Age of Wonders 4 Faction Customisation Overview
One of the most exciting parts about Age of Wonders 4 is the customisation options that are coming. With various units to select from, different cultures, and just a bunch of different things to unlock, it's easily one of the best systems to be implemented in this new Age of Wonders entry. Here is everything you can alter in your Faction for customisation!
The first thing you'll be asked to select is your Faction's physical form. Bear in mind: this is editing your units, not editing your main character if you go for the Wizard King origin (we'll talk a bit about that near the end of the article). So this is how you want your units to look, not you.
There are a total of 10 customisation options for your faction's physicality. None of these affect anything gameplay-wise and is just purely a cosmetic choice — something I'm incredibly grateful for.
Notably, some races are missing from Age of Wonders III, like the Draconians, Frostlings, and Tigrans. But considering these were all added in separate expansions post-release (Eternal Lords and Golden Realms), we can expect more of these to be added when Age of Wonders 4’s numerous upcoming expansions come into play.
In the Physical Form section, you will also be able to alter your race's Body and Mind Trait. These do give gameplay bonuses but are not restricted or limited to any physical forms, nullifying race supremacy in terms of gameplay elements.
Both Traits essentially modify your unit's combat abilities, giving various perks and bonuses that you can take advantage of. You can only select one Body Trait and one Mind Trait, so make sure you choose wisely.
The 14 Body Traits are:
- Bulwark: This trait buffs your Defense Mode by giving extra resistances
- Fast Recuperation: This trait allows your units to regenerate additional HP per game turn (not applicable mid-combat)
- Hearty: All of your units have extra HP
- Keen-sighted: Increased accuracy on all ranged attacks
- Quick Reflexes: Increased evasion from ranged attacks
- Resilient: Increases your units' resistance to all status effects
- Resistant: Increases your units' resistance to magical attacks
- Resolute: Reduces the duration of status effects by one with a minimum of one (it cannot remove one-turn status effects)
- Strong: Increases your units' physical damage (melee and ranged)
- Tough: Increases defense (resistance to physical attacks)
- Nightmare Mounts: Gives the Intimidating Aura, which has a chance to reduce enemy morale
- Spider Mounts: Gives the Web ability
- Unicorn Mounts: Gives the Phase ability
- Wolf Mounts: Gives the Enfeebling Howl ability and the Pack Hunter passive, which increases melee damage by 20% for each friendly unit that also has Pack Hunter.
I want to talk a bit amount the "X Mount" traits — these only affect mounted units (scouts, some heroes, etc), and will not affect all of your units. All Mount Traits (Nightmare, Spider, Unicorn, and Wolf) give a +10 HP bonus and allows your ruler to start with the chosen mount to benefit from these bonuses.
The 14 Mind Traits are:
- Adaptable: Units gain extra XP
- Arcane Focus: Units deal more Magic damage
- Cold Blooded: Units lose 50% less Morale
- Defensive Tactics: Earn extra Defense and Resistance whenever next to another friendly unit that has Defensive Tactics (non-stackable)
- Elusive: Your units have extra Defense and Resistance against Retaliation Attacks and Opportunity Attacks
- Fast Initiative: Your units gain the ability to move a lot more in the first turn of combat
- Ferocious: Increases your unit's Retaliation and Opportunity attacks
- Overwhelm Tactics: Your units gain extra crit chance whenever standing next to another unit with Overwhelm Tactics
- Sneaky: Your units gain extra damage from Flanking attacks
- Tenacious: Your units lose far less damage due to Casualties
- Arctic Adaptation: Your units can move more in Snow and Ice terrains, and can build farms in Snow terrains
- Desert Adaptation: Your units can move more and build farms in Sand terrains
- Underground Adaptation: Your units can move more in Cavern Floor, Mushroom Forest, Fungus Fields, and Rocky terrains, and can build Farms on Cavern Floors. Your Empire will start with the Excavation ability as well.
- Water Adaptation: Your units can move and build farms in Swamp terrains
The customisation options are pretty large already within Physical Form, and now it's time we move on to…
Now, you can choose your Faction's Culture overall. These are not locked to any Physical form either, and you have six to choose from; whatever choice you make will dictate your starting Affinity and how your build regarding your Empire Development will develop in-game.
Your Culture also dictates a starting bonus that you will have, depending on which one you select. Here are the six Cultures you can choose from:
Feudal: The Feudal Culture starts with one Order Affinity and one Nature Affinity. As a bonus, you also get various Structures that focus on Food income to get more Population; your Units get the Stand Together passive, which gives them a damage bonus whenever adjacent to another unit with the same passive; and it unlocks Feudal Lords, which are five titles you can offer to your Heroes that will give both City and World Map bonuses.
High: The High Culture gives you two Order Affinity whilst also getting various City Stability and Knowledge Structures for your cities. This also gives all of your units a passive Dormant Trait, which when using Awakened on them, gives them an extra bit of Spirit Damage and awakens any additional traits you unlock throughout your round.
If you select High Culture, you will also get an extra 10 Alignment towards good, and you get the Alignment Agenda, which gives you various bonuses depending on which state of Alignment you are in — Pure Good, Neutral, or Pure Evil.
Barbarian: Barbarians get one Chaos Affinity and one Nature Affinity (how those two go together is beyond me), and they have various Structures with Food and Draft income; your melee units get the Primal Strike ability, which gives Blight Damage to the first hit of each unit in combat; and unlock the Ritual of Alacrity, which gives various bonuses to friendly Units in the centre of whichever City or Outpost the ritual is cast on.
