Age Of Wonders: Planetfall Beginner Guide - What To Get First In The Society Tech Tree

Picking upgrades from the society tech tree may be daunting at first, but as long as you keep these in mind your space empire expansion will go along just fine.
8.5
  • Playstation 4
  • Windows
  • Xbox One
  • Strategy
2019-08-06
AOW Planetfall
A beginner's guide to the society tech tree in Age of Wonders: Planetfall. Paradox Interactive

Age of Wonders: Planetfall is finally available now across all platforms, and the initial consensus for this 4X turn-based strategy game has been very positive, with players noting Planetfall’s incredible depth and its interesting and unique factions. In my review for Planetfall, I noted how its successful integration of various mechanics along with the gripping sci-fi narrative was a big success for developer Triumph Studios, as this is their first foray into the setting.

It’s also notably easier to get into than other 4X strategy games, despite the vastness and particularly deep mechanics involved. That said, some players may find some aspects a bit daunting at first, in particular the very expansive tech tree, which allows you to cater your gameplay and strategy to how you see fit.

If you’re part of this group, then check out this handy guide for starting up with the huge tech tree. This is meant to ease you into the general society tree, as each faction shares the same one, racial tabs excluded. Stay tuned for more guides into the other factions’ own military tech trees in the future.

All of that said, here are some helpful tips on what to consider for your first foray into Age of Wonders: Planetfall’s society tech tree.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall Guide: What To Get In The Society Tech Tree

Know your sectors

AoWP Sectors
Sectors from overhead. Notice the smaller Resource icons which indicate which of them is the most abundant per sector. Photo: Paradox Interactive

Each game of Planetfall begins as your starting forces land on the planet (hence planetfall). The map is always procedurally generated, so there’s no knowing where you’ll end up. It’s always good to assess the sector you’re in first, as this will ensure that you properly gain a foothold in the map.

Planetfall’s map is divided into sectors, with each sector made up of hexes that you traverse and move in. With this being a 4X strategy game, exploitation of these sectors is paramount to success. You want to know which resource your sector is most rich in – whether it’s Production, Energy, Research or Food. Production is needed for most of your empire’s upgrades, which are purchased through the tech tree with Research. Unit production and sector upkeep (a fee needed to maintain your areas of influence) are dictated by Energy, while Colonist growth is handled by how much Food you produce. Colonists are needed in order to capture more sectors.

To know what resource is most abundant in your sector, you can zoom out on the map to reveal it. It will often show three resources available in the sector – whichever has the most icons is the most abundant. Knowing what resource to exploit in that sector is an integral step into figuring out how to approach the tech tree.

The society tech tree, and what it can do for you

AoWP Tech
The society tech tree in Planetfall is quite expansive. Photo: Paradox Interactive

There are two branches of the tech tree in Planetfall – there’s the military tech tree, which unlocks higher-tiered units for battle, mods to make those units more powerful, and operations that you can use during turn-based combat to give you an edge. The military tech tree differs between the factions, so it’s worth checking and reading them in order to find out the best one you need for a particular incursion somewhere on the map.

Then there’s the society tech tree, which is the same for all factions and covers much of what you will need in order to successfully exploit the map and expand your empire. While the military tech tree carries much of your combat strength, the society tree makes sure you have the power and influence to back it. You’ll find a Doctrine tab here, which is based on the faction of your choosing. They usually carry racial bonuses for each group, allowing you to gain advantages based on the faction of your choosing.

Then there’s the Operations tab, which carries out various operations and counter-ops against the other factions on the map. Investing into this early is a good idea, as even if you’re thinking of avoiding operations, having counter-ops strength is a good deterrent to stop other factions from exploiting you in the later stages of the game.

The biggest part of the society tech tree is devoted to Economy, which oversees your overall economic strength in the exploitation and procurement of various resources. Most of your turns will be spent here, as good economic strength is integral at all stages of the game, especially if you’re still learning the ropes.

Using the knowledge of your sector, you should always try to go for tech upgrades that exploit the most abundant resources. The Economy tree starts with either Aquatic Deployment or Frontier Facilities; since most of the time you’ll be starting your exploitation on land, always go for Frontier Facilities, which gives out happiness for your Colonists (Recreational Dome), upgrades your Colony Militia (Standard Military Infrastructure) and allows you to produce Colonizers, which can be used to extend your area of influence through another Colony on another part of the map.

