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Master of Magic

aka: Civizard: Majutsu no Keifu, MOM, Master of Magic Classic, Maître de la Magie
Moby ID: 200
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

The plot of Master of Magic is to become the dominant wizard on two 'planes' of existence, the normal Earth-like one and the fantasy based plane "Myrror". You can do this by destroying your competing wizards (up to 4 computer players) or by casting the Spell of Mastery.

Game play is carried out in a 2D top down perspective. You move your armies around the board, fighting monsters to get treasure, and more importantly 'nodes'. Once you control a node you can summon a spirit to meld with the node and gain mana from it. You also must build up your cities so you can support and train your army. City management is very much like Civilization. You also must allocate your mana for use, or research. You must research to learn new spells. You can do battle with the enemy in a quasi-isometric perspective or you can have the game simulate the battles.

The game ends when your home tower is destroyed; you banish all the other wizards (by destroying their home tower) or someone casts the Spell of Mastery.

Spellings

  • シヴィザード 魔術の系譜 - Japanese PlayStation release (Japanese spelling)

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Credits (DOS version)

48 People (46 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

Design
Programming
Art
Composer
Music Producer
Sound Effects
  • Midian
Marketing - Product Manager
Marketing - Packaging
Producer
Art Director
Quality Assurance Lead
Manuals - Writer
Manuals - Editor
Manuals - Design & Layout
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 19 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 119 ratings with 11 reviews)

The best of the Civ-like games

The Good
While some say it ripped off Magic: the Gathering with its game style (it did), the combination of the spell research and the civ-style play is the best I've ever played (much better then Master of Orion, IMHO). Also, unlike other games that break down when it goes into tactical combat, this one really shines, even when you let the computer fight for you (well, when the odds are in your favor.)

The Bad
The Win98 update/sequel was never completed!

The Bottom Line
Civ meets Magic: the Gathering!

DOS · by Tony Van (2797) · 1999

Fantastic, fun Civ clone set in a fantasy world.

The Good
It had everything that made the original Civilization so much fun (except that you didn't have settlers to irrigate or mine the terrain), plus it had a lot of neat Fantasy touches, like lairs that could be raided, etc.

The Bad
The AI was a bit simple-minded, and a surefire way to win on any level was to select the Dragonman picture for your character and pick the "Start game in alternate universe" option as one of your skills. Since the Dragonman was the only pre-built wizard to start in the alternate universe, and since the game wouldn't select him if you picked his picture for your wizard, you could be assured that you would have the ability to develop your civilization in peace and quiet for many, many turns.

The Bottom Line
Civilization, with Magic.

DOS · by Afterburner (486) · 2001

The definition of “classic” is “Master of Magic”

The Good
No game has made me feel like being a cybernetic extension of the mouse as MoM. Play the role of a sorcerer in a fantasy world struggling to conquer your fellow mages, an do so by raising armies of fantastic creatures, expanding your territory, funding and developing cities, recruit heroes to lead your army… and making use of magick, of course. More than 200 spells are your powerful magical weapons: extremely varied, well designed and well fitted in the game. Enhance magically your armies, conjure creatures, throw balls of fire, cover the entire map with titanic enchantments… add to that the possibility of designing your mage through 5 schools of magic and lots of magical abilities, and the sum is a true epic game.

The system will be very familiar to Civ players; in fact, MoM can be called Fantasy Civ. However, there are substantial differences. There is no tech to research: instead there are spells. You can win by conquer, but instead of building a spaceship you can research and cast the Spell of Mastery. And wonders have not a place, although there are heroes (and magical items for them to use). But there’s something, and I don’t understand why Civ2 and SMAC didn’t take the idea. Guess what? Yes! Tactical combat. The combat rules are very well designed: each unit has attack and defense values, like in Civ, but in battle they roll for attack and defense simultaneously (I mean, defenders do not wait hoping their armor will protect them from the attacker’s blows, like in SMAC). Creatures (and heroes) can have also a lot of special abilities for both overland and tactical game. Creature size is also taken in consideration, as in a square cannot be as many skeletons as storm giants, for example. And ranged fire is now true ranged fire. Oh, and spice all this with spells. The variety of strategies to use, combining your armies and heroes with magic, is limitless.

