How to play Dark Tower
OBJECT OF THE GAME
The object of the game is to circle the board, passing through three foreign kingdoms, collecting three keys along the way. You then return to the fourth kingdom, your home kingdom, and lay siege to the brigands in the tower. When you have defeated the brigands, the game is over and you have won.
When the game has finished loading (please be patient, as loading can take several minutes on a dial up connection) you will be asked by the game if you are ready to begin. After pressing YES here, the game will ask you to choose your home kingdom. Pick whichever kingdom you like, as it makes no real difference. It only affects the look of your pawn.
Next, choose which level of difficulty you would like to play. The level affects only one thing -- the possible number of brigands you will face in the tower. Level one is the easiest, two the hardest, and three is in the middle. Confusing, I know, but that is how Milton Bradley designed it. Please note that there is no level four in this Flash version, because level four was only used for learning the rules of the game, and was not much fun to play.
Now you're ready to play.
MOVING YOUR PAWN
Your pawn starts in his own kingdom and should quickly make his way to the neighboring kingdom in the counter clockwise direction. There is NO key to be found in your own kingdom, so don't linger. You may move to any adjacent space by clicking on the space you would like to move to. Legal spaces will show up highlighted blue when you place the mouse cursor over them. You may only pass from one kingdom to the next in a counter clockwise direction. Move to a frontier space to pass into the next kingdom.
Once you have moved into a foreign kingdom, you must find a key there, and only then may you move on to the next kingdom. In the first foreign kingdom you will find a BRASS KEY. In the second foreign kingdom you will find a SILVER KEY. And you may have guessed that you will find a GOLD KEY in the last foreign kingdom. When you have all three keys, make your way back to your home kingdom, to the Dark Tower space near the center of the board.
Note that you may not pass back into a kingdom (in a clockwise direction) once you have left it.
If you try to leave a kingdom before you have collected the key from that kingdom, the tower will prohibit you from leaving, and warn you that a key is missing.
Dark Tower is similar to many role playing games, in that you possess an inventory of items and companions. You may view the contents of your inventory at any time by holding the mouse cursor over the top of the inventory card, which is located beneath the tower in the lower left corner of the game screen. Inventory quantities are tracked automatically by the game for you and are displayed in a manner consistent with the original board game.
These are the things you may possess, and in some cases must possess, throughout the course of the game:
WARRIORS - They fight your battles against the brigands and they help carry your gold. You begin the game with 10, and you may hire more warriors at the bazaar, win warriors by the aid of a healer, or be granted warriors through charity when your need is great. You may have in your company up to 99 warriors, and no more. If you lose all of your warriors, you have lost the game, so be careful.
GOLD - Won in battles, found in abandoned tombs, and recovered from slain dragons, gold is the currency of the lands. You must use it to make any purchase at the bazaar. You always begin with 30 bags of gold. You may never own more than 99 bags of gold. Gold is heavy. One warrior may carry only six bags. So you may never possess more than your number of warriors times six bags of gold, unless you have purchased a beast (see below.)
FOOD - Your warriors must be fed! Without food they will quickly starve to death. You may buy food at the bazaar. When you have less than five rations left, a sanctuary will generously bestow you with a gift of food, as will your own citadel. Food is consumed at the rate of one ration per turn for the first 15 warriors in your company, 16-30 will consume two rations per turn, 31-45 will consume three; 46-60 4; 61-75 5; 76-90 6; 91-99 7. The most food you can carry is 99 rations. Food always costs 1 bag of gold at the bazaar, and you may not haggle the price any lower. The beast, scout and healer do not consume food rations.
BEAST - The beast is one of burden. The sole purpose of a beast is to help you carry your gold. A beast can carry 50 bags of gold above and beyond what your warriors are capable of themselves carrying. You may buy a beast at the bazaar and can own only one. A beast cannot be slain or lost in any way once purchased.
SCOUT - A scout is a man hired at the bazaar to remain with you permanently throughout the rest of the game. When you have a scout among your party, you will never be lost. Getting lost will cause you to not be able to move and your turn will be over. With a scout you will not only move, but receive a free second turn. Note that you do consume food on the second turn. A scout is most useful in a multiplayer game (which is not yet supported by this Flash version), but can be useful in a single player game to help you achieve a higher end- of- game score by allowing you to complete the game in fewer turns (a factor in scoring.) The scout cannot be killed.
