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A Beginner's Guide to Alamaze
It can be daunting to start a new game of Alamaze as a beginner, simply because the rules are complex and the nuances are many, but if you can power through it, I honestly believe you'll enjoy one of the best gaming experiences around.  Here are some thoughts to consider as you take in all of the information available to you.  This particular beginner's guide assumes that you're playing an anonymous game, as it covers basic tactics and starting moves.  If you're playing a full diplomacy game, there's another host of strategies and tactics to consider, but those are probably beyond the scope of this current effort... I may come back to a diplomacy guide at another time.

1) Study the Rules and Commands.  Read the Rules, and then the Commands, at least once through.  I know it's a bit of a time investment, but you'll be glad for it later.  If anything seems confusing or difficult to understand, please feel free to post a question in these Forums!  The player base here is extremely helpful, and VERY much wants you to stay and enjoy your Alamaze experience.  We know the rules and concepts can be challenging to a new player, so there are no dumb questions, and no one will make fun of you or think less of you for asking. Smile



2) Starting Kingdom.  This is critical. If you're a beginner, it's often better to start with a simpler Kingdom without a ton of special rules.  You aren't really missing out by doing this, each Kingdom has a strong chance of doing well, all I'm suggesting is that you get a sense of the basic game, first, before you start branching out into special cases and "rulebreaker" Kingdom abilities that offer changes to the basic game.  You can always play a different Kingdom in your second game -- indeed, this is part of the fun -- and trust me, there will still be plenty of fun and options available to you with a simpler Kingdom!

Some excellent Kingdoms to start with in this sense are: Elves (starting in Oakendell), Dwarves (starting in Talking Mountains along with the Red Dragons), Darkelves (starting in Eastern Steppes), Gnomes (starting in Runnimede along with the Underworld), or Rangers (starting in Synisvania along with the Sorcerer).  I would slightly lean toward recommending the Elves and Darkelves out of this group, simply because they start in regions that aren't immediately contested in most games.

3) Study Your Setups and Turn 0.  Read your Setup and Turn 0 information.  Now you're getting a sense of how the theory of the rules and commands starts to mesh with the practice of actual game play.  Take your population center (i.e. cities, towns, villages, although you will only start with towns and villages) information from the Turn 0 and put it onto a game map, you can either use a PowerPoint map and manipulate the symbols, or you can just print out a map and write on it, like I do.  We are currently playing on the RESURGENT MAP and the general game borders have been established.  There might be some small variance in the borders, but generally you can count on them being very close to what's linked below.

Resurgent PowerPoint Map with Borders:

4) Plan Your Turn 1.  One of the key concepts to consider in your first few turns, arguably the most important concept, is REGIONAL CONTROL.  Control over one of Alamaze's ten regions is an important benchmark.  Not only does it give you control over any remaining neutral population centers in the region at the time of establishing control, but it also gives you a point of influence, a promotion of a lower-level emissary to the next-higher level, an improvement of regional reaction level (although you may likely already be at Friendly, the current max), benefits in defending your region against political attacks by others, and control over a region is often a key component in qualifying for your Early Strategic Objective.  More on that later.

Since all Alamaze games are now what's called Exploratory (i.e. no Kingdom starts with a High Priestess, and they cannot be hired prior to Turn 4), you're going to need to do your best to OBTAIN INFORMATION about your region, specifically the location of towns and villages in the region.

There are only a few ways to do this efficiently, the first is by moving groups around squares in your region, the second is by having an Level 4 or higher Agent or Fanatic issue order 976 to search for population centers, and a third way (less efficient but sometimes helpful anyway) is to do a recon of an individual square, either via the Level 1 spell Raven Familiar (order 888) or via order 970 from an Agent or Fanatic (you'll usually only want to use Level 1 or Level 2 Agents or Fanatics in this way, since you'll want to use order 500 to train a Level 3, and order 976 with a Level 4 or higher).

Many of your orders will be spent moving your three groups (group #1 and group #3 will usually start in your region already, group #2 should usually be moved toward your region) via order 710 (if any of your movement track starts or finishes in a sea square) or order 720 (if no sea squares), as well as splitting off a patrol from either group #1 or group #3 by using order 699 to create your group #4, and moving group #4 via order 710 or 720.  NOTE: I recommend using 710 and 720 instead of 715 or 725 because on Turn 1 especially, you want to maximize the number of squares you cover!  Information is king in the early turns, and you should do your best to get as much of it as you can.

