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Age of Wonders

From Academic Kids

Age of Wonders
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Age of Wonders cover

Developer: Triumph Studios
Publisher: Gathering of Developers
Designer: Lennart Sas
Release date: 1999
Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Game modes: Single player, Multiplayer
ESRB/ELSPA ratings: Everyone / +11
Platform: Windows
Media: 1 CD
System requirements: Intel Pentium 166 CPU, 32MB RAM, 350MB hard disk, 4x CD-ROM drive
Input: Keyboard, Mouse

Age of Wonders is a turn-based strategy PC-game often likened to Master of Magic.

Contents

History

Originally entitled "World of Wonders", the game incorporated several RPG elements that were dropped when simultaneous turns were implemented. The game was released by Triumph Studios, a Dutch game developer, in 1999.

Turn system

Units within the game have a limited number of movement points, which are replenished at the beginning of each turn. Two turn systems are used - sequential (or "Classic") turns, where players take their turns in order, or simultaneous turns, where all players can move units at once. In practice, actions are added and executed via a queue system. Simultaneous turns are only available in single player and live multiplayer games; PBEM and Hotseat games, and all combat, use the sequential turn system. There also exists an "independent" player which is played by the computer but represents units that currently have no allegiance to any other player.

Gameplay

Units are arranged into groups (also known as "parties" or "stacks") of up to eight units on hexagonal tiles on the map, which can have up to three layers (surface and two underground). Cities occupy between one and four tiles (or "hexes") and structures generally occupy a single hex.

There are two forms of currency, gold and mana, the former of which can be used to buy units, cities, spells and upgrades, and the latter of which is needed to actually cast a spell. Players have an isometric view of the map. Normal units can be created in cities, which can be further upgraded to produce more advanced units. A special type of unit, "a hero" cannot be created by the player however, a friendly one may appear at a random turn to one of the player's cities, which then may join when given gold, whereas a hostile hero, even when independent, may actually attack cities. Heroes have the special ability to cast spells and gain special abilities with experience as well as an increase in parameters, judged by how much or how advanced the enemies the unit has killed, whereas normal units would only gain medals and get an upgrade in only general attack and defense parameters.

Spells have three types - unit spells to enhance a unit, combat spells which to attack the enemy during combat, and global spells which affects the terrain and cities, and have different mana costs depending on how advanced they are. For example, a simple spell that slows down units may only cost 3 mana, but a Mastery Spell which asserts the player's sphere in every conceivable area, may cost 360 mana. A disjunction spell is used to reverse the effects of global spells.

Combat

Combat is initated by one player attempting to move a stack onto a hex occupied by another player. If the players are at war, the attacker has the option of selecting tactical combat, where the players move individual units on a small map representing the battlefield, or automatic ("fast") combat, where the computer determines how the battle would have taken place by weighing off each side's attack, defense and movement parameters. Tactical combat is only available on single player maps, against independents in PBEM games, and (optionally) against human players in live multiplayer games. Both forms of combat use the sequential turn system.

Spells may be cast during combat, of which the global spells are disabled. Combat spells may attack a unit or a group of units of the enemy collectively, or slow it down, and collateral damage can damage one's own units, and this holds true for physical attacks as well. For example, an archer firing an arrow at a target of which a friendly unit is within the trajectory, may end up injuring that friendly unit. Combat spells often inflict penalties or handicaps on the enemy when successful, such as the loss of attack or defense when poisoned, the loss of morale due to a spell targeting a unit's fear, or a total loss of movement due to being stunned, of which these are only a fraction of the possible examples.

Unit parameters play a heavy role in combat. These are various variables that are calculated when a unit attacks another, or a spell attacks a unit, since spells have parameters as well. An attack parameter determines the chance that a physical attack brought by the unit will hit, and is only relevant if the unit has the ability "strike", examples that do not include archers and ships. This is different from damage, which deals with the amount of damage done to the actual unit, but only when the unit is successful at attacking. Damage removes the current hit points of a unit, and when it is zero, the unit dies, and usually this is irreversible, but sometimes if it is a hero, it can be raised from the dead or resurrected (of which these are actually of the opposite spheres, life and death). The maximum hit points concerns the maximum number of hitpoints the unit can gain back through healing, of which naturally occurs with one hit point recovered to a unit each day, or if the unit has the ability "regeneration", fully. The number of hit points can be increased with gaining experience, or if it is a hero, during an upgrade due to experience, be chosen to be the parameter to be increased. "Defense" parameters are used to calculate against an enemy unit's (or a friendly one due to collateral damage) success of attacking, of which the higher it is, the more it makes the enemy's attack unlikely. For each level of difference, positive or negative, up to four, the chance differs. A unit may also have resistance, which determines the ability of the unit to mitigate non-physical attacks such as magic strikes or spells. An ability to stun, for example infused with a physical strike must first pass through the defense parameter, and then be calculated against the resistance, except if the damage is critical (see below). Parameter calculations are not multiplicative, but rather differential. For example, an attack of 10 versus a defense of five is not seen as twice as more powerful, but rather five more the power.

For example, if the attack is more than defense by 4, the enemy unit only has a 10% chance of avoiding the strike. If the attack is less than defense by 4, then the enemy unit has a 90% chance of avoiding the strike. A "critical damage" factor is also involved. The higher the attack than the defense, the more chances that it will be carried out, which means that maximum damage capable of the damage parameter is dealt, since usually the amount of damage done is random, just that the higher the damage parameter, the more likely it is to be high. If the unit has a disabling ability, such as the ability to stun an enemy unit, or set it aflame, all such abilities will be inflicted successfully on the player, regardless of resistance. Critical damage does not apply to spells, however, as this is calculated directly against the resistance.

Modifications

The first "mod" released was known as "Warlock's Ruleset", after the forumer who created it. The mod changed some in-game costs and added new units and structures. Since the accidental release of the developer's editor (DevEd), many more mods have been made by the fan community (notably at HeavenGames), including the very popular "Lighthawk's Rules". However, there are some aspects of the game that can only be changed by use of a hex editor.

Play modes

The game has a single-player campaign, playable from two sides (more campaigns have been made by the community since release), and many maps, both included and user-created that can be played over a LAN or the internet, or by email (PBEM). Up to 12 players can participate in a single game, depending on the map.

Sequels

The game had two sequels, Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne, and Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic. The game mechanics have changed in several areas, so a number of people actually prefer the original game to its successors.

See also

External links

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