Everything Tom Chick mentions as a positive for the Age of Wonders series is right in line with my own thoughts on the series, especially when having the freedom to dabble with odd creations like the dark and mysterious, Halfling Necromancers. And much as a game like WH:Gladius might be a tighter, more stripped-down experience in certain respects, I’ve stuck with the Age of Wonders games for so long specifically because of the amount of tinkering, experimentation, and discovery afforded in AoW games; before you run out of things to find and start aiming for the “best” builds and strategies instead of the most imaginative, interesting, and unique.
That’s how I approach AoW games anyway, a place where creating and customizing my heroes has been as involved as tinkering with the settings for each world I plan to
inhabit dominate. I’ve said this before, but I do play each of my AoW games like a light RPG as much as a tactical wargame, adding in my own backstory and themes for my hero as the game allows. And I have dozens of custom heroes to show for it. And what pushes the series to the top for me is that underneath all customization and allowance for imagination, there lies a rock solid tactical and (various) strategic layers that I (unlike some folks in the podcast belabor) love bouncing back and forth between.