In addition to the group movement orders, you should consider your starting Agents and Fanatics.  If you're fortunate to start with one or more Level 4's, put them to work right away by issuing order 976, focusing on portions of your region that are either harder for your groups to reach, or higher movement cost for your groups, or both.  Any four squares adjacent to each can be scouted via order 976, even diagonal ones, so you have some flexibility here.  IMPORTANT: Try not to overlap any group movements for any of your groups, with any of your order 976 squares, for at least the first few turns!  Doing so is a slight waste, and can be avoided with some advance planning.  It's not a tragedy if you can't avoid this, it's just preferable.

You'll also want to make a move on the city in your region.  To do this, you should send your highest-ranking emissary or even two highest-ranking emissaries to the city on Turn 1 via order 350.  You should also set up a recon of the city via either order 888 or order 970.  You might even want to consider issuing a standing order (order 60) to recon the city, which will give you potentially important information for the forthcoming turns as well, without having to issue an order.  This is helpful because as you'll see, orders start to become very scarce!

Next, in just about every game, you're going to want to be at Friendly regional reaction level in your starting region.  The Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes already start at Friendly (another reason these Kingdoms are good to play for a beginner), but if you went with a different Kingdom, you'll only be at Tolerant in your starting region.  In these cases, you'll usually want to issue order 470, Enamor Region, to raise your reaction level from Tolerant to Friendly.  This will empower your political emissaries to take population centers in the region more easily, which is critical since political emissaries are going to be the backbone of your population-center-taking efforts, even more so than your groups.

With your remaining orders (and with five used on groups, four or five used on 888/970/976 recons and moving emissaries to the city, and maybe one for order 470, you may not have too many left), you should raise any Level 3 Agents or Fanatics to Level 4 via order 500, raise money for future turns by trading most of your initial starting food stockpile to the computer at a 3-to-1 ratio for gold using order 200 (trust me, this is very important in the early game) and by scrapping fleets that you don't need via order 245, check out other nearby cities with a recon or two, and consider if you have any decent spells to cast.

This last point will depend on your Kingdom, especially if you start with a Level 2 Wizard or more.  Good lower-level spells include order 171 (Diplomacy spell, Elves and Rangers get this at Level 1), order 209 (for some extra gold, always helpful), order 301 (Ward spell to protect your emissaries, if you recon the city and see other Kingdoms' emissaries there as well, Elves and Rangers get this at Level 1 as well), order 305 (Sleep spell to target other Kingdoms' emissaries, if you recon the city and see them there), order 602 (if you're playing the Elves), order 603 (if you're playing the Gnomes), and order 888 (Raven Familiar for recons).

Finally, you can consider any major purchases with your remaining gold and orders.  BE CAREFUL WITH THIS.  Don't spend yourself dry on Turn 1, only to be unable to make your critical orders for Turns 2 and 3.  Some people like to make a bid for the High Council using order 210, you'll see early bids usually go for the 20,000 to 40,000 gold range, if you can really afford this, you can consider it, but for a beginner I don't personally recommend bidding at first, as there are often better "bread-and-butter" type basic things to use your orders and gold on.  To the extent you decide to make a bid, especially if it's in the higher range, make sure to add an order 410 for 500 gold to raise your own influence, this way if you win the bid, you'll also immediately get a probable free influence increase.  When you add the point of influence you get from joining the High Council, a bid can sometimes pay for itself.  But again, for a beginner, it might be better to concentrate on other things.

Another major purchase you can consider is raising a Wizard using order 799 (or if you're the Elves or Rangers, who have better Level 1 spell lists, you could even consider using order 800, Rite of the Magi, to hopefully raise an Adept to Level 1), as you get better options for spells at Level 2 and Level 3.  You might want to consider this more seriously if you're sharing a region (e.g. Dwarves, Gnomes, Rangers), since the higher-level spells could be helpful against a possible opponent.  To do this, make sure the group that contains the Wizard you want to raise ends its movement on one of your starting population centers.

Other than that, you probably want to save your gold for Turns 2 and 3.

