Master of Magic

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Master of Magic is a 1993 4X game from the makers of Master of Orion that enriches the usual world domination schtick with a spellcasting system, tactical combat and various details such as hero units and Item Crafting.

The players picks or customizes a wizard, founds a city with one of the standard fantasy races, and goes on to crush all competing wizards in the coterminous worlds of Arcanus and Myrror. Options are military force and researching and casting the Spell of Mastery. Mage or no mage, it's as necessary as usual to found cities, levy taxes and build armies. Moreso, in fact, as here the wandering monsters might breathe fire and the goody huts are dungeons.

Magic is divided neatly into Life, Nature, Sorcery, Chaos and Death (white, green, blue, red, black). A Technology Tree is replaced by researching spells in a wizard's chosen field or fields, which can range from sparklers in three or four to planet-crackers in one. Mana, generated from some city buildings and constantly contested mana node tiles, is used to fuel and maintain spells. There are battle spells, utility spells, unit enhancements to make scouts invisible or ships fly, caster units, summoned beings, enchanted items, city spells and terraforming, world spells that can control the winds or block out the sun, etc. One of the possible win conditions is--you guessed it--casting a certain spell. It's enough to make one forget that the whole thing looks almost exactly like a fantasy version of the first Civilization.

Master of Magic only held together after patching - in the pre-WWW era - and has more GameBreakers than you can shake a stick at, but is still fresh and offers numerous things to fiddle with. The in-game help system is marvelous. The game remains appreciated and has the odd Spiritual Successor, particularly the Age of Wonders series, which is similar in having tactical combat, Item Crafting and "research from random spellbook" approach, but weaker non-linearity factors.

Stardock was in talks as of 2007 to make a sequel, Master of Magic 2, but these talks broke down. Instead, they made a Spiritual Successor, Elemental War of Magic, which has been released in 2010.

Another Spiritual Successor has been released in May of 2012, this time by Paradox and Ino Co, titled Warlock: Master of the Arcane, which uses a hex-grid map and combat system very similar to Civilization V.

Tropes used in Master of Magic include:
  • After Action Report: A couple classics of the genre were inspired by this game. View one of the best here, and another one almost as funny here.
  • Alchemy: A Special trait that allows to convert gold to mana and vice versa at 1:1 ratio. This trait or the Alchemist Guild building also allows to build troops with magical weapons. The Nature spell, Transmute, allows to change certain metals to others and vice-versa.
    • Later patches made the ratio a bit worse, since Alchemy was a bit of a Game Breaker originally (especially when combined with spells that boosted your city's gold output.)
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: trade in more "exotic" goods is more valuable - city income per unit of population from cities of other races on a trade routes is twice as much as from the same.
  • Animate Dead: The bread and butter of Death magic.
  • Anti-Magic
  • Apocalypse Wow: Most of the Very Rare Chaos spells are global enchantments that, as a whole, do this. One of them constantly corrupts tiles in both planes, slowly rendering the entire world outside of your borders unlivable. Another does the same thing except with volcanoes, and a third rains meteors that constantly damage every unit in the game outside the shelter of a city.
  • The Archer: Bowmen and Archer heroes.
  • The Archmage: In gameplay, Archmage is a special trait that lets you cast better. Trope-wise, Rulers and High-level Mage heroes are this.
  • Armor Piercing: Half of the target armor does nothing. Only pikemen and some elite cavalry and Storm Giant (and some Heroes) have this. Also, all Lightning attacks - Call Lightning (Nature), Lightning Bolt and Warp Lightning (Chaos) spells, Lightning Breath (Sky Drake) and a weapon with Lightning power (Chaos) makes attacks of a hero Armor Piercing (swords and maces - Melee, axes - Melee and Thrown, if any, staves and wands - Ranged Magical, bows - Ranged Missile).
  • Artificial Stupidity: Almost every aspect of the game's AI, unfortunately.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Most of the high-level creatures and many of the spells.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Depending on the player, it is a GOOD thing. The "Bad Moon" event doubles mana income of evil temples and cuts the mana income of good temples... Oh, there's also a "Good Moon." Your good/evil status is determined by whether you have Death or Life spellbooks.
