Age of Wonders 4 Discuss-All

A thread for discussing Age of Wonders 4.

How is it so far? I’ve got too much on my plate right now but it does look fun, especially designing your wizards and factions.

I have somehow never played a fantasy-themed 4x (other than Conquest of Elysium, which isn't quite the same). I do have Age of Wonders 3 in my library from some giveaway or another -- has enough changed in AoW4 to make it a completely different game, in which case I'd hop into the latest one, or can I get a good feel for the game by going back to the last one?

I played just around 45 min so far. I am new to Age of Wonders. Still trying to learn. But it looks and runs great so far. It does run on Steam Deck as well. It has controller support. But not sure if its the best way to play...

billt721 wrote:

I have somehow never played a fantasy-themed 4x (other than Conquest of Elysium, which isn't quite the same). I do have Age of Wonders 3 in my library from some giveaway or another -- has enough changed in AoW4 to make it a completely different game, in which case I'd hop into the latest one, or can I get a good feel for the game by going back to the last one?

They look similar but I'd say it's a brand new game.

I finished a playthrough yesterday. I just went basic humans against 3 players in an easy world to get my bearings.

I spent most of the game between some evil cannibal halflings to my east, and an evil lich necromancer to my west. I was prodded out of turtling when the lich started turning all of the land into ice and snow. On the other continent, I think some evil rat men were fighting good mole people but my attention was elsewhere.

Battles are good but they take a really long time, especially the maximum size 18 units per side ones. I ended up auto-resolving a lot of big battles and watching the replay (great feature).

I'm still early into the game so I'm enjoying the new features, I haven't started to consider how all the systems interact yet but I'm looking forward to it.

Edit: also I had one crash

I love AoW, but I think I'll wait for the first steam sale unless I hear amazing things on this thread.

Bill, Planetfall was very innovative after 3 iterations of the original AoW had sort of stagnated the game. This is an improvement on most of the systems from Planetfall, and honestly I would not bother with 3 at this point. The genre has moved quite far past it.

This, however, is cutting edge in many ways. Not immensely so, but it's astoundingly easy to play; the mechanics are all aided by the interface, the map, the Encyclopedia, in such a way that it feels effortless to find where to put your attention in a turn. That lets you worry about what to do next rather than "did I check my research?" or "where was that damn building button again?" while learning the game.

I hope people will really take to it. It's a deserving entry in the series.

According to steam, I played Age of Wonders III for 22 hours. I have 122 hours in Endless legend and over 900 in Civ 6. Clearly, I didn't enjoy it as much as other 4x games, but I can't exactly recall why. I just finished Everspace2 and need some downtime, but this is probably next on my list.

Planetfall and EL took from AoW3 and built on it, Civ 6 did as well, and AoW4 seems to have paid attention to all of those and more.

Also you can be sexy frog people so, ya know

My current game (my first) has an unlikely density of Mole people. They are nice on the whole, though.

Robear wrote:

Planetfall was very innovative after 3 iterations of the original AoW had sort of stagnated the game. This is an improvement on most of the systems from Planetfall, and honestly I would not bother with 3 at this point. The genre has moved quite far past it.

Planetfall was actually the first Age of Wonders title that I really sank into, and I absolutely loved it. After feasting on that for quite a while, I went back to the older titles expecting that level of customization experience and was disappointed to find that they didn't quite reach that. Don't misunderstand, they're all very good games, but not the "fantasy Planetfall" I was hoping they would be.

I snagged AoW4 as soon as I saw that they were very clearly building upon what they did with Planetfall and taking it even further. I'm only partway into my first game but already it's absolutely hitting most of the notes I hoped for and more besides. Hoping for a bit more unit customization than just the spell enchantments, but even if not there's so much else going in its favor that I can overlook that slight disappointment.

I'd be putting more time in but I'm trying not to lose traction on my Kenshi playthrough for this quarter's CRPG club pick.

Alright all ready to go for my first game


Hi. This game looks interesting. I have not played Age of Wonders before. I have played a full campaign, one time, of Total Warhammer 2 and that took thirty or so hours. Are these games similar? Any thoughts for a newbie to this series?


