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Eador: Masters of the Broken World Beta Preview

By on January 15th, 2013 9:37 am

Eador: Masters of the Broken Worlds

Eador: Masters of the Broken World is an upcoming strategy game from Snowbird Games. I recently had the privilege of participating in the December Technical Beta for Eador, and wanted to provide some insight into just what this game is all about.

What is it?

Eador: Masters of the Broken World is a unique turn-based fantasy strategy game. While it does appear to borrow heavily from successful games of the past, most notably the tactical battles, which resemble the Heroes of Might & Magic series, it is in actuality quite unlike any title I’ve personally played before.

Eador: Masters of the Broken World offers a campaign mode as well as a custom game mode. The main concept in the game is that the universe has been shattered into these various shards of land that float around in space all around you after a great cataclysm. In this universe are various astral masters, the so-called “Masters of the Broken World”, all of whom have their own wants and desires regarding what the best course of action is. In Eador, you are also a master, and it is up to you to decide how you want to act, behave, and interact with the universe.

All the shattered shards

The main campaign features two distinct modes that you will rotate between throughout your time with the game. The astral/shard view is where you’ll take stock of the nearby shards floating in space around you. Clicking on a shard brings up a panel indicating what the rewards are for conquering the shard, should you choose to attempt to do so. Clicking on a shard and choosing to attack it brings you into the second game mode, and the one you will likely be spending much more time in. I’ll explain a bit more about that mode shortly.

Eador: Masters of the Broken Worlds - Astral View

Aside from clicking on shards and conquering them, you’ll also encounter other astral masters as you continue through the campaign. Each master has a unique look, personality, and opinion about you and the universe at large. Some are quite obviously self-absorbed power-mongers, as evidenced by their demands that I allow my people to worship them. Others play less obvious roles. Your interactions with these masters take place through the use of dialog choices, similar to what you’d see in some RPGs or adventure games. You select what you want to say given the choices, they respond to that choice, you get some new choices, they respond to your latest choice, and so on. While I saw the option to declare war in most cases, I did not see to many other diplomatic options, at least not obvious ones. It seemed to me, based on my time with the technical beta, that your stance with the other masters is going to be primarily based on your actions and decisions both within the shards and within your dialog choices.

The beta indicated that there were as many as 12 endings to the campaign, so all indications are that your choices and decisions are going to have a strong impact on how your particular campaign ends up. This also means that replaying the campaign will likely offer a significantly different experience should you choose to make different choices.

Conquering shards and provinces – the strategic layer

After choosing to attack a shard in the astral view, perhaps because some of the benefits you’ll gain from taking it appealed to you, you’ll be taken to a more standard looking strategy map that is specific to just that particular shard. In Eador, each shard is a strategy map all to itself. Before you, you’ll see all of the provinces of the shard laid out, though many provinces will be obscured by a fog of war until you’ve explored them. Your primarily goal is going to be conquer these provinces, eventually taking over the shard, and returning yourself to the astral view to celebrate your latest conquest.

Eador: Masters of the Broken Worlds - Strategic View

Starting with a single province, you will have to hire heroes to lead your armies, build up your cities, and explore territories to discover monster lairs and resources. In addition, you’ll be occasionally presented with random events and discoveries that may re-focus your attention.

In Eador, every army must be led by a hero. While you can certainly purchase units and place them in a defensive garrison, they won’t be exploring or conquering enemies unless led by a hero character, of which there are 4 choices. Before I name these, it is important to note that heroes in Eador actually fight on the battlefield alongside their units in a manner similar to Master of Magic, Age of Wonders, or Fallen Enchantress rather than like the Heroes series.

With that said, the first hero type is the Warrior, a hero who has exclusive access to the heavy defensive armor and weapons (bought in shops or looted). It has access to defensive and offensive combat abilities as he levels, and who is the best choice if you want a classic bruiser type of hero fighting alongside his men. The second hero type is the Scout, who is effectively an archer character who uses lighter armor and gains abilities related to path-finding, archery, exploration, and diplomacy. A third hero type is the Commander, who is primarily dedicated to enhancing the units he leads, and gains abilities that reflect this inclination to play a more supporting role than the others. Finally, we are left with the Wizard, a hero that has enhanced magic capabilities above and beyond that of the other heroes. As they gain experience, your heroes will level up and select new abilities or enhance their current ones.

