I'm not one for pleasantries, and the longer you spend reading this wall of text is less time you'll spend playing, so let's get right down to the basics.
Age of Chaos is a massively multiplayer online turn-based strategy game (MMOTBS). It is similar to a class of games loosely defined as "browser" games-you log in each day, play your turns, and you leave. There are no downloads required, you can play directly from your browser, and it's free. It's also the funnest damn thing you will play in a long time, provided you're willing to deal with a fairly steep learning curve
Did you say "steep learning curve?"
Whoa, well, hold on there. AoC's learning curve isn't really too bad, it's fairly easy to get a grasp of the basics and play reasonably well even during your first age, though. That's not to say that you'll be a contender for the Royal Palace-that comes with skill, experience, dedicated allies, and, well, luck. I personally have been playing this game for years, and have never come close to building the Royal Palace, but I have had a load of fun along the way.
Aoc is played in iterations called "ages." An age is a period of time, around 8-10 weeks, when players build empires from scratch and compete to build the Royal Palace. Once a champion emerges and sits upon his Royal throne, a new age begins and players start all over again. This means that only one player will "win" an age-the person with the skill and patience to complete the Royal Palace.
...so you're basically saying that I have no chance
Well, you can win, but it's not likely first time. The fun part of AoC is trying to get there. There are a zillion different strategies to try, and some empires have won by pulling off some pretty crazy stuff. I spend roughly five-to-ten times as long theorizing with my friends about different strategies than I do actually playing the game.
This sounds pretty boring
Then I really don't know what to tell you. I've played most of the popular video games for the PC, and for every console, and I love many of them; I'm kind of a video game nut. And I can honestly tell you that playing AoC was one of the most engaging and rewarding games I have ever played, with very little competition. If you have a problem with the game lacking graphics, or requiring a marginal time investment to learn, then nobody's keeping you-WoW can always use more players. If, however, you think you have what it takes to be a real contender for the Crown, then welcome aboard, Pretender. We have a long journey ahead of us.
So, let's begin, shall we?
As we have said, the goal of Age of Chaos is to build the Royal Palace. How do we go about doing this? We're going to start by taking a brief glimpse of some of the different elements of the game, but first, why don't we jump in and create our first empire?
Gildor is a sandbox age where you can create empires and experiment with different game mechanics and strategies. It is created with new players in mind: building points (we'll get to this in a second) for this age are doubled, and the age itself never ends. Furthermore, you can always delete your Gildor empire and start a new one if you want to test out a new strategy or race. Let's go ahead and create our first empire
Here is the splash page for AoC. You see on the left are various links to resources you'll use such as Race outlines, the forum, and the Wiki. On the right is where you log in. If this is your first time with AoC, you'll want to sign up for a new account (which is pretty simple). You only need one account for all of the ages you will play-every time you enter a new age, you create a new empire, but your account will be the same
Okay, so you have an account. To create a new empire, type in your information and select Gildor2(new player game) and click login
On this next page, you want to fill out details of your empire, and it's pretty self-explanatory. The "empire name" is your "real" name, the one that will be displayed on the scores page and identify you in messages. The ruler name, as far as I know, means absolutely nothing, as well as gender-pick anything you like.
Race, however, does have a substantial effect on how you play the game. You can take a look at the races page for a more detailed overview of each one, but for right now, let's just pick human-a fairly basic, versatile race; good at research, thievery and teaching.
So you've logged into your account, and you can now see your--
Wow, that's a lot of stuff!
Yeah. There's quite a bit of information here, that's for sure, and it can be pretty hard to try and take it in all at once. For now, let's focus on the core game mechanics. Specific actions (magic, thievery, war, exploration, marketplace, research, engineering) are a lot easier to understand once you have an understanding of the basics
There we go. Much better
At this point you might be saying, "Well, Bob, you've talked a lot about 'the basics', friggin' teach me the game already!" Fair enough; let's get to it. Keep in mind throughout all of this that I will be mentioning a whole bunch of stuff that you don't really need to know about right now-- all of the stuff that's essential to playing the game will be explained in depth, however, so don't feel like you have to look up every building name in order to fully understand what's going on. Your actions are fairly limited during the first 90 turns (what is called your time "in protection"-- other empires cannot interact with you (attack you) and you cannot interact with other empires), so you'll learn more about the different aspects of the game as you play
Age of Chaos is played in turns, which measure a unit of time passing in your empire. You gain a turn every 50 minutes, up to a maximum of 100 turns at a time. When you play a turn, your peasants (workers) produce resources, work on buildings, etc. Every turn, peasants in your empire die, migrate, and are born. Also, while you can perform most actions (like casting, attacking another empire, or thievery) without playing a turn, they require time to pass (playing turns) to recharge. We'll look at how this works when we look at actions, but that's down the road
Now, what is your empire made out of, exactly? Your empire can be thought of as a function of five key attributes:
Peasants measure how many people are in your empire. These people can be assigned different tasks, be it making resources, constructing buildings, casting spells, et cetera. In effect, everything you do in AoC requires peasants, so a big portion of AoC is gaining more land so you can support more peasants, and we'll talk about this more in depth in a bit.