  • The Berserker: Units with increased attack strength and low Defense. Also, the Berserk spell doubling the unit's attack, but sacrificing all their Defense - obviously works better on Regenerating units, but the disadvantage is irrelevant against Illusion attacks that nullify Defense anyway.
  • Black Magic: Death and Life are the only two magical schools that cannot be combined: If you have death you can't cast life. Death magic is composed of necromancy and negative enchantments. This would make it less useful than Life, since in the later game it's hard to get a negative enchantment past an enemy's resistance, but Death also gets a laundry list of the best summons in the game. Shadow Demons, Wraiths, Death Knights...
  • Blade on a Stick
    • The Spearmen, the weakest unit of all races whose only good points are being so cheap it doesn't require gold to upkeep and having 8 figures for most races (more total health and more benefit from per-figure buffs, though with their puny basic stats the latter doesn't say much).
    • Improved version is (depending on the race) either Halberdiers (better attack and armor than Swordsmen, more expensive, but no shield) or much better Pikemen with Armor Piercing and Negate First Strike (which lets most Cavalry and some other units to receive retaliation only from what's left after their attack, if any, rather than initial unit strength) - and also 8 figures.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The best quest rewards are: extra masteries, extra spell books, rescue of an elite hero, or an elite item. If you have the maximum number of spellbooks, heroes and masteries, the game was forced to give you some crap like an Item of Lame.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • For cost-effectiveness and sheer, terrifying power the best unit in the game is the humble Halfling Slinger, which combines innate Halfling luck (+1 to all rolls and -10 to-hit rolls against it until bugfix patch) with good stats and a high number of figures per unit. Slingers at Champion level, with a full range of Life enchantment spells, can hit hard enough to one-shot most units even through missile immunity. Eldritch Weapon alone helps greatly, as usual for units with to-Hit bonus (it negates weapon immunity and decreases enemy to-Block, rather than boosting the unit's own stats by a fixed value, so better attacks benefit more).
    • Spearmen. There are two reasons why they are go-to city garrison unit. Being the cheapest to maintain, and strength in numbers. 8 figures give 1/3 more hitpoints total than most infantry with 6, and this matters surprisingly often, especially vs. illusionary attacks, which makes them noticeably harder to wipe out with a single Fire Bolt (or even Psionic Blast - recruit spearmen have about 1/2 chance to survive it on maximum power!) or single attack of a cheap summon. This also means 1/3 greater benefit from most buffs and some promotions than for 6-figure units, and 2x greater than a 4-figure, which allows Elite spearmen to "catch up" with Elite cavalry: both have 16 hit points total[1] and 24 attack total[2] (though in smaller chunks it's much worse at beating high Defense) - and that's not counting buffs, from which they'll also improve 2x as much! A single racial, mineral or spell bonus can make them a low-level Glass Cannon, and they're cheap enough that just about any early bonus makes them Zerg Rush -capable.
      • Ditto for Halfling Swordsmen, due to 8 figures and Lucky bonus.
  • Breath Weapon: Usually fire breath. Much like Thrown attack, used when attacking (not in retaliation) before everything else, even Gaze attacks, and is stopped by Defense (with Large Shield bonus), not Resistance, though obeys damage type Immunities. Sky Drakes have lightning breath, which is also armor-piercing.
  • Bug War: What happens when you get involved in hostilities with the Klackons.
  • Character Customization: Customize your Wizard.
  • The Chosen One: Torin is described as one, and for the good reason.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each school of magic, and most of the assorted creatures, has its own colour, Life/White, Death/Purple, Sorcery/Blue, Chaos/Red, Nature/Green. Of course, there are a couple that break the mold. Behemoths are red, but are a high-level nature summon, and Hydras are green, but are an equally high-level Chaos summon.
  • Combat Medic: Various Heroes and units, mostly priests and shamans, who can heal during battle.
  • Combinatorial Explosion: A lot, given that there's a lot to mash together, and some effects work inconsistently in themselves (Bless Weapon doesn't affect Thrown Attack, Chaos Channels unit sometimes counts as Fantastic and sometimes as Normal...)
    • Straightforward: skyfortress - cast Flight on a warship, then Spell Lock it.
      1. Change Terrain (Nature) toggles between Grassland and Forest and turns some other terrains (including useful ones, like Hill[3]) into them, but not vice versa - yet is powerless against the widespread barren Tundra. Far from useless, but good primarily to get rid of the swamps and give each city 1 forest tile[4]; increasing the populace cap at the cost of production is sometimes useful, but trade-offs between production and food bonuses from one tile are rarely worth the mana.
      2. Raise Volcano (Chaos) is primarily a way to reduce productivity of an enemy city that requires casting Change Terrain to counter (unlike Corruption, that a shaman or priest can Purify at no mana cost). It also turns any non-watery terrain into a volcano, allowing to make a Tundra tile productive - once it reverts to mountain - if still not contributing to food or population cap. You can also give each city 1 mountain tile to allow Miner's Guild. However, a polar cap coast town with only Tundra and Shore tiles has max population 2 on straight coast or 3 on a cape, and no production buildings - barely worth upkeep of the defending garrison; replacing Tundra with equally barren mountains lets the town grow slightly richer (by Trade Goods), but not greater. Also, a volcano gives a little Mana, but usefulness of this feature may vary - 1/50 chance to become a Mountain per turn looks tiny, but less than 1.8% will stay around long enough to repay mana spent on them at base cost (3.2% with Chaos Mastery); yet if you are stuck with opponents in habit of leaching (Mana Leak/Drain Power), modest extra influx of mana is better than large reserves you will lose. 1.50 Unofficial Patch also fixed the bug preventing volcanoes from creating minerals as advertised.
      3. Both together: smelt the badlands into volcanos, then fine-tune with Change Terrain. With 1.50 Unofficial Patch you may try to spam Raise Volcano for a chance to create minerals, then re-ignite dud mountains and convert successes into more hospitable terrain, since Change Terrain preserves mineral bonuses even where they normally don't belong (like desert-only Quork Crystals). Even better with Transmutation, which allows to change minerals.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: On higher difficulty levels, in addition to cheating otherwise, computer players get more picks for skills and spellbooks (this translates to more bonuses and more spells). This can lead to surprises such as the Chaos specialist Tauron suddenly wiping out your superpowered hero with a Cracks Call spell... or a huge stack of heroes and summoned creatures attacking your capital after you've just built a few buildings and a couple of swordsmen. Note that the AI is so infamously terrible that it will need these bonuses against any competent player.
  • Cool Airship: Airships are a special unit constructable only by one race.
    • However, you can "cheat" by casting Fly on a regular warship; this itself can become a Game Breaker, especially when combined with Invisibility, due to the facts that the AI is bad at dealing with invisible units and warships, unlike pretty much every other ranged unit in the game, have essentially unlimited ammo: each warship has 99 shots, and the combat ends in a draw ("All units retreat exhausted") after 50 turns - you'll have to cast Haste on your warship to use all of its ammo. And it's Long Range (to-Hit penalty stops increasing beyond 2 squares), so if you start lobbing stones right away, they already can hit.
  • Counter Attack: All units return melee attacks synchronously (thus allowing Mutual Kill), but many abilities allow to inflict damage first, and only then let the surviving figures (if any) retaliate - if the attacker has Breath or Thrown, they apply first, then Gaze attacks (retaliated synchronously, but only with Gaze attacks) - and if the attacker has "First Strike" (unless its negated), the whole melee damage. Conversely, the only way an unit can harm the opponent before melee if it's not the attacker is Gaze. Units under the Haste spell counterattack twice.
  • Curse: Various spells causing various negative status effects. Becomes less useful later in the game, since high-level units and more powerful summoned creatures generally have high enough Resistance to beat the resist checks on most of the game's spells (and a few are outright immune to magic to begin with).
