Time for another one of my history lessons (groan and i’ll ruddy kill you!)
The Games Workshop (now famous for producing the Warhammer wargaming system among other things) was founded in the early eighties by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone with the intention of producing pen and paper role-playing games along the lines of Dungeons and Dragons (they are repsonsible for the Fighting Fantasy roleplaying books apparently – no, i’ve never heard of them either). With the increasing popularity of home computer systems and the appearance of the ZX Spectrum they saw a new and potentialy profitable market for their games and started comverting them to this new platform. They approached a British programmer by the name of Julian Gollop (who was allready responsible for the classic Rebelstar Raiders) who then created a game based on the spellcasting elements of Dungeons and Dragons entitled ‘Chaos’ (this game you nonce, the one for download above!)
Eventualy both Livingstone and Jackson decided that there wasn’t enough money to be made in computes and returned to paper and board games. It is ironic then that once they had sold off the Games Workshop Jackson went to work for Lionhead and Ian Livingstone became head of Eidos (the creaters of Tomb Raider).
Chaos is, IMHO, one of the most perfect examples of pure gameplay in existence and without of doubt one of the best game of all time. The concept is simple, 2-8 wizards battle it out in an area using various magic spells – the last one alive wins. The types of spells available vary. Some summon creatures that you then control and send to attack your enemies (some creatures can also be mounted, such as the unicorn and pegasus), some give you magical weaponry or abilities (such as increased movement). Others are purely offensive such as magic bolts and lightning. while others are defensive which allow you to summon castles and citadels to take refuge in. Others are stranger still, for instance you can summon a goey blob that spreads at random across the arena, swallowing everything in its path, or you can create magical forests that you can take shelter in and that will give you extra spells over time. It’s all very diverse and interesting and the fact that there can be upto 8 players all with a different set of spells just makes it better (spells are assigned at random at the beginning of the game).
Speaking of spells, I should mention something of allignments. Spells can be either Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic and it is your wizards current allignment that affects the chance of casting a spell successfully. For instance if your wizard is entirely lawful you will have about a 10% chance of summoning a Red Dragon (which is highly chaotic). All wizards start the game with with no alignment (ie neutral) and it is by casting either lawful or chaotic spells that the balance gets tipped one way or another (some spells are specifically designed to change your alligment too, such as ‘LAW 2’). I should also point out that with one exception each spell will disapear from your spellbook after it is used so you must make give thought as to when is the best time to use certain spells.
I mentioned before that some spells summon creatures into the arena that you then control and I should discuss this in more depth as it it a major part of the game. When you first opt to summon a certain creature you are given the choice of casting a real or illusionary one. Illusions have a 100% chance of being summoned but they can be destroyed by a simple “Disbelieve” spell (of which each wizard has an infinite amount. A good rule of thumb is that if someone summons a Golden Dragon in the first turn of play then it’s probably not real :).
Different creatures also have different attributes which must be taken into account. Vampires and Zombies are undead, which means that they can only be attacked by other undead creatures, by wizards with magical weapons or with offensive spells. Some creatures can be mounted by wizards and some have the ability to fly – so even if you decide to cast a magic wall around yourself you are still not 100% safe, a giant eagle or a griffon can just fly over the top of it. Some creatures have the ability to attack at range (the dragon can breath fire for example) and in special cases a creature can have more than one of these special attributes (here’s a hint – successfuly casting a ‘Rasie Dead” spell on the body of a manticore will give you a creature than can fly, can be ridden, can attack at range and that can only be killed with magic or by other undead creatures – a nasty combination).
Visually the game is hardly impressive, but it doesn’t have to be because the gameplay is so perfect. I have seen one attempt at recreating the game in 3D and as far as I am concerned it would spoil the game somewhat (Chaos’ true sequel, Magic and Mayham took a simple and perfect concept and gave it isometric graphics, overcomplicated gameplay and.. ugh.. a story. Trust me, this is a much better game :))
Chaos is an utterly absorbing and highly addictive game that I have ben playing regularly for the past 10 years of my life (yes, it’s THAT good). It is perfectly balanced, well thought and as I said before pretty much perfect in my opinion.
Please just download it. If there is one game that I recommend above all others then it is this one.
Just do it!
Chaos – The Battle of Wizards
- Published by: Games Workshop
- Designed by: Julian Gollop
Size: 100kb (1 mins on 56k dial-up)