Warlock Demo Allows Assessment Of The Arcane

By Adam Smith on April 27th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

I do not know why one settlement is more pungent than the rest. A wizard probably did it.
On the cold floor, a summoning circle has been drawn and, around it, several Paradox employees sway, their forms disguised by wizard’s robes. A susurration builds to a roar, like the scratching of the pebbles at Dover Beach, the air trembles, twisting into new intangible forms, and then a demo version of Warlock: Master of the Arcane appears. Unnatural, I know, but it’s just the way things are done in that neck of the woods. Bet you didn’t know that Crusader Kings II was actually built by a blacksmith, hammering away in his forge? Fact. The Warlock demo can be found on Steam and it includes the tutorial, a preset map, two enemy mages and one to play as. The full game allows customisation of both mages and maps. My thoughts on the beta are here and we’ll have more on the game as the May 8th launch approaches.

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94 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I’m still very much impressed by how they can get away with so much “inspiration” taken from Civ V.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Fortunately, the demo doesn’t seem to suck like Civ 5. Looking forward to this game.

    • NathanH says:

      I think there is enough ‘inspiration’ from Master of Magic for the Civ 5 ‘inspiration’ to be getawayable…

      • b0rsuk says:

        Unfortunately, people are likely to not care. Many of them haven’t played Master of Magic so it’s a Civ 5 clone to them.

        • mniuo1987 says:

          The MINI the Clip MP3 Player,! This price is enough to make you crazy? http://url.tj/b9g

        • Questionable says:

          I finally registered here so that I could – as per Internet S.O.P. – tell you that you are wrong.

          As a card-carrying member of the majoity I can tell you that we have spent 5 minutes viewing a Civ 5 trailer on youtube to be weighed against hundreds of hours of MoM. If this doesn’t run on Wine then I’ll go so far as to buy a Windows license. Majority. That’s me.

          • Premium User Badge

            lurkalisk says:

            “If this doesn’t run on Wine then I’ll go so far as to buy a Windows license. Majority. That’s me.”

            … Eh… Oh! I see what you did there.

    • frightlever says:

      Civ 5 looks like Fantasy Wars, which was released a couple of years earlier. But gosh, who made Fantasy Wars?

      This was raked over on quartertothree.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Then again, the same company made Majesty 2, and internet people have been tearing that apart too.

        After having played the demo, I’m fairly optimistic though.

        • BadgerAttackSquad says:

          I can confirm that Majesty 2 sucks. I’ve heard some people say it’s decent. None of those people have played the first game. I LOVED the original Majesty. Majesty 2 keeps the general style of play while removing many of the things I loved from the original and improves nothing but the graphics.

      • b0rsuk says:

        I’ll explain the internet logic to you:

        Civ 5 is more popular than Fantasy Wars, therefore Fantasy Wars is a ripoff of Civ 5.

        Warcraft is more popular than Warhammer, therefore Warhammer is a Warcraft ripoff.

        Starcraft is more popular than Warhammer 40000, therefore Warhammer 40000 is a Starcraft ripoff.

      • Pathetic Phallacy says:

        and every hex-based video game is a ripoff of tabletop war games.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Art is made out of the pieces of other art. That is how it works. All I care about is people doing things right. Frankly I think there isn’t much harm in people trying to improve on tested but flawed forms (Civ 5). You don’t want a million clones obviously, but there isn’t really a lot of competition in Civ’s space and I think that is one of the reason they can get away with releasing such unpolished products.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Good think I quite like Civ V, then!

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Me too. I was not implying that taking inspiration is a bad thing, and I still quite like the most obvious offence here – one can’t avoid noticing how very, very similar they styled the UI. And I do really like that design.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

          • Apolloin says:

            Or, as we used to say in the Design Department, if you’re going to steal then steal from the best.

    • Zeus says:

      Warlock is inspired by Civilization V in the same way the new Marilyn Monroe movie was inspired by Lindsay Lohan.

