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Warlock: Master of the Arcane Early Build Thoughts (It’s Sorta Like Civ!)

This game sort of popped up out of nowhere. I’m sitting at my desk and I get an email saying that a preview build of Warlock: Master of the Arcane is in my press account. Knowing nothing about Warlock: Master of the Arcane I started the download waiting for the five other games of Ascension I have going to get in gear. If we’re going to run a NHS Ascension tourney I need to play enough not to embarrass myself. 

After taking my turns in Ascension, I started dabbling with Warlock and one thing smacked me dead in the face after booting up the game.

This looks almost exactly like Civ V. See that screenshot up there? That’s not a Civ V mod. That’s Warlock: Master of the Arcane.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Who doesn’t like the idea of fantasy Civ V?

It plays the same way–it clearly has a Civ vibe going on from researching tech (spells) to the way units move, earn rank, etc. I don’t see a diplomacy model in place but I am also not sure if this is feature complete. There’s a lot of placeholder art in place where real art will undoubtedly go when it’s done.

I spent about an hour with it today and here’s some highlights:

*I started as an Undead Lich King

*There are a LOT of Warlock options to start with and you can customize their starting abilities.

*The races are odd. You have “Humans”, “Undead” and “Monsters” as options. A fantasy game without Elves as a race option? What’s wrong with these people? Anyway the “Monsters” are stuff like Ratmen and Orcs. I do wish there more than just three though.

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*Undead have access to Flying Rats, which at first I thought was weird but they are in fact “undead hybrid flying serpent rats” which is the coolest thing ever. They also act as scouts and can shoot at stuff from 2 hexes away.

*Units auto retreat if they take a lot of damage, which is great. Units need to have the option to “follow up” or not. Right now they just follow into the hex after a unit retreats from it.

*Research looks to be solely related to spell casting (Healing, Fireballs, Wind Walking, etc.)

*The AI was aggressive in this build. If I was in range it was attacking; again I see no diplomacy option so it looks like a knife fight in a phone booth type of deal .

*The interface is straight Civ V.

*You also receive quests from time to time from your advisor. The only one I saw was “Build a Harbor and earn 100 gold.” I’m assuming these become more interesting as the game goes along.

So, an hour of tinkering leads to me the conclusion that I want to see a lot more of Warlock: Master of the Arcane. I want to do a more complete and formal write up for GameShark after a newer build is released so I can see how feature complete the game is and I did run across a few expected bugs (fog of war not lifting at times, for example).  But I want to see more, which is always a good sign after playing an early build of any game.

More on this one later.

In the meantime here’s some more screens from my game:

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Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

8 thoughts to “Warlock: Master of the Arcane Early Build Thoughts (It’s Sorta Like Civ!)”

  1. Well, if you told me this is a Civ 5 mod (in the vein of Fall from Heaven) I would believe without questioning.

    But if this is an entirely different game, in a completely new engine, then I’d say that it is TOO similar to Civ 5. In terms of interface, it looks like a complete copy, which is not good.

    As for the game itself – hey, Paradox is publishing it. There’s a very good chance it will be good, and I look forward to it. Though it might have to face some significant competition, mostly from Stardock’s Fallen Enchantress, which should come out sometime this year (and I hope it’s MUCH better than Elemental).

    Still, it’s good to see more 4X fantasy games. That particular niche has been lacking as of late (Elemental was not good, Disciples 3 was a disappointment, Heroes 6 is more of the same), but I’m optimistic about Fallen Enchantress and Warlock. We’ll see.

  2. “A fantasy game without Elves as a race option? What’s wrong with these people?”

    I say, bravo! I’m so sick of elves and dwarves.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to this and I hope Paradox gives the devs enough time to complete it lest we end up with another Sword of the Stars 2 fiasco.

  3. Could we finally be getting a decent spiritual successor to Master of Magic? I still have to break out the old Dosbox when I want my magic-world turn-based strategy fix, ’cause nothing’s managed to beat Master of Magic’s gameplay in all these years. Maybe this will be the one.

  4. I second the idea of not having elves.

    They are too common in those games, and are pratically humans.

    Same goes for dwarves.

  5. I was being a tad coy. I also applaud the lack of traditional fantasy icons. 

    I do wish there were more than 3 race options though.

  6. Not ready to go there just yet. This build is very early. It lacks the tactical combat options of a MoM. Certainly some potential here though. 

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