Warlock: Master of the Arcane Preview

23 Jan 2012

Rock, Paper, Shotgun is next in line with a hands-on preview of Warlock: Master of the Arcane, and based on their favorable comparisons to Master of Magic and Civilization V, I'd say they were fairly impressed with the title.
To Warlock then and its own take on fantastic strategy. Sometimes it’s best to start with the most obvious thing and in this case, I reckon that’s to say that Civilisation V and Master of Magic have stumbled, Brundle-like, into a machine that has combined them into a hybrid. The machine is a development studio, of course, and thankfully the hybrid isn’t falling to bits and storing its genitals in jars. I don’t think it even has genitals. Indeed, it seems that the parts selected for this new whole are the best bits of the two games it seems most inspired by.

Like Civilisation V, Warlock has beautiful hex-based maps, a distinct lack of unit stacking and a fairly approachable user interface. Yes, it’s a Paradox strategy game with an approachable user interface. Of course, I’m a hardened hex machine with many a grand historical campaign behind me, familiar with taking attrition, supply lines and derring-do into consideration before ordering a single soldier to raise his musket, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognise simplicity when I see it. Warlock does not have a complex interface and its most intricate parts will probably only be revealed after a great deal of play with the finished product.

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Technology is magic in Ardania (the world of Warlock and the Majesty games), with research discovering new spells along a path of the player’s choosing. Different types of wizard have access to different branches of magic and it’s possible to dabble in several, allowing access to lower tiers in various disciplines, or to specialise and concentrate on mentally clambering toward the spell-flinging equivalent of thermonuclear warfare.

Then there is religion, which I don’t fully understand but am intrigued by and have a vague affinity with. In the game, as well as being dedicated to magic, the leaders of each magiclan can have a devotion to a god, which leads to various bonuses balanced by requirements. As far as I can make out, the system is a little like the relationship between the mighty @ symbol and his/her god in many roguelikes, with assistance coming at a price, particularly if prior behaviour has not been suitable. It’s not something I’ve spent a great deal of time experimenting with and the early build of the game has quite a bit of missing information, which has hindered my attempts to describe it at times.
 
 

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