A [short] Comparison of MoM to FE

By on February 2, 2012 4:24:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

EviliroN

Join Date 04/2008
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     After reading everyone reminisce about the glory days of Master of Magic (1995), I decided to pony up the $5.99 at GOG.com and give it a try. Until this week, I had never played MoM. Heresy! I know. Back then I was playing the crap out of Final Fantasy I and II (US) and loving them. Computers weren't on my list of fun until '97 or '98 (Diablo/Civ 2) and certainly not in 1995.

     Therefore, I find myself today playing a game in DOS markedly similar, in ways. to every other 4x or TBS game I've played in the last 10 years. In many ways FE seems, in beta 1, close to MoM with all the faults everyone cries about. Hero stack of doom? I had one before the first 200 turns:

 

(I got that Dragon as the first Hero to recruit and never looked back; I made that ring for ~1500 MP)

 

     This unstoppable stack trounced every AI Wizard's (and neutral) city when I felt like it; which was often. The AI is also pretty ineffective on normal and hard, remind anyone of anything? The only thing this stack couldn't destroy was 2 Sky Drakes and 8 Phantom Warriors guarding a Sorcery Pool on Myrror. Regular units only really feel particularly useful to guard cities and in the early game. Once this stack is leveled and fully enchanted it can pretty much do anything. (They all have awesome items/artifacts I made and have flight/eldritch weapon/holy armor cast.)

     Furthermore, there is just as much "city spam" in this game as there is in any other game:

(Most of my cities are on Myrror, which I didn't feel like taking a pic of because it is a pain to get in and out of DOSbox everytime.)

     What I do like about this game is Heroes coming to you because of your fame or not coming because of your lack of it. Said fame influencing the quality of said Heroes. The all inclusive cities. The monster lair/magic nodes exploration. The item/artifact creation mechanic, which is arguably the best thing about the game. It is a satisfying payoff when you have to wait 10-20 turns just to get a custom designed ring you made for your Hero and even more so when you see your enemies driven before you.

 

     Overall, yes, this game is worth the $5 I paid for it but not much more. I've played and won several games already and they don't feel all that unique on subsequent playthroughs. I make a custom Wizard and take the best traits, why play with an inferior one? The magic system is pretty unique but it also feels similar to FE, in ways. In fact, a lot of this game does.

     Just as I do with many video games from my "early days," I let nostalgia and novelty cloud reality. I think this is also happening when, often, people draw parallels to MoM and FE. Ultimately, to each their own.

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February 2, 2012 4:57:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Interesting post. I also have never played MoM so it was good to see your thoughts.

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February 2, 2012 4:59:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent points. Nostalgia often tints our memories of these games. I definitely agree about the MoM item creation being incredibly satisfying.

That being said, I really liked the way MoM used mana for research, casting, and increasing your ability to cast/channel per turn. That division created some really interesting decisions about mana use that FE doesn't impose.

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February 2, 2012 5:08:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I often talk to my dad, who is into TBS games also, about how I feel concerning the nostalgia and novelty of all the old NES/SNES games we had when I was young. He agrees with me but points out that he's been in computers since monochrome green and record size floppies and he would never want to go back to what they had "back in the day." "Be happy with what's out now," he says.

Quoting Spitz,
That being said, I really liked the way MoM used mana for research, casting, and increasing your ability to cast/channel per turn. That division created some really interesting decisions about mana use that FE doesn't impose.

I didn't have trouble managing this. I always had spare MP/RP/SP and researched fast, on normal mana.

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February 2, 2012 5:14:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As someone who played and loved MoM I can agree with you assessment.  Try playing though on the hardest level and start on Myrran.  LOL let me tell you, you need those items you make because the nodes and such are crazy.  Is the game Impossible to beat, no, but it certainly gets a bit harder.  The AI is never really well done, and I cant think of many games where I go, "Damn, that AI is too damn good".  The one thing about the stack of doom though, is that you are limited to 6 heroes, I believe, and they can die.  They can be resurrected if you have the spell, if not you just get another.  There is also a Mod at GoG, well maybe not a mod, but a revamped MoM Game.  Someone did work on the game and AI, and let me tell you, I could tell a difference in what was getting thrown at me.  Yes city spam is there...oh yes...the AI goes nuts on it.

