Warlock: Master of the Arcane [Review]
Warlock: Master of the Arcane is the newest turn-based strategy game brought to us by Paradox Interactive. The game takes place in the world of Ardania, which fans of the Majesty series will be familiar with. After seventy four years of war between the Conclave and the Council of Great Mages, the gods decide to step in; telling the Great Mages that Ardania must be united under one ruler again. For two months the Council of Great Mages met trying to decide who was worthy of the title Warlock, Master of the Arcane. However, unable to decide, a contest of might started.
Before you can jump into the action you have to pick how you want to play. First, you need to choose one of the five difficulty settings. There is something for those who have never played a strategy game, all the way up to what they call impossible. After that you need to setup your world configuration which includes settings such as terrain type, map type (flat or cylindrical), how many mages you want to fight against, and even how many worlds you want available. With this setting you will have one main map for Ardania, but will be able to warp to other worlds which have additional resources and enemies.
There some advantages to certain settings, but it mostly comes down to how long you want to play for and how much you want to be challenged. I personally preferred using the cylindrical map because it makes traversing the map easier. With this map style when you move units off the right side of the map, they then appear on the left side versus if you used just the flat map; where you wouldn’t be able to move the units off either side of the map. The more mages you play against could both help and hurt you. If you use the diplomacy tools and make peace with another mage, they could help you defeat other mages. However, you still don’t want to let them get too much power since the goal is for yourself to become the Master of the Arcane. After all, there can only be one.
Picking your ideal terrain type can be a little tricky. There are four types of terrain when setting up your world; island, continents, super continent, and great land. Both island and continents have a large amount of water, so if you’re wanting to face-off in mostly ships pick one of these. Then both super continent and great land is mostly about traversing over mountains, deserts, and forests.
Once you have created the world you are going to faceoff in you can customize your character a bit. You are able to pick your portrait, color, and what skills you will start with. Now you will enter your customized world of Ardania. If you aren’t very familiar with strategy games you can have a Sean Connery like voice help walk you through the controls. You will have control over many different types of units including settlers, warriors, hunters and cleric; which translates to scouts, melee, range, and healing respectively. However, in order to produce some of these units you must have the correct building to recruit them.
You will need to pay just as much attention to your city as you do your fighting forces. Having money for building up-keep as well as making new ones, mana for your spells, and even having enough population to support your cities. With settlers units you can create new cities that will in turn allow you to create more support buildings to improve you units’ defensive and offensive skills. Or you can just kill and defeat an opposing castle and there-by take over their city
As for units, each unit has a set number of movement points that are used as you move them. Certain terrains will use more movement points than others, such as forests or mountains, which are only traversable by flying units. However, it is kind of hard to tell how many points each terrain will take. When you move units you get a dotted line showing the path the unit will take. The gold color for part of the path is the only thing telling you how far it can go on that terrain. Add that with the fact that once you click there is no undoing your move; this can get pretty frustrating at times. As you play through the map you will be able to research spells and obtain better ones that will help you take down opposing mages and upgrade your unit’s skills.
You will also be given random quests from the gods to complete, which you can take or decline. Some might result in a loss of gold or some other penalty for not taking or completing them in the required number of turns. On the other hand repeatedly turning away the gods’ quests or failing them might cause them to turn against you. Face it, who wants to go against the gods.
All in all Warlock: Master of the Arcane is an enjoyable strategy game. With being able to make the maps as big or as small as you want, there is plenty to do. I would have liked some things communicated a little better, such as exactly how the various terrains will affect unit’s movement points. Also, the number of turn that had to pass before you could recruit more units seems to be a bit high; especially when you first start out and you need to increase your population before you can really start building structures. If like strategy games that are just about killing everything and being the last person standing, then you will enjoy this game. However, if you like them with goals, missions, and some storyline, this isn’t the game for you.