HEALER - The healer keeps the plague away. Hired and treated the same as a scout, the healer is useful when you unwittingly bump into the plague in the course of your travels. Rather than lose two warriors when you encounter the plague, when your party counts a healer amongst their number, they GAIN two warriors.
SWORD - The Dragonsword is a prized magical item which cannot be purchased, but rather must be won in battle. If you are fortunate enough to hold this sword when you are attacked by a dragon, the dragon will be immediately slain (temporarily) and you will receive back anything that he has taken from you (or others in the case of a multiplayer game.) The sword will vanish after a dragon attack.
PEGASUS - This magical winged horse will carry you any number of spaces in one turn. The Pegasus is awarded by the game, usually following battle. Once used, he will fly away. You may only have one Pegasus at a time. Unlike the board game version, you may not cross a frontier with a Pegasus, but if you possess the necessary key, you may move to a frontier. You may save your Pegasus for use at any time in the game.
WIZARD - The wizard is not used in a single player game, as his only purpose is to curse other players.
KEYS - Finally, one of the most important inventory items. The purpose of the keys is to unlock the Dark Tower towards the end of the game. There are three keys -- one brass, one silver, and one gold. You will find them in that order, one in each foreign kingdom. You will not find a key in your own kingdom. You may not leave a foreign kingdom until you have found that kingdom's key, but once you have found it you should quickly move on to the next kingdom.
Events occur randomly each time you move your pawn to a featureless territory or to a tomb or a ruin. After you move the Tower will tell you what awaits you. You may experience any of the following:
SAFE MOVE - Nothing exciting, you simply move to the desired territory.
BATTLE WITH BRIGANDS - What it's all about! Kicking brigand butt. Brigands are the bad guys in the game, and aside from the dragon (sort of,) the only enemy you will fight. Your warriors are pitted against a band of brigands and their fate is determined by a computer controlled battle. During a battle your option is to remain and fight or to retreat. If you do retreat you will always lose one additional warrior. So be careful not to retreat when you are down to your last warrior, because you will lose him and the game.
The mechanics of a battle are fairly simple. First the Tower will show you how many brigands the computer has and then the Tower will show how many warriors you have. A skirmish will take place and you will hear a sound that indicates if you won the skirmish or a different downer sound will indicate that the brigands have won. After the sound you will be shown the new totals. For each skirmish you lose, you will lose one warrior. For each skirmish the brigands lose, they will lose HALF their number (rounded down!) Hardly fair, but don't complain. A skirmish outcome favors the party with the most combatants, but know that even one fighter always stands at least a small chance of winning against a crowd. You may retreat from battle at any time, but your retreat will not occur until the end of the current skirmish round.
After a battle, if you are victorious, the Tower may award you a prize, which may include gold, a sword, a Pegasus, a key, or you may get nothing at all. Please note that when ever the Tower shows you a quantity of gold or warriors, this number is your TOTAL, not to be added to your previous number.
LOST - If you do not have a scout you may become lost. This means that you do not successfully move into your desired territory and your turn is over. If you have a scout, you do move and you immediately take another turn.
PLAGUE - A deadly disease which may strike without warning. When it hits your party you will lose two warriors. If you only have one or two warriors when the plague strikes, you will lose the game. If you have a healer, rather than lose two warriors, you will gain two warriors. A nice prize for just getting the plague!
STARVATION - Starvation will occur at the beginning of EVERY turn when you do not have enough food to feed your troops. You will simply hear the death sound and you will lose one warrior per turn until you stock up on food. You will receive a warning sound at the beginning of each turn when your inventory contains less than five rations.
DRAGON - You are being silently stalked by a vicious dragon throughout your travels and he may choose nearly any time to strike! He will mercilessly take 25% of your gold and warriors when he does attack, unless you have the Dragonsword, in which case you will slay him instantly (though others like him may show up later) and recover any previously stolen gold or kidnapped warriors. Note that you do not place the dragon pawn in a single player game, as you would in a multiplayer game, as it would be pointless to block yourself from any territory.