As to whether I think the 2 games are similar...in some ways I can see it, but in others no.  The biggest being the creation of Items.  I know if they put this in, it would just cause page after page of people saying its OP or not OP.  At the time in MoM, yes the items were darn good, but for those big ones you had to wait awhile...sometimes a loooooonnnngggg while, depending on your skill.  Which could be influenced by a trait and how many caster types you had in your fortress, which I thought was a neat thing to do.  I loved the trait selection you had as it covered so much and you could really make unique mages to play.  They really covered the bases well in that.  Elemental has traits too, but so far in the beta it feels very limited.

For me, I see the crew here taking the spirit of MoM and going with it.  And so far in this beta Im liking it.  Is there work still needed to be done.  Yes there is, but I can see it moving in the right direction and I think they do listen to us about our ideas.  Maybe not all of our ideas, I still think we should have a race of Frogloks lead by His Dread Wartness Froggulp, but Im sure they have enough ideas of their own.  Im looking forward to seeing what happens and how this goes and what plans they have next for a game.  Maybe a return to GC(woot woot) or maybe they will pick up the X-com franchise and give that a reboot.  Wish someone would do a good revamp of it, new research, new graphics, gameplay could be turn based or fps if they wanted it.  Oh well...back to the beta and SWToR...have to buy more of the stuff Frogboy is putting up...

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February 2, 2012 5:36:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

jmccrea, there are two X-Com reboots coming up this year. One is an FPS from Take Two Interactive, the other a more traditional tactical combat version: realtime world and turn based tactical combat.

Here's an article I googled up quickly: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/09/first-screens-and-details-of-xcom-enemy-unknown.aspx

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February 2, 2012 5:58:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Did this version come with the fan patch and all?

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February 2, 2012 6:03:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

it is v1.40, so yes (if you mean insecticide patch)

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February 2, 2012 6:06:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

moved to FE beta forum as requested

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February 2, 2012 6:08:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


     What I do like about this game is Heroes coming to you because of your fame or not coming because of your lack of it. Said fame influencing the quality of said Heroes. The all inclusive cities. The monster lair/magic nodes exploration.

...

That being said, I really liked the way MoM used mana for research, casting, and increasing your ability to cast/channel per turn. That division created some really interesting decisions about mana use that FE doesn't impose.

And alchemy too!! 

These are not minor points. Ultimately, they made the game come alive as every detail made sense and was a coherent part of a whole. Do play the game longer and look back at it after a while.

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February 2, 2012 6:48:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I revisited MoM six months ago after last playing it back in the 90s. I found it almost as addictive and fun as I used to, and there were enough tradeoffs on how to use your resources to make it feel like you were playing the game rather than just going through the motions. Having said that there is no question that a top modern game like Civilization 4 has much more tautly balanced mechanics and choices on how to use scarce resources.

The problem with WoM was that it lacked both the fun of MoM and the balanced mechanics of Civ 4.

With FE I think they have added a fair amount of the fun back and also gone some way to balancing the mechanics better. But without excelling at one or both of these I think it will only be a B grade game (which is still much better than being a C or D grade game like many are!).

If Stardock can really nail the FE mechanics down better (which I think will mean more than just pure balancing so I'm uncertain they will manage it) or make it a blast to play with great quests/heroes/spells (ie fun fluff) then I think FE can certainly be an A game.

Of course if they managed to nail both Civ4 level mechanics AND MoM level fun... Mmmm, probably best they don't I might never stop playing the game!!!

 

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February 2, 2012 6:50:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Vallu751,
jmccrea, there are two X-Com reboots coming up this year. One is an FPS from Take Two Interactive, the other a more traditional tactical combat version: realtime world and turn based tactical combat.

Here's an article I googled up quickly: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/09/first-screens-and-details-of-xcom-enemy-unknown.aspx[/quote]

There is also http://www.xenonauts.com/ -- unofficial remake (kinda old-school).

