Wot I Think: Warlock – Master Of The Arcane

Perhaps it was a mistake to send a jack of few trades to become a master of one, but strategic sorcery monsterbasher, Warlock: Master of the Arcane, has been in my sights for a good while now. After a great deal of conjuring and conquering, with very little in between, I have the flowing beard and haunted visage of a man who is accustomed to peeling back the fabric of reality and fashioning new life from the celestial clay that lurks beyond. I’ve also got a pretty good idea wot I think about this Warlocking business.

There’s a lot more wars than locks, that’s for certain. Rat nests, garbage piles, ancient ruins, spider holes – the countryside is littered with all sorts of lairs and labyrinths but none of them are ever locked, they’re just full of ‘orrible monsters that want to eat your face off. The natural solution is to summon some ‘orrible monsters of your own, point at the thing most resembling a face on whatever beasty is looming large and then have your forces bite it off.

It starts, as these things tend to do, with a single city floating in the darkness. Your first couple of military units will be the basic ranged and melee types for whichever of the three races your Great Mage is commander of. It’s a choice of undead, ratmen or menmen, and I tend to go for the ratmen. They have fast robber units but my appreciation of them is driven by more than utility. The best thing about ratmen is that they look like ratmen.

Off into the fog march your units, trotting across hexes of lava, snow, forest and field in their search for resources by which to build new cities, dungeons to loot and settlements to conquer. Meanwhile, your capital can steadily churn out new troops, limited only by the food, mana and gold it costs to support them. As the population grows, constructing new buildings will supply more of specific resources while also unlocking new unit types. It’s a simple chain of commands that I like to call the Total War(lock) Machine.

Victory in combat provides experience and after a while your armies will grow stronger, or perhaps faster or more keen sighted. The choice is yours, up to a point, but the boosts are significant enough that certain squads can become treasured. And, hey, if you picked correctly they’re humanoid rats dressed as pirates so you should be treasuring them anyway.

Combat takes place on the very same hexes where everything else also takes place, with units unable to share a space. There’s no zooming into a tactical grid here. It’s a good decision as it means the map provides a snapshot of every military possibility, rather than requiring clicking and sorting through stacks. Archers line up behind melee units, firing over their heads, while impassable mountains become hugely important, either as buffers, choking points or the wall against which an army is pinned.

Being a Great Mage allows you to cast all manner of spells, although you’ll often feel like a Middling Mage when you find yourself ready for Horlicks and bed after lobbing a single fireball in the early afternoon. Spells cost mana and the more impressive they are, the longer they take to cast. Try to summon a greater elemental being and you might be waving your arms about and chanting for a good few turns but if you just want to enchant a few scimitars for your ratpeople, SHAZAM, it’s done in a flash.

New spells are researched and although I’m never entirely clear which route I’m taking through the arcane abilities available, there is apparently some influence exerted by whatever gods feel favourable toward your budding civilisation.

Aha! There’s the word I’d managed to avoid until now. ‘Civilisation’. Warlock looks a lot like Civilisation V and it plays a bit like all of them, as the previous paragraphs have hopefully made clear. Magic takes the place of science, pumpkin patches take the place of bananas and firestorms take the place of nuclear strikes. Put that to one side though because it’s where the comparisons break apart like a ship in a kraken’s grip that Warlock becomes a more interesting proposition than Civ with goblins.

Take the analogy of magic to science. It’s idiotically imperfect and I should never have used it, so sorry about that. More embarrassing still, I’ve almost certainly used it when talking about the game in the past without immediately retracting the idea as I’m doing now. The difference is obvious in terms of both magic’s place in the Warlock’s world and its application throughout the game.

Spells are, quite simply, methods to bolster your own armies by summoning creatures or boosting those you already have, or to devastate your enemies. Unlike Civ’s technology, magic in Warlock doesn’t provide a basis for societal advancement or cultural discovery. You’re not going to summon the Sistine Chapel into being, you’re going to summon a cist-covered shadowspawn that eats chapels for breakfast. This isn’t a game that takes place over several thousand years, it’s more like a drawn-out military campaign set against a somewhat apocalyptic background.

