Ab Initio Games

Retro Interactive Sports, Historical & Sci-Fi Games

Online & Postal Games since 1986

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Medieval Empires
World Empires

Have you ever wanted to:-

· Liberate Europe from the Iron Grip of the Evil Empire

· Crush Your Enemies Beneath the Armoured Boots of Your Mighty Legions

· Smash Your Enemy with the Mailed Fist of Righteous Justice

· Lead Your Nation to Glory in the Final War of Annihilation

· Conquer the World

· Rule the Waves

· Invade Poland

· Lie, Conspire, Cheat, Backstab

If your answer to any of these questions was yes, then it’s time to take your frustrations out on a game of Empires before you get yourself into serious trouble.


Sample Maps

Sample maps are below, the first of a game "in play" (different nations in different colours), the second a blank map to illustrate the European Empires map. Each map is a thumbnail, click on the map to expand it.

samplemap.jpg (48113 bytes)                            blankmap.jpg (81043 bytes)



Empires is a game of diplomacy, conflict and conquest. It’s designed to have the maximum of action with the minimum of fuss. There are currently four different versions with different maps and slightly different rules.

Medieval Empires plays on a map of Europe which is divided up into thirty small countries (with up to thirty players at the start – there will soon be many fewer).

World Empires plays on a three-panel world map that includes almost any country of the twentieth century and adds air forces to the rules used in Medieval & European Empires, making it a little more challenging than the other two.

European Empires is based on the Napoleonic Wars. Click here for more details.

Australian Empires is a futuristic post-apocalyptic game. Click here for details.

More variants are likely to follow. Medieval Empires is particularly well suited to “private” games (gather a group of players of your own, and we’ll run the game for you) since it plays quite well with fewer than the full number of players (the routines for non-player countries are quite effective in this game, and the “dummy” players can be awkward opponents, especially at the start).


The Game

Each turn in Empires you make some basic decisions, between peace and war, between increasing your income or expanding your territory, between strengthening your links with your neighbours or strengthening your defences, your army, your navy or your air force (this last, not in Medieval or Napoleonic Empires, obviously).

The Map

The map is divided into land and sea areas. Land areas contain terrain (mountains, uplands, lowlands, forests, wetlands, deserts, jungles), population (which generates income), armies (which fight) and forts (which make armies stronger) and naval bases (from which your navy can support your armies or sail forth to meet the navy of your enemy). In addition to the armies on the map each kingdom (or empire) has an army reserve, a navy, and (for games where it’s appropriate) an air force.

Supply and Development

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).

Armies and Combat

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 (in versions where they’re included) are abstracted: they show up wherever and whenever they’re needed.

Scouts and Spies

Scouts report what’s happening in all territories adjacent to your own, Spies can move anywhere and send back reports from wherever they go. Or they can go to places belonging to other countries, and blow them up. Or go to ground 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 spies and ambush them as they arrive.

How it works

There are no random numbers in Empires, 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.

Games and Turnfees

In 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 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.

Game Reports

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.

Sending Orders/Play by Email

Your instructions are normally sent through our active website, but can also be sent by post or fax if required. Click here for more details on play by email

How to join

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.

For more information please contact: Danny McConnell

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