14Etherlords is a turn-based fantasy game played on a colorful, 3D isometric map. As you pursue scenario goals like fortress-storming and warlock-snuffing, your heroes begin with a weak set of cards that you’ll update constantly. You upgrade your deck by gathering resources from mines, gardens, and unfortunate beasties who happen to be blocking your path to success. Combat is handled on a separate 3D screen. You don’t directly attack your opponent; instead, the two combatants cast card-based spells that summon or modify creatures, block attacks, or launch special attacks.

There are two campaigns of nine scenarios each, as well as 10 standalone scenarios. You can also engage in one-on-one duels with the AI, either selecting two heroes with their own pre-figured decks, or building your own deck from scratch. The Magic system is greatly simplified here, with rules that make it much easier to grasp fundamentals. (Forget about Sorceries, Instants, and Interrupts.)

Needless to say, multiplay is the key to what is essentially a collectible-card game transported to a 3D fantasy map. Etherlords supports two-player contests via LAN, TCP/IP, or GameSpy Arcade. It’s easy to set up a game, but you won’t be able to shake the feeling that you could just be playing Magic against someone. Still, Etherlords does a fine job of delivering a Magic-type experience on your PC.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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