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February 2, 2012 6:53:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Mistwraithe,
Of course if they managed to nail both Civ4 level mechanics AND MoM level fun... Mmmm, probably best they don't I might never stop playing the game!!!

Have you played Fall from Heaven II? That do you think of it in terms of MoM-like-fun and Civ-IV-like-mechanics?

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February 2, 2012 6:57:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You can't actually lose at MOM. A lot of people seem to forget that. It's easy to have lots of neat game mechanics if the AI isn't required to use it. It is literally impossible to be conquered in MOM.  Anyone really think MOM would get that free ride today?

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February 2, 2012 7:13:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have "fall further" but Civ 4 mechanics seem like a collection of poorly seamed ideas rather than a seamless integration. I love the immersion of lore of FFH2 but it is still built on top of Civ 4, which I just can't like. I was really hoping FE would be the modern combo of FFH2 and Civ 4, maybe? There are plenty of things I don't like about Civ, too. That is for a different forum, though. 

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February 2, 2012 7:19:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I obviously love MOM. But I have been somewhat...amazed at how often people overlook the fact that it was basically not possible, at any difficulty level, to lose because the AI didn't actually play the game.  

I used to have this issue with GalCiv when people said it should be like a certain Space....empire type game with people eventually acknowledging that it was impossible to lose at said game.

We don't have the luxury of the AI not being able to play the game. It would make things much easier.  But there's a reason that as much as we love MOM there was no MOM 2. And at the end of the day, we have to make a game that sells. So we might find it cool that halfing slingers were unbeatable, it is not something we can realistically do.

I saw in another post where it was said that people love MOM except when they don't. That is doubly true of tactical battles.  We *explicitly* want tactical battles to be a quick and fun event.  Derek has told me that anything that makes a tactical battle take more than 3 minutes to finish is a bad thing and I have come to agree with that. Which, it turns out, is how MOM was.  MOM tactical battles were extremely fun but didn't involve anything complicated.

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February 2, 2012 7:42:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Derek has told me that anything that makes a tactical battle take more than 3 minutes to finish is a bad thing and I have come to agree with that.

So anything that threatens to make them actually tactical.  Sigh, so much for my suggestion of large stacks for epic tactical battles. 

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February 2, 2012 8:03:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hey, it's a cool thing when the frog replies on your post... 

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February 2, 2012 8:12:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As a big fan of MoM, and since I am also pretty far along in designing a "spiritual successor" to that game, I have some insightful comments. I wish I could get into the beta, but alas, I refused to buy E:WoM without playing a demo first. 

AI is probably the biggest thing that needs fixing in MoM. It didn't understand how to build and use stacks of doom, which was integral to its competitiveness. It also wasn't the best when it came to spell casting, sometimes wasting turns/mana buffing units that wouldn't enter combat for many turns or trying to kill a hero that had too many shields/crosses. I think that changing how the metagame works will certainly make it easier to make a competitive AI, but the only way to challenge a min/maxing player is if the AI can also min/max. 

Tactical battles are my favorite part of 4x games, and this is probably the greatest weakness of E:WoM/FE. I wouldn't say that MoM had amazing tactical battles, they got pretty repetitive. I think that terrain having a larger role would help, having the start positions be more varied, and allowing you to choose start positions is a good idea.  Making it so that a full army of elite ranged units isn't the strongest option is also important. You should also design combat so that you aren't trying to wipe out the whole enemy army in turn 1. I have played all of the Heroes of M&M games, and Kings Bounty: Armored Princess, and these games try to solve the problem but still fail in the end. I find myself getting perfect victories 80-90% of the time. This is because I love getting perfect victories, and design my army to achieve this. So, my suggestion is make it difficult to get perfect victories in FE, but not impossible , even when you have the best possible army composition in the game. Whether this means making the AI get really good army compositions, making monsters require specialized armies to defeat, or making all of the units balanced, hopefully you will figure it out. I think the system for my game works pretty well, but my combat system is more simple and sophisticated than the FE one.