Each game (a random map!) promises an epic fantasy campaign. Not only exploring the world, but discovering ancient ruins, dark dungeons and magic-filled nodes… and fighting their jealous guardians, not so eager to give you their treasures. Oh, you think a world is not enough? Well, how about two? MoM has two planes of existence to explore and conquer. I could go on explaining, but there’s only one way to get an idea: playing it.

The Bad
Bugs.

I can’t remember so painful blow in the stomach like the game crashing when fighting Wraiths or Shadow Demons, or trying to cast a Disjunction. I don’t understand how those bugs weren’t detected. Fortunately, patch 1.31 fixed them.

Apart from bugs, unfortunately MoM was purely a game about war. Even with the AI improvement provided by the patch, was nearly impossible to maintain peaceful relations. Merely meeting another wizard was enough to be at war, and a long-standing one. That was sometimes very frustrating. Also, diplomatic model was even more simplistic than in Civ. Very, very few options, and lack of spies or diplomats.

City management was also simplified, as you cannot place citizens at will to exploit resources, and there weren’t revolts except as random events. Terraforming was also gone, except for roads. And so was government and corruption. Well, this is a Civ fan’s point of view, and comparisons are inevitable in “cousin” games like Civ and MoM. However, MoM has features Civ doesn’t (tactical combat, character customisation and many others…).

Sincerely, I fear an hypothetical MoM2 (which was planned before Microprose went out!). I think a really good, well designed sequel of this game can truly be the ultimate strategy game, but… Hope if anyone ever makes MoM2, does a really good work, in the spirit of the original, full of good and new ideas, and keeping ALL that made MoM the masterpiece it is. MoM doesn’t deserve less.

And the music… well, no comments.

The Bottom Line
Master of Magic is THE classic of all fantasy strategy games, and one of the classics of strategy in general. No other fantasy strategy game has reached its level, even many years later. And that’s one of the points that define a classic. If you’re a strategy fan, don’t wait anymore and get it.

But don’t forget to get the 1.31 patch too!

DOS · by Technocrat (193) · 2002

[ View all 11 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Dragonsword has moved to Realms Beyond Hans Noe Oct 23, 2010
MoM unofficial patch v1.40 kyr ub (1) May 16, 2010
Active fan site at dragonsword.com Hans Noe Apr 24, 2010

Trivia

References

One of the merchants may try to sell an item called "idspispopd". This is a cheat for Doom.

Release history

The original game had an onslaught of bugs that almost prevented playing. Microprose released a patch and later a completely new version of the game (which had a different manual and disc). The original disc and manual can be considered a collector's item.

Unofficial patch

There is an fan-made, unofficial patch (v1.40) that focuses on the correction of many bugs still left in the 1.31 version and tries to improve the game's AI performance. The download link can be found in the related links section.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #141 in the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #13 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
    • May 1997 (Issue #154) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame

Information also contributed by Andrew Grasmeder El-ad Amir, and kyr ub.

Analytics

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Related Games

Master of Orion
Released 1993 on DOS, 1995 on Macintosh
Magic Academy
Released 2007 on Windows, 2011 on iPad, 2012 on Android
Detective Solitaire: Inspector Magic
Released 2019 on Windows
Empire of Magic
Released 2003 on Windows
Magic Academy II
Released 2009 on Windows, 2011 on iPad, Android
MahJongg Master 3
Released 2000 on Windows
Heroes of Might and Magic II: Gold
Released 1998 on DOS, Windows

Related Sites +

  • Help Site for Master Of Magic
    This is an interactive guide on Master of Magic. For those who do not have the manual paper because they download abandonware version of this video game.
  • Master of Magic: Hero Page
    A site dedicated to everything about heroes in Master of Magic, including cheats, oddities and descriptions.
  • Sector 5, Ratai's Realm
    Master of Magic Online Guide. Has other things like chat rooms and custom wizard submission.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 200
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Contribute

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Windows added by Picard. PC-98 added by Trypticon. Linux added by Lugamo. PlayStation added by Yanis Lukes.

Additional contributors: Andrew Grasmeder, Kalirion, Laey'zur Tiberius Hawke, Thibault Droulers, 6⅞ of Nine, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Plok, Yanis Lukes.

Game added August 10, 1999. Last modified February 13, 2024.