Master of Magic (or MoM as it came to be known to its fans) is a wonderful melding of the real-time strategy genre to a fantasy universe. This game owes its existence to two previous Microprose games: Civilization and Master of Orion. And if you enjoyed either or both of those, you're bound to enjoy MoM. MoM tries, though not always successfully to take the best elements from both of its predecessors and wrap them in its own blend of Magic and fantasy to create a new and unique gaming experience.
In MoM, you assume control of one of several predefined wizards, each of whom specialize in one or more types of magic. There is also the option to customize a wizard with a different mix of magical knowledge and special skills. The next step is to choose the race you wish to lead. Here you have numerous choices from standard fantasy fare: elves, dwarves, gnomes, humans, draconians, etc. Each race has a unique set of military units and buildings it is able to construct. These choices will have some impact in the type of game you choose to play. For instance, pick Trolls (a hearty race of impressive fighters) as your race, and you might be inclined to give your Wizard the special ability of Warlord (making him extremely adept at leading men into combat) in lieu of additional magical powers.
The game is a game of resource management and exploration, as are most games of this genre. One nice touch is the ability to conquer (as opposed to destroy) enemy cities and then construct units and building of the types allowed to that race. For instance, assume you're playing the trolls and you conquer an elven city. You can now build all of the elven units and buildings in that city.
As in Orion, you have the ability to negotiate and trade with the other wizards in the game through its diplomacy engine, however diplomacy never seemed to factor into MoM as heavily. The computer players seem largely against you, and in the end as you approach victory all will declare war on you, regardless of your previous relations.
The goal of the game is simple: eliminate the opposing wizards. And this is unfortunately where the breaks down a bit. In MoM, every wizard has a capital city. Capture or destroy that capital city and the wizard is banished for a long period of time until he can regain enough magical energy to return. While he is banished, his forces just sit around waiting for new orders, and his construction and research are halted. With judicious scouting, it is very easy to ignore the vast majority of an opponents army and conduct surgical strikes against there capitals, thereby granting yourself an easy victory even at the hardest levels.
Graphics: The graphics are detailed and enjoyable. You can see the draconians fly.
Sound: Sound is effective if somewhat sparse.
Enjoyment: A highly enjoyable fantasy experience!
Replay Value: A toss up. It should have a high replay value with the numerous races and wizards to play, but the game affords a too easy victory if you allow yourself to take it.
The plot of Master of Magic is to become the dominant wizard on two 'planes' of existence, the normal Earth-like one and the fantasy based plane "Myrror". You can do this by destroying your competing wizards (up to 4 computer players) or by casting the Spell of Mastery.
Game play is carried out in a 2D top down perspective. You move your armies around the board, fighting monsters to get treasure, and more importantly 'nodes'. Once you control a node you can summon a spirit to meld with the node and gain mana from it. You also must build up your cities so you can support and train your army. City management is very much like Civilization. You also must allocate your mana for use, or research. You must research to learn new spells. You can do battle with the enemy in a quasi-isometric perspective or you can have the game simulate the battles.
The game ends when your home tower is destroyed; you banish all the other wizards (by destroying their home tower) or someone casts the Spell of Mastery.
How to run this game on modern Windows PC?
People who downloaded Master of Magic have also downloaded:
Master of Orion, Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares, Master of Orion 3, Lords of Magic: Special Edition, Magic: The Gathering, Civilization 2, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, MechCommander 2
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