How City Expansion works in Age of Wonder 4

City Expansion Mechanics in Age of Wonders 4 - Thumbnail

A common question many early AOW4 gamers have is about City Expansion. Players are wondering how city growth works, and is there a maximum number for the provinces a city can control. This question is obvious because in Age of Wonders: Planetfall, the provinces per city were capped at 4 max. Furthermore, is there a maximum distance from the city center to the provinces that the city can expand into or is any adjacent province is eligible for expansion?Related: How Healing works in AOW4

City Expansion in AOW4

  1. City Cap: Growing your empire is crucial for economic prosperity, but unlimited city expansion isn’t an option in the game. There is a limit called the ‘City Cap’, and if you exceed this limit, your empire will face a 25% income penalty in all cities. This cap is designed to pace city acquisition and prevent uncontrolled expansion. It encourages strategic planning and forces you to make critical decisions about growing your empire. You can increase this cap using the Empire Skill Tree, but this requires careful consideration and strategic investment.
  2. City Automation: Because managing every aspect of your cities can be tedious, the game offers something called the City Automation system. This feature allows you to set a focus (if any), letting the city develop on its own without having to manually select each province to acquire. This lessens the micromanagement involved and lets you focus more on the broader strategic gameplay.
  3. Micromanagement: For players who prefer micromanagement and wish to control every detail of their empire, we offer the option to increase your City Cap indefinitely. You can invest your Imperium into raising the City Cap, but each subsequent increase will cost more Imperium. This feature ensures that there’s a balance between expansion and the investment required, adding another layer of strategic depth to the game.
    Image showing how expansion works in Age of Wonders 4
    City Expansion; Age of Wonder 4
  4. Vassalization System: This system offers an alternative way to expand your influence without adding to your City Cap. Throughout the world, there are many Free Cities that you can choose to vassalize. By doing so, they will contribute a portion of their income to your empire, with the amount depending on the strength of your bond with them. Vassalized cities don’t count towards your City Cap, but they still provide you with income and act as safe havens for your armies to recover between campaigns.
  5. Vassalizing Conquered Cities: You have the option to vassalize any city you conquer, which allows you to benefit from its resources without adding it to your City Cap. This grants you more flexibility in managing your empire’s growth.
  6. Integration and Self-Vassalization: If you decide you want a particular city as a part of your core empire, you can integrate it later. Alternatively, you can vassalize your own cities to free up a City Cap slot, giving you more room for expansion while maintaining control over the vassalized cities.
    Image showing how vassalization works in Age of Wonders 4
    Vassalization in Age of Wonders 4
  7. Unlimited Vassal Rule: The Vassalization System enables you to spread your rule over the entire world without a cap on the number of vassals. This presents an engaging strategic challenge, as you balance core city expansion and vassal management to maximize the growth and influence of your empire.
The growth of cities is directly linked to the population. Each unit of population in a city allows control over one province. So, the more the population your grows, the more provinces you can control.As for the range of control from the city center, it increases with the tier of the city. A Tier 1 city has control extending 2 provinces away from the city center. Each subsequent upgrade to the city tier allows for control over provinces one step further away. The developers of Age of Wonder 4 have designed multiple tiers for city upgrades, so the maximum range could potentially reach 4 or 5 provinces away from the city center.In addition to this, there’s an empire upgrade under the nature tree that can further expand this radius by 2 provinces. This allows for strategic choices to be made about how to expand your city and empire.