  2. MythArcana says:

    So, this game is Steam-exclusive then? Well, there went that whole wet dream down the toilet. It states on the pre-order page at GamersGate that the DRM is Steamworks…so then why would anyone else other than Steam members buy it? Holy shit on the marketing of this product…

    • ScubaMonster says:

      U mad bro?

    • Vinraith says:

      What? Son of a bitch, and it looked like such an interesting title too.

      Well, that makes it a $5 bargain bin purchase at best. There’s no sense paying for a service what I would have paid for a product, after all. At least they saved me some money.

    • Brun says:

      Yes, it’s so astonishing that a company that relies on digital distribution for a significant portion of its revenue would opt to exclude it from the digital distribution service with the deepest market penetration. Truly, truly astounding.

      • MythArcana says:

        Tell me, why would one purchase this on GamersGate if it requires Steamworks? What is truly astonishing is your pie chart mentality.

        • Vinraith says:

          Because GG frequently sells Steamworks games at cheaper prices than Steam.

        • Brun says:

          I think Paradox’s rationale is that they’re trying to put it on as many services as possible, to increase exposure if nothing else. Depending on how much GamersGate charges in fees, etc., it doesn’t strike me as a particularly bewildering move.

          But then, I don’t have a pathological hatred for Steam or Steamworks.

          • HothMonster says:

            They could have it on steam without using the DRM portion of Steamworks. If they are making steam a requirement I imagine they are using it for online play and/or dlc distribution or they just feel the need to have DRM and know steamworks will cause the least amount of hotwater for them.

        • Unaco says:

          Maybe you’ve got some of them Blue Coin things… or it’s a better price on GamersGate… or you prefer to give the money to GamersGate… or you tossed a coin over which of the two services to use. Or, you have an irrational hatred of Valve but really want to play the game.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gundato says:

          Because a lot of us have 10% discounts on GamersGate and get blue coins that let us buy other games for free?

          And honestly, Steam is more than a DD service: it is a DRM model AND a content distribution service. If Warlock supports modding, they might decide to use Steam Workshop. Warlock already has DLC, and Steam provides a good way to distribute that.

          I am sorry if Paradox doesn’t have the same system of beliefs as you (I doubt the employees are sorry though), but you can always choose to not buy the game.

          • ZIGS says:

            I happen to have a lifetime 15% discount of gamersgate (it was a perk of signing up for IGN Prime trial) so being able to buy steamworks games on gamersgate is awesome

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            I don’t get why anyone uses DRM anyway. Steam isn’t good DRM, everything gets cracked quickly.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gundato says:

            15%, 10%, whatever the IGN discount was :p

            Why use DRM?
            The simplest answer: It is a security blanket. It makes the publishers feel better. If anyone else feels better depends upon who is asking, who is answering, and where the question is being asked.

            Is Steam a good DRM?
            For most people, it is a surprisingly good DRM model. It is non-obtrusive (most gamers don’t have too big of an objection to having a chat program open), it sort of works offline (“sort of” being the key modifier :p), provides enough benefits that most gamers don’t mind (especially considering the alternatives), and it actually IS surprisingly effective in that a lot of pirates are wary of Steam cracks since they might very well have some (legal) games they don’t want to risk (if there IS a risk is another question).
            Short answer: It is good because it is the most accepted DRM model available.

          • Stromko says:

            … But nobody has a problem with the statement that a game that won’t be out for several weeks, already has DLC they will want you to buy.

            Sign of the times.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gundato says:

            Actually, it has pre-order DLC (aka “0day” DLC) which is generally frowned upon, but tolerated.

            And, the DLC is just two special units, it seems. So we can at least pretend/assume that that was stuff that was done after the process of going gold.

          • DrCruel says:

            Let’s be fair. If I don’t use STEAM, I’m not choosing to not play a particular game. I’m choosing to not play almost every new game released.

            And yes, that’s apparently the situation in 2012.

            What would be nice is to find an online source that lets me know which new games are free of such DRM, so I can simply ignore the STEAM only games and not have to find out the situation for each and every game individually. Then STEAM users wouldn’t need to bother with my futile, rage filled rants, and I wouldn’t have to be infuriated by yet another STEAM exclusive offering.

