Elemental - War of Magic is a fantasy 4X game released in August 2010. The game is set in the planet of Elemental, a world ravaged by a catastrophic war against the Titans, beings of great and powerful magic.
The player is a "Sovereign", an immortal ruler capable of reviving the land and great feats of magic. Depending on racial choice (between the Fallen and the Humans), the player either turns the land into lush green plains or volcanic hell zones.
The game was almost unplayable right after release but a large number of patches have been cleaning up some of the problems.
In 2012, it received a sequel, known as Fallen Enchantress. A stand-alone expansion/updated rerelease called Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes was released in 2013.
This video game provides examples of:
- After the End: Technically the game is this. You start out in a magical wasteland, and you have to expend your "essence" to change the land to suit your people.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Your sovereign can have pretty much any colour for their skin.
- Canis Major: Horse-sized! They're the mount of choice for Empire factions.
- Canon Welding: There's sufficient shared terminology to indicate that Elemental is in fact set on ancient Altaria.
- Censorship Bureau: The ESRB forced the developers to remove "Ale" as a resource / item from the game.
- Copy Protection: As with all Stardock games, there is none. No copy protection, no DVD required.
- Brad Wardell's statements suggest that the Copy Protection is really in the patches - see Obvious Beta, below. Note that this is standard practice for Stardock: no copy protection, but if you want the updates (which generally make the game better, and not just in a "tweaking" sense), you'll need to have purchased it.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Financier unit, backbone of the Imperial economy.
- Death World: An arid barren waste, filled with giant spiders, trolls and golems? Sounds good.
- Desert Punk: To a certain extent, the world of Elemental is a post-apocalyptic low-magic fantasy world. The game mechanics and game style try to encourage this but the genre expectations of the players get in the way.
- Distant Prequel: To the Galactic Civilizations trilogy, due to Elemental being ancient Altaria. The "Humans" are Altarians, and the "Fallen" are Drath-Altarian hybrids.
- Elemental Powers: Four of the magic schools your character can learn are Fire, Ice, Air and Earth.
- The Empire: One of the two possible political systems, a favorite with the Fallen, believing in a Might Makes Right philosophy. Their armies consist of conscripted peasants, led by elite aristocratic officers, their research and education is done by specifically appointed officials, and their economy is run by Corrupt Corporate Executives.
- Game Mod: From the dev journals, the game appears to be very, very moddable, even if the modder doesn't know Python.
- Generational Saga: Start out with a Sovereign, end up with an army fielded out of your pants.
- The Good Kingdom: The other possible political system, favored by the humans. Fond of things like public institutions and human rights. They have professional soldiers who gain experience, and their research, education, and economy depends on civic institutions such as schools and markets.
- Good Republic, Evil Empire: With the kingdom switched in for the republic, it's used as a game mechanic. Civilizations with Kingdom in the name all have some concept of human rights, the importance of collective social action, and the importance of individual liberty, while civilizations with Empire in the name believe in a Might Makes Right philosophy. Both philosophies are reflected by their corresponding technology trees.
- In addition, Kingdom-aligned civilizations revive the land, making it lush and green. Empire-aligned civilizations corrupt the land, making it black and barren (though not as barren as the default terrain).
- Hero Unit: The sovereign, his family and any champions he picks up along the way.
- Mundane Utility: "I'm just going to use my near infinite power to give you guys bigger houses."
- Obvious Beta: The release version of Elemental had six patches in the first four days of release, and was accused of being a beta version by a writer at PC Gamer, among others. To put this in perspective, Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire both shipped in somewhat-buggy states, and also received a couple patches each within the month of release. Elemental was shipped (against numerous suggestions NOT to release it as-is from the preordering beta testers) and patched more times in a shorter timespan than both of those titles. Stardock acknowledged the difficulties and problems of the initial release, regardless of why those reasons existed. In an act of apology and thanks, Stardock allowed anyone who paid full price for War Of Magic to download the beta for the sequel Fallen Enchantress, in addition to getting a free copy of the game when it is released.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Again, potentially the Fallen in a way.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Potentially the Fallen.
- Shared Universe: With the Galactic Civilizations series. Elemental is Altaria, the homeworld of the Altarians and the Drath. The Elemental series is set around half a million years before the GC series.
- Shout-Out: According to Brad Wardell, the player's character card is a a shout out to Magic: The Gathering.
- Sorcerous Overlord: The player can make their sovereign this.
- Spiritual Successor: This game is generally considered the spiritual successor to Master of Magic.
- Summon Magic: A type of magic in game. Includes, but is not limited to (it's limited to how many mods a player wants to use, technically), giants of the four elements, demons, familiars etc.
- Technology Marches On: As you explore your tech tree, new weapons and armor become available, along with new units based on those technologies. However, this trope is averted: none of your units ever become useless. They keep their experience and can upgrade their weaponry whenever you want, as long as you have the money to do so.
- Viral Marketing: The "army" user ad campaign.
- Zeerust: You can opt to play on a virtual cloth map with tokens representing heroes and armies the entire game. This helps with framerate.