Buildings are the heart of AoC. Buildings enable you to unlock new professions, hire more advanced military units, they provide bonuses to your workers, and of course, lead to building the Royal Palace itself. As such, builders are the most important profession in your workforce-again, we'll hit on what the different buildings are later.
Resources, as you see at the top of the page, are pretty self-explanatory. They are used mainly to construct new buildings, hire new military units, and construct siege equipment. Your basic resources are wood, cloth, stone, and gold, and we'll unlock different resources as we build more buildings.
Morale is a measure of how productive your peasants are as a whole. In fact, it is a direct multiplier-peasant output * morale = total output. For example, a single woodsman produces five wood at 100% morale, so he produces 2.5 wood at 50% morale. Keeping morale up is extremely important for maintaining a healthy empire, and can be increased by building morale-increasing buildings, maintaining a military, or other means.
Land is how physically big your empire is, and determines how many peasants your empire can support without overcrowding (low morale). Much of AoC is devoted to gaining more land either through military conquest or exploration, and we'll talk about these in-depth later
Peasants are your empire's working core. Let's take a look at your empire's population and the different areas where they can be assigned. Navigate to the "population" page under "infrastructure" on the left sidebar.
Right now, you can see five different professions. As you build more buildings, you will unlock more professions (including teachers, the second most important profession-we'll talk about them in a second), but for right now we have these five.
Now, you notice different columns containing different attributes.
Number ; the number of peasants currently employed in this profession.
Skill ; how skillled your workers are, ranging from 4 to 10. This is very important, as a peasant with skill 10 is twice as productive as a peasant with skill 5 (it's a direct multiplier) [editor's note: check this]. How does a peasant's skill increase? By hiring teachers, which we don't have yet (we need to build the school, first). The mechanics of teaching are fairly complex, but the basic idea is that your teachers produce a certain number of skill points which are spread out over your population. Each new peasant you assign to a profession comes in at skill 5, so the more skilled your workers are, the more it lowers the average skill of the workers in that profession. Since after every turn peasants die, emigrate/immigrate, and are born, your population is constantly in flux, and you need a constant number of teachers to continue training your workforce. There's a lot of theorycrafting on the optimal number of teachers for a given empire, but a general good rule to follow is to keep teachers at 10-15% of your population. Also, skill is highly influenced by racial bonuses. If you notice on the Races page, each race has bonuses and weaknesses to certain professions. A strong bonus means workers start in that profession at 7 skill and gain skill at a much faster rate. A bonus means they start at 6 skill and gain skill faster than normal, and a weakness means that they start at 4 skill and have a slower skill gain. Keep in mind your race's strengths and weaknesses as you assign workers.
Bonus % ; This is the percent bonus your workers receive from buildings and magic effects. Most buildings provide bonuses to certain professions, and as these bonuses accumulate they make your empire as a whole more and more productive. Try to build buildings that provide big bonuses to your important professions! Engineering school, for instance, should be one of the first buildings you build to, as it provides a 10% bonus to your builders - the only builder bonus in the game! Also, racial buildings usually provide a bunch of bonuses to your strong professions. Find out where your racial buildings are on the build path!
Expected ; Amount of [x] that your current level of workers are expected to produce.
Production ; The type of resource this peasant produces.
Lost last turn ; The number of workers in this profession that died or emigrated since your last turn.
Okay, so we have our population page. To assign workers, simply put the number of peasants you want in that profession and click "assign workers." If you don't have enough peasants (too many assigned), it'll return an error. Pretty simple. Remember to always keep all of your peasants employed - unemployed peasants don't produce anything!
Alright, so what kinds of jobs are these? Well, it turns out the jobs you start out with, along with a couple other ones you'll soon get, are really the most important professions in the game, so we're only going to talk about a few professions (there are 22 total in the game) here.
Builder... Ah, the builder. Easily the most important profession in the game. Most of your peasants are going to be builders, so make sure to keep them well-trained. How they work is pretty simple-- they contribute an amount of build points to your current building, and only contribute if you are currently building something, which means that you will be building something all of the time. A general rule for how many builders you employ is that build point per turn should equal total turns played, varying of course depending on what stage of the game you are in.
