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Playing Mac Xconq

Starting a Game

The splash screen gives you four choices: "New", which brings up a list of games; "Open", which allows you to pick a file; "Connect", which will allow you to pick a game to join; and "Quit", which lets you escape.

Usually you will want to choose "New", which brings up a dialog listing all the games. You can select one and see a brief description of it.

You can also load a game from a file by choosing "Open". This just uses the standard Mac file-opening dialog. You restore a saved game this way. You can also open from the Finder by double-clicking on the file's icon.

Loading a Game

Whether you've chosen from New Game or Open Game, Xconq will go through a loading process, which may take a while if the game is large or complicated.

You may get some warning alerts, which are often benign (such as an inability to find some images), but others are indicative of disaster ahead. If you see one and continue anyway, don't be surprised if the game goes up in a cloud of smoke later!

Choosing Variants

If the game includes any "variants", you will then get a dialog with assorted buttons and checkboxes to choose from. For instance, some games let you choose whether the whole world is visible when you start, or what kind of scoring system to use.

Different games have different variants, but there are several used by many games.

The "World Seen" checkbox, when set, makes the whole world seen right from the beginning of the game. This only affects the initial view, and you will only see some types of units belonging to other players, such as their cities.

The "See All" checkbox makes everything seen all the time, right down to each occupant of each unit of each side. This makes Xconq more like a boardgame, where little or nothing is secret.

The "World Size" button brings up a dialog that you can use to change the dimensions of the world in everybody will be playing. In Xconq, the available area of the world is either a hexagon, or a cylinder wrapping entirely around the world. Click or drag within the display area of the dialog to select an approximate size, or type in the text boxes. You get the cylinder by setting the circumference equal to the width of the area. See the generic player's manual for more details about world size and shape, and be aware that it's very easy to select a world that is much too large for reasonable play (the default of 60x30 is a medium-sized game; 200x100 is enormous!)

The "Real Time" button brings up a dialog that you can use to set realtime countdowns. You can limit both the total time allotted to a game, to each turn, and/or to each side.

Player Setup

The player setup window shows the sides that will be in the game and who will play each side. As with the variants, you will often just want to accept it (click "OK"), since the game's designer usually sets the defaults reasonably.

If you want to change the setup, you first need to understand the current set of sides and proposed players. Each entry in the list of sides starts off with the side's emblem (if it has one), followed by the name of side, then in italics, some information about the player, and then the initial advantage for the player. You, the person sitting in front of the screen, is described as "You", while players that are actually run by the computer are described as "AI mplayer", "AI" being short for "artificial intelligence" (In some games, a player may be a specialized AI, named name, in which case it will be described as "AI name".)

In games that allow you to have more than the default number of sides, you can just click the "Add" button. All the other controls require you to have selected a side/player pair. You can do this by clicking anywhere in one of the boxes describing the side/player pair, which will be highlighted in response.

The `Computer' button toggles the AI for that side. You can add an AI to any side (including your own side; more on that later). You can also remove the AI from any side; a side with no AI and no human player will just sit quietly and do nothing throughout the entire game. Units on the side will fight back if attacked, just like any other units, but if you capture things like cities, the side won't even attempt to take them back.

If you don't like the side you're on, you can use the `Exchange' button to switch. The ordering of the sides is fixed, so exchange just exchanges players between the currently selected side/player pair and the next one. It can take a little experimentation to get the hang of using this, but you can generate any arrangement of players using a combination of selection and exchange.

Final Setup

When you have OKed all the setup dialogs, Xconq will finish setting up the game. For some games, this will take quite a while - Xconq generates random terrain, positions countries so that they are neither too close nor too far apart, and does many other things to set up the game, so just kick back and watch the progress bars.

Once everything is set up, Xconq then opens up the game window, the instructions window, and one map window for you. The map shows you terrain with different patterns, and your playing pieces (units) with small pictures.

Note that Xconq allows all players, including AIs, to start doing things as soon as the windows come up. You may even find yourself being attacked before you know what's happening! This is a feature; the AI isn't good enough to afford to give you any breaks.

Playing a Game

The basic pattern of play is to find a unit in a map or list window, click once to select it, and then pick commands from the `Play' menu. There is also an "auto-select" mode that does the selection for you and interprets mouse clicks as movement commands; Xconq actually starts up in this mode.

You can select units by clicking on a unit, shift-clicking a group, dragging out a selection rectangle, or by using Command-A to select all units. A selected unit is indicated by an outline box - solid black to indicate that it can move, dark gray to indicate that it cannot move, and gray to indicate that it cannot do anything at all (at least during this turn; some types of units may only get to do something once in a while). If clicking on a unit image doesn't have any effect, then it's not a unit that belongs to you.

To move a selected unit, drag the selected unit to its desired new location. The unit might not move right away if it doesn't have the action points, but it may get some in the next turn. To move all selected units, do Command-click on the desired location and all of them will attempt to move there.

To shoot at another unit, you can position the mouse over the desired target, type `f', and all selected units will attempt to fire. Since you can select all units, and the ones that can't fire will simply do nothing, you can call down considerable destruction with `f'! If the target is too far away, nothing will happen. 'f' can only fire at units that you actually have under observation. Use `Control-f' to fire into a cell where you can't see anything.

To find out more about a unit, pick "Closeup" from the "Play" menu or do `Command-I'. This brings up a window that shows all kind of data about a single unit. You can leave this window up and it will always be kept up-to-date.

To jump ahead to the next turn, do the menu command "End Turn" or the key `return'. You may have to do this if some of your units still have action points, but not enough to do any of the things you want them to do.

The Game window (`Command-1') shows the status of all the sides in the game. The window shows both the emblem (if available) and name of each side. A small computer icon indicates that an AI is running the side, while a face icon indicates your side's relationship with the side (smiling means friend/ally, frowning means enemy, flat expression means neutral).

Each side also has a progress bar that shows how many actions its units have left to do.


This section describes all the menus.

File Menu

The File menu includes the usual sorts of commands that all Mac programs share.

New Game
Brings up the new game dialog.
Open Game
Brings up a standard file dialog. Xconq will assume the selected file to be a game module and attempt to load it as such.
Use the Connect item to join in a game that is already running elsewhere.
Saves the game to a file.
Save As
Saves the game to a file, with a name chosen from a dialog that pops up.
Brings up a dialog that you can use to select various options. See below for more detail.
Page Setup
Print Window
Prints the front window.
Offers your resignation.
Leaves Xconq. If the game has not ended, you will be asked if you want to save; if not, and if any of the AIs in the game don't want to draw or quit, you may have to resign in order to get out.

Edit Menu

Note that there is no Undo. Hey, this game is a life-or-death struggle, and you may have noticed that you don't get an Undo in real life either...

These are not normally enabled, but if a text entry window is up, then you can use these in the usual way. Examples of text entry include the command input dialog and the construction run length item in the construction dialog.
Select All
Selects all units that you are currently allowed to select. Most commands will operate on multiple unit selections, so this is a powerful (and therefore dangerous) option. For instance, if you select all units then put them all to sleep, nobody will do anything at all.
The Design item is for access to game designer tools. You cannot use these during a normal game; you will be asked to confirm that you want to design, and if so, Xconq will change all the windows appropriately and bring up a special designer's palette. This is a one-way activity; once somebody in the game becomes a designer, all players will be notified and computer-run players will no longer bother to play. (In case it's not obvious, this is because it's too easy to cheat using the designer's powers.)

Find Menu

This menu is for various kinds of searching.