It’s a war of wizards, not a tale of long-term development, growth and change. From the first turn, your objective isn’t to define the characteristics of your people through your choices, it’s to protect them from roaming monsters, aggressive neighbours and the attentions of the other Great Mages. Diplomacy tells you everything you need to know about the true focus of Warlock; there’s no delicacy to it, and it essentially boils down to threats, demands and declarations of war.

At the beginning of every turn, prompts gather at the right side of the screen, informing you of units and cities awaiting instructions. Perhaps you have six units awaiting directions, a city which has just grown and can therefore construct a new building, or a research project completed, meaning your next spell must be selected. Click through the list, address each item and you’ll have done everything that needs to be done. It’s an efficient and effective tool. However, it also becomes clear that beyond those prompts, there’s little else that can be done on each turn. Sure, you could build a few extra units, which you should be doing whenever you have any sort of surplus, but there are no sliders to adjust, workers to reassign or stats to absorb.

Cities are essentially little more than factories, producing resources which have the sole purpose of supporting the armies that the cities also assemble themselves. Despite that, the placement of buildings on the actual hexes around a settlement, as well as the variety of resources that can be exploited, does lend a degree of character to each place. I was also perhaps overly entertained when I built a coastal city, within viewing distance of a giant, thrashing sea serpent, and the game’s suggested name was Serpent Gate. Chance or design? A goblin city by the mountains was also called Giblincliff, which made me hope there was some element of control being exerted.

All of this warmongering certainly makes Warlock a more limited game than many people may have expected. There’s very little build-up and once the killing starts, there won’t be any lulls until the end of the campaign, unless the map generator somehow plants you in a quiet part of the world. In my experience there are no quiet parts in the worlds it weaves together, nor in the other worlds that sit alongside them.

As in Master of Magic, there are other planes to visit, through portals, although rather than just one alternate dimension, Warlock allows you to choose how many you want. It means there’s more to conquer and that’s pretty much all it means in terms of strategy, but venturing into the unknown does carry a certain thrill and the ‘X’ of eXploration is my favourite part of the game.

Starting a new game and seeing that your city is surrounded by volcanoes is fun. Finding that the lava fields behind those volcanoes are full of predator spiders is intimidating and a little skincrawly. Discovering neutral castles protected by skeleton archers in the forests on the far side of the lava is pleasing, as skeletons crumble under your arcane assaults. Having your unprotected capital conquered by a marauding band of bears, who I can only assume immediately elect a bear mayor, is utterly priceless.

And bears will swat you down at some point. Everything will. It’s a harsh truth of this seemingly light-hearted fantasy realm; your unprotected rear is a target for all manner of monsters. That’s partly due to the sheer quantity of wandering beasties, but it’s fair to say that the AI has consistently impressed me as well – not by flanking, counterattacking and luring me into traps, but by behaving competently and causing me no end of problems. It probably helps matters that the entire structure of the game is so geared toward constant aggression that the occasional half-hearted and misguided assault goes unnoticed among the barrage of offensive thrusts from every side.

Warlock is a game in which wizards throw armies and spells at one another, while attempting to tame a wild and hostile world. Despite that, it rarely feels as if epic tales are emerging, perhaps because the speed of the game, with the starting pistol of the arcane arms race sounding on the very first turn, is surprisingly intense considering the breathing space between turns.

I suspect it won’t be complex or varied enough for some, with a wholly aggressive approach the only option and a familiar rhythm to most campaigns, despite the impressive nature of the worlds it throws together. For me, however, it’s a success, with an impressive range of creatures and spells to discover, and a sense of wonder in the initial stages of discovering every new continent and archipelago.

In the end, its single-minded focus on conflict is a strength, provided it isn’t too much of a barrier for your personal enjoyment, allowing for a streamlined and strangely effortless game of conquering and conjuring. It’s a shame that you’ll most likely knit your brow over the lack of documentation rather than tough strategic choices, unsure as to whether a site is suitable for settling because it’s unclear how useful the terrain is, but as a relatively short and concentrated dose of strategy in a light-hearted and colourful world, it’s something I see myself returning to frequently. It doesn’t do a thousand things, as so many strategy games attempt to, but the few things that it does tackle, it mostly gets spot on.

All those words and I didn’t mention I only mentioned Master of Magic once.

