Age of Wonders is an exceptional, critically acclaimed turn-based strategy video game series that has captivated us for over two decades with its rich universe of magic, fantasy, and epic battles. Developed by Triumph Studios and published by Paradox Interactive, Age of Wonders has grown to become a beloved franchise all over the world. With the upcoming release of the latest entry – Age of Wonders 4, we want to delve into the fascinating world of the series, explore its history, universe, gameplay, differences between its main titles, and ultimately answer the questions of why it is such a gem in the strategy genre.

History and Universe

The Age of Wonders series was first introduced in 1999 by the Dutch game developer Triumph Studios. The original game, Age of Wonders, set the foundation for the series and established its fantasy-themed universe. Over the years, the series has evolved and expanded with multiple entries, each building upon the rich lore and history of the world, as well as offering improved gameplay mechanics and enhanced graphics. In 2002, original game was followed by Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard’s Throne, then Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic in 2003, Age of Wonders 3 in 2014, Age of Wonders: Planetfall in 2019, and now the upcoming Age of Wonders 4 (set to release on May 2nd and available as pre-order right now).

The universe of the series is a complex and immersive one, filled with magical realms, diverse races, ancient lore, and epic conflicts. It has a rich and intricate lore that is central to its gameplay and world-building, set in a high fantasy universe where magic, mythical creatures, and ancient civilizations abound.

Age of Wonders’ lore itself is deeply rooted in its history, which spans millennia of conflicts, alliances, and cataclysms. The world has seen the rise and fall of powerful empires, the birth of legendary heroes, and the emergence of dark and sinister forces. The games in the series often feature compelling storylines that delve into that lore, revealing the ancient past and current events that shape the world.

Each of the wide range of races, comes with their unique backstory and culture. From the noble and honorable humans to the ancient and mysterious elves, the cunning and treacherous goblins, the fearsome and relentless orcs, and the eerie and undead creatures, the races of Age of Wonders are diverse and distinct. By playing we can delve into their origins, motivations, conflicts, and interactions, providing players with a rich tapestry of stories to explore and uncover.

And the same goes for the environments of the Age of Wonders’ titles. We encounter ancient ruins, lost cities, and forgotten relics that hold secrets and mysteries just waiting to be unraveled.

But probably the most fundamental part of the Age of Wonders universe is Magic. The series features a robust and intricate magic system, with different schools of magic, spells, and magical artifacts that players can wield. The lore of magic in Age of Wonders includes ancient tomes of arcane knowledge, mythical sources of power, and legendary wizards who have shaped the world with their mastery of the mystical arts. While we could go into detail about all of it, we believe that experiencing and learning about it first hand by playing these amazing games is the way to go.

To sum it up, from the ancient conflicts of the original Age of Wonders, through the political intrigues of Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic and the futuristic battles of Age of Wonders: Planetfall, to the upcoming lore of Age of Wonders 4, the series has a diverse and captivating universe that continues to evolve with each new entry.

Original game, sequel and its expansion

The original Age of Wonders game set the foundation for the series, featuring turn-based strategy gameplay with a strong emphasis on exploration, empire-building, and tactical battles. Players could choose from various races and classes, each with their own unique units and abilities. The game also featured a detailed map editor, allowing players to create custom scenarios and share them with others. The gameplay focused on building and managing cities, researching technologies, recruiting armies, and engaging in turn-based battles on a hexagonal grid. Casting spells, summoning creatures, and making diplomatic choices that affected the outcome of the game were all part of this amazing game.

Its sequel, Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard’s Throne, introduced new gameplay elements, such as the “Sphere of Influence,” which allowed players to expand their empire and gain control over strategic resources. It also featured a more refined combat system, improved graphics, and an expanded lore with new races and units.

The game also introduced a new campaign mode, offering a rich single-player experience with a captivating storyline. The core remained similar to the original, with players managing their cities, researching technologies, recruiting armies, and engaging in tactical battles. However, the addition of the Sphere of Influence added a strategic layer, where players had to carefully manage their territories to gain an advantage over their opponents. Storyline itself focused on a new threat to the world of Age of Wonders, with players embarking on a quest to stop an evil wizard from achieving ultimate power.

The next entry, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic brought a new layer of complexity to the series with the addition of the Shadow Plane, where players could summon powerful Shadow creatures to aid them in battle. It also introduced new races, units, and spells, expanding the gameplay options. Shadow Magic also included a new random map generator, adding replayability and variety. As previously, the gameplay remained similar to the predecessors. And when it came to a new campaign mode, players had to navigate the treacherous politics of the Shadow Plane and thwart a new threat.