        • TotalBiscuit says:

          Because Gamersgate gives you cash-back on every purchase and has numerous other benefits that Steam lacks? Also because Gamersgate has a far more reliable and often faster download service that doesn’t flake out every time there’s a sale on anything.

    • dsch says:

      This anti-Steam thing is so 2009.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Indeed I have no idea what people have against Steam. It is a great service that has done a lot for PC gaming. But the 14-25 set just loves to rage against the machine regardless of whether the machine is good or bad.

        I do not personally know a single person who has had a negative experience with Steam, and the ones I hear about online are frequently people breaking the ToS and then crying about the consequences.

        Mostly I think younger gamers don’t like it because it makes piracy harder and they have little to no income and so rely on piracy.

        its not perfect nothing is, but it is certainly a lot better than 90% of the other large businesses I have to deal with.

        • Brun says:

          Well, I think a lot of it comes from the ownership issue – specifically, if they buy a boxed copy they still have to register it in Steam.

          That said, retail is dying. Thirty years from now you probably won’t even be able to buy boxed copies of games.

          • Vinraith says:

            And that’s a real shame, because you can’t wrap a download and put it under a tree.

          • Brun says:

            You can still gift games through Steam (not sure about other services).

            Video games are hardly the only type of media for which retail is dying. Books, newspapers, movies, music will all be digitally distributed in the future. Broadband internet penetration isn’t quite where it needs to be to complete that transition, which is why retail continues to persist. But rest assured – high-speed internet is the 21st century’s electricity, and it will soon become just as widespread.

          • Vinraith says:

            Gifting something on a digital service is nothing like giving a gift in the traditional sense. There’s no physical object, the gifting party has to have their own account, there’s usually not even any way to have the gift arrive at an appropriate time, as most digital gifting is instant.

            And yes, it’s going to get to the point where you can’t give books or music either, and that’s sad too. Physical objects are a good thing, ephemeral data has a way of disappearing.

        • NathanH says:

          I quite like Steam but there are some things that should have been sorted out by now, such as the troublesome offline mode.

          • Brun says:

            I’ve heard a lot of things about offline mode and indications point to a bug in the way that Windows reports connectivity, which would require a fix from Microsoft and not Steam.

        • PearlChoco says:

          I say kill them in the name.

        • HothMonster says:

          “Mostly I think younger gamers don’t like it because it makes piracy harder and they have little to no income and so rely on piracy.”

          No DRM makes piracy harder. At best it keeps a game unplayable until street date at worst it is a punishment for paying customers.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You clearly haven’t ever spoken to anyone who actually works in the industry. It makes piracy quite a bit harder. That was (and frankly still is) the main point.

          • HothMonster says:

            “You clearly haven’t ever spoken to anyone who actually works in the industry.It makes piracy quite a bit harder. That was (and frankly still is) the main point.”

            I have spoken to 12 year old playing cracked games. They disagree.

            I am aware you can download a crack for any game within a week of release. It takes about 5 minutes. If you think running the crack that is packaged with an iso makes piracy any harder you are deluding yourself.

            Sure some team makes the crack which can be hard but they enjoy it and do it for fun. For everyone else its an extra .exe click or a copy/paste.

            Sure that is the point but it fails horribly and only has any serious negative effect on paying customers.

        • DrCruel says:

          I’m almost 50, always buy my games and am a lifelong game hobbyist. I have very old games that I still play, and intend to continue to play these games. None of them are pirated.

          The issue is one of a continual, unending ownership of intellectual property – not necessarily by the people responsible for that property, but by SOMEBODY. And that someone will never be me – not unless I buy the STEAM company outright from VALVE. Then (of course) I would get to own not only my own games, but those of everyone else who has bought a game with STEAM DRM.

          But like others have said, the debate is long since over. STEAM wins, we lose. Honest players who refuse to buy into STEAM, and who won’t sink to piracy, must content themselves with older titles released before STEAM existed. If we don’t like it, too bad.