Farmer ; The farmer is another extremely important profession, as they provide food. Your peasants and your military eat food every turn, and if you don't have enough food, your peasants die by the masses and your military readiness shoots down. To check if you have enough food, you'll have to go to the advice page, which we'll visit shortly.
Merchant ; The merchant produces gold, the most important resource in the game. Gold is used for everything-constructing buildings, hiring military units, paying military units (upkeep), exploring for new land, or purchasing other resources in the marketplace or through ally trade. It is also the only resource which you can produce with two different professions, merchants and alchemists.
Woodsman ; Woodsmen provide wood, which, like quarrymen/stone, is used mainly for building new buildings Wood is also used for hiring naval military units and constructing siege towers. Wood also decays quite fast, which we'll talk about when we look at the advice page.
Teacher (need School) ; The infamous teacher. Like we talked about before, teachers are the second most important profession in your empire, as they can double the output of all of your other professions. The school should be the first building you construct, and you should always keep around 10-15% of your empire as teachers. Buildings that give bonuses to teachers, like the library, are highly valued, because they essentially increase the output of all of your workers
Alright, so there's a brief overview. You can look at what any profession does by simply clicking on it's name. What it produces might not be obvious, but more guides will be coming to explain each game mechanic in sufficient depth
Now, let's assign some peasants. Spreads during the first 90 turns (the turns "in protection") are kind of weird, but let's take a simple one to see what an average spread looks like.
That looks alright. Notice, your merchants came in at skill 6-this is due to your human merchant bonus. They'll also gain skill faster than other professions, making humans ideal for the land rush early strategy (we'll talk about your first 90 turns after we cover the basics). Now, navigate over to the "advice" page under "infrastructure" on the left sidebar.
The advice page contains projections on how many resources your empire will produce in one turn. It's pretty self-explanatory-- you can see the production, how much your peasants use, and the expected change to your total resources
Notice the second-to-last row - this is your expected decay for this resource. Decay is the amount of each resource you lose each turn, either by rotting away (wood, cloth, and food), gold lost in the accounting books, or whatever. Different resources have different decay rates, but they're all based off of how much of the resource you have. If you have a lot of unused food, for instance, a lot of it is going to rot away. This means we need to keep excess resources to a minimum, as to minimize the amount of production we lose through decay. Organizing your empire so it produces just enough resources is hard to do, and takes a lot of skill to do with maximum efficiency. Fortunately, you don't have to care too much-it's not going to cripple your empire or even hamper it significantly, but it's something to keep in mind (especially for buildings that require heavy amounts of a particular resource). Oh, and certain buildings reduce decay on certain resources, as well as preservation research. Always look on your advice page when you're trying to save up a specific resource (e.g., for a building), because this will give you a more accurate reading of how much of each resource you're producing per turn
One last thing-you'll notice that food production (expected change) is negative. That's fine, because we don't really need the excess food, but make sure you don't reach zero food or your peasants will starve!
Now that we've looked at population and production, let's look at buildings. Buildings are fairly straight forward. They cost a certain amount of each resource to begin construction, and then require a certain number of build points (BP) to complete. Buildings both require and are prerequisites for other buildings, so figuring out your build path is very important to your overall strategy. The whole building tree can be seen here. Once you build a building, it's effects are permanently added to your empire, and you can continue along your build path.
Rather than list some buildings here, we'll talk about early build paths at the end of this guide when we talk about the first 90 turns. For now, let's head over to the buildings page, again under infrastructure on the left sidebar
As you can see, the only building you can build right now is the construction yard. You'll notice the cloth, gold, and wood requirements, as well as the amount of build points required for completion. Click on "Build Now" to start construction, and then go back to the buildings page.
