Gameplay Strategies

Daveman's Unofficial

Age of Wonders FAQ
** Please note that this FAQ assumes you are playing with the latest patch (see 0.02 below) **

What’s new?  Last Updated: 06-24-2001

Added Campaign Questions (2.03, 2.04)
Updated Technical Questions (0.04, 0.05)
Updated General Questions (1.07, 1.14)

~ Daveman ~


Click on the links below to "jump" to that section of questions.

0.0   Technical Questions

1.0   General Questions

2.0   Campaign Questions

3.0  Unit Questions 

4.0  Editor Questions


0. Technical Questions

0.01. Is there a demo available?

Yes there is. Check out the downloads section of for more info.

0.02. Is there a patch available?

Yes there is. The 1.36 patch is the latest one available. Check out the downloads section of for more info. Make certain you’re downloading the 1.36 patch. For a time, both it and the 1.35 patch were available… it’s likely been fixed by now though. A number of enhancements have been made, mostly small tweaks to gameplay here and there. There is a significant improvement to the way automatic combat is resolved… definitely worth downloading.

0.03. Are there any mods available?

There’s one mod available right now… check out Warlock’s Rules Set at There are quite a lot of changes in this one, and you can easily switch between Warlock’s rules and the standard rules with a simple command line change.

0.04. Where can I find new scenarios to download?

Many user created scenarios can be downloaded at the following sites:   (Age of Wonders Heaven)

Make certain that any downloaded maps are placed in the Scenario/Custom directory.

For more information on maps check out This site contains reviews of nearly every map out there, plus other AoW info too.

0.05. Is there going to be an expansion or a sequel?

A sequel, referred to as Age of Wonders 2: The Wizards Throne is in development, tentatively scheduled for a 2002 release. Triumph Studios was pretty tight-lipped about it, as there are a number of competing fantasy-based strategy games also in development, but some promotional material was accidentally leaked. Triumph Studios has since confirmed that AoW2 is in the works. You can read more about it at

0.06. Can I run AoW in a window?

Yes you can! Go to AoW Settings (the window that autoplays when the CD is inserted) and click "settings"... for "Startup video mode" select "window."

1. General Questions

1.01. How do I get units off of a boat?

This simple issue has spawned several posts to the newbie board, so don’t feel alone if you can’t figure it out. Displayed in the party window on the right side of screen are each unit’s remaining movement points. This display is also a button that can be toggled on or off, to separate units from the party. Click on the movement point display beneath the boat to separate it from the others, then move the passengers wherever. This same method can be used at any time should you want to separate some members of the party.

1.02. What are the best abilities/spheres/races?

This question is pretty much open to opinion. There are plenty of posts on this, especially in the newbie and strategy boards.

1.03. Can I build new cities or am I stuck with the ones already on the map?

In AoW, you can’t build new cities. Cities and other sites that have been razed can be rebuilt by a Builder unit produced in a Builder’s Guild. Roads and Watch Towers can be built anywhere by a Builder as well. Razed cities can also be rebuilt by the Animate Ruins spell.

1.04. How do I make cities bigger?

This is a confusing issue, as cities in AoW are measured in both size and level. The size of a city is simply how many hexes it occupies (from 1 to 4). Larger cities can house more armies within it’s walls, typically generate more income, build units faster, and can be upgraded to a higher level than smaller cities. You can’t increase the size of a city. A size 2 city will always be a size 2 city, and so on.

Besides size, cities come in different levels (also from 1 to 4). The level of a city determines which units are available for production in that city. On most maps, cities (regardless of size) start at level 1, and can build level 1 units (typical cheap units like swordsmen and archers). Large cities can be upgraded to a level equal to their size… for example, a size 2 city can be upgraded once to level 2, a size 4 city can be upgraded to level 4. Size 1 cities can’t be upgraded; they’re stuck at level 1. At each level, new units become available for production.

1.05. I upgraded a city, and new units appear on the menu, but they’re grayed out. What does this mean?

New units have to be installed before they can be built. Installing a unit costs as much as building one, and takes about as long, but no unit is produced.

1.06. What’s the difference between Looting and Razing?

Both will destroy a city. Looting takes awhile to finish, one turn per size of the city, but you earn gold when you’re finished. Razing is done right away, doesn’t give you any gold, and a few units of the city’s race will spawn nearby and attack.