Before I move on from heroes, I should also mention that at level 10 you are allowed to pick a subclass for your hero. These further direct your hero’s abilities and earned ability choices to help you tailor the hero to your specific playstyle.

Building up your stronghold consists of adding buildings to the different districts of your city. Each district is divided into 4 building levels, with level 1 buildings being easiest to build, and level 4 being much harder. The key thing to remember is that almost all buildings require some other prerequisite buildings to exist before you can construct them, and that in a single turn you can only build a single building in that stronghold.

There are quite a few districts in the city, of which I’ll highlight only a few. The Military District is where you’ll find most of the buildings you’ll need to unlock to allow recruitment of different troop types into your armies. Archers, Swordsmen, Pikemen and the like populate the lowest tiers, while Wizards, Pegasus, and other more powerful creatures populate the higher levels and require more prerequisite buildings and resources to unlock and hire. The Foreign District is interesting in that you have to own territories with certain populations or characteristics, like Elves for instance, to unlock particular buildings or hire-able troops. Instead of having the player select a race in the traditional sense, racial troops like centaurs are instead only available if you own particular tiles and then unlock their particular building in this sector. Other districts offer buildings that offer new spells to your heroes, increase income, increase morale, and so on.

Eador: Masters of the Broken Worlds - Constructing Buildings

Each province can be explored by any hero on the tile. The interesting thing about exploration is that you will often find monster dens, resources, and item caches that you just won’t know exist otherwise. Even in your starting province on the shard, it is possible to find at least 12 different places of interest through exploration, based on my experiences. Many of these places are monster dens that you can choose to clear (through the use of tactical combat, explained later) and obtain loot from. Others are shops and additional resources, which are also often guarded by some sort of threat. One nice thing I noticed was that humanoid enemy types seemed to offer a negotiation option in addition to attack, and while I was not often successful in doing so, it was nice to see this as an option. I know there are some hero skills that increase negotiation, so I suspect some points invested there would have improved my ability to parlay with the enemy. It is important to keep in mind that each shard has quite a lot of provinces, each of which offering exploration and rewards to those who choose to pursue them.

Turn-based Tactical Combat looks promising

If you’ve taken even a quick look at the screenshots showing the combat system in Eador, you likely already know that it appears to be very reminiscent of the Heroes of Might & Magic series. As someone who has played the vast majority of titles in that series, starting with HoMM 2, I feel that yes, it is quite similar and will feel familiar to fans of that series, but at the same time I must say that it has actually included many additional gameplay elements that have injected new life into this tried and true tile based combat system.

All units in Eador share combat statistics like health points, movement points, stamina, melee damage, ranged damage, melee defense, ranged defense, morale, ammo, etc. Of these, stamina is interesting in that it is drained whenever you take an action in combat, even moving, and is only restored in combat while resting. In longer battles, I can see stamina becoming an issue, especially with units that have naturally low stamina scores and the ability of certain spells and even scout abilities to reduce unit stamina even quicker than normal. When the unit has no stamina, it can not act until it rests to regain some stamina again. Morale is also interesting in that if it is reduced to zero, the unit will flee. Watching his friends die nearby will reduce his morale, as will taking a decent hit, and in contrast seeing an enemy killed nearby will raise morale. In addition, morale is actually affected outside of combat as well, as the presence of incompatible units will attach a morale penalty immediately. Elves do not like being in the same army with barbarians, for instance.

I’ve mentioned a few differences already, but perhaps the biggest difference I noticed with Eador’s tactical combat was that nearly every unit in Eador has at least 1 special ability/trait when hired, be it a weak level 1 unit all the way to level 4 units. Higher level units have higher traits in stats that matter, like health points, melee attack, ranged attack, various defenses to spells, melee, and ranged fire that help justify their increased cost. In addition, they tend to have additional traits and abilities, including things like spells they can cast, the ability to fly over all terrain obstacles, the ability to summon units, near immunity to normal attacks, the ability to poison others, and the ability to drain life from others, just to name a few.

