Video Game: Eador

A place where you'll spend your next couple of months
"Eador is a universe made of countless shards of land drifting in the Great Nothing. Each of the shards is a little world unto itself, with geography and citizens of its own. The power over the shards is bitterly contested by Masters, the immortal beings mortals believe to be gods.

"Take the role of a mighty Master and shape the destiny of Eador, on land and within the astral plane itself. Explore the land and rule provinces as you see fit, defend them, and keep the populace in line or they may rebel. Choose from thousands of items—swords, spells, weapons, armor, and more—to outfit the heroes you recruit so they may best meet any challenge. Keep your heroes healthy and they will grow stronger as they gain experience from battle. Forge alliances and engage in the delicate art of diplomacy as you negotiate trade agreements or wage war against a mutual foe. Eador with its many wonders and adventures awaits, will you answer the call?" (from http://www.gog.com/gamecard/eador_genesis)

At first glance Eador (pronounced eh-ah-dOhr) may seem like Heroes of Might and Magic or Age of Wonders clone, but scratch the surface and you see a complex empire building game similar to Dominions, Civilization and (somehow) Europa Universalis. You simultaniously fight tactical battles not unlike King's Bounty or Age of Wonders; develop your home castle, build upgrades in provinces; keep an eye on population growth and mood; send your heroes on quests, to invade neighbouring provinces, into dungeons or to explore lands in search for resources; make alliances and trade with other players; buy and repair equipment or powerful artifacts for your heroes; learn and use rituals that affect the world and simple spells useful in battle; react to random events that influence the economy, world and your alignment... This is a big game.

Campaign follows you, one of the Astral Lords, on a quest to gather shards of Eador. Each shard is independent world, and you have to fight other spiritual beings like you as well as local rulers to add it to your own big world. It gets much more complicate when you meet other Lords and realize the danger of global Chaos invasion that devours all that exists. The game gets progressively more complex as your unlock new buildings, units, spells, rituals, quests. Of course, you can start singleplayer or multiplayer game on a single map with everything unlocked. Main castle has more than 200 buildings, many of each are mutually exclusive, and you can forge alliances with many races that give you unique buildings and units, so there's much strategic thinking involved.

Eador: Genesis was released in 2009 in Russia and nowhere else until December 2012 when it was released internationally via GOG. Eador: Masters of the Broken World is an Updated Re-release with 3D graphics (genesis had 2D sprite graphics) and features that came out in 2013 and is available on Steam and GOG.

This work provides examples of:

