War (Of Magic) Is Over: Fallen Enchantress

By Adam Smith on April 10th, 2012 at 2:30 pm.

War bears were always one of my first summons in Master of Magic. Can cave bears be tamed and made warlike?

I only played Elemental: War of Magic around a week after it was released so I’m not going to comment on how patches have or haven’t improved the game, but the release of Fallen Enchantress, the standalone sequel/apology is certainly something that interests me. A great deal actually. Along with Warlock: Master of the Arcane, there are now two delightful fantastical beauties vying for my strategic attentions, their turn-based ruminations inspiring powerful ponderlust. If you bought War of Magic in 2010 you can download the beta of Fallen Enchantress now and will receive the final release for free. Waited ’til 2011 to buy War of Magic? You may still be eligible for a discount. Check here and if you’ve forgotten your login details, the email address you registered with should retrieve what’s needed.

With the assistance of the brains behind Civ IV supermod Fall From Heaven II, Stardock have sought to address complaints, expand everything that’s capable of expanding and deliver the successor to Master of Magic that I’ve been waiting for since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

The beta is available to anyone preordering, whether you were involved in the war on the War of Magic or not, and initial reports suggest that, as is expected in a prerelease release, there are issues to be ironed out. However, I also hear large portions of the internet giggling in an excited fashion and hope to join them in doing so. Regular updates are being rolled out and I believe the third is due on the 12th. Maybe that’ll be the cue for me to bury myself in the game for a day or two and return here with thoughts.

Factions have more individuality now and that variety carries through to magic, weapons and monsters as well. Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of the game appears to be the sheer amount of stuff thrown into the world and while that may lead to difficulties in accessibility and/or balance, it should boost the sense of discovery that can be such a powerful driving force. Scroll down to page 111 of the Master of Magic manual to see the appendices, then marvel at the quantity of everything that the game contained. Also marvel at the fact that 100+ page manuals used to be a thing that existed. I read that one on the way home from buying the game, a bus journey that seemed to take hours, every page I turned filled with fuel for my burning anticipation.

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41 Comments »

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  1. Wolfman says:

    I still have Master Of Magic knocking around in a box somewhere at home. All 7 of its 3.5 inch floppy disks.

    Such a great game. I was so happy with Elemental being announced, and then the reviews went up and I got all sad again.

    I’m getting happy again reading more about Fallen Enchantress. But can anything live up to MoM?

    • mmalove says:

      I have the same sentiment. Sometimes our nostalgia gets the better of us, but I’ll stand by MoM as an absolutely fantastic gem of the 90s, the kind of game that made us wonder how much more amazing games would be in ten years, and then stare in disdainful disappointment at the rubbish that was graphically 10 times better, but contained half of the actual gameplay/depth. The end result, to many old time games, is not 5 times better.

      Obligatory link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Magic

      I will be very interested to read some reviews of the game here, especially if those reviewers have played the spiritual predecessor and can announce whether, at long last, we have a title worthy to be the heir of MoM.

    • mckertis says:

      “But can anything live up to MoM?”

      You’re talking about a game that was specifically called by Brad himself as “not-MOM”. So what do you expect ?

      • Azoreo says:

        Stardock was trying to buy the Master of Magic license. I think many people, even Brad, saw Elemental as being a spiritual successor to MoM – even if he said otherwise.

    • axiin says:

      MoM is what started my gaming addiction. I walked around with the manual in my backpack in school and would read it when ever I had the chance…

      I’ve heard that heroine addicts spend the rest of their lives trying to relive that first high… I’ve spent my life trying to relive the first high I got off of MoM. It was such a fantastic game.

  2. Khemm says:

    I was THIS close to buying Elemental on release, but all the negativity surrounding it scared me away.
    I really hope they’ll get everything right this time.

    • Gnoupi says:

      From what I tried, it’s really closer to what it should have been at release, so far. They fixed most technical issues which I had in the previous game, and it feels more coherent in general, less like the “patchwork of a thousand ideas ending being quite bland” that the original was.

  3. Artist says:

    Elemental was a new definition of epic fail. Impressive, when you imagine that they had a 1000-year-long beta running to address problems. Hubris? Not sure, but at least I dont pay a dime for somebody who promises to fix it all and instead makes a stand-alone spin-off.
    Making a new game is not exactly the answer to fixing a broken game. Or can it be?

  4. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I had enough points saved up from before they moved to Impulse so that when they released Elemental, I was able to pick up the Collector’s Edition for basically nothing (they had gifted me loads of points for some obscure reason).
    Fortunately, this means I get this expansion for free! Whoop whoop!
    Actually, having just logged in to my Stardock account, it would appear I’m entitled to some Demigod freebies too. Inneressin.

