Everyone loves magic and people wearing pointy hats, so why not add that to your city management simulation? Mittelborg: City of Mages, developed by Armatur Games and published by Asterion Games, does exactly that.
Mittelborg: City of Mages puts you in charge of said magical city. The game is styled as a strategy game with some management sim thrown in as well as roguelike elements, because every game has those now. However, the balance between the three is firmly in the management camp.
Your main job is to protect the magical tree in the centre of your settlement. If it dies, your game ends, and sooner or later, that is going to happen. To prevent supernatural storms and enemy raiders from damaging the tree, barriers and other protective measures need to be put into place — to pay for those, income needs to be generated.
The difficult part is not to figure out what to do to thwart the next bad event, but when to do it. Mittelborg: City of Mages is called for a reason, as mages help you to guess what catastrophe gets unleashed on you next. Really desperate players can also sacrifice a mage to delay an upcoming disaster, provided they like to gamble.
The primary issue with Mittelborg: City of Mages is that even if you don’t like to gamble, you will do it all the time as the game is very random. Most choices are more or less based on luck, and the ones that aren’t (like the initial setup for your city) can be figured out pretty quickly, at which point they aren’t true choices anymore.
The only real decision to make is whether or not to send a mage on an expedition to find an item to counter a certain event. This is Mittelborg: City of Mages‘s roguelike part and there isn’t much to it, really. The mage will either succeed or perish and sending out one is ultimately just another die roll to mitigate a random event.
Worse, once the world tree dies, you are sent back to square one. None of the unlocks persists and nothing is gained in the long run, which really discourages replayability and makes restarting feel quite unfair. That’s really how playing Mittelborg: City of Mages feels: a chain of random events, with few actual strategic decisions and in the end, it is all for naught anyway.
Mittelborg: City of Mages is now available for PC via Steam.