Previous Actor
This item selects the previous unit that can do actions.
Next Actor
This item selects the next unit that can do actions.
Next Occupant
This item selects the next occupant among the occupants of a unit or cell. If the selected unit has occupants, then this command will select one of those first, and if the selected unit is the last occupant, the the command will select the transport; thus repeated uses of this command will eventually cycle through all units at a single location.
This item brings up a dialog that allows you to type in a set of coordinates or the name of a geographical feature, then scrolls the most recently-used map over to that location.
Unit by Name...
This item brings up a dialog that allows you to type in a name of a unit, then scrolls the most recently-used map over to that unit.
This item scrolls the most recently-used map over to show the selected unit in a list.

Play Menu

This menu is the main set of commands that you can give to individual units. When you specify one of these, the units affected will be whatever is selected in the window. If the window is of a type that does not have selected units (such as a help window), then the items on this menu will be disabled.

This item opens closeups (see below) of all the selected units.
Move To...
This item directs the selected units to return to the closest place where they can replenish supplies that have been used up. If the unit has been damaged, it will also look for places to get repairs.
Set Formation...
This item directs the selected units to maintain their current positions relative to a given "leader" unit.
Wakes up the selected units.
Puts the selected units to sleep.
Puts the selected units into reserve.
Delays the move of the selected units until all other units have moved.
Brings up the construction window and selects the first of the selected units that can do construction.
This item commands the selected units to fire at a given target unit.
Fire Into
This item commands the selected units to fire into a given cell, regardless of whether any units are actually there.
This item commands the selected units to detonate.

More Menu

The "More" menu contains additional actions, typically those that you will need less often.

Make the selected units take supplies from their transports if possible.
This item commands the selected units to get into the nearest transport.
This item commands the selected units to get out of their transports but remain at the transport's location, if stacking rules allow.
Add Terrain
Make the selected units do terrain additions.
Remove Terrain
Plan Type
AI Control
Toggle an AI's control over the unit. When control is off, the AI will not try to give this unit any kind of orders, leaving you to control it manually.
This item brings up a dialog that allows you to rename the selected unit. If the "Random" button is enabled, then there is a random name generator available for that type of unit, and you may click it repeatedly to get different randomly-generated or -selected names to choose from.
Give Unit
This submenu gives you a list of sides to which you may give the selected units. If the side is grayed out, then the selected type(s) may not be on that side.

Side Menu

This menu is for overall control of the side you're playing.

This item will bring up a window that displays more details about a side. [not implemented yet]
End This Turn
This item declares your movement for this turn to be over. It is the same as typing Return.
Move On Click
When this item is enabled, single clicks in the map window will result in movement tasks for every selected unit.
Auto Jump Next
When this item is enabled, the selection in the front map window will automatically shift to the next unit that needs to be given directions.
Auto End Turn
When this item is enabled, your turn will automatically end when all units have received directions or have used up their action points. If disabled, then you must explicitly end the turn by choosing the menu item "End This Turn" or by typing Return.
This item enables and disables sound effects.
This is a submenu that lists the possibilities for AIs to run the side for you. Select the name of an AI to have it decide units' moves for you. If you select `None', then the AI will shut itself off and return the units it was controlling to your control.
[not implemented yet]
Send Message
This item brings up a dialog that allows you to send a message to other sides.
Rename Side...
This item brings up a dialog that allows you to alter the side's name, the noun to be used to refer to units on that side, the side's emblem, and so forth. The button "Choose Randomly" will run a random side name generator or selector, if available.

Windows Menu

This menu is for the creation and arrangement of windows.

This item brings up the game window.
This item brings up the notices window. Notes are messages about things that are happening in the present. It has a limited capacity (32K of text), so old notices eventually disappear.
This item brings up the history window. The history is a complete record of important events.
Brings up the construction window. The window will not be put away after you have requested construction.
This item creates or brings forward the command entry window. The command 'o' has the same effect.
This item brings up the scores window, showing wins and losses.
World Map
This item creates a map window sized and scaled so as to show the entire world.
New Map
This item creates another map window.
New List
This item creates another list window.