1.07. How do race relations work? What can I do to improve them?

Alignment is the most important element of race relations. There are five possible alignments in the game:

Pure Good – Good – Neutral – Evil – Pure Evil

In general, races will get along with those one "shift" apart from their own. For example, Good races will get along with Pure Good and Neutral races. The Neutral races fare better than others, while the Highmen and Undead (being Pure Good and Evil) get along with only a few races.

Technically, the Humans (Neutral) and the Highmen (Pure Good) shouldn’t get along. However, since the relationship between the two is important to the AoW campaign an exception was made in their case… these two races get along quite well together.

If you occupy a city of a different race than your own, check out the race relation display in the city menu. If the relation is listed as "unrest" or "unruly" there is a chance the city will rebel against you. You can avoid this by keeping armies in the city. How many you’ll need depends on how bad your relations are with that race, the size of the city, and how strong your units are. If you have enough units present in the city, the relation will change to another value like "enslaved". Note that you can have a few units in a city and still lose control of it if the relation is still listed as "unrest" or "unruly". When a city rebels any of your units in the city are kicked out and new units spawn in the city to defend it.

Your relationship with a race can improve or worsen depending on your actions. Upgrading or fortifying a city, and migrating a city to a particular race will improve your relations. Looting and razing, and migrating a city away from a race will hurt your relations. Certain magic spells can also affect relations.

It’s important to note that you can be at war with a leader of a particular race, but still have good relations with that race. You may be at war with the Goblins while still having several Goblin cities happily under your control. 

1.08. One turn, a few units of mine deserted. Why did this happen?

Like the race relations noted above, individual units also check their alignment versus that of your own. If the alignment is more than one shift away from your own, then moral will suffer. In the bottom of the party window is a display showing the party’s morale. Like cities, if this value is "unrest" or "unruly" there is a chance that any hostile units will desert. You can avoid this by keeping hostile units in parties with several strong, friendly units. If the party morale is better than "unrest" you’re OK. High level hostile units may be difficult to keep under control. One unit in particular, the Syron, is a "Pure Neutral" unit that is very hard to keep happy.

Lack of gold for upkeep can result in any unit (even ones friendly to you) losing morale and possibly deserting.

1.09. My heroes earn ten ability points per experience level, but some abilities cost more than ten points. How can I choose those abilities?

You must save up ability points to choose abilities like Spellcasting, which costs 20 points per level. Simply don’t use the ability points you earn for raising a level and wait until you raise another… you’ll then have 20 ability points to spend. 

1.10. What does a higher Spellcasting ability do for me?

Higher Spellcasting ability will do two things: increase the amount of mana generated by that hero, and increase the amount of mana per turn that hero can "channel" into spells.

For example, a hero with Spellcasting I will generate 5 mana per turn, while a hero with Spellcasting II will generate 10 mana per turn. Spellcasting V is the highest level, generating 25 mana per turn. Note that a leader will generate 5 more mana in addition to these amounts.

"Channeling" is simply a measure of how much spellcasting a hero can do in a single turn. For each level of Spellcasting a hero can cast 10 mana worth of spells per turn (up to a maximum of 50 at Spellcasting V). For example, Healing Water costs 10 mana to cast… a hero with Spellcasting II could cast that spell twice in a single turn. Many spells are expensive and will require multiple turns to cast. For a hero with Spellcasting I, Town Gate (50 mana) will take 5 turns to cast, while a hero with Spellcasting V could cast it in one turn. 

1.11. What does having more than one sphere of the same magic do for me?

Having more than one sphere of the same magic (Air, Death, etc.) does two things: it determines what level spells will be available to you, and how much mana you’ll get out of that sphere’s specific magic node. Note that you can only pick up to 4 spheres of the same magic.

Each magic has 4 levels of spells available. If you want all 4 levels of Air magic, you must pick 4 Air spheres. 2 Air spheres will only let you research up to level 2 Air spells. It’s worth noting that you can purchase and use spells from a Wizard Tower that might be beyond your level of spheres, or even of a sphere you don’t have any of.

