GKick Preview: Warlock - Master of the Arcane

Thanks to the folks at Paradox Interactive, we’ve been given free reign to try out the company’s upcoming strategy title Warlock: Master of the Arcane. This classic turn-based strategy game...

Thanks to the folks at Paradox Interactive, we’ve been given free reign to try out the company’s upcoming strategy title Warlock: Master of the Arcane. This classic turn-based strategy game puts you in the role of a wizard in control of a city. Your objective is to expand your city, develop an army and conquer your map all while warring or making peace with other wizards in the land. We took a few days to sit down with Warlock and get a feel for what we could do.

It goes without saying that Warlock: Master of the Arcane is a traditional turn-based strategy game in almost every sense. From the classic hex-map, movement turns, unit creation, the works. When starting the game, I was dumped into a moderately-sized city with a few forces to choose from. Each force is given its own grouping and is moved independently of the rest of the force. By default, I could create Warriors - ground-based melee attackers with large health pools and Rogues, melee attackers that dealt serious damage but are much weaker. The tutorial was a little shaky, but it did help get me caught up on the basics of gameplay. Fortunately, for newer or inexperienced players, the game will also take you through a full checklist of every possible move you can make before your turn is up, save for unit creation.

Each unit - whether a handful of Warriors, Rogues, Hunters (a low-health ranged attack class) or even Settlers (how you create new cities on newly explored areas of the map) - requires a specific amount of turns to create. You can queue up as many units as you want and as they complete, the next unit in line begins to build. Each city can produce one unit at a time, but as your empire grows, you’ll find yourself in a much better spot.

In addition to creating a force for exploration, conquering and combat, you can also build defensive structures at home to keep your cities safe. One of the first items at your disposal is a Mage Tower, which can cast powerful magic at encroaching enemies, often smiting them in one shot. Your capital building is also capable of firing a volley of arrows to hold back attackers and this ability is also possessed by other structures as well.

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll also spend a lot of time encountering other wizards - or “Great Mages” - while you play. You can choose to negotiate peace with them in exchange for gold or mana or you can declare war outright and decide to take their city down or just deal with them in any other number of ways. The interesting thing about Warlock is that in addition to the army you have, you yourself as a Great Mage - or warlock or wizard or witch or whatever you want to call yourself - can attack. Throughout the game, you will be able to research a variety of spells which you can use to buff your army, heal them, or attack units and structures directly if you want with fireballs, lightning strikes and more.

Of course, like most strategy games, you’ll be at this a long time. Throughout our play, we didn’t run into many hiccups. Only had one crash, but our computer has been running for a little while so we won’t put it too hard against the game, and it does save on each turn automatically, so surprise crashes won’t hurt you too bad. The only beef we had with the controls was the fact that in order to proceed to the next item on our checklist, we often had to right-click in the open world just to de-select our currently targetted unit. A minor inconvenience, but still annoying, especially since the ESC key doesn’t work for that feature, but it does work to close out city control.

All in all, just a few minor inconveniences in what is really a fun, well-designed and entertaining strategy game. For someone like me whose only strategy experience was with RTS titles like Warcraft and StarCraft, Warlock: Master of the Arcane is a great introduction to the genre and feels like it could be well worth your time. The game is set for release on May 8th, 2012 on PC, so don’t miss it! You can also catch the game in action on April 26th at 2pm EST on twitch.tv/paradoxinteractive as Paradox CEO Fred Wester will show you around the game live!

About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.