The tactical battles in this are more like XCOM, but with multi-being units instead of single soldiers (heroes, giant monsters and leaders being the exceptions). Each city is surrounded by irregular provinces which have resources; as the city grows, it can "claim" provinces according to its population size, and thus add production and other resources (money, mana, influence, etc). Cities are few and far between, they can't be spammed.

There's a lot of diplomacy, major and minor factions, special locations in abundance, underground and overworld maps (at least, might be an astral map), tech tree, city customization through building selection, and heroes/leaders who can lead 6 unit armies, giving them major advantages in combat, movement, etc. Units and leaders have an RPG-like level system and can gain various synergistic skills, as well as special gear.

It's all turn-based, so again, the tactical combat is turn-by-turn but the terrain reflects the area of the strategic hex it occurs in. Reinforcements can come in.

The races can be customized and new ones designed. The magic system is based on "tomes" of associated spells that need to be researched - tactical and strategic spells are available, as well as combat spells. There are a number of different alignments for civilizations and those can be mixed and matched to add benefits and malus as well.

Does that help?

And I want to thank Farscry for expressing what I could not. Planetfall was so much better than AoW 3 that it's not really worth going back in the system. And this continues the Planetfall legacy into the fantasy realm.

So how do you found an Outpost? Does it have to be in a claimed province? I'm having trouble getting the button to come up.

I think a hero has to be standing in the province (but not necessarily on the spot the outpost goes). Then click on the province itself and there should be a little start an outpost button at the bottom of the screen. (Typing from memory)

edit: it does not have to be claimed; the CPU loves to forward settle on you

Robear, your comments are extremely helpful. I certainly loved my time in TW2 but I was never crazy about the RTS battle sequence. Safe reasonable assumption that someone who loved their TW2 experience will likely like or even love AOW4?


If you like turn-based tactics (skippable and retryable), and the strategic layer of TW games, this has more depth in the latter. If that's your jam, you'll be okay.

Take a look at the game videos to get a better feel. The two games are not entirely congruent.

The Preface

Juggling this and Kenshi is going to be a struggle, not because Kenshi isn't good (it IS good, albeit frustrating, but that's part of the challenge that makes it good!) but because Age of Wonders 4 is so, so good.

I finished my first "game" of AoW4 last night. I will come back to this but allow me the indulgence of hearkening back to Age of Wonders Planetfall first.

To understand this, I must preface this post with "I hate 4x story campaigns." That's a slight exaggeration, but truly only slight. When I fire up a 4x game, I want the fully open-ended gameplay, not a story/mission-driven experience. Even 4x-adjacent games like Heroes of Might and Magic? Never played far into any of the campaigns, but played easily hundreds of hours over the decades in random/script-generated maps because I just want the gameplay, not story restrictions or arbitrary campaign mission goals.

So it should stand to make a strong case for the Age of Wonders dev team when I say that I genuinely enjoyed playing through the main story campaign of Planetfall. I didn't start with that; I started initially with a random map (because that's how I play 4x's!). Found myself a bit out of my depth so I started over with the tutorial/story intro, and was interested enough to continue. Partly because the story was just intriguing enough to engage me, and partly because the story campaign took a very light hand in how the player was guided from one "game" (full map playthrough) to the next, and partly because of how it actually used that structure to nudge the player into experiencing a moderately broad diversity of the game's factions.

Sure, in the long run I ended up sticking around for the open-ended game, but the fact that I actually played through the full original story campaign of Planetfall was quite a pleasant surprise to me.

With that experience in mind, I figured I'd give Age of Wonders 4 a shot at the same approach (play through the story first and then go open-ended afterward).

The Main Attraction

So, when I fired up Age of Wonders 4, I figured there'd be enough new stuff to make it worth my while to start with the "Tutorial" world (as it probably would lead into the first "Story" world).

