There's a relevant Penny Arcade about the "Mega Man 9 Effect," which is pretty much how I felt after my first game of Age of Wonders 3 last night.
Age of Wonders is like Civilization, but focused more on combat, and set in a fantasy realm. You're a king / hero / whatever, leading armies to conquer the other kingdoms. What made it work was that it was really detailed: each city had a race, so if your relations with a certain race (like Orcs) went down, Orc cities you controlled would revolt. Your hero had RPG-like levels and abilities and could level up by exploring dungeons. There were very detailed city production models.
I started playing AoW 1 in high school, and quickly got addicted. It was a big part of my life for a couple years. I got people in college addicted too: I showed it to my roommate, Bob, right before Technicon my freshman year. I came back to the dorm a weekend later and he was still in the same position, still playing it, the only difference was that now he was surrounded by piles of empty Sprite bottles.
There are other games like it, like Heroes of Might and Magic, but none that are as good. There was a sequel, and then a spinoff-sort-of-thing called Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, but I didn't like those as much as the first game.
This though, the latest one, is almost perfect. They tweaked the rules some, which makes the game immensely better: city walls are still really valuable but no longer nigh-impregnable; losing your hero is still bad / dangerous but no longer an instant loss. The graphics are really pretty.
Basically, I sat down last night to play the tutorial, and felt exactly like I did playing it in college. I didn't even notice two hours had passed.
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