Once you get the hang of things, Golden Realms is a lot of fun. The challenge lies in learning to prioritize the order to build, expand, explore, gather, and fight. After that, the toughest thing is memorizing the heroes' and units' strengths and weaknesses to know how best to use them. This takes time, patience, and the willingness to lose often. But the best thing about the new Halfling campaign is how it makes such clever use of their lovable quirks and characteristics. Gossipy homebodies by nature, Halflings aren't warriors, but here they prove their resourcefulness by turning pedestrian things such as fireworks and luck into defensive weapons. True to form, they're better at hiding and ambushing than outright confrontation, but they also can use Wild Magic to make cute little bunnies rise out of their burrows and attack the enemy.
In addition to the fun of playing the Halfling race, Golden Realms has cool new tropical locations and fun new enemies (the most memorable being dung-throwing monkeys). Its orchestral soundtrack continues to be the perfect accompaniment to the pretty fantasy environments, and, overall, the single-player mode is a great opportunity to live out your own Hobbit-y dreams. The multiplayer mode, on the other hand, can be a disappointment. Due either to a lack of competitive players or simply an exclusive attitude, the few games that exist are frequently password-protected. That means that unless you use the chat lobby to wheedle an invitation out of someone, you can't join any of the games. You can, of course, host your own, but when it comes to finding willing opponents, you might be waiting longer than you'd like. But, even with this multiplayer drawback, Age of Wonders 3: Golden Realms is very well-made and has enough fun new content to make it a worthwhile addition to your game library.