          Yes, of course I’m furious. But what difference does that make.

      • DrCruel says:

        Not a STEAM debate. I don’t like STEAM, won’t use STEAM, and don’t intend to change my mind. Meanwhile almost all new computer gamers must have STEAM or some similar “service” running to function. Clearly many gamer like STEAM for the cheap games and automatic patches, enough so that those who refuse to buy into STEAM’s intrusiveness are apparently not worthy of concern.

        There’s nothing to debate, STEAM has won the Internets and has taken over my hobby whether I like it or not.

        Clearly it’s unfortunate for me, and anyone else who refuses to give up their ownership rights to STEAM. I won’t buy this game so long as a STEAM client is necessary for it to work, so I and anyone else with a similar attitude is screwed out of buying and playing what looks like a great game.

        Too bad for us. End of discussion.

    • caddyB says:

      Not the Steam debate again.

      • halcyonforever says:

        I’m curious though. RPS tends to rain on any game with some sort of DRM, but doesn’t seem to mind the DRM provided by Steam.

        I will say as a consumer I really have come to appreciate Steam. The idea of box ownership has very little appeal to me, I haven’t traded a game in 15 years, I have stacks of game disks and cd-keys that are just collecting dust and scratches where my Steam games are ready to play in short order. Heck, I’ve re-bought most of my games on Steam, or converted by Blizzard disks to their online system. The last physical box I got was the Orange box, which is entirely steam based anyway.

        • Brun says:

          I’m curious though. RPS tends to rain on any game with some sort of DRM, but doesn’t seem to mind the DRM provided by Steam.

          Out of all the options out there (save the no-DRM solution offered by GOG, which isn’t available for all games), it’s really the least obtrusive and most reliable one for the vast majority of users.

          • figvam says:

            It’s still DRM though. If your Steam account gets disabled for whatever reason, your entire library of bought games is unusable.

        • Eskatos says:

          The reason I have nothing against Steam is that the additional services provided outweight the negative impact of always-on DRM in my eyes. Of course I’ve never had trouble with offline mode when I needed it but I completely understand if other people dislike Steam because it doesn’t work for them.

        • Apolloin says:

          I’ve moved country three times in the last five years. Of my once-massive physical collection of games barely two narrow shelves of boxes remain and half of those are out of action due to the loss of CD keys or scratches on disks – my entire 132 game Steam Library has moved seamlessly with me and every single game is still ready and eager to be downloaded and played at my whim.

          Yeah. Steam sucks.

    • wuwul says:

      Pretty sure it will be on thepiratebay.se too.

    • nimrod123 says:

      paradox releases so many patches for most games they have decided that they need a uniform distribution service to help with the tech support.

      if i had to chose between having steam and no patches/ EA level support, or having steam and getting the support paradox always gives. iw ill chose steam ever time

  3. mckertis says:

    I’ve watched a cooky guy play the game, and….maybe its the interface, but it seemed a bit…shallow ?

    • NathanH says:

      It’s not the deepest game in the world but there’s plenty of stuff going on all over the place right from the first turn, so from the little I’ve played it’s hard to get bored. One interesting feature is that you’re only allowd one building per city size point, so the build order for cities and the role of each city is probably more interesting than many 4X games.

  4. dmastri says:

    Is there multiplayer???

    • MozzerV12 says:

      Not on release but apparently but they are going to patch it in at some point.

    • Oak says:

      They’re looking to add Pitboss sometime this summer.

  5. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Demo won’t run for me. Probably my end. I’ll look into it.
    Anyone else have a crash on launch?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Ok it runs just fine.
      Quite fun, can’t wait for release. It’s like Fall From Heaven for Civ V.

  6. Shantara says:

    Unfortunately, this demo is limited to 50 turns.

    • wuwul says:

      Ouch, anyone had success in cracking this limitation?

      Is it also missing content, or is it just a matter of removing the comparison of the turn count with 50?

  7. Warskull says:

    Looks like it will be $20 at release, not bad. The game is kind of fun.

