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Old 12-02-2013, 10:38 AM   #1
Pex
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Default Warlock – Master of the Arcane (and how I got Steam account)

Just before the Christmas I saw this game in the shop and it was quite cheap. I heard someone on this forum speaking highly of it and comparing it to good old Master of Magic, so I decided to buy it.

First interesting thing that happened was when I put the DVD in the drive and installation started – it wasn't for the game, but for Steam. I have to admit that this was quite cheeky, but since I knew what Steam is all about (again from this forum) I accepted to install it. Next interesting thing was that it turned out I didn't need DVD anymore to install the game – all I needed was activation code and Steam downloaded it and installed it.

About the game, it is very similar to Master of Magic, with some differences, of course. Those are sometimes improvement to MoM, sometimes make this game worse than MoM and sometime just different, neither better nor worse. For those of you who haven't played the game (and/or MoM as well), it is a turn-based hex-grid managerial strategy in a fantasy world. You chose a Great Mage to represent you and although there are quite a few to choose, your choice will influence only starting race, starting spells, potentially relationship with one of different deities and give you some perks that increase either your starting gold, food or mana or turn by turn generation of the same. Like MoM, you can generate your own Mage, spending available points on different perks, spells and benefits.

However, you don't play directly with your Mage (same as MoM), but instead you recruit troops in your cities. Different buildings allow you to recruit different type of troops. Certain buildings can only be built on a hex that has some feature on it, which should guide you when founding new cities. Oh yeah, you can either expand by conquest or founding cities, though most of the time you'd have to do both.

I'll address certain features of the game in the next paragraphs and compare to MoM where applicable.

Graphics – modern, 3D, nice effects, well, I'm a sucker for fancy graphics so this is definitely a bonus for me. But it would be unfair to compare it to MoM considering the years when two were published.

Sound – very good. I don't get bored of it. With many games I sooner or later turn the sound off, but with this one the thought never occurred to me. Again, I won't compare to MoM

Difficulty (AI) – this is a tricky one. I don't think they did a good balance. For example, first game ever I played (obviously just learning how to play), I won easily, by destroying other Great Mages, because they were quite useless. By fortune, I was the only mage on one continent and when the others decided to invade me, I destroyed all their elite troops when they were on the see in these week transports (transport ship has max 12 hit points, while elite unit can have like 50), using only cheap archers. Although this is realistic (units should be vulnerable on transport), AI was useless, sending small wave after small wave, instead of one big. Then I played another game on the same difficulty level, and although I was doing well against other Mages, computer "randomly" spawned 4 Ogres (tough monsters) near my capital, so I had to abandon offensive in order to defend my Capital. Ok, this is no AI, but spawning shouldn't be that random. MoM was much better – one you master it, you had to move to next difficulty level to get some challenge.

Battles – unlike MoM, there is no separate screen for the battles and for an obvious reason. In W-MoA you can't stack units. Each unit takes one hex on the map and battles are fought on the map. While in case of battles, this is not such a bad concept, it makes difficulties when moving units – they have to travel like a 'train' and often get stuck in bottlenecks. Another thing I don't like is that attack ends your movement and that you have to have some movement left in order to attack. While this makes some sense for melee units, it's totally ridiculous for missile troops. This means that you can't shoot and then move away (opening hex for another unit to come and shoot or just getting out of range of the enemy).

Races – unlike MoM, there are only three races here – human, undead and beasts. Although I admit that I never used all of available races in MoM, some more variety would be nice. Like with MoM, your starting race dictates only your capital city, but as soon as you conquer cities of other races, you can make their settlers and expand with their cities. As I mentioned before, on some hexes you can build special buildings, so no matter what the race of the city is, you can end up being able to recruit elves or dwarves or minotaurs.

Building – unlike MoM, you don't just build buildings and they appear on the mini city view. You build them on surrounding hexes. Depending on your city size (which increases by turn) the number of hexes available to you increases as well. However, you can't just build, build, build, like in MoM. You need to meet some population prerequisite, which I didn't quite figure out. It's just that from time to time you get option to build in particular city. This makes building painfully slow. Add to this the fact that you often have to build money, mana and food generating structures to support your troops and in a small and medium size game you are likely to win even before you reach some high level structures and the best units available. MoM was much better in this regard.

Troops – they vary, but generally they are melee or ranged units. Starting troops are not very tough, not even when they gain levels. This is very disappointing sometimes, since you will loose your 5th level archers to a single spell from the enemy mage as easily as brand new ones. Of course, elite troops are again tougher on low levels as well.

