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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2012
Updated 9/1/2013 - The game has gotten a couple of DLC releases, some of these round out the game even more nicely. There are now "hero" characters and you can equip them with items, so the game now has a mini inventory system. I haven't seen any updates for a while now, so the game may be considered "complete." For the price it is surely a gem.

The review is written the first week of release. This game takes place in the Majesty universe (Ardiana)

A demo is available on steam that gives a good representation if you care to try before you buy.

First thing. Should you buy it? If you are looking at this game because you want to 4X game in a fantasy setting the answer is for $20 or less, YES!

Many people cite Master of Magic as "thee fantasy all others should be measured by." I never played it. My 4X history stared with Civ2, than Age of Wonders Shadow Magic (AoW:SM). AoW:SM was my gem, and I will say Warlock: Master of the Arcane (Warlock) gets close. First there are no separate instanced tactical battles. Fights are pretty much exactly like Civ5. The city building is like Elemental, which means, every building you produce takes up a tile, the space around your city is the limiting factor, every unit/building takes a certain number of turns to produce (there is no varying production). You are limited by area to build (city growth) and for troops your upkeep costs (which can only be balanced by building certain buildings in your cities. That is a unit may cost 3 gold per turn to upkeep, you can build (in one of your limited building squares) a market that will provide you with 3gold. If you produce more troops that you can support you will eventually go broke. In my opinion it works, at least in the early phase of the game. There have been complaints the AI doesn't seem to abide by the same system, and also that players can reach pretty much levels of infinite resources later in the game.

In addition to making units, when they level up you can pick a bonus much like in Civ4/5. Also units can be enchanted (by casting spells onto them at the cost of magic), or be "outfitted" with "equipment" (for a cost of gold). There is no "crafting" or backpack or item inventory. The way it works is once you build a foundry on a map iron resource you will have an option to click on a unit and click on masterwork armor pay 50gold and you're done. It is more a perk than an item. You can't transfer anything, and if the unit dies all your investment is gone. You choice is pretty much spam units, or produce less units but buff them up. Or work somewhere in-between.

There are plenty of special locations on the map. They provide a bonus once you build upon them. For example a silver resource for instance you can build a mine for extra Gold, or a silversmith for the ability to upgrade your troops resistance to melee and ranged damage. I really enjoy the choice of two different buildings most times. In past games it seems you pretty much only get one option of what to build on a resource node. One issue is right now you can not destroy a building, so if you decide you want to change your choice later you can not.
Quests. The games quest system if very similar to AoW:SM. Instead of the spirits of War, Magic, etc, you of the Gods of Ardiana. You get your basic, "Build this", "kill that," "conquer this." Complete quests gives immediate rewards (not completing has a penalty), and in some cases a successful completion will affect your relationship to the corresponding Gods. Favor of a God can unlock extra spells and units, as well as a Victory pathway within the game.

Magic. Magic feels potent. It can keep your troops alive or bring down your enemies. Focusing on Magic research can lead to a Victory pathway.

AI. It does a decent job resisting the player but never really threatens. You can also game the system once you learn the naissances of the AI behavior. For example I let an AI faction that I was at peace with whittle (6 unit army attacking that enemy city for probably 10 turns ) another factions city down to no defense and then just ran in with my rangers and captured it. The AI just slowly walks away, no fuss or complaint.

Overall. Warlock will likely scratch that itch that many gamer have felt since their beloved 4x fantasy game became too outdated. Out of the box it plays much more fluidly and faster than elemental. I've never felt the need to just pound end turn. To me that means the game is fun to play, instead of just parts of the game. For the price of $20 I would buy the game again without second thought. The game is not perfect, there are bugs, but most don't affect gameplay. Also some of the games features to me feel somewhat superficial (diplomacy, getting a quest to build a farm 5 times in a row, having an enemy attack your city every turn retreat->heal->attack again - this doesn't seem effect the output of the city at all) and some promised features that aren't available at all yet (multiplayer). If these features were flushed out just a bit and the bugs taken care of, Warlock could very easily be a satisfying game even at $40. As it is though I think the game is a very good entertainment value for the price of admission. A demo is available on steam that gives a good representation if you care to try before you buy.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
I downloaded the demo and spent more time playing it then my full game of Elemental. For those of you not familiar Elemental is a turn-based strategy game that was horribly produced and delivered. Essentially it was nothing more than a shell when first launched, even though it sold for $50! After experiencing Elemental I was nervous about Warlock, but I played the demo and immediately pre-purchased the game. It was that much fun. Plus, it appears to be well tested and smooth running.