On most maps, there are magic nodes that will generate mana for you if you control them. There are generic power nodes that provide 10 mana to all owners, and specific magic nodes for each sphere of magic (Air, Death, etc.) How much mana these specific nodes generate depends on how many spheres you have of that magic. The more Air spheres you have, the more mana you’ll get out of Air nodes. If you don’t have any spheres of a particular magic, you won’t get any mana from that sphere’s nodes. 

1.12 Are there any secrets or Easter eggs in AoW?

I don’t know about Easter eggs, but there are 4 secret spells in the game. You can only get them from Wizards Towers, and then only if they’re setup to sell one of them, or are set to a random spell and you get lucky. They are:

Cosmetic Surgery – This spell is just a joke, you can change the portrait of a unit to that of a hero.

Conceal Area – This spell will cover up a portion of the map that has been explored by another player, much like the Executioner’s Trail of Darkness ability. Sounds neat, but not very useful. Strangely, you have to be at war with someone to cast this spell.

Summon Mermaid – This spell summons up a mermaid, a pretty weak unit that can swim but not cross land. No special abilities.

Summon Syron – This spell summons up a Syron, a powerful unit with lots of immunities, the only unit with Magic Immunity. The only secret spell worth having, but it’s expensive to cast and Syrons are tough to keep under control.

Beyond that, there are a few units that can’t be built or summoned. They only appear randomly in dungeons and caves, or are specifically placed on a map. They are:

Druids – Basically a Priest/Shaman with Entangle and Lightning Bolts

Mummies – Mediocre fighters with good hit points, regeneration, and a few immunities

Sea Serpent – A tough swimming-only creature, OK attack and defense but great damage

Wolf – Poor fighters with forestry… not much at all 

1.13. I noticed that a Goblin Bomber just walked into an empty city of mine and captured it. The city was empty, but had city walls. How did he get through?

Empty cities with walls can be easily captured by units that have a way to defeat or bypass city walls. Presumably, the computer checks that an attacking party has at least one unit that flies, has Wall Climbing/Pass Wall, or can inflict Wall Damage (like Battering Rams and Catapults). If there is at least one unit like that, then the city walls aren’t an obstacle.

Goblin Bombers have the Self Destruct ability that when used kills the Bomber and inflicts Wall Damage over a certain area. Silly as it may seem, the computer recognizes this as a way to bypass the walls, even though the Bomber would die in the attempt. This can also be aggravating since a single Bomber isn’t enough to blast a hole in a wall.

1.14. I’ve tried offering gold and mana to a rival leader, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. Is there a point to doing so?

Based on posts to this board (and my own experiences) bribery doesn’t get you very far at all. You usually need large amounts to get a response. Bear in mind that the AI gets a big bonus in gold production, so what might be a lot to you is usually a drop in the bucket to him. 

1.15. Does the AI ever use Builders?

Unfortunately no. The AI will never produce Builders, or use one given to them in a scenario. 

1.16. I keep running out of gold. What am I doing wrong?

In a lot of strategy games it is typical to keep a small force of units in each city to protect it from attack. In AoW, this isn’t really feasible or necessary. Fortifying a city with city walls will keep most units out of your cities, forcing them to come at you with slow-moving siege weapons (which you’ll hopefully see coming in time to respond) or units with flying or wall-evading abilities (only available later in the game). The cost of fortifying a city once (wooden walls) is usually less than a handful of archers or swordsmen. Most important, walls don’t require any gold to maintain.

Building even cheap units in every city hampers you in three ways. First, however cheap, it costs gold to produce those units. Second, while building units the city isn’t producing merchandise which further increases gold output. Third, and most importantly, the maintenance costs for all those units really starts to add up. 

1.17. Is there a way around Poison Plants, Holy/Unholy Woods and Pestilence clouds? I can’t seem to move around them.

The computer assumes you wouldn’t ever want to move through hexes that might harm you. If you click on a destination the computer will at all costs try to move you around these obstacles, even if moving through them is the quickest (or only) way. You can move through these obstacles, but must do so one hex at a time. Move right up next to the obstacle then click to enter it. Repeat until you’re all the way through. Note that you may take damage (including being poisoned/cursed/vertigoed) for each hex you move through.

It’s worth noting that the AI will never move into these types of obstacles. You can use this to your advantage by casting Poison Plants, etc. at choke points and temporarily prevent the AI from passing.

