Gods from planet Ochria break ancient aliance and together they come to other plane of existence. All of you, can find there endless power or death. FInd the ancient treasures and fight for your deity! You must create on this plane your own cult. Train fanatics and kill other gods and back to Ochria. To conquer the most important world in whole Universum.
Playtest: Frostlings vs AI (12 default emperor aggressors) on the "with item" version. Play to finish duration: ~130 game-days.
The game design starts as a level 1 leader with a battering ram. Initially the map is heavily resource scarce (enjoyable) and forces players to plan initial army compositions with level 1 troops and a vulnerable leader. The leader is vulnerable enough, with enough perceived time pressure that the battering ram became a great tool to block ranged units during start of game combat. There is little to no opponent pressure due to segregated domains (see explanation below). Outside of the 'pocket realms', the game pace picks up well until the immediate area is conquered and several items for your leader are collected. After that, the pace plateaus into a resource-rich war as your leader achieves a god-like state with available items and the amount of gold or mana earned is beyond exhaustible. The game turns into a long drawn out game of 'explore and assassinate' to defeat opponents. Units can be produced endlessly, and it is felt by the long drawn out turns by the AI closer and closer to the end of the game. This style of game is great for killing time to pondering life while mindlessly exploring a beautifully stitched landscape (enjoyable solo-play). Unfortunately, playability for AoW PBEM groups suffers because of the style.
Each race is segregated fake-surface underground with a circle of impenetrable rock. Access to opponents is only available through the pinch point cavern entrance (or successful warp-party attempts). Most places where items are initially encountered have Night Vision and cave-crawling which greatly reduces travel time for your leader/heroes and exploration time (rushing Vision IV is recommended because of this). However, units without cave-crawling suffer and but this interestingly highlights racial advantages enjoyed by dark elves, goblins, etc that aren't often encountered in standard maps. One critique is that the Undead starts with an item that gives the leader flying.
Very creative use of terrain types, locations, and designs of leaders.
Map Design: 3
Expansive, pretty, but dreadfully slow-going without night-vision and cave-crawling on the bottom two levels of the map (where most of the action takes place). For me, the bottlenecks into the 'pocket realms' creates too much of a safe space but they do create an amazing part of the implicit narrative (see below). A teleport ring was available within most pocket realms in order to shorten travel distance to the bottleneck. I experienced a lot of frustration being able to see the neighbouring realm but realising it would take 5+ turns to fly there with 50 step + haste + cave crawling + air mastery to reach the location I could see and to be able to effortlessly take out the enemy leader with autocombat. In my play-through, the final two leaders (Highmen and Dwarves) either moved from their start locations or started in an non-standard spot. I can only imagine the frustration if I had to play a scorched earth strategy to find the missing leaders.
Excellent execution for story-telling. A war between gods and each god must conquer their native land before expanding into the multiverse.
I think it would be interesting to see a version of the map where the pocket realms exist and each of them led into a small/confined shared arena.