Coded blue.

Tuesday 4 July 2000


Pic of the day: The coveted victory screen in Master of Magic, the game. (Screenshot, but I mixed around the colors a bit.) And yes, the text says: I and only I remain the one ...

Master of Magic

Today I woke up from another absolutely embarassing dream, about being caught in the middle of doing something stupid and indecent. Since embarassing dreams now come as thick and fast as cars on a highway, I'll skip this one. I was embarassed even in the dream, so I think I've got enough of that for now. I do think of other things too, honestly I do.

No trouble with keys today, so I got to work in decent time. (Of course I didn't get all that sleep last night that I had imagined. See below.) I was at work for about eight hours, and actually worked a little bit now and again too. And occasionally daydreamed about visiting my best friend in Germany, or at least speaking with her. Of course I wouldn't actually run off to Germany. Even if I didn't shudder at the language, it would not have been very productive. But one can always daydream. Well, one should not always do that, I guess. There are lists to wade through, too. I may scorn my work, but it does pay my rent.

I bought a music program, fairly inexpensive, and looked forward to testing it when I came home. But that's not how it went. When I came home, I looked through the e-mail (and Nova Notes, which I didn't get time to read in the morning) and then fired up Master of Magic. There went the rest of the day. Poof. As if by magic.


The game manual says "Copyright 1994 Microprose". It has certainly been a while. The game coexists warily with Windows at the best of times: I had to reconfigure my sound card's interrupts or some such to get sound to work both with Win98 and Master of Magic. I did so with a light heart, though, because Master of Magic is probably the best strategy game in the history of the personal computer. (With all due respect for The Sims, which I guess is sort of a strategy game too.)

My relationship to Master of Magic (MoM among friends) is best seen from the fact that I named my journal (Chaos Node) after a feature in the game. Yes, I know it also has another more computer-related meaning. Yes, I know I wrote this last year too. Even so ...

Why is this game so addictive? To me, because it is so flexible. So multifaceted. It is for all purposes impossible to play the same game twice. There are two parallell worlds, one with 9 races and one with 5 others. There are 5 different "colors" of magic, and all but two of them can be combined in any proportion. Instead of these spellbooks, you can choose other advantages, most of them related to magic but a few more mundane. There are also a slew of heroes for hire - I'm not sure I have met them all yet - and it is possible to create custom items of power for them. The basic game is very similar to the original Civilization, but with the added dimension of magic instead of technological advances. You can derive magic energy from nodes (which are guarded by monsters of varying strength), from various religious buildings, or from one of the couple of natural magickal races, in which case the magic base increases with population. Whew. Oh, and you can play tactical combat in any battle, controlling individual units and casting spells.

Think of it as "Civilization" meets "Magic: the Gathering".

Unsurprisingly, the AI buckles under this pressure. As the saying goes, "artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity". In order to put up a challenge, the computer cheats like mad. That can be rather frustrating, especially early in the game. On the bright side, it gives a real kick to "survive" long enough to out-strategy the game.


I've dabbled in Master of Magic a bit this weekend, and last night I fired it up just to play a little bit before going to bed. Oh yes. Suddenly it was like two in the night. Great. This night, I managed to finish before midnight. So the air seems to flimmer in front of my eyes, but at least I won. Yes, I am a nerd. Sometimes it just catches up with me.

I'm sorry to say that the game is hard to get your paws on these days. It has been sold as part of some strategy pack, I think, but even that is a few years ago. Your best bet would be Ebay or some such, if you want to acquire it legally. (And even then, you can be pretty sure that the seller has a copy on his disk. It is not something you part with easily.) Not recommended if you have a life.


And to think that I had planned to write about shark cartilage. Oh well.

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