While it is of course possible to simply buy your way up the unit chain, one would be ill advised to not also focus on keeping their lower level units around as long as possible. As these lower level units gain experience, they, just like your hero, can also level up and can typically select 1 of a pair of abilities that will increase some of their core stats, add new abilities or traits, or enhance traits they already had. As one example, I had a minotaur that had leveled up several times, and then was offered a pair of upgrades, one of which was a brand new round attack ability that would let him attack all adjacent enemies for a stamina cost. In addition to these ability upgrades, I’ve also seen at least one case where a unit can even morph into a completely different unit. In that case, my militiaman unit became a spearman at the end of a battle. Finally, I’ve also seen special medals, like a Medal of Bravery, presented as possible option for some of my units. After a battle, I can award this medal, providing a boost to that unit, but this comes at the cost of an increase in that unit’s upkeep cost.

For those who aren’t fans of tactical combat, or who simply choose to skip easier battles, Eador: Masters of the Broken World offers a couple of options. You can allow the AI to control your units for you in battle, or you can instruct the game to quickly end the battle, simulating it and presenting the results immediately.

Eador: Masters of the Broken Worlds - Tactical Battles

Preview of a Technical Beta

The beta version I experienced was missing sound effects and final animations, two elements that can certainly impact the overall experience. In addition, I unfortunately ran into a random, but annoying, combat bug where I would finish an enemy off, but their unit would appear to still be alive with 0 health. Even though I couldn’t attack the unit, the battle would never end when this occurred, and I would have to quit and reload a prior save. I have to admit that this prevented me from completing the conquest of an entire shard, though I did start over multiple times to try different units and strategies.

Despite these issues, which are to be expected when playing a beta product, I enjoyed the time I spent with Eador and look forward to seeing what it looks like upon release.

Eador: Masters of the Broken World is currently scheduled for a Q1 2013 release for the PC and Mac platforms. Snowbird Games has placed Eador: Masters of the Broken World up for consideration on Steam Greenlight, so if this game sounds like something you’d be interested in, I’m sure they’d really appreciate you stopping by to give them a vote.

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33 Comments


  1. Towerbooks3192 says:

    Pretty excited for this one since discovering genesis. Was a bit disappointed that I had issues running the beta. I really loved the game and pretty excited for this one

  2. sly ostinato says:

    Ugghh…hexagon gaming board?? This already has me down. I hope they find a better way of implementing that than Civ 5 did. And if they are doing business with 2KGames in any way, shape or form, I won’t be buying this game.

    • Towerbooks3192 says:

      Play eador genesis! Its the closest thing you could get to MotBW while waiting for the release.

      I guess if you are really into strategy gaming then you will really love it. You will really regret not buying the game. its just so really good and its too good to be true. The best part of Eador genesis is that its one of the lower priced strategy games in GOG and its just really really good.

      • sly ostinato says:

        Your enthusiasm motivated me to go find a demo version of this before buying. I’m glad I did. The reality of the game did not match my expectations. Things seemed rather…restrictive…when it came to the actual gameplay. The only way I was able to win the first level was to painstakingly explore every acre of land in my acquired territories until I stumbled upon a mage’s lair where I was taken to the backroom where I had to buy an army of thug gargoyles. I’ll still check out the newer version when it becomes available. Hopefully, the game designer has improved gameplay dynamics to make the updated version more captivating to play. If it’s just a refresh of graphics and sounds, that won’t do much for me.

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          If you were talking about genesis as I am not aware of any demo of some sort, well the really really first shard you have in the campaign is a tutorial and is really restrictive and if you decide to do a new campaign then you will have a choice in the words the old wizard ask you that lets you skip it altogether. Well the way I do things is to get a hero, explore my own province (to 100% to get the +2 gold bonus) then move on to the next and try to 100% it so I won’t have problems later when the population is expanding.