The sequel, Fallen Enchantress, provides examples of:
- Annoying Arrows: Depending on your armor, actually. At any difficulty, if you've got the dodge for it, arrows can't really hit you. If you aren't prepared for them, they will slaughter practically everything, with their one weakness being that they reduce a character or soldier's initiative (as in, how often they can attack). The fact that they can hit from anywhere on the tactical combat map just makes them all the more deadly if you aren't prepared for them. Averted if you give your faction the Archer trait. This give you access to the Ram's Horn Longbow, a weapon with shots that ignore 50% of an enemy's defense. This is superior to even the most expensive magical bow and makes your troops that can use it a threat, even to enemies that have plate armour.
- Artificial Stupidity: The AI is not very bright in multiple ways:
- The game uses extreme Spiteful A.I. that almost always seeks to target your weakest units in combat to inflict as many casualties on you as possible. The Raise Skeleton Horde spell creates a solid 3x3 block of single weak skeletons anywhere on the battlefield which will universally become the target of the entire enemy army until the last one is destroyed, which will distract them for several essential turns, letting your ACTUAL units run roughshod over them while the enemy becomes obsessed with destroying a pack of disposable boney flunkies that will fall apart at the end of the battle anyway.
- In battle, AI opponents of the Gilden faction will always, always use their unique racial Guarded Strike ability (which lets them attack for half damage while remaining in a defensive stance afterwards) instead of attacking since it has no cooldown or stamina cost. They even do this with units that are in little to no danger (such as mages or archers sitting at the back of the field), which usually reduces them to inflicting Scratch Damage on your forces, or even doing no damage at all. This also makes them tooth-crackingly tedious to fight, since they can barely damage you, but their meat-shield forces take forever to hack through despite the minimal risk to your army.
- The AI is just really bad at waging war in general. It builds enormous armies of low and mid-tier units in every city, at the expense of developing its economy, but rarely ever forms their huge militaries into armies that can threaten your cities. You can usually run rings around them with one or two armies of elite units that can run through their realms taking city after city like a prune through a short grandmother. They also have a bad habit of building dozens of Settlers (crippling the growth of their cities further by depleting the populations) and sending them out to run around randomly without escort, just begging for someone to pick them off for free.
- Awesome, but Impractical:
- Resoln's corrupted elemental units. While you get them for free from the shrines you build on elemental shards, most of the first two tiers ("Young" and no-adjective) are honestly too weak to be much use and while the third tier "Ancient" monsters are considerably more powerful, the technology needed to build tier 3 shrines takes longer to research than the Spell of Making victory condition technology (which shares its prerequisites).
- Curgen's Volcano is amazingly powerful- but costs 1200 mana and takes 10 turns to cast (although this later got pared back to a less-impractical 2 turns).
- The Berserker: If you are of the Trogg race, through alchemy and selective breeding you can create the Juggernaut special unit. These are giant-sized berserk Troggs that can hit for heavy damage per hit and will keep hitting until they miss. Their lack of armour makes them something of a Glass Cannon, but they're still very useful especially for fighting large monsters. Be careful, as they will also inflict 25% of their damage as splash damage to everything adjacent to their target- including your own troops.
- Boring, but Practical: There are a lot of weird and unique units and strange monsters you can command, and your heroes can learn a vast array of powerful abilities, but barring a really high level mage, nothing does as much raw damage as a simple unit of infantry or cavalry equipped with the heaviest weapons and armour available.
- Cosmetically Different Sides: Compared to many other PC fantasy strategy games, Fallen Enchantress has almost all the units the same between the different races. Depending on your ruler's traits and their races's abilities, you might one or two more units that are unique but otherwise there's no real differences between the different units - for example if you had Troggs, you get the unique Juggernaut unit but other than that, Troggs are the same as everyone else when it comes to their unit selection.
- Fantastic Nuke: Curgen's Volcano. Completely razes an area of the map — including cities. Originally left your victim without recourse, but subsequent balancing gave it a ten-turn casting time, the same as the game-ending Spell of Making (although this effectively made it unusable, so it was pared back down to 2 turn).
- Geo Effects:
- Tile Yields, which determine where you can build a city and what the city will be good at. Initial grain yields come from fertile land (with blue or green flora), while initial material yields come from rivers and woods.
- Your armies get slowed while crossing dense terrain such as swamps, woods or hills. However this does not extend to combat, regardless of the ground you're fighting on.
- Golem: One of the special troops that can be made if you are of the Dwarven equivalent race. Iron Golems are a bit Awesome, but Impractical. They have really good defense, but they're not that much stronger than most units and they can't stack. There's also the unique hero Mausolus.
- Lightning Bruiser: The unique hero Ascian, a glowing purple demon cat that Lady Umber used as her personal assassin. Optimised for killing enemy hero units with high movement and initiative, lots of bonus damage when attacking heroes, improved critical chance and damage multipliers and, most importantly the 'Maul' ability that allows it to keep attacking until it misses. Under the right circumstances, Ascian can hunt down an enemy hero or sovereign and tear them to shreds in a single attack.
- Obvious Beta: Not nearly as bad as Elemental, but Fallen Enchantress shipped with an astonishing number of bugs, many (but not all) of which were resolved in a flurry of hasty post-release patches.
- Panthera Awesome: Ascian, a demon cat that can be recruited as a unique hero.
- Updated Re-release: Legendary Heroes was nominally an expansion, but effectively replaced the original game- as well as containing the second story campaign, it reworked the hero leveling system by giving them fully-developed class skill trees and added a huge amount of additional content.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Lord Relias. He was sent to find a way to stop the prophecy of the fallen enchantress. Instead, he managed to create her.