You'll notice your current building is displayed at the top, with the total you've built (0), the BP you need total (70), and your current BP production (62), with an estimated time of completion. I'll take this time to note that your building points do not carry over-any excess build points you produce on the final turn of constructing a building are lost. Also, you'll notice is the red-colored resources next to the building requirements, which means you don't have enough of that resource to start construction on the building
These tools allow you to effectively allocate your peasantry to continue building towards your goals all of the time. To effectively plan a build path, you need to figure out a) what you plan on building to, b) what resources you need, and c) how meany peasants you need in each profession to achieve the desired levels of output
For example: Like we mentioned earlier, we want to build the school as soon as possible. You'll notice it requires 280 wood, and we only have 50. Looking at your advice page, you realize that you're only producing 15 wood per turn, and your construction yard will be done in 2 turns, which means you'll be severely short on wood by the time the CY is done. Thus, we can assign more of our peasants from builders to woodsman, synchronizing wood production with building production to have them be finished at the same time
Now, you might ask; why do we need to do this? Can't we just fire all builders at the end of next turn and make them woodsmen? Well, right now you can with little consequences, but once you have teachers, moving around your peasantry to and from different professions murders your skill. Remember, peasants do not retain skill from earlier jobs - once they change jobs, they start fresh at 5 skill and have to work their way up again. Therefore, large shifts in employment is highly advised against, unless you need to quickly build a military unit or you're running a specific strategy. In general, though, try and plan out where you put your peasantry so they have just the right level of production - and then put everything else into builders. It's not very hard to learn, but extremely hard to perfect, and it's what makes the great AoC players great.
So, let's go back to our population screen, and beef up our woodsmen. Take out 35 builders and put them into woodsmen, and let's see our new numbers. You'll notice on your buildings page that your expected time to build the CY has increased to four turns, and on your advice page you'll notice that your woodsmen are adding around 60 wood per turn. 60 production * 4 turns + 50(current wood) = 290, which is around what we need for the school by the time the construction yard finishes. You can adjust your population as you play your turns to try and get it as close as possible, but this kind of micromanagement has a negligible impact on the game-as long as we're thinking about resources and planning at least a little bit, we'll be fine.
This example gives you an insight as to what kind of decisions players have to make while playing turns and building an empire. Later, this will get more complicated as we have to juggle other factors, such as our military, our thievery, and our spell protection, but for right now, this is how you manage building and resource production
We've already covered resources in sufficient depth, but I'd like to take this time to introduce you to the marketplace, which is a very useful tool if you end up mismanaging your resources. Head over to the "marketplace" under "infrastructure."
First, notice that big text; the market is only accessible out of protection, which is fine. You'll see a couple of attributes listed that are fairly self-evident. The prices are all in gold pieces, which is why gold is (arguably) the most important resource for your empire (and also the easiest to produce). The amount of each resource available depends on how much people sell back to the marketplace, and they also replenish steadily over time. If you end up short on resources for the next building once you figure production, head over to the marketplace to see if they can supplement you
Also, if you have an ally, you can use the ally trade function similarly to purchase resources cheaply from your ally. Keep in mind that the ally trade function only become available after 500 turns of a continuous partnership.
Other than that, like I have said, resources are pretty self-explanatory. There are a couple of ones you will encounter soon that are a little weird, however, such as:
Mana ; Mana is strange in that your empire produces it naturally, based off of your number of peasants. The amount of mana each peasant produces is random, and increases as you build mana-producing buildings (in particular, the mana batteries, summoning muster, life focus, and windmill). Mana is used mainly for your magical units, and if you don't have these units you pretty much aren't doing anything with your mana-feel free to sell it to the marketplace as you make it for some cheap gold.
Ore ; Ore, which you obtain after you build the mine, is only used for producing other resources. Weaponsmiths, Armorers, and Alchemists all consume ore when they produce their particular resource, so try and keep miner output level with the output of your ore-consuming professions. Armorers in particular are of interest to you, as every empire needs to defend itself with shields, but we'll talk about military later.
Views ; You'll notice I left out talking about seers during my talk on professions, and it's not because they're not important. Views, which are produced by seers, allow you to look at other empires around you to view their military, current buildings/walls, population, or other things, and they are highly valued when scanning other empires to attack. You consume an amount of views equal to the amount of land of the empire you're trying to view. In either case, you don't need to worry about them now, as you'll most likely be defensive for at least the first 200 turns of the game.
I won't spend too much time talking about morale, because it's pretty easy to grasp. As your empire's morale increases, your peasant's output increase by exactly that percentage . Morale is gained and lost through several functions;
Having a military ; Simply having at least one military unit increases morale by 1%, so it's important to buy 1 militiaman at the beginning of each age to give you that easy bonus. After that, whenever your military increases in size you get a small morale boost, and whenever your military decreases in size you lose some morale temporarily.
Buildings ; A lot of buildings add morale, and this will be your primary source of morale. The pub, theatre, and art gallery are early buildings that give cheap morale, and the faster you build them the more benefit you will gain from them overall. Some buildings, however, like the grand mine and the inn, actually reduce morale. Remember this before you construct these buildings. br>Also keep in mind that racial buildings usually produce a lot of morale at a very cheap cost, and most empires will bee-line to their racial buildings as soon as they have the basics mainly because of this morale boost.