Warlock is a mixture of Might and Magic and Civilization. There is no small scale combat, like in M&M. All combat is at the one on one unit level, with units taking damage in turn based attacks. There are spells that can be used against enemy units and cities, as well as buff spells for your units. I really don't miss the small scale tactical battles as much as I thought. I think doing things this way provides a brisker pace of play, and forces more strategic vs. tactical focus.

The interface is nearly perfect, with reminders for all activities that need to be considered. The graphics are appropriate, and I like the unit variety. There is a fair amount of randomization, so that each game provides a new challenge, even if the basic map layout is the same.

There doesn't appear to be any grand story here, so if you are looking for that sort of thing then it might not be your cup of tea. Basically your goal is to setup a game, using the available parameters like map size, number of players, etc, and then win using up to four different ways.

In summary, if you like turn based strategy, I think you'll really like this game.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2012
Overall, I did enjoy playing this game even with the cons I listed below.

Price, on sale on Stream for $9.95

Runs fine on older computers.

Graphics are good.

Does have that one more turn feeling.

Poor AI, one example is they kept on attacking my undead units even if they couldn't hurt them. One of my ghost units was attacked by 4 units per turn without losing any health. The AI doesn't know how to counter some units. If you create ghost units, you will pretty much win the game every time.

No Story mode or scenarios

Some units are overpowered, like undead units (ghost unit).

Only 3 factions

Magic research doesn't make sense.

Diplomacy is useless. Computer AI will demand gold or War. No other options for you. I had every computer controlled opponent at war with me as soon as they contact me. The AI is poor so I could take on all 3 at once and still win.
The problem is the enemy mainly just resisting the player attacks and don't really threatening your cities. I never really need to worry about guarding my cities.

Day one DLC

If they patch the game, adding scenarios and better AI then I would give it 4 stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
Some of my all-time favorite games include turn-based strategy (TBS) gems like Master of Magic, Master of Orion, and the Civilization series. After the unspeakable disappointments that were Master of Orion 3 and Elemental: War of Magic, I felt a lot of trepidation about Warlock: Master of the Arcane when it came out -- a game that wasn't as feature-rich as Civilization from some unknown European developer hitting the shelves at just $20? But Warlock has been more than just a pleasant surprise, it's a very good game in its own right and absolutely the fantasy TBS game I've been waiting for all these years.

The Good:

* Classic 4X turn-based strategy gaming. For me this game has the "one more turn" compulsion in spades.

* Fun fantasy elements. The variety of races, units, buildings, and spells are excellent, especially with the DLC packs. Humans, elves, goblins, lizard men, and the undead are available, and you can command special units and heroes including dwarves, imps, trolls, ogres, and even dragons. They've also added an item crafting system and spells that enable you to transform land tiles from one type to another (like mountains to plains), which is great.

* Simplicity as a virtue. Civ IV and Civ V have been great, don't get me wrong, but there's so much micromanagement required in those games to maximize your civilization (especially if you're playing one of the higher difficulty levels) that sometimes stepping into a saved game in progress can feel a bit daunting when you're tired and just want to conquer and have some fun.

Warlock has enough going on to be engaging and complex while being streamlined enough that playing it allows you to be more focused on building and conquering. For example, you can build units and structures simultaneously, and structures double as roads, and there simply aren't as many ways to fine tune resource gathering and management, although there are a few simple but interesting options for that. So the game is always fun and fast and easy to get into, with enough depth to keep you playing for one more turn, but never so busy or complex that it feels like work.

* Default mode is sandbox with good options. I prefer an open sandbox mode with some adjustable options, including alternate victory conditions, to structured scenarios, and Warlock gives me exactly that. Options include familiar choices like size of the world, how big and connected the land masses are (from one super continent to a world of islands), difficulty level, number of opponents, and so on. You can also customize your wizard character in fun ways, choosing between various special abilities that can improve the strength of your units or increase your gold production and things like that, or you can choose your starting spells and units (including special leader units), or even bonuses to your starting resources.

