Master of Magic, we rediscover one of the greatest 4X ever, waiting for the remake

Master of Magic, we rediscover one of the greatest 4X ever, waiting for the remake

Master of Magic

It was early 1995 and I had finally managed to get an original copy of Master of Magic. Back then, buying games wasn't as easy as logging into any digital delivery store and putting the product in your cart. Above all for some games, availability was not taken for granted: the shops were few and did not take all the releases, moreover very often the copies distributed were limited, especially for some genres. So, if you didn't want to turn to the rampant piracy market, often embraced by the shopkeepers themselves (selling pirated copies was worth much more than selling original copies, also because it could be done in black and, excluding the costs of physical media, the rest it was all profit), the only option was to order and wait.

Master of Magic was released in September 1994 and after about five months of heartache I had my box. As a great fan of Sid Meier's Civilization I could not wait to play it (the title of Simtex was called the Civilization fantasy for reasons that we will explain later). When I finally started it, waiting turned into love. The passion was such that when I came home from school I did nothing but play with it until late at night. I went on for a couple of weeks sleeping about three or four hours a day, forgetting my homework and answering with incomprehensible phrasing and stammering to the questions asked by those close to me. Then one day my mother decided to take matters into her own hands ... literally. In a moment of anger she took the game box and threw it in the dumpster near the house. Perfect shot. Too bad (for her) that the CD was safe.

History of the myth

Master of Magic: the original cover The anecdote about the life of those who are writing these humble words in Word does not serve to take pity on the fate of a poor cardboard box, but to introduce you to the history of what is considered by many to be one of the best 4X strategy games ever, capable of influencing the entire genre in a decisive way and entering the hearts of many players, who still today do not fail to replay us from time to time , as it hasn't lost an ounce of its depth and charm.

It must be said that at the time Master of Magic was not well received by the press. The reason? Too many bugs. The first version was actually problematic from this point of view, although perfectly playable (at least in our experience). Sure, AI behaved really weird at times and was really primitive. Also, it happened from time to time to go back to seeing the DOS prompt due to the game crashes, but otherwise it had qualities that titles like SSG's Warlords II or SSI's Sword of Aragon were dreaming of, although it was too. they well done. After all, many fell in love with that version, since at the time finding patches was not as easy as today. Indeed, let's say more: it was also very difficult to know about the existence of the patches. For example, the writer managed to find and install version 1.31, the latest official, only a few years later.

From Civilization to magic

The original Master or Magic was very much like Civilization Ma how was Master of Magic born? To understand it, just look at an image. Who reminds you? Sid Meier's Civilization was released in 1991, obtaining a resounding success, so much so that even today new chapters of the series are published regularly (we are at the sixth, for the record, spin-offs excluded). MicroProse, the publisher, wanted to exploit that game system in some way and gave the young software house SimText, led by Steve Barcia, the task of making a Civilization fantasy, taking up the interface of the Meier title. Although Barcia and his team had only one launch to their credit, the very successful sci-fi 4X Master of Orion did not disappoint.

Master of Magic recalled Civilization in many aspects, starting from the random generation of maps, passing through exploration and some elements of micromanagement. In reality, many of these similarities were only appearance, because Barcia had opted for very different design choices. Let's take exploration for example: in Civilization it was slow, especially in the beginning, due to the poor movement capabilities of the units due to their poor technological development. In Master of Magic, however, it was much faster, thanks to the use of flying creatures and other systems.

The combat system worked very well, despite the primitive AI There were settlers, who always served to found new urban centers, but there were also neutral cities to conquer; instead of the technologies to be developed there were spells and, above all, the combat system was extremely richer and deeper, with the player having to directly move his units on the battlefield. In addition, there were two parallel worlds, Arcanus and Myrror, the first more similar to Earth, the second more fantastic, which made the action more complex and increased the range of feasible choices during the gameplay. The goal was to take control of one of the fourteen races available and to make it expand by conquering the territories of the opposing races, using one of the more than eighty available units and using the spells of the six schools whose spell books could be selected. .

Handling and legacy

Master of Magic had a great deal of content Overall, Master of Magic was a very complex title. It is not clear how many copies it sold. However it was called a success by the publisher, who never made a real sequel, leaving SimText to devote himself to other projects, until the closure of the studio in 1997, the year in which a port for PlayStation was launched. strangely released only in Japan. Actually Barcia talked about a Master of Magic 2 coming in 1998, but he didn't have time to make it before SimText's failure. Microprose then said that it would develop it internally, but years passed without knowing anything more, until the emergence of the company's precarious financial situation, with the relative sale of all its intellectual properties, made it clear that it would not be done nothing.

What the developers could not do, however, the fans realized, at least in part, who dedicated themselves with great strength to keep the title alive, making unofficial patches to fix residual bugs and refresh the contents. Meanwhile, the rights to the franchise were sold to Atari but, despite the good intentions, several Master of Magic revival projects fell on deaf ears.

