Age of Wonders Shadow Magic is a relatively unknown gem of a game. The entire game is turn-based, with the action happening at the strategic and tactical levels. As was normal for games of years past, this is a game where you will spend the vast majority of time poring over the hex-based maps; this holds true at the "world" level as well as the "battle" level.
A few things make it stand out of the pack. At it's core the Strategic level plays out VERY similar to a "civilization-lite" style game; establish cities, build and upgrade various structures, research "tech" (in this case various spells), and expand your empire across the map. On top of that, your faction leader can direclty influence gameplay through the casting of spells; some of these are "global", affecting the entirety of the map (or targetable upon an opponent), others are "permanent" (enchantments upon units), and yet others are direct-combat use (more on this later). Adding to this is a (VERY LIGHT) diplomacy and alignment component that can affect your race's interaction with other races; some races will ally with, some will tolerate, and others will outright rebel. The resoureces are limited to two; gold and mana. Both are generated through your settlements as well as from capturable nodes.
On top of a pretty good strategy-level is the tactical battle level. Rather than moving a stack of your units into a stack of enemy units and hoping you win (by the way, auto-resolve is available, but NOT recommended), the battles take place on another hex-based map. The terrain of these battlefields is directly based on the "world map" terrain as well; one of the weak points is the limited amount of maps that are available (a city map is the same for each person, with cosmetic changes based on the race of the owning city). However, environmental factors can impact the battles; for example, fire nodes will inginte all units dealing damage over time. Army stacks are limited to 8 units (8 individuals) per stack, but with proper placement (FLANKING) you can bring 2-3 stacks to bear at at time. Once the battles start, they play out very similar to a game of chess (or Final Fantasy Tactics, if you prefer). Each unit has movement allowances and various actions. Hero units up the ante on this with additional abilities, and ALL units can advance with experience earned (a couple racial units depend on levelling to "grow" into stronger units). Additionally, once engaged in battle, you can cast spells directly against units (or on your units to heal/buff/etc). Ultimately rather than relying on abstract stacks of units playing number wars, this game allows for a player with small unit tactical proficiency to shine.
The game comes with several campaigns, a couple dozen one-off scenarios, and the gem of it all; a pretty customizable random map generator. One can make an extremely large map with nothing but deserts and mountains (if so inclined), or a small forest map, or anything in between. Additionally, the random map allows for additional "layers" (underground and shadow realm) that maximize on some of the races' inherent abilites, adding more options and replayability.
AOW:SM is an older title, and one that will probably slip into obscurity. However, if you see it on-sale give it a go; for 5-10 bucks, you could do FAR worse and get MUCH less playability from a title.
Publicado: 14 febrero 2014