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Master of Magic
Master of Magic boxcover.jpg
Box cover art for Master of Magic
Developer(s) Simtex
Publisher(s) Microprose
Designer(s) Steve Barcia
Version 1.31 (March 1995)
Platform(s) MS-DOS 5.0 or higher
Release date(s) 1994[1]
Genre(s) 4X turn-based strategy
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) USK: 6+
ELSPA: 11+
Media 3½" floppy disks (8), CD
System requirements Intel 386 or 486 CPU, 4 MB RAM, VGA Graphics
Input methods Keyboard and mouse

Master of Magic is a single-player, fantasy turn-based strategy computer game created by Simtex and published by Microprose in 1994[1]. The player controls a wizard attempting to rule two worlds. From a small settlement, the player must grow an empire and banish all the other wizards by military might or casting the Spell of Mastery. To do this, the player must manage resources, build cities and armies, and research spells. Master of Magic's early versions had many bugs, and were heavily criticized by reviewers.

Contents

Gameplay

Players can greatly customize their characters with choices of portraits, spell books, abilities and race.

Master of Magic falls among the games which pioneered the 4X game genre.[2] A new game world is randomly generated with every new game. The player can customize some aspects of generation (land mass size, strength of magic, etc.). The player can also customize the skills, spell choices, and appearance of the player's wizard, as well as choosing one of fourteen races for the wizard's starting city.

The player must build an empire from a single starting city. The player sends out units to explore its surroundings, thereby revealing areas covered by the fog of war, finding suitable sites for new settlements, and ruins and lairs containing treasures claimed by defeating their guardians. Players require ships to transport units across oceans, unless they are able to fly or swim. Units travel via Towers of Wizardry or spells between the planes, called Arcanus and Myrror.

On finding suitable settlement areas, settlers can be sent out to establish a new city there. Exploration will also reveal the location of enemy cities, to which the player can send out armies. In these ways, the player's domain is expanded.

To build more powerful or specialized military units, the player first upgrades cities with special buildings. Research of spells and cultivation of the player's magical ability also depends on mana. The only way the player can accomplish these tasks is to build up and exploit an inflow of food, gold, and mana, the game's primary resource. The former is generally gathered by taxing the player's cities. The latter is generally gained by building mana-generating structures. Gold and mana exist as treasures in lairs and ruins, and are interchangeable via an Alchemy option.

Attacks can be launched against enemy wizards (computer-controlled non-player characters). The ultimate goal is to conquer or exterminate all their cities so as to banish them from the worlds. Battles are fought on a tactical close-up of the square under attack. Master of Magic allows players to alternately exterminate the other wizards by researching and successfully casting the game's ultimate spell, called the Spell of Mastery.

Magic

The magic system of Master of Magic is one of its defining features. Master of Magic split its spells into six schools of magic - Life magic which heals and protects, its antithesis Death magic which drains away life forces and raises undead, Chaos magic which warps its subjects and spews forth destructive energies, Nature magic which turns even the weather against its foes, Sorcery magic which bends the air to its will and seek to subvert other magics, and Arcane magic, which is a general school and free for all. The collectible card game Magic: The Gathering's classification of spells into colors is similar to this magic system and led several reviewers to reference the card game in their description of Master of Magic.[3][4].

In Master of Magic, players can only research and cast spells from schools which they have selected spell-books in. Each school has several types of spells. There are global spells which can affect targets all across the world, like Cursed Lands which incites rebellion and reduces production in opponents' cities, Fire Storm which causes an area to erupt into damaging flames, and Spell Binding which allows the caster to steal another wizard's global spell. Unit or city enhancement spells can boost the potential of its target, such as hasting units to move and attack twice as fast, enabling them to regenerate wounds, and blessing their weapons to become more potent. Wizards can also summon fantastic creatures related to their schools, like Chaos' hell hounds, Life's archangels, and Sorcery's sky drakes. The player can research combat spells to cast them in battles to hurt enemy units in various ways, turning the odds around, like throwing out fireballs, petrifying foes, and webbing them. Lastly there is the Arcane Spell of Mastery which takes enormous resources to research and cast, but wins the game for the player.

Combat

Unlike strategic phase's top-down perspective, combat takes place in isometric view.

In Master of Magic, a tactical battle takes place when two armies clash for a square on the global map. The battle takes place in a separate close up of the contested square. The two forces are arrayed at different ends, and the battle is conducted in a turn-based manner as well. The battle ends in victory for one side by eliminating the other or forcing it to flee the combat, or a draw if both sides still exist after 50 turns.