  • Achievement System: Fulfillng certain requirements on shard map will give you various achievements, that add to your total score.
  • After the End: The world of Eador is literally broken into shards.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Local trolls are huge mean green monsters. They are also attracted to gold, bringing lots of troubles to your tax collectors in various random events.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Your shard gets attacked several times throughout the campaign. You get some benefits from fighting on your home territory, but if you lose it's Game Over. On a smaller scale, if you lose your home province on the shard map, you lose battle for that shard.
  • Artificial Stupidity: In Genesis, at least. The AI is very punishing to an unexperienced player, but is also very unflexible, and once you figure out what makes it tick, you can play your computer opponent like a fiddle. The most glaring example, perhaps, is if you besiege your opponents home province, it'll drop everything and send all of it's heroes running hell-for-leather back home to try and lift the siege... even if at that moment it was besieging YOUR home province and was one turn away from breaching the walls.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Comes in two flavours - one that ignores fixed amount of opponents close/ranged/magic defence and one that ignores half of it. Most units have either type, but heroes may combine two by using appropriate equipment.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Prerequisite to becoming an Astral Lord. Most of the opponents you face in the campaign have performed specific ritual, which allowed them to shed their mortal bodies and become one of the Masters.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Foreign units that you get from allying with any non-human race are arguably this. Sure, these units give you a better alternative to some of your castle units, but almost all of them belong to Tier 1, and perfroming the quest necessary to get them can be very tricky, time-consuming and may require considerable amount of luck. Unless you rush, by the time you get them the match has probably reached the point when they don't really matter. Of course, there are reasons to form an alliance besides getting new unit.
  • Back from the Dead: You can resurrect your fallen heroes as often as you like, provided you can pay the required price in gold and crystals. The prices get progressively steeper the more levels your hero has, and he must be brought back to your capital first before you can bring him back to life which can take very long time, so it's better to keep your heroes alive. Additionaly, the "Resurrection" and "Reincarnation" spells allow you to bring your units back to life right on the battlefield, and the Champion hero has this as a class ability.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Continuously using chaos or necromancy spells takes a toll on your alignment meter. Yet nothing is stopping you from using it and maintaining an otherwise benevolent rule (and in fact, these spells often do wonders to give your strength a needed shot in the arm).
  • Body Armor As Hitpoints: Zigzagged with hero equipment. Usually, items that go into chest slot, like jackets, mails or robes, reduce incoming damage, while things like helmets, boots or cloaks increase maximum HP.
  • Cannon Fodder: Militiamen, Goblins, Brigands. The former two, however, have some Magikarp Power going for them, but Brigands, while not completely incompetent, have next to none development potential and decrease the income from the province they're stationed in and the amount of gold you get after sucessfull battles. This, combined with their dirt-cheap hiring cost, means that you will either hire Brigands as disposable troops or will not hire them at all, constructing their recruitment building only to get one specific type of defenders later.
    • It should be noted that the game mechanics discourage using your troops as Cannon Fodder - part of a total experience obtained for a sucesfull battle is equally divided among all troops, even dead and summoned ones (that disappear after battle), meaning, that if you habitualy use your troops as disposable meat, your surviving units will level slower.
  • Class and Level System: For your recruitable heroes. You can recruit a Warrior, a Mage, a Commander and a Scout to be your chosen champion to lead your armies on any given shard (and can recruit more than one for extra cost). Each class in turn has further sub-classes that they can spec into after reaching level 10.
  • Character Alignment: Your character has specific alignment that changes during campaign and/or single map. Each unit has its own alignment too and doesn't like to fight for a Lord with different morals, and trying to from an alliance with a race of different alignment from yours may be very difficult if not outright impossible. Also, army composed of creatures with different views on life will get major penalties to units' morale.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. When unit's health drops lower than half, unit's attack starts getting progressively weaker.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Lord of Light. Interestingly, it is implied that he may actually not exist, unlike the rest of the gods. But the powers that his monks and clerics wield are very real, nonetheless.
  • Deader Than Dead: Being plunged into Chaos results in this, even to otherwise immortal beings like gods and Astral Lords.
  • Deal with the Devil: One random event for evil rulers is this, a devil will visit your castle and offer you random magical artifact in exchange of letting it construct a chaos gate in one of your provinces. Curiously, quite often the artifact turns out to be the Sword of Justice.
  • Disk One Nuke: Discovering early on a province site that allows you to recruit powerful units can count as this. Especially so during early stages in the campaign - when neither you nor your enemy normally have access to any troops beyond Tier 1, having even a single Tier 3 unit is a devastating advantage. Be carefull though - enemy can do that too!
  • Difficult but Awesome: Wizard hero class. See Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards entry below.
  • Eldritch Location: The Astral Plane.
  • Excuse Plot: Averted. The game features developed lore, opponent characters with distinct personalities, goals and motivations, well-written dialogues, plot secrets, optional quests, multiple endings and end goals beyond simple "Kill'em all and become one true Astral Lord".
  • For the Evulz: Many choices during random events allow you to paint yourself as cartoonishly evil villain, but two cases deserve special mention. During the event with a captured unicorn you can order to make chops out of it, and during the event with a captured mermaid you can similarily order to make a soup out of her. You are an incorporeal entity inhabiting the astral plane, so you physically cannot eat food. Besides, the unicorn chops taste terrible. However, in mermaid's case the soup option is the only one that allows you to gain something - the scales your cooks peel off her tail net you some gold. All other choices from her event give you nothing.
