Warlock: Master of the Arcane is brought to us by the Russian developers Ino-Co Plus possibly best known for Majesty 2 on the PC, and like the Majesty series Warlock takes place in the mystical world of Ardania.
Warlock is a turn based strategy game with the action taking place on a world map made of hex shaped tiles. As with a lot of other turn based strategy games you start with a single city and have to expand, explore, build new cities, sign treaties and wage war to conquer the land and become the ultimate warlock.
Fellow site member Aeacus played the early beta for Warlock and had some concerns over the lack a tutorial. This is still missing from the game with the developers instead opting to give information to the player as hints when a feature is first accessed.
There is no discernible story to Warlock and no campaign to work your way through. Money, food and mana are the three resources to be managed as your cities grow larger. Money buys your armies, food feeds them and mana lets you cast spells to harm your enemies and buff your own troops. New spells can be researched with stronger spells taking more turns to learn and also to cast. The firestorm spell takes two turns to cast but it is very satisfying seeing an enemy’s defending army softened up before trampling them with your invasion force. One interesting feature of Warlock is that there is more than one world map to conquer. You can find portals to these other worlds across the main map and send your troops through to conquer a new map and a bucket load of enemies. When starting a new game you are presented with many customisation options for difficulty, number of enemies, size of the map, etc. You can also change your starting spells and pick from the human, undead and monster races.
The game can be won in four different ways. You can go the Highlander route and annihilate all other warlocks, absorbing their cities into your empire. Conquering all of the holy sites or casting the Unity spell to bring peace to the world are also acceptable. My favourite is the ability to piss off one of the Gods so much that they appear on the map. Defeat them and you can claim victory as the God slayer.
The interface can be a bit clunky at times with city names sometimes getting in the way of selecting units. Casting spells can also be a pain as the mouse pointer keeps changing back to the regular icon making it difficult to tell if you have a spell selected and where exactly you are going to cast it. These glitches are annoying at first but become less of a problem as you get used to the interface.
Interface glitches aside Warlock is a well rounded strategy game with enough depth to keep you entertained for hours. For £14.99 on Steam it is well worth a try for any strategy gamer.
7 funnily named cities out of 10