Warlock: Master of the Arcane is available now for £14.99, or you could try the demo first and see if all this spellbiffery is to your liking.


  1. Jarenth says:

    You mention Master of Magic right in the middle, in paragraph 16. Thought you could lie to us, mister Smith?

    I’m enjoying Warlock a great deal, so I pretty much agree with everything you say. Though some more actually useful diplomacy would be nice, at some point in the future.

  2. Insidious Rex says:

    After I played the demo, this became the first game I have preordered on Steam and I love it.

    In my first game I declared war on what I assumed to be a humble foe, only to find I was woefully unprepared for his armies. What then transpired was one of the most enjoyable ramshackle defence/eventual inspiring victories I have had in a strategy game for years.

    Plus I had a flying ghost siege ship and donkey-riding knights.

    • frightlever says:

      That was me after the demo as well. Really enjoying it. Too much in fact as I’ve had at least one unscheduled lie-in because of it.

      “The choice is yours, up to a point, but the boosts are significant enough that certain squads can become treasured.” – I wish you could re-name squads.

      • Malk_Content says:

        Yeah me too. I have a unit of rangers so incredibly buffed he can take out quarter of a capital city’s health in one shot (all the weapon enchantment researched and cast, all of the damage upgrades bought every time I had a choice) I wish I could rename them something like the “Seigebastards.”

    • Alceste007 says:

      Stories like this really make interested in the demo. I just need to find time.

  3. mckertis says:

    Not good enough for me. I was looking for something a bit more balanced in its focus.

    • DuddBudda says:

      hex grids didn’t suit Civ; Sid says tactical combat cannot fit Civ, and imo that goes for V’s micro-managing armies while making grand decisions to shape a nation; inconsistency of scale

      Warlock’s military focus gives Shafer’s 4x tactical wargame design coherence

      result: I’ve already played more Warlock than I did Civ V

      • mckertis says:

        “Sid says tactical combat cannot fit Civ,”

        Master of Magic proved him wrong 20 years ago.
        Also he sort of disowned Covert Action, so…what does he know.

        • DuddBudda says:

          I call it the “Covert Action Rule”. Don’t try to do too many games in one package. And that’s actually done me a lot of good. You can look at the games I’ve done since Civilization, and there’s always opportunities to throw in more stuff. When two units get together in Civilization and have a battle, why don’t we drop out to a war game and spend ten minutes or so in duking out this battle? Well, the Covert Action Rule. Focus on what the game is.

          • pakoito says:

            >You can look at the games I’ve done since Civilization

            Is that you, Sid?

          • PodX140 says:

            I was also shocked at the first person. Genuinely intrigued now.

          • hungrytales says:

            So what, Total War series like proved him wrong?

          • syndrome says:

            Covert Action rule actually makes sense, but that’s because it’s a gameworld mashup. If the worlds have to be interwoven at different scopes, it must be done in a way that is entirely optional and/or player-driven. Take for example UFO: Enemy Unknown. It’s metalevel is a bland grand strategy with an access to “Ufopedia”, manufacturing and scientific management, military personnel, their equipment and deployment roster, as well as fiscal summary screens. However, if done intelligently, this layer adds fantastic depth and context to the actual tactical gameplay. You constantly switch between the two vastly different scopes throughout the game, and yet it doesn’t affect your focus. So, I guess the Covert Action rule is a consequence of a poor choice in design, and not really a rule.

        • sinister agent says:

          Tactical combat would have become a deathly tedious chore in Civ. There’d be nothing but repeatedly throwing the same units at each other over and over. It worked in Master of Magic because there were tonnes of units, races and heroes and items, and many spells were built specifically for tactical combat. MoM was a game of fighting and conquest, while Civ was a game where that was just a leading option.

          I didn’t realise he disowned Covert Action, though. What a fool! Covert Action is marvellous.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Tactical combat can work just fine. It is harder to implement, and unfortunately I get the feeling that Civ 5 was finished a little prematurely.

  4. Diziet Sma says:

    I downloaded the demo and played it for the entire evening. I took that to be a damn good sign and it’s on the ‘Must Buy’ list…. as soon as I’ve wrestled myself away from the Sword of the Stars 2/Sins of a Solar Empire : Rebellion/Homeworld kick I’m on.