  • Fragile Speedster: Pegasi, the only castle unit that has base speed of five, but they are very squishy for their tier. Luckily, they have the First Aid skill that somewhat mitigates this.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Genesis gives you only one autosave slot in lieu of standart save system. However, at any given time you have the option to go back to previous turn and try some things differently, or go back to the Astral Plane to a point before you invaded current shard. This comes at a cost of lowering your total score in the former case and permanently lowering your energy income in the latter. In-Universe, you travel back in time when you do this.
  • Geo Effects: Battle map can have forests, hills, swamps, lakes and mountains on it. Factoring the terrain into your tactics and using the advantages it provides is essential to victory. Masters Of The Broken World adds deserts to the roster.
    • To go into more details, forests provide cover from ranged attack, hills improve counter-attack and increase skirmishers' range, swamps decrease defence. All of the above are difficult to pass, meaning they require additional movement points and stamina to cross. Some creatures are native to certain terrain types, and they get defence bonus when stationed on native terrain. Lakes and mountains are impassable to all except flying units.
    • Terrain also plays part on the shard map - each province has it's own terrain type, and it affects movement rates for that province, sites and strategic resource that may be found in the province, and the layout of the battle map.
  • Glass Cannon: Elves, who are the best ranged troops among Tier 1 units, and, arguably, Tier 2 as well. But they have one of the worst HP rates in the game.
  • Götterdämmerung: Most of the gods were killed by demons during or shortly after the Cataclysm that shattered Eador. Very few, however, managed to survive by going into hiding or through other means.
  • Hero Unit: Heroes lead non-garrisoned units over map. There are 4 classes of heroes - Ranger, Mage, Warrior and Commander. All heroes actively participate in battle like any other unit.
  • Humans Are Average: Every Master uses humans as his default race, all heroes are humans too. Player can have an alliance with other races and they provide additional units and buildings.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Various giant subspecies, and especially Ogres, are explicitely stated to love human meat. Additionaly, several random events will have you dealing with various creatures kidnapping your subjects with specific purpose of eating them.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: When it comes to hero units, Scout is one. He's moderately tough, but not as tough as Warrior, he gets spell and unit slots reasonably fast, but not as fast as Wizard and Commander, and he has some unique support skills of his own. This gives him enough tactical flexibility to adapt to any situation.
  • Karma Meter: Recognized in-universe. Building certain buildings or recruiting certain units will swing your karma meter one way or another (reflected in your statistics page with monikers such as "the Pure" or "the Dark"). With chaotic or necromantic spells, simply casting them gives you negative karma each time.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The protagonist suffers from one.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Good-aligned rulers tend to get more beneficial random events, while evil-aligned get more detrimental ones.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Played straight for both hero units and regulars. Warrior hero dominates the battlefield on low levels, and remains tough on high ones, but can easily be overwhelmed with clever tactics and sheer numbers. Wizard starts squishy, requires lots of crystals, skill and considerable and diverse array of spells to remain competitive, but things that high-level Wizards can do to enemy armies can be described only as obscene.
    • As of regular units, while your melee fighters often get new perks that may seriously improve their performance, for caster getting a new spell can make that unit exponentially more useful and even change the unit's role on the battlefield.
  • Lizard Folk: One of the races you can form an alliance with. They are one of more popular choices for an allied race, as they will deal with a ruler of any alignment (themselves being neutral) and their quest being relatively easy to perform.
  • Magic Is Evil: All units from sorcery family (shamans, sorcerers, etc.) have evil alignment. It should be noted that they are not necessary evil per se, but rather wilful and unscrupulous. This is reflected in them having only slightly evil alignment. However, warlocks (Tier 4 units) are an exception, they are described as pure evil.
  • Magic Knight: The Dark Knight (Warrior/Wizard hybrid) and the Battlemage (Wizard/Warrior hybrid) classes are this, with them both having access to Warrior and Wizard skillsets.
  • Magikarp Power: Militiamen and Goblins, the most useless units in the game, who otherwise fit only as a fodder for your necromancers and demonologists or as a living shield for your more valuable troops. Militiamen, however, can learn some valuable perks that allow them to take a punch and live to tell the tale, and after reaching certain level they may get an option of turning into Spearmen, while retaining their experience and awards. Goblins, while never growing into frontline infantry, can also learn some very useful perks.
  • Mighty Glacier: Trolls are an ultimate axample - slow, hit like a truck, have tons of HP and a Healing Factor to boot.
  • Mr. Exposition: Zarr.
  • Multiple Endings: And not just alignment-based ones.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Several cases among other Masters, but the best example would be Adrageron.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game requires to plan your macro strategy far in advance, and can be very brutal if you don't know what you're doing. Lampshaded by the game itself when it averts Easy-Mode Mockery - when you choose your initial difficulty level for the campaign, if you hover the cursor over the "Beginner" level (the easiest one), it will show you a tool-tip that says "A reasonable choice". On the other hand, the "Overlord" difficulty gives you "Don't even try!".
  • Necromancer: Among the Masters, Beleth and l'Anshar qualify, the latter is also a lich. Necromancer is also one of professions available to Wizard hero.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The Necromancy magic school allows you to rise your units as various kinds of undead during battle, and the Necromancy skill allows you to keep undead units in your army permanently. Having an army made solely of undead is not only possible, but it is quiet an effective strategy as well.