The player has 86 unit types to build up armies from. Those units recruited from the cities, fall into two categories. A few are generic types like swordsmen, archers, etc., but racial bonuses make units of troll shamans lesser in numbers but inflict and take greater damage than units of human priests, with regeneration to boot. The majority of city-recruited units are racially unique units with special abilities like the nefarious Doom Bolt casting dark elven warlocks, the lucky halfling slingers, and the first-to-strike elven lords. Mercenaries can seek employment with famous wizards, allowing them to recruit units which their cities are unable to produce. The player can even summon fantastic creatures, such as demon lords, beholder-like chaos spawn, enormous behemoths, etc. The vast variety of units with their own special abilities give players a lot of choices in configuring their armies.

Heroes are another option for players to boost their military edge. 35 distinct heroes are available for players to hire or to summon. Their own special abilities can help to boost the efficiency of other military units (like bestowing offensive or defensive bonuses), or enable them to take on whole armies on their own (such as armor piercing attacks, immense strength or toughness, etc.), especially when equipped with magical items discovered or forged by the players.

Plot and setting

Animated slideshow showing the two worlds of Arcanus and Myrror

The game Master of Magic takes place across two worlds of existence, Arcanus and Myrror. Arcanus is a land much like our Earth, with arctic poles, and terrain consisting of forests, oceans, grasslands, and deserts. Myrror is a parallel world to Arcanus, with a heavier magical atmosphere, fantastic flora and fauna not found on Arcanus. The two worlds are physically linked to each other by special Towers of Wizardry, allowing units to travel between them. The concept is akin to two floors of a building linked by stairwells.

In line with the theme of magic in the game, magic nodes - which are sources of magical power - are scattered throughout the two worlds. Likewise, the worlds are populated by fantasy races, such as the magical elves, the gregarious halflings, the despised and productive klackons, and the noble high men. Fantastic creatures like the burrowing great wyrm, undead skeletons, and dragons also abide in ruins and lairs, guarding treasures. Occasionally they stalk the land, and can be summoned and pressed into the services of wizards.

Reception

Master of Magic was recognized for its introduction of concurrent gameplay across two planes of existence, allowing for greater tactical play, which was later implemented in the Heroes of might and magic and Age of Wonders series. While the acclaimed Warlords series later allowed customization of heroes, Master of Magic was the first major fantasy strategy game to feature individually distinct heroes, with unique abilities, which could be equipped with customized items. This customizability extended to the creation of a unique persona/wizard with access to a variety of spells dependent upon the number of "ranks" or "books" of magic of a given school. Wizards could also be designed with specific traits, a feature which separated Master of Magic and the later Master of Orion 2 from Civilization.

Early versions of Master of Magic's were riddled with bugs and had a terrible artificial intelligence (AI), frustrating a lot of reviewers with its crashes and ignorant enemies. Despite that, it was announced as the Runner-up Strategy Game of the Year by Strategy Plus magazine, coming in behind its older sibling Master of Orion.[5] A few patches later, version 1.2 corrected a lot of the bugs and added some tweaks but there were still game crashing moments. Bill Cranston of GameBytes also savaged other aspects of the game, constantly comparing it against the 1991 hit computer game, Civilization.[6] He said the gameplay was mostly repetitive clickings of the 'end turn' button throughout several hundreds eventless turns. Other complaints on his list also include Master of Magic's magic not being as crucial to winning the game in a straight forward manner, as compared to Civilization's technology. The potential of racial strife was less than fulfilled as military units of different races can co-exist harmoniously even though subjugated cities of a different race can rise up in rebellion. Coming Soon Magazine! however reviewed the same version and called it a must-have for strategy fans with great gameplay and lots of spells.[7]

The game was reviewed in 1995 in Dragon #213 by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Jay gave the game 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, while Dee gave the game 4 stars.[8]

Master of Magic version 1.31 was released in March 1995. It rectified many more bugs, and implemented a few changes to the AI. IGN reviewed this version of Master of Magic in 2002,[9] and stated that the ability to customize the player's character, random maps, and vast variety of spells and creatures give an immense replayability to the game. The dual planes concept and intense tactical battles spiced with spells, encouraged them to name the latest version of the game as the best fantasy strategy game ever made. Computer Gaming World called this version fantastic, and named it as one of their "150 Best Games of All Time".[3] Similarly IGN placed the game as one of their "Top 25 Games of All Time" in 2000 and "Top 100 Games of All Time" in 2003,[10][11] praising it for its innovative simultaneous play of two worlds. Tracy Baker wrote in Computer Gaming Classics, naming it as a strategy game classic for its success in implementing the mechanics of Master of Orion in a fantasy setting.[12]

