may not always take out the most players. Earlier, the recommendation was made to always play AoR2 with fog. The Terminator and Assassin settings, however, can mitigate that need. The newer player may wish to play either Terminator or Assassin without fog of war (loosely termed Sunny by Conquer Club members.) While the player unfamiliar with strike timing for this map will still be at a disadvantage on this map against experienced players, these settings change the nature of “where to strike,” and this map can be enough of a challenge to determine when to strike. For the advanced player, however, the player who is familiar with both the map and those settings, this map retains its strategic best in Fog of war.
show: Additional Information
Realms Each realm is different in number of simple regions or placement of key (potential bonus) regions in relation to the castle or each other, but for early play, each realm is relatively fair in that the first available bonus will be only 2 regions away. Figye is the exception to this, in that the first Figye bonus is 3 regions away. Aoria Realm - 9 regions: Castle, 2 Villages (1 is Dock), Bonus Pair, 4 Simple. ----Benefits: Village. First of Resource Pair reached with no Simple Region between. ----Detriment: Strike toward Butchery without taking a Simple Region identifies the Realm. Xi Realm – 13 regions: Castle, 2 Villages (1 is Dock), Bonus Pair, 8 Simple. ----Benefits: Village. Proximity to part of 2nd Resource Pair and Docks from its Resource Pair. ----Detriment: Proximity to Figye. Figye Realm – 13 regions: Castle, 2 Villages (1 is Dock), Bonus Pair, 8 Simple ----Benefits: Proximity to part of 2nd Resource Pair and Docks from its Resource Pair. ----Detriment: No Village; Proximity to Xi. Mua Realm - 13 regions: Castle, 2 Villages (Both Docks), Bonus Pair, 8 Simple ----Benefits: 2nd half of Resource Pair can be taken without taking a Simple Region. ----Detriments: No Village. Taking Resource Pair with no Simple Region between them locates Realm. Ghyr Realm - 21 regions: Castle, 3 Villages (2 are Docks), Bonus Pair, 15 Simple ----Benefits: Village. Two Docks (directly) accessible only through Mua’s Vesk. ----Detriments: Resource Pairs not easily reached from Castle. Borun Realm - 18 regions: Castle, 2 Villages (Both Docks), Bonus Pair, 13 Simple ----Benefits: Bonus Pair within 2 Regions of the Castle. Village. ----Detriments: Village not near Castle. Sanctuary (not a Castle) – 6 Regions: Sanctuary and 5 simple ----Benefit: Conquer and hold Sanctuary at start of turn to win the game. ----Detriment: Taking Sanctuary ( 75 neutral troops) is unlikely. Note: By no means is this a complete list of the benefits and detriments to each Realm; information is there merely to encourage the player to think about each Realm. Holding Sanctuary One of the features offered in AoR2 is the Victory Condition of taking and holding Sanctuary for the start of a turn. For AoR2, this feature is generally more a “nice to be aware of” than an effective strategy for most of the games one might play on this map. To get to Sanctuary, one must overcome 75 neutral troops after reaching it through external docks and simple regions. In general, 75 troops can overcome a lot of castles; or more easily defend either castles or bonuses. For that reason, taking sanctuary is not typically a viable way to win on this map. Exceptions could be for ‘build’ games – those games where no one wants to make a first strike toward an opponent’s castle or bonuses or in terminator games where troop builds are high, especially if Escalating Spoils are in effect. One thing to note is that player troop stacks on simple regions that surround sanctuary will decay by ten troops per turn due to frostbite so a player should plan defensive troop stacks accordingly if a win by "Breaking the Spell" around Sanctuary is desired. Then again, as noted... the player who has enough troops to break through Sanctuary's 75 neutral troops probably already controlled the game and would, in most cases, find it easier to win by eliminating the opponent(s) directly, than by taking this objective. Timing Games on this map come down to timing; when should one reach for a bonus, and when should one assault opponents? Reach too soon, and be annihilated in a counter-strike. Reach too late, and be ineffectual against the opponent’s troop stacks and bonuses. Bridges In addition to the visible ice bridges that enable assaults between realms and Sanctuary through Voigth, G'th, Croch, Foc, and Rongar, there are interior bridges between some of the realms. Be aware of these viable assault paths. Remember, too, that all Docks can assault each other except where the Aoria (Lig) to Borun (Haet) the most visible because the bridge image is larger than others Borun (Keel) to Ghyr (Blacksmith) Figye (Nyt) to Xi (Chu) ice bridges separate the open water. Sure-Lose Strategy The surest way to lose on AoR2 is to go after region-count through a string of neutral Simple regions. Doing that will weaken a player against an opponent's strike at strategic targets - like the Castles, which get those handy autodeploys, or the bonus regions, which add up to more deploys very quickly. Sportsmanship If a player is already getting exponential bonus troops against the opponent's 3, thus is assured of winning; then striking for every Simple region in the Realms (rather than assaulting the strategic regions) is a sign of poor sportsmanship because it unnecessarily prolongs the game.
show: Similar Maps
If you liked AoR2, you might enjoy the other Age of Realms maps or conquest gameplay maps. Age of Realms 1 Age of Realms 3 Feudal War