Age of Wonders, despite the age, is still a worthwhile game. It can appear deceptively simple at first, but as you begin to chip away at the abilities and magic system, you realise just how important deeper knowledge of the game mechanics can be.
A lot of the game has been covered by other reviewers. Essentially: turn based fantasy strategy game with empire management. Unlike the sequels - and many other games of its type - in Age of Wonders if your leader dies, you lose the game. This adds an extra layer of risk - your leader is powerful and can take down many basic units, but one wrong move and the game's over. It can sound cheap, but it really puts the stress on in major battles, something other strategy games miss out on. There is an option to remove this for the skirmishes, if you're not keen on it.
THE WARNING: this game, as it sits on Steam, is faulty. It crashes a lot - A LOT. Some people are fine, but looking at the reviews and the forums, it's wide spread enough for it to be an issue. You can fix this with a Hex editor. Now, I know some basic fixes are acceptable, but having to use a hex editor to fix the game is not. I imagine a lot of people out there don't know what a hex editor is, or how to even use one. Furthermore, I don't see any reason why this can't be done on the developers end - it took me two minutes, and would save everyone else a lot of headache.
I very nearly put this as a thumbs down, but the cheap price, brilliant gameplay, and the fact that a fix is available - courtesy of the fan base (which, by the way, provide more maps and content than you'll ever manage to get through), I really can't bring myself to do it.
Age of Wonders and its sequels remains the best of the Master of Magic heirs. The game has a number of races to play, two campaigns with branching points, tactical combat, magic systems and customizable characters. Its citybuilding is simplified, however. I'd recommend it and the rest of its family to people looking for a fantasy 4X style game though at this point they are all a bit dated and are not without frustrating gameplay aspects. But they are inexpensive and still enjoyable. I'd recommend this until something newer comes along to topple it, and so far nothing that I've played has.
19 of 20 people (95%) found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
14.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 22, 2015
I bought this game mainly due to nostalgia, having played it shortly after it came out in 1999. I knew beforehand there would be some frustration thanks to lacking quality of life improvements we are now accustomed to in modern games.
I gave it a shot nevertheless and I'm happy I did it. Sure, it can at times be cumbersome and tiring, especially when the enemy AI sends a lone dwarf across the otherwise impassable mountains to conquer the gold mines in your backyard. *shakes fist* But the gameplay overall was fun. Leveling up your heroes, selecting their new skills and equipping them with loot from the dungeons and haunted ruins you occasionally encounter is what made me love this game all those years ago. And it's still great.
This game is not for everyone, I know, and it might be an acquired taste. But I immensely enjoyed playing through it once more.
17 of 18 people (94%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
113.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
TLDR: Get it.
I'd never heard of Age of Wonders before getting this game with AoW 2 and AoW: Shadow Magic during a big sale not too long ago. For $2, I was not expecting much - and was absolutely blown away when I started it up and discovered an enormously complex and well-developed game hidden behind such a low pricetag. The dated graphics might be a turn-off to some, but unjustly so; the game itself holds up masterfully against its current-gen counterparts.
Some might be tempted to call this a 4X strategy game in the vein of Civilization, but that was not what I personally found to be the case. Yes, you're on a tiled map with cities and armies marching around, but that's about where the similarities end. Things like city management and upkeep are extremely reduced: cities provide you with money and can build units, and you can upgrade them to unlock additional tiers of units. No city upkeep, no taxes, city size doesn't change, and happiness is basically a factor of whether you're playing as a "good," "evil," or "neutral" faction (good likes good, evil likes evil, neutral's indifferent to everyone). It's simple and keeps the focus on what the game is really all about, which is capturing territory.
Here the game starts to feel like Starcraft or Warcraft, but turn-based. Each turn, you get a certain amount of gold, and you have to decide how you're going to balance spending between teching up (unlocking better late-game stuff), fortifying cities, and producing armies. Exploring the map is a necessity; that's the only way you'll find mines and farms to supplement your income and acquire more cities to boost production. Fighting happens when one player moves an army onto the same hex as an enemy army, at which point not only those two armies, but all adjacent armies as well, get ported to a small-scale tactical map. Tactical combat is fun and, at least agains the AI, smaller companies can take down big stacks if they're managed properly.
The major drawback some people might find is that certain units are absurdly strong relative to their counterparts in other factions (the Orc Red Dragon, for example). Much of this strength comes from the fact that hitting units is RNG-based. For lower-tier units, there's very little unpredictability, but when archers are shooting at a dragon, it can take a long time before one of them lands a hit - or it can happen right away. High-level hero units with high defense present a similar problem, and going up against them usually requires some contingency prep work in case RNG is unkind. It's manageable, but some might find it a turn-off.
There's much more to discover in the game than what I've laid out here, but hopefully this gives people an idea of what to expect. All in all, it's fun to play alone, the campaign is massive and satisfying, and there's hot seat and play-by-email multiplayer for those who want more. Highly recommend this game.
A great table top style fantasy war game with role-playing elements. Dated graphics to be sure but the unit artwork is immersive as are unit descriptions. I always play as the good guys but you have the option of playing as the evil ones if so desired. Keep your display at 1028 x 760 or 800 x 600 or the units get very tiny. If you like turn-based strategy games you will love this one. 9/10.
Music is some of the best ever for fantasy setting.
Considering that age of wonders 3 is out now, you may think that skipping this title and going on to a bigger brighter game might be a good idea, but then you would miss out on the diamond that started this series. This game is a strategic/tactical game that really has the power to draw you in with its unique armies and keeps you playing due to the overwelming number of strategies, tactics, and options at your disposal. Be prepared for anything as each upgrade you learn about will seem even more overpowered than the last and be amazed at how well this old school AI keeps up with the varied options at your command.
I guess what I am getting at is, if you think you like turn based strategy games, give this game a shot. You won't be sorry.