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight with Heroes and other one-figure units (like ships and giants), but averted with multiple-figure units, where it's applied per figure, so casualties reduce the unit's number of attacks. Straight again in that an unit will recover on its own if at least one figure survived.
  • Death From Above: The "Meteor Shower" global enchantment that every turn hits EVERY UNIT IN THE WORLD with fire from the skies.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils
  • Demonic Possession: One of the Death spells does this in combat.
  • Dual World Gameplay: Arcanum and Myrror, connected by Portal Towers.
    • Myrror is populated by races with more bonuses and innate abilities than Arcanum's "vanilla" races, and nodes on Myrror are worth double power, but it's also populated by far more dangerous beasties. You can buy the right to start the game on Myrror at character creation, but it's the most expensive pick in the game.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Chaos Spawn. It flies, but has no wings. It is a ball of... flesh?... and a bunch of eyes (yes, like a beholder). It attacks by looking at its target. It has some of the worst attack stats in the game, but the negative effects it causes with those attacks are crippling and fatal. Unfortunately, it's a Glass Cannon that can't even make ranged attacks, making it Awesome but Impractical. Rare for abominations, really...
  • Elemental Crafting: The better the metal, the better the bonus.
  • Elemental Powers: Five schools of magic of Life, Death, Chaos, Nature and Sorcery as well as a school of "Arcane" spells that everyone can learn. Arcane is a list of "utility" spells that are important to the game, like Magic Spirits and Dispel Magic.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Some schools tend to pick on certain others; Life has a bunch of anti-Death and anti-Chaos spells, for instance.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Your starting race is only important at the early-game, since by middle-game you will probably have 3-4 races in your domain.
    • It does, however, effect the loyalty rates of your conquered cities; your capital race inflicts an unrest penalty on all "foreign" cities under your control, with Dark Elves and Klackon getting the worst.
    • Another side is that if it's all the same and you just want to settle an empty place, there's a long-term advantage in adding another race's settlement to the road network rather than more of the same - it boosts trade more.
  • Entropy and Chaos Magic: The Chaos school of magic, oriented in dishing out direct damage and has a few random-type spells.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: War Bears, a bane of all early-game units.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The Chaos spell "Call The Void" attempts to plunge an entire city into the Void, slaughtering its citizens and soldiers, shattering its buildings, and showering the surrounding landscape with tainted rubble.
  • Fantastic Racism: If your ruling race are Klackons, the civil unrest in non-klackon cities will be very, very high.
  • Familiar: A Dove for Life Wizards, a Cat for Death Wizards, a Snake for Nature Wizards, a Devil for Chaos Wizards and a Beetle for Sorcery Wizards. They serve as announcers of events.
  • Floating Continent: Well, it's a mobile island, but you can cast Fly on it...
    • The Floating Fortress spell will also make one of your cities float out of reach of ground-based attackers, though it doesn't let it move around.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: A good chunk of Nature magic works like that, but especially the Nature's Wrath spell, that hits an opponent wizard with an earthquake if they cast Chaos or Death spells. There's also Cracks Call, a humble, ultra-common Nature spell used in battle to destroy walls... that also has flat 25% chance of annihilating the unit standing on the targeted tile unless it's flying or Non-Corporeal (or Merging, with Unofficial Patches).
  • Geo Effects: Your standard Civilization-type terrain effects.
  • Giant Flyer: Sky Drakes and Great Drakes appear to be huge.
  • Golem: Dwarven unit of Stone Wall variety.
  • Good Bad Bug: Occasionally Galley units would gain numerous properties and powers, becoming more powerful than any hero.
  • Grim Reaper: Wraiths look like this. Any overworld casting of Death spells involves the shadow of the Grim Reaper looming over the target.
  • Harder Than Hard: The "Impossible" difficulty, which isn't entirely accurate but does a good job of indicating how much the computer will cheat.
  • Hell Hound: A basic Chaos summon.
