April 14, 2011

Random comments about Master of Magic

I wish there were a way to tell the game, "I don't ever want to hire Gunther or Brax, so please don't ask me."

If you have magicians in a blue or green node, their fireball always works in "auto" mode.

Builder's hall, granary, smithy, market place, farmer's market, shrine, sawmill, temple, stables, animist's guild, forester's guild, miner's guild, parthenon, library, sage's guild, university, bank, and then trade goods. That's how I develop my Draconian outposts to best support the war effort. (And later, when their population goes up more, I'll tell them to build an oracle.) If it's intended to be a manufacturing site, then of course it also needs alchemist's guild, barracks, armory, fighter's guild, armorer's guild, and war college. And then either a wizard's guild or a fantastic stables, depending on what race it is.

I cannot live without the Wall of Stone spell, which is why I always take at least two green spell books. The wall of stone is simply too important, and it takes too long to build normally. At 50 MP to cast, this is one of the best bargains in the game.

Draconian airships aren't as good as I figured they'd be. Having ten ammo is definitely nice, but they just don't do all that much damage. For plinking at ground pounders who can't fight back, they're OK if you're not in a hurry, but against anything that flies or has rangestrike they just don't cut it.

I think that my favorite summon is the Colossus. It's fast, powerful, has excellent armor and lots of hit points, does melee really well, and its two rocks are impressive. Three colossuses can knock down a Sky Drake in one round (if they're lucky; four can do it even if unlucky), and they can melee with phantom warriors safely because they have first strike. The Colossus isn't the strongest fantastic creature in the game, of course (that would be the Great Wyrm) but it's versatile and can fight effectively against pretty much anything. The Great Wyrm is useless against fliers; the Great Drake can be, too, because it's only speed 2. The Sky Drake is formidable against most things and I would class it as the second best summon.

When I'm using predominately green magic and using flocks of draconian wizards, I looove fighting Great Wyrms. No danger, lots of treasure, and they're easy to take out with Crack's Call, if you cast it enough times. Of course, if they are accompanied by spiders, all bets are off.

My second favorite high-value monster defenders are big white lairs. 8 Guardian Spirits plus a unicorn would probably be dangerous as hell against ground pounders, but against draconian wizards they just stand there and allow themselves to be killed. And I've gotten spell books from such lairs. Lots of experience points, lots of treasure, and absolutely no risk.

I think that Red magic has more "cackle in glee" spells than anything else.  Call the Void is really too good. If any of my opponents ever started using it I think I'd quit the game. Armageddon and Great Wasting are fun, too. Corruption is a cheap but effective way to royally screw up an enemy's logistics. And Chaos rift is a slow but effective way to render an enemy city completely useless.

IMHO the best "cackle in glee" black spell is Warp Node, which converts an enemy node from mana source to mana sink.

Oh, and everything goes better with adamantium.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Gaming at 07:10 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 589 words, total size 3 kb.

1 It really sucks to be on the receiving end of an Armageddon spell.  For some reason, it seems to have a massive negative to your income if it's cast on you, although the rules don't say so.. 

I had one game go into massive failure when a wizard too remote for me to reach in two turns sent me to about neg 60, instantly. I was playing red/green (on hard) that game and had no way to dispel it.  Game over.

New game (also hard), I'm playing all Death books w/no special abilities. It's working surprisingly well, but I think that's the geography more than anything. -- I was left alone on my continent until I developed Paladins.

Posted by: ubu at April 14, 2011 10:17 PM (GfCSm)

2 This game souunds amazingly complex. How long would it take to learn enough to get started? How long do games last, compared to, say, MOO?

Posted by: bkw at April 15, 2011 12:18 AM (34O+x)


Hmm... I'd say it's about as complicated as Magic: The Gathering, and for much the same reason. On the surface, it's pretty much straight Civilization, with spells replacing techs. But it's just different enough that, when you run into your first "BAM, you die in two turns" opponent, it can get really annoying trying to figure out how exactly the rules worked, or didn't work, to screw you over.

Among the differences:

- Every race (culture) is COMPLETELY different. None of that enforced equality between the Aztec and European cultures, your choice of starting race will affect everything in your game... until you conquer enough cities of a different race to start producing their units.

- Most units are multi-figure, which is different enough from Civilizaion or MOO that it can really mess up players when a single unit of enemy slingers wipes out their entire army of sky drakes, but when the player builds slingers they disintegrate when hit with a single fireball. Attack, defense, and health of multi-figure units are multiplied by the number of figures in the unit for the purpose of most attacks, with the disadvantage that, as the unit loses health, individual figures die, which gradually cripples the unit. Normally these units will die one at a time, say a unit of 6 spearmen with 2 HP each (12 HP total), when hit with an attack that does 5 HP damage, two of the spearmen will die, a third will be at half health, and the rest unharmed. Certain spells, like Fireball, deal small amounts of damage to each figure in the unit instead of massive damage to the unit as a whole, which makes them devastating against multi-figure units but practically useless against single huge units like dragons. The same unit of spearmen, hit with a Fireball for 2 HP damage per figure, would be obliterated.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at April 15, 2011 04:37 AM (4njWT)


