A Game of Exploration, Trade and Conquest
Through the dust and the shimmering haze of the afternoon heat strides the Road Warrior. Where he began and where he’ll end, no-one knows. What he’ll find in his journeys through the deep desert, the bush, the mountains of the east, and the rain forests and wetlands of the north, no-one knows. There may be enemies, or there may be trade. There may be precious resources, or another lost tribe to be rediscovered, or there may be ambush and war and a lonely death, far from home. But then, maybe he doesn’t have a home, and perhaps, along the way, he’ll see a nation reborn.
Among the isolated settlements of post-apocalyptic Australia, a few scattered people are struggling to rebuild civilisation. Or maybe they’re trying to conquer the world. That’s probably the same thing anyway.
Empires is a game system designed to give you the most action with the least fuss. Australian Empires is the fourth in the series, and introduces rules for road warriors, resources, trade and interaction with neutral territories.
There are six different resources in Australian Empires, and you can search for resources in any area you own or in an unowned area occupied by your road warrior. Which resource you might find depends in the terrain in the area.
Fish can be obtained only from coasts, islands and wetlands. Food can be found anywhere, but Fuel is found mostly in the cities and sometimes the deserts and forests. Gold can be found in the mountains and the hills, and sometimes in the deserts.. Water can be found anywhere except the cities. Munitions are found mainly in the cities and sometimes the deserts. On the smaller islands offshore there can be anything at all.
Once you’ve discovered the resources you want then your population in the area will continue to produce the same resource for as long as you like. If you want to change to produce something else, then you go back and make new surveys until you like what you find.
Different resources are needed for different actions. Food, fish and water are needed for almost anything you do. Fuel is needed for moving your armed forces, and munitions are needed as well if you want them to launch attacks. To build new forces you’ll need gold (as well as everything else).
Trade is simple, as you can swap your surplus resources with one other player each turn (direct to and from your stockpiles with anyone anywhere on the map).
An alternative way of gaining resources is to find some that someone else has produced, and steal them. But they might steal them back, and that’s how wars start.
The map is divided into land and sea areas. Land areas contain terrain (mountains, uplands, lowlands, forests, wetlands, deserts, cities), population (which generates income), armies (which fight), forts (which make armies stronger) and naval bases (from which your navy can support your armies or sail to meet the navy of your enemy). In addition to the armies on the map each or empire has an army reserve, a navy, and an air force.
Supply costs limit your ability to build up your armies indefinitely. Build too many armies and you’ll spend you whole income feeding them. In Empires, the smaller army will never win a battle, but it will often win a war. A lean, mean fighting machine can fight more often and will fight when it chooses.
Development costs rise the more you grow, and limit your ability to build up your income indefinitely. And if you build too few armies your economic growth will go for nothing, except to enrich your warlike neighbours (if they’re not warlike now, try looking prosperous with a weak army, and see what happens).
In Empires, armies can retreat when attacked by larger forces. To force a decisive battle you must manoeuvre to prevent your opponent from retreating, or make your attack against a position your opponent cannot afford to lose.
Army concentrations are limited by the dispersal rules. At the end of each turn an area can contain only as many armies as population, plus one army for each fortification. Above that, they begin to disperse (into your army reserve).
Naval forces are deployed in naval bases, and their effectiveness depends on how far from your bases you attempt to operate. Naval and air forces automatically deploy to support land forces when required. Air forces are abstracted: they show up wherever and whenever they’re needed.
Scouts report what’s happening in all territories adjacent to your armies. Road warriors can move anywhere and act as spies to send back reports from wherever they go. Or they can go to places belonging to other players, and blow them up. Or go to ground (as “watchers”) and continue sending back their reports until an enemy guesses where they are and hunts them down. Or they can lie in wait for enemy road warriors and ambush them as they arrive.
In Australian Empires your Road Warrior is also vital for arranging trades with neutral “tribal” areas and for helping to ship resources from the map to your stockpiles.
There are no random numbers in the battle routines in any of the Empires games, as uncertainty (“friction” in military jargon) is provided by a unique processing system, under which “fog of war” increases as the turn progresses. As the start of the turn everything in the game (armies deployed, fortifications, populations, air and naval strengths) is exactly as reported at the end of the previous turn. As the turn continues and armies move around, the situation can be very different and the best laid plans come into conflict with the best laid plans of your opponents.
If you’re first in the process order, your first action will be made against a situation that will be exactly known. By the time your second action happens, everyone else will have made their first action, and the situation will have changed a little. By the time of your last action everything will gave changed, and your actions had better be things that don’t depend on what other people do.
The order of play in each turn varies according to what you spend on initiative in the previous turn. The more you spend the sooner you move, but the less you’ve got left to spend on other things.
In Australian Empires you can start by waiting for a new game (there are always waiting lists open) or by taking over an existing “standby” position (where the previous player has dropped out). You may have to wait a while for a new game to start, but standby positions are normally available very quickly. One option is to take a standby position while you learn your way around the game while you wait for the next new game to fill. Once started, games normally run with two-weekly deadlines (so you've fourteen days between turns).
Turnfees in Australian Empires are £2.00 for one, £8.00 for four, £18.00 for ten and £32.00 for twenty. There are further discounts available if you play in more than one game. Click here for more details of turnfees.
We welcome players from outside the UK. Click here for more details of overseas players.
Normally reports are sent to you by email, so you'll have your result within minutes of the game being played, but players can receive their results by post if they wish. For more details on play-by-email click here.
Your instructions are normally sent through our active website. Click here for more details on play by email
Australian Empires is the fourth game in the series of Empires games. For more details on World Empires, European Empires or Medieval Empires click here.
Australian Empires is run by Steve Coombs, so we'd recommend contacting him before you send your startup fee and Steve will be able to confirm the position of waiting lists. Once you've confirmed with Steve, you need to click here to pay your startup fee by credit card via our secure server website.