  • Hero Unit
  • Horse of a Different Color
  • Isometric Projection: During the battle.
  • Item Crafting: Costs an absurd amount of mana and takes a lot of time... but a hero with a pile of extremely powerful gear becomes a walking monstrosity capable of taking down almost anything in the game.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Several Life and a few Nature spells only work against Chaos or Death magics and creatures. On the upside, those specialized spells are on the whole far more cost-effective than comparable generic spells.
  • Lethal Joke Race: Most of the races that can't research effectively get a lot of flak for it from players. Those who swear by such races expect to make up for it by using their race in an early Zerg Rush and conquering themselves an empire that can research.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: 14 main 'races' not counting associated creatures (especially Beastmen).
  • Lizard Folk: The Lizardmen.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Units with Large Shield (Swordsmen and Minotaurs) have defense bonus vs. ranged attacks (including magic and boulders) and pre-melee Thrown or Breath attacks. Heroes with proper slots can use shield items, giving the same effect plus any enchantments allowed for armor; alternatives are chain mail (+1 for all attacks) and plate mail (+2 all around, but more expensive to make).
  • Magic Knight: Some of the heroes.
  • Mage Tower: It's where you live. If the city where it stands gets taken over, you're Banished and can't cast spells until you cast the Spell of Return, which lets you return with a new tower in one of your other cities.
  • Magic Enhancement: All of the schools of magic have a few unit enhancements, but Life and Nature are the big ones.
  • The Magocracy: The player's realm, and heck, everyone except the neutrals.
  • Mana: Powers your spellcasting and is drawn both from temples and magical nodes. Some races generate it naturally, as well.
  • Mana Drain: A couple of effects can do this, but they're fairly rare. Can also appear in spell form: If you have mana leak, and can launch several combats against a target in a row, see Game Breaker.
  • Master of Illusion: Quite a few spells of Sorcery revolve around illusions.
    • Illusion-based attacks are nasty, completely bypassing defenses - better than Armor Piercing, but on the other hand many units (all Undead, Angels, Demons, Sky Drake and anything with True Sight cast on it) have Illusions Immunity. Just like Armor Piercing, does nothing if the target is immune to the main attack itself or has no Defense in the first place (Phantom monsters away from Sorcery nodes, units under Berserk spell). Psionic Blast AI loves so much is one of these - against units with Illusions Immunity it still works, but they get to roll Defense, making it just an overpriced magic ranged attack. This still involves rolling To Hit for each point of damage, thus non-buffed Phantom Warriors deal 3*6*0.3=5.4 damage in average (or 9 in node aura) and Psionic Blast depending on mana investment (10...50) inflicts from 5*0.3=1.5 to 25*0.3=7.5 damage in average.
  • Merlin: Here he is a Sage Master (25% bonus to Research) and uses Life and Nature magic.
  • Mirror Universe: Literally called Myrror. Magic is more powerful here, and the races are different. And all roads act as enchanted (unlimited movement).
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: Life and Death schools are not compatible.
  • National Geographic Nudity: Sharee, the African voodoo priestess. Also, the Nagas.
  • Ninja: One hero is this, and several others skirt it.
  • Non-Elemental: The Arcane spells.
  • No Ontological Inertia: All enchantments and summoned creatures will disappear if the Wizard runs out of mana.
  • One-Man Army: Torin, a Great Drake, or any high-leveled, well equipped, advanced hero can easily take a moderately defended empire all on their lonesome.
    • Wraiths are a complete game-buster - an all-Black caster can rustle up a single troop of these that can fly, steal life, and raise defeated enemies as undead. You can not only take out poorly-defended cities (that's just about everywhere in the early game) but staff them with unpaid undead garrisons in the process.
  • Our Monsters Are Different:
    • All Trolls Are Different: Tall, regenerating brutes.
    • Our Angels Are Different: Angels and Archangels, which you can summon.
    • Our Demons Are Different
    • Our Dragons Are Different: A variety of trainable and summoning dragons, plus a race.
    • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: All the expectable unique traits - more production and double mineral bonuses in cities (which nicely stacks with Miner Guild), units Mountaineer ability and great Health and Resistance, Engineers work twice as fast as others. Unique units are Hammerhands (great melee attack, even tougher than other Dwarves, no unusual abilities); Golems - tough, but surprisingly don't even have Illusion immunity; Steam Cannon - more powerful than Catapult, much more expensive, but without its special abilities and arguably sturdier (less Defense, but more Health and Resistance).
    • Our Elves Are Better: Yes, they really are. High Elves are the only Arcanus race whose population naturally generates mana, and their longbowmen are absolute terrors against anyone not built up to fight them. Dark Elves, meanwhile, have warlocks with immensely powerful magic attacks, and their population generates more mana than any other race in the game. In both cases, slow population growth offsets their advantages.
    • Our Fairies Are Different: And very annoying. Sprites, a wimpy flying unit with Magical Ranged Attack of mediocre power (between Shamans and Priests), but to-Hit bonus and very good Resistance. Enough to not use weak and low-health units in fights where they may be involved, but usually not quite enough to be worth high mana cost to summon - though they are flying, so if you want to e.g. take a weak place over water, or have a problem with invisible or fast ground-bound critters, it's an option. Thanks to their weak melee stats, tend to die by getting webbed and swatted.
    • Our Genies Are Different: No bottles, but two types of genies. Efreet (Chaos) are fireball-slinging units and Djinni (Sorcery) can use Wind Walking to ferry units across the overworld, both can cast spells of their own type.
    • Our Giants Are Bigger: Fire Giants are the weakest, with a thrown rock attack and decent stats. Stone Giants are more powerful, with much better stats and bigger thrown rocks. Colossus is bigger still. Storm Giants are here, as well; instead of rocks, they launch powerful, armor-piercing lightning bolts.
    • Our Gryphons Are Different: Griffins - high-end Nomad unit.
    • Our Orcs Are Different: Instead of being The Horde-like, they are basically no different than other civilized races. They are the only race who can build all types of buildings and have no specialty. That makes this game one of the rare exceptions where humans are not the Jack of All Stats.
  • The Paladin: The Mounted Elite Unit of High Men.
  • Pegasus: "Pegasai" is the elite unit of High Elves - more or less fast flying horsebowmen.
  • Place of Power: The Nodes of Nature, Chaos and Sorcery types generate mana and counteract all other types of magic in vicinity. Masters of these schools get double the amount of mana from them. Node Mastery gives double mana for all three types and bypasses the suppressive aura.
  • Portal Network: the "Towers of Wizardry". Each one represents a stable portal between the two planes, and the only way to travel without one is to use fairly advanced Life magic or to summon one of the handful of non-Life creatures with innate planeshifting. They can get blocked off...
  • Power At a Price: Black Channels increases a mundane unit's physical strength stronger by making its members undead (incidentally preventing them from gaining experience). Chaos Channels infuses a mundane unit or hero with chaotic energies, randomly giving them either wings, demonically tough skin, or fiery breath. Both spells leave the affected unit vulnerable to Life magic's specialist attack spells.
  • Power Nullifier: The Nodes nullifies magic not of its type. Some spells can do this too.
  • Regenerating Health: One of the nature spells does this. During the battle they recover lost health, and if they won the battle all lost units will come back to life. Every single Troll unit has this.
  • Religion Is Magic: Temples, Cathedrals, Shrines and Parthenons provide you with Mana. Temples of Life/Death wizards are affected by Good Moon/Bad Moon and have improved mana output and calming effect if the owner has Divine Power/Infernal Power.
  • Sand Worm: The Great Wyrms, whose first action in combat is to get behind enemy lines and chew on the weak archers/magic/support units.
  • Shout-Out: One of the artifacts is named "The Idspispopd", referring to a Classic Cheat Code from Doom.