They have added a new game mode called "Armageddon" in which the world is torn by unnatural disasters that change the landscape of the world (which is very cool) and then the Dremers invade, who you then have to defeat.

* Runs great on lower-end machines. As others have mentioned, you don't need a new computer with the latest NVidia graphics card to play this game. I'm playing on a five year old HP desktop with a three year old low-to-mid end graphics card and it plays just fine. The animations and particle effects are smooth and the textures look great. I've even run the game on a Windows 7 install via Parallels on my MacBook just to see how it would do, and it ran just the same.

* Great business model. It feels weird to be praising a publisher or developer for their business model, but I really like what these guys have done with this product and it's worth mentioning. Rather than trying to cram everything into a $50 initial release or a $50 release and a couple $30 or $40 expansions, they released a fairly polished (by PC game standards) but not perfect game of manageable scope for a bargain $20. Since then they've released a series of free updates that include fixes and new content, and inexpensive DLC packs with even more new content (new spells, units, items, heroes, and even game mechanics).

I love this approach and I hope more publishers will follow suit. It seems like a particularly effective strategy for maintaining or hopefully growing interest in neglected genres like turn-based strategy games or turn-based roleplaying games.

The Bad:

* "Huge" world is too small. The largest world size you can play Warlock on is about half the size of the largest Civ V world, if that. It's not a huge deal (no pun intended) but it is lame if you want to have a chance to explore and build a bit before running into one of your rival mages. And if you decide you want to take on the max number of rival wizards, you will be bumping up against three or four of them almost immediately.

* Alternate realms still kinda pointless. One of the features of the game is that the game world has multiple portals to different "other worlds" (you can set the number from one to six when you start a new game; "none" isn't an option). They've improved them a little in the updates and DLC packs, but the other realms are still mostly pointless. They typically have a greater abundance of some of the rarest and most valuable resources that let you build the coolest units (like the dragons) or best weapon/armor upgrades, but they're also populated by a lot of the most powerful monsters. By the time you're powerful enough to safely colonize one of these worlds you really don't need what they offer (and you can find most of the rare resources in the main game world anyway by that point). In terms of flavor these realms look a bit different, but that's about it. Seems like there's still a lot of untapped potential there, but for now they're not a stellar addition.

* AI is not great. In terms of how AI foes allocate units and resources and use spells, they're not completely brain dead, but the game would be a lot more challenging if the AI were halfway decent even. It's still fun, and on the highest difficulty setting they're a bit more aggressive, but it is a shame they still haven't improved the AI much.

* Diplomacy is a joke. Much like Civ, the diplomacy AI in Warlock involves a lot of enemy leaders threatening you and demanding free stuff or declaring war. To be fair, you can reasonably trade with most of the AI wizards much of the time, but expect the stupid threats to follow shortly. This is one area where it really makes me sad that it's 2013 and we still haven't had a TBS with a truly compelling diplomacy system.

* Magic "tech-tree" doesn't make much sense. There doesn't really seem to be a "tree" as such. Each time you research a new spell you're given five spells to choose from. Let's say two them are Shadow Bolt and Ice Ring. You pick Ice Ring and research it. Now you naturally expect that Shadow Bolt will be available again to choose, but sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. And as you play more and more games you'll see that you don't get presented with the same spells to research in the same order from game to game (even if you're playing the exact same wizard).

Most of the time this is more puzzling than annoying, but every once in a while there'll be a spell you like to use that normally you can research early in the game and for whatever reason it isn't made available as a research choice. Then, yeah, it's irritating.

* Not much in the way of non-sandbox gameplay. A recent DLC pack added the "Armageddon" game mode mentioned above, but that isn't really a scenario, it's just something cool added on top of the normal beat-the-world sandbox gameplay. It's cool, but if you're someone who really likes the kind of focused scenarios available in various Civilization expansions, you're not going to find that here.

Also, when you do achieve a victory condition you can't just keep playing. That's not a big deal to me, but I'll admit it would be nice on occasion to be able to keep playing and annihilate your remaining annoying foes when you win by a non-conquest option.