  5. arienette says:

    I’m bloody loving this game so far. But I must say the diplomacy really needs a few more options, particularly take my money and declare war on that other guy.

    I’m also finding the AI a bit lacklustre, I restarted on a higher difficulty after, on normal, I steam rolled an AI who was both much bigger than I and got the jump on me.

    • TormDK says:

      Agreed, the diplomacy aspect needs some work as I see it.

      And dear god, the bears! – but for a game that only costs 20 euro I find it as excellent value.

      • Caleb367 says:

        A bear there was, a bear, a bear! All black and brown and covered in hair!
        And vampire bits. As it just ate my top vampire caster. Not that I’m bitter about it.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      People always love to call AI’s “easy” but frankly all AIs are easy. AI technology is simply not that good right now. Almost any game with any nuance or strategy will have a crap AI. This isn’t some relatively simple and constrained system like chess, it is literally millions of time more complicated than that. The only way games like this have challenging “AI” with today’s CS skills is if they cheat like crazy.

      • NathanH says:

        You’re not wrong, but often the AI isn;t taught how to play the game particularly well. For instance, take Master of Magic. One reason that the AI is little threat is because it doesn’t have a good build order for its cities. That’s something that you can just tell the AI to do it better. I think there’s a bit of that going on the Warlock. My impression is that the AI tends to develop its cities and armies quite poorly, and it should be relatively easy to tell it how to do better in that respect.

      • Havok9120 says:

        GalCiv 2 says “Ahem.”

        Sure, it cheats, especially at higher levels. But its still a bastard even without cheats.

      • Stromko says:

        No worries there, Warlock’s AI does cheat fairly shamelessly, so it’s always a challenge even if you outmatch an opponent’s economy 10:1.

        It seems to work on a timer, though, so if you hit them early with advanced units they really can’t hold up. If you’re playing a very long game, you’ll very likely be buried under an unlikely deluge of the most expensive units the game has to offer.

  6. caddyB says:

    It’s kind of a better Elemental.

    • Sarissofoi says:

      Better than Elemental is still not enough.
      After demo I was expect more. There wasnt.

  7. Bostec says:

    Its a shame the game sounds so combat focused otherwise I might of brought this. Could of done something like the culture influence in CIV 5. I like my strategy to be of a laid back and pondering nature.

    • pakoito says:

      There is an economic victory but it requires you to amass like 50000 mana. If you don’t focus on military you will probably get killed when aiming for half of that, it’s more of a stalemate tiebreaker.

      • Wild_Marker says:

        I actually got that victory on my first game (finished last night). Somehow I managed to be allied with all the AI factions after taking down one of them (the biggest). So my only possible victory was either the Gods thing, which I couldn’t get because I couldn’t find enough holy sites, or the Unity Spell.

        Mind you, getting the “Economic” victory with the Unity spell is boring as hell. 25 Turns to reseach and the 20 turns more to cast. I was practically skipping turns at that point. I guess that’s what you get when you try a peace victory in a combat heavy game, I have to try the other options now.

        • pakoito says:

          I remember this Civ IV (Fall from Heaven 2) game where I just had to skip 150 turns ahead to win the game. My valley was entrance was on a chokespot and I had the biggest stack in the game plus several stacking perks from Great Generals and such.

          • MaXimillion says:

            And then a single invincible flying flesh golem with every buff in the game fed to it comes and pillages all your cities.

            Assuming you’re playing with other people rather than the not-smart-enough AI, that is.

        • LTK says:

          I was about 150 turns into my first game and had a bunch of units ready to grind the last (woefully underambitious) mage’s city into the dust. Then I noticed I ran out of spells to research, and the Unity spell was nowhere to be found, even as turn 200 rolled around. What do I need to do for it to appear?

    • Bostec says:

      umm cheers lads, this has slightly coloured me interested. I might go off and download the demo which is probably what I should of done at the start.

  8. Arglebargle says:

    There’s the obvious reference to Master of Magic, but in what ways is Warlock better than Age of Wonders?

    Also, is this Warlock moddable?

    • pakoito says:

      No, and that’s a pity :( They are aiming to repack all assets in a moddable way but there’s not much to do atm. Same for MP.