  5. abremms says:

    I played War of Magic at release and off and on through the various patches. The Fallen Enchantress beta as it stands right now, is what War of Magic should have been at release. They are also taking some big steps to improve the game, making each faction unique and making magic better. I know its hard to get your hopes up after WoM dashed them so thuroughly upon the rocks of dissapointment, but Fallen Enchantress is really, really good.

    Plus, Stardock seems to be taking a very “Blizzard” approach to it, its not done until its done. They are taking thier time, getting a lot of feedback from the beta and it shows.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well after the awful borderline broken releases of both Elemental and Demigod I’d say it’s about time they started fine tuning their stuff *before* releasing it. Certainly all the flak Bradwell took at release must of left an impression.

      Elemental was a big disapointment for me because I could see how good it could of been. Heres hoping this lives up to its own potential.

  6. Goncyn says:

    I tried an earlier pre-release version of Fallen Enchantress, and it seemed to still be the same game as the original Elemental. I didn’t see any vast overhauls or substantial game system changes. Maybe more has changed since then, but I still have my doubts that they will release a game worth playing this time.

    • abremms says:

      Beta 1 was basicaly just War Of Magic as it was intended to be. no real big changes, just a focus on stability and bug smashing. Beta 2, which it is in how, has seen a lot of changes to magic and the battles. Beta 3 coming up is going to work on making each faction more unique.

      Its a beta, so it is going to be a process. Probably a long one. I wouldn’t expect a release before christmas.

  7. Godsmith says:

    …two delightful fantastical beauties vying for my strategic attentions, their turn-based ruminations inspiring powerful ponderlust

    Aww, isn’t he just wonderful?

  8. Wahngrok says:

    Fallen Enchantrss will be much ore polished than War of Magic. It seems that going for a digital distribution only is very helpful since there are no deadlines now that Stardock has to meet.

  9. Craig Stern says:

    Ha! “Ponderlust.” I like it.

  10. mentor07825 says:

    I read that a guy played the original after all the patches and it was still not the best. I have the first one and I just felt very disappointed in the game as well. After the release of that and Demigod I stopped purchasing from Stardock.

    • lunarplasma says:

      I am one of those who played War of Magic after many many patches. It didn’t do it for me. Shame, really –
      I was hoping it would be the next Master of Magic or Age of Wonders.

      • mentor07825 says:

        Same. I then went out and bought Master of Magic and I found it to be a far better game, not including the price tag in comparison to them.

        Downloading the beta now though. Brad Wardell does have good ideas in his games. The thing is though, you’re only as good as your last game.

        • C2Woodson says:

          It’s definitely worth giving FE a chance. I played WoM for a week on its buggy release and did not touch it again. Last weekend, I downloaded the latest patch and was still very disappointed – the game remains un-fun in a meaningful way.

          Discouraged, I decided to download FE, because 1) it was free and 2) GalCiv remains one of the best games I’ve ever played. It hooked me for 12+ hours over the weekend. It’s the game WoM should have been – fun, intuitive, deep, and a very worthy successor to MoM (a game I’ve played for 100s of hours). The fact that it’s this fun in Beta 2 makes me tingly. I don’t know why it remained impossible to fix WoM, but try FE for an hour and thank me later.

          • mckertis says:

            “GalCiv remains one of the best games I’ve ever played.”

            I lost you there.

          • bfandreas says:

            Oh GalCiv! What have you done to me?
            Last weekend I caved in and bought MOO2 from Good O’Games since my original disk seems to be beyond redemption. I hadn’t played MOO2 for 10 years. I started it up and after a couple of turns I thought “This is all wrong”.
            I ACTUALLY prefer the GalCiv games to MOO2. All those years I had thought it was the other way round.

            UNLEASH THE ANTARIANS!

  11. Richie Shoemaker says:

    I was too far deep into the much shallower Lords of Chaos to really notice the existence of Master of Magic, although I do have a vague memory of scanning the back of the box and dismissing it as a fantasy take on Civ (which I didn’t think much of), rather than the more obvious Master of Orion (which I adored). Shame on me, although I’ve since learned to love MoM via the magic of GoG.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      I haven’t thought about Lords of Chaos in years, and it was one of the defining games of my childhood. I still the remember the voice on the title screen dreadfully announcing “LORDS Of chaos”. And I still have the odd nightmare about Gooey Blobs

  12. Belsameth says:

    Ardania lost *all* apeal after the first Majesty (which I still regularly play)
    it’s a reall shame how they screwed up the entire concept with Majesty 2 and, later, that awfull TD game…

  13. Laurentius says:

    For me Elemental was killed by some idiotic (beside bugs) concept that defies all my civilization-4x-strategic nature. You don’t grow your cities and trying to achieve thriving civilization in fantasy settings (like MoM), nope you build some cities only to grab some resources and only grow them to maximize income of this given resource, because growing unspecialized cities generates costs etc, I don’t care if this is realistic or no, I can’t get my head around this idea. I want all my cities to grow, when playing Civ or MoM, or Alpha Centauri I’m conquering some computer shitty located small city I still develop it and I care about it, that’s how I roll.