Heroes – like with MoM, the best of your troops are heroes. You get them either by them offering their services to you or releasing them from a monster lair. So far, I haven't come upon hero summoning spell. They are fairly tough, especially after getting a few levels and are a key to the victory. You can have only four heroes, though so choose carefully. Saying that, I always take first four anyway You can give them up to three magic items, depending on the slots they have (weapon, ranged weapon, armour, talisman), which help.

Spells – considering that the battles are on the main map, all spells can be cast on the main map as well. Each spell has casting time, so depending on it you can cast certain number of spells per turn. In some case you need more than one turn. Similarly to MoM, spells are divided to direct damage, healing, augments (cast on your units), curses (cast on enemy units), summoning spells, land altering spells and city spells. And various dispel spells, of course. There is fair bit of them, but similarly to MoM, you end up using only some depending on personal preference. Research system is done so that you get offer of 5 spells at the beginning and one you choose gets replaced by new one at the next choosing. I couldn't find connection between spells you are offered and your character, playing style or anything. Time of research depends on your research points which increase when you build different buildings (like libraries for example). Unlike MoM, there are no different schools of magic, but to cast some spells, you need reputation points with a deity.

Deities – there is 8 of them (I think) and depending on your reputation with them, you can get some perks or they can declare a war on you. As it is, gaining reputation with one deity means losing it with another. You get reputation by doing quests for them, or selecting Great Mage with favour of certain deity.

Quests – nice touch, although some are so dumb it's not funny. But easy money

Worlds – MoM had two words, this game can have up to 8 parallel worlds. In the few games I won so far, I had no need to travel to any except for the one I started in. All other Great Mages had their capitals on that world and others have too tough monsters to be worthwhile getting limited benefits it offered.

That's about it. I'm sure I missed to comment on different aspects of the game. I'm also sure people will agree and disagree with me on different points. All in all a good game, but similarly to MoM and some other games, it's very interesting to start and explore the world, but then you reach a point when you know you can win it and in my case that's a turn off to keep playing, since it becomes manual work (conquer this city, then move on, etc), rather than fun and discovery.
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Old 17-02-2013, 06:15 PM   #2
yoga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pex View Post
Just before the Christmas I saw this game in the shop and it was quite cheap. I heard someone on this forum speaking highly of it and comparing it to good old Master of Magic, so I decided to buy it.

First interesting thing that happened was when I put the DVD in the drive and installation started – it wasn't for the game, but for Steam. I have to admit that this was quite cheeky, but since I knew what Steam is all about (again from this forum) I accepted to install it. Next interesting thing was that it turned out I didn't need DVD anymore to install the game – all I needed was activation code and Steam downloaded it and installed it.

About the game, it is very similar to Master of Magic, with some differences, of course. Those are sometimes improvement to MoM, sometimes make this game worse than MoM and sometime just different, neither better nor worse. For those of you who haven't played the game (and/or MoM as well), it is a turn-based hex-grid managerial strategy in a fantasy world. You chose a Great Mage to represent you and although there are quite a few to choose, your choice will influence only starting race, starting spells, potentially relationship with one of different deities and give you some perks that increase either your starting gold, food or mana or turn by turn generation of the same. Like MoM, you can generate your own Mage, spending available points on different perks, spells and benefits.

However, you don't play directly with your Mage (same as MoM), but instead you recruit troops in your cities. Different buildings allow you to recruit different type of troops. Certain buildings can only be built on a hex that has some feature on it, which should guide you when founding new cities. Oh yeah, you can either expand by conquest or founding cities, though most of the time you'd have to do both.

I'll address certain features of the game in the next paragraphs and compare to MoM where applicable.

Graphics – modern, 3D, nice effects, well, I'm a sucker for fancy graphics so this is definitely a bonus for me. But it would be unfair to compare it to MoM considering the years when two were published.

