This game has some trouble properly explaining mechanics all over the place. I'm compiling the answers that I end up giving a lot and linking to this instead.
Other Age of Wonders: Planetfall Guides:
- Cheat Codes.
- NPC Factions.
- Colonies Guide.
- Resources Guide.
- Diplomacy Guide.
- Operations Guide.
- NPC Factions Mechanics.
- Autonom Faction.
- Paragon Faction.
- Spacers Faction.
- Psi-fish Faction.
- Growth Faction.
Weapons, Damage, Mods
Talking concepts, not actually mechanics. See Combat (Mechanics) for that. This section is mostly a primer for understanding I need to shorthand later on.
Weapons: How Do They Work?
The game has 5 damage channels in it: Kinetic, Biological, Thermal, Arc, Psionic.
There are weaknesses and resistances to each of these channels.
Each Channel is used by at least one...
Each Race in the game gets access to 2 Weapon Groups, which each have their own tech tree (the middle 2 in the military line). Weapon Groups are associated with one primary damage type:
- Kinetic: Firearms, Explosives
- Biological: Biochemical
- Thermal: Laser, (Plasma)
- Arc: Arc Weapons
- Psionic: Psionic Weapons
You'll notice that Plasma is in parenthesis. I'll get to it in a moment.
These tech trees provide mods and operations. The operations are usually themed around the weapon group's concept, while the mods are designed to go on weapons of that group. A weapon's group will be specified in the bottom of its description:
Mods that you research are generally limited not by a damage Channel, but by Weapon Group. Mods from the Explosives tree probably can't be put on Firearms, and the same flipped.
There are some Weapon Groups that don't currently have a tech line. Plasma is one of them. Its damage type is thermal, but it cannot accept mods from the Laser tech tree. For balance reasons, I suspect it will never get its own tech tree - that would likely make one race favor the Promethean secret tech too much.
Conversion Mods exist for most of the groups to change the Channel of the damage that they are dealing. Changing the Channel does not allow you to equip mods for that Channel - a Firearm that deals Arc damage still has to use Firearm mods.
Sectors are confusing and took me way too long to work out. Thanks to... the many people on the discord who helped me through this trying time.
The Third eX
When you scroll out on the strategic map, you might see that sectors have a bunch of resource pips under them. If you've played literally any other strategy game, you might expect these to be tile yields or something - and in a way, they are. But these symbols Do Not Inherently Provide Resources at all. When you first annex a sector (we'll get to colonization) its only resource income is from the resource nodes in the sector (farms, research stations, w/e), and from Rivers which provide a flat +10 food once you research the hazard removal tech. There might be other things like Rivers that I'm missing but I really don't care rn; they exist, but are rare, read the tooltips.
When you annex a sector, you will now have an option from your city (third tab) to build an exploitation in it. Each city gets 1 sector/4 population, max 4 sectors at 16 population. Each sector gets one exploitation, and each city can only have 2 exploitations of each type.
Exploitations start at level 1, and max out at level 5. Each successive level of exploitation gives further bonuses.
These Are The Only Way To Extract Resources aside from the resource nodes mentioned earlier.
So, you might ask, how do you increase the level?
First off, the note about Landmarks: These things exist around the map, and I think always provide at least a level 1 exploitation in their sector to begin with. Additionally, NPC Dwellings count as Level 5 exploitations.
There are 2 ways, and both require research.
The first is the generic upgrade - At T2 and T6 in the Economy Tech Tree, you will see techs like "Energy Development I" and "Research Development II." Both of these, when researched, provide you with A Building In Your Colonies which increases the level of all sectors with that exploitation by 1. This is a one-off, and there are 2 of them, so we're up to level 3.
The second way involves sector Traits. This is where those resource pips come in.
Click on a sector. On the right side of the screen are a list of descriptors about this sector. I'm going to call these "Traits", and the top segment is the only one I really care about for most of this section.
There will be things written there, like "Mountains" or "Arcadian" or "Fertile Plains", and they'll have the same resource pips written next to them. Rivers will be listed here too - and you can see the +10 food that they give on their tooltip.
Hover over one of the traits, and you'll see something like this:
Notice where it says "Possible Research:" and the rest of that junk. That is referring to the name of a tech in the Economy tree. Go find it.
When you research that tech, it will give you another thing to build in your city - much the same as the earlier sector upgrades. This time, instead of affecting only one type of Exploitation, it will instead upgrade anything that can use that sector. So Arid provides bonuses to Production and Energy Exploitations - when you build the Arid Exploitation, any Energy or Production Exploitation in an Arid sector will go up one level.
Most sectors only produce 2 of the same type (I've seen 3 food though I don't remember why that happened), so that's another 2 levels onto our Exploitation. Which brings us to level 5, the max.
I have found no evidence that Colonies benefit in any way from the sector they are placed on. I'm still looking for it tho.
Combat Mechanics (Concepts)
Game's combat can be weird to newbies. Also a lot of the numbers just don't get written down in the Archives. So here's what I know.
The Ideas of Combat
Welcome to Age of Wonders. Veterans of the series will recognize the combat mechanics pretty readily, but other people might not. This is a brief rundown - I'm not gonna teach you everything from the ground up, that takes too much time, and honestly, just work it out yourself.
Starting a combat (the Adjacent Hex Rule)
Strategic map's fun and all, but to hell with it. When you march one of your pristine untrained stacks into an enemy army for the first time, you'll be transported to the tactical map! Here your battles take place, and all of those lovely little unit abilites can actually be used.