          I usually level up first then try to return to a province with uber enemies and try to vanquish them. Please be aware of what spells you are using and your choice of buildings and decisions as this affects your alignment and your troops serving you. Using necro summoning heavily will affect the moral of your lawful troops while neutrals and evils won’t react and I forgot if doing good deeds affect the evil ones. Its a pretty deep game and I haven’t spent much time on it as I wanted to due to my busy schedule and will probably try to boot up my mac(bootcamp) to give it a spin because I had to do the tutorial again on my new PC and the option to skip the tutorial is not there unless I do it atleast once

  3. Dan says:

    Great. I will pick this one up for sure.

  4. David says:

    This looks great. Looking forward to it.

  5. salvo says:

    eador genesis is a really really superb game, I love it, though I’d recommend it to hardcore gamers only as it is, even on the beginner level, rather difficult and time consuming. As far as I can tell, the remake will be more accessible. MOTBW has been greenlit today btw. Congratulations snowbird

    btw, the game is now planned to be realeased for mac and linux as well

    • Keith Turner says:

      I haven’t played Eador: Genesis, but the game mechanics appear to be very true to the original based on the screenshots and videos I’ve seen of it. In fact, several of the images (portraits mainly) were identical or nearly identical in this new remake. If Genesis is a solid game, I don’t think they’ll change any gameplay elements in Eador: MOTBW enough to stop it from being solid as well. I’ll find out (and report for all to see) when I do my full review on the finished product though.

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        As far as I know Keith they promised not to change anything major other than the graphics and few improvements because the game is so great that they don’t want to reinvent the wheel as they said. Eador genesis is a pretty great game and its really really really worth it. I got busy last year but as soon as genesis was released, most of my gaming time was with it. I played a little of the beta and I could say that graphics aside it is like genesis.

        As a personal preference I would have chosen more deeper gameplay with just little tweaks to genesis graphics but the change is welcome non the less.

        Anyway if they really didn’t change a thing and/or you get to play genesis, Please tell me if you got the event that you have a choice to throw rocks at the bottom of the lake and please tell me if you lived to tell the tale. LOL ;)

        • Keith Turner says:

          Throwing rocks to the bottom of the lake… sounds pretty benign. I have a feeling it won’t be though, based on your question, haha.

          It’s great to see a few of you with great things to say about Genesis. This was my first experience with the Eador concept. If I thought I’d have time to play Genesis prior to the MOTBW release, I would, but I’m short on time to do so at this point, unfortunately. I’m certainly looking forward to reviewing the MOTBW release a bit more after hearing a few of your comments though.

  6. David Hampton says:

    Awesome.
    Sounds like a very modern approach to the premise of Tone (by Logic Factory).

  7. JohnR says:

    This one looks and sounds promising. Who knows, maybe it will be the Age of Wonders killer that Fallen Enchantress should have been but wasn’t. My only concern is your mentioning similarities with Heroes of Might and Magic. I tried the demo of HOMM6 last year and hated the grindy attrition-based combat system (King’s Bounty suffers from the same problem). Still in all I will watch Eador with great interest. Gosh Keith, you and Adam are going to bust my budget with all the cool games you bring to my attention. ;o)

    • Keith Turner says:

      Hi John, thanks for the comments.

      If I am understanding what you mean by grindy attrition-based combat, I think you’ll find that it is less of an issue in Eador. In Eador, each unit/troop slot in a hero’s army is filled by a single unit, not a stack of those single units. There won’t be any large armies of 1200 peasants to deal with as you may have encounted in the Heroes series, for instance. This means combat tends to be over a bit quicker. Also, the unit variety and upgrade system made me feel more invested in the welfare of these individual units, as opposed to having a throng of guys in a single slot that I don’t really care that much about.

      On the other hand combat, based on my limited experiences in the beta, is a significant part of the gameplay. As I mentioned, each province can have a lot of places to explore, many of which involving some sort of combat encounter. Factor in how many provinces are on a shard, and how many shards you may need to conquer to reach the end of a campaign, and you are talking about a lot of battles. I do have a fear that this could potentially lead to it becoming rather repetitive even with the number of units available and all of the upgrades that they have made available. What potentially will prevent this in my eyes is the use of auto-combat (AI controlled with faster animations and resolution) or quick-combat (instant resolution) for all the easier battles that do not require personal intervention. One other nice thing about those modes is that they have added an option to select whether or not the AI can use spells or not, so that it won’t waste spells on easy battles if you don’t want it to.

