Little Known Gameplay Tips & Tricks

This article is a collection of little known gameplay tips and tricks that was compiled from several forum posts. Some veterans who have been playing for more than a year didn’t even know about some of these little known facts! Do you have one to add? Send it in!

~ Angel Draco

The Game Interface

  • By clicking on messages from the Event Screen (lower right-hand corner of display) you can get lots of info and even review entire battles. Very useful for determining enemy forces that may be out of sight. Double click on a battle to view it in fast combat (FC) mode (even if it was played out in tactical combat (TC)). Right-click on the event and you will be shown where on the map that event took place (even if it’s still unexplored to you).
  • If your hero gains a level, but you’re not sure what you want to adjust right away, hit the “Cancel” button and begin your turn. Now you can check out your hero and decided what you want to power-up. To recall the “level up screen,” double-click on the “Hero gained a level” message from the events screen in the lower-right hand corner.
  • You can hold the cursor over the little faces on the relation screen to get an exact percentage number on your relations. It lets you know if you even have a chance to make any improvements. If you have a –100% rating, you might as well forget it.
  • You can hold the cursor over the leader faces on the relation screen to see the name of the leader of the race.
  • Over time, forests on the game map will expand and new trees will grow. This is mostly eye-candy.
  • Heroes gain 1 experience point every day (even if they do nothing). The AI’s heroes gain increased XP everyday depending upon the difficulty level. Josh Farley, programmer for Triumph Studios, provided this table:
Human Player+0% gold/mana+1 XP per turn
Squire+0% gold/mana+1 XP per turn
Knight+50% gold/mana+2 XP per turn
Lord+100% gold/mana+3 XP per turn
King+150% gold/mana+4 XP per turn
Emperor+200% gold/mana+5 XP per turn

Note: many, many players find the most difficult AI level, Emperor, to be -very- nasty. Josh Farely has advised that further AI enhancements in AOW 2: The Wizard’s Throne should make all AI levels even tougher, so be prepared!

City Management

  • If you leave one of your units standing upon a crop hex of an enemy city for one turn, the crops in that hex will disappear, reducing the city’s income. However, the crops will grow back within one turn of the unit vacating the crop hex.
  • When you click on a city and have its management screen up, try using the arrow keys and watch the image of the city at the top of the screen. See it move? You can scroll around the interior of the city this way. Not much value to this, merely novelty.
  • You can tell the upgrade level of a city from the number of gold dots at the top of its flagpole. Note – The game doesn’t do a good job of updating this info though. If a city upgrades say from level 2 to 3 you might not see the extra dot until you exit the game and load it up again, or open up a new turn in PBEM games.
  • You can click on an enemy city and, from the artwork on the side of the city window, tell if it’s: upgrading, building walls, being looted, or migrating the population.
  • You need at least “neutral” relations with a race to migrate another city to that race; even if you have one of the race’s cities under your control.
  • You need at least “polite” relations with a race to be able to buy a neutral city of that race.
  • You can migrate cities to any race as long as a city of that race is under your or your ally’s control.
  • If you capture a city or facility that is in the process of building/upgrading something you can cancel it and get some of the gold back, or let the unit finish training and then enslave it. Always check shipyards or builder’s guilds after you’ve captured them; the A.I. loves to build flame-throwers.
  • The more farms a city has, the more gold it makes per turn. If a city has forests right next to its walls, no farm can appear where that forest hex is so this is lost income to you. However, when you use a Builder to construct a road, it will demolish the tree hex and replace it with a road hex. Farms can grow on a hex with a road through it. Have you drawn the connection yet? Thus, you can use a builder to demolish the trees growing immediately around a city, by constructing a road all around the city. Farms will then appear on the newly plowed earth at a rate of 1 per turn. NOTE: Constructing roads can be tricky; you can only construct roads in a straight line. So if you have to turn the builder, stop it, select the “construct road” option again, and resume building until you run out of movement points for that turn.