When you engaged the enemy stack, something called the Adjacent Hex Rule was invoked. Basically, any army in the 6 hexes adjacent to the defender were all checked; if any of them had reason to participate in the combat (like being allied to one side and hostile to the other) it gets pulled into the battle as well. This, of course, includes your units and enemy units. Forces will be distributed across the battlefield depending on where they were relative to the defending stack. In city battles, they are instead arrayed on opposite sides of the walls.
Now your units are on the field of battle, and can actually do the fun things.
Unit abilities and Action Points.
Click on a unit. There are a bunch of colored hexes that have popped up. These represent your movement range. You will notice that they come in colored bands, and that the bands get wider the further out you get. Keep this in mind.
Your unit has 3 Action Points at the start of its turn. Action points can be spent on moving, and on using actions. Those colored bands are tied to this. The further you move, the more AP you spend. Within the inner band (probably 1 hex radius), you have not spent any AP. Next band, 1 AP. Next band, 2 AP. Finally, the red band is new from AoW 3: You can go out there, but you have no action points remaining. You will only be able to take Free Actions And Guarding Isn't One so keep that in mind.
Abilities cost some number of action points to use. The most common are Full Action (requires 3 AP), Repeating (Triggers once for each remaining action point) and Single Action (Requires only the last action point, but still ends your turn).
Some actions are different, and I don't remember them all. Here's some examples:
- Use Nanite Injectors (Free Action): Heal yourself and gain some damage resist, then go on with your turn as though nothing happened.
- Entrench (Leave One): Build a trench around yourself, leaves you exactly 1 AP with none of that AP's movement band left (so you can move out of the trench, but it's all gonna be in that red band).
- Pretty sure there's one that's like "Full Action: Continue" or something, but I don't remember what it does.
Combat Mechanics (Numbers)
The game does a ♥♥♥ poor job of explaining its numbers.
The Numbers Game
All attacks have a channel associated with them. All channels have resistances and weaknesses.
When you are attacked, sum up your Armor/Shield/Resistance to the Channel. Designate this value as "Total Defense" or TD.
Damage Taken = Damage Dealt * 0.9^(TD)
Substitute Weakness for Resistance if appropriate; it just acts as negative resistance.
The game does not permit negative values of Armor/Shield - they always bottom out at 0 - but elemental weakness can drag you past this. For negative values of TD, the formula is slightly different, but essentially TD = -1 results in the same increase of damage as TD = 1 caused decrease.
- Psionic attacks ignore armor.
- Melee attacks ignore shields.
- Melee psionic attacks ignore both.
- Damage-modded Psionic attacks retain this trait. Some abilities (Phoenix walker's attacks I think) have a range greater than 1 but are still treated as melee.
This is the value that's displayed on the attack preview. Flanking increases damage a bit, crits increase it more. Unlike AoW 3, a flanking shot is guaranteed to get all 3 hits in before the unit turns - and Heavy units will not turn to face their attacker at all.
Status Chance / Status Resistance
Status chance works kinda like damage, except we're ignoring armor and shields.
Units can have a Channel Status Effect Resistance. This is what's granted by things like the early xenoplague mod. It is not explicitly shown anywhere, you have to work it out from the unit's traits. There's probably a weakness too, assume it works the same as above for negative values.
Sum up channel resistance/channel status effect resistance/Tier status resist bonus. Define it as "Total Resistance" (TR). Remember that Tier bonus for later.
Status effects will say something like "... a (some symbol) strength chance to apply (effect)". The (some symbol) is a strength check against a specific damage channel - you can probably guess which one by the color.
Status Chance = 10 * Status Strength * 0.9^(TR)%
To take a pretty common example:
Ammunition: Flechette grants Firearms an 8 Kinetic chance to inflict Bleeding. Against a unit with no weakness or resistance to the Kinetic damage channel, the formula gives us:
- Status Chance = 10 * 8 * 0.9^(0)%
- Status Chance = 80 * 1%
- Status Chance = 80%
Which is pretty good, especially given that bleeding reduces Kinetic resistance, so other kinetic effects have an easier time squeezing in.
Against a unit with 2 Kinetic resistance, it becomes:
- Status Chance = 10 * 8 * 0.9^(2)%
- Status Chance = 80 * 0.81%
- Status Chance = 64.8%
... which probably rounds up to 65. I don't remember offhand, but the game avoids displaying decimals ever.
Still remembering that Tier bonus?
Units have an inherent status resistance depending on unit tier. Those values appear to be 0/2/4/6 for Tiers 1/2/3/4, and apply regardless of damage channel. Heroes are treated as Tier 4 for this purpose.
Stagger is awesome. Stagger lets you screw with your enemies. Stagger ruins snipers.
If you stagger an enemy, they lose 1 action point (and associated movement), they are taken out of overwatch (melee and ranged), and sometimes they cry a bit.
There's Stagger, and Stagger Resistance. Each of them has 3 effective levels: 0, 1, 2.
- For Stagger Resistance, these are: None, Resistance, Immune
- For Stagger, these are: None, High Impact, Heavy Impact
A stagger attempt is successful if the level of the Stagger is greater than the level of the Stagger Resistance. So High Impact (S = 1) will stagger an enemy with no SR, but not on with SR 1. Nothing staggers SR 2; you need to find some way to reduce its SR. Not many units have SR 2, and the ones that do are usually machines, which have a few status effects purpose built to knock them down a peg on that front.
Important consequences: You can use TacOps which inflict stagger to take enemies out of overwatch, or slow their approach if they're melee, or stop a sniper from using its full power snipe ability.
Some abilities also push enemies back; this is unique to the ability and not a trait of stagger.