Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Invasions is the second expansion to the critically acclaimed 4x Strategy series. This expansion adds a ton of gameplay, a new race, a new NPC faction, world events, and new gameplay modes. After playing through this expansion over the last couple of weeks, I found Invasions engaging and well worth the time played.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Invasions Added Features
Since Invasions is an expansion to an already fleshed out game, I’ll cover the new features in detail before talking about my gameplay experience.
The most notable addition is the new lizardlike race “The Shakarn” that is stealthy and hungry for conquest. It is a race that can traverse water, giving them an edge. Shakarn comes with its own set of tech which includes mechanical hacks, propaganda, and holotech.
The new NPC Faction The Therians are space pirates that are easy to tame. I say this because the Therians are genetic mutations of humans with animal DNA. And they treat the players like dogs with quests titled, “Who’s a good boy” and “The Waking Earth.” (because dogs dig up the earth for treasure… Players must eliminate the creatures that come from below.) Anyways, doing quests for these space pirates comes with benefits like the ability to trade for sharpshooters or hunter camouflage.
In Invasions there are two new disaster mechanics that add an extra element of strategy to the already complex 4x game. The smaller disasters are world events that occur at random. In my playthrough, I encountered a couple of different ones like Earthquakes, Crystal Meteors, and Superstorms. Late game, players encounter Voidbringers events which are larger disruptions in a player’s strategy.
In my playthrough with the Invasions expansion, I did things differently than the base game. Originally, I opted to take every mission or quest to see what would happen, without regard for winning the campaign. (Those of you that read my previous review know that I have much more experience with Civilization than Age of Wonders, so I’m still learning the differences with this title.) As one would expect, I failed quite spectacularly since I made deals with factions who were warring against each other. I did not keep many friends in those playthroughs…
The Invasions expansion brings world events, a new race, and holotech, which suits my playstyle better. Most of the time, I lean towards covert operations where stealth and holotechnology shine. I welcome this new race with open arms.
The Shakarn Abilities
The first story mission which requires players to gain information from the Rift Reactors was quite simple with the Shakarn’s ability to walk on water. Moving units around the continent allowed me to pick up the intel without issue.
Not only did I manage to gather the intel required for the quest, but I befriended the Vanguard leader Daiyu Jiang and the Dvar leader Stanizord Zhelezo. This led to the discovery of personality traits which adds a layer of manipulation strategy to the experience. What better way to gather intelligence when players have open border pacts with the other commanders? *cackles* Sneaky, no?
Because my playthrough includes helping the Therians and befriending the other two commanders, I have no qualms with world events affecting my marauder skirmishes. I do have to worry about the pesky Paragons long enough to complete my ultimate mission.
Propaganda Usage in Invasions
One more thing I should mention about the stealthy race of the Shakarn is that they have access to propaganda. If unlocked, players access to Motivating Broadcasts and Disinformation Campaigns. Once a player researches more skills, other propaganda methods are available to use.
It shouldn’t need to be said that the motivation broadcasts are meant for the Shakarn people. Each colony with propagation towers gain 15 research points and the happiness of combat units in the area increases by 200. Of course, there are some minor drawbacks like the affected colonies lose 5 energy while it is active and the upkeep of the propagators increases by 25%.
The Disinformation campaign reduces relations with the other races by 300 for 15 turns. If the disinformation fails, then the player receives a drop of 100 with the other commanders. As a side note, that could compromise the Shakarns mission of stealth and intelligence gathering…
Later in the game, there are larger propaganda campaigns that players research through the tech tree. The next research in the propaganda tree is Unsettling Propaganda and Vigilant Broadcasting. Both of these types will cost significantly more than the previous level and awards the player appropriately to the success or failure of the broadcasts.
Invading Final Thoughts
Even though the Age of Wonders is a 4x strategy game with its own nuances, I find myself quite taken by this title and its DLC. I enjoy the complexity of adding world events that change a player’s strategies. Each event has a reasonable length of time, in my opinion.
Triumph Studios’ addition of a lizard race with primary abilities of stealth and espionage adds to Invasions appeal for me. I find that the inclusion of world events adds another layer to the strategy employed by the player. The new campaign and game modes help make the Invasions viable.