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Age of Wonders 4 Dev Diary #15 - Victory Conditions

Hello again aspiring Godir! Sam Minh here, I previously wrote the Dev Diary on Cities and Expansion. For the last Dev Diary before the release of Age of Wonders 4 on May 2nd, we will be taking a look at the final puzzle piece of any game, the way to achieve victory!

The different victory conditions are meant to do a few things while playing the game:

  1. Guide you to your next objective You can track one or more victory conditions and find out what the next necessary step is towards victory.

  2. Allow different playstyles The different victory conditions have different ways to achieve them, and even the same victory conditions can be achieved in different ways. They ensure that you can be an aggressive or defensive player, a diplomat, a conqueror or an opportunist.

  3. End the game when its done The victory conditions will declare someone the victor when they have shown a clear mastery over a particular aspect of the world.

There are four victory conditions available by default:

  • Military Victory

  • Expansion Victory

  • Magic Victory

  • Score Victory

We will have a deep dive for each victory condition, how you achieve them, and what playstyles and affinities would fit that victory condition. Lastly we will get a taste on how you can customize your own gameplay experience by changing realm traits and game settings to change how you go about achieving victory in Age of Wonders 4.


In the Quest tab, you can track one or more victory conditions and see what the next step is to achieve it. It also shows you what rank you are currently for each victory condition to get an indication to how you are doing compared to the other Empires.

Military Victory

The Military Victory is the most obvious way to win the game, by eliminating the opposition. In order to win via conquest, you will have to defeat all other Empires, be it human or AI. To defeat another Empire, you will need to make sure their Ruler is in the Void and their Throne City is conquered. This will cut the connection between the Godir and that realm, banishing them from the world. When you defeat another Empire, an event triggers that presents you with a few options on how to deal with their departure.



Another way to defeat another Empire is to make them your vassal, by becoming their Overlord. If someone accepts your request for vassalage, this basically means they admit defeat and won’t be in the race for victory anymore. They can still play the game as normal, but are tied to their Overlord and cannot engage in diplomacy on their own. If they do manage to achieve victory themselves, that victory will be dedicated to their overlord instead. 

By becoming a vassal, you can still continue to play with other human players without having to drop out of the game. And who knows, maybe your overlord will be gracious enough to lift your status as vassal, or someone else will manage to defeat your overlord…


Previous Age of Wonders titles often had a very explosive beginning because of players rushing other people's throne cities. In Age of Wonders 4 this is lessened with the Siege system (see the previous Dev Diary).. You can no longer capture cities with a single flying bird, nor can you quickly take a city when someone is slightly out of position. Combined with the extra defenses a Throne City gets, rushing them will be harder than before. Though someone who focuses on early game armies will still have an advantage over someone who is trying to boom their economy.


Chaos players will find a lot of synergy when trying to go for a military victory. Every Empire Skill will in some way reward aggression and conquest. Pillaging and razing will also fuel your economy and help you to get new units to the front line.


Materium is also a good choice for a military victory, especially for those who want to build up first and then crush their enemies with high quality troops. They also excel in sieges, both defensively, and offensively.

Order has a different way to bolster their military. They have many bonuses that improve the amount of units and the quality of units they get from the Rally of the Lieges. They also have bonuses that make it easier to create vassals from conquered cities, allowing them to consolidate before advancing.

Expansion Victory

The Expansion Victory is a more peaceful method to achieve victory. The first step towards this victory is to control a certain number of provinces in the world. The amount needed changes based on the size of the map. Once you reach the required number of provinces, you will need to build three Beacons of Unity in three different cities. 

Once you light the Beacons, a countdown timer of 15 turns will start. During this time rebelling forces opposing your unification spawn around the Beacons in an attempt to stop you. This also gives all other Rulers a last chance to stop you from winning the game and it prevents surprise victories.


As well as the provinces annexed by your cities, those owned by your free cities are also counted, as long as they at least have Bonded Vassalage with you. This is the level above neutral, meaning you have to invest time to nurture your vassals for them to count. Conquering vassals through force gives a negative relation penalty with them, making it harder for you to achieve a Bonded Vassalage with them. This means that the Expansion Victory works very well for more diplomatic playstyles.


Nature is a natural fit for the Expansion victory. A lot of bonuses increase city growth and province acquisition. It also gives bonuses to units inside your domain, such as healing or movement speed.


Order achieves this victory via the diplomatic angle. They excel in consolidating control over their vassals. Be it via gaining an extra Whispering Stone, gaining better Relations with Free Cities or by reinforcing them with extra units.

Shadow players are versatile and have some ways to benefit from vassals. They also gain access to an extra Whispering Stone themselves. With shadow players, you never know what their true agenda is.

Magic Victory

The Magic Victory is the most defensive victory condition. You don’t need to go out into the world to defeat other Empires or acquire more Vassals. To achieve this victory you will need to build three Affinity Province Improvements dedicated to a specific affinity, a Seed, a Root and a Heart. Each is unlocked after unlocking higher tier Tomes, so you will need to unlock a Tier 5 Tome for this victory condition. Once you have all three, you will start the final ritual. Similar to the Expansion Victory, a 15 turn countdown will begin. Hostile armies spawn that attempt to destroy the provinces and all other players will have a last chance to stop you.

Since you need to get a Tier 5 Tome, a high knowledge income is beneficial. It will allow you to be the first to start the final ritual for the magic victory. The Affinity Province Improvements cost a lot of mana, so you will also need to have an adequate amount of it to build all three of them. Finally, building the Affinity Province non-tradeable casus belli to all other Empires, as it signifies your intent to go for the magic victory. Together with the hostile armies that spawn during the countdown, you will need to have a good enough military to defend against these threats.