The order entry utility is an incredible enhancement to Alamaze, it allows you to enter your orders online, and then you can verify them to make sure you don't have any mistakes in them.  It also does your budgeting automatically, so you can see if you have enough money to do your orders and how much you'll have left over.  Instructions on how to use it are in the thread below.

Order Entry Utility:

5) Study Your Turn 1 Results.  Next is the part of Alamaze that makes you feel like a kid at Christmas... waiting for your results!  When you get them, you can see how your orders ended up playing out.  Read EVERYTHING carefully!  Even as a veteran, I still miss things sometimes, and when I realize I missed it, I could kick myself.  The big things are to add new population center locations that your groups and recons find to the map, and to check out the recon data on the city.

You might also find an "unusual sighting" which is another big highlight of Alamaze, because it means there's something special at a square where your group landed.  It could be an artifact, a portal, or even something like a friendly Wizard or flying mounts that want to join your group, but all of it makes the game that much more special and interesting. Below are two notes that explain about how unusual sightings work now.

In any event, read your results carefully.  And again, if you ever have questions, don't hesitate to ask the forum.

6) Plan Your Turn 2.  After you read your results, you should start planning Turn 2.  If your emissary or emissaries are alone at the city in your region, congratulations, you've made a big step toward gaining control!  Cross-reference your influence, emissary, and regional reaction level against the "City (1-Step)" column below to make sure you have a "Yes" and then issue order 320 to attempt a rebellion in the city against the Human rulers, which would then turn the city Neutral.

Charts for Reference:

If you have a second emissary in the city, cross-reference THAT emissary against the "City (1-step") column again, and if it's a "Yes" or even a "Maybe" you can issue order 330 (which will trigger after the order 320 that you're also issuing this turn) to try to take control over the city in one turn!

Everything changes, however, if you see other emissaries there.  If you see another Kingdom with an emissary there, you'll probably need to put your plans of taking the city on pause.  If it's a low-ranking emissary (Provincial Governor or below), you might be able to rebel or usurp anyway, it will depend a lot on the other Kingdom's influence and the relative strength of your emissaries.  A thread that explains a bit of the dynamic is below, but again, you'll probably want to ask the forum for more specific advice.

Political Emissary Calculations:

If you have one or more higher-ranking emissaries from another Kingdom there, you're going to have to play a bit of a guessing game, supplemented by any magical resources you might have available (i.e. order 301 for Ward spell, and order 305 for Sleep spell).  Basically, the guessing game is this, if another Kingdom issues order 310 (Maintain Status Quo) with a higher-ranking emissary, while you try to issue order 320, you will almost certainly fail, and worse, you might even get incarcerated by the city rulers, which would potentially allow the other Kingdom a free shot at issuing order 320 and order 330 on later turns!  This guessing game continues even if you have access to magic for order 301 to Ward your own emissary, and/or order 305 to Sleep the other Kingdom's emissary.  This is because you don't know if your opponent ALSO has access to order 301 and order 305.

So often times, if you see opposition at the city, again, you might want to put your plans on pause for taking it, until you can get your troops together in one group (and sometimes you might need to supplement these troops with either order 560 recruits or Kingdom reinforcements that come in on Turn 5) and obtain a higher "Value vs. Population Center" that exceeds the defensive value of the city (which you should know from the recon you did on Turn 1).

This brings us to the concept of concentrating your troops.  Although this is not a universally held view, and there are going to be situations where you may not want to do it, generally speaking, especially for a beginner, it's helpful to get all of your brigades into one large group.  This allows you to have influence over tougher population centers, have a better chance of winning battles against foreign troops, have a lesser chance of being completely destroyed by something such as an ambushing or invisible group, and when it comes to budget management, have better control with fewer orders if you decide you want to either decline to pay troops via order 230, or double-feed troops via order 238.  To concentrate your troops, move them onto the same square and issue either order 741 (if you start with groups in different squares but then bring them together onto the same square after movement), or order 700 the next turn (if you start with groups in the same square and want to issue the order before your groups move away).

With concentrated troops, you also have an easier time with order 170 (Group Parley) and order 171 (Diplomacy spell).  This is a helpful way to take population centers, and you can find out if you have a chance of succeeding by referencing the handy chart below.