I was very, very impressed. I'm not going to discuss the gameplay mechanics here, that's for another time once I've got a stronger grasp on them. What I am going to discuss is how brilliant this "tutorial" was and how it strikes me as one of the best 4x tutorial experiences I've ever had. Frankly, I would flat out say it's the best one I've experienced, but I'm sitting on that judgement for now since it's hard to estimate how much is the whole "new hotness" factor.

You can choose a degree of tutorial guidance when you start it; I opted for being rather experienced with the AoW games but didn't disable the tutorial guides entirely (so "medium" or whatever it was, I forget). The first several turns had a lot of guidance from the tutorial tips; I swear the first few steps were borderline "hardcoded" but I could be remembering wrong. But anything past that was definitely approached as "here are goals; we're just gonna leave them in the left-hand corner for ya but you can do them if or when you choose to." Fan-fracking-tastic. Just enough structure to guide someone if they're feeling overwhelmed by options, but loose enough structure that a player comfortable with poking around on their own for the most part (yeah, that's me) can do so without losing track of some key concepts and goals to bear in mind while getting familiar with the game.

The guidance was heavy at first, but gradually left the player more at the wheel until by midway through the game, without even realizing it, I was basically just playing with no more tutorial guidance.

The other way the tutorial functioned is through strategic context-driven tooltips. For example, combat: rather than bombarding you with a series of tutorial tips like most games I've played that leave you with information overload and absorbing only a little of it, AoW4 has a few tooltips pop up throughout your first few combats that are thoughtfully planned to give you just enough info to absorb and contextualize through gameplay.

Furthermore, there are additional tooltips waiting in the wings to pop up when you're "ready" for them. What do I mean by that? Rather than, for example, hitting you with a series of tooltips identifying the main classes of enemy types right away, the game instead only pops up a tooltip specifically giving a summary of an enemy class when you first click on that type of enemy in combat. DUDE. BRILLIANT. Maybe not the first game to do that, but the first game to do that in a manner that I both noticed and felt was organic and truly helpful.

There's a lot of that early on in the Tutorial map, but again -- as you play and there are fewer and fewer unseen tooltips waiting in the wings, you will encounter them with less frequency until before you realize it, you're just playing the game and effectively done with training wheels.

And honestly, past that initial 10-20 turns, the "tutorial" game was, in fact, a full-fledged real Age of Wonders game. Not a mere tutorial, a full game. The tutorial map is brilliantly designed with enough content to cover the basics of every gameplay system that I know of so far in the game, but not too much of any one type of content to leave you overwhelmed or facing a power-spike from the AI that feels too unfair. For example, the highest-tier wonders and events are not included in the map; it specifically stops just short of that so that the game can't ramp up too high for a starting experience. There are two AI empires: a "good" empire and an "evil" empire -- neither actually leans too far in one direction, but they each lean just far enough so that it doesn't matter what alignment the player ends up running with during the course of the game -- there will be at least one AI empire willing to be friendly and cooperative. There are a smattering of Free Cities, enough so that the player will definitely be able to vassalize at least a couple. There is a variety of landscape biomes, enemy spawner types, and so on in order to give the player a taste of what kind of features and hazards they will run across in future games.

And on and on -- essentially, it's a carefully designed map intended to give the player a taste of everything but not bury them under anything. I played on Normal difficulty (which says is aimed for experienced strategy game players) and it felt appropriate. I got my ass handed to me a few times in combat, but I was able to learn from those failures and adapt. I did wind up winning the game around turn 75ish by allying with one empire and conquering the other empire's capitol. All told, the "tutorial" ran me around 6-7 hours played -- probably a little on the fast side compared to how it would be for someone without a lot of Planetfall experience to lean on.

For the tutorial, I played a prefabricated faction, the Mountain Dwarves (yeah yeah, I love me some Tolkien-y dwarves). However, now that I've got some gameplay experience, I quite eagerly created my own custom faction that I'll use for the story campaign. Faction creation is fun! I ended up setting up a faction of Feudal Druidic Orcs. Sort of a blend of sorts of Orsimer from Elder Scrolls, Orcs from Warcraft, and Dwarves from Middle-Earth / D&D. I'm super stoked to dive into the campaign soon!