* Multiplayer still not great. It's not quite as buggy as it was at first, but still clunky enough that my friends and I don't bother with it. Don't know if it'll be any better or not by the time you read this review.

* No stats! This one actually really bugs me. The game does not keep track of anything. There's no "hall of honor" or whatever that tracks your best games, no record of how many victories you've had or how many units or enemy heroes of different types you've defeated, no achievements, no nothing! It's hard to believe a developer would ignore these things nowadays when achievements and such are all the rage -- especially when they've been part of the TBS genre since the early 90's at least.

* Requires Steam. Hey, I like Steam and everything, but the one thing that drives me nuts is not being able to play a game I "own" when I can't connect to the Steam servers for some reason. I travel a lot, and that happens way more often than you might suspect, even in this day and age, and a turn-based strategy game is exactly the kind of game I love to play on the road, and if it weren't for Steam I totally could.

Bottom Line: At the price I think it's worth taking a chance on even if you just think you might be interested in this sort of game. If you're already a turn-based strategy fan, I would enthusiastically recommend the game - just don't let your expectations get too high, and be aware of the issues described above. But for me the pros far and away outweigh the cons. I hope they'll keep releasing updates and DLC packs for this game, and I hope maybe some other small companies will give this approach a try with TBS games in other settings (sci-fi, ancient armies, whatever). Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
First off ... I'm not a big Steam fan and actually purchased this game in a box. Of course, I had to connect to Steam to update it and to subsequently purchase all of the DLCs. But the DRM is tolerable here and well worth the experience.

I felt compelled to review this game because it's unique in its depth. If you've ever wanted to get into 4X gaming (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate), started with one of the "Civilization" titles (or one of its close cousins) and were overwhelmed by the vast number of resources and mundane tasks you had to take care of ... then this might be YOUR game.

I'm not writing off all other members of the 4X genre. I enjoy those types of games very much. But I do remember feeling a bit "lost" the first time I ever booted one of them up (for me it was Civilization III) and I put the game down a couple of times before I finally got over the learning curve to where I could appreciate it.

That shouldn't happen here. Here the focus is very heavy on tactical combat, with just a smidgeon of city building added. If you've ever played "Fantasy Wars" or the "Elven Legacy" series, it's like they took those games and sprinkled in just a small amount of resource management. There are only 4 resources in the game (food, gold, mana and research points), and only two of them (gold and mana) actually accumulate in tangible numbers. Food is managed only as a delta (ie. are you or aren't you producing enough to support your empire ... and by how much), and research points are managed similarly except that the delta is always positive. If you're not producing enough food, your cities growth will be retarded, if you're producing too much ... a portion of the excess is converted to gold. The advantage of high levels of research points is that you can learn more complex spells and learn them faster. You are, after all ... a great mage!

So the "planning" of your world domination effort is focused on identifying hexes that are advantageous because of the resources they may make available, and either building cities to encompass them, or conquering any city that may already contain them. Once you do that, you then have to make sure that you build the right structures on the right hexes to maximize the territory you control ... but that's about it. Everything else is all about combat. Reminiscent in a good way of the old Avalon Hill board games if you go back that far.

But the Avalon Hill games didn't play out on your computer screen with such beautiful graphics. I find them to be very intriguing to the point where they don't get old, and yet you don't need a $2000 gaming rig to enjoy them. Also, none of the AH games ever gave me the option of hitting an opposing troop unit with a fireball! <G> You can do that and a WHOLE lot more here.

All told, it's a very easy game to get into. I could never get my girlfriend (who is slightly beyond a casual gamer, but not much) to play Civilization III, IV or V ... no way she's going to stick with it long enough to figure it all out. But we were both fans (for a time) of some of the "dumbed down" online Civilization clones (think "Evony" and all of the games like it that have come since). And she LOVES this game. It's like playing one of those simpler online games, except with a bit more depth, far better graphics, and the advantage that it's turn based. So you can actually play AND still maintain your real life, without worrying about troops starving, cheating bots, and/or cowardly opposing lords who seem to only attack when you're offline.