Parley and Diplomacy Spell Calculator:

But by and large, your most common way of taking the population centers that you located on Turn 1 is going to be via political emissary.  A good chunk of your orders on Turn 2 will probably be order 350 to move your political emissaries to the towns and villages you located.  Again, make sure you cross-reference the political charts to make sure the emissaries you're sending will be able to take the population center!  If possible, it's good to send a "just right" emissary who can achieve a "Yes" result, without being too high, so that you can save money, which is very important in the early turns.  Remember, however, if you happen to know that a population center is controlled (and if you're prepared to weather a potentially hostile reaction from the owner), you'll want to look at the "2-Step" column to see if your emissary has a chance of issuing order 330 outright to control it.  If not, you might want to be safe and just issue order 320, and then order 330 on the following turn.  NOTE: You CANNOT use a political emissary OR order 170/171 to make an opponent's capital rebel!

Again, Charts for Reference:

The rest of Turn 2 is much the same as Turn 1, move more groups around, recon more squares, try to cover every square in your region, eventually (this may take several turns).  It's slow and steady progress toward obtaining 50%+1 of the population of the region, which will lead you to regional control!  If you can get the city, you might even be able to obtain control on Turn 3, and if it looks like you'll be REALLY close, you might want to consider using order 715 or order 725 (sea search or search for population centers) with your groups that have troops in them to increase your chances of landing on a village and taking it on Turn 3.  Otherwise, if it's not close either way, you probably want to maximize squares again with orders 710 and 720 (and always use 710 and 720 with patrols, since they have no chance of taking a population center via order 170/171).

One last note, you have until the end of Turn 3 to set your Early Strategic Objective goals. If you just don't have the orders to do it by then, you receive a default Minor ESO, but I personally like to go for the Major... unless of course I forget to set it, like I just did in a recent game. You need five points to set a Major ESO, I personally prefer to go for Control of Region (2 points), either two Princes and Influence of 17+ (2 points) OR three Dukes (1 point), and either or both of Development (two Level 7 Agents/Fanatics or two Power-4 Wizards are the most common, for me), and if necessary, Adventure (two artifacts is the most common, for me, if I need the 5th point).

7) Have Fun.  The purpose of this guide is to give you a roadmap for the first few turns, until you have control of your region, hopefully.  Once you get control, you have a host of additional options, from raising Wizards, to raising political emissaries, to raising Agents/Fanatics, to raising troops, to searching for artifacts, to going for the High Council, to whatever strikes your fancy.  That's the beauty of the game, you have so many choices, and any of the ways can be extremely fun!  If you're a beginner and manage to get control of a region, you should be encouraged... you're already WAY ahead of the curve, and in some ways you've already had a successful game, and on the road to a very fun first learning experience, even if you might not necessarily place in the top three or top five.  And once again, please feel free to ask questions in the forum, we love to help, as hopefully evidenced by even this volunteer labor of love in producing a beginner's guide. Smile All my best!
HH, what a great write-up. Thanks.
Yes, thanks HeadHoncho.  Very well done.

Just a couple bits to add:
  • Verify and submit orders often.  There is no reason not to.  Lots of players verify their orders after each order is entered to keep track of remaining resources.  Remember, "Verify" doesn't "Submit" orders to the server.  You need to Submit them by pressing the Submit button.  You can keep verifying and submitting with every change until the turn deadline arrives.
  • All new games are formed on our new XML platform.  In the past the game master might wait for a late player.  No longer: all games are run as scheduled processes on the server, so games due at noon Eastern USA are run at exactly noon, Eastern, USA.  It is a thing most to be avoided: missing a turn in Alamaze.
  • If you are in a diplomacy game (not anonymous, where no communication of any kind is allowed), communicate more than you think you should.  Some players regard not receiving a message from a kingdom as a sign the kingdom means them harm.  At a minimum, send a greeting to your neighbors, unless you truly do intend to attack them.  Your message doesn't have to ask for peace, just establish how (the email address) to communicate. 
  • A common flaw in new player strategy is to over-recruit.  Recruiting and Training is expensive, and an early economy cannot support them without sacrificing much.  As you become more experienced, you can violate any of these principles with a good detailed plan to exploit a weakness in an enemy.
  • Adepts are very vulnerable, and irreplaceable.  If engaged in group or PC combat, make them Self Invisible.  Try to get them to Power 1 as soon as your economy and orders allow.
  • Level 4 agents are an important as they have new orders available and can detect the true size of masked groups.
  • All kingdoms start with a town as a capital, which is vulnerable.  You'll either want to improve your capital defense, relocate the capital to a city, or perhaps to a sea-based town which is harder to assault.
  • Recons (Raven Familiar and Recon #970) are important and often undervalued.  Before your high ranking noble attempts an Incite or Usurp, its best to be sure no enemy emissary is in position to Maintain Status Quo.  Similarly, don't waste the order and gold attempting to relocate to a PC that may have a blocking group outside.
We could go on, but don't want to overwhelm.   Don't get upset when you make mistakes or are even put to the sword.  Like chess, if Alamaze could be won by a beginner over experienced players, would it be that great a game of strategy?  Many players have never won a game of Alamaze, but have played for many years.  It is in the competing and challenge and adapting to the flow of the campaign that inspires.  Enjoy the challenge and the gaining of wisdom.
Awesome HH. I was thinking to do something like this since I have 4 new guys to train anyway. Very glad someone that actually knows how to write did it already.

