Master of Magic is a pretty unique game. I think people still play it for that reason. The Age of Wonders series shares many similarities with MoM. AoW is also turnbased war & economy strategy based in a medieval world with magic and fantasy influences. I write this blog because Age of Wonders 3 will be released in a month. Here some short infos regarding the series.
AoW 1 (1999): The first title puts more emphasis on combat. More precisely you can't build settlers or town buildings. However, there are 3 city upgrades which allow to build stronger units. There are 12 races (e.g. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Goblins) in total. Some races will revolt under your command. So you must immigrate their cities or surpress them with guarding troops. Some maps have 1 or 2 underground levels.
what I liked:
- Really Impressive Campaign.
- You can create your own maps with the Map Editor. Unintentionally, one release even allowed to customize units and spells. This allowed the community to make its own rulesets. The easiest way to mod AoW is using the Community Content Pack.
- Pretty short games. You can beat the opponent with a few unit stacks. Some people might find that heroes and some level 3 and 4 units are overpowered but I liked the fact.
what I disliked:
- Cities walls can only be destroyed by using catapults and battering rams.
- The magic system. There are some level 1 spells that are more useful than any level 2 and 3 spell from the same realm.
- The Resistance value is too unimportant. The only spell that is affacted by Resistance is Entangle. Some units have special attacks with negative effects (e.g. poisoned, cursed, seduced), but this requires that you hit the enemy first. Thus the Defense value is much more important.
AoW 2 (2002): This game is more similar to MoM. However, I liked the first title more. If your leader is located in a city with a Wizard Tower, then s/he can cast spells in all combats inside your influence zone. Towns can construct buildings that increase your production, research and mana.
what I liked:
The combat system. All units can capture cities. Ranged units can move before shooting. Units can't retaliate endlessly. The unit's number of attacks depends on the percentage of movement points left.
what I disliked:
- Boring campaign.
- The hero system. The upgrading system is uninspired. Heroes die to easily in battle. Either because of spells or the short distance towards the enemy at the beginning of combat.
- The overland map is too unclear. I hate the fact that height profile was added to the terrain. I often overlooked enemy unit stats. I often had problems to know which structure the symbol on the mini map was standing for.
- Neutral cities join your realm too easily. There's often no point in conquering neutral cities with violence.
- Production overflow is not used for the next building/unit in queue.
AoW Shadow Magic (2003): This is some kind of AoW 2 AddOn although it's a stand-alone version. AoW SM introduces a new map level - the Shadow world - inhabited by 3 new races. It also allows you to generate random maps. Some units got balanced and non-physical attacks like Magic Bolt are defended by Resistance.
AoW 3 (2014): It's the first game in 3D. Races are combined with your leader class (Dreadnought, Sorcerer, Rogue, Archdruid, Theocrat, Warlord). Can't say much yet. Have a look yourself: http://youtu.be/--qBfmWsWWg