While playing Eador: Masters of the Broken World, several recurring thoughts kept running through my head. I wasn’t sure what to think, because as a huge Heroes of Might and Magic fan growing up, part of me thought I knew what to expect. Let me make this clear, Eador is a great game. Allow me to also make something else very clear; Eador is a massive game.

I couldn’t believe the overall scope of the game. I don’t think I have ever personally played a game with such an immense gameplay experience. For those of you out there that are turn-based strategy fans that loved the days of having a single game of Heroes of Might and Magic last for 3 weeks because you chose the biggest map with 8 opposing heroes while playing it as a multiplayer hotseat with two of your best friends will certainly love Eador. There is no shortage of gameplay, that’s for damn sure.

You play as a demigod challenging for rule of “the Astral”. This universe is comprised of ‘shards’, which are essentially segments of land that act almost as planets throughout the universe. The goal is to unite all of the shards under your rule, which requires you to be smart with your diplomatic relations with other demigods, as well as being shrewd on the battlefield. Each shard contains strategic advantages, technologies, and resources. Other demigods compete for control over the various shards as well, and shards with valuable resources will be hotly contested as demigods vie for supremacy. In most games, this would have been enough with regards to gameplay. Pick a shard, have a battle, give the shard to the victor, rinse/wash and repeat. That wasn’t enough for the incredibly ambitious Snowbird Games however, as they wanted to make Eador an epic game with unparalleled scope.

Eador Masters of the Broken World Review Astral Eador: Masters of the Broken World Review

Aw snap, where am I?

When you select a shard to capture, you are brought out of the Astral view and into the strategic map view of the shard. Each shard is split into numerous unique provinces, with each province being inhabited by some form of man or beast. Each province possesses unique characteristics that benefit the ruling hero on their mission to control the shard. Furthermore, each province can then be “explored” to uncover hidden locations, treasures, and artifacts. These treasures and artifacts can be sold to vendors or equipped on your hero, providing various stat bonuses. There are four hero classes: Scout, Warrior, Commander, and Wizard. Without going into painstaking detail, each class has unique advantages and disadvantages. Commanders command the largest armies, Wizards use the strongest magic, Scouts are ranged manipulators, and the Warrior is the most lethal in melee combat. I prefer to play as a Scout, as I personally love the game’s “exploration” mechanic and he receives a bonus to the effectiveness of his exploration. The only issue with exploration is that it is often difficult to predict the difficulty of locations discovered, especially when you’re new to the game and still learning the ropes. When you’re in a tough battle however, you will appreciate the Scout’s ranged prowess in combat, as I enjoy using the higher-tier melee troops to shield my hero and his band of archers. The amount of damage ranged units can dish out while protected is impressive. He is also able to avoid battle altogether by using his diplomacy skills to either do quests for the factions controlling provinces or by outright bribing the guards defending them. The other heroes could try to do the same, but they aren’t quite as crafty as the Scout.

Eador Masters of the Broken World Review Level 10 Eador: Masters of the Broken World Review

I love the Scout. At level 10, each class can then specialize into one of four unique specializations.

The strategic complexity of the game is profound, and I quickly learned that being successful is more about how you build and manage your shards as opposed to simply who has the biggest army. While capturing a shard technically doesn’t require that you control all provinces within it, capturing a few provinces and nurturing them into thriving colonies is a good idea if you wish to have sustained success. Many provinces have unique resources that reduce the costs of certain units, such as Redwood timber or Iron, so controlling those provinces and building the necessary structures to support their industries provides you with an advantage. You also have to ensure that each province is defended, or else revolts and random events can have devastating results on an undefended colony. These random events are easily one of my favorite parts of the game. Not only are they strategically relevant and have an impact on the storyline, they are often hilariously well written. There’s nothing like having a troll rampaging through one of your colonies and having to pay 300 gold for some troll-hunting celebrity to come and slay it, only to immediately get screwed into building a statue in his honour by your townsfolk.

Eador Masters of the Broken World Review Troll Eador: Masters of the Broken World Review

Option #1? Too messy. Option #2? Nope, I’m too cheap. Anyone have a cart?

All is not perfect in Eador: Masters of the Broken World however. There are a few issues that stick out that make the experience slightly less immersive than it could have been. The most significant issue I have with the game lies in the execution of the battle system. While the environments are beautiful and the tactical elements well thought out, there is a lot of awkward hit detection during attack animations. Defending creatures tend to take damage before they are physically struck with a weapon, which is very bizarre to watch. A perfect example of this is when battling enemy centaurs. The centaurs have a lengthy attack animation, and my archers would often drop dead before the centaur’s attack animation even started. Creating further disharmony is the lack of auditory feedback during combat. While sound effects are generally present, many effects appear to be strangely absent. For instance, while you may hear an archer shoot his arrow, you do not hear the arrow strike the enemy. This lack of auditory feedback alongside the awkward hit detection makes the battles feel out of sync. (Editors Note: The developer is aware of the audio issue and has contacted me to let me know that the audio will be corrected for the final Steam release later today.)

