The proven Master of Magic, the strategy that marks the return of one of the cornerstones of the 4X genre, in a completely renewed guise.
Each of us has games that he remembers with all-encompassing affection and to which he has vivid and very pleasant memories. They are the ones that have marked our life as gamers, for better or for worse, but above all for the good. So when they told us we will have been working on the tried of Master of Magicthe new version developed by MuHa Games and Eerie Forest Studio for Slitherine, the hundreds of hours spent with the original rained all together on the old and battered cervical and, despite the psychic and physical pain for the sudden awareness of being gods otherwise young, we experienced a strange joy, which we hope will translate into a great gaming experience.
The setting of the new Master of Magic seems to be very traditional. Anyone who has played any 4X will be at home and won’t even need to activate the tutorial textual to understand the basic concepts, since they are now well established in the genre (in large part thanks to the original Master of Magic). After the generation of the map we ended up with a city and two units: one military, which changes according to the chosen faction (in the trial version there were only three), and the other of colonists. So, the first thing we did was start exploring the surroundings to find points of interest and a place to found our second city (not too far from the first, but possibly with useful resources). In total we were able to play the game for a hundred rounds, not very many, considering the amount of factors to consider and the relative slowness of progress, but enough to start tasting the fundamental mechanics of the game.
The map is made up of the classic hexagonal boxes with the available resources indicated above. Whereas the boundaries of the city they are fixed, it is vital to choose well the places in which to establish them.
Wasting colonists, especially in the beginning, making them easy prey for the first passing opponent, can hugely slow growth. Units must then traverse plains, rivers, mountains, oceans and other types of terrain to broaden their general knowledge of the map, so as to identify the most promising terrains and understand where dangers may come from.
THE points of interest, mentioned above, are very popular and, to be honest, they represent the fulcrum of the initial phase of the game. These are castles, ruins, temples and so on, just to give a few examples, in which there are enemies of different power, even none in reality, who protect gold, mana, objects and other resources, fundamental in the initial stages. On every occasion it is possible to choose whether to fight directly, delegate to the CPU or avoid the clash (essential when the forces are unbalanced to our net disadvantage). In any case, the battle summary screen always provides statistics on win percentages and potential losses, so that we never find ourselves deciding blindly.
Also in the early stages of the game (after all we could only try those), one of the greatest dangers is represented by the barbarian tribes, who attack the newly founded cities without too much warning. For this it is necessary to develop a defensive strategy right from the start. Since the forces on the field are variable and it is never possible to feel completely safe, it is essential to balance the construction of buildings with that of units. In the classic 4X style it is, in fact, possible to start only one production per city. However, you can create queues of five productions and, if you want, you can change the current production on the run, even if it is hardly an effective solution when you are under pressure and not prepared enough. As a genre, cities are more or less rich depending on the territory in which they were built. Needless to say, the resources available are reflected in the production of food and the speed of construction of units and buildings, as well as research.
One of the most important features of Master of Magic is the magic. Unlike other 4Xs, where technologies are studied to obtain better buildings and units, here increasingly powerful spells are studied, which can be cast on the map or in combat.
There are various types: offensive, supportive, defensive, summoning, and so on. The launch cost and maintenance of individual spells varies greatly and is the focus of long-term strategies that are implemented by playing. So summoning a creature can have a very high initial cost and then no longer require the expenditure of mana, while giving some bonus to a unit, such as movement speed, can cost less initially, but require a fixed cost at each. shift. Combat Spells, on the other hand, expire on the battlefield. In principle, we had the impression that in the early stages of the game the magic has less weight than in the advanced ones, where it begins to strongly manifest its effects and all its potential on the gameplay, especially when you discover the points i power, which are closely related to our magical power. Too bad we couldn’t play a full game to check it out.
Another fundamental system is that of combat. As mentioned, it is possible to let the clashes be fought by the CPU, but we quickly discovered that it is worth doing so only in case you have troops so powerful as to completely outclass the opponent. In case of uncertain clashes it is always advisable to go directly to the field, to implement more effective strategies, perhaps that go to defend the weaker troops more, so as not to make them shred every time. The system itself is quite straightforward: clashes occur on random maps, generated based on where the troops meet, where units are automatically deployed. Each of them has a certain number of action points, which it can spend to make its moves. Of course it is also possible to cast spells, one in turn, as long as you have enough mana (which in later turns tends to become the most important resource of all).
In general, the clashes seemed quite balanced to us, even if the artificial intelligence seems to tend towards fairly direct offensive tactics. It must be said that we have faced few mass fights, that is with a high number of units, and in many cases we could not even fight, because the opponents were too strong (they required advanced units that in a hundred turns we were not able to obtain), therefore this aspect will also need to be properly verified with the final version (yes, we wanted to play with it more … positive, right?).
We liked Master of Magic, either because it reminded us of the many hours spent with the original, or because it seems to us an intelligently developed title, which has embraced the main novelties of the genre. Of course, many things must also be verified, given that one hundred rounds are not enough to evaluate it and that, therefore, we have not been able to deepen the medium game and the final stages, where it should express itself at its best. In the meantime, we have a healthy desire to continue playing with it, which seems positive to us.
- The aroma of Master of Magic seems to be there
- Magic is the core of the game
- Some graphic uncertainty
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