Author Topic: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic  (Read 706 times)

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Offline solops

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Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« on: July 08, 2017, 09:50:43 AM »
I am starting a new thread dedicated to Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic.
Per Ghostryder: "AOW3 felt like an unfinished series. It never approached what AOW2 brought to the table in both scope, races and options. You could say the graphics improved and the battles were more fun to watch but on the other hand you never defended four walls in a castle -- the layout only allowed frontal attacks and walls were merely 1 turn or 2 turn delays---in effect giving the impression they were props rather than castles. In every instance they were indeed props. A fatal flaw that simply made AOW3 nothing like the series originally brought to the mix- which in short was an expanded Warlords game.

They also dragged their feet big time in modding tools and the game never saw the wealth of mods AOW2 enjoyed. By the time the tools were available everybody had moved on to better and more complete games. It is the mods that keep AOW2 alive-and to this day there is no better LOTR mod even close to what Lord of the Rings in the Third Age - War of the Ring v1.3 bring to the table. par that with a downloaded soundtrack and you have the best LOTR game going- and one tough sucker to win. I sank over 300 hours into beating that mod--it was the most fun I'd had in ages.

If you own age of magic I highly recommend you give it a go. Read the readme for install instructions"     and  You need Age of magic. This version introduced shadow magic- the underworld races. It also fixed many issues found in AOW2. Almost all mods require Age of magic. AOW2 simply died after it's release as it's just so much better. Many differences was the addition of siege weapons. On the flip side of too fast siege combat in AOW3 AOW2 was the opposite where sieges took forever. Shadow magic rebalances them to where they didn't drag on forever. With the host of new races and a much improved editor it's the only version to get.

I got my version on GOG. Buying the sountack off amazon is well worth it. With the mod and soundtrack it absolutely tranforms the game into a LOTR strategy game. The hardest part of installing the mod really boils down to renaming the resource file. You do this to use all the new units and resources created in the mod. Renaming it to .old so you can convert back to play the default game. You select the new resources file by running AOWsetup.exe. On starting the scenerio it is where you should choose the recommended options as well as the custom soundtrack files so they play when you start the game. Remember also to use 'O' once in the game to set options to not follow A.I. units---otherwise turns will take forever as the mod ups the units 100x. I'm serious. I never saw so many units in the game before. "
"I could have conquered Europe, all of it, but I had women in my life." - King Henry II of England
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. - Winston Churchill
Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin


Offline solops

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2017, 09:52:04 AM »
Aaaand I got the Steam version and cannot seem to get the 1.4 or 1.5 updates to work. The program crashes after trying to start it after either patch is installed. Any hints? SHOULD I install either? They seem to fix a lot of stuff.
"I could have conquered Europe, all of it, but I had women in my life." - King Henry II of England
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. - Winston Churchill
Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2017, 10:42:27 AM »
I use GoG instead. Maybe refund and get that version?
GROGS OF CRISIS -- a four-player mp of GMT's boardgame Time of Crisis, set in the decades before Diocletian.

Me vs Barth -- DC1: Blitz

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline ComradeP

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2017, 11:21:23 AM »
I've recently bought the AoW series during the summer sale at GOG.

Though I like the original and Shadow Magic, there are a few serious problems that after some 50 hours or so have removed most of the fun from the singleplayer game. It's probably an excellent multiplayer game, but the singleplayer game thus far feels far less balanced than (say) singleplayer in the Heroes of Might and Magic series or Disciples.

The first: heroes are extremely overpowered compared to ground units at higher levels. In many cases I can literally auto-resolve my way across the map in the original. It's somewhat more difficult in Shadow Magic but you can get most skills in the game through the item forge. As "use" items don't need to be equipped to work, you can add as many skills as you like to get a very strong hero. In my opinion, they should've worked on this after it was so bad in the original, not make heroes even more powerful through the addition of the item forge.

Though city sieges are interesting on paper, AI behaviour has serious issues which mean you can just let the AI run around in circles around your walls as you shoot them, or park a flying unit somewhere to get a stalemate if the enemy has no ranged units. You're supposed to lose your initial city in the nomad campaign, for example, but you can keep it if you know what you're doing.

Now, you could say that the player is at fault if he uses these tricks, but in my opinion the design is to blame as well. Winning as quickly and as efficiently as possible is a reasonable goal when playing a game, there's little to no "story" to follow during missions that you have to wait on so there's no need to keep playing for a large number of turns.

As armies have an 8 unit size limit, battles are also not all that interesting as they tend to feature the same units. HoMM's battles can contain a few dozen to thousands of creatures, in a limited number of units but still more than enough to provide variety.

There's little to no fun in using superheroes with gold dragons over and over in each map. The time it takes to create a superhero even feels a bit like a burden in each of the campaigns.

In short: great multiplayer, not so great singleplayer due to balance issues giving the player serious advantages over the AI.