Controlling Units

  • Want to build roads fast? Put a Builder unit on some type of land transport, click on the “construct” mode and then move the transport. Any sort of transport will do: Human air galley, Dwarven balloon, a FMDS (i.e., a Dragon Ship with the spell “Free movement” cast upon it). Thanks to FFBJ for discovering this!
  • In order to dig through dirt underground with a digging unit (like a Mole or Giant Beetle), your Mole needs to be by itself, or at least the only unit in the party selected to move. If so, you can move your cursor over one of the earthen (brown) areas to set a path, it should as a valid move (arrow overlay). Double-click and the Mole tunnels there, leaving a passage behind that other units can move through. You cannot tunnel through hard rock (dark gray) areas. Tunneling is slow and if the tunnel is a long one the trip generator may choose to go around instead, so you may have to move one hex at a time.
  • If an Undead Reaper (or any unit with the Path of Decay ability) walks over a Waters of Life healing spring, it will turn into a decayed Waters of Death pool. The graphic will change to green water and it will only heal Undead units and poison non-Undead units.
  • If a Frost Queen walks over a bridge in the Caverns or Dungeons, that bridge will become permanently impossible to pass. The same is true if the water under the bridge gets frozen by the Freeze Water spell. This effect is know as “The Slippery Bridge Bug”.
  • Left click the mouse button to deselect a unit, right click to inverse it. (you can select one unit out of a group by double-clicking).
  • You can enter a monster lair with a ram using Fast Combat (“FC”) and see all the units in the lair. Since the ram cannot inflict damage, it exits unharmed.
  • The spells Wind Walking and Free Movement work great on boats. Now a Dragon Ship is the “poor man’s” Air Galley! You can use them to transport units over mountains and water. Thanks to Aqualung for discovering this!
  • The spell Wind Walking gave units true flying in version 1.0 of the game. This made heroes far to powerful, and in a patch it was changed to only give floating. But some of the flying effects survived the change!
    • A Wind Walking unit can fly over walls on the Surface, both in Tactical Combat and in Fast Combat.
    • In the Caverns and Depths it can’t fly over the walls in Tactical Combat, but is allowed to attack walled cities and towers anyway. Bring along some units with ranged attack, and you can capture the the city from outside the walls. In Fast Combat it can fly over walls in the Caverns and Depths.
    • Air Mastery is supposed to double the movement of the caster’s own flying units, and half the movement of other races’ flyers. Floaters are not affected. The Wind Walkers belonging to the caster gets double movement (i.e. they work like flyers in this case), but Wind Walkers for the other races are not affected (just like floaters).

      Thanks to Unicorn77 and Nojd for discovering this!

  • You can cast the spells “Bless” and “Healing Water” on Air Galleys. A gold medal Air Galley can have a defense of 8 and a resistance of 7 this way; great for attacking dragons one-on-one. You can boost your Air Galley even more by giving it “Stone Skin”, “Liquid Form” and “Fire Halo”!
  • To prevent heroes from burning mana in FC combat in PBEM games, cast a spell that takes them more than one turn to complete. Cancel it after combat and you get your mana back.
  • Pressing F5 toggles a hex grid on and off, both in the tactical and strategic map. Seeing the hex spaces is extremely useful in judging how far you can stop from ranged units before you’re within their target range. This little secret is not listed with the other keyboard shortcuts on page 176 in the manual. Check out all of the Hot Keys.
  • As to attack ranges, just remember the “4-8-12” rule. Short range attacks like venomous spit have a range of 4 hexes, medium range attacks like archery and stone throwing have a range of 8 hexes, and long range attacks like ballistas and doom gaze have a range of 12 hexes.
  • Once you have scouted the area at both ends of a teleporter, the easy way to get an idea about them is to select a unit and click somewhere interesting. The closest path will be displayed – even if it is through 15 teleporters, and even if you have never gone through them before. The path finding algorithm knows the way. All rules for the path finding applies, so you have to have scouted the area for the path, and the path may not be blocked by units (that are not yours or your allies’).
  • In the campaign (although this will work on any map), after I’ve Stone Skinned, Blessed and Enchanted my leader, hero and selected bodyguards, I cast Town Gate. I then walk around with it ready. If I need spells in combat, I can cancel it in TC, and after it’s ready, it doesn’t take any more channeling points. You can keep it “ready” for emergencies, like an unseen army pops up to take your city. I can pop over there right away, and since it was “ready” a few turns ago, I’ve still got all my channeling points incase I need to cast spells against the enemy hero or leader.

Defense and Resistance

  • Defense will protect a unit against all attacks and spells that do damage.
  • Magic bolts, and most magic spells, target defense, not resistance.
  • Possess, Invoke Death, Dominate, (and some others) are touch attacks, and have to overcome both defense and resistance. First, you have to touch them (defense), then you have to affect them (resistance).
  • Resistance protects against “other effects” like curse, poison, frozen, stunned, entangled, as well as the spells Vaporize, Entangle, Slow and Turn Undead.

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