Master of Magic
for PC (DOS)

Mr Creosote:themasterofall:Overall:
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Company: Microprose
Year: 1994
Genre: Strategy
Theme: War / Sword & Sorcery
Language: English, Deutsch
Licence: Commercial
Views: 45990
Review by Mr Creosote (2000-09-22)

Master of Magic is the sequel to Master of Orion. If you had read my review about that (I know you didn't...), you'd know MOO is my favourite game ever. Of course I had huge expectations. But the game didn't fulfill them all.

I'm a fan of really complex games that are easy to learn at the same time. On the surface, Master of Magic is far more complex than MOO. Set in a cliché fantasy world, it adds a lot of stuff to the concept.

You can design your alter ego choosing from 5 different kinds magic (life, nature, death,...) and many special abilities such as 'warlord' which lets you have more powerful units or 'gold to mana'. And as if this wasn't enough to choose, there are also many different races which all have their advantages and disadvantages!

You may know from Civilization or MOO what comes next: Build up an empire starting with a single city. Instead of technologies, you research spells. There are two kinds of spells: The ones you cast on the map and the ones that effect battles. On the whole there a huge amount of them. They're of course divided into the five types of magic.

Your character predetermines your strategy roughly. If you have much talent in chaos magic for example, you'll get many offensive, deadly and destructing spells. And you'll use them to attack you opponents. But playing a magician of life is different! Your spells do protect your units and make your cities prosper. Why attack?

The disadvantage of this: The other sorcerers judge you mainly based on your kind of magic. That makes diplomacy (the strongest point in MOO) almost impossible most times. Really, really, really annoying!

Only two aspects of the game remain because of that. First the city developement. It's almost identical to Civ. You have to build single buildings. Unfortunately! I like it the way it is in MOO: Just giving general rules. Here, you have to waste too much time giving build-commands in the later game. A step back!

Second the wargame. And that's really what Master of Magic is about. There is an almost unlimited number of different units which you can either build in cities or summon them magically. Especially the latter ones are very cool. Everything from a simple weak skeleton to nasty demons who can summon even more creatures in battles is there.

Then there are heroes. These are single characters who are quite weak at the beginning. But gradually they gain experience and become the most powerful warriors. Heroes are also the only units who can carry artifacts, powerful magical items that add to different skills. On the whole, high level heroes are even a bit too strong. Sometimes they can't be hurt anymore at all. A bit unbalanced.

The battles itself are decided on a tactical map. You move your units around, attack, cast spells and so on. Citys can also be damaged during battle. So even if the defenders win, they can be weakened severely if they have to build up half of the city again!

Master of Magic doesn't quite measure up to its genious predecessor. But if you take it as a pure wargame, it's really great!

Archived Review(s) ↓

Review by themasterofall (2015-06-03)

Master of Magic was the first strategy game of my life. I played it on my 486 with a 33MHz CPU (using the Turbo key enhanced this to full 66MHz) for the first time. It ran smoothly! ^_^ It was launched under DOS with the good old Norton Commander.

About the game

It is a turn-based strategy game. It begins by selecting a mage. There are some default configurations which are consistent (meaning they're suitabled for beginners). You can also define your own mage using a fixed number of points.

  • Different abilities can be selected which will later have effects on all kinds of things in the game (e.g. relations to other mages or playable races etc.), reminding me a bit of the character traits of the dictators in Tropico
  • You can choose from different schools of magic, which is the basis of learning spells. Do you want light, death or nature spells? The more books you have in one 'row', the more powerful spells you can learn from this school in the game. This implies that a mix is not always the best choice.
  • You can choose between different races. Each race has got its own custom units. The 'dark' races start the game on the 'other side' (the game is played on two maps, the 'normal' world and the 'dark' one, between which you can move using magic or secret passages).
Sure, the configuration may take a little bit longer, taking into account all these options.

The game itself is then about building up cities. You have to juggle with limited resources (food vs. gold vs. workforce vs. mana). Choosing the buildings will sometimes influence the whole game. For example by building a library, you receive points to have your mage learn new spells faster (because just taking the spell books is not enough, you also have to study them). These are categorised, e.g. unit enchantments, global spells, summoning etc.

In the game, apart from regular units (and the summoned ones) there are also so-called heroes. These can be summoned as well, but also they offer their services (the more fame you have gained [for example through winning battles], the more will show up). Similar to Warcraft, they can be equipped with magical items. Some of them can also cast spells themselves, useful in battle.

Gameplay is done on an overview map, battles are zoomed in. Here, you can control each individual unit and cast magic spells. If the capital falls, the mage falls.

Because there are so many small tweaks (not to mention the difficulty levels and the number of opponents) which can be changed, the game doesn't get boring. Due to the many small aspects which are all interconnected, there are always new things to discover.

Translated by Mr Creosote

Comments (8) [Post comment]

Mr Creosote:
An army of those flying ships is pretty much invincible, too. This is basically the biggest problem of the game: The imbalance between the units.

This is an awesome game for replay ability. If you want to know the best "beasty", take a paladin, add a chaos channel, and then flight if you didn't get it. They can take out just about everything in the game, especially in a pack of 9.
It is a bit annoying to have to deal with the cities, but no more so than Civ is. Just like in Civ it is a random board each new game, the one drawback is that you cannot choose what type of land set up.
Still a 5.5/6 across the board, except music, which can get old after a while. Also, expect the game to take a long time to play through. Defend your main city with heroes and magic casters, because the defender goes first, and mages at top level are quite nasty.

Mr Creosote:
Age of Magic (see link above) seems to be dead, last news on their site dates back a year ago. It actually never sounded that promising, being a pure multiplayer game with no AI. And take a look at the screenshots section: It seems the first thing they made was a rendered intro - how useless is that?

i personally prefer mom, not moo. but both are great games. but accidently my original cd got a scratch and doesn't work anymore. so can anybody tell me where i can get (buy) the GERMAN version of mom? please email me!

and i think the fan game mentioned above is "age of magic". does anyone know if there already is a release of that game?

Keeper of the Blue Flame:

I heard someone is already making a sequel to this game.
Since they`re fans as well, I bet we can expect a large in depth and old skool gameplay.

something the software companies could learn from, since they seem to be focussed more on spectacle and hardware abuse than anything else lately...
it`s not EVERYone, but there`s a sadly high amount of them.

While microprose has let this masterpiece of a game flounder, Others have worked to make a very playable game that is simillar Age of Wonders 2. If you liked MOM, and I loved it, you should give AOW2 a try.
Jeff Randall:

I really enjoyed this game. I've always wished that Microprose would rise to the challenge of creating a newer version of MOM. Loved the idea of having a fortress on which to depend on while conquoring your opponents.

Wishful Thinking.