Previous morale ; For every 10% morale you have over the base (50%), you will gain an extra 1% morale from a "previous morale" bonus. So if you're sitting at 59% morale, and gain 1%, you are in effect gaining 2% morale because at 60%, the previous morale bonus will kick in and put you at 61%. Keep this in mind once you get entertainers, a profession that produces extra morale-- if you can push your empire over that hump, it will end up being very efficient.
Space ; We'll touch on this when we talk about land, but if you have too many peasants on your land (if you have > 1.5 peasants per land), you will suffer a morale penalty called overcrowding, which increases pretty fast with more peasants. Similarly, if you have more than enough land to accommodate your peasants, you will receive a morale boost. Generally, it's a good idea to keep peasants around your land limit to maximize productivity, which the game stabilizes for you pretty well (it used to be much more complicated back in my day...we'll leave it at that.).
Other ; there are also a handful of other factors that increase/decrease morale: Once you obtain engineers, wall coverage increases morale by quite a bit. Spells, such as banish curse or joyous entertainment can increase morale. As we have already said, the entertainer profession increases morale by a small amount. Races also get other special bonuses to morale, such as the orc's morale bonus from a military victory, or elf's merriment research.
Your current morale can always be viewed in the top-right corner of your resource header, and the advice page lists all of the factors currently affecting it. Remember to treat your peasants nicely-it's worth it in the long run!
Finally, let's talk about land. Land is uber important in Age of Chaos, and most of your time not building will be spent figuring out how to defend your land, and pillage it through others. Land is important because it directly determines how many peasants your empire can support, which directly correlates with productivity. Learning the most efficient ways to obtain and keep land is the hallmark of a good player, and one that requires a fair amount of skill to pull off
The main method of obtaining land is through military conquest, which, while easily being the most fun part of AoC, we will not be talking about quite yet. The reason is that military conquest is not very effective at least until you get swordsmen, which come a little bit later. The main method of gaining land early in the game is through exploration. With exploration, you pay gold and gain that much land. It's pretty simple. Let's navigate over to the "explore" page under "infrastructure," and see what we have
Like I said, pretty simple. Go ahead and enter 9 into the box and click "explore land."
You'll notice that your land increases by 9, bringing you to 159 land. The immediate effects of this are very little-your morale will boost slightly. However, peasants will immigrate to your empire at a faster rate, and like we've already mentioned, you will be able to support more peasants total without overcrowding
Okay, so now we have 159 land. Let's head back over to the explore page really quick
You'll notice two things. First, the cost of land per acre has increased to 1,094.58 gold per land. This is a substantial increase, and is the reason why what you just did was a glaring mistake. Always try to buy land in bulk, because every piece of land is bought at the stated value (in this case, you purchased 10 land at 986.32 per ace, costing you 9863.2 gold). If you had bought this same amount of land one at a time, it would have cost the increased amount for each piece of land- 986.32 for the first land, 998.18 for the second piece, and so on. This is why the most common starting strategy, and arguably the most effective, is to save enough gold where you can purchase 250 land (the maximum amount you can purchase at 1 time) all at once, at the super-cheap starting rate of 986 gold a piece. We'll talk about this when we look at your first 90 turns
One last thing to note-- exploration costs increase exponentially. Exploration can get really expensive near the end of the game, costing 20k-30k gold per land. This is why exploration is super cost-effective in the beginning, and military conquest is much more viable later.
Now that we have a rough idea of the basics of the game, let's go ahead and play a turn
Remember, you need to hire a single militiaman at the start of every age, no exception. Navigate over to your military screen (under "miilitary"), type in a "1" next to militiamen, and click "begin training."
Now, hit the "Pass Time" button at the top of the left sidebar. You should see something like this;
Now, as your empire grows and you have more professions, this screen will grow much larger and provide much more information. We rarely care about any of it. The important things you need to watch are food, which you want to stay healthily above zero, morale, which is good to keep an eye on, and peasants, which tell you how many peasants your empire gained/lost. Pretty simple, right?
And that's pretty much it for the basics. I recommend reading the [soon-to-be] first 90 turns guide to figure out what you should do to get your empire ready to face the outside world, but this tutorial should leave you with a solid foundation of the game's basics. If you have any questions, the forum is a wonderful place to ask them, as everyone there is usually pretty helpful. Thank you for your attention, Pretender, and good luck in your quest to win the Throne. See you on the battlefield!
First 100 turns | Professions | Races | Spells | Theft | War | Long Guide
Storyline Part 1 | Storyline Part 2 | Storyline Part 3 | The Rules | Rules of War