      I’m interested to see how the game ends up upon release. I plan to write a review based on my experiences with the final product.

      • Wodzu says:

        Thanks for the early review Keith!

        I have a question: is beta open for everyone or do I have to pay for it?

        I very like the fact that there are no stacked units and that each unit can gain experience. I love that feature!!

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          The beta was closed. They were looking for beta testers back around the 2nd week of december. I got into it but I had to upgrade my PC and I had problems running it so I was discouraged and the solutions presented didnt help me run the beta. If you are pretty excited for the game you could get Eador genesis since they are saying MotBW is just genesis with few additional improvements and new graphics. The game is so good that they don’t want to change anything but they will just give it a face lift and improve what is broken.

    • Towerbooks3192 says:

      Its more tactical like FF tactics or something because you get your hero and individual units in the battlefield compared to the stacks in HoMM and KB. Yeah I think its the HoMM killer but its pretty different from AoW/fallen enchantress/ MoM. I think it really combines the best parts of those fantasy 4x but the thing is I could not recount to you all of it because I haven’t played genesis in a while and I kind of discovered dominions 3.

  8. TaRaken says:

    I watched a 50 minute LP of the beta and you start the game with a capital city. then you hire your first hero and proceed to clear out the nearby provinces for experience, loot and resources, while developing your city to hire better units and more heroes. it did seem repetitive.

    • Towerbooks3192 says:

      I guess it is kind of repetitive but kind of addictive. the best part of eador is that you don’t want to steamroll all the provinces until you conquer enemy capitals but each province has a lot of goodies that are waiting to be discovered and your choices could really affect your troops depending on your alignments. Its a pretty deep game and I think with my time with genesis I only touched the surface. They say they will sort of shorten the campaign in MotBW because they thought genesis was too long and they will make progression more richer.

    • salvo says:

      I wonder which (4x) game is not is some way ‘repetitive’, one might argue I’s it is the very nature of a (video) game to be repetitive, what matters for the quality of the game is the question whether the game’s design manages to involve the gamer in its very repetitiveness without boring him too fast, and having played eador genesis I can tell you that, at least for me, it succeeds fairly well. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the remake might not improve the game’s “repetitiveness”

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        Hey salvo! did you get the “throw rock in the lake event yet and lived to tell the tale?” How are things going in Eador? Dominions 3 distracted me and I kind of missed eador.

        Yeah 4x are repetitive but the thing about eador is that the repetitiveness is fun and addictive and you have a lot to do from conquering lands and improving your holdings and adventuring in your lands while facing uber enemies and collecting equipments to make your heroes better

        • salvo says:

          hey,

          yep, I got the event several times, and once I actually threw the rock and this provoked 13 angry little minions to attack my hero which (on the beginner level and highly leveled) had no real problem dealing with them

          Well, I started a second campaign on the skilled level since I began to find the beginner level a bit too easy (on some shards the AI players had hardly expanded when I finally met them). Yet, on the next level the AI seems to get a vast amount of bonus resources so that it expands really fast and keeps throwing high leveled heroes at you. Imagine my horror when I saw an AI hero raising a powerful vampire which all alone decimated my veteran army :-) Very hard.

          Dom3 is another classic though I haven’t played it for a long time

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          Will pay a visit once my addiction to Dominions 3 wears off. When I got that event I almost pooped my pants after my hero and his party was torn to shreds by 13 angry demons. I think I had a low level hero at that time.

