Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne

a game by Gathering
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review
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Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne is a rich but very complex turn-based fantasy strategy title in the vein of Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic. You will start the game as a novice wizard and through combat, diplomacy, research and exploration, attempt to build your empire and vanquish those pesky rival wizards. This may not be as easy as it sounds, however.

AoW2 is not a title you'd want to use as an introduction to the genre, any more than you'd want to teach your kid to drive a Maserati. For starters, the game manual is a whopping 180 pages. And while there is a tutorial, it assumes familiarity with hex-based movement, turn-based play, etc. Novices should start with Civilization or the original Age of Wonders. Even experts should give the tutorial a spin, as AoW2 contains enough bells and whistles to occupy even the most experienced strategist. In a given turn, you may be recruiting heroes, exploring, negotiating with or fighting other wizards, tapping mines or nodes for resources, researching technologies, learning/casting spells, building structures, managing morale, and/or moving units for strategic advantage. Whew! As you can see, this isn't a game where you can sit back and mass produce units to conquer the map.

While beginners may be a bit overwhelmed, for experts in this genre, you really couldn't find a deeper gaming experience. You have the utmost control of your abilities and units. There is no autopilot in this game unless you count the splendid feature of instant combat results, which allows you to avoid playing out insignificant battles and focus on more pressing matters. I did think that the playing map could have been given more screen real estate (probably a result of having so many controls/options). Nevertheless, AoW2 gives you a lot of bang for your gaming buck, especially for the master players in the fantasy strategy genre. If you are just starting out with turn-based strategy, this one may be too much for you to handle.

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