There are several different types of buildings and special territories scattered throughout the lands. You will need to visit many of them to make your way to victory. Each kingdom has the same locations positioned accordingly as every other kingdom. The locations are described below:
SANCTUARY - As the name implies this is a place of peace. Most times that you visit the sanctuary you will simply be granted a safe move. But the inhabitants of the sanctuaries are generous folk and recognize dire circumstances. If you have fewer than five warriors, fewer than eight bags of gold, or fewer than six rations of food, you will be bestowed with a gift, free of charge, to help you boost those sad numbers. Return as often as you like.
CITADEL - You begin the game in your own citadel. It is marked with your Kingdom's crest. The citadel behaves exactly the same way as a sanctuary, with a couple of exceptions. The biggest exception is that you may only enter your own citadel. You may not move to the citadel space of a foreign kingdom. The other exception is that when you have solved the riddle of the keys, and are prepared to do battle with the inhabitants of the Dark Tower, you may return to your citadel for extra aid. Upon this return, if you have 24 or fewer warriors, this number of warriors will be doubled for you. You may keep returning to the citadel to receive this gift so long as in between visits you enter a different building location (other than a sanctuary) first.
BAZAAR - This is where all commerce takes place. Here you may purchase food or a beast, or hire warriors, a scout or a healer. When you enter you will first be offered warriors. If you want to hire warriors for the price shown, press the green button for as many warriors as you wish to hire. When the tower shows as many warriors as you wish to hire, press the red button to cash out. Pressing the white CANCEL button at any time will end your turn and void any transactions you may have been preparing. If you are not at the bazaar to hire warriors, press the red NO button when the warriors are shown to you. The Tower will show you the next item for sale. Continue this way, cycling through all the items, until you see what you want. You will only be able to buy what is available to you within the rules of the game. For instance, if you already own a beast, you will not see another available for purchase. Be careful with your gold though, because if you attempt to purchase something or things that you cannot afford, the merchant will take offense and close the bazaar to you for this turn and no sales will transpire. You may always return directly to the bazaar on your next turn to try again.
You may think that a price is too high for something you wish to purchase and you may decide to haggle with the merchant. This gives you a chance to lower the price of whatever you are shopping for. Be careful though, because the merchant may become offended and close the bazaar to you. You may press the haggle button repeatedly, trying to achieve a target price. Each press of the haggle button risks offending the merchant. Every item has a price below which the merchant will not go. You must figure out what the limit is. You may not haggle on the price of food. Prices may be different each time you go to the bazaar.
You may only buy one item, or group of the same types of item, per turn. You may stay at the bazaar on your next turn if you like.
TOMB/RUIN - These two locations are in every way identical, except in their appearance and location on the game board. Here you are more likely to encounter a battle than anywhere else (except for the final Tower battle, which is 100% likely.) These are good places to go when you are searching for a key. The buildings may be empty, too. Or they may contain unguarded treasure.
FRONTIER - These are the long narrow borders which separate the kingdoms. You must travel to them when you have the key for the kingdom you are in or when you are first leaving your kingdom. Moving to a frontier is always a safe move. If you do not have the key you need, you will not be permitted to move onto a frontier.
DARK TOWER - When you have collected all the keys and returned to your home kingdom, you may visit this space near the center of the board. When you reach this space you will be presented with the Riddle of the Keys. It is not enough to have the keys; you must also know the order in which to use them. The Tower will present you with a random key and you must guess if you believe it is the first key. If you are right you will be shown a second key, and so on. If at any time you are wrong, your turn will end and you must try again on your next turn. If you solve the riddle, you will be allowed inside and you will fight the final battle. You may retreat from the final battle (especially as a tactic to learn how many brigands you will finally face) and each time you return to the Tower you will be presented with the riddle. The order of the keys remains the same for the entire game, so remember it if you are going to leave and come back. Also, each time you return to the final battle, the number of brigands will be the same as the last time you were there. They will be replenished if you had previously killed some.
THE FINAL BATTLE
Fought like all battles against a band of brigands, this battle's outcome will determine if you can win the game. This battle is notably different in that the number of brigands you will face does not correspond to the number of warriors you have in your employ. Rather, the number is determined by the difficulty level you chose to play under. Win this battle and you have won the game!
Your score is based on a secret formula which considers two main factors -- how many turns did you need to complete the game and how brave were you when you entered the final battle (the fewer your number, the braver you are.)