- First strike attacks. Every time two units engage, the damage is inflicted in a particular order:

1. Attacker's first strike attack

2. Defender's first strike counterattack

3. Attacker's normal attack

4. Defender's normal counterattack

This is obviously most relevant in multi-figure units, as the defender will often have fewer units to counterattack with after suffering an attack. Interestingly, there are many melee attacks that count as first strike attacks, in addition to the "First Strike" ability, which replaces the normal attack/counterattack with a first strike attack/counterattack with the same damage. Thrown and breath weapons are essentially "first strike" attacks that take place in addition to the normal attack, and often have a completely different attack power or attack element that can't be enhanced like normal weapon attacks can. The attack power of this attack (per figure) is listed on the attack, such as "Fire Breath: 3" or "Thrown Axe: 2." This means that Barbarian units (which all have Thrown Axe attacks) can have nasty surprises in store for flying units that can normally only be hit by counterattacks or ranged weapons.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at April 15, 2011 05:20 AM (4njWT)

5 I would say another factor is that, with the spells and mythic creatures and such, its easy to miss that, just like in Civilization, wars are typically won and lost before the first shot is fired.  Its part of what makes White so potent; once you've gotten a few of the better spells, you can roll over almost anything because your civilization will just plain outpace them in everything.

Posted by: metaphysician at April 15, 2011 07:03 AM (hD30M)


White magic is easy to underestimate. I know that in games where I've found multiple white books, the game goes quite well. And Ariel (pure white) is always formidable, unless she gets stuck with a garbage race (gnolls).

Spells like Prosperity, Stream of Life, and Altar of Battle can really change the game. Charm of Life is really powerful, too, as is Crusade.

Green magic has a few of those, too. Gaia's Blessing is really nice on your cities, and I really like Herb Mastery. (I always cast that one as soon as I get it.)

Which is why Merlin (Green/White) is formidable.

Of the five pure colors, I think Jafar (pure blue) is the least formidable. Blue magic is quirky; it can do a lot of good things, but it's missing a lot of things you'd really like. (In particular, it gives you nothing to help your cities.) Blue works better mixed with other colors.

BKW, the game does have something of a learning curve, but you can actually get into it pretty easily, especially if you have played Civilization. It isn't really necessary to sit own and read both manuals all the way through before you play. Plus, the easiest setting in the game is really, really easy, and the game gives you hints when you're at that level.

Just remember: granary, city walls, marketplace, farmer's market, and shrine. Those are your first five builds for your capital. And for your first few games, pick the Orcs. They're the vanilla race, and they're pretty good.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 15, 2011 08:21 AM (+rSRq)


I put it to the audience here: For a beginner, which premade wizard is the best choice? Me, I'd pick Merlin. He's got green and white magic, so you get support spells for your troops and spells to make your cities better, which makes you more likely to survive and enjoy yourself. And if you're lucky, you get some good summons later: either Colossus, or Behemoth, or Great Wyrm. Plus, you (probably) get Guardian Spirit, so you don't have to garrison the nodes you take.

But since green and white are my favorite kinds of magic, maybe I'm prejudiced.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 15, 2011 08:26 AM (+rSRq)

8 Can't really say.  I read enough of your posts that I wasn't really a total beginner even on my first game.  Hence me going for Halflings.  *cough*

If I had to pick between White and Green for a first color, I'd go Green, though.  More useful summoned critters for the early game, and Nature Awareness.  Making recon a non-issue is really good  for a beginner.

Posted by: metaphysician at April 15, 2011 09:58 AM (hD30M)

9 Freya wouldn't be a bad choice for a starting wizard, either. Ten green books plus Nature Mastery gives you a huge discount on both research and casting, and I truly believe that Green magic is the best balanced one in terms of city spells, combat spells, summons, and enchantments.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 15, 2011 10:04 AM (+rSRq)


"Of the five pure colors, I think Jafar (pure blue) is the least formidable."

Least formidable, but most annoying.  Especially if you play against 3 or 4 wizards, he'll spend all his time casting True Disjunction against your world enchantments, and True Dispel (or whatever it's called) against your buffed up units every time you attack him.  Black magic + mana leak (and a long running battle so it siphons him dry), or Blue magic of your own with Spell Lock is the only way to make fighting him not resemble a wrestling match with a porcupine.

I tend to prefer white + red for my roll-over-the-baddies games; Adamantine Righteousness'ed Flame-Bladed Holy-Armored Eldritch-weaponed Chaos-channeled (Ultra-)Elite hammerhands/slingers/paladins/your-favorite-four-to-eight-man-unit are just silly.  Stick Torin in a stack with them and it's past silly and well into ridiculous.

Posted by: Mikeski at April 15, 2011 03:10 PM (GbSQF)

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