  8. Tuan says:

    Really enjoyed the demo, was bummed it isn’t out for this weekend!

  9. wuwul says:

    Pretty unimpressed.

    There is no documentation whatsoever on basic things like what influences city growth and how much precisely, what’s the full spell research tree and what’s the full unit and building tree, either in game or in the manual.

    The manual is extremely short and highly incomplete and includes gems like “Flying units can cross almost any landscape types without penalties.” without specifying what the fuck “almost any landscape” is supposed to mean, or “КАРТИНКА ГОРОДА КРУПНЫМ ПЛАНОМ” in the middle of English text.

    The UI makes it very easy to miss when a city has finished building stuff, resulting in letting it being idle, cannot give you combat odds if you can’t attack in one turn, and in general it looks superficially usable, but is in fact poorly implemented.

    The game uses 1UPT, and since Civ5 couldn’t make it work, I doubt this game will; the AI doesn’t seem impressive, but I’m not yet any good at the game either, so not sure.

    Overall it seems a rushed wannabe Civ5/MoM game where the graphics are the only thing they concentrated on and everything else has been cobbled together in a mediocre state.

    • Reefpirate says:

      I understand your points… I was underwhelmed by the whole experience. I think you just need to manage expectations. A lot of people are hoping for MoM depth but I don’t think the game is trying to deliver that. It’s kind of a 4X lite.

      Some basic things in the UI are strange at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy to zip through your turns.

      I think city growth is just a function of the level of the city… It seems every 1000 population you can build a new structure (and the game is good at pointing out when you can build new buildings), and at a certain level the zone around it expands and you can build settlers with the city.

      I was worried this game would make Fallen Enchantress obsolete, but far from it. This is 4X MoM-alike lite, whereas Fallen Enchantress seems to be offering the full depth package.

    • killias2 says:

      Some of these are legitimate complaints. Like you said, city growth, long-term spell research, and long-term building trees are unclear. However, I don’t know how you miss the alerts for buildings being completed and/or potential buildings being available. A series of little things pops up on the right at the beginning of every turn. They tell you whether you have units that haven’t moved, buildings that can be built, buildings that recently finished, and units that recently finished. It doesn’t tell you if you have spare capacity to produce units, but I don’t think you’re really supposed to be pumping units out constantly. In any case, you can queue them easily enough, and it does tell you when new units have been produced.

      I found the interface -mostly- a success. I think they could fix the remaining issues, hopefully, with a few patches.

      As for the game more generally, I was pretty much addicted from the word go. It remains to be seen how long that addiction will last. I have a feeling this game won’t get terribly deep. On the positive end, combat seems to be a -major- focus. Way more than Civ 5. The AI seems okay for now, but who knows what that means once I start to dig in.

      In any case, I’m very excited after playing the demo.

    • MrMud says:

      I was suprised by how fun it is.
      Its not super deep but I dont think it has to be.

    • pakoito says:

      I think you are the one who got the wrong idea of what the game is. This is not an economic game, and not a 1000 turns one like Civ, so 1UPT is a nonissue because you will never produce enough units to clog the map. There are no research trees, your spells are randomized so you have to adapt each game. City trees are very clear if you expand the building list, and it’s more on the HoMM side of building limits. The war stages of the game go: first one to get advanced unit (specially ghosts), first one to get premium units (black minotaurs), first one to level up army in other planes to attack neighbor.

      It is not a wanabee because it never intended to be, it is just a subset of Fall from Heaven aiming for faster more dynamic games with things to do every turn. War is mandatory to survive as it is the only mean of victory.

      • killias2 says:

        Yeah, it seems that combat is really a focus here. I was fighting quite a bit from turn 1, and I think I was fighting every one of the 50 turns I played in the demo. This seems sort of like a 4x-light with combat emphasis.

        • pakoito says:

          In my games, even though they were in Normal-to-Hard difficulty, I was always at war with all other players. Building production is fast, and as I am almost always producing units there is no point in having them lying around because they won’t level up, and sending them to the planes is more of an endgame option, so war and production wars it is.