Legacy

Master of Magic was inducted into GameSpy's Hall of Fame in 2000,[13] citing it as a visually stunning game with "enduring replayability" due to its randomness, and large variety of spells. They also credited the game as being more popular than Master of Orion, and responsible for making Steve Barcia and Simtex household names.[14] Computer Gaming World also inducted Master of Magic into its Hall of Fame in 2005.[15] Its impression on the gaming community can be evidenced by it being referenced as a representative product of Microprose in gaming reviews.[16][17] Even Alan Emrich, the coiner of the 4X genre, has listed Master of Magic as his number one game of all time.[18] Due to Master of Magic's impact on the fantasy turn-based strategy genre, the Age of Wonders series, which were almost identical in gameplay, tend to be put up against it in their reviews,[19][20] even though Lennart Sas, Age of Wonders's lead designer has stated the games having differences with each other.[21]

Despite such acclaims, Master of Magic still has yet to produce a sequel or remake. Steve Barcia had stated in 1997 that Master of Magic II would be ready by spring 1998 with new features, spells, monsters, and even a spell designer.[22] However, Simtex was closed down in the same year. Microprose revealed it was developing the sequel on its own, but had to cancel the plans when the company's financial situation deteriorated in 2000.[23] Despite the later presence of games which resemble Master of Magic (such as the Age of Wonder series), reviewers like Kyle Ackerman and GameSpot editor Andrew Park lament they never capture its spirit.[4][24]

Hopes were raised when news began of companies like Quicksilver Software and Stardock picking up the rights to produce a sequel.[25][26] They were dashed when the deals fell through, as the companies were unable to reach an accord with Atari's demands for full control of the software's marketing. Game Informer claimed in its November 2007 issue that Stardock was targeting a remake of Master of Magic for 2009.[27] However, Stardock's employee, Aaron Rister, clarified in their own forums that Game Informer was mistaken.[28] The project is a creation of Stardock's own, and was unveiled in their 2007 interview with Gamasutra as a "part Master of Magic, part Populous and part X-Com" game.[29] This game, Elemental: War of Magic, officially announced in late 2008, is scheduled for release in 2010.[30]

