Hello everyone! As the first post-release Development Journal, we’re going to talk a bit about the creation of the Seals of Power, which is a new Victory Condition for both random maps and standalone or campaign scenarios. As with other upcoming new features, we can’t give an exact date of when they will be implemented. Note that some new Dev Journal features presented will be part of expansions, while others will be included in patches / free updates.
So back to this new feature! When cleared, these legendary Seals of Power allow you to accumulate Seal Charges. The first player to be fully charged wins the game!
They can be pre-placed on maps, and in the Random Map Generator settings you will get the option to either play with or without Seals of Power. Since this represents a whole new way of winning the game it will add a whole new element to the gameplay experience and it can spice up the end-game.
** AoW3 Campaign Spoiler ***
As you might have learned from playing the campaign or reading the timeline (http://ageofwonders.com/lore-galore-age-of-wonders-world-timeline/), Merlin destroyed the last Shadowgate, banishing the old Wizard Kings.The Shadowborn on the other hand want to open new Shadowgates for their trapped masters, but where it used to be relatively easy to create and open such a gate anywhere (once the Shadow Demons had shown everyone how), it now has become all but impossible (Carishar made a valiant effort at the location of the old Shadowgate, but he failed because of Laryssa and Edward).
The reason for that is the Seals of Power: Merlin and his helpers built them all over Athla, to protect the world from invasions from other worlds. When players accumulate enough Seal charges they gather the power to break a Seal. Breaking a Seal releases such a huge (but temporary) power surge in the Leader breaking it that no one can stand against them: they become as demi-gods for a while, capable of vanquishing any foe. In gameplay terms: all other players lose (except allies of course).
**** End Spoiler *****
Seals need to be discovered and are usually placed quite some hexes away from your starting position. Seals are usually heavily defended by elemental guardians. We have expanded on the concept of the original 4 elementals to include more variants (so yes, there will be new units associated with this feature!). Once a player defeats these guardians on a new TC map, he will own the Seal and begin to accumulate charges. Other players are notified that someone is beginning to break the Seal, and its location will be revealed.
Players will need at least one unit on the Seal at all times to keep ownership of it, as the Seal’s magic actively resists anyone leeching charges from it. The Seals of Power, even after being conquered and owned, are still dangerous however! Periodically a Seal will spawn a new army of elemental guardians to attack the player occupying it. So players will need to keep strong armies on the Seals in order to keep control over them.
Usually there are multiple Seals on the map, and we’ve found that contesting over seals is most interesting when there are less Seals than there are players. If you manage to grab two Seals you will accumulate charges twice as fast, but the other players are likely to try and take them from you. You can track everyone’s progress in a new Overview, which appears on any map that has the Seals of Power victory condition enabled. There are more things in the works, like new, unique rewards for taking a Seal for the first time, and empire-wide bonuses for occupying them. Seals become highly contested areas, with alliances likely to form to stop players from winning. Of course the current victory condition of killing a leader and taking the throne city are still in place, so watch your back!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this mechanic! At the moment we’re still heavily testing and balancing the Seals as well as adding the required content and code. Remember, these are Development Journals, and things that are still in the development stage can still change. We have lots of new and completely different things in the works too, so check back for upcoming development journals!
If you have any questions or remarks please let us know on comments / forums below!