  • Non-Entity General: In-Universe. On each shard you invade you exist as an incorporeal presence that can speak to your subjects and sometimes perform some magical rituals, but cannot interact with the world in any other way. It is mentioned early on by Zarr that you can actually incarnate into a material body, but it is very difficult to do, requires a lot of energy and very impractical, as you have to be born and live your life and develop as a normal human at normal speed, and you don't get any special powers in your human form. So there's really no reason for you to do that.
  • Obvious Beta: Broken Worlds at the time of release was borderline unplayable. It got better quickly, but even a full year after release it is far from perfect.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Demons, who want to plunge what little remains of Eador into Chaos. Also, l'Anshar, who wants to purge the world of all life.
  • One-Man Army: Most warriors end up being this. With high HP and damage they can destroy whole armies without any units. Mages and Rangers can be that too, though they're much more fragile and have to rely on specific tactics. Mages use summons and crowd-control spells while Rangers uses hit-and-run. Commanders, unlike others, benefit from skills affecting the entire army and can hire more troops, so they're almost useless on their own.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Major theme in the setting. The once whole world of Eador is now shattered into many shards that slowly get consumed by Chaos. Demons are the creatures of Chaos that seek to further this process, and establishing strong order on your shard is one way to deterr them.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Western-type variety. They like to hoard treasures, occasionally raid your settlements for tribute but usually just stick to their lairs, and they are, not surprisingly, the strongest single units in the game, being flying Lightning Bruisers with magical ranged attack and having magic immunity. Taking out even one can be tricky if you're not smart, and late in the game you can stumble upon sites guarded by EIGHT dragons at once. One of the Masters you may encounter is a dragon (or rather, was, see Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence above). He has a bad temper, and he can deploy dragons in his armies.
    • A rare defender contract allows you to hire a dragon to defend your province.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Yep. Their rivalry with elves is really prononunced only in the backstory, and otherwise not that noiceable, but apart from that they're as same as it gets.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Of Wood variety with some elements of High as well.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Fairies are present as neutral units in the game, they can be recruited through certain province sites. Also, one of the Masters is the queen of fairies Vianta.
  • Pacifist Run: Technically possible. You can capture most provinces by bribing guards, making alliances with local population/thugs/barons. Even if you've started battle you don't have to kill your opposition: most units can be frightened (usually by magic) so they simply run away and the battle is won. If your empire becomes powerful enough other Lords may just give up and you've won the scenario.
  • Precursors: The Ancients. Their civilization collapsed around the Cataclysm, however due to their longevity few remnant individuals managed to survive up to somewhat recent times, but by the time the game takes place in they are all extinct.
  • Random Event: Big variety of them occurs on shard map. They provide you with oppurtunities to shift karma either way and, most of the time, to gain some additional money or resources. Some of them happen completely randomly, others are influenced by various factors, like your karma, constructed buildings, people's happiness, type of province where the event occurs etc.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: You have to start anew on each shard you invade.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: The shard map is organized like this.
  • Sorcerer King or Sorcerous Overlord: All Masters qualify to a various degree, except Doh-Gor.
  • Scoring Points: The game keeps score of how you play, both in campaign as a whole and on each separate shard, and ranks you according to your score.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Zarr the gremlin, who is very similar to Morte in that regard. Depending on your dialogue choices, you can play Straight Man to him or gleefuly engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat.
  • Take a Third Option: Diplomacy skill allows your hero to do this during negotiations.
  • Time Master: You are! As mentioned above, in Genesis, when you choose to go back one turn or return to Astral, you actually return to an earlier point in the past in-story. Apparently, before you lost your memory, you were capable of travelling through time even more liberally.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Danur, who kills you at the end of tutorial map. Subverted in that he was actually your servant, and was acting according to your orders.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Some units have this as an ability (namely, Barbarians, Minotaurs, etc.). When hit with a single strong enough attack, the unit becomes enraged till the end of battle, becoming immune to morale damage and attack penalties for low heatlh.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted. Some spells may be situational but none of them are completely useless. Additionaly, many of the spells have some additional, and sometimes completely different effect or property that is not apparent from spell's name. Read the descriptions, seriously!
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Pick good choices during random events, send food to provinces where hunger occurs, dedicate funds to combat epidemics, save innocent non-humans from angry mobs, reward your subjects for jobs well done, light magical fireworks for village fairs and enjoy your good karma and all benefits that come with it.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Nothing stops you from picking evil choices. Sell food for sky-high prices to starving provinces, sell bodies of those who died during epidemics to necromancers, make nifty trinkets out of captured magical creatures, rob your own provinces, take Cannon Fodder units in your army and turn them into undead or use as sacrifices to summon demons. Enjoy your evulz.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: You can actually play like this, as long as you manage to keep your karma up and your populace happy while dabbling into dark magic and other atrocities. Some dialogue choices during random events seem specifically tailored to this mindset.
  • Vancian Magic: Combined with having all spells except the most basic ones needing crystals to be cast.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Gold and magic crystals on shard map, energy on Astral Plane.