The pace of combat also feels very slow. You can increase the combat speed in the menus, but that isn’t the issue. Several animations are very extravagant and disrupt the flow of combat. For instance, for every melee attack, the Commander hero thrusts his flagpole into the ground before bringing his sword well above his head in a highly dramatic attack. While this is great the first few times you see it, seeing it thousands of times over the course of several hours makes it a tiring display. Thankfully, you can quick-combat anytime you’d like if you’d prefer to stick to managing the shard.

Eador Masters of the Broken World Review Battle Eador: Masters of the Broken World Review

Outnumbered, but not outsmarted.

While the strategic depth is easily the game’s strongpoint, I personally found the Capital construction process extremely confusing. There are a multitude of structures that can be built, and the majority of the structures have prerequisites. That’s all normal procedure in a game like this, but the entire process is very overwhelming because of the sheer number of buildings. Further, the game will let you place a building you don’t have the prerequisites for in queue, only to prompt you when you actually try to build it that you can’t. It also doesn’t help that although a wheel-dial clearly indicates that there are multiple tiers of buildings, how to “upgrade” to those tiers isn’t very clear and only with time do you start to get comfortable with the construction mechanics. You don’t upgrade the entire castle as you would in Heroes of Might and Magic, rather buildings from previous tiers will unlock a structure from a higher tier, one at a time.

Eador Masters of the Broken World Review Construction Eador: Masters of the Broken World Review

Okay so, what building does the guy with the two-handed claymore come out of?

While the learning curve is definitely steep, the game’s tutorial system and campaign does do a great job easing you in. I don’t believe Eador was ever meant to be ‘simple’, and that’s okay. Its greatest virtues are found in its depth and complexity. At the macro level, the game is an armchair-ruler’s dream come true as you have to skillfully manage more than just armies. Populations, Provinces, shards, and eventually multiple shards all have to be effectively managed for you to be successful. The storyline will keep you busy for 30 to 120 hours, with branching story arcs and a total of 8 unique endings. Eador brings great empire-management similar to Total War or Civilization, and delivers on the promise of a unique turn-based fantasy experience. It’s easy to forget that this game was made by an indie team.

Ultimately, Eador: Masters of the Broken World is a game that is bursting with ambition and higher-order strategy. You won’t find a new release out there that can keep you busy for upwards of 100 hours for the modest asking price of $20. You can’t even go to a movie and buy a bag of popcorn for that anymore. So I say dive into the world of Eador and unite the cosmos! Just make sure you bring a comfy chair because you’ll be in it for a while.

Summary:

+ Incredible scope and size. You could play for days on end.

+ Strategic elements of the game work very well, especially at the macro level.

+ Excellent writing and dialogue. Always witty, always creative.

+ The vistas, worlds, and environments are all imaginatively inspired and beautiful.

- Combat feels out of sync. Animations, audio, and damage effects are often awkward.

- Construction tree extremely confusing.

- Gauging combat difficultly is occasionally unclear

Final Verdict: Eador: Masters of the Broken World has more content than any other game released on Greenlight thus far, and even manages to surpass some AAA games with regards to delivering on a large-scale strategy experience. Definitely worth the purchase.

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  • Sjel

    Uhm, nicely written but You forgot to mention multiple bugs (ex. while trying to get rid of Mob guards I got into control of both armies in battle, and then the game stopped working; or you cant finish quest because lizardmen tend to forget they even gave You one). There are dozens of these.
    You also did not remember to mention that this game is extremely repetitive. Every shard u start with a new hero, with absolutely nothing from Your former battles. Nevermind u had a hero lvl 20 and every spell discovered, u need to start over. And over. And over. And very little changes. After like 4 or 5 shards my necromancers (wizards after lvl 10 get a profesion to choose) are still stuck at circle 2 spells and that’s kind of sad. Also, the difficulty level is insanely random. Sometimes enemy heroes have crazy statistics early in the game and it’s impossible to kill them and sometimes (same difficultu lvl) they vanish before u can even meet them on the battlefield and the computer player doesn’t revive them… What this means is u can get bored after 3 consequitive easy wins only to find the next shard impossible to conquer (fighting against the same master… wth) loosing after 20 turns to some warrior with 60HP and 15 attack… Besides, this is a very nice game that has some really good ideas implemented in (like You can move 5 armies not having to wait for them to finish moving, or you can speed up computer players; or the hundreds of locations to explore) but it requires patience… and doing max one shard per day. Oh, and another thing is – it isn’t really affordable to waste time exploring the entire shards. There’s no rewards for that whatsoever (the points u get are pretty useless). Of course u can. But u can also get a random event during which your castle is attacked by necromancers… Random events can really be a pain in the … back ;) If u don’t have money or gems, they spoil Your karma (another useless feature) and breed discontent in your provinces (ehm, ok…) and often u can’t do anything about it… Speaking of discontent. How about dwarves rising every turn? They often do that… it’s untamable.
    Nevertheless, I give it a 8,5/10 because it’s fun and I agree to all the positive features that u wrote about but u can’t write about the “+” without mentioning the “-”.

    p.s. After 5 shards I didn’t even come close to slaying a dragon…
    p.s. 2 Necromancy & Summoning FTW! U just can’t lose with ghouls and zombies and imps and fiends:]

    Cheers!
    Me

    • http://greenlitgaming.com Alex

      Hi Sjel!

