Age of Wonders 4 Watcher Update Available via Open Beta Preview

Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to announce that we’re putting the next update for Age of Wonders 4 into Open Beta! This previews some of the improvements that are part of the Watcher update, due later this summer. This coming update focuses on what we feel are the issues which are most important to you, and we’d love to get your feedback on what we’ve managed to do so far.

It’s important to remember that this is a work in progress patch. This means that it may be unstable or imbalanced, and that the features we’ve added may not work entirely as we want them to. It also means that we may revert certain changes later if we feel that they aren’t achieving what we want them to or if we’re inspired to replace them with something better! Instructions, Patch Notes and F.A.Q. are provided below…

Getting into the Beta – what you need to know
Before you try out the beta, there are some very important things to remember:

  • This is for Steam only – In order to keep things manageable for us, we are only able to support an open beta on the steam platform. Apologies for those of you who play on console or have the game from other storefronts, we hope to have the final Watcher update ready to roll out to all of you within the next 2 months.
  • Text is not translated – The changes in this update have all been done very recently, so there has been no time to translate any of the text to other languages. This means that this beta is English Language Only. If you play with another language then you will often see missing or incorrect text, which will make things very confusing.
  • Only use this in multiplayer if all participants agree – If you play a multiplayer game with the open beta, you will only be able to play with people who are also in the open beta. This includes games that you have already started before downloading the beta, so make sure you do not use the beta in multiplayer without checking with the other players first, once a multiplayer game session has been updated to use the open beta, you cannot go back to previous versions!

Don’t open an Open Beta save in an older version of the game
Once you make a save in the open beta version, that save may not function properly or may crash if you revert to an older version of the game. That being said, to access the beta you will need to do the following:


  • To switch to a custom branch in the Steam client, right-click on the game from the library page and select “Properties”.
Among the available tabs will be the “BETAS” tab.
Leaving Feedback
Since this is an open beta, obviously your feedback is important to us! We have created a subforum on the steam forums here. You can leave feedback and report bugs in the open beta here. You can also press the Report Feedback button in the in game menus and send us a message directly!

Complete Patch Notes
Check out the full list of changes here.

Research Pacing
Previously the cost of research was determined by the tier of the tome the research was in. This led to players researching lots of early game skills very quickly, acquiring too many Tomes and Affinity points, which caused a lot of serious balance issues.

To fix this we have implemented a system where the cost of skills in a tome depends on how many tomes you have unlocked previous to that tome. This means that the skills in the 5th tome you unlock will always cost roughly the same amount of research, regardless of whether it’s tier 1 tome or a tier 3 tome.

We have also reduced research speed in general, since we felt that players were accessing new units and spells so quickly that they didn’t have time to enjoy the things they unlocked before they were made obsolete by something new.

Magic Victory Rework
We had a lot of complaints that the magic victory was boring and too easy. After a lot of discussion we have decided to totally redesign the system so that it encourages players to engage more with the game world and other Godir.

In order to achieve victory you will need to annex a number of Gold Ancient Wonders (amount depending on the map) and then bind them with a spell that you can research once you unlock a tier 3 tome. When you unlock a tier 5 tome, you can then research the Age of Affinity spell which can only be cast once you have bound enough Wonders. This finisher works similarly to before, but now you need to defend your bound gold wonders, so no more turtling to defend 3 structures that you’ve hidden in the heart of your empire!

We have also disabled the independent armies that attack you during the final phase of the victory. Since your empire will be much more spread out to capture multiple ancient wonders, the AI controlled enemy rulers should be capable of trying to stop you.

Underground Layer
We know that a lot of people want more from the Underground experience and have been working hard to improve it. We still have a lot of improvements planned, but so far we have:

Underground cities may now annex surface provinces (and vice versa) by annexing provinces with cave entrances. This makes smaller underground pockets much more viable and introduces new strategies.
Removed the roaming marauder armies that can spawn when you excavate earth
Excavating the earth can now reveal guarded nodes, and infestations in rare circumstances
First pass at improving the generation process, specifically the placement of cave passages.
Improved the lighting to make the underground easier to read.

Spell Casting Limitation
We’ve been seeing issues, especially in multiplayer, of players casting multiple spells per turn on the world map. This undermines strategic gameplay by allowing players to quickly obliterate enemy armies with stacking damage spells, or rapidly heal and replenish depleted armies.

To combat this we’re trying out a one spell per turn limit on casting spells on the world map. You will be able to increase this limit to 2 by building the Channeling Chamber in your Wizard’s Tower.

Summon Spell Targeting
On a similar level we’ve noticed that the current rule of allowing summon spells to target any visible hex on the world map is also causing issues. Players are overly favoring summoned units over units constructed in cities since they can be summoned to the front line so quickly, as well as doing things such as sniping provinces by summoning units directly on top of them.

To fix this we’ve changed the summoning rules so that you may only summon units to hexes adjacent to your cities or your Ruler’s army. This means that you will still be able to use summoning magic to reinforce your main army, but in other cases they’ll need to walk like everyone else!

Increased Hero Upkeep
When you break the maximum hero cap, each hero costs 30 gold per turn upkeep. It was the intention that this would be expensive enough that players would only break the cap in emergencies, but we’ve noticed this isn’t really the case as this penalty does not scale with game phase.

To change that we’ve increased the penalty upkeep level to 15% of your gross gold income. This means that the upkeep you pay for each hero over the cap will scale up in price as your empire grows. If you are playing with the Chosen Destroyers or Megacities traits, then you will unlock a new line of buildings that you can build in your throne city to increase your hero cap without acquiring another city.

Hero Item Limbo
Age of Wonders 4 allowed players to instantly teleport items between heroes, which led to a number of exploits, such as all of a player’s heroes sharing the same flying mount to quickly move across the map.

We have now implemented a system that means, once a hero commits to removing an item from one of their equipment slots, it goes into limbo for a single turn. While in limbo, the item cannot be equipped by another hero and will also not generate income for Dragon’s Horde mechanics.

Strategic AI, Crashes and Multiplayer Stability
We know that these are a big priority for a lot of you and we’ve been working really hard to improve them across all fronts. Getting these things right is a huge task and very much a work in progress, but we hope you see big improvements in all 3 of these areas in this update!

Source: Age of Wonders 4 Steam Page

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