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Age of Wonders 3 Exploration

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1 Age of Wonders 3 Exploration on Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:24 am

Well, where to start.  I am glad you finally did an Exploration of Age of Wonders 3, though I'm disappointed that I missed the live broadcast.  

Age of Wonders is actually a very Lore intensive setting and it is unfortunate that game play aspects may have gotten in the way of your enjoyment.  I would actually think it is worthy of a Lore-run, though I might have to undertake that myself. Wink  Also, as someone who grew up playing AoW 1 and AoW 2, I realized in retrospect that the AoW series can have a steep learning curve in some respects.  Using terrain, cover and spells to your advantage can be key to winning engagements, allowing you to turn even Very Likely Defeats into victories.  All in all, it's a game that rewards a bit of micromanaging, especially early on.

On Mana versus Casting Points:
Think of them as "Dilithium" and your "Warp Core" respectively.  With Dilithium/Mana your Warp Core/Casting Points is useless.  Your WC/CP however, determines how much power you can bring to bear.  i.e. It doesn't matter how much dilithium you have in excess, a Warp 5 Engine will not be able to go as fast as a Warp 9 Engine.  If a spell costs 40 Mana and you only have 20 CP, then it will take two turns to cast.  If you have 40 CP then it you can cast it on your turn (if you didn't cast anything else) and if you had 80 CP, you could cast it twice. etc.

On Victory Conditions:
The Campaign Missions tend to have their own Victory conditions, some meant to showcase various aspects of the game.  In the general game their are three Victory Conditions: Seals Victory (control magical focal points long enough that you basically become unto a god), Unity Victory (basically the economic/scientific/cultural win of creating a certain number of unity beacons to indicate that you should be the spokesperson for the people), and the Conquest/Alliance victory (where you defeat and/or ally with all  opponents).  The latter is the most common type though, even then there are many ways to achieve victory and the strongest army does not always win.  

The Visuals:
Usually, banners aren't as big a problem as they are in the Necromancer campaign, given that your primary color is black and neutrals have grey banners.  More often than not, there is more distinct contrast between the banner colors.  In regards, to the distinctiveness of the units, while I appreciate Team Fortress using distinctive silhouettes, I don't feel that is as necessary in a turn-based game where you can strictly speaking take as long as you want to consider the field.  While mistakes happen, I personally consider it part of the experience.

Play Styles:
Race does give you access to certain units, but your play style is mostly heavily influence by your class.  Theocrats focus on healing their units so they can survive to become a force with which to be reckoned.  Warlords focus on large armies.  Sorcerers are all about the spells and summons. Arch Druids are the second primary caster with an emphasis on healing and mobility.  Rogues rely on intelligence (best scouts in game) and subterfuge.  Dreadnoughts are slow started and more specialized (thus relying more on unit synergies), but once they getting rolling their mechanical units are hard to stop (if you thought one cannon was bad, imagine four cannons with two engineers that allow those cannons to fire every turn).  Necromancer is the first true hybrid class between summons and produced armies, and have a very distinctive play style and the ability to resurrect units in combat.  
The Spell Schools also influence you play style, and even within classes there can be much deviation.   I've seen Rogues played more aggressively, though I prefer to use their superior intelligence to outmaneuver my opponents, avoid big battles and preform surgical strikes where they are weakest.  I've even pulled off successful state-less strategies (i.e. the Rebel Alliance and Thrawn Campaign) where I intentionally abandoned my territories and used superior mobility against my opponents.

On the Necromancer:
For obvious reasons, undead cities don't grow naturally over time like their living counterparts.   Aside from a few city improvements (and corrupt source), your population  grows whenever you kill units in battle.  As a result of this Necromancers tend to be more inclined towards evil, because striking down retreating foes and taking cities through conquest rather than diplomacy is a good way to grow your numbers.  You mentioned that it would be great if units could come back in combat, and that actually is part certainly an aspect of them.  Lost Souls re-spawn two turns after they are killed, (making up for the fact that they are generally the weakest scout unit stat wise).  Cadavers leveled to gold come back after combat if they are killed.  Reanimators and Necromancer heroes can bring back units killed during combat as cadavers or (if they were already undead) back to unlife.  This ability is exclusive to the Necromancer, aside from the high level True Resurrect spell, and some Theocrat units that can resurrect after combat if they win.