    • Grygus says:

      By Age of Wonders, I will assume you are talking about Shadow Magic. If not, I do not know how you can live with yourself.

      Warlock has unambiguously better city development. I also feel that the wizard is a lot more important, because there is no such thing as being out of range from the tower and there is only one resource system, rather than one for the overland map and a separate one for combat, and it seems to me that you can cast a lot more spells in this game, at least early on. Unit promotion is far more fun and rewarding.

      In terms of being superior, I think that’s about it. I do like the hex-based combat model but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s better – it’s just different. There are no heroes or item creation. Spell research is essentially the same. Shadow Magic has far more variety in races and therefore units, but I didn’t feel constricted by Warlock’s selection.

      As the review mentions, the AI in Warlock is aggressive, and neutral parties are MUCH more aggressive, so there isn’t much sitting around doing needlepoint and leveling up to make Orc Chieftains before setting off on campaign; you fight with whatever you have on hand, all the time.

      Right now I like Warlock more, but it is new. Once the relative lack of variety wears thin, I don’t know that it will last as long as something like Shadow Magic; on the other hand. this game is only $20 brand new, so expecting a decade of gameplay may be unreasonable.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Thanks for that info! Sounds like it is basically worthwhile, and should grow better in that Paradoxical Patch way.

        As someone else posted, it is making me think of returning to my last Shadow Magic campaign though, a full Runequest replacement run. But those Dragons were so kicking my ass….

      • Vorphalack says:

        Age of Wonders 1 and Age of Wonders 2 were also pretty good. I still play more of AoW 1 than I ever did of Shadow Magic, something about the art style and music that was just addictive. Warlocks combat focus and spell system reminds me a lot of AoW 1, with the gods mechanic from AoW 2 thrown in. I still think I prefer the army stacks and tactical combat, but not by such a huge margin that I would write off Warlock. As the review said, unit development is rewarding, and watching your veteran units supported by spells tearing across the map is its own reward. You get more depth to cities than AoW 1, a better interface than with the other AoW games, and less micro management than Civ games. I could live with more micro management, but again it supports the combat focus as it is.

        My only real complaints about Warlock so far are the lack of in game information (or simply poor presentation) on things like tile bonuses, build trees, etc. and a slightly too random world generator.

        • Dreforian says:

          I’m glad somebody said it! Reading through the review I was constantly reminded of Age of Wonders 1 in terms of the research and casting mechanics. The wizard tower thing in the later games was more frustrating than fun for me, especially early on in campaigns since I’d been used to casting from where ever I wanted and having my hero at the forefront. AoW’s units weren’t individually that deep but the real fun was in co-opting special neutral and even enemy units and keeping them under control. I also fondly remember kicking myself when I’d leave a city undefended and some random neutral group would come roaming out of the fog/forest/underground/shadow realm and capture it. Bears are bad. Getting ripped off by a pack of druids fairies and unicorns or a horde of kobolds and a troll is worse.

          The squad advancement reminds me of a different game, Elven Legacy. Squads would level up by gaining experience throughout the campaign (rather than just a single scenario) and levels brought a selection of perks, both for the rank ‘n’ file and heroes.

          Have to ask, what exactly makes this feel like “4x” if at all?

  9. Sp4rkR4t says:

    It is great, but at the same time it is also not even half finished, hopefully by August we will have multiplayer, different victory conditions and I would like to see more fine grained control over world generation.

    • RedViv says:

      I agree. Although rat people paladins under a waterwalking spell, exterminating kraken, leviathan, and sea serpents while they splash along, almost make me forget about how clumsy the UI feels and how inaccessible information is, and how very straightforward victories are.

  10. Schiraman says:

    Having played the demo, this felt very shallow and light-weight compared to Master of Magic. Don’t get me wrong, it also seemed quite fun – but it still isn’t the spiritual sequel I’ve been waiting for all these years.

    • PearlChoco says:

      Having played the full game, that’s…. exactly what it is.

  11. thepaleking says:

    Is the spell selection comparable to Master of Magic? MoM had a metric fuckton of spells to choose from. I especially liked the city affecting spells, like Famine, and surrounding your own city with a giant wall of fire.

