Do you have the power in our preview of Warlock: Master of the Arcane

When the throne of great kings stands empty, and the lands of Ardania descend into endless strife, those few who wield true power struggle to restore order and unite the lands, and yet they know only one shall be named Warlock: Master of the Arcane! Are you strong enough to lead your people to glory as Arch Mage?

Warlock: Master of Arcane is a brand new turn based strategy title from Paradox Interactive and their Majesty 2 studio In-Co Plus. Think of it like Civilization, but with wizards and warlocks instead of Abraham Lincoln and Ghandi, oh and magical spells rather than nuclear bombs.

Warlock is set in the kingdom of Ardania; created by the Majesty franchise, it is a world full and rich with magic, heroes and mythical beasts inspired by Medieval fantasy and other mythology. If you are already well versed in its history and creation you will feel right at home with Warlock, and will undoubtedly have already picked a god to favour be it Krolm, Fervus or even Dauros.

With a choice of three races; humans, undead or monsters, each one has their own unique units and building types, of course there is a collection of typical infantry types to recruit such as spearmen, archers, and foot soldiers to magical entities such as Ent’s and ghosts.

This isn’t stronghold though, Warlock is about conflict and war, and so on your randomly generated map you’ll have many enemies, and one main rival, you’ll also find fledgling towns and cities built up around the world from various races. You can ‘liberate’ these cities allowing you access to all of their constructed buildings as well as the chance to gain access to new infantry types that you would not have been able to recruit as your particular race.

You’ll also have a wealth of natural threats waiting for you around every corner, from cockroaches to ghosts, man-eating spiders to rats; nature is truly out to get you in Warlock, and more often than not they’ll be protecting lost caravans or caches of loot ripe for the taking.

Battles are very simple, and much like any good turn based strategy before you even attempt to get your unit to fight with an enemy each is scored on their effectiveness in battle; taking into consideration difficult terrain, casualties and melee damage. As long as your units are a full strength you’ll be able to walk over most common foes, except for man-eating spiders which will rip you apart!

However, there's very little that can withstand the might of a fireball hurled their way, and the selection of spells on offer can be increased through research, allowing you to create an unstoppable army, with a hefty amount of spells to back them up when the battles get a little tough.

No strategy title is without its resource management systems, and there’s not too much to busy your head with in Warlock, just cold hard cash, ever-important food and spell-reliant mana, depending on what sort of character you created, you may have bonuses that add to your resources per turn. If not, you can construct any manner of buildings to ensure that these resources are kept fully stocked; farms, granaries and pubs will of course keep your food topped up whereas markets, districts and banks will bring the cash rolling in, mana is a little harder to ‘farm’ and mana traps will harness some magic essence to you.

To make things even easier for you, each town in your control informs you exactly what incomings and outgoings you have, so if your food is going nowhere and you aren’t sure why, popping into city view will layout exactly what your city is performing, and what resources it is guzzling, after all when your population reaches a high on your level 10 city you begin to lose track of exactly what you’ve been building.

What is best about Warlock is its simplicity, within 5 minutes you will be fighting nature, building an empire and levelling units, there are not lists of menus and choices; everything is in front of you plain as day and all extraneous information is kept as short and sweet as possible.

What draws you into Warlock so quickly is the simple almost cartoony art style that is reminiscent of Warcraft and Settlers; bright and colourful away from the darkness of modern gaming, Warlock: Master of the Arcane puts a jolly spin on the vicious world of battle and bloodshed.

Warlock: Master of the Arcane is due to be released during Q2 of 2012, in its current state it has a lot of potential, and with its multitude of difficulty levels it could well be a good turn based game for the novice and most experienced of players.



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