Sound – very good. I don't get bored of it. With many games I sooner or later turn the sound off, but with this one the thought never occurred to me. Again, I won't compare to MoM

Difficulty (AI) – this is a tricky one. I don't think they did a good balance. For example, first game ever I played (obviously just learning how to play), I won easily, by destroying other Great Mages, because they were quite useless. By fortune, I was the only mage on one continent and when the others decided to invade me, I destroyed all their elite troops when they were on the see in these week transports (transport ship has max 12 hit points, while elite unit can have like 50), using only cheap archers. Although this is realistic (units should be vulnerable on transport), AI was useless, sending small wave after small wave, instead of one big. Then I played another game on the same difficulty level, and although I was doing well against other Mages, computer "randomly" spawned 4 Ogres (tough monsters) near my capital, so I had to abandon offensive in order to defend my Capital. Ok, this is no AI, but spawning shouldn't be that random. MoM was much better – one you master it, you had to move to next difficulty level to get some challenge.

Battles – unlike MoM, there is no separate screen for the battles and for an obvious reason. In W-MoA you can't stack units. Each unit takes one hex on the map and battles are fought on the map. While in case of battles, this is not such a bad concept, it makes difficulties when moving units – they have to travel like a 'train' and often get stuck in bottlenecks. Another thing I don't like is that attack ends your movement and that you have to have some movement left in order to attack. While this makes some sense for melee units, it's totally ridiculous for missile troops. This means that you can't shoot and then move away (opening hex for another unit to come and shoot or just getting out of range of the enemy).

Races – unlike MoM, there are only three races here – human, undead and beasts. Although I admit that I never used all of available races in MoM, some more variety would be nice. Like with MoM, your starting race dictates only your capital city, but as soon as you conquer cities of other races, you can make their settlers and expand with their cities. As I mentioned before, on some hexes you can build special buildings, so no matter what the race of the city is, you can end up being able to recruit elves or dwarves or minotaurs.

Building – unlike MoM, you don't just build buildings and they appear on the mini city view. You build them on surrounding hexes. Depending on your city size (which increases by turn) the number of hexes available to you increases as well. However, you can't just build, build, build, like in MoM. You need to meet some population prerequisite, which I didn't quite figure out. It's just that from time to time you get option to build in particular city. This makes building painfully slow. Add to this the fact that you often have to build money, mana and food generating structures to support your troops and in a small and medium size game you are likely to win even before you reach some high level structures and the best units available. MoM was much better in this regard.

Troops – they vary, but generally they are melee or ranged units. Starting troops are not very tough, not even when they gain levels. This is very disappointing sometimes, since you will loose your 5th level archers to a single spell from the enemy mage as easily as brand new ones. Of course, elite troops are again tougher on low levels as well.

Heroes – like with MoM, the best of your troops are heroes. You get them either by them offering their services to you or releasing them from a monster lair. So far, I haven't come upon hero summoning spell. They are fairly tough, especially after getting a few levels and are a key to the victory. You can have only four heroes, though so choose carefully. Saying that, I always take first four anyway You can give them up to three magic items, depending on the slots they have (weapon, ranged weapon, armour, talisman), which help.

Spells – considering that the battles are on the main map, all spells can be cast on the main map as well. Each spell has casting time, so depending on it you can cast certain number of spells per turn. In some case you need more than one turn. Similarly to MoM, spells are divided to direct damage, healing, augments (cast on your units), curses (cast on enemy units), summoning spells, land altering spells and city spells. And various dispel spells, of course. There is fair bit of them, but similarly to MoM, you end up using only some depending on personal preference. Research system is done so that you get offer of 5 spells at the beginning and one you choose gets replaced by new one at the next choosing. I couldn't find connection between spells you are offered and your character, playing style or anything. Time of research depends on your research points which increase when you build different buildings (like libraries for example). Unlike MoM, there are no different schools of magic, but to cast some spells, you need reputation points with a deity.

Deities – there is 8 of them (I think) and depending on your reputation with them, you can get some perks or they can declare a war on you. As it is, gaining reputation with one deity means losing it with another. You get reputation by doing quests for them, or selecting Great Mage with favour of certain deity.

Quests – nice touch, although some are so dumb it's not funny. But easy money

Worlds – MoM had two words, this game can have up to 8 parallel worlds. In the few games I won so far, I had no need to travel to any except for the one I started in. All other Great Mages had their capitals on that world and others have too tough monsters to be worthwhile getting limited benefits it offered.

That's about it. I'm sure I missed to comment on different aspects of the game. I'm also sure people will agree and disagree with me on different points. All in all a good game, but similarly to MoM and some other games, it's very interesting to start and explore the world, but then you reach a point when you know you can win it and in my case that's a turn off to keep playing, since it becomes manual work (conquer this city, then move on, etc), rather than fun and discovery.

I played the game and want to say:
Very nice game.
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