For the past two evenings I’ve been wallowing in strategy game nostalgia with Eador: Genesis. This is an older game, originally published in 2009 by Ukrainian developers Snowbird Studios. An English translated version hit GOG.com last week at a bargain price of $6.00.
If you have fond memories of Master of Magic, Warlords, or Lords of Magic then you are going to love Eador: Genesis. It’s got everything you can ask for: the city building and resource management of a 4X game, the leveling of an RPG and turn-based tactical battles of a classic strategy title.
The premise is that the universe of Eador is busted up into many tiny shards, and your goal is to create order in the universe by conquering each of these shards. Essentially each shard is a level/map/mission in the Campaign, but each one also unlocks certain buildings so there’s kind of a meta-game of deciding which order to conquer them in.
Once you decide on a shard to attack (and your first one is pre-determined) you move to a map of that shard where you get a citadel from which you can hire one or more heroes. Eventually you’ll hire troops to travel with these heroes, buy gear for the heroes, teach them spells and finally send them off to battle. Before you do that, though, you’re going to have to build the shops, temples and training grounds that can produce all these resources (this is where the buildings come in…you need to unlock buildings by conquering shards to get advanced units and gear).
The map is hex based and every hex is occupied, so every time you move you’ll have to either fight or negotiate with the occupiers of that hex. IF you fight and conquer the hex you’re going to have an unhappy populace on your hands. You can buy guards to help keep the peace, or erect buildings that make the local populace happier.
In lieu of moving to an occupied hex you can opt to explore one you already occupy. Doing so will often uncover lairs full of monsters and treasure; good both for filling your coffers and leveling up your heroes and troops.
When it comes time to do battle you’ll move to a tactical, hex-based battle map with varied terrain that impacts attack and defense strength as well as movement costs . You place your troops and then participate in a turn-based battle. Generally (for me so far at least) your hero will be much more powerful than your troops and a big challenge can be letting the troops get experience by fighting, but not getting them killed. Dead troops are gone forever; a hero can eventually be resurrected.
After a battle both your troops and your hero may level up. If they do you get to choose from a pair of perks for that unit. Often these are as simple as +1 attack vs +1 defense, but sometimes they’re offered skills as well. Additionally a troop unit that performs exceptionally well will be offered a medal that gives them a stat bonus.
And that’s the basic gist of the game. For every Shard there’s a Big Bad that you have to defeat in order to claim that shard. If you’ve never played this kind of strategy game it can be a bit daunting but if you have, you’ll slide right into Eador like a comfortable old shoe.
But speaking of old, the graphics of the game are quite dated and the game runs at basically 1 resolution (1024×768). You can run it full screen but on most modern monitors it’s going to be terribly stretched out if you do so. [Tip: The GOG installer creates two shortcuts, one to run in Windowed mode and one to run full screen; there are no settings in the Options menu for this.]
It’s also worth noting that this game is difficult, even on the easiest setting. At least I’m finding this to be the case. As I said, I’ve only been playing for two evenings but I lost the battle for my second shard and was thrown back into The Void. I can attack again but my funds are seriously depleted and that’s going to make my next attempt even more challenging. I may need to re-start the campaign; we’ll see. (There is no manual Save feature so I can’t just go back to before I attacked Shard #2 and try a different tactic.)
For $6, I don’t think you can go wrong if you’re a strategy gamer (unless you just can’t deal with the old-school graphics). Eador:Genesis has that “1 more turn” compulsion that can keep you up well past your bedtime.
Eador did well enough for the studio that they’re working on a 3D sequel, Eador; Masters of the Broken World. It’s currently in Steam’s Greenlight section and I hope you’ll give it a thumbs up. Based on what I’ve played of the original game, I’m really excited to see how the modern sequel comes out!
[Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of Eador: Genesis.]