The rest of the menu lists the windows that are currently open. You can select a menu item to bring its corresponding window to the front.

View Menu

The View menu gives you control over the appearance of the window you're currently looking at. Each kind of window that has any view controls will have a different view menu. Currently only map and list windows have view menus. Each window has its own view settings, although you can set defaults for new windows from the preferences. You can find the descriptions of each view menu's items under the description of its window, below.


Mac Xconq lets you have many windows open at once. Each type has its own specialized functionality.

Map Windows

A map window gives you an overhead view of some part of the Xconq world. As you might expect, you can scroll around to look at different parts. You can also zoom in and out using the small zoom icons in the lower left corner; zooming in ("closer mountains" icon) makes the cells larger, while zooming out ("farther mountains" icon) makes the cells smaller, so you can see more of the world. You can zoom way in or out!

The optional "top line" of the map window supplies you with information about what the cursor is currently over, plus the current game date.

The map control panel is along the left side. At its top is the auto-select/move-on-click button. Below that is a set of find-next/previous buttons. The next set of buttons is controls for how the map will be displayed. These behave identically to the map's View menu items.

Since maps are the main interface to Xconq games, you have many view menu options for controlling their appearance.

[update this to reflect current organization]

This item increases the magnification of the map, which draws units and cells larger. This is useful when many units are stacked in a cell or transport unit.
This item decreases the magnification of the map, which draws everything smaller and with less detail. However, you get to see a larger area at once, which is useful for strategic planning.
Set Mag
This submenu allows you to select a magnification directly. The numbers indicates the approximate size in pixels of the icons. Units generally become unrecognizable at less than 16x16.
This submenu allows you to select an angle at which to view the map. Choices are 15 degrees, 30 degrees, and 90 degrees (overhead).
This item controls whether names of units and features are drawn on the map.
This item controls the display of contour lines indicating elevations.
This item controls the display of which cells' people belong to which sides.
This is a submenu that includes controls for the display of temperature, clouds, and winds.
This is a submenu that includes an item for each type of material that a cell might have in it.
This is a submenu that includes toggles for the display of each border and connection type.
This item controls whether the display is darkened for those cells that are dark.
This item controls whether view coverage is displayed. Cells with no view coverage by any units are darkened.
This item controls whether the grid separating cells is shown.
Top Line
This item controls whether the top line of the map is displayed or hidden.
Unit Info
This item controls whether the selected unit info at the top of the map is displayed.
Other Maps
This item controls whether outlines of other maps are drawn on the map.

Game Window

The game window shows you the turn number or date of the current turn, as well as any realtime clocks that may be counting down, and a list of all the sides. For each side, you see its name, the emblem for that side, a progress indicator, and icons indicating the side's attitude and whether it is being played by the computer. You may also numbers indicating scores and/or real time remaining.

The progress bar shows how much movement a side has done during the turn. This usually goes down during the turn, but because it indicates a percentage rather than an absolute number of actions, the percentage may go up sometimes. For instance, if some of your units that have already acted are captured, then the percentage goes up because the total number of actions has gone down! A gray bar indicates that the side has finished all movement for this turn. There may also be a gray area below the black area of the bar, which indicates the percentage of units that are asleep or in reserve. Note that a player can always wake up sleeping or reserve units at any time before the end of the turn.

List Windows

A unit list window just lists all the units, one line each. This is useful for getting a more organized look at your assets. A unit listing shows the icon for the unit, its name and type, action points, hit points, supply, etc.

You can create more than one list window.

If you select a unit in the list and then choose Find Selected from the the Find menu, then a (randomly selected) map will be scrolled over to that unit.