References

  1. ^ a b http://www.mobygames.com/game/master-of-magic
  2. ^ Tom Chick (2002-01-17). "Insider: PC Retroview: Master of Orion II". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/news/25828.html. Retrieved 2007-11-19.  
  3. ^ a b Computer Gaming World staff (November 1996). "150 Best Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World. Ziff Davis. http://www.cdaccess.com/html/pc/150best.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  4. ^ a b Kyle Ackerman (n.d.). "The 49 Best Sequel-Less Games". Games.net. http://www.games.net/article/feature/115641/the-49-best-sequel-less-games/. Retrieved 2007-09-27.  
  5. ^ Microprose (December 1996). "Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares". Press release. http://www.csoon.com/info/micropro.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-05.  
  6. ^ Bill Cranston (1994). "Master of Magic, Microprose". GameBytes (21). http://www.ibiblio.org/GameBytes/issue21/greviews/momrev.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  7. ^ Coming Soon Magazine! staff (March 1995). "Master of Magic - PC Review". Coming Soon Magazine! (4). http://www.csoon.com/issue4/master.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  8. ^ Jay & Dee (January 1995). "Eye of the Monitor". Dragon (213): 57-64.  
  9. ^ IGN staff (2002-01-17). "Insider: PC Retroview: Master of Magic". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/101/101024p1.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  10. ^ IGN staff (2000-07-20). "The Top 25 Games of All Time". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/082/082408p1.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  11. ^ IGN staff (2003-05-01). "IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time". IGN. http://top100.ign.com/2003/61-70.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  12. ^ Baker, Tracy (October 2000). "Strategy Game Classics". Computer Gaming Classics 8 (10).  
  13. ^ James Fudge (2000-12-30). "Hall of Fame - Master of Magic". GameSpy. http://www.gamespy.com/articles/493/493221p1.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  14. ^ James Fudge (2001-01-01). "Master of Orion". GameSpy. http://www.gamespy.com/articles/495/495795p1.html. Retrieved 2007-09-23. "One year later (after spending some quality time squashing some bugs in his masterpiece) Steve Barcia continued the trend of bringing quality turn-based fun to market with the follow-up title, Master of Magic. Master of Magic was probably even more popular than MOO for its graphic splendor and enduring re-playability (so much so that it has already been inducted into the GameSpy Hall of Fame)."  
  15. ^ Computer Gaming World staff (May 2005). "The CGW Hall of Fame". Computer Gaming World. Ziff Davis. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_zdcgw/is_200505/ai_n13633684. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  16. ^ Robert Coffey (n.d.). "Running on Half a Tank". WorldVillage.com. http://www.worldvillage.com/wv/gamezone/html/reviews/grndprix.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "Microprose has made some great strategy games, games like X-Com, Master of Orion, and Master of Magic. These games blended long-term planning aimed toward a specific goal with frequent episodes emphasizing unique, short-term tactical execution. [...] Well, you had better know about cars because there's nothing here to guide you, unlike Master of Magic where your long-term research plans were at least informed by the spell descriptions in the manual."  
  17. ^ Edmond Meinfelder (n.d.). "Rule the Galaxy for $50". WorldVillage.com. http://www.worldvillage.com/wv/gamezone/html/reviews/moo2.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "Simtex is not a land of the ignorant. The decision to stream art from the CD has a reason: more art. Players of both Master of Orion I and Master of Magic criticized Simtex for low quality graphics. Master of Orion II shows Simtex now has a capable art staff."  
  18. ^ GameSpy staff (July 2001). "GameSpy's Top 50 Games of All Time". GameSpy. http://archive.gamespy.com/articles/july01/top503as/. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  19. ^ Jonah Jackson (November 2003). "Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic". Computer Gaming World. Ziff Davis. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_zdcgw/is_200311/ai_n9505097. Retrieved 2007-09-23.  
  20. ^ Andrew Park (2003-12-08). "Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic". GameSpot. http://reviews.cnet.com/pc-games/age-of-wonders-shadow/4505-9696_7-30984459.html. Retrieved 2007-09-23.  
  21. ^ Jonah Falcon (n.d.). "Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic interview with Lennart Sas, Lead Designer". UGO. http://www.ugo.com/channels/games/features/ageofwonders_shadowmagic/. Retrieved 2007-09-27.  
  22. ^ Barry Brinson (November 1997). "Long live role-playing games!". PC World: pp. 154–160.  
  23. ^ Chin, Elliott (2000-02-16). "Microprose Can't Confirm Master of Orion III". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/masteroforion3/news.html?sid=2446612. Retrieved 2007-09-27.  
  24. ^ Andrew Park (2003-04-18). "GameSpotting/80. Quad Damage". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/all/gamespotting/042003quaddamage/2.html. Retrieved 2007-09-27.  
  25. ^ Jonah Falcon (n.d.). "Master of Orion3 interview with William C. Fisher, Quicksilver President". UGO. http://www.ugo.com/channels/games/features/moo3/interview.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-27.  
  26. ^ Jason McMaster (2006-11-15). "Master Of The Galaxy: Stardock's Brad Wardell". Gamasutra. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1780/master_of_the_galaxy_stardocks_.php. Retrieved 2007-09-27.  
  27. ^ "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly". Game Informer: pp. 56. November 2007.  
  28. ^ Aaron Rister ("Kryo") (2007-10-18). "Did Fantasy TBS get changed to MoM remake?". Stardock. http://tgnforums.stardock.com/?aid=165429. Retrieved 2007-10-21.  
  29. ^ Alistair Wallis (2007-07-26). "Q&A: Stardock's Wardell Talks GalCiv, Indie Power". Gamasutra. http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=14842. Retrieved 2007-10-21.  
  30. ^ Chris Remo (2008-11-04). "Interview: Stardock's Wardell On Elemental: War of Magic". Gamasutra. http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20916. Retrieved 2009-06-19.  

External links


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Master of Magic
Box artwork for Master of Magic.
Developer(s) Simtex
Publisher(s) Microprose
Designer(s) Steve Barcia
Latest version 1.31
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Turn-based strategy
System(s) MS-DOS
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s)
USK: Ages 6+
ELSPA: Ages 11+
System requirements (help)
CPU clock speed

386MHz

System RAM

4MiB

Master of Magic is a single player, fantasy turn-based strategy computer game created by Simtex and published by Microprose in 1994. The player controls a wizard attempting to rule two worlds. From a small settlement, the player must grow an empire and banish all the other wizards by military might or casting the Spell of Mastery. To do this, the player must manage resources, build cities and armies, and research spells. Master of Magic's early versions had many bugs, and were heavily criticized by reviewers.

Master of Magic falls among the games which pioneered the 4X game genre. A new game world is randomly generated with every new game. The player can customize some aspects of generation (land mass size, strength of magic, etc.). The player can also customize the skills, spell choices, and appearance of the player's wizard, as well as choosing one of fourteen races for the wizard's starting city.

The player must build an empire from a single starting city. The player sends out units to explore its surroundings, thereby revealing areas covered by the fog of war, finding suitable sites for new settlements, and ruins and lairs containing treasures claimed by defeating their guardians. Players require ships to transport units across oceans, unless they are able to fly or swim. Units travel via Towers of Wizardry or spells between the planes, called Arcanus and Myrror.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
  • Controls
Walkthrough
Appendices
Races
Arcanian
  • Barbarian
  • Gnoll
  • Halfling
  • High Elf
  • High Men
  • Klackon
  • Lizardman
  • Nomad
  • Orc
Myrran
  • Beastmen
  • Dark Elf
  • Draconian
  • Dwarven
  • Troll

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