For a game which looks remarkably like an intellectual property suit waiting to happen, Warlock: Master of the Arcane
is a surprisingly well-made fantasy game. Generally playing (and looking) a lot like a cross between Civ 5 and Civ 4's "Fall From Heaven" mod, Warlock strips away a lot of the tedious micromanagement associated with the 4X genre. There's no production- all units and buildings have set construction times, no matter where you produce them. Border expansions occur automatically with city growth at sizes 5 and 10. No worker units- tile improvements and city structures are synonymous.
This paired-down system allows players to get straight to the meat of the game, namely exploration and combat. You can generate some impressively large worlds to explore, and each world can in turn hold potentially several smaller maps accessed via portals, which serve as the 4X equivalent of bonus dungeons. The tactical AI is quite good regarding troops placement, and on the higher difficulty levels is capable of putting up a nasty fight. The strategic AI is acceptable, but tends to cripple itself by spamming enchantments on random grunts, crippling its economy. That said, it's not uncommon to see at least one AI construct a formidable empire on a large map.
Documentation could be better. As seems sadly to now be standard for the genre, there is no in-game 'pedia to help new players read how to play at their own pace. Mercifully, there is
mouse-over text to let you know when your cities will grow and what your income modifiers are. There is also an optional tutorial, but be sure to mute the dialogue first. Actually, keep it muted for the entire game- the voice acting is awful
In all, a fine 4X diversion if you have a hankering for spells, swords, and slaying stuff.