Paul Dean takes a look back at SimTex's fantasy 4X game, Master of Magic, in this week's retrospective on Eurogamer.
Master of Magic has absolutely no sense of restraint. It's like the game has some deep-seated psychological condition, some terrible case of hedonism. It's like a kleptomaniac spent a week in Games Workshop, came home to you and didn't so much empty their pockets as point excitedly at the van they'd parked outside. It's not just that the game features hundreds of spells and hundreds of units, it's that it's entirely content to let you combine and recombine these in endless permutations, as easily as if they were Lego.
This conjurer's collage allowed for some extraordinary combinations of powers. A week doesn't go by without my reading about some strategy game's scissor/paper/stone dynamics, but Master of Magic had dagger/parchment/moonstone/bony-finger-of-death-and-much-more at its disposal, with even basic troops turning out to be absolutely ruinous in certain situations. The game's deadly Phantom Warriors were a relatively simple unit, but these incorporeal soldiers could completely ignore their opponent's armour and boasted worrying immunities. It was never easy to know what to prepare for, and even your most powerful heroes might remain vulnerable to a particular spell or unit.
I bought this on gog.com awhile back just for the convenience of it. I had been using DOSbox, but for 5 bucks, I no longer need to manage it myself. And thus I am able to fire up a game easily, no matter where I am at.