There are a few ways around these obstacles altogether. You can cast Holy/Unholy Woods on top of Poison Plants to remove them, or cast Holy Woods on top of Unholy Woods to remove them or vice versa.

Pestilence Clouds come in three varieties: those cast by the Pestilence spell, those that are a part of the map, and those placed by an Altar of Pestilence. The Pestilence spell can be disjuncted, while those placed by an Altar of Pestilence will expire after a few turns. Those placed on a map are permanent and will either stay in place or drift. 

2. Campaign Questions

2.01. I can only pick three magic spheres at the start of the campaign. Is there a way to earn more?

Any campaign starts you off with only three spheres. As the campaign progresses, you’ll get two more, followed by two more near the end of the campaign. 

2.02. In the first scenario of the Cult campaign I can’t figure out where to go.

They start you underground for a reason. The Goblin Big Beetle has the Tunneling ability that lets it dig through brown dirt (but not gray rock). Move the Big Beetle through the dirt wall to the north to get to the other cave entrance. You have to move the Big Beetle by himself for Tunneling to work, just separate him from any other units, dig the tunnel, and then move in the others. 

2.03. I’m having a really tough time with a particular scenario, what can I do?

Without getting into specifics tips and strategies (check out the AoW forum for that) there are a few scenarios (Hall of Heroes, Gabriels Last Stand, etc.) that many players find much more difficult that most others. Usually the best tactic is to "rush" the enemy leaders. Since all campaign scenarios are played with "Leaders on the map" killing an enemy leader will remove that side from the game. When a leader is killed, that sides armies and cities will all revert to independent status, usually making them much less of a threat. It’s worth noting that killing the leader will immediately end the current battle, so if you concentrate on killing him you won’t have to eliminate the entire stack. 

2.04. I’m allied with the only remaining leaders on the map, but the scenario won’t end. Isn’t this an allied victory?

Two things… first, make sure that "Allied Victory" is enabled for this particular scenario. You can find this at the start of the scenario, or under game information in the menu. If it isn’t, then you can’t win the scenario that way.

If it is enabled, you have to get all the remaining leaders to ally together. It’s not enough that you’re allied with everyone. For example, suppose that you, as the Humans, are allied with the surviving Orcs and Frostlings. The Orcs and Frostlings must also be allied in order to win an allied victory. Note that, depending on the alignments of the remaining leaders, an allied victory may be difficult or impossible to achieve. 

3. Unit Questions

3.01. What do the little medals displayed on some units mean?

Units can, with experience, earn those medals, which indicate veteran or elite status. Earning a medal increases a units stats, and in some cases gives a unit new abilities. 

3.02. I’m getting slaughtered by Wraiths! I can’t seem to do anything against them… what can I do?

Wraiths, along with Incarnates and Air Elementals, have the Physical Immunity ability that renders them immune to most forms of damage. Units must have Magic Strike to kill such units. Enchant Weapon is an easy way to give any unit Magic Strike, while a few have this ability naturally. Certain items will give heroes this ability as well.

Note that Wraiths and Incarnates are also susceptible to Holy Strike, and that Wraiths are only partially protected against Lightning. Nordic Glows, Water Elementals, and any unit with the Liquid Form spell have Physical Protection, which cuts most damage in half. 

3.03. Besides their immunities, what good are Incarnates?

There are plenty of posts on how to use Incarnates. They are the most unconventional unit in the game, relying on their Possession ability to inhabit the bodies of their victims. Most notably, you can use Incarnates to easily control enemy and independent heroes. 

3.04. What’s better… Seduce, Charm, or Dominate?

All of these abilities can be used to gain control of enemy units. Seduce and Charm, however, will only work on male humanoid units (not creatures or machines). Dominate will work on anything (except machines). Seduce has the lowest chance of success, while Dominate has the highest.

3.05. What does Magic/Holy/Death/etc. Strike do?

Special strikes in the game allow the unit to strike with a different form of damage than the usual Physical Damage. Most of these include some secondary effect. This effect will only happen if the target is successfully hit and does not resist. Note that right-clicking on an ability or effect in the unit description does not always give a good (or complete) explanation of what it does. The list below explains everything:

Cold Strike – Target is –2 Defense and unable to move/act for 2 combat turns.

