Age of Wonders 4 Preview

Age of Wonders 4 Preview


Ramona caught up with the Age of Wonders 4 preview event and got her own take on the latest title from Triumph Studios and Paradox Interactive.

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Age of Wonders 4 is developed by Triumph Studios and published by Paradox Interactive. It will be a while before the final version is ready in May, but I was able to attend a preview event and get an impression.

Like its predecessors, Age of Wonders 4 is a turn-based fantasy strategy game in the tradition of Heroes of Might and Magic stands and loosens up with modern elements of the game mechanics. The first part – Age of Wonders – came out in 1999. After more than twenty years and four more titles, it will be time in May 2023 and you will once again have the opportunity to lead your own faction to victory. Different from the last one published offshoot Age of Wonders – Planetfall (In the test 7.5), you are no longer in a science fiction world, but back in the classic setting.

There are many customization options for your hero and the faction behind him can also be redesigned.

Build your hero as you please

In Age of Wonders – Planetfall, too, it was possible to give your character an individual look and change your face, hair or armor.
Age of Wonders 4 extends this feature and offers you a very large selection of optical details. Your hero is not tied to the faction in terms of appearance. A magical frogman leading a group of human barbarians is entirely within the realm of possibility.

Among other things, you can also use the sliders to change the length of limbs during character creation, which then leads to creations that are fun to look at. Of course, it’s also possible to take the system a little more seriously and create a malicious witch king or a noble knight prince.

The creation of your faction, on the other hand, is not as detailed, in which you do not determine the basic race, but the physical form. They give you a physical and a mental trait that can affect your playstyle. Physical traits include choice of mount, while mental traits include adapting to different biomes. In addition, there is the choice of culture, which affects clothing and armor, as well as social attributes, such as the special affinity for magic or ritual cannibalism. The kit is very large and you can use it to create individual factions according to your wishes.

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starting worlds

The worlds in which you start your adventure are also diverse. In the preview there was the beginner realm, the first story realm and other cards from
Tier 1 through Tier 3. Each realm has up to eight different traits. Four of these determine geography, climate, inhabitants and the dominant kingdom. The other four slots are for environmental effects like Arcane Storms, Free Cities Traits, and other mods. With this system you can also create your own worlds, in which you also have other settings, such as the number of players and the difficulty.

In the advanced options, you also have the option of determining the factions that should be resident in the created realm. The options for the multiplayer rounds can also be found here. However, multiplayer was not enabled for the current build.

With the 12 books you can learn a variety of magic spells and compile them into your personal repertoire.

Spell books and mana problems

The magic you cast and learn is dependent on the Tomes of Magic. From a total of twelve books you choose the first one when creating a faction. You gain access to additional spell books during the round. What you can research from the book is determined by chance. But you also have the chance to re-roll the suggestions you drew. As the game progresses, you put together your own repertoire of spells that affect your faction. The tomes also have different tier levels, which unlock powerful spells.

With so much choice, sorcery only inhibits your own mana. Therefore, a decision has to be made: What do you want to spend the precious arcane currency on? To improve your units or for healing spells? It is also possible to summon creatures and damage enemy units. Which of the options suits you best depends on your playstyle.


With the other factions and the free cities on the map you have the opportunity to do diplomacy. You can give the cities a Whispering Stone to increase diplomatic relations over time. The Whispering Stone also gives you the chance to form alliances with the Free Cities. From time to time the stadtholders will contact you with requests and need resources or your help. Of course you can also refuse and start a conflict.

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Faction diplomacy works a little differently. After the first contact, you currently have the opportunity to hand over gifts, make friendly pacts or settle existing grudges. The latter is interesting because it allows you to end border conflicts and negate negative mods. Border conflicts arise when you build expansions for your city on claimed provinces. Most of the time you can pull yourself out of the affair with enough gold. Unless you intend to take land from your neighbor and start a war.

Diplomacy with other factions works straight forward. The associated menu is not overloaded and further options are hidden behind the buttons.

Turn tactics and card movement

The provinces on the map all have different shapes, giving your city an organic borderline over time. However, the underlying hex fields on which you move are unaffected by this. Visually, they are hardly noticeable, which definitely helps the world look a little more natural. Aside from that, your units have a fixed range of movement. Long journeys from one location to another take time, so strategically positioning units is important. If the units stand side by side, they also support each other in combat.

In addition, there are treasures, abandoned ruins and special buildings on the map that you can collect and occupy. This improves your war chest. Caution is advised in the red-framed areas, because dangers lurk there. When discovered, these are still inactive and become stronger as the number of rounds progresses. If such a danger wakes up, it becomes a small challenge that you should fight quickly.

combat system

If two enemy armies meet on the world map, you can see the battle forecast in a battle menu. You can either fight manually or leave it to chance and the calculated probability of victory in automatic combat. If you choose manual combat, you will be placed on a battlefield map and control your units there individually.

The battlefield is divided into hexes, some of which give advantages or disadvantages in battle. Elevated positions or insurmountable obstacles invite you to tactical puzzles. Units standing next to each other also support each other on the battlefield. Be careful with ranged units, however, as your own riflemen can also fire into your own ranks. If your units are flanked, attacked from behind, or take too much damage, their morale will drop and they will flee the battlefield.

A unit’s actions are determined by the action points it spends on movement, attack, and posture. For example, you can instruct your units to run to a location for two points and then use the last action point to switch to a defensive stance. If your fighters are facing the enemy, movement is restricted as they must first disengage from combat. This makes lightly armored units a worthwhile target for flanking maneuvers.

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The Warshamans are a support unit that can both heal adjacent units and fight enemies from afar.


The sometimes complex mechanics of the individual elements of Age of Wonders 4 are well explained by built-in tooltips. This gives you the chance to get the most important information again during the game by simply hovering over an element with the cursor. In general, the interface is very user-friendly and should also give newcomers the chance to get a good introduction to the series. Triumph obviously benefits here from the experiences that Paradox Interactive has made with their Grand Strategy titles.

Author: Ramona Kiuntke (GamersGlobal

Opinion: Ramona Kiuntke

I really enjoyed the Age of Wonders 4 preview build. All the options to customize your character are well done and much more advanced than in Age of Wonders – Planetfall.

In the game you have the opportunity to equip items and mounts that offer you new advantages in battle. The little story events associated with it made each round feel like a little interactive chapter in my faction’s history. That got me right Stellaris remembered where each round is always a little different through the random events.

Nevertheless, the very beginnings were always very similar: learning spells, expanding empires, constructing buildings, collecting treasures, killing emerging threats and making a first contact. It only loosens up a bit after a few laps, even if the core remains the same. The Tier 2 and Tier 3 maps were really challenging for me. Still, they seemed rather small compared to my growth. Nevertheless, Age of Wonders 4 is already very good and I’m looking forward to the release in May.


Preliminary pros & cons

  • Many design options for your own faction and your own hero
  • Small story events provide variety and offer interesting opportunities for development
  • Despite different starting requirements, each start currently plays similarly
  • First card a bit small and after a while calm

Current assessment

It will be exciting to see how Age of Wonders 4 evolves. The preview version already made a good impression, but still has potential in all directions.

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