    • Subatomic says:

      There are perhaps not a metric fuckton, but still a lot of different spells from your basic healing and offensive spells to (de)buffing and summoning spells in different variations. The city-affecting debuff spells usually reduce the growth of a particular resource or that of the city itself. There also some global spells that reduce your cast time or continually leech mana from an enemy wizard until dispelled. Spells that take more than one turn to cast can also be counterspelled by other wizards.
      Some of the spells require a more or less good reputation with one of the gods, these are usually stronger or cheaper versions of one of the standard spells, or summoning spells for monsters connected with the respective god.

  12. uNapalm says:

    The demo is less than a gig and I’m so glad I tried it out, it was absolutely engrossing and I bought the game soon after. Every time I play I seem to discover a new building, spell or enemy and I’ve not even looked into portal worlds or the temples/Gods system. Needs keyboard shortcuts though.

  13. sneetch says:

    I’ve played it for a couple of hours now so I can’t say much about its longevity but it is fun and I’m looking forward to more, I like the unit types, I like the spells and the exploration, the combat feels like a blend of the old tactical combat from MOM and stack based combat from the older Civs.

  14. UncleLou says:

    I liked the demo a lot, but I am not quite so sure about the full game. Only played it for a few hours, but it seems to lack the breadth and depth of Civ V, while not excelling at anything else in particular.

    Nice game, but it most certainly isn’t a Civ alternative for me.

  15. theoriginaled says:

    The game is charming as hell, A little buggy at times. (If you destroy a city any of the reminders on the right of the screen that might pertain to that city persist and if you click on them will crash the game)

    Hell, I took over an entire enemy empire the other day because after declaring war, he spent the entire campaign throwing his soldiers against the ogre den behind him while I beat down his gates from the other side.

    A few things piss me off, like the quest system, My diety of choice wants me to build a temple or Ill lose favor? But I already built the temple. shouldnt that curry favor? without having to build it again? but other than that its nice to have a strategy game come out thats a bit more simple and easy to digest.

  16. Gothnak says:

    I love the game so far…

    I love the graphics, love the sound, love the city building, love the 3 resources i’m constantly balancing, love the aggressive nature, love the multiple worlds.

    However, needs better diplomacy, needs more races, needs better tooltips saying what you can build on map resources before you build next to them, needs a slightly better ‘zoom to combat on AI turn’ camera, needs a spell tree rather than randomish selection.

    Still, can’t wake to get back to my game trampling over enemy cities with Halloween enchanted Trolls who regenerate 10 health a turn :).

  17. Chris D says:

    I haven’t had nearly enough sleep thanks to this game.

  18. Belmakor says:

    But what do you give it out of 10?

  19. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    I’m absolutely loving this as well. I managed to conquer the warlocks on my starting continent, and though I’ve gained a foothold on the neighboring continent (that happens to be right between two warring capitals), I’ve decided to take the time to invade the next plane.

    I amassed my elite, uberbuffed undead hordes around the gate and sent some summoned scouts through…..who were instantly splattered by innumerable demons and fire elementals who all came boiling out of the gate on the next turn with a vengeance and cut a swath through my once-invincible army. The containment effort was epic (and aided by a large number of defense towers), and I’m now just entrenching my survivors around the forward bases I’ve set up just on the other side……which now appear to be surrounded by dragons.

    • LTK says:

      Wow, I’m glad that has never happened to me. My first excursion into another world consisted of each one unit of zombies, minotaurs, trolls, and ratmen. I emerged onto a hellish, fire-struck wasteland. The ratmen got roasted by a dragon and the zombies, who held out surprisingly long, survived the dragons but were ultimately fried by demons. However, the trolls and minotaurs, buffed with elemental resistance, managed to clear the gate of fire elementals and have a foothold there. Occasionally one of the two, maybe more, red dragons comes and harasses them, but my guys have so much regeneration buffs that it hardly makes a difference. And for some reason the dragons always fly off after one or two attacks, even though they could easily take me out if they persisted. Rather strange.

