Sword of Aragon - Gameplay

Gameplay

The player begins a game by choosing a character class for the protagonist. The choices are warrior, knight, mage, priest, and ranger. Each class has an affinity to a certain class of soldier—warriors are more apt in leading infantry, and knights, cavalry. During battles, mages, rangers, and priests can also cast spells that damage foes, alter terrain, and heal friendly forces. The player can hire commanders of these classes to accompany the protagonist in his quest. After winning a number of battles, the player's character might receive offers of service from such commanders as well.

The game is principally split between city management and tactical combat. Gameplay is turn-based, alternating between player and computer, and much of the game is played on the World Map, a representation of the land of Aragon. Each turn on this map represents a month in the game. The map shows cities and the player's units; unexplored areas are blanked out until they have been explored by the player's units. By using the keyboard and mouse, the player moves a cursor to select units and cities, and issue orders via keystrokes. Cities under the player's control provide monthly income, which is supplemented by tributes from vassals and loot from battles. Income from a city is improved by expending funds to develop the city's economic sectors, such as agriculture and mining, or by increasing taxation. Tax rates, however, affect the loyalty of citizens; high taxes in a city lead to a decreasing population.

Armies are recruited in the cities, and their maintenance contributes to the monthly expenditure. Troops consist of infantry, cavalry, and bowmen. The game enters the tactical battle phase when enemies attack one of the player's cities that is garrisoned with troops, and when the player's forces move onto a hostile city. Encounters might also take place as the player's forces move on the World Map. On such occasions, the game switches the display to a large-scale map of the encounter. The battle maps differ from the World Map in that each spot has a limit on its number of occupants—a stacking limit. The player and computer take turns to deploy and move their forces. Units move at their standard pace or at a forced march to cover greater distances per turn in battles. Certain terrain gives defensive bonuses to their occupants, reducing the damage they suffer when coming under attack. Offensives take the form of melee, charges, missiles, and magic. The player has the option of letting the computer take control of his or her army to fight the battle. The game switches back to the World Map after a battle has concluded. Units that survive a battle gain experience points, improving their combat abilities on attaining certain amounts of experience points. They, with the exception of commanders, can also train in cities to improve their experience. Video games designer Alan Emrich considered Sword of Aragon's gameplay typical of the "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate" nature of the 4X genre.

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