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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning


Jun 17, 2018
A poll run a long time ago put "Further balance 'leveling and mind-control' vs 'production'" as the #4 highest priority for the community:

Many things have already been done but more probably needs to be done. Disclaimer: the discussion is mainly for PBEM and SP, not for live MP. And it is about issues faced by veteran players, not beginners.

The problem:
AoW3 is a game where you need to explore & expand frenetically and it is normal that players very good at that are rewarded and wins. However, it is not normal that some classes or heroes have very significantly better ways to win compared to others, namely that not having a Theo, Rogue, Necro or AD hero / Leader means you're very likely to lose because you will not be able to access mind-control and will thus fall behind in clearing and army growth. It should be possible to win with only Warlord and Dreadnought heroes and Leaders.

One issue, which has been debated for a very long time and quite in-depth, is that mind-control should involve trade-offs. If a mind-controlled (MCed) unit has the exact same abilities and upkeep cost as a non-MCed unit but can be acquired for free and directly on the frontline, there is no interest in building a unit very far away from the frontline by paying its production cost.

Another issue is speed. Building an army without mind-control requires time so MC strategies should not be too fast, otherwise production strategy can never grow fast enough to beat them.

The competition goes further than just MC vs production. It's also MC + leveling up by clearing vs production. If you focus on building units, they start with no or few medals. If you clear your way through, you quickly get very powerful Elite or Champion units. The power surge needs to be slow enough for produced units to stand a chance.

In my opinion, MC rush should not happen before turn 20 and production classes should be more or less ready by turn 20. I think we more or less achieved that in the balance mod. Some might think the delay needs to be even longer and rushes should not happen before turn 25-30.

What has already been done in the balance mod:
The balance mod already implemented many changes to tackle these issues.

- MCed units cost +25% upkeep
- MCed units with Regrowth cost an additional +25% upkeep (for a total of +50%) [in v1.28]

- the strength of MC abilities has been reduced to decrease chances of success and thus, in average, the number of MCed units
- only Leaders and class units can get the full version of MC abilities (and only after some research). Heroes only get the Lesser version, which has -2 strength
- MC abilities are unlocked later and at higher costs for all heroes/Leaders

Slowing down leveling up:
- XP counters have been reduced for T1, T2, T3 and T4 (see Wikia for explanations on XP counters: https://age-of-wonders-3.fandom.com..._limit_of_experience_gains_per_strategic_turn)
- sites have been made harder, rewards have been reduced...

The situation has improved markedly but it might be necessary to do more. On top of the three previous directions, a fourth can be considered: boosting production classes (Warlord, Dreadnought). A specific thread has been opened for Dreadnought: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/foru...ought-class-hero-in-pbem-balance-mod.1160771/

What else should be done? Here is a list of ongoing or new proposals...

Mind-controlled units cost more in upkeep:+50% gold / turn (was +25%)

Necromancer heroes and leaders can choose Ghouling Strike at level 11 (was 9) for 8 points (was 7).

Rogue heroes and leaders can choose Lesser Charm at level 9 (was 7) for 6 points (was 5).

Theocrat leaders and heroes can choose Lesser Convert at level 11 (was 9) for 8 points (was 7).

Slowing down leveling up:
MC01 - further reducing XP counters for T3 and T4?
Current level is maximum XP interactions (XP counters) for each tier are 6/8/9/10 for tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, tier 4 respectively.

Boosting production classes
Here we need more brainstorming...

I see two ways to speed them up: increasing gold (or decreasing gold cost of units), or increasing production (or decreasing production cost of units).
I think the boosts should focus on early to mid-game and not affect late game, where Warlord and Dreadnought are already strong. A delicate balance also needs to be found because they should remain weak early game, as it's an important game design and game balance decision, which is justified by their strength late game.

One option could be to give them further discounts on T1 through class building for instance?

Highway Hoss

May 3, 2019
My first post!

The problem IMHO is that once a unit is mind controlled, that control becomes permanent. I suggest maybe find a way for MC units to break that control or give MC a turn duration. Anyone using MC units should face the possibility of a revolt. Maybe also give MC units a morale penalty.