          I really regret not knowing Desura released dominions 3 back in December because I just bought it like a week ago and it is one of the best fantasy strategy I played since like ever!! I think it has the best factions in a game so far, I mean they are really unique and I love choosing my deity. Its the only game you see the army of hell face the giants of jotunheim or some dragons and what-not. I just wished someone told me about the game before. Anyway I am pretty excited for MotBW and will pay genesis a visit. I just got Crusader Kings 2 expansion and I am getting pwned as the Serene Doge of Pisa after getting invaded by the Holy Roman empire

        • salvo says:

          I agree, as for complexity Dominions3 is unmatched, though eador is the better SP game experience, Dom3’s AI being a victim of the game’s complexity, Had I time for MP, Dom3 would be perfect

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          Yeah, anyway I suck at it but I think a time will come that the AI wont be sufficient for me. Well that time is still far and I wish I knew about the game a long time ago. Price is a bit scary ($30 on Desura from the original Shrapnel price of $60) really great game. I tried to revisit Eador but I have to go through the tutorials in my new computer again! Anyway its really worth it in the end

        • Keith Turner says:

          Thanks for bringing your knowledge of Eador: Genesis into the discussion. That is an area I unfortunately could not draw from for the purpose of my preview. In a way, it is nice to be able to have a fresh look and view Eador: MOTBW by itself without any expectations based on the original, but it would have been nice to know more about what I am in for with the final release when the game starts to pick up more steam.

          I can’t wait to see how the AI performs in this one. Thus far, my beta experience consisted primarily of building up my own little settlement and having my heroes go exploring and monster hunting. I of course also got to answer some of the karma type questions, but I don’t think I was able to progress far enough to see their actual impact.

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          Keith I am not sure how the AI performs on higher difficulties however on the games I played in Beginner the AI acts pretty “Normal”. I mean its not too easy or too hard but then again I think its because I am not good at this game. So far I don’t have any problems with the beginner AI and I remember they usually pick on my regular units instead of the summoned ones I had and they usually kill the one with the lowest xp first as far as I know. I am not sure how cruel it is on later difficulties but it was challenging for me.

        • Wodzu says:

          Hi Towerbooks319 :)

          Are you saying about Dominions 3: The Awekening released in 2006? You praise that game so much that I am considering playing it:)

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          Yeah I guess that is the one. I am pretty sure it was released a long time ago or something. Just be warned though, your taste might differ from mine Woodzu so you might love or hate it. The way I see it its like total war with less control of your units and you get the armies of hell vs the undead legion or the armies of atlantis vs the druids and you get to summon stuff and research spells. Don’t expect something Civ-like though because its more on fighting and the victory condition is a bit unclear to me (its something like hold more dominions and followers to proclaim yourself the one true god or something).

          So far I didnt regret the $30 I paid off desura, its not eye candy but the 300 page manual is a testament to its depth. Its MP focus so there will come a point in time that the AI is insufficient. It doesn’t have modern conveniences like traditional save-reloads per turn which is good or a good UI but its a great game despite its flaws. Something more modern and unforgiving is conquest of elysium 3 (still the same makers) but the thing is it lacks the control of Dominions 3 and its depth and is more like a strategy roguelike. Give the demo a try and unfortunately there aren’t much videos about it that gives it justice (hopefully if Das123 reads this he will do an LP since he did conquest of elysium 3).

          Just check the demo and see it for yourself, the game is kind of like that nerdy girl in class that doesn’t look as hot as the blonde but is really beautiful once you know her more. In all the fantasy strategy games I played so far only dominions 3 has the best factions ever!!

  9. zigzag says:

    Whoa! I purchased Eador Genesis Friday night, and my weekend disappeared. I agree that it’s a bit repetitive – it would be nice if there weren’t quite so many monster lairs – but leveling heroes and pillaging loot almost never gets old.

  10. Ace of the Stars says:

    The release date is almost here, so how is this game faring? Is it worth a pre-order? Any thoughts on the beta guys?

    Thanks.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Unfortunately, I haven’t played the most recent beta, so my experience is unchanged since this preview. I plan to do a full review, but that will come closer to release. I suspect we may have some readers here in the most recent beta though, so perhaps they can fill you in.

      • Ace of the Stars says:

        Thanks Keith, this is another game that I am really interested in.

        I saw some videos on Youtube about this one and it seems difficult to me (I mean the battles), is it true? I want a challenge but I don´t want to get decimated after a battle (as I saw).


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