No this isn't a request for a multiplayer match. For any of you unfamiliar with the term, a Let's Play is essentially a single player playthrough of a game with pictures and commentary. It's a fun way to get a community involved in single player only games, and it's also an excellent way to show off a game that might otherwise pass people by.
In this case I've picked one of my personal favourite games, Master of Magic. For those of you young people types who weren't gaming back in 1994, Master of Magic is pretty much the granddaddy of fantasy TBS 4X games. It's not the oldest (I think some of the older Warlords games predate it, as does the original Kings Bounty) but it's had an enormous impact on the genre. As the name might suggest it is indeed made by the same people who made Master of Orion.
Every now and again I'm going to leave a few choices open to the community to help make my mind up for me, but don't feel obliged to wait for one. The more feedback the more fun!
So with that preamble out of the way let's begin.
These are the settings I'll be using. Back in the day I could generally manage Hard, but I'm a bit rusty so I'm going to stick with Normal for now. Four enemy wizards gives a nice variety of opponents, land size large stops them all dogpiling me right from day 1, and magic on normal represents a reasonably nice balance of spellcasting to troops.
And here's an assortment of wizards we can use for our avatar. Giving this literally seconds of intense thought I eventually decide not to take Sharee despite the fact she wanders around with no top on and instead pick Tauron and his epic goatee.
So here's where YOU, the readers, get your first choice to make! As you can see I have eleven "picks" or points to put into what I want. These are divided between books in the various schools of magic (granting you access to both more starting spells and more spells you can potentially research), as well as special abilities which grant you various passive bonuses. You can pretty much combine these however you want with two exceptions: Life and Death magic can't be taken together, and a lot of the special abilites have prerequisite numbers of spell books (you'll see that those ones are all greyed out in the picture).
Cribnotes version, the orders of magic are:
Life (healing obviously, but also a fairly high number of unit and global enchantments. Very few summons however)
Death (lots of undead summons as well as negative enchantments. A few damaging spells but not as many as you might think. Undead are immune to a whole heap of things but don't naturally heal, and indeed are very hard to heal even magically)
Chaos (fire, lightning and general Blowing Shit Up, as well as a wide assortment of summons, most of which breathe fire)
Nature (powerful summons and enchantments)
Sorcery (messing things up and hindering people. Think Blue from Magic the Gathering)
The special abilities are:
Alchemy (1 point): Free conversion between mana and gold, instead of losing 50%.
Warlord (2 points): All nonmagical units are one level higher. Their level cap is also raised by one.
Chaneller (2 points): Battle magic costs don't go up the further the battle is from your fortress. Spell maintainence costs halved.
Archmage (1 point, 4 picks in any one order of magic): 10 extra points of casting skill (how much mana you can use per turn to cast stuff), your spells are twice as hard to dispel, and you get a 50% bonus to mana spent on raising skill.
Artificer (1 point): Half cost for creating magic items, plus you start with the two spells that let you do so instead of needing to research them.
Conjurer (1 points): 25% less research and casting costs for summoning spells, and 25% less upkeep for magical creatures.
Sage Master (1 point, 1 pick in any two orders): 25% faster research
Myrran (3 points!): You start on an alternate magical plane where everything is more EXTREME. Plus you get to pick from 5 additional, more powerful races (more on that below).
Divine Power (2 points, 4 picks in Life): 50% more power production and unrest reduction from religious buildings.
Famous (2 points): Start with 10 Fame, and doubled chance of being offered heroes, mercenaries, or magic items.
Runemaster (1 point, 2 picks in any 3 orders): Double effectiveness dispelling, and 25% reduced research and casting for arcane (colourless) magic.
Charismatic (1 point): 50% cheaper heroes, mercenaries and bought (not created) magic items. Also supposed to boost relations with other wizards, but I'm not sure that bit works.
Chaos Mastery (1 points, 4 picks in Chaos): 15% cheaper casting and research costs for Chaos magic, Chaos magic twice as hard to dispel, and double mana income from Chaos Nodes.
Nature Mastery: As Chaos Mastery but for Nature.
Sorcery Mastery: As Chaos Mastery but for Sorcery.
Infernal Power: As Divine Power, but for Life.
Mana Focusing (1 point): 25% more mana income
Node Mastery (1 point, 1 pick each in Chaos Nature and Sorcery): Double mana income from all nodes, and your spells are immune to the dispelling effect of nodes.
So I'll let you mull over those and come up with some combinations whilst I introduce you to the races you can choose:
The top 9 Arcanian races are available to anyone, whilst the bottom 5 Myrran races (greyed out here) can only be picked if you've taken Myrran for your wizard. They kick ungodly ass though.
Rundown for the Arcanian races:
Barbarian: Big manly people. They can throw axes before they engage in melee, giving them a bit more damage on the offense but also allowing them to hurt flying troops with melee units. Fast population growth and a respectable tech tree.
Gnolls: Hands down worst race in the game. Rubbish tech tree and not many strong units. There's nothing they can do that another race can't do better, and many races can do pretty much everything better. But I'm sure there's some sadists amongst you who are going to make me play these guys anyway...
Halflings: Stronger than you might think for a bunch of midgets. Good ranged troops and an OK tech tree. Plus you can conquer other races and they generally don't mind much because the little guys are just so funny.
High Elves: Slow population growth and a fairly limited tech tree, but some quite powerful units. Also the only one of the Arcanian races who's populace produces mana just by existing.
High Men: Excellent tech tree (only one thing they can't build and they wouldn't have any use for it if they could) and two of the strongest units in the game. Probably the strongest Arcanian race all round.
Klackon: Insecty people. Poor tech tree but extremely tough with some nice high end units. That's pretty much necessary though as they have a massive penalty for subject races meaning you pretty much have to use just Klackons the whole game.
Lizardman: Fairly tough but with a poor tech tree. The entire race has Water Walking though so you can expand off your starting continent much faster than anyone else.
Nomad: Boosted trade income and some nice ranged units including horsebowmen. Nothing too stand out though.
Orc: Not your average orcs. They're bright pink for one thing, and they can build every single building type in the game. Similar playstyle to High Men.
And the Myrran races:
Beastmen: Lots of wierd but powerful units and a surprisingly good tech tree. Also produce magical power from their populace.
Dark Elves: Extremely nasty. All their units (more or less) have magical ranged attacks, and they not only produce magical power from their populace but produce twice as much thereof as any of the other races who do.
Draconian: Dragon people. They can all fly and breathe fire. Also produce power for their populace.
Dwarven: Double mining bonuses and tax income, plus some absolutely dead hard units later on. Hammerhands particularly are pretty much the nastiest thing in the game when tanked up with unit enchantments.
Trolls: Rubbish tech tree, but all their units regenerate, and regeneration is almost ridiculously powerful. Also their stats are insane.
So you now have two decisions to make: First my choice of magic and special abilities, and second my choice of race. Have fun!
Oh, also you get to choose your banner but I'm taking the red one and I'll have no arguments from you lot.