Decide on Ardania’s future in Paradox’s latest strategy title. Rival warlocks fight for control in Warlock: Master of the Arcane
In the valleys of Ardania, nestled amidst two mountain passes, rests the small town of WolfRich. This little hamlet will soon play host to the greatest power Ardania has ever seen. Today, that power stems from the steady clicks and concentration of myself, as I vow to bring the WolfRich empire into existence!
After making my way through the start menu and into the level construction, I settled on a supercontinent (only just edged with ocean), a semi-large scaling, and the Challenging difficulty. From there I perused the impressive character selection. I could choose between three races in this turn-based stratagem, with a variety of potential Warlocks. In a warring mood, I went with Tendral, son of Vendra, a particularly vicious-looking two-headed dragon at the helm of monster legions (your standard goblins and ratmen). Not just a collection of pretty faces, all the characters have their own perks and inclinations. Tendral’s high conjuration and mana regeneration were what attracted me.
One click later and the WolfRich Empire was founded!
I wasted no time in sending out my initial two goblin cohorts to scout the area. My archers had more movement points than my swordsmen so they were able to get far enough to uncover a den of wolves. A pack waited hungrily but I had no more points to move with, hopefully my soldiers would survive to the next turn. Now I deliberated on which spell to research first; Firebolt, yes, that would come in handy!
As the game progressed, WolfRich grew. I had set up a smithy and barracks to hone my army and some mana traps to feed my fire frenzy. After weathering the hail of arrows constantly above them, my warriors had gained some new levels, bringing them new defensive and offensive boosts. I had even acquired skeletal swordsman after razing a small neutral city and adding it to the Empire. Everything was just easing along until my scouts stumbled across the borders of my rival Warlock. He had also wasted no time.
Watching them fall after a nasty blast of dark energy I rallied my armies, took a breath, and began the War of Fifty Turns. After the loss of many great legions, and the founding of countless cities to keep the war effort going, I finally stood astride Moritorium. My armies had stripped away the cities around it and brought it down to 10 health points.
My finger didst then descend and with it the Moritorium fledgling empire was incinerated by my trusty Firebolt. WolfRich ruled the continent!
Upon leaving the world of WolfRich, err, Ardania, I was satisfied in how engaged I ended up being with Warlock: Master of the Arcane. The world was a familiar one, for those who have played the Majesty series, but the take was fresh and fun. The game takes place a few hundred if not thousands of years after Majesty, in the same Ardania but a very different time.
Lore states that Ardania saw a great many tragedies and wars that decimated the land and leaves it to the mercy of these Warlock generals. You take on the mantle of one of the warlords and vanquish your rivals with the help of archers, swordsmen, and siege weaponry, all in different upgradable forms depending on which race you choose – Human, Undead, or Monster. To bolster your army, you’re given a number of building options such as training grounds, smithies, and temples (including the Shrine of the Rotten Pumpkin — Paradox has not lost its sense of humor).
Through the game you must keep a stable balance between your gold and food incomes in relation to what your army needs to keep on fighting. You wouldn’t want to rile yourself up right off the bat with soldiers only to have them wiped out, leaving you helpless with no funds. Luckily, there are gold mines and loot hidden around the map waiting for the treasury. Quests are also scattered through the turns and area. They may require you to kill some creature or build a structure but always have a good boon of gold at the end.
The art and graphics of Ardania are comic but fitting. Everything flowed naturally and gave the impression you were really in this fantastical world. Right down to the unseen land being covered in clouds as opposed to darkness which definitely makes you feel god-like.
On the note of feeling all powerful, as the game goes on you continue getting research options for new spells and buffs. As you look down through the clouds and bestow powers on your heroes and doom on your enemies you bring yourself into the thick of the game. Oh the power!
Warlock: Master of the Arcane was a light, fun take on the turn-based strategy genre. They knew the world was their strength and played that up fairly well. The land of Ardania continues to grow and take on new avenues in gaming but with this title, I think they hit what they were going for. I’ll be watching for Warlock’s release later this year.
Preview copy supplied