Classic Game Review: Fortress

FORTRESS from Strategic Simulations is one of those games that you can learn to play in five minutes and spend years learning to master. It combines simplicity of rule with infinite strategy to provide a fast- moving, yet thought-provoking game. The object is simple: control more territory at the end of the game than your opponent does. This is accomplished by placing fortresses on the playing field. A fortress can control up to five squares at one time: the one on which it is established, and the four squares adjacent to it in the N, S, E, W positions (obviously, corner fortresses will control less territory). The action takes place on a 6 by 6 grid. You and your opponent alternate moves, placing new castles on the board or fortifying existing ones.

Each existing castle can be fortified twice, making for 3 levels of fortification in all. The stronger a castle is, the more likely it is to control the surrounding territory. If the squares surrounding a fortress are not under equal influence by your opponent, your flag is planted on them, to indicate control. When an empty square is adjacent to the castles of both players, it will be given to the one with the stronger influence on the square. If the influence is of the same strength, neither player can claim the square.

Castles can also attack and destroy each other. Two castles immediately adjacent to each other are considered to be “in combat”. If their strengths are equal, they are simply under attack. However, if one castle has more power in terms of fortifications and the support of other near by castles, then the enemy fortress will be removed and the victorious player’s flag will be planted on that square.

The standard game is 21 moves by each player. However, there is an option to change the number of moves to be anything from 1 to 54. This change is temporary, and will revert back to standard the next time you boot the disk. You can play the game with a human opponent, or any one of six computer opponents. Each of these computer opponents has its own strategy and method of playing the game. Further, it is possible for these computer players to learn from the games, and therefore improve their own play. This is accomplished by writing the results to a separate save disk. You can also record the history of your play (most recent 30 tournaments) as well as that of the computer players. You can even create and “train” your own computerized opponents, and SSI is running a contest to determine the best computerized players. The documentation that accompanies the game is a short, but well done booklet that contains the basic information, as well as some strategy advice, and a brief “walk-through” to familiarize you with the play.

FORTRESS comes on a dual disk: one side contains the Apple version and the other side has the Atari version. Both versions are identical, except that the Apple game has an on/off option for the sound effects. With either machine, you can use the keyboard or the joystick to move around the playing field. Bottom Line: If you like strategy games, this is one you’ll want to have!

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