Affinity Province Improvements

The Affinity Province Improvements also have some extra effects attached to them. This incentivizes you to build them early and get the bonuses. The effects are as follows:


  • Unlocked with Tier 3 Tomes.

  • +1 of the affinity.

  • Research skills of the affinity are 10% cheaper.


  • Unlocked with Tier 4 Tomes.

  • +1 of the affinity.

  • Spells of the affinity are 20% cheaper to cast.

  • Buff and heal spells of the affinity also have an extra positive effect.


  • Unlocked with the Tier 5 Tome.

  • +1 of the affinity.

  • Debuff spells of the affinity also have an extra negative effect.

  • Damage spells of the affinity deal an additional 20 damage.


Victory Spell

During the 15 turns the ritual is channeling, you also gain two additional effects:

  • Mana and Casting Points of spells of the associated affinity are reduced by 50%.

  • Depending on the affinity, an extra Combat Enchantment is active while you are in combat.

This makes it easier to use your big spells to defend your Affinity Province Improvements. Or you might use it on the offensive and instead take out another Ruler.

With all these effects stacked together you will become the most powerful spellcaster and finally prove your magical superiority over all others. Let’s look at what bonuses an Astral player will have during combat:

  • Astral Spells cost 70% less mana and casting points.

  • Astral Buff spells also provide 2 Bolstered Resistance.

  • Astral Debuff spells also inflict 2 Sundered Resistance.

  • Astral Damage spells inflict +20 lightning damage.

  • Every turn during combat, a random enemy takes 15 mixed elemental damage and is inflicted with 2 Sundered Resistance and 2 Status Vulnerability.



Astral is a clear candidate for a Magic Victory. It has ample mana and research bonuses in the Empire Skill Tree, Society Traits and Tomes. And of course Astral is good at spellcasting, which is empowered even more via the Affinity Province Improvements and the Age of Astral spell.

Shadow is also good at acquiring knowledge. Some Empire Skills can give bursts of knowledge and a lot of Special province Improvements in the shadow Tomes provide good knowledge income.


Score Victory

The Score Victory is normally only triggered if a winner cannot be decided because of a stalemate. This would be quite a rare event with the different ways to achieve victory. But if after a set turn amount (150 turns by default) no winner is decided the game ends and a winner is chosen with the highest score. This turn count can be reduced, increased or turned off entirely.

Score is based on how well you are doing 5 different aspects of the game: military, diplomatic, economy, expansion and research. Each category keeps track of certain actions you have taken in the last few turns and scores them. Military score for example, gets higher the more units you have and the more battles you win. These categories also inform your ranking in each victory condition. Your final score for the Score Victory is based on the position you have in all 5 categories.


Story Realms & Traits

Story Realms

Each Story Realm offers a unique narrative with other paths towards victory. They are often a shortcut towards victory when the story has reached its conclusion. The condition is often the defeat of your main rival in a realm, but the way to achieve that can differ. You can get quests that allow you to forge an alliance with one of your rival’s vassals and make them rebel against their overlord.

But this does not mean you cannot go for any of the other victory conditions. Often the story realms keep the other victory conditions (except score victory) so you can still go for them when they become convenient or when they suit your narrative.

Presence Traits

Presence Realm traits add specialized Rulers which present unique challenges. Some of these Presence Traits include a unique victory condition granted by completing a quest. For example, the Pretender Kings Realm Presence Trait adds 3 Rulers that start off more powerful than normal and are locked in a war with each other, this Presence trait adds a victory condition that demands each of the 3 Rulers is either Allied with or defeated.


Other traits may have simpler quests, the Demon Prince trait, for example, just requires the defeat of the Demon Prince himself.

Realm Traits

Some Realm traits may interfere with your normal path to victory. Megacities for example restricts players to only a single City which makes Magic or Diplomatic victories impossible, requiring players to pursue more aggressive paths to victory.

Another is Crystalline Abundance, which makes Mana nodes abundant on the world map. This allows you to build more Research Posts that produce knowledge than you would normally have. Or you can use it to build more Conduits for mana and create an army of summoned units to crush your enemies.


Victory Settings

Outside of the Campaign, you have full control over which victory conditions you want to be active. The Score, Magic and Expansion victories can be disabled entirely. You can also change other settings during realm setup, such as the Game Speed, which changes the pace of the game and thus how quickly you can achieve victory. Among other things, Slow Game speed increases the cost of knowledge a research skill requires and the food cost a city needs to acquire a new population. This means a Magic Victory will be harder to achieve, but you will have more time to maneuver armies and settle things in wars.

Allied Victory

Another setting you can change is whether or not to allow Allied Victory. In team games this is turned on by default. But in open diplomacy you can create or break alliances at any time. When Allied Victory is turned on, you achieve victory if anyone you are allied with achieves victory. For the conquest victory this means that any allies are excluded in the victory condition and you both win if you and your allies are the only ones left standing.



There are many ways to achieve victory, not just in which victory condition you want to go for, but also in the way you want to achieve that victory. You can focus on your victory when creating your faction, making every decision with a specific goal in mind. You can make a balanced faction that could go for any victory. Or you can make it up as you go, capitalizing on opportunities as they present themselves.

Every victory will give you XP for your Pantheon, which you can use to unlock new cosmetics, society traits, realm traits and more. After a victory you can also ascend your Ruler into your Pantheon. Whether it was through conquest, diplomacy or a mastery of magic, all victories contribute to your pantheon progression. Check out this Dev Diary to learn more about Pantheons.

And that does it for this last Dev Diary before the release May 2nd. I hope you are all looking forward to playing the game for yourselves! We certainly are looking forward to your reactions. It’s just a few more days, so let’s get ready!