27 November 2009

Age of Wonders - a beautiful, underrated TBS

Click for larger image...

Way back in 2001, we got our XP. It was put upstairs in my brother's room, meaning I only had to go across the hallway to play it. He was also gone off to Cork at the time I believe, so I had it all to myself. My other, eldest brother most graciously installed a game on this XP - the same one I'm typing with now - called Age of Wonders. We played one hotseat game of which I can't remember the result. I think I was the Orcs in Love Thy Nighbour. Oh well. He took the game with him but left it installed and one thing that I could access without the disc was the fabulous editor.

The AoWEd tool became part of my life from then on. I relished the ability to construct maps in the fantasy setting with various terrain: from grassland, desert and steppe to wasteland and snow. There were 12 fantasy races and their units for me to place as I wished, as well as many creatures and other humanoids. After the 'Write a Book' Competition, an old friend and I invented the world of Necut. It just so happened that i had the perfect way to customise it at home!

Some stage in First Year I believe, my brother gave me a burned copy of Age of Wonders. I was delighted. Now I could actually play the game that I had fiddled with for over 2 years. I started by playing various scenarios and slogging my way through them. I also did playtesting of my created maps - before I even knew that word existed! I could now make my own entertainment in a game, a wonderful game just for me. I did share it with my friends as well. I remember playing a game of Heartwood Forest with a friend; he was the Halflings, I was the Elves. We were against the Orcs and the Goblins. After 400+ turns of inexperienced play, it was too late and we had to call it quits. So much fun though!

In 2006, which was Junior Certificate (3rd) Year, I joined a wonderful site. Age of Wonders Heaven. My first forum and still my favourite. An old community, as old as the game itself, I now had people I could relate to. I love tragedies, with Age of Wonders' lack of general appeal the biggest of them all. There are only 10ish active members every year on the Age of Wonders 1 boards, with about 30 retired/semi-active members visiting now and again. The sequels are much more popular generally. I was introduced to Play by Email (PBEM) here, my first experience against or with other human players. The site was also an incredible outlet for my created maps, as well as an inspiration for yet more.

I will make another post detailing the gameplay and the like. It is a turn-based strategy, so there is a bit of thinking involved!

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