          My race of choice were the undead because of the ghost unit. Give it a couple of defense perks and watch the enemy spend mana and magic units just trying to kill them, while you have your real units backing ghosts to finish any unit that comes near them. 1UPT works wonders here. Their nerfed state in release is all my fault :)

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            How are you getting all these options? When I start a new game it just begins with some Hat guy. Is it the beta you’ve played?

          • pakoito says:

            Sorry, yes, I played beta :P Buy the goddamn game if you want to do the awesome stuff, it is worth it.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Yeah, I’m down. Can’t wait.

  10. amisysally says:

    It’s great to hear from you and see what you’ve sent up. Food peeling machineThis is a great blog. You deserve an award of some kind. Thanks!

  11. Dog Pants says:

    I’ve pre-ordered on the strength of this demo. The reduction in emphasis on balancing resources for research in comparison to Civ V meant that I found it easier to concentrate on the exploration and warfare aspects. By the end of the 50 turn limit I was escalating a three-way border war with neighbouring empires, and I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game.

  12. BenLeng says:

    This was an excellent demo. Exactly the kind of fantasy-Civ-V I was craving!

  13. Shandrakor says:

    I’ve also pre-ordered. The last game I bought sight unseen was a CnC abomination with WALKERS not tanks, and we all know how THAT turned out. Demos move product. GJ Paradox & Ino-Co.

  14. Gothnak says:

    Another Pre-order here, really enjoyed it…

    Better than Civ for the following reasons:

    Each race has it’s own set of units, and strengths and weaknesses. For example i took an Undead city and it started draining my magic just keeping the population alive!

    I love the city building aspects that different races use terrain tiles differently, so you can plan which race to put where.

    Balancing Food, Mana and Gold all made sense as did city levelling up.

    Random enemy spawns were pretty tough and so much more interesting than ‘Barbarians’.

    Alternate planes were good, but didn’t get far into them after 50 turns.

    I just finished my 50 turns in one go and wanted to play more… Also the Rat King had tons of cities that were squashed together, while i had the land but few cities, no idea if i could have taken him.

  15. picklesthecat says:

    It very much reminds me of a Civ 5 Fall from Heaven, which is just fine by me and the asking price is quite fair.

    There certainly are some quirks to the game and I think mechanic wise made a few missteps at least in the demo

    1) Game seems to vastly favor just spamming settlers as cities grow organically, and there is no penalty for creating a settler, unless I’m missing something.
    2) Desperately needs a decent manual / wiki(the official pdf I found online was garbage). No way of telling what resource tiles give you, what each race’s strength/weaknesses / unique units are or a clear picture of the building tech tree or spell tech tree.
    3) UI needs some work. It wasn’t horrible once you got used to it, but still a bit rough.

    • Gothnak says:

      I think the penalty for sticking with settlers is that you get a lot of wandering monsters, i went out and wiped out their bases first. I agree you might be able to get away with it though.

      A weird part of me enjoys having no tech tree at the moment, finding combinations is quite cool.

      • picklesthecat says:

        The big problem is in civ (and FFH) games settlers have a real cost associated with them. Excess cities harmed your economy / happiness if they weren’t productive, settlers prevented growth when built and took a reasonable amount of time to build early on.

        However towns in Warlock just grow / produce / build at a base rate that can’t be changed, so additional towns are always productive / good, and it also vastly favors building them early so they can develop as quickly as possible.

        I don’t really mind them simplifying mechanics, I’m just concerned from the demo that the dynamic is out of whack and over inflates the importance of a frenzy land grab early on.

        • pakoito says:

          The only balance factor for this is that even earlygame war is on, so while you’re making a settler somebody else is making army and leveling it up, and as the game is “fast paced” maybe those turns your city needs to grow are not returning the investment.

  16. Joote says:

    This is just a shallow taster. If you want the real game, then you want to be looking at Elemental Fallen Enchantress. which even in beta is already amazing.

  17. MellowKrogoth says:

    Loved the demo, this is a definite purchase.