After completing Frontier Facilities, you can now start exploiting your sector’s resources with one of the four:

  • Production Development I
  • Energy Development I
  • Food Development I
  • Research Development I

Each upgrade carries its own development forks, which you can then decide on. You can either lower overall costs for units, structures or upgrades needed with the corresponding resource OR specialize in the Resource for an additional bonus every time it’s harvested. These sector upgrades cannot be changed once developed, so always plan ahead to see which one will benefit you more in the long run. Colonies don’t share upkeep and sector upgrades, so it may be good to purchase one of them for your starting colony and then get the other one for your next colony.

What to prioritize in the society tech tree?

AoWP Captured Sector
Settlements should always be utilized according to their Sector's most abundant resources. Photo: Paradox Interactive

Your first priority is always resource exploitation and the expansion of your sectors as soon as possible. Colony growth is facilitated by happiness and Food production, but in some cases the sector you’ll land in is lacking in food. If that happens, be sure to check your adjacent sectors for Food-rich areas. Getting Frontier Facilities is helpful; you get to build a Colonizer over a number of turns, or just provide your Colonists with additional happiness thanks to the Recreational Dome.

After exploiting your sector, it’s time to start expanding. Once you hit a certain number of Colonists, you’ll be able to expand your empire with the use of Settlements. These Settlements allow you to exploit a sector’s resources without needing a colony. You should always try and pick a sector that has the resources you’re lacking – for instance, if your colony is currently exploiting Food, then make sure to build your adjacent settlement on somewhere where there’s Energy or Production.

It’s important to have the research ready for your planned exploitation before you start growing the Settlement, which takes a single turn to finish. After that, you can now set the Settlement’s exploitation to the resource you want, and you’ll start harvesting it each turn to grow your empire. As the game goes on, you’ll end up growing more settlements or just building new colonies in other sectors, and as such it’s important to keep your Resource exploitation diverse.

The dangers of over-expansion and the Operations tree

AoWP Expand
Over-expansion could be disadvantageous, especially if you don't have the units to protect your sectors. Photo: Paradox Interactive

A growing empire carries a lot of dangers, and if you’re not careful, other factions will take advantage of your over-expansion to further their goals. I recommend having enough units to always protect each of the sectors you end up acquiring, as these are essentially border control for rogue units and a show of force for possible excursions with factions you are currently warring against. That said, it’s easier to be friendly towards neutral factions, which will sell you their units as mercenaries once you complete enough quests for them. These can be bought with Influence points, which can be gained by also completing quests.

Of course, Planetfall’s dangers are not only combative forces, but also covert operations as well. To that end, it’s always worth investing in a few tiers of the Operations tree, especially the first iteration of Counter Ops. This will completely counteract any first-tier covert infiltration, which will effectively siphon resources from you if left unchecked. It’s also good for turn-based combat to deter special operations from the enemy factions.

Aquatic Deployment

AoWP Aqua
Getting Aquatic Deployment is situational, but can work huge benefits should the map call for it. Photo: Paradox Interactive

Despite being not particularly useful early on, there are some instances with which the Aquatic Deployment can be a must-have. It carries empire upgrades that allow you to build Settlements and Outposts on water, effectively allowing you to take control of those sectors. Likewise, you can now traverse bodies of water, which can cut down on travel time in between moves, especially if there are mountain ranges or other nigh uncrossable hexes.

At Tier III you can also opt into Aquatic Development, which is a separate colony upgrade from other Resource exploitation upgrades. Its two development forks allow you to maximize resource production on two fronts: you can either opt for Food with Algae Farms, or Research with the Maritime Research Facility. In any case, Aquatic Deployment and Development is a bit more situational, but in maps that are a bit harder to control, they can be very good investments.

Keep an eye on your Research Points and Turns

Getting upgrades on the tech tree is not free, and each can carry particularly taxing costs with Research Points. Likewise, they need a certain amount of turns before they can be ready, not to mention the priming duration once development is finally complete. There’s nothing worse than being caught with your pants down because you ran out of Research Points mid-development, and your enemy taking advantage of this.

The most important thing is to always plan ahead, as each upgrade in the tech tree is a significant investment. Likewise, a turn without anything being developed is a turn wasted, so try and make sure that all your sectors are busy, whether with research, construction of new units, or map movement.

Stay tuned here for more guides on Age of Wonders: Planetfall.

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