Death Strike – Target is –2 Defense and Resistance and is unable to heal naturally for 3 days.

Entangle Strike – Target is –2 Defense and unable to move/act for 3 combat turns.

Fire Strike – Target is subject to damage (attack 4, damage 1) for 3 combat turns.

Holy Strike – Target is –2 Attack and Defense for 3 days.

Lightning Strike – Target is –2 Defense and unable to move/act for 1 combat turn

Magic Strike – No secondary effect, but will damage units with Physical Immunity.

Poison Strike – Target is –1 Attack, Defense, Resistance, and Damage for 3 days.

Cause Fear (essentially Fear Strike) – Target is –2 Defense and resistance for the rest of this combat.

Note that certain other abilities and spells also include the above effects in addition to whatever damage they inflict (Frost Bolts deal Cold damage, Flame Arrow deals Fire damage, etc.). 

3.06. What’s the difference between Flying and Floating?

Both allow "flight" over obstacles on the main map (mountains and water) and speed movement over woods and hills. The difference is in tactical combat. Units with Flying can only be attacked by other units with flying, or that have a ranged attack (like archers and ballistas). Note that while ground units can’t attack flyers, they will strike back when attacked. Units with Floating, on the other hand, are just hovering a few feet off the ground and can be attacked by anyone.

4. Editor Questions

** Note that this section of the FAQ will address the more technical aspects of the editor rather than the tricky art of creating scenarios. The editor itself is fairly easy to use… making well balanced, exciting scenarios isn’t. The AoW forum is a good source of information and hints on how to create scenarios, but simply examining scenarios made by others to see what makes them tick is probably the best way to learn the ins and outs of scenario design. For more information on using the editor check out Bluecollarheaven’s Custom Map Maker’s Resource Site at:

4.01. I’ve noticed that in the Item editor you can create scrolls with magic spells, but when I use them in a map they don’t do anything. What’s the deal?

Scrolls were originally to be a part of the game, but were ultimately not used. It has been stated that the designers felt Wizard Towers were a better or more attractive way of making spells available. While they do not function in the game, scrolls are still present in the editor. 

4.02. I’ve noticed some downloadable maps use surface terrain like grass and snow underground. How can I do this when the only tiles available are dirt?

So called "terrain tricks" let you use surface terrain underground. While maps like this will play on any version of AoW, you must use the original, unpatched AoW Editor to make maps like this. Here’s how:

Put a city or other location underground.

Go back to the surface of the map and select "options > player info."

Double-click on the name of the underground city that appears in the player info window… that will take you to the location underground, but the surface tiles will still be available.

When you’re finished, load the map into the newer 1.36 editor and save it from there.

Note that some players have reportedly had problems playing maps that use "terrain tricks". Two issues in particular have been noted in the forums:

Don’t use Altars underground. Most change terrain in addition to their combat affect which (considering it’s changing terrain that shouldn’t be there in the first place) can cause problems like graphics glitches and crashes.

Don’t use surface water underground… use the underground water. 

4.03. Can I create a scenario with a timed victory condition, like the campaign scenario where you have 20 turns to capture a specific city?

You can, but not in the same way the campaign scenario works. That scenario must use some mechanic other than what’s available in the editor, as the player is given notice when there are less than five turns remaining. Here’s how to add a "timer" to any scenario:

  1. Set the scenario winning conditions to "Capture Locations", note that this doesn’t mean the player has to capture a location to win, you can simply give him so many turns to defeat the other leaders.
  2. Create a small cave underground and surround it with rock if there’s a chance the AI or player might be able to dig into it. The cave need only be 3 hexes in a straight line.
  3. In the first hex, put in a Builder’s Guild and set it as a victory location for one of the AI races. Also set it to no defenders.
  4. In the next hex, add a single-hex fire wall and set it to expire in however many turns you want the player to win by.
  5. In the remaining hex, put in a single unit (a swordsman will do) and assign it to the AI race you set the Builder’s Guild to.

That’s it. After the fire wall expires, the AI unit will move in capture the undefended Guild, winning the scenario. If there are more than one AI race in the scenario, you may need to setup a "timer" for each race in case the one you setup is defeated first. Make certain you note in the scenario description how long the player has to win as there is no other warning provided. The scenario will abruptly end when the time expires and display a "victory" for the AI player.

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