Age of Wonders 3 and Planetfall

After the release of Shadow Magic, 10 years passed until we received another entry in the series, titled simply Age of Wonders 3. It marked a significant evolution in gameplay and graphics, bringing the series to a new level of depth and complexity. The game introduced a new hexagonal grid system for battles, improved audiovisuals, and a revamped combat system with more tactical options.

Players could yet again choose from a wide range of races, classes, and specializations, each with its own unique abilities and units. 2014’s entry also included a robust empire-building system, where players could customize their cities, research technologies, recruit armies, and forge alliances or engage in diplomacy with other factions. The storyline on the other hand focused on a grand conflict between the forces of good and evil, with players leading their chosen faction to victory in a sprawling single-player campaign.

5 years later Planetfall released, taking departure from the traditional high-fantasy setting and instead ventured into the realm of science fiction. Players found themselves in a post-apocalyptic future, commanding armies of various factions on a distant planet. The gameplay introduced new mechanics, such as customizable units, strategic city-building, and a dynamic diplomacy system.

The game also featured a branching storyline with multiple factions and storylines to explore, providing a high level of replayability. The combat system remained turn-based, but with new futuristic weapons, abilities, and technologies to utilize. Players could also research and unlock new technologies to enhance their armies and expand their influence on the planet.

Each entry in the Age of Wonders universe was very positively received both by players all over the world and critics. It all showed the undeniable excellence of the series and fortified its impact on the genre and gaming industry as a whole.

Age of Wonders 4

And all of it brings us here. To the upcoming, much-anticipated release of Age of Wonders 4. The excitement for this title is absolutely through the roof and for a good reason. Triumph Studios’ award-winning strategy series has emerged into a new age, evolving the game’s iconic empire building, role-playing, and warfare to the next level. A new storytelling event system and hugely customizable empires provide an endlessly replayable experience, where each game adds a new chapter to your ever-growing saga.

Powerful Wizard Kings have returned to the realms to reign as gods among mortals. The task to claim and master the Tomes of Magic to evolve our people, and prepare for an epic battle that will determine the ages to come is up to us.

We will explore new magical realms in Age of Wonders’ signature blend of 4X strategy and turn-based tactical combat and control a faction that grows and changes as we expand our empire with each turn.

And that empire can be the creation of our wildest fantasies. We’ll be able to craft our followers by combining bodily forms, societal traits and arcane powers and build anything from a clan of cannibal halflings to mystic moon elves, or recreate our favorite fantasy tropes.

Moreover, by seeking powerful tomes of magic we have the possibility to enchant our armies and further evolve our people that physically change as they morph into angelic beings or scions of chaos to face our enemies. Glory through brutal domination, cunning alliances, or ultimate arcane knowledge – we’ll decide how we write our legacy into the very fabric of the realm.

Every choice in Age of Wonders 4 opens up new possibilities and tactical advantages; deep, multilayered strategy allows us to try new tactics or explore new powers at every turn. The tactical turn-based battles known from all the previous entries bring our armies to life, showcasing their power in an environment shaped by our decisions. From skirmishes with roaming monsters to vast sieges with dozens of units on each side, with the addition of a morale system and more features, every battle brings a fresh challenge.

We can expect tremendous variety in empires, units, and environments to keep the game endlessly replayable. Age of Wonders is also more moddable and open-ended than ever in the series’ history.

With each game we’ll be able to either explore a new realm or simply create our own. Challenging new variations and combinations of locations and features, from frozen wastelands ruled by ice queens to desolated ruins where dragons roam – it’s all there.

There’s also a new event system that provides unexpected levels of storytelling for 4X games. We’ll see our decisions shape the world around us, from growing cities and roaming armies to world-warping magic effects. And while guiding our empire to greatness is our main goal, the story doesn’t end with our victory or defeat. We can ascend our rulers to an in-game pantheon and unlock ways to further customize the experience.

All in all, Age of Wonders is an incredible series of turn-based strategy titles. From its humble beginnings in 1999 to the upcoming must-have in the form of Age of Wonders 4, it has evolved and expanded, offering unique gameplay experiences in different settings.

With its blend of turn-based strategy, empire-building, and tactical battles, coupled with its deep lore and customization options, the series to this day continues to attract and engage players who enjoy the very best strategic gaming experiences. Soon our reign will begin again – check out the Age of Wonders 4 pre-order (because there are some really cool bonuses to grab) and we’ll see you in the realm of magic!