  20. Max.I.Candy says:

    Ive been tempted to buy this game, the thing is, I’m not a big RTS gamer (although i do luv all the DoW/Starcraft games).
    I tried King Arthur II : The Role Playing Wargame a while ago, and felt slightly lost and not in my comfort zone for an RTS, so i guess what I want to know is this going to be more accessible and does it have an easier learning curve? It looks like it might be.

  21. wodin says:

    It’s a great little game thats well worth the money.

    Oh and it wont get marked down by me for having no multi player…Multi player and multi players can fuck off, they’ve got enough games already.

    • Answermancer says:

      You’re right, wanting to play together with my girlfriend is obviously unreasonable, I’ll just fuck right off since clearly multiplayer would spoil your single player experience.

      Except they’re releasing Multiplayer in a patch a few months out, so you better get all the playing you can out of the game before Multiplayer support ruins it forever.

  22. mazzoli says:

    I’ll take a break from only commenting on pun threads to provide a bit of commentary on Warlock. I’ll also admit straight off the bat that I have only played the demo, so if anything from the release version invalidates this let me know.

    Warlock has some very interesting ideas packed into it. As best I could tell, I’ll agree with Adam that it was almost entirely focused on warfare. This would have been fine had I not had issues with how warfare worked. It seemed to me that even the most basic units could just fly across the map. Just now realizing that I’m discussing a magic strategy game, I don’t mean that literally. But as I conducted my campaign against the neighboring kingdom (and I mean neighbor like a cramped suburb, not neighbor like the next farm over) I would send my army toward him, then he would rush a bunch of soldiers in from outside my field of vision to take out half of it, then I would destroy his force, then he would rush in yet more troops from the unrevealed map, etc. etc. ad infinitum. This wave based, indecisive warfare got tedious after a while.

    Also, as is universally the case in this genre, at least in my experience, the spell researching system was too random and unfocused for my taste. Each time you researched a spell it felt like you had no way of knowing what spell would fill that slot on the wheel. It made it very hard to form a coherent research plan and was rather frustrating.

    All told, the game was interesting, but not interesting enough for me to purchase it just yet. As they say around here, “Meh…I’ll wait for a Steam sale.” The best thing that it did was get me back into this type of game again. Now I can’t wait to get home from work to play some Shadow Magic.

    • Strangerator says:

      “Now I can’t wait to get home from work to play some Shadow Magic.”

      I can’t believe this escaped my attention. It’s about ten years late, but this game looks really good. Shadow Magic looks a lot like Master of Magic from my googling of the thing. Will have to hop on GoG and get it.

      • mazzoli says:

        In my experience it’s best to get the unofficial 1.4 patch for Shadow Magic. It really makes the game shine.

  23. LTK says:

    Usually I never play strategy games. The last one I played was Age of Empires 2, from a disc lent from the local library, back when nobody thought of piracy as something other than a thing from an adventure book. But I simply cannot put this game down. In the days before release and after pre-order I played the 50-turn demo map, which is the same every time, about ten times over.

    So I get the impression that Warlock is definitely a casual-friendly game – there’s even a Casual difficulty option, the challenge of which is, of course, a joke – and it’s not easy to refrain from being compelled. It could use a fair bit of polish, though, particularly in the diplomacy department, which seems to a bit redundant right now. The AI can also sometimes be seen bashing its head against the wall, but I gather that this is not unusual in strategy games.

    I had a real head-desk moment when I and an allied mage were waging war with another mage. My ally was struggling to take a city defended by minotaurs, by throwing an army of rogues at them. I brought my archers in, and they killed the defenders and whittled away the last of the city’s hitpoints. But since I had no movement points left, my ally casually waltzes in and takes the enemy city I had just defeated. The gall!

  24. Scrofa says:

    Come on people, the game is uncomparable to Civ5, MoM or Elemental. It’s a casual hexagonal wargame, not a 4X strategy in any way. For me, Warlock grew very old in only two full games. Now I just can’t see anything new the game can show me for another playthrough, propably because it can’t. It’s just a little cozy tactical flick.

  25. Strangerator says:

    I am enjoying my first playthrough of the game and it really gave me a case of “one more turn” syndrome like all good turn-based games. Playing on normal, the AI leaves something to be desired, as my veterans/rangers conquered a neighboring mage with all basic/level troops. Definitely upping the difficulty on the next game.