I totally agree with HH approach here basically you really put everything towards that first regional control this changes if your a kingdom that is not the dominate force in there region and really as a new player you should avoid those positions. (RD, AN, UN, SO and WA) these are all good kingdoms but can be more prone to getting hurt from an early mistake. Another bonus is if you control your region and others are slow they become the target.

-I would add do not just plan ahead with your gold but with your actual movements. When moving do it in diagonals. Even if you are planning to go straight down jump back and forth diagonally. The reason for this is it allows you to back track or move another group through the same area but still exploring new squares the following turn as they move through the cracks you have created with diagonal moves.
-another thing I see a lot of is selling food on T1 and then again on T2. I normally avoid this because your costing yourself an extra order just to save yourself about 3k gold. I generally especially those 11 influence kingdoms would be happy to pay the 3k for the order. Just sell the food on turn 2 use the extra order on T1.
I see different info on the ESO. The Alamaze General Rules say ESO must be submitted on turn 1. The Order Format for Alamaze says it can be submitted from turn 1-3. Which is it pls?
(02-05-2017, 05:22 AM)Thunderb0lt Wrote: I see different info on the ESO. The Alamaze General Rules say ESO must be submitted on turn 1. The Order Format for Alamaze says it can be submitted from turn 1-3. Which is it pls?

Turn 1-3
(02-05-2017, 05:22 AM)Thunderb0lt Wrote: I see different info on the ESO. The Alamaze General Rules say ESO must be submitted on turn 1. The Order Format for Alamaze says it can be submitted from turn 1-3. Which is it pls?

I think I've written this previously, but I believe you are looking at an old set of rules.  Use the 3rd Cycle Rules and Resources, not 2nd Cycle.

The General Rules state (Section 26: The Early Strategic Objective):
On Turn 1, 2 or 3 Command Submission: Each player determines the specific Early Objectives for his kingdom to achieve from a fairly comprehensive list of alternatives via Order #991.

The Commands document says for ESO:
Only on Turns 1-3 Command Submission: Each player determines the specific Early Objectives for his kingdom to achieve from a fairly comprehensive list of alternatives on Turn 1, 2 or 3 via Order #991.

Kingdom Customization is likewise possible on turns 1 - 3.
My apologies, dont mean to be stepping on anyones toes. The General Rules i downloaded from a link provided somewhere in the forum. Did not say 2nd or 3rd cycle on it. I just downloaded the 3rd cycle general rules from the order entry system. I will try to recheck the dates on the documents before posting anymore questions.
Sorry for any offense.  We should probably take 2nd Cycle stuff down.  When we started 3rd Cycle, there was some sentiment players might still want 2nd Cycle games, but that hasn't happened.  Meanwhile we just didn't want to delete the history like this thread that is still helpful for new players.
As for all the documentation prevalent throughout the forum, perhaps we can find them and move them to a 2nd cycle download thread. I wouldnt mind playing a 2nd cycle sometime this year but only after i have dived in deep into 3rd cycle games. I will be upgrading my service level once im back to work full time as well.

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