I agree with everything Farscry said! The tutorialising in this is great, along with all the well written, nested tooltips. I completed the tutorial map with the pregen Paladin Humans, who were a lot of fun to play, the Awakening concept where your troops can be made a bit angelic for a time using spells and abilities is neat.

I've also completed a proper custom map using a custom elven barbarian raider faction, who ended up turning into part animal, part plant offensive powerhouses by the end game.

Now playing a new custom rat faction. I love me some Skaven, but they've made a pregen faction that is quite clearly an homage to the Skaven in everything but name, so I've gone a different path and made a seafaring, underground, Materium rat faction based on a homebrew species from my D&D campaign. Made a dashing rat with a crossbow as their leader. Very happy with them so far! Interested to see how their story develops over the game.

I'm just starting to dig my teeth into Battletech for the first time, but as someone who really enjoyed the old Heroes of Might and Magic games growing up and put a lot of time into AoW 3 (I never did pick up Planetfall, unfortunately), this is proving very, very tempting...

It'll pair nicely with Battletech.

Good grief I'm freakin' in love with this game. 12 hours played already, I don't even know how I've scrabbled that much time together -- basically every free minute I get since it's so easy to fire up and play even for just 15-20 minutes.

It's a maddeningly good time. It just sucks you in.

I was on call today. I played 5 hours of it out of the 8 hours of work. Loved it!

I caved. Started a game on what I assume is the tutorial map as the star dwarves. So far so good!

I'm quite enjoying the variety present in the main story chapters (maps) so far. I've been making a new custom faction for each chapter just for the fun of it.

Chapter 1 was essentially a very similar setup to the Tutorial, but without the limitations of the Tutorial map (so full scope of challenges). I didn't have a particularly tough time with this chapter and quite enjoyed the full gameplay. I played this chapter with my Feudal Druidic Orcs.

Mild spoilers for the next two regarding overall scenario details:

Chapter 2


This one is an archipelago map and has three AI empires -- one perma-hostile empire who is the main antagonist and two that are potentially friendly. One of these two somehow managed to just go totally ham on expansion, to the point where frankly they should have tackled the main antagonist themselves without my help. Fortunately I buddied up with them so I didn't have to fight through them to get to the antagonist. The landmasses were a lot more varied, and the amount of seagoing involved wasn't as much an obstacle as I thought it would be. Had a rough time developing my cities other than my capitol due to non-ideal lands, even with the nature book that provides a spell to change desolate land into grassland.

I played this chapter with a custom Cat-People faction focused on adaptability/mobility and a mixture of arcane/fire magics.

Chapter 3


Ok, this one is interesting, as for story reasons you are representing less savory interests. I went ahead and used one of the prefabricated "dark/evil" factions for this one, and it's a very different playstyle to my normal approach.

Also for story reasons, this world is stuck in a permanent state of war -- all empires & free cities are on their own at war with everyone else. You can vassalize through conquest, but you can't engage in diplomacy. And this time there are five AI empires, and the general hostility of the world is ramped up a bit.

I'm actually having a hard time with this one! I'm playing on Normal difficulty and the AI is definitely pushing me -- they're fielding more full army stacks than I can afford; not sure if I'm just doing a poor job of empire management & city development or something else. However, I'm mostly making up for quantity with quality and am somewhat holding my own.

That said, I've already restarted once after my first run at this chapter led to a spiral of economic ruin that left me unable to field suitable armies to deal with the enemies.

Really digging this game so very much and I can't wait to see what the DLC's bring and modders develop!

Finished the tutorial game. End-game was a major slog as I hunted down my last rival’s crown city. I wish Triumph would have paid attention to how Old World handles the points victory condition and just ended the game when I was so far ahead.

billt721 wrote:

Finished the tutorial game. End-game was a major slog as I hunted down my last rival’s crown city. I wish Triumph would have paid attention to how Old World handles the points victory condition and just ended the game when I was so far ahead.

That reminds me, I have to get back to Old World. And Planetfall. And BATTLETECH. Jesus I need 3 of me.