Age of Wonders: Planetfall Guide - The Best Early Military Tech Upgrades For Kir'Ko

Focusing on the biochemical abilities of the Kir'Ko early on will give you an easier time as you transition into the later stages of the game.
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Check out this guide for starting military tech for the Kir'Ko faction in Age of Wonders: Planetfall.
Check out this guide for starting military tech for the Kir'Ko faction 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.

For this piece, we’re taking a look at one of the most intriguing races in Planetfall, the Kir’Ko. An alien hivemind that was once under the subjugation of the all-encompassing Star Union, the Kir’Ko find themselves at a crossroads when their captivity ends following the latter’s demise. In a vexing twist of fate, the faction finds themselves independent from the hivemind due to their suffering at the hands of the Star Union, but at the same time this independence grants them more power than anyone can fathom. As you embark on their journey, it will ultimately be up to you if you return the humans the suffering they’ve cause – or go on a separate path altogether, one of peace and alliances as you seek to unite the Kir’Ko under the hivemind once again.

The Kir’Ko reminds me a lot of the “prawns” from District 9, and oddly enough their backstories are quite similar. That said, they also play like a melded version of the Protoss and the Zerg from the Starcraft games, in that the faction utilizes biochemical warfare in tandem with melee and psionics to reach supremacy on the battlefield. The Kir’Ko’s military tech tree reflects this, and there are a ton of ways you can go about rebuilding this empire; one thing’s for certain, though, and it’s that it’s going to take some violence to get there.

With all of that said, let’s take a look at some of the best first military tech upgrades to get for the Kir’Ko during the starting phases of the game. You can also check out the best starting military tech upgrades to get for the Vanguard here. If you want a guide on some of the best society tech upgrades for starters, check it out here.

Tier 1

The Kir’Ko have four tabs in their military tech tree: General, Biochemical, Psionics and Psynumbra. While you could technically go for Biochemical Applications under the Biochemical tab as your first research, Unshackling under General will provide you with better upgrades in the long run as you go higher up the tree. Unshackling has two mods:

  • Heightened Vision (Detector) – a mod that you can apply to both Biological and Cyborg units. In a nutshell, this mod gives a unit 20 percent increased accuracy during turn-based combat. This much accuracy in the early stages of the game is no laughing matter; even when under extremely low chances of hit, you’ll find that your attacks graze a lot more. Outside of combat, the unit also gains +1 Strategic Vision Range and Detection, a very useful skill to have whenever there are concealed units on the strategic map. To top it all off, the mod also gives the unit +5 HP.
  • Sundering Claws – an offensive mod that you can fit to any Animal, Kir’Ko or Cyborg units that can perform melee attacks. With this mod, you can remove one point of armor per hit, which stacks indefinitely. This is insane if given to units that are really mobile, like the Frenzied. This mod also comes from the 10 percent additional damage on all the unit’s abilities, which is really strong in the earlier stages of the game.

The Frenzied benefits a lot from both mods, with the Sundering Claws really giving them a lot of power to zone effectively thanks to the more powerful melee attacks. Likewise, consider having Heightened Vision on your Hero early on, as the additional health and accuracy can really be an edge in turn-based combat. It also helps if you’re out wandering out a lot with the Unleashed unit, as you can use it to scout for hidden enemies due to its aerial nature.

Biochemical Applications is a decent first choice, but considering that the next tier in the General tab is essential to playing Kir’Ko, it’s better to leave this for another turn. If you do want to pick this up, though, know that you’re getting a mod and an op. The Acidic Composite is a mod that is basically a ranged version of Sundering Claws, giving your unit a Melt Armor ability that removes one point of armor per hit. It could be more beneficial earlier, but since Frenzied is easier to train and produce, getting this is a bit redundant. The upgrade also has the Biochemical Maceration op, which reduces affected units’ Biochemical resistance by three for three turns. The same units also have an eight-strength chance of being slowed. This is a good op to have overall, so it’s always worth going back to this upgrade after getting more important ones out of the way.

Under Psynumbra, you can go for Foreboding Darkness. The Psynumbra tab in general is a potent form of dark psionics which is really powerful at later stages of the game. However, early on the benefits of getting into the tree is debatable, although you can certainly try it if you want to experience a different side of the Kir’Ko altogether. Mark of the Dark Sun gives your targeted unit four Psionic resistance, and gives them a stack of Dark Reward with each killing blow. Each stack adds 20 percent damage, giving up to three stacks, which translates to 60 percent damage overall. You also get an op called Embrace of Darkness which deals massive damage to an enemy unit while applying Massive Impact. There’s also an eight-strength chance to apply Broken Mind, which significantly reduces Morale and Psionic resistance for three turns.