Industrious: Industrious has two Maternium Affinity and gives various Structures with Production to be able to build even faster; you get an additional Bolstering perk that grants Bolstered Defense and Bolstered Resistance when getting hit by relevant attacks; and Scout Prospecting, which allows Scouts to prospect Provinces for Production and Gold rewards.
Dark: The Dark Culture starts with two Shadow Affinity, and can negate income penalties for negative City Stability, have unique City Structures that grant Knowledge, earn extra income from Prisons and Crypts, your units gain Cull the Weak (an ability that deals extra damage to weakened units) and -10 Alignment.
Mystic: If you want to go for spell-casting, then the Mystic Culture will be your go-to. This Culture has 2 Astral Affinity, has various Structures with Mana income, your Units have the Attunement: Star Blades that increases strength when spells are cast, and the Astral Echoes passive that allows you to see pickups in the overworld to gain a Knowledge and Mana boost.
In this next part, I will not go as in-depth, as Society Traits are additional bonuses you can select that will affect not only your Affinity gain but also various bonuses that are as long as each Culture. This is because there are 18 different Society Traits that you can get, each with a lot of bonuses, benefits, and traits they are incompatible with, and depicting each of them would make this from long to ridiculously so.
You can select two different Society Traits, though not all of them are compatible with one another, determined by which affinities are the polar opposites of others (IE, Order VS Chaos). These will also give you a bit of an Affinity bonus, which will let you build your Empire Development a little more.
You can see in the top-right corner how your Empire Affinity is looking to better gauge how you want to approach your Society Traits — something I didn't notice until embarrassingly later into the game.
Instead, this section is going to be split into the six Affinities, each which has three Society Traits, and explaining a bit about how they work without going into too much detail, starting with…
Order Society Traits: Most of the Order Society Traits are incompatible with Chaos Affinity (considering these are polar opposites in the spectrum). The Order Traits focus more on City Stability, good Alignment, victory via Diplomacy, and defensive units like Shield and Polearm ones.
Chaos Society Traits: Contrary to Order Affinity is the Chaos one, and as such, many of the Chaos Society Traits are incompatible with Order, and mostly focus on victory through Military combat, giving vast Food, Gold, and Population bonuses for each enemy killed nearby a certain city.
Astral Society Traits: As you might expect for Astral Affinity builds, the Astral Society Traits are all focused on Researching Tomes, Mana gain, and even increasing maximum Mana in terms of both World and Combat Mana, allowing you to cast more spells and unlock them quicker.
Nature Society Traits: Nature Society Traits aren't as focused as the others, but they have some commonality focused around expansion. From increasing Naval control, benefitting Fisheries, and making Cities cost less Imperium to found, you will want to expand with these as often as possible.
Maternium Society Traits: Interestingly enough, Maternium Society Traits aren't as focused on Production as much as I expected, instead focusing more on decreasing the price of various things in-game, including annexing Ancient Wonders, reducing the cost of Unit Enchantment (something I did not see coming), and Province Improvements.
Shadow Society Traits: If Nature was confusing Shadow Society Traits are even worse — they're all over the place. Buff either your Scouts, your Mages and Support, or your Shock and Shield Units. There really isn't much consistency here aside from buffing various Unit types to ensure as much power as possible.
Next up, we have the Tomes section of the Faction Customisation. Much like the Society Traits, I will not be going in-depth about each individual tome because there are a total of 12 Tomes to unlock, each with five or six spells, for a total of 64 abilities to cover — I'd need an entire article for that!
Each individual tome has a starting Initial Bonus, which affects your Affinity by an extra two points depending on which Tome you start with and one or two additional perks, which is one hero skill and (usually) a Special Province Improvement, though the Tome of Souls instead gives a passive called the Soul Harvest for those that wish to animate the dead.
You have two initial Origins to choose from — the Champion and the Wizard King. That said, you can find new Origins to purchase as you unlock more Pantheon Levels and play more. To avoid spoilers, I will only focus on the two you start with:
Champion: As the elected ruler of your people, Champion is strictly stuck being the Race that you selected. You will earn an additional 10% Gold income, better City Stability, additional experience for all of your non-Hero units, and additional Relations bonus with Free Cities to facilitate Diplomacy.
Wizard King: If you want to start with magic and cast a lot of spells, then the Wizard King is for you! Start your dominion over the realm and choose whichever Race you want, even outside of your Empire's starting Faction. All Cities earn an additional 10% Mana, you have extra World Map Casting Points and Combat Casting Points per level of your starting Hero, and you have the Overchannel ability, allowing you to cast more spells in one turn.
Finally, after all of the stats talk, it's time to select how you and your army will look. Choose your flag's main and secondary colour, a symbol, and change 16 different physical traits for your character, and select your starting weapon. All of the physical options, aside from the starting weapon, are purely cosmetic and have no impact on your stats or skills, so feel free to go wild in this section!
Once you've finally finished creating your character, your race, and your flag, you can select a Title from four presets (two masculine and two feminine) determined by your Culture and Race, or you can edit it to say anything you want. Select your First Name, Last Name, and your Race Name, and you will be good to go!
You are now an expert at Race customisation! This guide is bound to go out-of-date as soon as the first Age of Wonders 4 releases, but I'll (hopefully) remember to change it when the time comes to add any relevant information. Thanks a lot for reading, and have fun creating your culture!