Offline airboy

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2017, 11:27:17 AM »
I've recently bought the AoW series during the summer sale at GOG.

Though I like the original and Shadow Magic, there are a few serious problems that after some 50 hours or so have removed most of the fun from the singleplayer game. It's probably an excellent multiplayer game, but the singleplayer game thus far feels far less balanced than (say) singleplayer in the Heroes of Might and Magic series or Disciples.

The first: heroes are extremely overpowered compared to ground units at higher levels. In many cases I can literally auto-resolve my way across the map in the original. It's somewhat more difficult in Shadow Magic but you can get most skills in the game through the item forge. As "use" items don't need to be equipped to work, you can add as many skills as you like to get a very strong hero. In my opinion, they should've worked on this after it was so bad in the original, not make heroes even more powerful through the addition of the item forge.

Though city sieges are interesting on paper, AI behaviour has serious issues which mean you can just let the AI run around in circles around your walls as you shoot them, or park a flying unit somewhere to get a stalemate if the enemy has no ranged units. You're supposed to lose your initial city in the nomad campaign, for example, but you can keep it if you know what you're doing.

Now, you could say that the player is at fault if he uses these tricks, but in my opinion the design is to blame as well. Winning as quickly and as efficiently as possible is a reasonable goal when playing a game, there's little to no "story" to follow during missions that you have to wait on so there's no need to keep playing for a large number of turns.

As armies have an 8 unit size limit, battles are also not all that interesting as they tend to feature the same units. HoMM's battles can contain a few dozen to thousands of creatures, in a limited number of units but still more than enough to provide variety.

There's little to no fun in using superheroes with gold dragons over and over in each map. The time it takes to create a superhero even feels a bit like a burden in each of the campaigns.

In short: great multiplayer, not so great singleplayer due to balance issues giving the player serious advantages over the AI.

I concur.  Once I beat it I never played it again.  Enjoyed it - once.

Offline solops

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2017, 11:33:31 AM »
Hummmmmm. I am having some crash problems, too. Not the first time I have had that happen with an old game acquired via Steam.
"I could have conquered Europe, all of it, but I had women in my life." - King Henry II of England
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. - Winston Churchill
Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Offline solops

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2017, 11:34:58 AM »
I've recently bought the AoW series during the summer sale at GOG.

Though I like the original and Shadow Magic, there are a few serious problems that after some 50 hours or so have removed most of the fun from the singleplayer game. It's probably an excellent multiplayer game, but the singleplayer game thus far feels far less balanced than (say) singleplayer in the Heroes of Might and Magic series or Disciples.

The first: heroes are extremely overpowered compared to ground units at higher levels. In many cases I can literally auto-resolve my way across the map in the original. It's somewhat more difficult in Shadow Magic but you can get most skills in the game through the item forge. As "use" items don't need to be equipped to work, you can add as many skills as you like to get a very strong hero. In my opinion, they should've worked on this after it was so bad in the original, not make heroes even more powerful through the addition of the item forge.

Though city sieges are interesting on paper, AI behaviour has serious issues which mean you can just let the AI run around in circles around your walls as you shoot them, or park a flying unit somewhere to get a stalemate if the enemy has no ranged units. You're supposed to lose your initial city in the nomad campaign, for example, but you can keep it if you know what you're doing.

Now, you could say that the player is at fault if he uses these tricks, but in my opinion the design is to blame as well. Winning as quickly and as efficiently as possible is a reasonable goal when playing a game, there's little to no "story" to follow during missions that you have to wait on so there's no need to keep playing for a large number of turns.

As armies have an 8 unit size limit, battles are also not all that interesting as they tend to feature the same units. HoMM's battles can contain a few dozen to thousands of creatures, in a limited number of units but still more than enough to provide variety.

There's little to no fun in using superheroes with gold dragons over and over in each map. The time it takes to create a superhero even feels a bit like a burden in each of the campaigns.

In short: great multiplayer, not so great singleplayer due to balance issues giving the player serious advantages over the AI.

Do the 1.4 or 1.5 patch fix any of this?
"I could have conquered Europe, all of it, but I had women in my life." - King Henry II of England
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. - Winston Churchill
Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2017, 12:52:16 PM »
My impression of 1.4 many years ago is that it mainly updated scenario building, and the descriptions I've read of 1.5 indicate a conservative patch that helps more with scenario building.

ComradeP's comments are correct, although frankly I think the game is much better than the Disciples series (in terms of gameplay). Heroes can quickly get overpowered, although the Item Forge was ported in directly as an attempt to make the game more of a proper successor to the seminal Masters of Magic. You can, of course, simply play without heroes, aside from your avatar, and minimally outfit that one.

Army limits remain a big handicap, in SM, partly because the series had not yet returned (for no clear reason I can understand) to the original MoM's multi-unit pieces (8 halfling slingers as one 'piece' on the map, for example. MoM's halfling slingers could get overpowered as all hell, btw. ;) ) I was glad to see AoW3 return to the multi-unit pieces on the tactical map, which helps address the army paucity.