Elemental: War of Magic could have been a new Master of Magic For example, in 2007 there was talk of a remake made by Stardock and scheduled for 2009. Stardock actually launched a 4X fantasy strategy, which however was called Elemental : War of Magic. Someone hypothesized a clear break with Atari over the project that had led to the change of course, even if the marketing of the developer spoke of a simple misunderstanding of the Game Informer reporter who had reported the news.

In 2013 it was financed through Kickstarter Worlds of Magic, which was also developed by one of the designers of Master of Magic and which was presented as a spiritual sequel to the strategy of SimText. Unfortunately, the game, released in 2015 by Wastelands Interactive, turned out to be far below the expectations of its funders.

Despite the lack of follow-up or related projects, Master of Magic has inspired a great deal of emulators. . The series that came closest to him is that of the Age of Wonders, but there are many others that have taken an example from its design, such as the Heroes of Might and Magic, just to name one, which although starting from the first King's Bounty changed the formula just looking at the title of SimText.

Caster of Magic

Caster of Magic revises Master of Magic in many aspects However, in 2010 Master of Magic was re-released in a compatible version with modern versions of Windows (modern for the time) on GOG, finally returning to be found outside the second-hand market and the piracy tour. Meanwhile (2019) the publisher Slitherine, specialized in strategic titles, bought the rights of the franchise at auction, supporting it immediately with an expansion pack, released in 2020, that is twenty-six years after the original: Master of Magic: Caster of Magic.

Seravy, the author, is a modder. At the time he was dissatisfied with the strategists who were on the market, so much so that he decided to make one of his own, using as a basis the title of SimText, richer in content than many followers, despite the many years on his shoulders.

Caster of Magic brings a huge amount of changes to Master of Magic When we talk about "making your own", we mean that Caster of Magic is indeed a huge set, bringing tens of thousands of changes to the title original, as easily verifiable by reading the page in which all of them have been reported, we would add in an almost obsessive way. We speak of more than 174545 words for more than a million characters in total, a monstrous amount of text that well describes the work behind it and why Slitherine promoted it to official DLC. There is not a single aspect of Master of Magic that Caster of Magic does not review, in an attempt to create the definitive version, while not distorting its charm and gameplay.

Master of Magic, arrives the remake

Fortunately, the story does not end there, because, eager to finally restore luster to the name Master of Magic, as well as to capitalize on the purchase of the intellectual property, in 2021, during the Home of Wargamers Live event, Slitherine announced the development of a remake, simply called Master of Magic. It is in development at MuHa Games, an independent studio based in Poland, to which we owe the successful albeit little known Thea: The Awakening and Thea 2: The Shattering, which from mid-2021 has begun to update fans on the status of the work by publishing on a cadence Regular development diaries on Steam.

The idea behind the project, completely single player like the original, is to create a game with a classic and uncompromising gameplay, but with a modern look and feel. Then all the mages, champions, races, spells and main features of the 1994 title have been confirmed, but with several additions and a complete graphic overhaul, starting with the artwork: just look from Civilization. There will obviously also be Arcanus and Myrror, the two aforementioned parallel worlds to explore, but instead of divided into square boxes, they will be divided into hexagonal boxes, which according to the developers offer more possibilities from a tactical and strategic point of view.

For the remake, hexagonal boxes have been chosen instead of the square ones of the original. initials, improved pathfinding and many other small and large changes that aim to make players' games more enjoyable, so that they can please both old and new ones. In addition, there will be the possibility to automatically resolve the fights, with different options to choose from, excellent for not wasting too much time with the battles with discounted results.

The system itself has however been revised from the ground up: you will fight on hexagonal maps, with up to nine base units, plus those that can be summoned by spells or conquered on the field. The units will be influenced by the power nodes, which depending on the type will give different effects, or by the presence or absence of fortifications and spells related to the cities. There will be fighting on land or at sea. In the latter, units that cannot move on water or fly will use boats. Each unit will have its own abilities to use in battle. Of course, the spell book will not be missing, to be enriched with the continuation of the game. In total, the spells will be more than two hundred.

Graphically the step forward is enormous Support for mods will then be added, so as to extend the life of the game well beyond its release, allowing fans to modify it as they want, and the diplomacy system will be revised, as the original one was chock full of bugs. As you have read, we are facing a really promising project and carried out with great intelligence and dedication.

Slitherine invites you to try Master of Magic

The hope is that it has really arrived time to get back to playing a Master of Magic worthy of the name. Do you want to find out if this is actually the case? Then there is great news for you: the publisher Slitherine, in collaboration with, has organized an all-tricolor "focus group" on Master of Magic.

Are you a 4X fantasy veteran, have you been playing the original Master of Magic for dozens of hours, and have Age of Wonders and similar titles in your collection? So, it's your time! Send an email to and apply for one of the five places for the "Master of Magic Focus Group", which will take place at the end of April, here in the Milan office of

In the email indicate your name and surname, age and residence; After that, describe your experience specifically with Master of Magic Classic and other fantasy 4Xs and especially why you would like to participate in this Focus Group.

Anyone over the age of 18 and with significant experience with 4X fantasy video games can participate.

For all the details on how to participate, we refer you to the news on the organization of the focus group!

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