Once again it is time to visit the land of Ardania, venue for the Majesty series and the recently released Defenders of Ardania tower defence game, to check out an early beta for this upcoming Paradox title. Did I pack my anti-rat hat?
The land of Ardania is becoming one of my favorite homes away from home. Firstly, I got to rule a Kingdom in the Majesty games and basically bribe alcohol-chugging heroes to take on quests and remove any monster threats. Then I got to create towers and send heroes to destroy the towers of my enemies in a new twist on the classic tower defence genre in Defenders of Ardania. But now I get to build a fantasy Kingdom on an epic scale.
Warlock: Master of the Arcane is still a long way from being finished. With a release in the second quarter of 2012, Paradox Interactive have plenty of time to polish things up and get everything working as it should. But even as it stands right now, unfinished and glitchy, the game is shaping up to be something really special, especially for Civilization players who want to get their hands on something a bit more fantasy-based.
The similarities with Sid Meier’s Civilization games are blatant and obvious. As a turn-based strategy title, the game is played on a grid map with the player’s cities exerting influence over the surrounding hexs, allowing them to build farms, defensive towers and guilds in order to create troops. New cities can be captured from enemies or founded by creating settlers, and additional resources can be found hidden around the maps – at least in the ones I played.
So far, so Civilization. But perhaps the biggest addition, besides the game being in a fantasy setting, is the introduction of magic. As the almighty ruler, players are able to research new spells and cast them onto the map for various effects. These can be anything from helping out your troops by zapping the enemy with a lightning bolt, or casting a healing spell, to buffing troops or structures and summoning magical creatures to fight on your behalf. As far as I can tell, there are a massive number of spells available in the game to experiment with.
Quests appear to give the player something to focus on, in the form of things like “build a farm” or “destroy the Druids”, and the player’s troops level up and receive buffs to make them stronger and more valuable. The absence of any tutorial left me fumbling with some of the games more complex aspects, but as a seasoned Civilization player, I was able to pick up the basics fairly quickly, further emphasising the similarities.
As I have already said, the game is in early beta at the moment. Once the game is closer to being finished, there will be a more in-depth preview. But until then, and even at this early stage, I can comfortably say that Warlock: Master of the Arcane is a game to keep an eye on for strategy fans.