List view controls typically either affect what will be listed, or the sorting of the list. There is also an item to control the size of the unit icons.

by Type
List the units by type, in the order that the types are defined by the game module.
by Name
List the units in alphabetical order by name.
by Side
List the units by side.
by Acting Order
[should delete?]
by Location
[not implemented yet]
with Transport
[not implemented yet]
with Commanders
[not implemented yet]
Larger Icons
This item controls the use of larger (32x32) or smaller (16x16) icons for displaying units graphically.

Unit Closeup Windows

For any unit, you can create a closeup window. This window supplies full details on the unit. The info in the window is in a format shared by several interfaces: see the "Unit Info" section of the generic play manual for more explanation of what each of them means.

Construction Window

You use the construction window to control the construction of new units. The window comes in two parts; the left side is a list of all the units that can do construction, while the right side is a list of all the types that can be constructed. You select a unit on the left and a type on the right, then click on "Construct" to add a build task to the unit's task agenda.

Each unit on the left side is preceded by an estimated number of turns to complete the type of unit that has been selected, or -- if the unit cannot build that type. If the unit already has a build task, that is mentioned after the unit's identification, and includes the number of units to build as well as the status of the one currently under construction.

Each type on the right side is preceded by an estimated number of turns for the selected unit to complete one, or -- if the selected unit cannot build that type. If the type has a tech level prerequisite for construction, that will also be listed, with the syntax [T n1/n2/n3], where the numbers indicate current tech level, level to build, and max level. Following the type is a count of how many completed units of that type exist, with the number of incomplete types in parentheses. You can type a single character to select a type; typically the first letter of its name, otherwise use the single character in parentheses immediately following the type name

At the top of the window is the button "Construct" that sets up build tasks, and next to it a button "Research", for when you wish to add to the tech level without building any actual units (such as when you're using several units to accelerate some unit's construction program). Note that a build task will automatically do research if necessary before construction can begin. The top also includes a small text window where you can set the number of types to build.

Notices Window

The notices window tells you about what is happening at the moment. Look at this to see what is currently going on.

For information about what happened in past turns, you can scroll back in the notices window, or you can look at the history window.

History Window

The history window is a comprehensive record of what has happened in the game, from the first turn on.

Scores Window

The scores window lists your win/loss record.

Instructions Window

The instructions window is the basic info about what game you're playing and what you're supposed to do. Many game designs have few or no instructions. There is a Help button that just brings up the help window, for convenience.

Help Window

Xconq's help information is organized into a list of topics. When you first open the help window, you will see the list, and a row of buttons. To look at a specific topic, just click on it.

The "Topics" button goes straight to the list of topics, while the "help" button shows you the topic describing the help system itself. "Prev" and "Next" buttons take you through the topics in order, while "Back" goes to the last topic you looked at.

Keyboard Commands

Mac Xconq understands all the single-character and long-name commands that are defined for Xconq in general.


The Preferences dialog includes several screens of options you can set, the specific screen being chosen from the popup at the top of the dialog.

The File screen gives you some options relating to files.

Checkpoint File
You can choose to have a game saved every few turns. This is useful if you want to be sure that a game is not lost due to a fatal error, such as running out of memory because you're on a small machine.
Write Game Statistics File
You can choose to have Xconq write out a statistics file that shows a summary of each sides' units' fates, average combat outcomes, and possibly other interesting information about how the game went.

The Map Display screen allows you to personalize your map windows.

These items set the default values for the View menu's display controls.
Prefer Color Unit Images
Xconq can support both full-color unit images and silhouettes based on black-and-white images. Full color is of course more colorful, but silhouettes are more efficient in complex games. Many games have images in only one style or the other, so your choice may not have much effect in a specific game.
Prefer Solid Color Terrain
As with unit images, you can have your terrain displayed as areas of single solid color, or as patterned areas. Again, solid color is not as attractive, but it reduces the "noise level" in a complex map display.
Show Latitude/Longitude
This option controls the display of latitude and longitude meridians. This is mainly useful for game designers building maps based on the real world.

The Font screen gives you control over the size and appearance of the text used in various windows.

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