That said, things aren't as entirely pauce as ComP made out: there's a game mechanic where all stacks in hexes bordering the target hex will (or can) get drawn into the fight, and that can bump things up a lot, including potentially better defender numbers on average (assuming 3 hexes of main supporting attackers against 3 hexes of supporting defenders plus 1 hex of defenders in the attacked space.) Plus mages can summon creatures to the battlefield, and while I don't recall the restrictions on that, even if a slot must be emptied first (which seems plausible for the engine anyway) this still increases the amount of threat a player can bring to the fight.

I never personally had much problem with the AI meandering around the cities aimlessly during a fight (unless there were effects intending that result, of course): they will typically make a beeline for the gates, except for those units which can fly or scale walls who will go for units. It is however true that the AI is not programmed to recognize that there is no point trying to take a city with even one flying defender unless it brings a way to beat the flyer. There are many ways to try that, even for the AI, which might be unwittingly brought to the fight anyway, so this isn't an all-powerful defense, but it can be important in the early-mid game (or earlier for any factions with starting fliers).
GROGS OF CRISIS -- a four-player mp of GMT's boardgame Time of Crisis, set in the decades before Diocletian.

Me vs Barth -- DC1: Blitz

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2017, 12:53:32 PM »
Oh, note that patch 1.5 requires patch 1.4 (for some reason), so both must be installed if you're going to unofficially patch up.
GROGS OF CRISIS -- a four-player mp of GMT's boardgame Time of Crisis, set in the decades before Diocletian.

Me vs Barth -- DC1: Blitz

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2017, 01:23:22 PM »
(The patches do add units to custom random-generated scenarios, too, and make some adjustments to units and to magical powers etc., but the basic functionality of the game doesn't change, and ComP's comments aren't altered by the patches: heroes are still overpowered, but you can choose to play random scenarios with few or no heroes, or limit their levels, etc.)
GROGS OF CRISIS -- a four-player mp of GMT's boardgame Time of Crisis, set in the decades before Diocletian.

Me vs Barth -- DC1: Blitz

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline Arctic Blast

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2017, 03:16:22 PM »
Aaaand I got the Steam version and cannot seem to get the 1.4 or 1.5 updates to work. The program crashes after trying to start it after either patch is installed. Any hints? SHOULD I install either? They seem to fix a lot of stuff.

Wait, are you trying to manually install those updates on the Steam version? It will auto update. You don't need to do that.

Offline solops

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2017, 03:35:33 PM »
Aaaand I got the Steam version and cannot seem to get the 1.4 or 1.5 updates to work. The program crashes after trying to start it after either patch is installed. Any hints? SHOULD I install either? They seem to fix a lot of stuff.

Wait, are you trying to manually install those updates on the Steam version? It will auto update. You don't need to do that.

Tried both ways. There is no auto-update for these patches. They are "unofficial."
"I could have conquered Europe, all of it, but I had women in my life." - King Henry II of England
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. - Winston Churchill
Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Offline ghostryder

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2017, 07:43:54 AM »
For those having troubles running AOW:SM. Especially in windows 10.

First it's important to run the AOWSETUP program in compatability mod. Otherwise all the options-especially resolution options do not display. If you choose 'windowed' as an option be advised that that will automatically disable using directx and almost all the eyecandy as well as options like zoom will not function.

I'd put the main exe as compatabily as well. I choose win98 SE with all the updates which solved any issues I was having.

The game still will run somewhat sluggish on windows 10. A fresh reboot as well as making sure you have no disks in your cd drive will help--a fault of the engine that wants to browse every folder and every file when in fact all it really needs to do is find the save location--but remember games are written fast and dirty and that dirt always shows up as things get more refined in windows.

As for comments on army limits. In the LOTR mod stacks are limited to 8--but by no means does that mean only 8 units attacks your castles. expect multiple stacks approaching over 100 units when the dark army gets going. This is a different game and these concerns really do not apply.


Offline solops

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2017, 08:30:40 PM »
Thanks Ghostryder. Outstandingly useful information. I have been playing non-stop for 48 hours. I returned the Steam version, which was crashy and not update-able, and got the game from GOG. Most fun I have had since the first week of Civ4. I will try the Ring War mod in a week or two.
"I could have conquered Europe, all of it, but I had women in my life." - King Henry II of England
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. - Winston Churchill
Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Offline ghostryder

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Re: Age of Wonders - Shadow Magic
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2017, 09:49:23 PM »
Glad it helped.

As my system is win10 all i did was install the GOG version. Never bothered to update and the LOTR mod runs flawlessly---once you experience the mod your never go back to the default game.

As mention-put the setup file to compatability and I use windowed set to my default monitor resolution. You lose the Direct3D but the game runs better without it for me. Been crash free 50 turns into the mod.