Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

December 1998

[Previous Page ] [ Index] [Next Page
VOICE Home Page:

Masters of the Empire

By: Mark Dodel

As if I didn't spend enough time playing BUGS, now along comes MOTE. Just released through BMTMicro, this is a turn based, militairy startegy game. Similar in scope to the board game Risk, you start the game controlling one city and a single army division and during each turn you make decisions to scout out new territory, attack the computer run enemies. MOTE adds more variables then just luck though. There is resource control (buying and selling resources to manufacture more divisions/ships/planes); Efficiency of production; city morale; and of course taxes to generate more zubles to pay for all your armies.

When you begin a new game, you first choose the number of cities, amount of zubles (the games currency), a neutral level and skill level of the computer opponents to start with. You can load your own bitmap to represent your forces if you want to customize the game beyond assigning a name to your empire and your ruler.


The game comes on a CDROM, only takes up 36Meg and there is no paper manual. To install you run the install.cmd file on the CD. It will copy the files to the drive you want, but you can't select a subdirectory. The install creates a MOTE folder with a single object to run the game. The documentation is comprised of a readme and an HTML file. the install finishes by opening up the ASCII text readme file which gives you a general sense of the game, but by no means a full explanation of the feature set. It would have been helpful also if an object had also been created for the html manual in the folder. The HTML manual is more complete and informative.

Playing the Game:

When you start the game it begins to play an ultimotion AVI movie showing a plane and tanks attacking a city. After a couple of screens of credits you get to the game play window.

You can select to either load a saved game or start a new game. If you choose to start a new game you then configure your game as listed above. The game plays only in a window, not full screen. The window is not resizable, though I have heard that the next update will have a fix for this for folks who run at higher resolutions.

The main play of the game revolves around the tokens that represent militairy units. There are 8 basic units - infantry, paratrooper, tank unit, engineer, spy, air transport, bomber and fighter planes. Cities that are on bodies of water also have naval units - destroyer, cruiser, battleship, troop transport, submarine and carrier. You decide which force a city should build and you can also purchase a unit per city for each turn. A unit has a pre-assigned number of moves per turn. When one of your units contacts an enemy unit a battle takes place. The outcome is factored on the opposing units strength, any existing damage and experience and then based on a random number generated by the computer determines who wins the battle. As a particular unit wins battles it gains in experience factor and has a better chance of winning it's next battle. When a unit fights another there is a battle sound played and the losing unit vanishes in a puff of smoke and flames.

You start a new game in your capital city. Initially the terrain map is obscured so you have to send your forces out to reconnoiter the surrounding area. There are terrain obstacles you have to maneuver around, like forests, bodies of water and mountains. You move pieces either by clicking the mouse pointer at the spot you want the piece to move toward or by using the cursor movement arrow keys.

When you are done moving your units you then click on the End-of-Day button ( the fourth button on the top row of buttons) and then the computer makes it's moves and updates all the status reports. This processing runs my cpu to %100, but doesn't take long on either a K6-2 266 or a Pentium Pro 200.

You can view reports on militairy strength, wealth, and resources. When not displaying a report graph the area under the game buttons shows the area in view in relation to the entire game region. To move focus to another area of the map you can click on the relative position in this area and the play map will move to that area. As you select different units to move the unit exhibits a flashing dotted outline and the information window displays the stats on that unit, including it's damage, experience level and moves available.

To take over an opponents city you direct your units to the city and they have at least 1 turn left they can attack the city. The more you attack the city the more damage you do, so when you do take it over it may have very little manufacturing capacity left. So if you unleash a bomber on a city it may render it worthless. You can attempt to use a spy to bribe an opposing city and thus avoid decimating it.

The ultimate goal is to take over all your opponents cities and eliminate all their military units. This is not a game to play in five minutes. Prepare to devote several hours or even days to complete a game.

There is also a global market accept to the game. You can buy and sell resources to your opponents, unless of course you are at war with all of them. this can be useful in raising money to purchase new units, or to buy resources required to manufacture a unit. Each unit requires a certain quantity of resources such as oil, coal minerals and food.


I really like this game. It has some features that I really wish a game like Gallactic Civilization had. It plays in a window, so you can play the game and do other things at the same time. It has a more extensive selection of treaty negotiations with your enemies. It lacks GC's ability to customize your enemies personalities, and to even select the number of opponents and scale of the world you are playing on. I also didn't see a whole lot of difference in the AI's response when I played the toughest level versus the easiest level. I felt in control the whole time. If you like turn based games then buy this one and make sure you also get Stardock's Gallactic Civilizations Gold. GCG is twice the price, but it's a classic compared to any similar game on any platform and offers a lot more customization then MOTE.

I would really like to see the AI strengthened. Other features I'd like to see would be the aforementioned ability to re-size the game play window and a report of all actions effecting my forces during the turn processing. As it is now, once you have conquered a sizable amount of territory, you have to scroll all over to see what forces have been eliminated and what if any cities have been attacked and taken over. There is an option to view the opponents activity during the turn processing, but it happens rather quickly and is tough to follow.

Another feature that would be nice would be the ability to create groupings of units and move them as one. As it is now, when you have assembled a large number of units, it takes a long time to move each unit.

As to problems, there weren't many. On a few occasions I had paratroop units just vanish while I was moving them. I also couldn't figure out how to land planes at the existing airports, so all my airplanes end up crashing after a few turns. They do land on aircraft carriers if you build them, but I have only tried fighter planes.

You also have to be careful where you click with the mouse or you may inadvertently move a piece you didn't mean to. The only real error I found was that the Hall of Fame List didn't get updated consistently when I won a game. Finally the docs say there are several AVI movies that play during the course of a game. All I saw was the opening of the game movie and one other when the game was completed. I'm not sure if I just missed something or there is a problem. I made certain I had the AVI option turned on in the game settings.

It is really good to hear that the developers plan to update this game. I look forward to seeing what they have in store for the future. And at $25 this is a game that should be in most OS/2 gamers budget.

Masters of the Empire can be purchased through BMT Micro - $25.00

[Previous Page ] [ Index] [Next Page
VOICE Home Page: