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The Age of Wonders series has always combined the exploration and tactical battles of Heroes of Might and Magic with a more 4X-inspired kingdom management layer. However, the later entries in this series have been leaning more and more towards the 4X direction.
Which now brings us to the latest developer diary for Age of Wonders 4 that tells us a thing or two about the game's cities, how they work, and how they will let you expand your empire throughout the game.
The full article is quite detailed, so here are just a few quick excerpts and you take it from there:
My name is Sam Minh Ly, a designer at Triumph in charge of the economy of Age of Wonders 4. In this dev diary I would like to talk about the economy and city development. Shoutouts to Glenn and Lennart who did a lot of work to design the systems of the economy in Age of Wonders 4.
Spoiler: There is a small teaser in the end of this Dev Diary, so make sure to read it till the very end!
Cities are at the core of your empire. They will use the surrounding land to provide you with the resources to raise armies, research Tomes of Magic and provide the mana to fuel your spells. They will also prove to be a good way to exert your control over the world. Cities lay claim to the surrounding area, making it difficult for enemies to come close without diplomatic penalties. And during war, cities are bastions that require a serious effort to breach.
Cities project a sphere of influence around the city called their domain. This domain extracts resources and ensures rival players can’t just enter it without consequences (more about diplomacy in a future dev diary!)
In Age of Wonders 3 and prior, this domain was a hexagon-shape that grew equally in all directions out from the city. This allowed it to exploit the natural resources of nearby resource nodes but gave the player no control. In Age of Wonders: Planetfall this was changed to a sector system, which resulted in player control over growth and more natural shapes that follow the environment. But these choice moments were few and far between and it was hard for many players to comprehend the impact of these choices.
Age of Wonders 4 uses a new province and expansion system. Provinces also follow the natural features of the world. They are smaller than sectors and unlike Planetfall you will gain a new province every time you gain a new population. Cities can easily get up to 15 population and 15 provinces, making your cities grow more organically in byte-sized chunks. This allows you to “steer” their expansion towards high value resources or to cut-off bottlenecks with your territory.
There are many layers to the development of your city, which unlock as you progress through the game. The core loop of growth and immediate province exploitation is direct and meaningful. You can choose to engage with this in a casual manner but also choose to highly optimize your economy which is a necessity in the higher difficulty levels.
While there are other factors that influence your economy, such as the Society Traits and the Empire Skill Tree, this will do it for this dev diary. So, what do you think you will do? Plan the development of your city meticulously, go with the flow, or automate? or will you simply take cities by force? It is up to you to decide what path to follow.
While the next diary will be dedicated to the Ancient Wonders, there is also a new stream coming up!
We will let community pick the faction, form and tomes for our Developers to start with, so keep an eye on the forum as we will let you vote next Wednesday!