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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