 

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February 2, 2012 8:33:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you OP for breaking some rose glasses, it was very much needed . MoM was fun, but a large part of the reason it was fun was because

  • We were younger when we played MoM, and everything is freaking awesome when you're young.
  • Other games at the time sucked, and our expectations for quality game design were extremely low.

Neither of these are at all related to the quality of the actual game.

Quoting sweatyboatman,

So anything that threatens to make them actually tactical.  Sigh, so much for my suggestion of large stacks for epic tactical battles. 

Big != Tactical.

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February 2, 2012 8:35:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good post.

Yes, the AI in MoM was always disappointing and pathetic. What made me come back to play the game again and again, and even now on occasion is the world exploring. MoM had a very rich world for the time with lots of different units and spells and lots of things to find on the map in any given game.

 

This is a HUGE point FE has going for it that War of Magic did not.

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February 2, 2012 8:49:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@Evillron The issue wasn't that a stack of doom could be accomplished in a short period of time it was that other options were just as viable. I'm currently in a game where I have the entire arcanus plane under my control soley through the use of wraiths. I have 3 heroes and they are pathetic. There are only so many things that you can do to exploit the mechanics and that was certainly a shortfall.

Quoting Frogboy,
I obviously love MOM. But I have been somewhat...amazed at how often people overlook the fact that it was basically not possible, at any difficulty level, to lose because the AI didn't actually play the game. 

I saw in another post where it was said that people love MOM except when they don't. That is doubly true of tactical battles.  We *explicitly* want tactical battles to be a quick and fun event.  Derek has told me that anything that makes a tactical battle take more than 3 minutes to finish is a bad thing and I have come to agree with that. Which, it turns out, is how MOM was.  MOM tactical battles were extremely fun but didn't involve anything complicated.

1. The faulty AI: I'm not sure you're entirely correct on this. The post I made includes this information. Despite that the game was fun to explore the nifty ruins and nodes laid out accross the map and the AI 'could' kill you on impossible. By making the AI competant and reactionary, this game has the potential to be better.

2. No tactical Battles: This saddens me greatly. So no obstacles on the map, no rough terrain? Even city combats? I understand that every combat I run into shouldn't require precise position of units, but some combats, like finishing an epic quest, or conquering a city should. If all combats are 'quick and fun' or all of them are 'long and strategic' it takes away from the importance of certain actions. As it stands I don't think any more of conquering an empire then clearing the wolves off my lawn.

As an aside there are a lot of other things I would like to touch on, but I did so already in another post

 

 

 

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February 2, 2012 9:10:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Arf cant find how to erase a post

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February 2, 2012 9:11:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A thing i liked with MoM was the easy to read stats and by stats i mean numbers.

 

Attack = x.

def = y.

 

And the abilities were clear and easy to understand.What i mean is that i have the feeling that FE is a bit 'nebulous' .I have to admit that maybe i didnt  play the beta enough to have a true grasp on the mechanics but for example in one of the game i did, i didnt even saw the difference between a hero with 10 str and one with 14.

 

 

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February 2, 2012 9:29:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


For me and probably a lot of long time 4X gamers, MOM was a lot of fun despite the lack of a working AI.   That statement alone tells you that MOM nailed the right mix of magic, creatures, city building, (road building), faction uniqueness, replayability and non hero army experience building.      When it came out it was quite unique.     I played played it a lot then and have continued to play it over the years.    

Yes, you can play MOM with a hero "stack of doom".    But there are a lot of other ways to play it too.

The point about MOM is not that it was perfect.    The point is: MOM was a lot of fun despite all the flaws.

Not everyone liked it then or like it now - but a lot of us did and still do.

(P.S. I really hated the Klackons)

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February 2, 2012 9:55:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting xaltotun,


The point about MOM is not that it was perfect.    The point is: MOM was a lot of fun despite all the flaws.

Not everyone liked it then or like it now - but a lot of us did and still do.

 

This sums it up nicely for me. When and if Elemental becomes more fun/addictive then MoM, that will be a very good day.

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