    I wish the magic system was a bit more like MoM, where you could increase your casting power (decrease needed time for spells). Maybe it could be added in later as a special building type for magic fields? Hell, why not just throw in something like “wizard level”, where various actions could contribute to an aggregate pool that would eventually make you a level 2 wizard.. which would give you certain perks to choose from, including reduced casting time and/or mana cost, increased power level on damage/healing spells, etc. This might help mitigate the loss of heroes and further characterize individual mages. Maybe certain structures could be built to add to this exp pool more quickly, but they cost a lot of mana and gold to maintain?

    I also would have had magic selection be a little less random… maybe when selecting your wizard you could make some decision about what type of spells you’d have in the game? Then you’d always have more choices leaning one way or the other… I don’t know, something feels a little off on the current system.

    Had a lot of fun gaining naval superiority and shelling the enemy to pieces. Found a halberdhall and started building halberdiers.. those guys are crazy good.

    Gaps in the UI.. it’s a bit difficult to keep track of upkeep spells. In fact, there is a spell called Prosperity that can be cast on cities to increase population growth. At one point, I wanted to remove the spell from a certain city.. couldn’t figure out how to do that. I found how unit enchantments can be dispelled, but not for cities. Also having trouble demolishing buildings so that I can build something else… though I swore I could in the demo.

    It’s a decent game worth its 20 bucks, I’m just not sure how long I will remain interested.

  26. Hug_dealer says:

    I havent been able to stop playing this game since the demo, and i cant stop playing since i bought it also.

    The AI seems to be awesome times, and others not so awesome. I prefer the focus on combat, just like i do my other games.

    Its not civ, and thats the great thing, and its not the broken game mom was, sadly mom was horribly broken from a gameplay pov, way to easy to exploit everything. As for Shadow magic, great game, terrible AI. I wouldnt even consider comparing shadow magic and this though, as the mechanics are different enough that the games play way different.

    for $20, there isnt a better game out there to pick. Not to mention they have big plans for the future of the game.

    The game has heroes, 2 of them to be exact. they are chosen as perks. Imp advisor and some blades guy.

  27. protorp says:

    From the WIT and comments it sounds to me like this isn’t a million miles away from Wesnoth in its hexy tactics with casual appeal…

    Which has me super-keen to try the demo, as I sunk a huge number of hours into Wesnoth here and there a few years ago.

  28. benkc says:

    I’m really enjoying it so far, but I do have a list of complaints:
    * I’d like more variety in the faction creation. More perks to choose from, and perhaps an adjustment of the costs, since picking any of the non-god spells seems like a waste.
    * More tooltips. More in-game info in general. What does this tile do? What does this ability do? What does this race’s tech tree look like? What is the population requirement for the Training Grounds? etc. The game manual is pretty worthless, too. Fortunately I’m not the only person adding to the wiki.
    * A way to increase your casting skill. Magic seems to get less and less relevant as the game goes on. Honestly, I really liked the way MoM did this, and I don’t understand why none of the MoM-likes have copied that particular feature.
    * A way to destroy a building without razing the city. If it needs to have a price, fine: make it cost 2x turns as constructing it, and during that time the building still requires any upkeep but gives no income, or whatever. Just give me something so I don’t feel compelled to raze almost every city I conquer because of its non-coherent build strategy.
    * A way to tell the game “don’t inform me that this city has free building slots until it hits size X”. It’s not uncommon that I want to save an extra building slot or two for when the city borders grow.

    All that said, I am loving the game. The way that buildings occupy tiles and act as roads is a particularly nice addition — more so than I would have ever expected.

  29. Aldaron says:

    I don’t agree with the review at all. At best Warlock: MotA is a mediocre game.

    And that’s because ehe AI is increbidly stupid. Firaxis is still trying to make the hexes work and this poor fellas don’t have a clue ethier. The AI cheats all the time of course, just like in Civ V, but the random encounters are so hard in the hardest difficulty that the AI players con barely expand, making the game even easier!

    And don’t understand how after so many years noboby can make a better game than MoM.

  30. cairbre says:

    I’m liking this game. Spent all day Saturday playing. Really wish it had hot keys thou g is for guard but needs a key for rest. I actually like that it’s simple cos I’m not lost!