Warlock: Master of the Arcane

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Today we’re covering another game set in the fantasy realm of Ardania, known as Warlock: Master of the Arcane, which was developed by Ino-Co Plus and published by Paradox Interactive. If you take Majesty‘s basic premise  and put it in a Civilization-style turn-based system, you’ll have a good idea of how it works. For those who have forgotten, the previous game had you controlling a ruler managing his kingdom. This time, however, you play as one of the titular Warlocks, and you’re directly engaging other kingdoms rather than trying to survive a hostile environment. Oh, and the Sean Connery-esque Adviser is back too.

At the start of a game, you pick the world settings and your warlock, choosing from a pool of points to determine what spells and perks you start with.  These can be increased resource gain, or just having a big stockpile of them at start, and the spells, while basic, are effective. There’s also 3 races available: Humans, Monsters, and Undead. Each faction has some minor bonuses associated with it, and you can always build enemy troops by taking one of their cities.

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I played a two-headed dragon. Because why not?

Resource management is much more important in Warlock, as there is much more to it than gold, and you can’t just tax adventurers, as you now rely on the more pedestrian (but arguably more practical) military units to do your fighting. That said, you have a limited amount of building space in each city, which encourages expanding your empire. There’s a number of optional lairs and such to loot and profit from in Ardania, and there are also portals to other worlds, allowing players who find them to further expand, albeit in incredibly hostile territory compared to the base world. The realm is made up of different environments, granting bonuses and penalties to buildings constructed upon them. For example, building on lava tiles is a really bad idea, and so is walking over them.

On top of the resource management, you need to try and be diplomatic in situations where force isn’t working. You can try and make peace with fellow kingdoms, and there are a number of victory conditions that don’t involve fighting. The gods of the realm get in on the act too, often giving you quests as opportunities to earn their favor. That said, ignoring them or refusing their quests entirely may cause them to declare war on you. You don’t want that.

Normal difficulty seems a bit harder than you’d expect, but that may just be me getting rusty. I haven’t played many strategy titles lately. Or perhaps I’m just not used to ranged units actually having the ability to attack from a couple tiles away.

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The extensive lore entries have returned, providing amusing anecdotes and such while helping to flesh out the realm of Ardania. It’s good to see that one of the finer points of the Majesty games wasn’t left behind in the transition to turn-based strategy.

Overall, it’s a familiar experience with some unique twists set in an amusing fantasy realm. If you’re a Majesty fan, or have otherwise missed Civilization and other such games, I’d recommend it. Warlock is available on Steam for $20.

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