  • Siege Engines: The list is short and haphazard. Catapult [5] is Long Range (to-Hit penalty is capped) and Wall Crusher, with mere 10 shots (though it's still more ammo than most units get). Warship [6] has the same, but without Wall Crusher (which would apply to its melee attack too, and it doesn't get to the enemy towns without Flight spell anyway) and with 99 ammo. Air Ship [7] has the same with 10 shots and Wall Crusher, but no Long Range, making it more of "close air support". Steam Cannon [8] has a stronger attack, 10 shots, but neither special ability.
  • Snake People: The Nagas.
  • Sorcerous Overlord
  • Spell Book: You pick them up at the start of the game, at a cost of one "pick" each, and the more you have in a given school, the better you are at that magic. More books give you more spells at the start of the game and more of the high-end spells. You can find more of them in dungeons, but there is limit on how many you can have in all.
  • Status Buff: Many spells, especially Life and Nature ones.
  • Status Buff Dispel: Disenchant, Dispel Magic, and the more-powerful Sorcery variants will purge beneficial effects from a unit. The Sorcery spell Spell Lock is a unit enchantment that protects other enchantments from being removed.
  • Staying Alive: As long as any Wizard had a spare city and enough mana, he/she automatically casts the Spell of Return.
  • Squishy Wizard: Caster units, you and your enemies.
  • Suffer the Slings: Beware the Halfling slingers.
  • Summon Magic: Two types, "permanent" summons (which create a creature that lasts until destroyed or you stop paying its maintenance cost) and combat summons, such as Air Elementals, that last only as long as the combat and can be called up for free reinforcements.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Though mostly due to immunities. Quoth GameFAQs -

Doom bolt does NOT work against magic immune units -- paladins laugh at warlocks! (And warlocks laugh at pegasi, pegasi laugh at paladins; rock, scissors, paper, anyone? *grin*).

  • Taken for Granite: The Nature Rare Spell Petrify, plus some monsters like the Gorgons can do this. In effect, it instakills a unit that fails its resist roll.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Several variants of teleportation spells, most of which are life magic. Also, a few units like Unicorns and Djinn can teleport naturally.
  • Throwing Your Ax Always Works: Most of Barbarian units have Thrown attack, as well as some heroes (in which case it gets bonus from Axe items). Draconians' breath weapon is equal in giving the pre-melee attack and being affected by Large Shield defense bonus, but Thrown is also improved by almost all effects that buff melee. For "common" units it's 1 - likely to kill 1-2 figures of badly armored infantry, but useless against tougher stuff. Still, vanilla Barbarian Spearmen inflict 2x more damage when attacking, and with mithril weapons they do 4x, becoming all-around better than vanilla Halberdiers (except against swordsmen with those shields, but they still have advantages of 2 extra figures and chance of pre-melee kills) - and that's before they get the buff spells or experience promotions. The Berserkers got basic Thrown 3, i.e. they deliver an equivalent to melee attack of Swordsmen of the same level before they get to melee as such.
    • Much like Breath attack, it applies only when the unit is attacking rather than retaliating, before anything else - in some ways even better than First Strike, as any figure killed by it won't even get a Gaze attack.
    • It benefits from most of the same bonuses as melee - alchemy, mineral (mithril/adamantium weapons) and buff spells Giant Strength, Flame Blade, Lionheart and Eldritch Weapon, but not Holy Weapon that boosts only pure melee. To Hit is trickier - bonuses from Mithril/Adamantine weapons do not apply, but heroes still enjoy bonuses from Blademaster and Lucky abilities.
    • Oh, and much like Breath and Gaze it allows a ground unit to engage flyers, too. How "I have an axe in my head" sounds in Draconian, again?
  • Time Stands Still: The most expensive spell in the game, Time Stop.
  • Unicorn: Life magic associated teleporting unicorns.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted for combat spells. As long as a unit's Resistance score is low enough to be affected by a spell, your status-effect attacks are just as powerful as the AI's, and once you get your own units' Resistance at or above ten, you're all but immune to anything but Cracks Call (which has a flat 25% chance of annihilating any ground unit) and special spells that give resistance penalties to their saves.
