Everything You Need to Know About Annexing in Age of Wonders 4
As a newcomer to the Age of Wonders franchise, one of the hardest things that I needed to learn and get accustomed to is the annexing system. At first, I treated Age of Wonders 4 like Heroes of Might and Magic III, where I assumed that defeating enemies and walking on top of the items, such as Iron Mines, would now mean they were "mine"... well, I was wrong.
Annexation is a complex system that the game doesn't explain very well, and it is one of the most crucial things to understand so you can snowball properly into your build and make the most out of your resources. In this guide, I will be talking about how to annex, why you want to do it, and even what they all represent. Starting with…
What is annexing?
Annexing is the action of using your Cities' Population to take over one of the hexagons that are nearby and create a Province. These Provinces can give you various bonuses and allow you to claim large portions of land as your own, increasing your domain, growing your Distant Claim on other hexagons, and giving you a resource of your choosing that is compatible with the specific land.
By Distant Claiming, you will get access to protecting your area, ensuring that whenever other Factions try to take over, you get a Grievance against them that you can use to start justified wars or earn a couple of resources for claiming them. It sounds far more complex than it really is.
Should you annex every time?
Annexing is a great way to ensure that you get various resources that can't be attained in other ways aside from building City Structures, so you can increase imperative resources like Draft and Province that will allow you to snowball faster into the late game and make your build come together.
I definitely recommend annexing as much as you can, but bear in mind that has a downside as well — the more you do it, the more you will suffer a City Stability penalty at a rate of -5 per annexed Province. So make sure you keep a close eye on your City's stability as much as you can before you become overzealous and suffer penalties to all City Income (every resource that a City develops) and even lose your annexed Provinces.
Provinces & Resources
Each individual section of the map can be annexed for the same price and will give you different Resources depending on which kind of Province you can build. This is dictated by the type of resources available in each Province, which you can see readily available whenever you click on it.
There are many different types of Provinces that you can build, and you'll need to choose smartly in order to take advantage of the right resources and expand in the right direction. Depending on the properties of each Province, you can build…
Fishery: Fisheries can be built on the Coast to get +5 additional Food, which you can use to get more Population and annex more Provinces. With the Nature Affinity perk, Expert Sailors, you get an extra +2 food on Coast and Rivers as well.
Farm: Similarly to Fisheries, Farms generate +5 Food in any Grassland, and it can also be built on Swamp and Snow Provinces at a loss of food. With the Nature Affinity perk Soiltenders, you get an additional +5 Food.
Quarry: Built on Rocky Provinces, you can use Quarries to increase your Production speed, which ensures that you can build your City Structures faster. This is a great way to ensure that you can get important buildings up and running as quickly as possible.
Mine: It isn't exactly clear what Province trait allows you to build Mines, but for the most part, when you can build a Quarry, you can build a Mine. These allow you to increase your Gold income from the City, which is likely the most important resource, as it is required for City Structures, army building, and even diplomacy. This can also be affected by the Warsmithing Perk in the Maternium Affinity, allowing you to get an extra +10 Draft from Mines as well, which is used to speed up unit production.
Forester: Foresters offer mixed benefits to give you extra Production and Food. These can be built in any area that has Forest. Presumably, not vegetarian-friendly.
Conduit: Similar to Mines, it isn't clear what allows you to build a Conduit, but this handy — and rare — Province allows you to get extra Mana! It's great for spellcasters and those that are going for a magic-heavy build.
Research Post: Lastly, the Research Posts aren't specific on what Province feature allows you to make it, but it increases your Knowledge income, which will enable you to research Tomes quicker and be able to unlock new spells.
You can click on any land to be able to see not only what kind of features it has but also what the individual Provinces you can build on it are. This ensures that you are as well-informed as you can whenever making decisions to annex territory and build outposts.
Magic Materials, Resource Nodes, & Ancient Wonders
Another thing that isn't explained very well either is the Magic Materials and Ancient Wonders. These two boost Provinces by providing additional Resource yield without having to select a specific Province type. Magic Materials also offer other resources without increasing the City Stability penalty, but Ancient Wonders offer greater Resources whilst also exacerbating the penalty.
Magic Materials: Magic Materials are tradable resources that are attached to a land. These give unique Global effects that can be very beneficial or rented to allies — both Free Cities and Factions — for a set amount of Gold income per turn. These Global Effects affect everything and can even make changes outside of Resources, such as giving a percentage increase to Experience gain.
Resource Nodes: In some Provinces, you'll find specific Resource Nodes that increase a particular resource for free when annexed. Whether you get an extra Gold Vein, take advantage of an Iron Deposit, or get additional Pastures, it gives you free access to more benefits without increasing the penalty.
Ancient Wonders: Throughout the world, you will find Ancient Wonders — these powerful sections can be explored by a Hero with an Army and will yield various different bonuses to whoever conquers it. Not only will you get unique bonuses, but they also count as an upgraded Province that gives better Resources, such as extra Imperium or Food.
It's worth mentioning that annexing Provinces and gaining resources such as Production, Draft, and Food only affect the City that is involved. You can't get an increase in Draft FOR City A from City B, meaning that you can focus various Cities to specific resources or make your Throne City a jack-of-all-trades. The only resources that affect globally are Gold, Mana, Research, and Imperium, as you can reinvest those into different Cities, but otherwise, Food, Production, and Draft are all City-bound.
Now you know everything there is to know about annexing! This was a highly complex system for me to grasp, but the more I learnt about it, the more I liked it. I hope this guide has been helpful in your adventures across Age of Wonders 4, and thanks a lot for reading!