      Thank you for your extremely detailed comment. It is very appreciated!

      Truthfully in my play experience, I almost never encountered any bugs. I am aware of the issues that people are having, but I did not encounter them. The only bugs I encountered were the occasional custom game not loading correctly (requiring a game restart) or on the rare occasion when a shard is completed, not being able to hover over all of the awarded technologies due to the UI becoming unresponsive. Considering the infrequency of those issues and the overall length of time I played the game, I did not consider them noteworthy. I feel bad that people are having issues with the game, but I simply did not. I know when people experience bugs and issues with a game its frustrating, but we review games based on our experience with it, not others’.

      I agree with everything else you’ve said :). The game isn’t perfect, and hey, I did talk quite a bit about the negative elements of it! Unfortunately I have to be as succinct as possible. Unless you want to read a 10,000 word thesis on Eador, I have to prioritize my statements!

      Anyways, I love how detailed your comment is and feel that it almost acts as an extension of the review! Thank you for taking the time to share. I agree that the game isn’t perfect, but it is definitely a game worth playing!

  • Sjel

    Hey. Thanks for reading and for the feedback:) Btw. do You know if a player could somehow recruit ghosts? My first thoughts about the idea were – nah, probably too OP, but then I started thinking. You could recruit ghosts from a shipwreck in HOM&M2 (http://www.celestialheavens.com/homm2/images/creatures/h2_neut_ghost.jpg). And then I thought of another example – Disciples 2 – the undead had werewolves. Immune to physical dmg. In Eador I’ve met some ghosts (biggest group – 2) and first time I lost because I didn’t have enough magic (and they are immune to pretty much anything else) but never had any opportunity to recruit them. Would be fun. Obviously that would be OP for many many battles but hey – enemy heroes have magic, don’t they? :) Any ideas if this is possible? Sorry for the offtop, just curious. Have a nice day.

    • http://greenlitgaming.com Alex

      Ah, recruiting ghosts. That basically ruined every game of Heroes of Might and Magic. Grab a couple ghosts, find wild peasants… Amass an unstoppable army. Always a great strategy :)

      I don’t think you can recruit ghosts in Eador, but I might be wrong. They are a bit different in Eador though in comparison to HOMM because in Eador, they are treated as stronger, more difficult opponents. Plus, since each unit is representative of literally ONE unit, I think think the mechanics would work to the ghosts’ advantage. Not like they did in HOMM anyways where you could end up with 20,000 ghosts with massive resistances :D

      I personally haven’t recruited them, and I don’t think you’d really want to because of the way the battle system works, but still, it would be cool. Maybe you should toss a note in the developer forum suggesting it! They are super active in their community and will read your post! Its a fun idea, thats for sure. Potentially game breaking, but fun :)

  • Sjel

    Heh:) You know what else is potentially game breaking? Trying to kill a hydra/dragon/phoenix with Your tier 2 forces after a week of playing because u cant get any higher than that… damnation and a day… this game is for people who don’t work :) Taking every shard with tier 1/2 creatures? Ain’t nobody got time for that! And why only humans? In other games You could choose a race/allignment/whatever. Here u can’t. Always humans. Sometimes orcs or minotaurs offer to join and sometimes u can find spider eggs or giant snail eggs but they are expensive and… 2 tier as well. Not much else happens. I once had a vampire (once and only once). That was cool. Totally random, found a scroll somewhere and when I got necromancy lvl 5 I used it. But the next 2 shards – nothing interesting happened… Too bad about the ghosts. Will look into the community forums tomorrow. Thanks for the replies. Cheers!
    P.S. Ghosts + peasants = that was fun :) But You could still lose to black dragons or titans! :)

  • Don

    I have almost 40 hours played on Eador, and so far I’ve only experienced a couple of bugs where the game hangs, and I had to restart the game. And the only time it got really slow for me was when there were 2 other demi gods on the map.

    I agree with most of your review, Alex. I’m a fan of turn based strategy games, and this game is pretty fun. Massive scope. It can get repetetive, though. And, it would be nice if there were a game mechanic that would allow you to make use of all those heroes you built up through all the campaigns.

    Sjel, as far as defeating dragons/troll lairs/etc with level 1/2 troops, I know it’s possible with a scout hero with archery specialization. I just wait til level 10 (for the double arrow attack), with a couple of monks (or some other way to regenerate stamina), then have a bunch of sacrificial troops (level 1 slingers, for example) as a barrier between you and the dragon. Of course, this strategy might not be possible in more advanced difficulty settings. :)

    • http://greenlitgaming.com Alex

      Thanks for the comment Don!

      Yes, I agree, it is a bit disappointing when you spend hours building up heroes on a large shard just to have to start all over again when you begin a new shard. If there was some sort of carry-over from previous shards, it might help reduce the repetitiveness of the game as well. I’m sure the developers have plans to continue to keep building on the game, so you never know!