  • Veteran Unit:
    • Normal units can level up to Elite rank. If you have a Warlord trait or a Crusade spell, you can upgrade them to Ultra-Elite rank. If you have both, you get Champion-ranked death machines.
    • Heroes have more levels, ending with Demi-God.
  • War Elephants: War Mammoths, used by Trolls.
  • Weapon of Choice: Different heroes with their own preferences. You can find them or craft them. Jewelry gives its generic bonuses to all applicable attacks, but enchanting it costs twice as much as the same bonuses in weapons and armor.
    • Axe: No Defense bonus, more limited To Hit bonus, but higher limit for Attack bonus. Enhancements apply to both Melee and Thrown attack: if a hero has Thrown attack, an axe's Attack bonuses (whether direct or via abilities and spells like Flaming or Giant Strength) to the Thrown as well, allowing extremely powerful heroes to wipe out enemies before even engaging in melee. Most other attack related powers (Chaos, Lightning, Phantasmal, Vampiric, etc) extend to Thrown attack, but To Hit affects only the melee attack.
    • Cool Sword: Sword items allow the greatest Defense bonus for melee weapons and the highest limit (+30%) for To Hit bonus.
    • Hammer/Mace/Flail (They are under the same category): Somewhere between swords and axes. Low-grade ones simply have lower Defense bonus limit than swords, artifacts also have greater Attack bonus limit.
    • Magic Wand: Wands and Staves can be wielded only by mage heroes, but the items can carry spell charges of their own, letting the hero cast magic without resorting to their personal mana pool. And can make the wielder's spells harder to resist. Enhancements apply to Ranged Magical attack.
    • Bow: Much like other weapons. Enhancements apply to Ranged Missile Attack.
  • When the Planets Align: Astrological events matters. Conjunctions double mana output of one Node type and halve others. Under Good Moon and Bad Moon respectively temples of Life and Death wizards give 1.5x more mana and the opposing force is halved.
  • White Magic: Life is chock full of beneficial enchantments, healing spells, and the like.
  • Wizard Beard: Merlin and some Mage heroes have these.
  • Wreathed in Flames Immolation (whether as an inherent ability or enchantment) gives 4 Fire Touch attack [9] per enemy figure. To put this in perspective - most normal units start with 1 Health per figure, Beastmen and Lizardmen 2. Cavalry, most Dwarves and Berserkers has 3, most Trolls, Paladins and Hammerhands 4 (of course, they also have good Defense), so anything less tough than Wolf Riders, War Trolls and Manticores have at least some chance to be destroyed by striking an unit under Immolation unable to retaliate in melee; most infantry units retain a tiny, but non-zero chance to be wiped out even if Elite and under Invulnerability (2 Health/figure + 2 soaked damage/attack).
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Illusionary attacks, deadly because they completely ignore all defenses unless a unit has immunity to illusions.
  • Zerg Rush: Vital for any race that can't build a University. Since they can't build their own technological infrastructure, they'll have to use their early-game units to quickly conquer a more builder-oriented race. Several races, however, prefer the Tank Rush variant instead; War Trolls, Klackon Stag Beetles and High Elven Longbowmen are all devastatingly effective if you building-blitz for them in the early game.

See more on Abandonia.

  1. 8x (1+1)=4x (3+1)
  2. 8x (1+2)=4x (4+2)
  3. which unlocks the Miners' Guild and with it Mechanicians' Guild
  4. to unlock Sawmill and its tree, up to Merchants' Guild
  5. common, requires production-boosting Mechanicians' Guild, that needs Mining Guild and thus Mountain or Hill tile
  6. Barbarians, High Men and Orcs, at Maritime Guild whose only purpose is to build it
  7. Draconian only, needs Ship Yard, which in turn requires forest and shore tiles
  8. Dwarves only, needs Miners' Guild rather than Mechanicians' Guild - Dwarves don't have the latter
  9. i.e. it's not automatic hit vs. Resistance as one may assume, but 4 to-Hit rolls blocked by Defense