    • gritz says:

      City specialization is a huge component of Civ games, and Infinite City Spam (ICS) is considered one of the biggest design flaws plaguing certain entries in the series.

      • Yglorba says:

        But it’s possible to do it in a way that doesn’t feel so hamhanded. I like making decisions as my city grows, but I don’t like feeling like every decision I make permanently cuts off other options — that always gives me a sort of queasy feeling in my stomach, like I’m weakening myself with every choice I make.

        MoM, I thought, had a nice balance.

  14. Owen Magnetic says:

    I think there’s going to be an updated beta available at the end of this week, so what you download today may not resemble what you’ll be able to download tomorrow.

    I played the game at launch and I played some of the recent betas and the fundamental issue confronting the game has not been addressed: it’s still really bland. The new beta this week is supposed to deliver the greater faction individuality that Adam talks about in the article. I’m holding out hope.

    • Zenicetus says:

      That’s what keeps me from getting too interested, at least until the game gets closer to release. This series has always seemed like a ton of mechanics sitting on top of a not-very-interesting fantasy world background. Mostly due to Brad’s writing style (or lack of it). Really great mechanics can trump a boring or silly world design, but I can’t tell yet if it’s crossed that threshold.

  15. Utgaardsloke says:

    Sod this. Where are my Kickstarter for Master of Magic II???

  16. MythArcana says:

    Don’t forget Masters Of The Broken World which will probably be better than both games mentioned here. Sadly, all of Stardock’s eggs seems to be in this expansion basket and if it tumbles, it will more than likely be the end of that company. If they miraculously break even on the project, I hope they jump to GalCiv3 like they should have in the first place.

    For me, the really unfortunate part still lingers apparently; the art direction.

    • mckertis says:

      It wont. That one is very much Dominions lite. Eador is a very addicting game, i’ll give them that, but at the same time – deeply, deeply flawed and unbalanced. Still playing it, though…i must hate myself.

  17. Bhazor says:

    She’s a fallen enchantress
    And she does evil dances
    And if you look into her eyes, she’ll but you in trances
    Then what’ll she do? She’ll mix up an evil brew
    Then she’ll gobble you up in a big tasty stew
    Sooo
    Watch out!

    • Montoli says:

      You’ll be happy to know that I have scientifically determined that this is the best comment.

  18. lunarplasma says:

    So what’s changed, then? What makes this better than War of Magic?

  19. Gandaug says:

    I bought Demigod and lost interest very quickly. I always figured it was just the genre that didn’t interest me. I never played DoTA or any of the other games that were similar. Now I’ve tried LoL and enjoy it enough that I now know Demigod was just a very bad game.

    I love MoM. It stands as one of my all time greatest games ever. I still play it on occasion. Just talking about it a little now makes me want to play it again. I bought all the marketing hype of “spiritual successor to MoM” that WoM had going on. Stardock purposely triggered those nostalgia switches. I didn’t buy WoM right away because I didn’t have the money. I did buy it though and got burned very badly. A very bad game from Stardock again.

    So now Stardock wants to offer me a $10USD discount on FE if I pre-order. With the shtick of “it’s really good now” and “we got it right this time”. No thanks. I’ve been your fool two times now, Stardock. It won’t happen again. Wardell is turning into another Molyneux. Huge ideas and promises the world but doesn’t deliver.

  20. benkc says:

    “Also marvel at the fact that 100+ page manuals used to be a thing that existed.”

    Not just a 100-page manual, but a similarly sized spellbook, too. I remember picking up the box off the store shelves, and being impressed by its weight.

  21. ShadowTiger says:

    There is a third game in this genre coming out, call Masters of the Broken World. It is a remake/sequel of an indie game that came out a few years ago. Check out their facebook for more info:
    http://www.facebook.com/MastersOfTheBrokenWorld

    Also, I’m a big fan of Master of Magic, the Prima Strategy Guide for that is AMAZING. Its fun to read even if you are never going to play the game.

    And finally, if anyone is considering FE, I have been reading the forums frequently since Elemental: War of Magic came out. I strongly believe that this new game will be worth your money. While, people say that the beta version is fun to play, I suggest waiting a few months to pre-order if you want beta access. A beta is for testing and giving feedback, its not “early access.”