If you're even THINKING about it, go ahead and pick it up. It's a steal at ten bucks compared to the amount of entertainment you're going to get back, even if you never pickup or enjoy another 4X title. But if it serves as your launching point into more complex members of the 4X genre, then you've got a lifetime of very intricate strategy gaming ahead of you ... and I think many may find that it does just that. Even at high levels, the AI is a bit on the weak side here. Having conquered the basics of 4X gaming, you may well leave the world of Ardania in search of a greater challenge ... and there are PLENTY of them out there.

In spite of that, even as a seasoned 4X veteran, I find the game to be quite enjoyable in its own right. The documentation in the box is a bit lacking (ie. what can/should be built on this type of hex, what is the best way to attack this particular foe) but there are online guides that fill in those holes if you look for them. And the whole thing has a "jump right in and get going" simplicity to it that is almost unheard of in this genre. It's also beautiful to look at. Start playing at 6pm, and it will be 3am the next morning before you know it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2012
I am a HUGE turn-based strategy fan..Heroes of Might and Magic 1, Panzer General, etc.

This does look ALOT like CIV 5 but with fantasy, but it quickly stands out on its own.

For $20.00 this is too good to pass up if you like these games.

The humor behind unit history and their comments ("CHEEEE-AAAARRRRGE" - from the Stubborn Knights who ride donkeys...always make me laugh) are very fun.

The graphics are very well done...special effects, animation, drawings, map...all great.

Resource gathering is extremely limited though and just boild down to 4 things, food, mana for magic, and research(which doesnt really matter all that much).

This is a CLASSIC "one more turn" game and you will QUICKLY lose MANY hours playing.

It is repetative though...You build units, you try and keep your resources up and you continually try to expand your territory.

But, it is fun, especially for the money. (BTW, if you like Heroes of Might and Magic, you HAVE to try "King's Bounty, the Legend and Armored Princess")

Two things I am finding a bit annoying:
1) Even on a Huge map, you quickly run out of room and you will find your self at war with rival Wizards.

2) Diplomacy is nearly non existant. While its fun to hear your rivals "talk", there is no real negotiation other than paying them off so they won't attack you.

So, this is certainly no CIV game, but I gave it 5 stars anyway because it still is SUPER fun and in this day and age of the dying Turn-based Strategy, this is a gem in the collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2013
Nice game, can recommend. for a low budget game it is a pretty good real time strategy game. Thumbs up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2013
Wow!!!! I love this game!!!! This game is vast and massive and I'm still learning new things about it everyday. This is the best strategy turn-based game I've ever played!!!! I'm addicted!!!! I will be ordering all of the expansion pacts very soon. All of the different monsters and units that are available are mind-boggling!!!! These guys sure know how to design a cool game. If you re looking for a new turn- based strategy game that will keep you enthralled for days at a time, this is it!!!! Back in the nineties I had the coolest turn-based strategy game I ever played called Dungeons and Dragons: Birthright The Gorgon's Alliance. I still have the disk but my Windows 7
DVD won't read it. Well this game is very similar and is even better. Hats off to the guys and gals at Paradox Interactive. Best game
I've played in fifteen years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2013
After playing every Civilization game ever made and asking for YEARS that Civ come out with a Fantasy/Sci-Fi based Expansion Warlock: Master of the Arcane does just that!

$19.99 is a small price to pay for this VERY FUN game! The game is well laid out and I haven't found a single glitch yet, whereas Civ V has glitches that STILL are not fixed. This game is very engrossing as well because all of the terrain gives different bonuses so unlike Civ you don't just drop a city down and then forget about it.

And also unlike Civ there are MANY different factions all with their own units and combat bonuses.

I knew someone would create a Fantasy Based Civilization-type game and Warlock: Master of the Arcane is it!

If you like Civ and you also like Fantasy Strategy games this is the game for you! I haven't stopped playing since I first tested it out and as soon I saw the expansions I bought them too!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2012
So I am a long time Civ fan and hoped this game would breath some new life into the genre, or at least not repeat the flaws of the past. Sadly there is no reason not to just expand indefinitely like in Civilization 1? There is no corruption or penalties for number of cities, or distance from your capital. So just out grow the incompetent AI--and dominate easily on the hardest settings.

I wanted to like this game. It looks pretty, but lacks any depth; or thought of strategy.
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