Golden Realms is the first expansion for Age of Wonders 3. It introduces a number of new featurers to the game and adds a lot of new content as well as some unique mechanics to the (already very good) base game. You are in for a treat with these new features:
- A new race: The Halflings (with their own campaign)
- A new neutral dwelling: The Naga
- Two new specializations
- An alternate victory condition: Seals Victory
- Empire Quests, Mystical City Upgrades and racial Defenses
- Two new scenarios
The Halfings are back, and they play quite different! The halflings are available for any class and of course also have their own (rather unique-looking) racial units (ever wanted to throw chickens at the enemy? Well, now you can!) They also come with their own campaign, making use of most of the new features added with Golden Realms.The "Lucky" mechanic
Being rather small fellows and not heavily armoured either all halfling units suffer a 20% physical weakness. To counter that they all have the brand new innate trait "lucky". Lucky units have a chance to completely dodge attacks (both physical and magical). The luckier you are, the higher your chance to avoid being stabbed to death. The lucky trait is in direct relation to the unit morale: happier units = luckier units; units with negative morale will no longer be lucky.
While other races have some means to get the lucky trait too (mainly by visiting the new "Lucky Cloverfield" structure) it is a central mechanic for the Halflings. With their physical weakness halflings need to uphold high morale for the chance to avoid hits. This makes for some very interesting battles, especially on terrain they don't like much.
Many existing and new abilities have also been revamped and given moral modifiers. Severely poisoned units now suffer a morale penalty for a few turns, while the new "Halfling Brewbrother" unit can prepare a feast for a friend, increasing their maximum HP and morale for the fight, for example.
The Neutrals: Naga
These slithering guys are the new neutral faction that you can encounter on random maps, adding to the existing dragons, giants, fairies and archon revenants. They come packed with 5 units (4 of those are new additions to the game, the other one is a Baby Reed Serpent) and a unique-looking city (which should look familiar to Age of Wonders 1 veterans). They are powerful melee fighters, but their matriachs also know how to weave a spell or two. Their scariest unit by far is the gigantic "Glutton". The "Swallow Whole" ability gives the glutton a chance to simply devour its target, using it as a snack and to regain health. Fret not though, as - more often than not - you will be able to "retrieve" your most recently devoured unit if you kill the glutton. All naga units (except the glutton and the reed serpent) have the "Regrowth" ability, allowing them to heal 20% of their HP every turn in battle and 100% of their health on the world map.
The Partisan and Wild Magic Adept + Master specializations have been added with this expansion.Partisan
focuses on guerilla-warfare and stealth. The spells you get with Partisan are mainly focused on concealing your units and lessening the cost of hiring neutral units/buying neutral cities.Wild Magic Adept and Wild Magic Master
give you access to highly powerful albeit very random spells. For example, "Spontaneous Mutation" gives all your units 2 "mostly beneficial" mutations for the duration of the combat, while "Unstable Transformation" allows you to transform a friendly target into a random unit of equal or higher power for the rest of the battle, afterwards the affected unit will die.
Alternate Victory Condition: Seals
"Seals of Power" are a new optional victory condition available both on random maps and the 2 scenarios that come with the Golden Realms expansion. The goal is to find and conquer the seal structures on the map. You control a seal by standing on top of it, and for every turn you control a seal you get a charge. You will win the game after accumulating a certain amount of charges (depending on map size and your user-settings when you generate a random map). Be careful when capturing a seal though, as capturing a seal will periodically attract all kinds of elementals.
Empire Quests, Mystical City Upgrades and racial DefensesEmpire Quests
will reward the first player (or AI) to complete them with a set of appropriate rewards. These quests usually center around your city or empire. For example, being the first player to achieve a "Pure Good" or "Pure Evil" alignment will reward you with a set of alignment-appropriate units, whereas the first player who grows a city to a metropolis will get a permanent bonus to all gold, mana and research income for that city.Mystical City Upgrades
become available when you have cleared treasure sites and they become part of one of your cities' domain. This allows you to build a special structure in that city that will bestow you with unique bonuses. For example, having a "Crystal Tree" in your domain will allow you to build an "Enchanted Armory", giving all future armored units bonuses to defense and resistance, whereas owning the new "Lost City" structure allows you to produce the new "Feathered Serpent" unit in your city.Race-appropriate defensive city upgrades
are a relatively minor thing, but they add a lot to the individual style of all the races. This allows you to build a racial defense upgrade in your cities. Halflings get to build rabbit burrows, sending out vicious rabbits to defend your city if it gets attacked, whereas the human's bell tower upgrade makes your citizen shoot arrows at enemies every turn during combat.
Two new scenarios
These should be rather self-explanatory, two new hand-crafted maps by the developers. One of them is a large 6-player map while the other one is a medium 4-player map. Both scenarios utilize many of the new units, structures and other features of the expansion as well as the Seal Victory.
Keep in mind that, while the additions listed above are the main features of the expansion many new heroes, units and items have also been added to the game.