Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Age of Wonders

EQ2 is not too happy with my husband's computer right now, so I'll be letting him use my PC until we figure out what is going on. So I bought an expansion for an old title and been having fun with it, since it really doesn't need a powerful computer to run.
I used to have Age of Wonders and Age of Wonders 2 back in Brazil, but it got lost during my journey here. But GOG "helped me", and it was even cheaper than last time to get both of those games plus the expansion for Age of Wonders 2, called "Shadow Magic".
Age of Wonders 1
The first game, Age of Wonders, has what I'd call a "delicate" art that appeases me more than the second version of the game. Everything is tiny and each unit has unique art portraits. Difficult to explain, but I just find it more adorable then the second game.
Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic
Gameplay-wise, the games are fantasy themed turn-based strategy, like an easier version of Civilization, with less politics and more combat and exploration. The maps are always beautiful and detailed, and while you could simply run after the map's objective without looking around, exploring can reward you special items for your hero/wizard, extra gold and mana, nodes, extra resources and extra units. All of this happens by finding a node, or some ruins where you have to battle monsters and conquer loot, or by finding some independent party which is from your same alignment and is willing to join your cause for a few gold. Or maybe they are from a different alignment and you'll kill them for some xp.
Loot!
To move around the map, each unit has movement points. Some have more than others, and some even have special abilities, such as flight, water walking and mountain climbing. Once all your movements are done, and you did all you could administrating your little cities, it is time to end your turn. Turns can be set up to be simultaneous or each moving on their own turn. I like to have each player with their turn so it is easier to watch what they are doing, when "fog of war" allows, of course.  
Combat is always each with their own turn to move. Movement points are in use here too, as well as the special movements, with highlights to the flying units and the wall climbers having an easy way here to conquer towns and towers with walls. The combat map is not just for cosmetics, since large stones and houses can provide you cover or be an annoyance to your archers and spell casters trying to kill from a safe distance.
Combat in Age of Wonders 1
Combat in Age of Wonders 2
Magic is another big point it the game. Each hero/wizard will have an affinity sphere of magic, which can be either fire, water, air, earth, life and death, with cosmos arriving in AW2. Having an affinity, there are also different sphere points that will allow you to mix some of these schools of magic. So while you can have an affinity with fire and rain fireballs at your enemies, you can add some points in life for healing spells also.
Magic spheres as seen in Age of Wonders 2: SM
Your spellbook is shared between all spellcasters. Spellcasting is a hero skill, and not all of them will have it. In such cases though, you can save up experience points and purchase the skill. To learn new spells you either research or find them for sale while exploring. Research and mana regeneration share a slider, so you can either have more mana per turn or spend less turns on research.
Your spells are separated in Global, Unit and Combat. Global spells can affect the world map and summon creatures: eagles, fire storms and blessings or curses upon whole cities. Unit spells can be cast from the world map or combat to buff  and heal your units, or curse and debuff enemies. And combat spells, as the name suggests, are only available during combat, being damage dealing or debuffing combat area effects.
Spellbook as seen in Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic
Being good, neutral or evil is what makes diplomacy useful. You can make peace or war, or even choose to have an allied victory. It can be a relief in some maps where you are surrounded by all sides, and once allied, at least one of the corners you won't need to be watching for attacks anymore. Also gives you a feeling of how multiplayer could go which is a modality of this game that I have never tried. Other then multiplayer, you can even play by... e-mail. I don't think nowadays anyone would have patience for that though!
And example of diplomacy in Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic
Each race comes with an alignment already though, so you can't pick to be a nice flower picking orc, sadly. In both games though, there are other races and creatures that you can have or combat no matter your race,  like the summoned creatures, siege engines and priests. 
Each race has different units. Some of them can be a little alike, such as the fact that each race will have a basic foot soldier unit, and an archer, but they'll still have different stats. And then differences just keep growing, like some races being stronger or weaker against certain kinds of magic.
The Races of Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic
If you are interested, both games do have demonstrations to download and try to see for yourself what I'm trying to explain here. Also, both editions of the game have active modding communities. AND both games do have map/campaign editors which are shared on that same community, which are their HeavenGames websites.
The games are available at Steam, Impulse and GamersGate also, but I am not sure if there are any price differences when compared to GOG.

3 comments:

  1. I got AoW2: Shadow Magic for X-mas, and it's on my list to try this summer, if I can. I haven't played any of the series before, and picked this one based on user reviews on GOG. Did I make a mistake, and should have started with the first one? Based on the kind of game it was, I didn't think it would matter.

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  2. That's difficult to answer, since I always had AW1 before I got AW2. You'll sure be fine starting with AW2 though. Specially in the expansion, where the campaign story is a little better.

    You are not the kind of person who has a problem going back to an older title, so try the one you have first, and if you really like it, go back to AW1.

    Something I forgot to add: I love the soundtracks for this game.

    And out of the subject: if you feel like participating in a little community of people blogging about games, check MMO Voices: http://mmovoices.ning.com/ It's not just about MMOs!

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  3. Okay, thanks. ^_^

    As for the community, I'll look into it, though I do have my hands full already!

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