Tier 2

By now you should already have a settlement in place, as well as established some of your units. If you’ve got some Covert Ops in place, use them to figure out unit compositions in nearby enemy bases, just so you know which military tech upgrade to invest in next.

The only real choice after getting Unshackling is Regeneration, which is one of the essential upgrades to have for the Kir’Ko. It has a mod and an op, both centered on healing your troops and prolonging their stay on the battlefield.

  • Accelerated Healing – a mod that you can apply to both Biological and Cyborg units, this Tier Two Defensive mod is a must for most of your infantry. Like the name implies, this mod gives a unit Regeneration, healing 15 percent of its maximum health each turn in combat, as well as recovering all of its health at the start of the owner’s turn on the strategic map. What this basically means is that you can have a stack that can go for ages around the map, and as long as they survive an encounter, you’ll see them at full health once again for the next one. This is crazy good when you consider that you can cover a lot of ground early on, with no need for refresher units to replace the empty spaces in your stacks. In the hands of a competent commander who can manage his hexes, this mod is borderline overpowered.
  • Healing Surge – an op that heals any non-Mechanical unit for 15 health. This heal can also jump to any nearby friendly unit within a two-hex range for up to two times. This is more of a clutch move than anything, but the fact that it can also heal friendly units outside of your control makes it great to have in a jiffy.

There really isn’t much of a negative when it comes to rushing Regeneration, apart from going with another way of playing altogether. Accelerated Healing is easily one of the best early game mods for Kir’Ko units, letting you control parts of the map without spending too much Energy to replace fallen units. It still comes down to how well you do in combat, though, but given that this also gives you an edge while in turn-based combat there’s a lot more leeway as to how you can approach certain situations.

The only other tab that has Tier Two offerings is in the Psionics tab and it’s called Dominion of Purification. It’s useful, but it’s a bit more of a preference if you want to invest into it. The Transcendent is one of the earliest units you can get that can benefit from the tab, in addition to the Hero, but in my playthroughs I’ve found that skipping those entirely to focus on getting the Engulfer is way better. Again, it all comes down to preference. Getting this upgrade will give you two mods and an op; Mantra of Clarity is an offensive mod that enhances Psionic attacks to debuff their targets, making them 20 percent easier to hit. Psionic buffs from the same modded unit also applies a buff, making those units 20 percent harder to hit. The second mod is called Focus: Flames, and in a nutshell, it adds Thermal damage to Psionic attacks. It also has a four-strength chance of applying the Burning effect. In addition, Psionic buffs increase a unit’s Thermal resistance by six. The best thing to come out of this upgrade, though, is the Cleansing Pulse, an op that lets you dispel all negative Status Effects within a one-hex radius.

After getting Regeneration, it might be worth getting back to Psynumbra, since it’s Tier Three offering has amazing perks. Likewise, Biochemical Applications also work solely for the op, since a free debuff on units in an area is a great thing to have for the Kir’Ko. Most of the faction’s attacks rely on such debutffs to be more effective, and with a bit of smart planning and unit placement you’ll find that their lack of straight-up damage is essentially covered by the fact that their status effects are hard hitting, and will easily let you win against other factions.

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

Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Age Of Wonders: Planetfall Review - Creative Space Empire Building Limited Only By Your Imagination
It might be too expansive for its own good, but for players who can look past that and place themselves in the shoes as a commander leading a space-faring faction to salvation there's no better 4X title out there. Age Of Wonders: Planetfall is a success for Triumph Studios, proving the developer can deliver on proper world-building to take their acclaimed series to the vast reaches of space.
  • Expansive turn-based and 4X elements, with tons of freedom of choice.
  • Diverse races, with lots of distinctions between each one.
  • Strategic gameplay rewarded and limited by your own creativity and imagination.
  • In-depth tech tree with a ton of branching paths to go through.
  • Easy to get into for casual players of the genre.
  • A bit daunting at first, which may put off and overwhelm some players.
  • Lacking in sound design and the music department.
  • Not very intuitive at times, with some tedium setting in once your empire gets bigger.
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