History of Athla:
The lore of the Age of Wonders universe is long and complex.  I would explain, but there is too much.  So let me sum up.

Age of Wonder (the first) The coming of man and sundering of the elves.  
Men kill the king of the elves leading to schism between the Keepers, elves who seek to reconcile with man (led by the King's daughter Julia) and the Cult of Storms, those who believe the men should be exterminated (led by the King's son, Meandor)

Age of Wonders 2 and Shadow Magic:
Focuses on the adventures of the human Wizard Merlin and the Circle of Magic, which is later broken.
Humans decide they distrust all magic, and Wizards are persecuted.  Unfortunate as Athla is invaded by the Shadow Demons.
Four Wizards of various factions (including Julia and Meandor's) unite with Merlin to defeat the common foe.

<interim>
Commonwealth is formed for the benefit of all peoples.
Meandor leads most the remaining remaining Wizards into the Shadow Realm to continue battle against the demons.  Julia remains behind, as does Merlin who seals the Shadow Gates to prevent any further passage.  This also leads to the Wizards of Athla losing their connection to Magic.  Crops fail, disasters ensue, Merlin is executed, and Dwarves and Men start looking to science and technology to save them.  The Wood elves and Dark Elves are reconciled through the Mending (yes, that's what the kids are calling it these days) and become the High Elves.  Magic gradually reenters the world in the forms of Druidry, Sorcery, and Necromancy.   Former Wizards take up these paths.  The old mortal leaders die off and their descendants fail to impress Julia with their Wisdom.  The Elves leave the Commonwealth.  The Commonwealth falls under control of Emperor Leonus.  Halfling migrate en mass.  There is a no love lost between the Draconians and the Humans, and the former faces persecution because of it.  The expanding Commonwealth Empire seeks to diplomatically assimilate the Frostlings into the their ranks but are rebuffed, leading to the Frostling - Commonwealth War.
This results in the annexation of Brisska and the decline of Clan Vanheim.

Age of Wonders 3
The Elven Court and Commonwealth Campaign happen concurrently on different parts of the map.  Eventually they intersect at the end of the Campaigns and there are actually multiple ends (only one is consider canon though). Sundren goes to the Pool of Wonders, and Edward goes to put down human rebels in Brisska  I won't go into it more, to avoid spoilers if you do decide to continue the game.

Golden Realms
Continues the story with the Halflings colonizing a new untamed land.  (Eddie Izzard: That is completely uninhabited! *moves someone aside* Excuse me!)  It (re)introduces the Halflings, the Seals, and the Wild Magic Sphere, as well as bridging the gap between the first two campaigns and the Necromancer Campaign.  Probably the weakest chapter, but story-wise stands on its own well enough, though there is only one ending.

Eternal Lords
Certainly, in my opinion the strongest campaign (though not as long as the first two), (re)introducing the Frostlings, Tigrans, and Necromancers, as well at the Keepers, Grey Guards, and Shadowborn.  It certainly stands on its own, though playing the previous campaigns will give you an added appreciation for it.  This campaign also has three different endings, after following the trials a travails on Arvik's journey to restore his clan to power.

Anyhow, I just wanted to say, I quite enjoyed your Warcraft Lorerun.  It gave me a new appreciation for a setting, to which I had paid only passing attention.  So thank you for that.  I just wanted to share a game series with a setting in which I have been similarly invested.

P.S. I know you were referring to your Fairies as your nukes, and that in Multi-player folks refer to any instant damage spell as a nuke, but in AoW3 there is an actual nuke.  One of the Dreadnoughts high level spells is called Destabilized Mana Core.  It bathes an entire battlefield in fire and unless you have strong fire resistance, kills virtually everything... it also angers people when used inside a city for obvious reasons.

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