Warlock: Master of the Arcane
“Civilization V”…my laptop is no doubt upset that I’ve spent more time worrying about what technology to research next as opposed to finding a better cooling station to quell an angry onboard fan. I’ve mentioned in past articles that I love being able to control an empire and shape it to be a well-oiled machine, though I tend to ignore minor needs when I do…food, sleep, sanity…you know, minor needs. “Warlock: Master of the Arcane” turned out to be my new, favorite addiction in that regard and I can’t seem to stop clicking that “End Turn” button no matter how hard I try. Before we take a look at the game in further detail, I’d like to thank Veronica Gunlycke from Paradox Interactive for providing me with a free review copy.
“Warlock: Master of the Arcane” is very similar to “Civilization V” in many ways. Those who have played the latter will feel very comfortable with the interface and gameplay mechanics. Experienced “Civilization V” players will notice some small differences, however. For one, there is no tech tree…rather, you’ll research spells that you can cast on the environment. These spells require mana, which some of your buildings generate. Another difference is the way your cities are structured. In “Civilization V”, you could build as much as you wanted in your city without worrying about space…in “Warlock: Master of the Arcane” however, each building takes up a hex, though you get to choose which building goes on which hex. There are also portals that take you from one land to another. There are some other minor differences, but those are the biggies.
Let’s rewind a bit and talk about the main menu. There, you’ll be able to play a new single player game or continue one, as well as set game options. There is a multiplayer option, though it is currently in a Beta state. The options are straight forward and cover your basics…screen resolution, sound, all of that fun stuff.
When setting up a new game, you’ll be able to set difficulty, victory conditions, world size and shape, starting spells, and so on. I recommend that new players try the casual difficulty, against one AI opponent, on a small map. It’s easy to get lost / overwhelmed when you’re new to games like this and you’ll want as much leeway as possible (larger maps require more city / unit micromanagement).
There are four main resources in “Warlock: Master of the Arcane”: Gold, Food, Mana, and Research. Gold is important mainly for maintenance purposes, as some buildings and units have a regular turn cost associated with them. Food is needed to keep your cities growing, which is an important part of building your empire. Mana allows you to cast spells that you’ve researched, and research points determine how quickly you unlock those spells. It’s a very simple system and the buildings / units you’ll have access to tell you which produce / consume what resource.
Actions are performed one turn at a time and depending on the status of your units and cities, you’ll only be able to do certain actions. I mentioned above that buildings operate a bit differently in this game as opposed to “Civilization V”, in fact, you’ll only be able to build your next one when your city has grown to a certain size. It felt odd that I had to wait for my city to level up before I could build my next building, but it added a strategic I didn’t expect. This mechanic allowed me to specialize my cities a bit, forcing me to make do with the space I had. Since some buildings compliment each other, I chose to specialize one city in making all sorts of different troops while another concentrated on generating mana.
Combat is fairly the same as in “Civilization V”, you’ll be able to see what your attack will do to an enemy unit (and to yours) before you actually commit. Units rank up, allowing you to give them passive bonuses and making them stronger overall. On occasion, you’ll be able to hire lords, which dominate the battlefield…you’ll recognize them when you see them. My ogre towered over my cities and swept across the map with a generous amount of movement points.
Spells are a nice touch, allowing you to reinforce a friendly unit or do damage to an enemy unit. You’ll be able to choose from five different spells each time you start your research, allowing you to specialize in a particular school of magic. For example, I concentrated on healing spells that I could cast on my units along with fireball spells that wreaked havoc with particularly tough opponents.
Quests make an appearance from time to time, allowing you to earn a quick buck (or whatever the case may be) for taking the time to complete them. Some quests don’t have a penalty for not completing them while others do, making it important to read the fine print before accepting them. I personally don’t mind the quests, though some task me with killing monsters deep inside enemy territory, making it impossible for me to get there. Still, it’s a nice break from running your empire.
Newcomers to the game will have access to in-game hints, read by that funny advisor we all know and love from “Majesty 2” and “Defenders of Ardania.” Right clicking on a unit will also bring up some information about their role in your empire. Hunters, for example, are ranged units and these in-game hints explain this accordingly.
I won’t go over all of the game’s features as it would take quite a while to list them out, but suffice it to say that if you’ve played and loved “Civilization V”, you’ll love this game too. The graphics are extremely pretty and the game is well polished, I didn’t run into a single bug during my play sessions. I was sorry to see that there wasn’t a tech tree included, but the different spells I had access to more than made up for that.
In the end, “Warlock: Master of the Arcane” is a fantastic strategy game that will keep you sitting in your desk chair for hours at a time. I recommend it to anyone who gets a lot of play time out of 4x turn based strategy game. If you’re still on the fence, give the demo on Steam a whirl, link below.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about “Warlock: Master of the Arcane” by visiting the following websites:
You can view some helpful material (manuals and etc.) here: