Preview

Eador: Masters of the Broken World Preview (PC)

This must be the year of the lost game or something. I first saw Eador: Masters of the Broken World (without the ‘Eador’ bit) around two years ago, possibly at the same time I saw Dragon Commander as well, although I can’t really remember. It was an interesting concept, although there wasn’t really gameplay to be had, and after that not a lot was seen of the project, apart from some dev diaries we ran last year.

It seems like one of those projects had a bit of a tough time getting off the ground. With the help of a successful Steam Greenlight campaign, it seems everything is full steam ahead, and we’ve spent the past couple of days getting to grips with the game in order to relay some impressions.

 


What is Eador? It's a strange hybrid between Might & Magic/King’s Bounty and Civilization with and a dash of Warlock: Master of the Arcane in the sense that each iteration of the strategic map is meant to be a living world, as opposed to an empty map that you slowly spread out and cover. The general gist, as the name suggests, is that the world is ‘broken’ into several shards, each representing a campaign map and each with a random set of features, size etc.

As a God-like ‘Master’, your job is to conquer these shards and try to unite the world once again. The only problem is that not only are there local lords that you’ll need to beat down in order to assure supremacy over a shard, but eventually you’ll start encountering other ‘Masters’ as well who are trying to do the same thing. Naturally, only one of you can claim the credit, so this leads to further conflict.

It’s an interesting enough premise to go on, and the Star-map screen where you choose which shard you want to invade does look really nice. Each shard represents a decent amount of gameplay as well, even the small/early ones. It’s not quick 30 or 40 minute matches like you’d expect from a game broken up into stages (that get longer as the game gets harder), even the first, tiny shard you step on to can have several hours of gameplay. It’s like playing several games of Civilization all in a row. It’s hard to tell though whether this is a symptom of really innovative or just really clumsy/poor game design. Masters of the Broken World has an unusually slow pacing to it, and even on the lowest difficulty it can be quite a challenge.

The ‘action’ in this is game is divided between managing your domain, and recruiting heroes and armies and using them to explore the world and conquer rival lords/masters or the myriad of neutral parties to expand your holdings. At the start of a shard, you’ll only own one tile, which is your capital. You build most of your Empire buildings in your capital, and this is also where you can recruit units in Hero armies or garrisons, store valuable items in your treasury, have your hero’s learn spells.

There are four types of Heroes (Warrior, Scout, Commander & Wizard), and they can recruit and control armies that fight in the tactical battles. In order to conquer a shard, you simply need to conquer the capital of all of the rival Lords/Masters on that shard, but to do so you have to expand your empire by conquering neutral tiles near you (or bribe them to your side). It’s not necessarily a case of expanding your empire to the point where your borders touch theirs – you just grow at the rate you can – but you do have to essentially ‘conquer’ yourself a route to the other factions if you want to go on the offensive.

The difficulty with Eador lies in the fact that a lot of the active elements of the game are tied to your heroes, and heroes are meant to be a rare resource. Heroes are needed to conquer neutral tiles and expand your empires. They’re needed to explore tiles that you do own, so that your population can continue to grow, and so that they can raid mini-objectives within provinces for valuable loot and experience.

 


In order to remain competitive, you have to keep them fighting and levelling up, but that can take a toll on your normal units, and you have to make frequent trips to the capital so that they can heal quicker, or replace lost units. Being turn based, things can start taking a while if you have a lot to do.

On the smaller shards, it’s only a matter of time before you bump uglies with another Lord, and so you’ll also need to fend them off, which stops you exploring elsewhere, and then you need to run back and replenish which of course happens at the exact moment they decided to attack as well and…. You get the picture. The game can be oddly limiting at times, and the slow pacing means that a set-up can easily delay everything for five or so turns, meanwhile the enemy army is rampaging around conquering all your tiles, which you’ll need to, reconquer, naturally.

We don’t want to sound too negative about Eador at this point – it’s different, and there are some really interesting elements to it. We love the tactical battles themselves – epitomising all that is great about the M&M/K&B formula, and the turn-based nature of the game stops it from being a straight up clone.

It’s certainly different, it’s also oddly limiting and challenging in ways that strange and unfamiliar. There’s still a lot more that’s waiting to be explored – the later-game shards, the quest-system etc… the world really does feel alive. As far as you can in a turn-based strategy, anyway. One to keep an eye on, although with just as much optimism as trepidation.

Most Anticipated Feature: Seeing how the larger shards play out, with multiple local lords AND rival masters. It’s going to be hell.

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Comments

By danfreeman (SI Elite) on Apr 03, 2013
danfreeman
I am interested in this,however at the price of 19 euros i`ll wait for a sale(damn steam and their prices)
By Voqar (SI Core Member) on Apr 03, 2013
Voqar
Well, I don't see how you can complain about $20 for a good game. It beats risking $60 on a game that might have more bells, whistles, and glitz but isn't guaranteed to have any better of gameplay - and these days the indie developed games often have way better gameplay than the corporate games that are getting dumbed down to infantile more and more every year.

Anyways, I picked up the original Eador the other day and it's pretty cool. I'm interested in seeing how this one turns out.
By danfreeman (SI Elite) on Apr 03, 2013
danfreeman
Point taken,i guess i`ll think about it.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Apr 04, 2013
FoolWolf
GOG had a pre-sale for ~14 Euros, otherwise - keep an eye on greenmangaming. Buying from STEAM directly is for me at least - a thing of the past.
By danfreeman (SI Elite) on Apr 04, 2013
danfreeman
I`ll try that since 20 euros is abit above my spending capital.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Apr 04, 2013
FoolWolf
Good luck finding a nice deal! I go for GOG since I like those guys and they support no DRM and have IMO good forums.